Words of Faith 10-4-17
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2017
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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2 Corinthians 5
 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.
Paul set his goal to please the Lord. This was largely based upon his knowledge of the judgment seat of Christ. This was a motivator. Paul now talks about fear. Paul did not fear the judgment out of concern for salvation. Paul knew better than anyone that it is by grace we have been saved, through faith--and this not from ourselves, it is the gift of God-- not by works, so that no one can boast (Eph. 2:8-9). That was not the concern. Yet he spoke of fear.
It is interesting, because in a few verses Paul will talk about the motivation of the love of Christ, that the love of Christ compels us. But here, first, he speaks of fear. The word Paul used means to be put to flight in dread or terror. We don't like to think of fearing the Lord like that, but for Paul the fear of the Lord was a powerful reality. Paul knew something about the awesome and terrifying presence of the Lord.
We must remember that Paul knew what it was like to be confronted by Lord and face His judgment even in the experience of grace. Paul was converted though a direct encounter with the Lord that threw him to the ground and blinded him for three days. Paul knew what it was like to be addressed by the Lord who took Paul's persecution of believers personally-- "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" (Act 9) He knew what it was like to have his sight return only because of the mercy of the Lord.
Paul had also seen and heard of the awesome power of the Lord rendering instant judgment (Acts 5, 12). So the fear of the Lord motivated Paul. But probably not in the way we might think. It is unlikely that Paul worried over his personal encounter of Christ's judgment seat. He was most concerned for those who did not know Christ or did not follow Him faithfully.
For Paul there was only one response-- persuade people concerning Christ. The fear of the Lord set Paul to flight... in the direction of the lost! The fear of the Lord set Paul on fire and sent him across three continents. The fear of the Lord put Paul on a mission as a persuader.
We try to persuade men. The Greek word here is peitho and means to convince by argument. Paul was probably much more of a debater than a preacher. He reasoned with those in the synagogues. He engaged in debate. He was just an argumentative traveler. The word is richer than that. It also means to assure, make friends, build trust, build confidence, and by analogy to pacify or conciliate by fair means.
Paul had a fear of not reaching people for Jesus. He had a heart for the lost. Like Jesus, who wept over Jerusalem, Paul saw the vast Gentile world as a place of hurting souls that desperately needed to be reconciled to God. The purpose of his ministry was to persuade people to be reconciled to God (2 Cor. 5:20).
So, for Paul, his goal was to please Christ and he understood this to be achieved by doing anything and everything possible to persuade people to be reconciled to God.
Father God, I want to please You. Show me how I can persuade people to know You and be reconciled to You. Teach me Your heart. Show me Your Word. Open my mind to the path You have for me. In Jesus' Name.