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  • Writer's picturePastor Brett

Parting Thoughts

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In circumstances where a person’s death is witnessed, their last words in life can be immortalized. I offer a few famous examples, taken from a funeral home website:

l extremely memorable, and that's why I’m here to share them with you today:

“I am about to die or I am going to die; either expression is used.”

– French grammarian Dominique Bouhours (1628-1702)

“It is very beautiful over there.”

– Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931)

“OH WOW. OH WOW. OH WOW.”

– Steve Jobs (1955-2011) He was looking past his family members when he said these words.

“Either that wallpaper goes, or I do.” – Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) After his death, the wallpaper was taken down.


“Friends applaud, the comedy is finished.”

– Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)

“I should have never switched from Scotch to Martinis.”

– Actor Humphrey Bogart (1899-1957)

When a priest said, “I’m sure you want to talk to me” to Wilson Mizner, he responded with those last few words,

“Why should I talk to you? I’ve just been speaking to your boss.”

– Playwright Wilson Mizner (1876-1933)

Paul’s last words to the church in Corinth were crammed with a lot of content, pleading with them to live together according to God’s commands to love each other. With the virtues he lists here, the church could experience the kind of fellowship that would make the Christian life very sweet and fellowship very pleasant.

The end of Paul’s letter surveys the divine qualities of church relationships.

1. Virtues which we must practice.

Joy (11). People want to contrast joy with happiness. The problem is that’s just not biblical. The words are synonymous. But if you must, let’s say joy is happiness for all the right reasons, things that glorify God. Happiness that comes from selfish and worldly satisfactions are not from God as true JOY is.

MATURITY (11). Maturity is forged in genuine personal experiences of God in Scripture, prayer, Bible study, worship, service, etc. Enduring and overcoming adversity are the most productive times of maturity.

Encouragement (11). Encouraging each other is not a concession to pride or even human nature, it is a sign of the Holy Spirit. How we handle complaints is the flip side of encouragement – we must always seek to honor God in how we handle both good news and bad news.

HARMONY (11). The Greek word translated here as HARMONY literally means “aim at restoration.” It seeks to create HARMONY by restoring relationships. Paul called this church to set aside their divisions. They were to aim to cooperate instead of compete.

Peace (11). Peace is God filling in the empty spaces once filled by conflict. Human nature does not tend toward peace unless we have shared beliefs and goals. The sin nature is contrary to peace as it tends to selfish drama.

True peace requires two things. One, it comes from our relationship with God. Peace comes about through God, as we see later. Two, peace comes as we intend to be peacemakers. It requires intent and effort from us to make it happen.

Hospitality (12-13). Paul does not use the word “hospitality” in this passage, but he did give us two examples of hospitable behavior.

First, in Paul’s culture, a kiss was a common way to greet one another. A SACRED KISS must take t commonplace to a higher level. It was a tangible expression of the love they felt for one another. It became a part of the liturgy for baptism and ordaining bishops.

Second, ALL GOD’S PEOPLE SEND YOU THEIR GREETINGS. (13) This is the Bible, so this is not Paul being merely sentimental. Instead, there is a purpose to this statement and the purpose was encouragement, having demonstrated in verse eleven how important encouragement is. Also, it is our tendency in troubles to isolate ourselves, then complain about how lonely we feel. Paul attempted to circumvent that process by telling the Corinthians they were NOT ALONE, that they had the love and support of ALL the believers in the other churches he served.

2. Promises in which we must hope.

The first promise is wrapped up in the character and nature of God: THE GOD OF LOVE AND PEACE WILL BE WITH YOU (11). Paul made these promises to BELOVED BROTHERS AND SISTERS. The NLT’s addition of AND SISTERS is not an attempt to be PC, it is an appropriate translation, as the Greek includes male and female church members. The word BELOVED describes Paul’s feeling toward them and more importantly, how God feels about them. He also referred to as GOD’S PEOPLE = “holy ones,” or “saints.”

This is a conditional promise that God will be among people who love one another as He commands. It is further qualified by the virtues of LOVE and PEACE. The God who is LOVE and PEACE will bring those virtues to people who are characterized as seeking them in their own right.

There is a set of promises based on the Trinity (14). First, THE GRACE OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST. GRACE is unmerited favor. It is what Jesus showed when He died on the cross for us. GRACE is what we show when we love people whether they deserve it or not. GRACE forgives and covers over sin. The GRACE of Jesus allows us to experience the LOVE of God the Father which we share by means of the FELLOWSHIP of the Holy Spirit.

Second, THE LOVE OF GOD. LOVE is the chief motive God has for saving us and calling us to join Him in His holiness. LOVE is the reason for creation and everything God does.

Third, THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. The Holy Spirit guides and empowers us to do God’s will. Our FELLOWSHIP with Him is the only way we can be holy. The Holy Spirit is the divine person who lives in us, so FELLOWSHIP is the operative word in relation to Him. The Greek word for FELLOWSHIP is koinonia, the life we share because of the Holy Spirit.

The end of Paul’s letter surveys the divine qualities of church relationships.

John Arthur Spenkelink (1949-1979) was executed right after the capital punishment became re-legalized in Florida in 1979. In several letters written just prior to his death, he wrote the following: “Capital punishment means those without the capital get the punishment.”

Spenkelink may’ve been referencing a 1972 Supreme Court ruling which struck down death penalty schemes in all states, because it had been applied unfairly. He had a long criminal history and was executed for the brutal murder of a criminal associate. Spenkelink and another associate finished a bottle of gin over the corpse.

His last words got national attention and a few celebrities argued for the condemned man to be spared. He was executed on May 25, 1979 in an electric chair. In a bizarre twist, two years later, his mother’s “spiritual advisor” told her that her son was killed before electrocution. She petitioned to have his body exhumed. An autopsy showed he died of electrocution.

Spenkelink carefully chose his last words and repeated them as frequently as he could, perhaps in an attempt to get a stay of execution. Think for a moment about the words with which you would like to leave this world. How would you like to be remembered? Make it something that honors God and then be determined that the way you live from today forward will give evidence of those final impressions. Live today to make those words count for something.


RESOURCES:

Quotations from https://www.trinityfuneralchapel.com/the-19-most-famous-last-words-of-all-time, retrieved on 5 Mary 23.

Message #1308

Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, Vol. 15, 2009, 2 Corinthians, Ralph P. Martin with Carl N. Toney.

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