11.) Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience. 12.) We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart. 13.) If we are out of our mind, it is for the sake of God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14.) For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15.) And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
In 1996, pollster George Barna published an influential study about American religious beliefs. According to his polls, 85 percent of Americans consider themselves Christians. Nearly nine out of ten people believe that God judges individuals for their deeds. A surprising 56 percent of respondents claim that being “generally good” or doing “enough good things” enables a person to go to heaven. Only 39 percent believe that those who reject Jesus Christ are damned.
Today's passage offers a very different view from what passes for much of American Christianity. We've considered the judgment that evaluates believers' actions. Paul may have had this in mind when he spoke of the fear of the Lord (v. 11), indicating part of his motivation for evangelism. The final judgment of all people also drove Paul to persuade people concerning the truth of Jesus Christ. The word persuade was probably deliberately chosen to show the contrast between Paul and those in Corinth who resorted to polished rhetoric and who took pride in outward appearances (v. 12).
Paul again urged the Corinthians to recognize the integrity of his preaching and lifestyle. This was no popularity contest. To take pride in Paul was to take pride in Christ. To reject Paul, or to be ashamed of him, was to trust in something deceptive, and ultimately destructive. The reference to being out of his mind could be taken in one of two ways. First, Paul's opponents may have had ecstatic experiences that they claimed as validation for their ministries. The Corinthians may have wanted to see this in Paul. The Apostle argued that such experiences were between him and God. Alternatively, some may have said that Paul was psychologically imbalanced.
If fear of judgment was one motivation for Paul, the greater driving force was the love of Christ. For Paul, this meant the love that Christ demonstrated by dying on the cross. It's that love, and the resurrection that it made possible, that compelled Paul in all that he did.
Today Along the Way
According to the Barna report, many people believe that good people go to heaven, with or without Jesus Christ. Some claim that 2 Corinthians 5:15 supports the idea that Christ died for everyone, so everyone will go to heaven. But in keeping with the rest of the Bible, this verse indicates that Christ died the death that all should have died and will have to die apart from saving faith in Him. The rest of this verse makes it clear that life is only possible through Christ's resurrection.
Taken from www.todayintheword.com.