2 Corinthians Chapter 4-5

May 31, 2012

This Preaching in Shorts Bible study is on 2 Corinthians. Each chapter is read verse by verse with the major points highlighted and discussed.

You can listen to the study by clicking here

2 Corinthians 4:1-18 (NIV)
1 Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. 2 Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. 7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you. 13 It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak, 14 because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence. 15 All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. 16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

2 Corinthians 5:1-21 (NIV)
1 Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. 2 Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, 3 because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. 4 For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. 6 Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. 7 We live by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. 11 Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience. 12 We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart. 13 If we are out of our mind, it is for the sake of God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. 16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Paul’s idea of New Covenant ministry was about the transformation for believers by the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives. It is interesting that this idea is set against the back drop of the Corinthian church which as we have seen in our study seems to display less of a transformation than some of the other churches.

Paul’s reason for the confidence that he has in the Corinthian church is what he is writing about in chapters 4 and 5.

2 Corinthians 4:1-6

Paul gets that is ultimately not on him to change people, it is God who is the source of all change in the human heart, and Paul has confidence in God.

2 Corinthians 4:7-14

Paul understands his own limits and weakness, that he was a jar of clay, and yet he knew that the very power that raised Jesus from the dead was at work in the hearts and lives of believers.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Therefore, we do not lose heart! Paul’s confidence for the church in Corinth resided in his belief in Jesus and the resurrection power available to believers.

We all need to focus on the eternal instead of the temporary, or as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:18:

18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

2 Corinthians 5:1-10

Paul carries this idea of the eternal into the first ten verses of 2 Corinthians chapter 5. What lies ahead is better by far, we groan as we wait, we long for heaven, but while we wait we are to live for Him by the Spirit.

I think that most people don’t know what the longing for heaven looks or feels like. Deep within each one of us is a longing for heaven. We know deep down that there is something better than we are experiencing. No matter how hard we try to make everything work, it just never does. There is still this deep empty place. We try and fill the emptiness with all sorts of things. Some are seemingly OK, thinks like getting busy, always on the go. Push, push, push so that I never have to stop long enough to feel that emptiness. Or, maybe we try and fill it with things and situations that are not OK. Drugs, alcohol, immorality, etc.

Sometimes it might be trying to recreate some memories of our past that seem to represent happier times. I believe this is why nostalgic television shows are popular. They remind us of what we have come to remember as better times.

But the longing for heaven cannot be satisfied this side of heaven. It is supposed to remind us that this is not our home. We get tastes of eternity now, but we do not get the whole banquet. Rather than be consumed with trying to satisfy the longing now, (temporary and selfish), we need to be is mourning the brokenness. The reality we must face and embrace is that we live in a fallen world on a broken planet. Everything is broken here, including us. If we are focused on living for ourselves, then we take every reminder of the brokenness personally. It is like an attack on our plans of trying to make everything work. Why does this happen to ME? We often even get mad at or blame God, or think we are being punished for something. But, this isn’t heaven, everything is broken, and sin is the cause of the brokenness. If you want to get mad at someone, get mad at the evil one. He deceived us into thinking that we could be like God, he got us kicked out of paradise, and now he tries to deceive us into blaming God for the brokenness and to continue sinning by trying to be like God and fix everything in our own strength or fill the emptiness with empty things.

Every tragedy, every broken thing, every failure, should just be a reminder that this temporary life will never be perfect, but, in His mercy and grace, He has made a way for us to get back into the relationship we had before the fall. This is not as good as it gets and you don’t need to make it your life’s purpose to try and fix it. We need to understand that life is found in living for Him not for us. Which brings us to our mission.

2 Corinthians 5:11-21

Is where our mission statement comes from. What is our mission? One More. It defines what we do as a church. I believe it is the soul of our church. One more lost child to dad. One more in the Kingdom of God. One more to Jesus. Knowing our mission helps to keep us on track. We can’t do and be everything. We can bless what God is calling others to do. We are not in competition with other believers. Our only competition is with the evil one.

5-2-1

I want to spend the next couple of weeks talking about these verses and how they relate to and influence our mission.

One last thing before we close, verse 10 talks about the Judgment Seat of Christ. I have heard people who believe that when they stand before Christ, a giant video of every wrong thing they have done is played. I don’t think that is what happens. Jesus went to the cross for those things. If you are a believer there is no need to replay that mess for which you have been forgiven. What comes up is what you have done with the talents and gifts and life that you have been given in Christ, so that you can be appropriately rewarded.

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