“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I give thanks to God always for you because of the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him with all speech and all knowledge- even as the testimony to Christ was confirmed among you- so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ; who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord” (I Corinthians 1:3-9)
Certainly the phrase that most recommends this passage as an appropriate reading for Advent is this: “as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ”. Of course it is Christ’s second coming, not his first, that Paul is speaking of here- his return at the end of time. But, honestly, that is the one for which we do now wait, all who have already experienced the nativity of Jesus in the world and in our hearts.
What does Paul have to say about this time of waiting which comprises our life until he comes again? Only words of great assurance which are meant to give confidence to all of us for the living of our days.
First, he tells us that we have been (or will be) given everything we need for the successful and faithful living of life right here and now:
“I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him… so that you are not lacking any gift, as you wait…”
It is the promise of Christ that he will always be with us and supply every need: “Lo, I am with you always”(Matthew 28:20) The key is to remember that what we need will be supplied, it is not our own strength or resources alone on which we must depend. We live confidently until his coming because we are sure, as Paul says in another context, “My God will supply your every need.”
Second, and gloriously, Paul declares his confidence in the determination of God to get them (and us) safely to that day. It is His intention that they (and we) persevere and be saved and nothing, except their (our) own free will, can stand between Him and their ( our) salvation:
“who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the Day of Our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful , by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son.”
This is the same confidence that Paul so simply and eloquently proclaimed in the eighth chapter of Romans: “If God is for us, who can be against us!” and again
“For I am sure that neither death nor life nor angels nor principalities, nor things present or things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth nor anything else in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus, our Lord!” (vv 38-39)
And then there is the grand affirmation in Philippians:
“For I am confident of this very thing, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Christ Jesus” (1:60)
This is a vastly important message for all who would follow Christ and hope to reach heaven. It is knowing that we can’t lose that gives us the courage to try, to strive, and to persevere even in the face of strong opposition. It is the knowledge that God is for us that emboldens us to face every enemy. Perhaps this is the very message you need to hear today: That God is for you! That He will finish what He has started in you! That He will sustain you to the end! And that nothing can separate you from His love!
“Therefore Lift up your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather healed….let us lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith”(see Hebrews 12)
If we run, we shall win, for God is faithful.
Fred Durham is the President of Alighieri Press and serves as an author and speaker.
Photo Source: Star Tribune