(A Sermon Series from 2 Corinthians)
Westgate Chapel 06-3-07 2 Corinthians 4:13-18
Proposition: The Christian life is not about now, but eternity, not about us, but grace multiplying in others, not about our afflictions, but the weight of eternal glory, and not about the seen, but things eternal.
- I HAVE a little exercise that I would like you to do with me as an introduction to today’s message….and I promise you up front it is perfectly safe.
- THERE is a black and white picture on the screen right now. I am going to tell you what I want you to do before I actually have you do it. That way you won’t feel like I am trying to trick you.
- IN just a moment I am going to have you…
* Concentrate on the four dots in the middle of the picture for about 30 seconds.
* Close your eyes and tilt your head back.
* Keep your eyes closed. You will see a circle of light.
* Continue looking at the circle of light…and tell someone next to you what you see.
- ARE you ready? Let me lead you through the steps now, one at a time.
- WHAT is the point of the exercise?
- YOUR perspective allows you to see things you wouldn’t otherwise be able to see.
- IN fact, I would like to suggest to you today that perspective is everything.
- IT effects how you see everything in your life.
- AND in the last 6 verses from 2 Corinthians 4, Paul interestingly gives us four perspectives, four dots to concentrate on….that will change everything about how you see your Christian life.
- AND these four perspectives are 180 degrees opposite of how most American Christians lives their lives.
- REMEMBER from last Sunday’s message, Paul has been talking about the incredible battles he has been through….so that the power at work in his life can be seen to be from God and not man.
- PAUL told us that he was….
* afflicted but not crushed.
* perplexed but not despairing.
* persecuted but not forsaken.
* struck down but not destroyed.
- WE ended last Sunday with verse 12,
“So death works in us, but life in you.” (2 Corinthians 4:12)
- THE power of God that is at work in us when we are going through stuff…results in encouragement and strength of faith in those around us at the time of our struggle.
ii. not about now, but eternity
- THAT is the context for what Paul says next….starting in verse 13,
“But having the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, ‘I believed, therefore I spoke,’ we also believe, therefore we also speak, 14 knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and will present us with you.” (2 Corinthians 4:13-14)
- IN spite of the battles we go through, the Holy Spirit is at work in us so that we have faith….which is simply an attitude of trust and confidence in God.
- AND because we trust in God….when we are going through stuff in our lives, the things we say are different than what the rest of the world says when they go through stuff.
- THE words that Paul is specifically referring to are, “He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also…”
* I may be afflicted right now, but God is going to raise me up with Jesus and present me faultless before His throne.
* I may be perplexed but it is all going to make sense when God raises me up with Jesus and presents me faultless before His throne.
* I may be persecuted right now, but God is going to raise me up with Jesus and present me faultless before His throne.
* I may even be struck down but the reason I am not destroyed is because God is going to raise me up with Jesus and present me faultless before His throne.
- SO, let me paraphrase these two verses with a perspective that significantly changes how you and I live our lives, “It is not about living for the now, but living for eternity.”
- THERE are bigger things at stake than…my career, or my promotion, or my marriage, or my health, or my finances.
- THIS kind of perspective is neither denial nor stoicism.
- GOD is going to raise me up with Christ and present me faultless before His throne.
- IT is not about the now of my life….it is about living every day with eternity clearly in view.
- THAT is the first dot to concentrate on….that will change your perspective on living, especially your perspective on the stuff of life that comes our way.
iii. not about us, but grace in others
- LET’S look at the next dot in verse 15,
“For all things are for your sakes, so that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:15)
- ALL things….
* even when I am struck down.
- ALL these things are for YOUR sakes.
- HOW can that be?
- KATHERN Carlstrom loses her husband and then battles through cancer, and it is for our sakes?
- JACK and Priscilla Olson face one crisis after another over the past twenty years, and it is for our sakes?
- THE Bob and Yvonne Horner family face career challenges and are uncertain about the future, and it is for our sakes?
- HOW are these things for our sakes?
- IT is God’s method of multiplying His grace.
- BECAUSE when you and I face the stuff of life …and are carried by God’s grace, comforted by grace, and empowered by God’s grace, and others see it, recognize it…grace has an amazing way of spreading very rapidly.
- THOSE who are watching us are encouraged to trust God, and as a result grace is released in their lives also.
- AND the net result is that lots of people give thanks to God and God is glorified.
- SO, based on this verse, here is the dot to concentrate on: Life is not about us, but it is about grace multiplied to others.
- THAT is so tough a perspective to see when you or I are in the middle of our stuff.
- BUT it is God’s perspective……faith’s perspective.
iv. not about afflictions, but glory
- THE next dot for us to concentrate on is in verses 16 and 17,
“Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. 17 For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison…” (2 Corinthians 4:16-17)
- SINCE we are living by God’s perspective we do not shrink back or throw in the towel in our afflictions.
- WE may be wearing down in terms of physical and even emotional stamina.
- BUT while that is happening the strange but miraculous paradox is that our inner man is being renewed day by day.
- HOW does that work?
- PAUL tells us in 2 Corinthians 12:10,
“Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10)
- PAUL learned that when the battles of life highlighted his lack of capacity to handle stuff, he was almost forced to trust in God.
- IN fact, Jesus Himself had told Paul,
“My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
- LET’S go back to our immediate text.
* blows that strike you down, may take their toll on your physical frame, but they are producing an eternal glory in you that Paul says cannot even be described.
- HERE is the dot to concentrate on: It is not about the afflictions, it is about the weight of glory they are producing in you and me.
- THAT is a tough perspective to hold on to, because when you are in the middle of the affliction, if you are not careful it becomes all about the affliction…
* every waking thought.
* every conversation.
* your countenance and body language.
* your energies.
- REPENT this morning. Renounce your self preoccupation.
- IT is not about the affliction. It is about the weight of glory it is producing on the child of God who lives by faith!
v. not about the seen, but things eternal
- ONE last dot to concentrate on!
- IT is found in verse 18,
“…we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:18)
- THIS verse wraps up the topic for Paul by setting before us the goal, the target of the Christian life.
- WHAT are you looking at?
- WHAT is your focus?
- WHAT are you concentrating on?
- THE world that fills your five senses….sight, taste, touch, smell, sound.
- THEY are temporal.
- ALL of these things are passing away….the second law of thermal dynamic insists that they are passing away.
- THE most important elements of the Christian life are unseen,
* The love of God.
* The holiness of God.
* The gift of salvation.
* Forgiveness of sins.
* Eternal life in God’s presence.
* Peace of mind and heart.
* Living for the purposes of God.
* Being a servant of God.
- PAUL is talking about a life lived with these things as your focus…because unlike the seen world, these things will have eternal consequence in our lives.
- WHAT is the dot?
- LIFE is not about the seen but the unseen.
- CAN I summarize the four dots for you?
1. It is not about living for the now, but living for eternity.”
2. It is not about us, but it is about grace multiplied to others.
3. It is not about the afflictions, it is about the weight of glory they are producing in you and me.
4. It is not about the seen but the unseen.
- CONCENTRATE on these four dots every day.
- CLOSE your eyes, lift up your head….and you will see Jesus.
HOLD TO HIS HAND