Pentecost 4 (Proper 7), June 20, 2021
Text: 2 Corinthians 6:1–13
Theme: Now is the day of salvation
Other Lessons: Job 38:1–11; Psalm 124; Mark 4:35–41
1. In the Name of the Father…Amen.
1. The Epistle reading serves as our sermon text for this morning.
1. Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us pray:
915 Today Your Mercy Calls Us
1 Today Your mercy calls us
To wash away our sin.
However great our trespass,
Whatever we have been,
However long from mercy
Our hearts have turned away,
Your precious blood can wash us
And make us clean today.
2 Today Your gate is open,
And all who enter in
Shall find a Father’s welcome
And pardon for their sin.
The past shall be forgotten,
A present joy be giv’n,
A future grace be promised,
A glorious crown in heav’n. Amen.
1. Grace, mercy, and peace to you from our Lord, Savior, and Healer,
Jesus Christ. Amen.
1. The text is the Epistle from 2 Corinthians 6, especially these words
in verse 13: “In return (I speak as to children) widen your hearts also.”
1. Why would Paul say those words?
1. Paul had told the Corinthians how he felt about them: he loved
them as a father loves his children!
2. In turn, the Corinthians were reacting rather coldly to Paul’s
words, but Paul explained that his words, though were harsh
in nature, came
from his love for them. Call it “tough love”.
3. Like the Corinthians, it is easy for us to react against those
whom God has placed over us in positions of leadership, rather than to
accept their exhortations as a sign of love for us.
4. We need an open rather than a closed heart toward God’s
1. What was the condition of the church there in Corinth?
1. The church there in Corinth was on life support!!
1. The church plant had gotten off to a rocky start.
2. Divisions over leadership and cliques had caused some issues.
3. A sex scandal of one particular member was really challenging.
4. There was disorder with worship and confusion about the most
fundamental beliefs, including the resurrection of Jesus.
5. A painful visit from the pastor-missionary who planted the
church, followed up quickly by an even more painful letter from that same
missionary, had this church in significant pain and suffering.
6. They were hanging on by a thread, it seemed, when another letter
arrived from the missionary.
7. This letter, though, brought the comfort and good news they needed
as it began,
1. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the
Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our
affliction” (2 Corinthians 1:3–4).
1. Problem in the text:
1. The Corinthians are in danger of receiving God’s grace in vain,
having closed off and restricted their affections toward Paul and his
1. We know this letter as 2 Corinthians, and the pastor and missionary
who wrote it was none other than the apostle Paul.
1. The Church in Corinth had been through a lot when they received
this letter from Paul.
2. There had been significant conflict between Paul and this
church he’d planted.
1. In the text for today from 2 Corinthians 6, Paul is pleading with the
Corinthians not to receive the grace of God in vain.
1. Paul wants God’s grace to come to full fruitfulness for the
2. He wants each and every one of them to believe in the good news
1. Jesus died for them,
2. Jesus rose from the dead for them,
3. Jesus reconciled them with God the Father,
4. and now Jesus had given them the ministry of reconciliation.
3. A refusal on the part of the Corinthians to be reconciled with
God, with Paul, with anyone was a real danger.
1. Paul notes that one of the problems the Corinthians have is that
their hearts have been restricted, confined, closed off.
1. The Corinthians have a form of spiritual heart disease.
2. Their hearts are not healthy.
3. Their hearts are blocked by a stubbornness that’s putting them
4. Paul pleads with them just before our text begins to:
1. “be reconciled to God” (5:20),
5. Paul likewise pleads with them just after our text ends,
1. “Make room in your hearts for us” (7:2).
1. By no means are all heart diseases preventable, but we do dig our own
graves with some of the things we do or fail to do.
1. Ah, that drippy, juicy quarter pounder with cheese (that
requires extra napkins), chased down with fries.
2. The big tub of theater popcorn soaked in tropical oils
masquerading as butter.
3. The afternoon on the couch when the sun is beckoning us to go
for a walk.
4. The problem, of course, is building up body fat and the
cholesterol that clogs our hearts and arteries.
5. The result is that blood that needs to get through—carrying
oxygen and nutrients to the cells all over our larger-than-should-be
bodies—can’t get through.
1. St. Paul observed the same thing with the Corinthians.
1. The Corinthians were clogging their hearts spiritually.
2. Their hearts weren’t open to receive Paul’s love, the love of
God he was declaring to them,
1. and he pleads that they would open their hearts wide (2
3. That would mean repenting of the sins of which he’d warned
them, receiving his hard words not with resentment but as the crucial
wake-up call he’d meant them to be, and then believing that
those sins are
forgiven for the sake of Christ Jesus.
4. That would restore the loving relationship Paul desired to have
with them, and it would receive the essential nutrients God is always
supplying for our eternal health.
1. Problem in our lives:
1. We are in danger of receiving the grace of God in vain, our hearts
also frequently being restricted and closed off toward our neighbors.
1. Can you relate to the problem the Corinthians had?
1. Has your heart ever been closed off to others?
2. Have you ever suffered from a similar form of spiritual heart
1. Maybe as you drive past that homeless person and casually
roll up your window and look away?
2. Or as you conveniently forget to do some household chore
like washing the dishes or taking out the garbage, forcing
somebody else to
do the task for you?
3. You may notice this problem of spiritual heart disease any
time you fail to love your neighbor as yourself.
1. Of course, there are many other reasons our hearts might be damaged.
1. Some of those are things that happen to us.
2. You may have been hurt by somebody you love, and your ability
to trust has been damaged.
3. One of your dearest friends or family members may have died,
and you just can’t understand why God would allow such a thing.
4. There may be a conflict between you and another person in this
church that you’ve silently endured for far too long.
1. Whatever the case may be, whatever affliction and suffering have
happened in our lives, each and every one of us, myself
included, does not
have a perfect heart.
1. Much like the Corinthians, our hearts are restricted.
2. They are not as open as they should be toward God and toward
1. Grace in the text:
1. The Corinthians do not have to heal their own hearts.
1. The Lord’s favor is upon them now.
2. Now is the day of salvation, in Christ.
1. The Corinthians were not left to deal with their spiritual heart
disease on their own, and neither are you.
1. The Corinthians were not left waiting for a day when they would
have access to grace, help, and salvation, but rather, Paul
reminds them of
God’s promise in Isaiah 49:
1. “In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of
salvation I have helped you.”
2. Paul continues proclaiming to the Corinthians this good news:
1. Now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of
salvation” (verse 2).
2. The Corinthians no longer have to carry around their
3. They no longer need to carry their sin, their guilt, their
shame, or the wrong done to them.
4. The Corinthians’ damaged hearts are made whole in Jesus.
5. Just as Paul writes in the previous chapter:
1. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has
passed away; behold, the new has come” (5:17).
1. The Corinthians are new creations.
2. A new heart has been created within them.
3. Salvation, help, and grace are all theirs because of
1. Grace in our lives:
1. Jesus shows his widened and opened heart to us in his incarnation,
death, and resurrection.
1. We inherit the same help, grace, and salvation as the Corinthians.
1. We, too, are made new creations because of Jesus.
2. Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, Jesus opened his arms, his
heart, his entire being and came down from the heavens and
became a human
being for you.
3. Jesus, the sinless Son of God, opened his arms and took on our
4. Jesus opened up his arms, spread them on the cross, and died
for every one of your sins.
5. Jesus took on our sin, our suffering, our spiritual heart
disease and, in exchange, gave us righteousness, forgiveness,
1. We are not left to heal ourselves.
1. We are healed of every affliction by our Lord Jesus.
2. Brothers and sisters in Christ, now is the favorable time, .
1. In these verses, Paul is compelled by Christ’s love to persevere
through all hardships to make God’s offer of forgiveness and
plain to the people at Corinth.
1. Can that be said of us as we minister to those inside and
outside these walls?
2. Too often we mute the Gospel’s power because of our pride, our
carelessness found in our words, or our lack of concern for
3. No greater honor can be given us than to be His ambassadors,
4. The Lord not only saves us but also works through us.
5. What word is the Lord calling on us to proclaim today?
1. Now Is the Day of Salvation When Jesus Brings His Healing to you
through Word and Sacrament!
1. There is no waiting.
1. There is no hoops to jump through.
2. There are no forms to fill out.
3. For on this very day, you will receive Christ’s body and blood
for your forgiveness, life, and salvation.
4. On this very day, your sins have been absolved by the authority
of Jesus himself.
5. On this very day, you have received God’s favor by hearing his
word of Good News.
1. Yes, on earth we will still suffer.
1. God’s people will still be afflicted by all the things Paul
2. We will endure:
7. sleepless nights,
10. and slander.
1. We will suffer:
1. the discomfort of conflict,
2. the misery of broken relationships,
3. and the agony of grief.
1. We will struggle with imperfect hearts, but this struggle will not
2. We are not to receive the grace of God in vain.
3. We are to receive the grace of God in its absolutely unbounded
4. For just as Jesus is risen from the dead, we, too, will rise from
our graves when he returns on the Last Day.
5. When He returns, our hearts will be opened wide, and we will no
longer be restricted in any way.
6. When Jesus returns, our spiritual heart disease will be forever
1. Let us pray:
3 Today our Father calls us;
His Holy Spirit waits;
His blessèd angels gather
Around the heav’nly gates.
No question will be asked us
How often we have come;
Although we oft have wandered,
It is our Father’s home.
4 O all-embracing Mercy,
O ever-open Door,
What should we do without You
When heart and eye run o’er?
When all things seem against us,
To drive us to despair,
We know one gate is open,
One ear will hear our prayer.
Text: Public domain
1. 2 Corinthians 13:14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love
of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
1. The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts
and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.
1. In the Name of the Father…Amen.