April 19, 2015.
Daily Reading: II Corinthians 4-6.
Background: II Corinthians 1-3.
Concepts and Connections.
1. The light of the gospel: In the beginning, when all of the universe as we know it was nothing and there was no light, there was God, and God said “Let their be light,”- and light shined out of darkness (see Genesis 1:3). Paul echoes this concept here, comparing the gospel of Christ Jesus to the light that has shown in our hearts, given from the same God who started it all. There is glory that is associated with the gospel, and this glory is the light of the gospel. This light, however, is often veiled to those who do not believe, veiled to those who are perishing, because they do not receive the Light that will give them life. Paul encourages the Corinthians here to not lose heart in the ministry of the gospel, for it is the light of salvation.
2. Jars of clay: It is interesting to look at God’s plan of how the gospel would be spread after the ministry of Christ, as He has entrusted the glory of the gospel in the hands of mere men. When Jesus was here, He choose 12 men as apostles to disciple and entrust His teaching with, and these men (and other disciples of Christ) would indeed go on to spread this gospel. In the book of Acts, whenever there is divine intervention, such as in the case of Paul or Cornelius (see Acts 9, 22 and Acts 10, respectively), God doesn’t tell them what they must do to be saved, nor does He even teach them the gospel of Christ. Rather, He sends a preacher to each of them to expound on the gospel. It seems to have always been the plan of Go to carry out His will through men, as we even see many of these examples in the Old Testament, such as Moses, Samuel and Elijah to name a few. He has entrusted this treasure to us, jars of clay, to show that it is not by our power that any of this is true, but rather by the powerful working of God. Thus, our outward body is perishing, but the inward man is being renewed daily, and because of Jesus, we have the hope of a resurrection just as He was raised from the dead. We believe, therefore we speak- we proclaim the gospel of Christ, which is the good news of salvation for all who would hear. Though we might be persecuted, nothing that we experience here can compare to the life beyond. We should not loose hope, for we indeed have a treasure, a treasure entrusted in jars of clay.
A new creation: Continuing on the thought of the last chapter, Paul speaks here of the heavily home that we have through Christ, a reason not to worry about this life and our home here. Paul would have us all be encouraged, for we know that whether we live or die, we will do so pleasing Christ, and ultimately we will indeed be at home with Him. It is a sure thing that we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, no matter how you are, to receive the due justice of what was done in the body. But that’s the whole reason Christ came, that we might be delivered in judgement, that we might be washed clean in His blood, able to stand before the judgment seat blameless. That is why the gospel is good news. We have been reconciled to Christ. We are a new creation. Our sins have been forgiven and they are remembered no more. We are no longer regarded as of the flesh, but as ambassadors for Christ, who knew no sin, but became sin on our behalf that we might be delivered from what would be our due punishment. Hallelujah to the King.
Contrast of trials and glory: Much of what Paul has been talking about over the past few chapters is done so that he might make a case for him and his fellow travelers, that they are not trying to be overly critical of what the church is doing, but they are writing to them in love and a genuine concern for their well being. The church at Corinth was plagued with problems, much of which seemed to be caused by pride/division, and this pride was even leaking over to their willingness to listen to Paul, to whom in a way they owed their spiritual lives. While they were arguing over whether they should believe Paul or not, he and his companions were fighting the good fight, and being delivered into various forms of persecution and hardships. Paul’s writing here should really put things into perspective for the Corinthians, as it should do the same for us. Paul asks the Corinthians to widen their hearts, a piece of advice that we all could use from time to time. The Corinthians were surrounded by much paganism as they were in a very pagan city. Paul tells them not to be associated with unbelievers, which seems to be where some of their problems were coming from. In the first letter, we see that the church in Corinth had been overly tolerant, allowing a lifestyle of sin to be present in their midst, and they were even boasting about it (see I Corinthians 5). It is not unreasonable to assume that they were letting the unrighteous religious practices around them influence the way they acted and thought. But Paul reminds them that they are the temple of the living God, and not of idols. He cites Leviticus 26:12, Exodus 29:45 and Isaiah 52:11 to remind them who they serve and who’s family they had entered into. The Lord is not one to share His people with mute idols and false gods. We are to be Sons of the living God, not slaves to what are no gods at all. But how often we sell ourselves into this slavery, becoming unequally yoked with unbelievers. Let us consecrate ourselves for the Lord, who has give us salvation.
Tomorrow’s Reading: Exodus 9-12.
Let light shine out of darkness.