2 Corinthians 4:1-5:10 – Walking Through 2 Corinthians

Introduction

No matter the hardship to come, no matter our weakness; the Lord’s strength and glory can carry us through. This is what the apostle Paul shows us in 2 Corinthians 4 & 5.

In this life, there is so much corruption, so much sin and death. Satan stirs the muck and mire and blinds men with his noise. But we who would serve the one true God; we have hope for the salvation of our souls through Christ Jesus.

Join me today in this meditation upon these things in 2 Corinthians 4 & 5. Let us learn from the veteran Paul how to view our labors here. So that we can learn to leave a similar legacy of faith-filled service for others to follow.

2 Corinthians 4:1-2

The mercy of God is ever present to strengthen us. From His mercy flows the river of life. From His mercy flows His great wisdom & the great Hope in Christ Jesus.

The apostles renounced the hidden shameful things of the flesh. We cannot go around thinking that such sin is acceptable; we cannot continue in sin that grace may abound. But some whose hearts have been seared with sin, these do not even teach against such sins. Rather they placate the unruly sinner, tickling their ears all in the name of “having influence”, or some such nonsense. None can be servants of God and so twist the word of God in this way. Let us purge the leaven of sin from our lives, and speak the plain gospel message;

Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand.

I think there might be a temptation to make ourselves more important than we are. To act as though the message is so complex that the messenger must be of a certain learned type. And while the apostle Paul was in fact quite well educated, his reliance was upon the Lord’s will and not his own wisdom. When Paul points to himself here, he is pointing to his own manner of life; which is the life lead for Christ Jesus, a life walking with the good Shepherd and Paul but a sheep.

Paul walks in a manner pleasing to the Lord. In so doing, he knows that he has nothing to be ashamed of in his conduct.

Can we always say the same?:
  1. Do we spout off at the mouth?
  2. Do we cut down our neighbor with our tongue?
  3. Do we lie to get by?
    1. Do we avoid the hard truths in the name of a false peace?
    2. Or do we declare the whole counsel of God; boldly and without fear?
  4. Do we seek peace only in the love and truth of God, all other paths be damned (for that is indeed what they are).
  5. Do we preach Jesus risen and reigning, as the only way into the Kingdom of God?
    1. Or do we tacitly accept the various isms around us as the path of truth?
      1. humanism
      2. pluralism
      3. multiculturalism
      4. fascism
      5. communism
      6. conservatism
      7. fundamentalism
      8. republicanism
      9. the list could go on forever because there is an infinite number of wrong paths but only one true path Christ Jesus
  6. Do we teach that the Prince of Peace is the only true path of peace?
    1. Or do we place our hope in politicians and kings; that maybe they can bring peace.
  7. Do we teach that the great Physician is the only one with healing balm for our souls?
    1. Or do we peddle the supplements of the devil and his workmen?

Paul did not put his light under a bushel basket. He did not veil the truth from men. He spoke it boldly, plainly: The Christ has come, He is crucified, He is risen and reigning in heaven above. All who would come into the kingdom of God must come through Him. Woe to those who find themselves outside the flock of the Lord in the final day; for judgment will come and all will pass under His rod of judgment. Some to pass into the sheepfold, some to pass into outer darkness and eternal suffering.

2 Corinthians 4:3-6

To those perishing in sin the gospel call to salvation and sanctification through Christ Jesus is foolishness that cannot be tolerated. They cannot see the Light of the Lord Jesus. For He is the image of God above. Those of the fleshly mind resist the image of God; for His light shines and shows them the savagery of their minds. They love the darkness rather than the light.

But those who practice the truth; they love the light and find it ultimately irresistibly good. It is attractive to such souls. Develop a love for the truth and practice the truth at every opportunity, and find yourself drawn into the Light of Christ.

But the perishing cannot see the light. Satan, the false god of this world, works his angles and lays his traps. He doesn’t care how much truth you practice, only that he keep you from the whole truth.

The Devil might say:
  • You can believe in Jesus if you like.
  • You can repent to God that’s fine up to a point, be moderate in all things after all.
  • You can confess the Christ, though it pains my ears.
  • Just don’t get washed in the blood of the lamb.
    • Because then you make my work ten times harder.
    • So baptism isn’t needed, it’s just an outward sign of your inward change.
    • What a good little Christian you are being now.
    • Go ahead and take up that cross if you like
      • But let’s not be too hasty in crucifying the old man of sin in actual fact through Christ’s baptism.
      • Let’s not upset the natural order of things here.

I grow weary of the old serpent’s lies. I grow weary of his henchmen and their delusions. They are blind and refuse to see. But rather than be ground to dust under such weariness; look to the light. For God has shone in our hearts; He gives the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. We have the magnificence of Jesus, the image of God, shining forth into our hearts to restore and heal our weary backs.

2 Corinthians 4:7-12

We are trapped in weak and lowly vessels. But this too is to the glory of God. For if we were powerful enough for the gospel, then we might eclipse its grandeur. But no man before or since Jesus has been sufficient for these things. And this too is for the good of all. That men do not take one another captive in the cult of personality. Instead, that we are taken captive by the surpassing greatness of the power of God and His rich mercies.

We who would labor in the truth of God will always find affliction in the work. Perplexity is common in the ministry of the word. It is astonishing how blind and stiff-necked people can be; even ourselves at times. Yet we need not despair, for the God of all justice and mercy is at the helm. We can hold fast to that faith.

What I love about Paul and all the apostles, is how they persevered. In persecution, they knew that the Lord had not forsaken them. But rather honored them, considering them worthy of the cause.

Though men might strike them down, they knew that men could not touch their eternal state. And that the Lord had promised and was more than able and willing to fulfill that eternal promise.

In sufferings, the apostles suffered with the same dignity that the Christ did. They did not call for the destruction of their persecutors; they did not seek to rain down brimstone upon their heads. They knew from the Messiah Himself what manner of Kingdom they served. And the same is true of all Christians who suffer with such dignity. For many Christians have been made a spectacle of in their deaths; and time and again some in the crowds have bore witness to their faith and been moved. Some moved to a like faith, and some only to respect for it, but moved none-the-less

In this temporary body, sufferings come; but if with the dignity and grace of Christ, the life of Jesus is made manifest to the blind of this generation.

Regardless of the outcome, we have faith. The faith that Jesus and his apostles died to secure. Jesus the cornerstone of our faith, and the apostles the foundation laid straight. And so we have the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.

2 Corinthians 4:13-15

In verse 13 Paul quotes David from Psalm 116:10. He is looking to David’s example and following it. And we today are looking at Paul’s example and should be following suit. In so doing we also set an example, that future generations may be able to look to us for guidance.

So let us speak the gospel without wavering. The resurrection of Jesus was a sign to us that we who are buried with Him into His death through baptism are to be raised up with Him in the likeness of His resurrection. This is the hope that we have, looking forward to the day of our redemption.

The words and work of the servant of God must be for the sake of the church; to build it up in number and in depth of faith. Not to the glory of the servant, but to the glory of God with much thanksgiving from those who are being saved.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Our bodies die, they break down, they suffer afflictions of all kinds. But if we will hold the spirit of faith within our hearts, our inner man will become stronger even though our outer man grows weaker.

If we will use the struggles here and now to grow inwardly, then our growth will be of the eternal sort of the inner man. We will be spiritually strong, even though we grow increasingly weak in the outer man.

When we contrast the glory to come it far outweighs the sufferings of this earthen vessel. We must keep our eyes heavenward if we are to grow in this grace. We may have times of weakness and struggle, but if we will be renewed in the Lord, if we will take refuge in Him then refreshing comes and we are made inwardly stronger.

The stuff of this life is not eternal, it is just dust and to dust it will return. So we fix our eyes on the eternal unseen things.

2 Corinthians 5:1-5

These bodies are earthly tents. We live and labor in them; yet we groan against the burden. It is labor to be in this world of sin and death.

The Christ Himself lamented several times,

“You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you and put up with you?”

Even the creation groans against this burden (Romans 8:22) So we eagerly await our redemption as sons. To shed this temporary garment of flesh and blood, and to be clothed with the eternal body of glory in Christ Jesus. We have been given the Spirit of God to dwell within us as a pledge from God that the day of redemption will be the day of glorification. The day where we will shine forth in glory, giving praise to His name in deep thanksgiving and joy.

The weakening body of flesh, and its death, are not a terror for us as they are for others. For us, this is the swallowing up of the mortal by true life in Christ. A thing God has been preparing us for all along.

2 Corinthians 5:6-10

To live is Christ, to die is gain.

The basic desire of the Christian is to be pleasing to God. For we know in that day of Judgment; as we stand before the throne of Christ that we shall receive back as we have done.

If we have rejected God and His way, then in that day, our choice will be made final.

We who have been redeemed by the blood of Christ walk in the Way of Christ as a result of the lavish grace of God who in His mercy received us into His household. Not out of some good labor or merit of our own. But out of the goodness of His beloved Son, who willingly died for our cause, to add us to this heavenly household.

All men will be judged in that day. Those who have accepted the free gift of grace, that is the salvation of Christ, will hear the blessed words,

“Well done good and faithful servant, enter into my rest.”

To those who have spurned the invitation of Jesus, they will hear the terrible news;

“Depart from me you worker of lawlessness, I know you not.”

Let us then resign to be well pleasing to Him in all our lives.

The invitation is open. Will you accept it and be welcomed in? Or will you reject it and delay still longer? How long oh man, how long shall you tarry in sin?

Today is the day of salvation, where all can enter in. Yet tomorrow the day of judgment, the doors will be shut, and there will be much wailing and gnashing of teeth, for great is their tribulation in that day.

If you’ve decided to put on the Christ in baptism, then won’t you come forward while we stand and sing the appointed song; and you can enter into His rest.

Appendix A: Appendix of Verses | by order of appearance

  1. 2 Corinthians 4:1-2
  2. 2 Corinthians 4:3-6
  3. 2 Corinthians 4:7-12
  4. 2 Corinthians 4:13-15
    1. Psalm 116:10
  5. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
  6. 2 Corinthians 5:1-5
    1. Matthew 17:17
    2. Romans 8:22
  7. 2 Corinthians 5:6-10
    1. Philippians 1:21
    2. Matthew 25:23
    3. cf. Matthew 7:23 & Luke 13:27