Friday, October 12, 2012

Preview - 2 Corinthians 4

Preview – 2 Corinthians 4
Pastor Shane Walker

My thoughts on the passage to be preached this Sunday
Although this passage applies to all believers, it particularly applies to those who are ministers of the Gospel.  But the embedded distinction between "all believers" and "ministers of the Gospel" in the previous sentence may be shown to be unclear due to the fact that, in a limited way, all christians show to others the beauty of the Gospel.  Many of us also speak the Gospel in informal ways as well.  "'I believed, and so I spoke' we believe and so we also speak."
But perhaps it would be better to think of it as a question of degrees.  This passage applies to all Christians but to an even greater degree it would apply to those, who as part of their vocation, proclaim the Gospel.  But remember that even the Apostle Paul worked at making tents so the distinction is perhaps fuzzy, though I think it is a helpful distinction.
Certainly in verse 1, Paul says that He has "this ministry" in distinction to the work and lifestyle of those to whom he is writing. So the distinction is there - it is just not as crisp as perhaps the difference between a nurse and a soldier.  But even with that example you could argue that... but perhaps we could pursue that later.
The two cases:
- in their case, the gospel is veiled to those who are perishing
- in our case, the gospel is an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison
1) The case of those who reject the gospel is a terrible one.  Here we also have a connection to Luke 1 where in verses 78 and 79 Zechariah says:
because of the tender mercy of our God,
whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death
to guide our feet into the way of peace.
Compare 2 Corinthians 4:3-4, 6
and even if our gospel is veiled it is veiled only to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For God who said, "let light shine out of darkness"[Genesis 1:3!] has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
It is truly darkness to reject God, to deny that He exists, and to continue in rebellion against Him.  Praise God that He, who created the world, light, and everything in it has shone the light of His truth, in Christ, into our hearts!
2) The case of those who accept the good news is a glorious one! We look not to the things which are seen but to the things that are unseen.  Romans 8 "and not only the creation but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes in what he sees? But if we hope in what we do not see we wait for it with patience."
and "the Spirit Himself bears witness with our Spirit that we are children of God and if children then heirs - heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ provided we suffer with Him, in order that we may also be glorified with Him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us."
Ok - just read Romans 8.  Lots of similarities.
In any case, the other part of the case of those who accept God and love Him is that they are carrying around the wonderful treasure of the gospel in very weak vessels.  In Jars of Clay. We are always about to be dashed to pieces and never destroyed. Our sufferings are something that allow us to more freely display the glory of God in that we are more completely dependent on Him for everything.  And we also identify with the sufferings of Christ as well.  We partake both in the sufferings of Christ but also in the wonderful joys set before Him.  Even as our physical body is weakened or killed, our spiritual man is built up and strengthened. 
Understandably, as we see our earthly life slipping away we are more ready to focus on the "the things that are unseen." "This light and momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison."  I think those last three words are exciting don't you?  We have many intense joys in this life.  But our eternal reward will be beyond all comparison.  This is truly something worth striving for!

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