Study Notes

2Corinthians 4:7-5:11

Paul has been talking about the light of the knowledge of the glory of God. Remember how Jesus told us,

Matt. 5:14-16 "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do men light a lamp, and put it under the peck-measure, but on the lampstand; and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven."

We need to shine the light. What is the light? The light you shine is the light of the knowledge of the glory of God. This light, this treasure, is inside of all Christians just waiting to be shined.

4:7 Earthen Vessels

This treasure, the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, is in earthen vessels. This might sound familiar to you Bible students: light hidden in earthen vessels. Remember in the book of Judges that Gideon ended up with just 300 men to fight the Midianites.

Judg. 7:16-22 And he divided the 300 men into three companies, and he put trumpets and empty pitchers into the hands of all of them, with torches inside the pitchers. And he said to them, "Look at me, and do likewise. And behold, when I come to the outskirts of the camp, do as I do. When I and all who are with me blow the trumpet, then you also blow the trumpets all around the camp, and say, 'For the LORD and for Gideon.'" So Gideon and the hundred men who were with him came to the outskirts of the camp at the beginning of the middle watch, when they had just posted the watch; and they blew the trumpets and smashed the pitchers that were in their hands. When the three companies blew the trumpets and broke the pitchers, they held the torches in their left hands and the trumpets in their right hands for blowing, and cried, "A sword for the LORD and for Gideon!" And each stood in his place around the camp; and all the army ran, crying out as they fled. And when they blew 300 trumpets, the LORD set the sword of one against another even throughout the whole army; and the army fled...

The torches were hidden inside the pitchers, these earthen vessels. What had to be done to shine the light and have victory over the enemy? Those earthen vessels had to be broken.

The same is true for you today. You have the light of the knowledge of the glory of God inside of you. But it cannot shine until you are broken. David wrote in Psalm 51,

Ps. 51:15-17 O Lord, open my lips, That my mouth may declare Thy praise. For Thou dost not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; Thou art not pleased with burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise.

We try so hard to stay strong. We fight to stay on top of things. After all, we've got our pride, you know. But the Lord wants us to be broken and contrite people.

The Hebrew word "contrite" comes from a root word meaning to be crushed or beaten to piences. That's when the light of the knowledge of the glory of God can shine out of us. And this is the situation that Paul found himself in.

4:8-12 Death In Us, Life In You

Paul was a broken man, but not destroyed. He was constantly persecuted, but knew that God never forsook him. He was contantly at the end of himself, and that's how and why God used him so mightily. Remember that John the Baptisit said,

And later in 2Corinthians, Paul will tell us,

2Cor. 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.

God is bigger in your life when you allow yourself to be smaller. God is strong in your life when you acknowledge your weakness.

Paul said that he was living the dying of Jesus. He knew that all of the suffering that he endured was just a sharing in the sufferings of Jesus. He wrote to the Colossians,

Col. 1:24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body (which is the church) in filling up that which is lacking in Christ's afflictions.

Now obviously, there is nothing incomplete about the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Don't ever think that this means that Paul's sufferings helped pay for your sin. But the body of Christ suffered while He was on earth, and continues to suffer today in the form of the church. So Christ's afflictions are not yet complete. His body will still suffer until the day that we are caught up to be with Him for eternity. So Paul rejoiced because he was counted worthy to share in the sufferings of Christ.

The more Paul suffered, the more he was broken, the more the light of the knowledge of the glory of God was able to shine from him.

Are you willing to suffer that the light would shine from you? You say you want revival and to see many come to Christ, but are you willing to suffer for that cause? You moms know that in order for a baby to be born, then you must travail in pain. The same is true in the kingdom of God. If you want people to be born again, you need to be willing to endure the pain of giving birth. That's how come Paul says,

2Cor. 4:12 So death works in us, but life in you.

He died daily to see people saved.

4:13-18 We Believe, So We Speak

This is a basic principle, isn't it? I find that people talk about what they believe. There has been a discussion going around the office lately on the different beliefs people hold regarding the training of dogs. Some believe in a firm hand of disciple. Reinforce the training with the quick jerk of a choke chain. Others believe in gaining obedience by rewarding the dog with treats. Still others hold to the positive reinforcement of exuberant praise. Nearly everybody's got an opinion, and everybody shares it.

It's that way with football teams, politics, high-profile controversies or trials on television, you name it. Everybody who believes strongly one way or the other speaks. The stronger you believe it, the more you speak it.

In Acts 4, Peter and John were arrested for preaching in the name of Jesus. When called to trial, verse 8 tells us that Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit and preached Jesus to the Council.

Acts 4:13-20 Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John, and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were marveling, and {began} to recognize them as having been with Jesus. And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they had nothing to say in reply But when they had ordered them to go aside out of the Council, they {began} to confer with one another, saying, "What shall we do with these men? For the fact that a noteworthy miracle has taken place through them is apparent to all who live in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. But in order that it may not spread any further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to any man in this name." And when they had summoned them, they commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said to them, "Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking what we have seen and heard."

Filled with the Holy Spirit, they could not stop speaking what they had seen and heard. Jesus promised the Holy Spirit to the disciples, saying,

Acts 1:8 shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth."

Paul believed, therefore he spoke. Peter and John believed, therefore he spoke. Maybe you believe, but have trouble speaking. Ask the Lord to fill you with His Holy Spirit, that you would receive power to speak confidently of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

5:1-4 Earthly Tent & Building From God

Paul was a tentmaker by trade. He knew firsthand that no matter how well you made a tent, no matter how well it was maintained, it would eventually decay and be destroyed. By nature, tents are flimsy. If the wind doesn't knock it down, it'll shred it to pieces. If the rain doesn't ruin it, the sun will.

That is the perfect picture of these bodies that we live in - tents. They're tents: flimsy, susceptible to the elements, decaying and eroding no matter how much we might try to take care of them. Praise God that when this tent is torn down, those of us that have been born again have another body, a glorified body, waiting for us in heaven - described as a building from God, eternal in the heavens.

5:5 The Spirit As A Pledge

Three times in the New Testament we read that the Holy Spirit has been given to us as a pledge

2Cor. 1:22 who also sealed us and gave {us} the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge.

2Cor. 5:5 Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge.

Eph. 1:14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of {God's own} possession, to the praise of His glory.

When God sent His Holy Spirit to live inside of us, He was giving us His word that we were His. Just like when PBS has their pledge drives, they're not collecting the money right then, you're just calling and promising that you'll send them this amount of money next year. You've pledged it. Now, while some reneg on their pledges, God never does. If He gave you His Holy Spirit, then you are assured of your heavenly inheritance - eternal live in heaven with Christ.

5:6-8 Absent From The Body, Present With The Lord

He says that we're walking by faith at this point - we can't see God, we're absent from Him in that sense. We can't head over to where He lives and see Him sitting there on His throne. Someday we'll be able to do that, but not now. Now we're living in these earthen vessels, these tents. And certainly I'd rather be there with the Lord than here.

If you're enjoying this world too much to really long for heaven, you've got a huge problem. This world is the closest to hell you're ever going to get. Don't even bother trying to make yourself at home here in this world.

Now obviously, we're here for a good reason. Paul told the Philippians,

Phil. 1:21-25 For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if {I am} to live {on} in the flesh, this {will mean} fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. But I am hard-pressed from both {directions,} having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for {that} is very much better; yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake. And convinced of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy in the faith

You see, Paul really wanted to be with the Lord. But while he was here, he made the most of every moment by sharing Christ with unbelievers and building up the faith of believers.

5:9-11 The judgment Seat Of Christ

We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ. What a scary thought! Not to worry, this judgment seat is not the Great White Throne judgment that we read of in Revelation 20. That judgment is for people that die rejecting the life that Jesus offers every person.

Rev. 20:11-15 And I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is {the book} of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one {of them} according to their deeds. And death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

That is fortunately not the judgment that Paul is talking about that we will all stand before.

This judgment which Paul is speaking of is the Bema Seat judgment, where each Christian appears before the Lord for an evaluation of his life. The book of Romans tells us,

Rom. 14:10-12 But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written, AS I LIVE, SAYS THE LORD, EVERY KNEE SHALL BOW TO ME, AND EVERY TONGUE SHALL GIVE PRAISE TO GOD." So then each one of us shall give account of himself to God.

We shall all give account of ourselves to God. What did you do with your life? What were the motives behind what you did? Why did you continue to do this or that? 1Corinthians 3 describes the process:

1Cor. 3:12-15 Now if any man builds upon the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man's work will become evident; for the day will show it, because it is {to be} revealed with fire; and the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work. If any man's work which he has built upon it remains, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work is burned up, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as through fire.

Jesus said,

Luke 8:17 "For nothing is hidden that shall not become evident, nor {anything} secret that shall not be known and come to light.

Wouldn't it be terrible to find your entire Christian life produced nothing but ashes? Oh, you'll still be saved, but with no reward. How sad for what could have been. No wonder Paul told us,

1Cor. 11:31 But if we judged ourselves rightly, we should not be judged.

Are you ready to give an account of your life to God? Do you suddenly wish that you had more time to straighten things out? No time like the present to begin living with the knowledge that you're going to stand before Jesus and give an account for your life.

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