What does is mean to be restored?
The Second Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the CORINTHIANS – Chapter 13
1 This is the third time I am coming to you. Every charge must be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses.
2 I warned those who sinned before and all the others, and I warn them now while absent, as I did when present on my second visit, that if I come again I will not spare them-
3 since you seek proof that Christ is speaking in me. He is not weak in dealing with you, but is powerful among you.
4 For he was crucified in weakness, but lives by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but in dealing with you we will live with him by the power of God. – 2 Corinthians 13:1-4
Paul is summing up his letter. He is not going to be gentle with those who are sinning. Just as fellowship is broken with God when we sin so the Body of Christ is divided by sin. Righteousness can not fellowship with unrighteousness
13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.
14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. – Romans 6:13-14
Grace is not ever a licence to sin because if you do that, you trample the blood of Jesus underfoot.
How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? – Hebrews 10:29
The Spirit of grace can be outraged and that may manifest itself through holy anger just as Jesus displayed when he cleansed the temple. Jesus may have become weak so we could be saved but He was never weak in Himself. He gave Himself for us that we might live. It took the power of God to enable Jesus to face the cross. He had unerring faith in His Father, to believe that the work was finished even before He went to the cross. That power now lives in us by the Spirit of grace.
5 Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?-unless indeed you fail to meet the test!
6 I hope you will find out that we have not failed the test.
7 But we pray to God that you may not do wrong-not that we may appear to have met the test, but that you may do what is right, though we may seem to have failed. – 2 Corinthians 13:5-7
From our experence at school we come to dread tests. Yet to test something is a natural process we use all the time. We test what we are cooking to see if it tasted good, we test a ladder to see if it is safe to climb, aircraft manufacturers test the metal they use to ensure it will cope with the strain of flying. But to test ourselves, now that is a challenge. Are we honest? Do we know enough to about our heart? God tests the heart:
And you shall remember the whole way that the LORD your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not. – Deuteronomy 8:2
God wanted the Children of Israel to trust Him in the desert. He tested their heart but thay did not trust Him and consequently wandered for forty years. They hardened their hearts.
8 do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness,
9 where your fathers put me to the test and saw my works for forty years. – Hebrews 3:8-9
God wants us to enter into His rest. To trust Him completely.
Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. – Hebrews 4:1
Paul wants the Corinthian church to enter into the promises of God through faith. To leave behind the lusts of the flesh and to draw near to Him. As James put it:
8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
9 Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.
10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. – James 4:8-10
8 For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth.
9 For we are glad when we are weak and you are strong. Your restoration is what we pray for.
10 For this reason I write these things while I am away from you, that when I come I may not have to be severe in my use of the authority that the Lord has given me for building up and not for tearing down. – 2 Corinthians 13:8-10
Paul’s heart in all of this is that they be restored. What does it mean to be restored? To bring back to a right situation, to return to its former condition, to repair so as to return to its original condition. These people were born again into the Kingdom of God by the power of the Spirit of grace. But someone sowed weeds into their hearts and the weeds grew up and choked the good seed of the Word of God. As David says in Psalm 62:
1 For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation.
2 He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.
3 How long will all of you attack a man to batter him, like a leaning wall, a tottering fence?
4 They only plan to thrust him down from his high position. They take pleasure in falsehood. They bless with their mouths, but inwardly they curse. Selah
5 For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.- Psalm 62:1-5
People who seem to be concerned for your best interest can be false teachers. The church has been thrown down from their former position and needed to be restored. In the story of Joseph we see an example of a man being restored:
“Now within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your place, and you will put Pharaoh’s cup in his hand according to the former manner, when you were his butler.- Gen 40:13
Just as the Cup Bearer was returned from prison to be the kings most trusted servant, restored to his former position so Paul wants the Church at Corinth to be restored, to live again in the position God has placed them as new creations before the throne of Grace.
Jesus restored people:
And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. – Mark 3:5
Jesus came to this earth and left His former glory to be the servant of all. His Father restored Him to his former position at His right hand in Glory:
4 I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed. – John 17:4-5
Paul wants to build up the church not tare it down and he hopes this letter will pave the way for a positive, restoration of the church before he visits them. We can do all we can as led by the Spirit to restore those who have fallen from their rightful position, restore those who are in the wrong place and those who are damaged, just as our Lord Jesus did. Speak the truth in love and the truth will set captives free.
11 Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.
12 Greet one another with a holy kiss.
13 All the saints greet you.
14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. – 2 Corinthians 13:11-14
So much packed into the final blessing. Rejoice, restore, comfort, agree, peace, grace, love, fellowship. So much of the heart of the gospel in a few verses. Here are some of the verses these ideas are contained in:
Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” – Nehemiah 8:10
Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion! When the LORD restores the fortunes of his people, let Jacob rejoice, let Israel be glad. – Psalm 14:7
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, – 2 Corinthians 1:3
I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. – 1 Corinthians 1:10
Peace I leave with you; my Peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. – John 14:27
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, – Ephesians 1:7
See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. – 1 John 3:1
God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. – 1 Corinthians 1:9
Paul ends with one of the most quoted verses in the Church of England, the benediction, which ties the last three together – grace, love and fellowship:
“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” AMEN
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers