II. The Exhortation to understanding. 3:1-7:4
A. The influence of the Word of God. 2 Corinthians 3:1-18
The message for us today is seen in these three things –
1. Our influence on others is a reflection of who we are! 2 Corinthians 3:1-3
2. Our relationship with God is the basis of who we are – law or grace.
2 Corinthians 3:4-16
3. Our reflection should be that of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 3:17,18
4. Our response is manifested in our service unto the Lord. 2 Corinthians 4:1-6
B. The Influence of the Work of God. 2 Corinthians 4:7-17
1. The power of God working in man. 2 Corinthians 4:7-10
a. The declaration. 4:7
Paul reminded the church that men are just vessels of clay. When one inspects a vase that they believe may be valuable, they look for the maker’s mark. It is not the clay, it is the talent of the Maker that sets it apart. Another important aspect of the vessel is how useful it is. The value is based on that which the vessel contains. Paul testified that they were vessels of clay, but that their strength was in that they were filled with God.
b. The demonstration. 4:8-10
The children of God have the same troubles and trials as all men deal with, but the believer’s have the advantage – the power of God working in them for God’s glory!
2. The purpose of God. 2 Corinthians 4:11-15 (vs. 15 – His glory)
Paul informed them that the dangers and life threatening situations that he and the other missionaries faced were similar to those that Jesus faced in His ministry on earth. They were encouraged by the Lord’s example –
a. The Lord’s warning. 4:11,12
“The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord.”
Luke 4:27-30 And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian. And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, And rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong. But he passing through the midst of them went his way,
John 8:59 Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.
John 10:38-39 But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him. Therefore they sought again to take him: but he escaped out of their hand,
John 19:16-18 Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him away. And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha: Where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst.
They were not only encouraged by the Lord’s example, they were enabled by the Lord. They were not living in their own power, but through the Lord’s power –
b. The Lord’s witness in their lives. 4:13-15
1). The Preaching. 4:13
a). Believing God involves hearing His Word, and the Holy Spirit working that Word into our hearts and minds, mixing it with faith, resulting in a new life, a living spirit, a new creature in Christ Jesus!
Hebrews 4:2 For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.
Romans 10:14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?
Romans 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
b). Believing God involves speaking.
(1). God’s Word is not seed to be kept in the storehouse, it is to be broadcast out into the world.
(2). God’s Word is not dead, it is living and struggles to get out and accomplish its purpose!
Jeremiah 20:9 Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay.
2). The Presentation. 4:14
Paul was looking forward to a glorious time as we stand together before our wonderful Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ! To see Him, face to face!
Colossians 1:27-28 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:
3). The Proclamation. 4:15
As these vessels are used as service pieces unto the Lord, they may be chipped, cracked, broken, old and fragile, but throughout it all, they reveal their contents – filled with the blessed Holy Spirit and bringing forth glory unto God!
The worst thing is not to be broken in His service, it is to be set on the shelf and deemed unusable.
Not only did the life of Jesus Christ bring glory to God, but also His suffering and death –
Luke 23:47 Now when the centurion saw what was done, he glorified God, saying, Certainly this was a righteous man.
3. The Praise unto God. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 Refer to 4:1
Paul completed his thoughts as he began them – “For which cause we faint not…”
All that is now is temporary and will soon pass away. We must keep our eyes on all of that which is everlasting – the glory of God and the souls of men.
Colossians 3:1-4 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.
Does your life bring praise unto God?
Are you an encouragement to other Christians as they see the Lord working in your life?
Are you an influence on your family and friends to draw closer to the Lord?
What about salvation? Are you saved?