Certainty Amongst Uncertainty (2 Corinthians 8:9)
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. —2 Corinthians 8:9
As I record these thoughts, we remain under pandemic restrictions and face a national election that leaves our future tinged with uncertainty. We do not know how or when our church here will be allowed to gather once again. We do not know what philosophies will prevail in the cultural context moving forward. We do not know whether the local economy will recover and stabilize, or if we are in the beginning of an inevitable, unstoppable decline. There is much we just don’t know.
But (I just love that little word, don’t you), there are some things we do know. In the midst of uncertainty there are some things we can know with absolute certainty. Paul records one of those certainties in the verse you are focusing on this week:
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.
Contextually, Paul uses this affirmation of certainty within a discussion of generosity to encourage the Corinthian believers to complete a benevolent offering they had started the year before. His intent is to motivate their generosity to the poor saints in Jerusalem by reminding them of Christ’s gracious generosity to them. It is a lesson every believer ought to take to heart when we consider how we steward the resources of this world that God entrusts to us.
Specifically, though, for this exercise, I’d like to invite you to focus on the assertion Paul makes regarding the general spiritual condition of his audience, which, at the moment, is you! Paul bases his call to grace and generosity on what we know. For you know the grace of the Lord Jesus…Christian, do you have ears to hear what the Spirit says? For you know.
There is more than one way to talk about the topic of knowledge in the Greek language. Paul uses a word for know that means to understand and embrace things as they really are. It is a word that signifies being confidently equipped with truth. This an understanding of reality that derives from personal experience, whether good experiences or bad, pleasant or difficult, convenient or challenging. And beyond being merely a knowledge gained through experience, this “knowing” Paul writes of comes to have the sense of “to verify.” It is verifiable knowledge that comes primarily through personal observation, experience, and affirmation.
There is an expression in the conventional wisdom that says, “A man with an experience is never at the mercy of a man with an argument.” That’s not always or universally true, but it does illustrate the knowing of the grace of the Lord Jesus that Paul declares each believer has.
How do we come to know the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ as the Corinthian Christians did, an experiential certainty in a cultural context of uncertainty? Three means come to mind. They knew from experience the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ because a credible witness to that grace made it known to them personally. They knew from experience the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ because the Holy Spirit affirmed that grace within them. They knew from experience the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ because of the personal transformation they each experienced when in faith they believed the gospel they heard from a credible witness—the gospel that was affirmed by the Spirit within them as they put their faith in Jesus.
I am reminded this morning not only of Paul, but of an earlier witness to experiential knowledge of God’s grace, one Israelite shepherd boy named David. David fought a giant named Goliath, overcoming his massive opponent with a slingshot and a small stone. Well, that’s what the record states. David’s victory was not so much in the weapon in his hand as much as the knowledge in his heart. He knew from experience the power and work and majesty and glory of God, so, on the day of battle, David focused not on the uncertainties that surrounded him, but on the certainty that supported him. He did not focus on the giant, nor the weapons in the giant’s hands. He focused instead on the certainty within his own heart, certainty in the grace of God, and won the day.
Christian, in the midst of uncertainty, David knew with certainty the grace of God and acted accordingly. Paul reminded the Corinthians, in their Roman, pagan world of uncertainty, that they knew the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and should act with certainty, completing the ministry of mercy they started. I offer to you, dear one who through faith now knows with certainty the grace of the Lord Jesus, act in your private life and in your public life as one who knows with certainty amongst uncertainty.
For you know the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.
You know. Act accordingly.
Review how you came to know the grace of the Lord Jesus. Who taught you? How did the Spirit affirm the gospel? What transformation occurred?
What uncertainties plague your thinking today? What do you know about Jesus that directly confronts and negates these uncertainties? What action can you take to act with certainty amongst these uncertainties?
Some spiritual activities, like worship and praise, and prayer, and Bible memory affirm the certainty of the grace we have come to know. Is there an area of faithful practice you’ve neglected that you need to reinstate, that would develop your confidence in what you know and your ability to interact with your world as one who knows the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ?