Summary: Despite the entire Gospel's truth & power, it remained hidden to most. Here the Apostle tells us why the Gospel is hidden to the lost & so clear to the saved.
2 CORINTHIANS 4:1-6 [GAINING PERSPECTIVE Series]
BEHOLDING THE GLORY
Any of us who try to serve God in any way often have reasons for being discouraged. The awareness of our human limitations and our imperfections gnaw at our self-confidence. The indifference of people to whom we try to share the gospel makes us wonder sometimes if it’s really such good news. Then Satan tells us if this gospel you share is so powerful why are not more people saved by it?
It is easy to feel discouraged when we see the aggressiveness of evil in our world. Then there is the disunity in the church and the lack of love among so many Christians certainly take the edge off of our motivation.
When we read the Scriptures and the story of the lives of the early Christians, we discover that it has always been this way. Paul too had faced many obstacles in his ministry and was tempted to lose heart. But Paul chose to concentrate on those changed rather than those unchanged and that kept him motivated to go on serving. [Chafin, Kenneth L.; The Preacher's Commentary Series, Vol. 30: 1, 2 Corinthians. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc, 1985, S. 222]
Paul [had been made a minister of the New Covenant, entrusted with the Spirit who gives life and makes righteous. He was neither timid nor deceitful. He] would not doubt the truth, the power, or the success of the gospel which he preached. Neither would he corrupt or conceal the truth, but proclaimed it and commended it to every man's conscience. But despite the entire Gospel's truth and power, it remained hidden to most. Here the Apostle tells us why the Gospel is hidden to the lost and so clear to the saved (CIM).
I. RENOUNCING HIDDEN THINGS, 1-2.
II. BLINDED MINDS, 3-4.
III. THE LIGHT OF THE GLORY, 5-6.
In spite of everything Paul had experienced he could write to his friends in verse 1 that we do not lose heart.“Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we received mercy, we do not lose heart,”
“This ministry” the ministry of the New Covenant, is the ministry of the Spirit. It is the ministry of life; of grace, of righteousness (3:8–9), of liberty and the ministry of glory so vividly described in the preceding passage. To have this ministry is to “receive mercy.” Mercy is not getting what you deserve. Based on what the law calls for, we each should receive condemnation. The ministry of the Spirit is not an achievement of man but a consequence of receiving divine mercy. Previously Paul had been a blasphemer and a persecutor. Against this background he had received mercy.
The same mercy that had sustained Paul through his many painful episodes also enabled him to overcome despair. Despite his hardships and opposition (11:23–29), Paul remained encouraged in His ministry. Thus he could proclaim that “we do not lose heart” (4:1,16). Receiving God’s mercy was a reason for his encouragement not to lose heart.
“Lose heart” or faint [ from & ] means “to behave badly in, to give into evil, to lose courage, to turn back.” The word is used for the faint hearted or cowardly in proclaiming of the message of reconciliation (5:18). Paul did not lose heart because he placed his faith in the fact that God had already won victory through the resurrection of Jesus (vv. 13–18).
Having a ministry of such glory and power we can be encourage past our times of discouragement (Gal. 6:9) into new times of boldness and courage (5:6). The gospel of Christ must be made known! For the one who ministers the eternal riches of the gospel there can be no question of abandoning the struggle.
What would you think of a BASEBALL PLAYER who played seven seasons without hitting the ball in fair territory? One of the best players of all time, Mickey Mantle, did the equivalent of that. His walks and strikeouts add up to more than 3,400 trips to the plate ¬seven seasons' worth.
Or what would you think of an INVENTOR who failed hundreds of times in his experiments? Thomas Edison, perhaps the greatest inventor in American history, spent many long months failing before he found a filament that would stay lit in his incandescent light. The lesson behind these experiences is clear: we have to look beyond failures and keep persevering. I can't think of a better example of someone who persevered despite apparent failure than the apostle Paul. His list of discouragements would lead most of us to quit. For one, the people in a church he founded in Corinth stumbled badly. For another, he went to prison numerous times. Throw in the shipwrecks, beatings, and betrayals (2 Cor. 11:23-27), and you could have a picture of defeat. Yet Paul's ministry is remembered for its unmistakable success. [Our Daily Bread. Radio Bible Class.]