Do You Believe?
Paul was no stranger to challenges. One of the most familiar passages is 1 Corinthians 4.9-13
9 For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men. 10 We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute. 11 To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, 12 and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; 13 when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things.
7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.
jars of clay- earthenware container
surpassing- extremely more than is necessary. overthrow.
power- influence over reality in a supernatural manner.
This power belongs to God, not us, but he has deposited it in us as believers.
The value of the gospel and the worthlessness of the container it is placed in!- US! Paul is comparing, not downplaying the value of the body. He is comparing the container to the light of the gospel message.!
8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair;
afflicted- brought into difficulty in every way and in any way.
crushed- to be in a distressing situation without hope of escape, survival, or other positive outcomes.
perplexed- filled with confusion and failure to understand.
driven to despair- losing mental composure.
It has been hard- but never driven to surrender.
9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;
Persecuted- systemic harassment and attack due to one’s religious beliefs.
struck down- overthrown, knocked down.
destroyed- damaged irreparably.
10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.
the death of Jesus- the act of causing someone to die.
we always carry the death of Jesus in our dead bodies....
The life of Jesus may be made manifest.
manifest- made clear.
11 For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.
We who are living are constantly being betrayed to death, handed over to death, so that the life of Jesus can become clear in our mortal bodies.
The most important piece of 2 Corinthians 4.10-11 is that both death and life are evidenced in these times- that is, we are not speaking about life after death, nor are we speaking about life through death- we are talking about both death and life being present in the vessel of our bodies.
12 So death is at work in us, but life in you.
Death operates perfectly in us so it works the perfect life of Christ in you.
13 Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak,
spiorit of faith- our faith is our trust, the animating factor in our living through this.
tell some one with your mouth or with how you live through it.
2 Corinthians 4.13-14 are witnesses that faith cannot remain silent.... Paul quotes Psalm 116.10
10 I believed, even when I spoke: “I am greatly afflicted”;
14 knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence.
knowing a fact
Raise- resurrect (us)
Bring us into his presence- to be caused to be in a specific place or proximity to something else.
15 For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.
It is all for you
grace- goodwill freely disseminated by God
extends- becomes bigger and bigger
more and more people- greater in number.
thanksgiving increases or abounds.
to give God more and more honor.
16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.
lose heart- we are not discouraged.
outer-being on the outside
wasting- the physical process of breaking down, wearing out, whether by becoming older and less healthy or rotting after death.
inner-the soul, the immaterial part of us.
renewed- to become in alike-new and often improved manner.
day by day- every 24 hours (the time for Eaarth to make a complete rotation on its axis.)
17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,
momentary- lasting for a brief time.
light- property of being comparatively small in weight.
affliction- an oppressive state of physical, mental, social, or economic adversity. (pressure)
weitht- significance or importance
glory- high honor
beyond all comparison- the state of having extremely more than is necessary superlatively.
18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
“as”- provided that
We look not at our present- but at the yet unrevealed future, the hidden, the eternal.
Paul is not saying he is uninterested in what is happening here- often to him(!)- but also to others,.... but rather that he sees it all through the lens of the unseen and eternal promise beyond this life..... that is what reveals the glory he is talking about- the knowledge of the future.
Paul is not preoccupied with heaven, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God the father, because he simply chose it. He is practicing a very informed decision that he made long ago on the damascus road and that has continued throughout his sufferings.
Paul recognized that this life- all of its heartaches and sufferings along the way- were passing away.... consider 1 Cor 7.31
31 and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away.
This is all temporary! We are temps.
God Honors Our Faith When We Honor His Glory
20 O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge,” 21 for by professing it some have swerved from the faith. Grace be with you.
“All God’s giants have been weak men who did great things for God because they reckoned on Him being with them.”-J. Hudson Taylor
Focus on the master, not on ourselves.
Suffering Reveals Not Only My Weakness But God’s Glory
The true test of our ministry is not stars- it’s scars.- Warren Wiersbe
17 From now on let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.
The Challenge Of My Life Is God’s Adjustment To My Vision
The Challenge Of My Life Is God’s Adjustment To My Vision
Difficult Circumstances serve to aadjust my vision. My bottom line is in no way intended to blame God for anything, we live in a sinful world as sinners. But God can use our circumstances to make us better.
See Luke 1.26-35
26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” 35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.
I want you to imagine the challenge this would be in Mary’s life.... what was her response: Luke 1.38
38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
The challenge adjusted Mary’s vision- from the short term to the long term.
See Matthew 1.18-25
18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.
Imagine the challenge this was in Joseph’s life.
The challenge adjusted Joseph’s vision- from the temporal to the eternal.
18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
2 Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.