Sufficiency in Christ - Message 3
October 3, 2021
Introduction: We continue our series called, Sufficiency in Christ.
The title to today’s message is Persistence.
- Theme verse: 2 Corinthians 4:1 (NLT)—…since God in His mercy has given us this new way, we never give up. [APP.: Are you persistent?]
- Persistence is, “determination to continue what you are doing, tenacity.”
- Are you determined to continue the calling God has given you despite difficulties?
- Let’s gain encouragement from Paul’s persistence in spreading the Gospel.
We never give up because we are…
A. #1 - Entrusted with the Gospel. (2 Corinthians 4:1-6. C/R: Romans 10:13-15; 1 Corinthians 2:4-5; Ephesians 2:2; Colossians 1:12–15)
- In the previous section, Paul focused on the glory of the New Covenant—especially when compared to the Old Covenant (3:7-18).
- 2 Corinthians 4:1 (NLT)—Therefore, since God in His mercy [withholding judgment] has given us this new way [New Covenant, 2 Corinthians 3:6-18, Spirit providing eternal life and righteousness by grace, so…], we never give up.
- Give up is translated from Gk. ekkakéō, ek-kak-eh'-o, “to lose one’s motivation, to become discouraged, to lose heart, experience inner weariness, give in to fear.”
- Paul persisted despite his hardships and attacks by false apostles; he did not surrender or stop, because he knew God had a plan that involved him and God would prevail!
- Paul was scrupulous, careful, thoroughly scriptural, in the way he explained the Gospel—in both content and attitude.
- 2 Corinthians 4:2a (NLT)—We reject all shameful deeds and underhanded methods. We don’t try to trick anyone or distort the word of God. [dŏlŏō, dol-ŏ´-o; “ensnare, adulterate, handle deceitfully”]
- 2 Corinthians 4:2b (NLT)—We tell the truth before God [who is listening; 2 Corinthians 1:23; 2:17], and all who are honest know this [Corinthian congregation and false teachers].
- The false apostles preached for financial gain (2:17) and personal popularity.
- They did not want to offend anyone because they were developing a following among people who would support them financially.
- They distorted God’s word by mixing grace with law, making the Gospel more acceptable to Jewish people, but dishonoring God and His Word in the process.
- 2 Corinthians 4:3 (NLT)—If the Good News we preach is hidden behind a veil, it is hidden only from people who are perishing. [Despite his adversaries’ accusation, Paul preached the Gospel plainly; Satan confused them. [2 Corinthians 3:12-14; 1 Corinthians 2:4-5]
- 2 Corinthians 4:4a (NLT)—Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. [Ephesians 2:2; Satan is always at work distracting people away from the true gospel. Ex.: Today, politics, social and medical issues divide people.]
- 2 Corinthians 4:4b (NLT)—They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God. [Jews accepted God, rejected Jesus, but they are the same. John 14:9; Colossians 1:15]
- 2 Corinthians 4:5 (NLT)—You see, we don’t go around preaching about ourselves. We preach that Jesus Christ is Lord, and we ourselves are your servants for Jesus’ sake.
- The false apostles promoted themselves and elevated their prestige by inserting an element of mystery or higher wisdom that required greater spiritual insight to understand—which caused the Corinthians to consult them to discern truth.
- Paul knew that he was “merely” a servant, sent to spread Good News, by exalting Jesus.
- His purpose was to win converts to Jesus, not followers for himself, so he persisted!
- 2 Corinthians 4:6 (NLT)—For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” [Genesis 1:3] has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. [Colossians 1:12-15]
- Paul knew God alone saved people by illuminating their understanding so they could “know,” which means “experience,” the glory of God revealed through Jesus.
- APP.: Are you a servant of God and other people, determined to share Good News thoughtfully, carefully, thoroughly, prayerfully?
- You have an essential calling: Romans 10:13–15 (NLT)—13For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
14But how can they call on Him to save them unless they believe in Him? And how can they believe in Him if they have never heard about Him? And how can they hear about Him unless someone tells them? 15And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent?... [by God through Great Commission and specifically to certain people]
We never give up because we are…
B. #2 - Empowered by God. (2 Corinthians 4:7-12. C/R: Acts 9:15-16; Acts 14:22; Philippians 1:12; 2 Timothy 2:11–13)
- 2 Corinthians 4:7 (NLT)—We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars [common pots, human frailty] containing this great treasure [knowledge of God’s glory, proclaiming this to the world]. This makes it clear that our great power [to save] is from God, not from ourselves.
- Our humble lives and words are not able to convince people about the priceless Gospel of eternal salvation through knowledge of God; God’s power is needed!
- 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 (NLT)—8We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. 9We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.
- Paul was enabled by God’s power to persist despite many difficulties. (2 Corinthians 11:23-29)
- 2 Corinthians 4:10 (NLT)—Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.
- The false apostles argued that Paul’s suffering was due to God’s punishment for sin, but Paul’s suffering was persecution for his faith, because of his identification with Jesus.
- His willingness to suffer—and his ability to suffer—and yet to persist in spreading the message that caused his suffering, gave strong support to the truth of the Gospel.
- 2 Corinthians 4:11 (NLT)—Yes, we live under constant danger of death because we serve Jesus, so that the life of Jesus will be evident in our dying bodies.
- Paul’s courageous, faithful, patient, enduring of suffering displayed the power of God in his life and explained the impact of his ministry.
- 2 Corinthians 4:12 (NLT)—So we live in the face of death, but this has resulted in eternal life for you.
- Paul faced death so he could offer life eternal to the Corinthians; he was willing to die physically so they could live spiritually. (Philippians 1:12; 2 Timothy 2:11)
- APP.: Are you willing to suffer, even die, so others can have eternal life? Then, are you willing to be inconvenienced, renounced and rejected? “Don’t let anyone silence you!”
We never give up because we are…
C. #3 - Experiencing renewal. (2 Corinthians 4:13-18. C/R: Romans 8:17-18; Ephesians 3:16–19; 2 Timothy 3:12; 1 Peter 5:10)
- 2 Corinthians 4:13 (NLT)—But we continue to preach because we have the same kind of faith the psalmist had when he said, “I believed in God, so I spoke.” [Psalm 116:10]
- Like the Psalmist, Paul’s faith compelled him to preach. [APP.: Does yours?]
- 2 Corinthians 4:14 (NLT)—We know that God, who raised the Lord Jesus, will also raise us with Jesus and present us to Himself together with you.
- The promise of resurrection provided Paul’s fearless persistence to preach the gospel.
- 2 Corinthians 4:15 (NLT)—All of this is for your benefit. And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory.
- Paul suffered willingly, selflessly, knowing that his hardship enabled more people to hear the Gospel and be saved, resulting in a greater number of people to worship God!
- 2 Corinthians 4:16 (NLT)—That is why we never give up. Though our bodies [earthen vessels] are dying [from aging, but also the hardship of persecution], our spirits are being renewed every day. [2 Timothy 3:12; Ephesians 3:16-19]
- The Spirit will continue to renew, to strengthen, to transform believers into the image of Christ (sanctification to increasing glorification; Romans 8:29) as we grow in the knowledge of God, and prepare for His return. (Philippians 1:6; Colossians 3:10).
- 2 Corinthians 4:17 (NLT)—For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!
- Hardships are temporary since life is short, but our suffering for Christ produces eternal rewards that we will enjoy forever! (Becoming glorious!) [Romans 8:17-18; 1 Peter 5:10]
- 2 Corinthians 4:18 (NLT)—So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.
- APP.: Can you live, and serve, and spread Good News with eternity in sight?
- Memory verse: 2 Corinthians 4:18 (NLT)—So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.
- Care counselors here, at the front, and in the Care Connection room
- Baptism today at 6:30 pm, in Amphitheater; food trucks will be here!