2 Corinthians 13:14 May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
Once again I was undecided among several verses in this chapter as to which to write on. There’s a lot of good stuff throughout the Bible! However, I was finally drawn to this last verse, that I use as a benediction in just about every service I conduct. Familiarity must not be allowed to breed contempt! This is a very potent expression of the Trinity, and as such is certainly worthy of deep reflection. It starts with “the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.” Grace being “unmerited favor,” this references the fact that we didn’t earn anything that Jesus did for us. The level of patience and flat-out endurance He demonstrated in being born as a human baby, living a life of poverty and hard work, teaching disciples who couldn’t seem to grasp what He was saying, and then submitting to scourging and crucifixion, dying for our sins, is really beyond human comprehension. After all, He was and is part of the Godhead, and didn’t “have to” do any of that! It is when we grasp that reality that we are able to let His grace flow through us to those around us. Then there’s the matter of the love of God. Paul didn’t write John 3:16, but he understood its reality. God the Father essentially divided Himself to send His Son to be our Savior. That is the absolute core of the Gospel. Again, the better we grasp His love for us, the better we are able not only to love Him in return, but also those around us, who are equally with us objects of His love. And then Paul mentions “the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.” I am personally convinced that there are two sides to this: fellowship with the Spirit Himself, and fellowship with other believers by the Spirit. In other places Paul refers to both, saying things like, “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit,” (Galatians 5:25) and “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:3) We need to grasp the totality of the Trinity to experience all of what our Creator intends for us.
As I said, I use this benediction at almost every service I conduct, but I do make some very minor changes in the wording, for specific reasons. “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ” is unchanged, but I specify “the love of Father God,” rather than simply saying “God.” That is both to emphasize the Trinity and to point out the Father-nature of our Creator. Many people have trouble grasping all that means because of the failures of their physical fathers, but that’s another long discussion I won’t go into here. The point is that God is Father, and that resonates throughout all creation. When it comes to “The fellowship of the Holy Spirit,” I add the word, “intimate,” simply because many people can’t imagine the level of intimacy that God has prepared for us by His Spirit. In the Upper Room Discourse and praying for us just before His crucifixion (John 14-17) Jesus spoke repeatedly of our being “in Him” and Him being “in us,” even to the extent that there is unity in the Godhead. That actually is beyond human comprehension, apart from a direct revelation of God. I speak that benediction with assurance, because I am convinced that it is the will of God for us His creation, and is thus the ultimate expression of His glory.
Father, thank You for the incredible privilege of speaking, expressing, that benediction to others. May my life be an expression of that indeed, drawing others to repentance and faith for their salvation, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!