We Do Not Lose Heart
13 But just as we have the same spirit of faith that is in accordance with scripture—“I believed, and so I spoke”—we also believe, and so we speak, 14 because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus, and will bring us with you into his presence. 15 Yes, everything is for your sake, so that grace, as it extends to more and more people, may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God. 16 So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. 17 For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, 18 because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal. 1 For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
We also believe and so we speak
We also believe and so we speak
Paul is writing a very personal letter, opening his heart to the church at Corinth. They are dealing with a lot of problems and he has had to be firm with them more than once. But he wants them to know that the decisions he makes and the messages he sends are not sent flippantly. And so here is a line that says a lot: I believed and so I spoke… Paul says, essentially, that he’s speaking from conviction. He’s thought it through and these things come from deep belief.
Most scholars think Paul is quoting part of Psalm 116, one of my favorites:
10 I trusted in the Lord when I said, “I am greatly afflicted”; 11 in my alarm I said, “Everyone is a liar.” 12 What shall I return to the Lord for all his goodness to me? 13 I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord. 14 I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people.
It’s a hint that he’s not always sure who he can trust when he’s trying to help people, but he trusts God above all and is going to stick to his convictions from God and be thankful for all God has done for him. That’s good wisdom. Trust God and do what you know is right as best you can.
Sometimes problems come when we judge things from the outside or from a distance. The Corinthians were dealing with suffering and trials and wondering what it all means. Corinth was the kind of place where every belief under the sun was being practiced. With all these options, Paul wants them to know that following Jesus doesn’t mean ignoring the hard questions in life. Jesus and the Bible offer hope to the suffering and hurting. They don’t need to look elsewhere...
The Meaning Mall
The Meaning Mall
So how about us? Well these days things are changing and shopping malls are becoming an endangered species. Online shopping is so much easier and they bring it right to you door, if you know who to trust and how to do it safely. But actually going to a mall is not all that safe these days stores get boarded up and security is more of a challenge.
But today, every town is like Corinth. Lot’s of different beliefs are all around. And here’s the problem for the church and for Christians. So few Christians actually know that much about their faith! I’m going to say that again: so few Christians actually know that much about their faith.
Some examples: for a lot of people faith is about being a good boy or a good girl. It’s about behavior modification. If you don’t do certain sins and you do certain good works, you shall be saved! It’s a nice little system. It just doesn’t have that much to do with Jesus or the gospel. The Bible says all have sinned and fallen short. The Bible says if we confess our sins he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Jesus said love one another, it was his one command. Jesus said love your neighbor as yourself and even love your enemies. He said don’t commit adultery but he also said don’t sit around imagining it, either. This is so much more than being good. This is about being filled with all the fullness of God. This is about Jesus making ALL THINGS NEW! So sure, go and sin no more. But Jesus is here to do the heavy lifting when it comes to that. And he gets all the glory as well. This is more than the gospel of sin management. If you’re taking pride because you think you’re better than someone else here today or someone not here today, please stop it. That’s not how Christians do it. If you stop sinning it will be because Jesus gives you the power. If you do good it will just be the good works he created in advance for us to do. Boom.
But Paul isn’t writing to the ones who think they have it altogether. He’s writing to the ones who realize they are in pain, they are tired, they are getting old, maybe even those who are sick. But he wants everyone to overhear it.
This morning, the meaning mall is open for business. If you don’t understand the gospel and don’t realize how much it can help you through times of suffering, you might get sucked into some other belief about it. In some systems they claim suffering is an illusion. In others, it’s a sign you’ve sinned. But Paul says:
16 So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. 17 For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, 18 because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.
Folks, suffering and even death are part of life. We can’t be in denial about it and we don’t have to be. Don’t lose heart. Even when your body is wasting away, you can still be renewed. You can still find the power to live each day you have as a holy gift from God. Don’t turn away from suffering. But even more importantly, don’t turn away from God in times of suffering. That’s the time to lean in.
He knows what it’s like. Jesus suffered for us. He took our sins upon himself. Suffering is lousy in many ways, but Christians can find meaning. You don’t need to go shopping at the meaning mall. This is real. This is now. Jesus renewing us. The Holy Spirit, filling us. This is real life. Are you tracking with me today?
None of us are getting any younger. The outer man is fading away, but the inner person is being made new. So we can live with hope even while we cope with bodies that sometimes let us down.
Even when we die we know one day we will rise again. This body will be made new. If we just try not to think about it we might not be as ready when that day approaches. I pray that God may give us a desire to live well in this world. Because of Jesus we can have life to the full. But I pray we will want one thing even more: to live with Jesus in the fullness of his Kingdom one day. He will be back to get us one day. Or we will go on ahead to await the resurrection. Let’s not fear that day. Let us rejoice that we are closer than ever before.
1 For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
Jesus will make even our bodies new and imperishable one day. Paul is inviting the Corinthians and us to live now with a hope that never dies.
14 because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus, and will bring us with you into his presence. 15 Yes, everything is for your sake, so that grace, as it extends to more and more people, may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.
Don’t lose heart. We’ve much to do before Jesus comes. Let that grace extend to more and more people as we look forward to that day...
If you’re watching online, thanks for joining us today. Have a great week. For those of you who are here in person Let’s prepare to come to the Lord’s table.