Summary: At times we wonder if we are really displaying God's glory through our lives. We may also think how to go about it. Paul addressed this very issue with the Christians in Corinth. In fact this Sunday as we delve into God's Word we will see how can the ...
Opening illustration: On January 9th, 2007, Joshua Bell sold out Boston's Symphony Hall. Seats were nearly $100 each. Bell plays a violin worth more than $3 million and is one of the best musicians in the world. Three days later he entered a metro station in Washington, D.C. wearing casual clothing and a ball cap. He opened his case and played his violin for 45 minutes. Only six people stopped, 20 gave money (a total of $32), but no one recognized him.
Today, when it comes to the glory of God in the person of Jesus Christ, many are blind. They do not see his beauty and majesty, and therefore do not ascribe to him the honor and worth he deserves. As Christians, we must desire to spread Christ's glory in the world. In 2 Corinthians 4:1–6 the Apostle Paul addressed how difficult this can be. We may become discouraged and desire to quit (v.1), but we have good reasons to press on.
Let us turn to 2 Corinthians 4 and catch up with Paul’s letter to the Christians in Corinth to remain encouraged and display Christ gory through their lives always.
Introduction: These first six verses of Second Corinthians, Chapter 4, will answer a lot of questions as to why so many people do not believe the gospel when they first hear it, or even after they have heard it over a long period of time. They will answer questions about why many who do believe the gospel quit after they have been walking in the Christian way for some time; and also questions about why some people whom you think will never believe it, suddenly do so. The passage begins with a tremendous declaration by the Apostle Paul, about his reaction to his own ministry.
All through this passage he has repeated that theme - "We do not get discouraged"; "we do not feel like quitting"; "we are confident"; "we are encouraged." Again and again you will find that note dominant throughout the passage. I run into a lot of Christians who are getting discouraged today. That is exactly why it is essential for us to display the manifested glory of God at every point of our lives.
How can the Glory of Christ be displayed through our lives into the world?
1. Refuse to distort the Word of God (vv. 1–2)
In verse 2 Paul refers to the methods of other teachers and philosophers of his day who used any means necessary to gather a following (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:20–25). This of course meant altering their message and merely tickling the ears of their hearers. Paul and his companions renounced these deceitful and shameful ways. They did not edit God's Word. They announced it. "By an open display of the truth" (v.2), the message remained the same for everyone who heard it.
Every Christian is tempted, at times, to adjust the gospel and make it more palatable to the culture. We may feel that we are making progress, but if they are not hearing the Gospel, we are only further condemning them. We should pause here to recognize that the Christ whom Paul preached was largely unpopular. The biblical Jesus is controversial. He made a lot of claims that people do not like. For example, He claimed to be the only way to heaven. Such exclusivity is frowned upon by the lost world, but that did not matter to Paul and it should not matter to us because that is the truth that either sets people free or binds them up for eternity.
In June 2013, The Atlantic featured an article titled "Listening to Young Atheists," which recounted the testimony of many young people who grew up in church, but are now atheists. Of the many factors that led to their exit, one staggered many readers. The churches they attended did not take the Bible seriously. The author said, "These students heard plenty of messages encouraging 'social justice,' community involvement, and 'being good,' but they seldom saw the relationship between that message, Jesus Christ, and the Bible" (The Atlantic, June 6, 2013).
Fascinating! This is the result when we distort the message: we drain the gospel of its power. While we must take great care to communicate the message clearly, we do not have the option of altering it.
George Whitefield said, “You will never preach with power feelingly while you deal in a false commerce [writing unclear] with unfelt truths. For my part, I would not preach an unknown Christ for 10,000 worlds.” F. B. Meyer tells preachers that they “must preach all your sermons over to yourself. Remember that your heart must be your first congregation.” And John Owen comments “No man preaches his sermon well to others if he doth not first preach it to his own heart.”