Summary: We enter the Kingdom through trials. This is pictured in the Gates of Pearl of New Jerusalem. Pearls are the result of irritation and the secreting of a grace-like substance that transforms the irritation into a pearl. Paradise is entered by trials!
DOWN BUT NOT OUT
2 Cor. 4:7-10
1. Three men were captured in N. Korea and were going to be shot for trying to escape the country. The first one, Mal-chin, was placed again wall, but just before the order to shoot was given, he yelled out, “Earthquake!” The firing squad panicked. In the confusion, he jumped over the wall and escaped.
2. The next man, Myung, observed what Mal-chin had done, and just as the firing squad prepared to shoot, he yelled, “Tornado!” The squad scattered and he escaped.
3. Last in line was Sam. He too had detected the pattern: scream out a disaster and then hop over the wall. As the firing squad raised their rifles and took aim, Sam grinned smugly and yelled, “Fire!”
2 Cor. 4:7 “But this precious treasure—this light and power that now shine within us—is held in a perishable container, that is, in our weak bodies. Everyone can see that the glorious power within must be from God and is not our own. 8 We are pressed on every side by troubles, but not crushed and broken. We are perplexed because we don’t know why things happen as they do, but we don’t give up and quit. 9 We are hunted down, but God never abandons us. We get knocked down, but we get up again and keep going. 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. [Vss. 7-9 is Living Bible; Verse 10 is the NIV]
1. We are currently facing many difficulties. In these verses God offers us hope and motivation to strive for the kingdom in spite of setbacks.
2. The title of this message is “Down But Not Out.”
I. AT TIMES OUR TRIALS SEEM OVERWHELMING
A. TRIALS SHOULD NOT BE A SURPRISE
1. Paul said that we are “troubled on every side.” This sounds a lot like the situation we have been facing. We’ve had a continuing Covid-19 pandemic, the danger of life-threatening infection, and economic collapse along with it. At the same time we’ve had racial injustice, riots, looting, and social upheaval.
2. Christians feel helpless to deal with these mighty forces that even the federal government, with all its money and power, can’t handle either. But Peter warned us long ago, “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you” 1 Pet. 4:12.
3. Believers should never be blindsided by trials. The worst harm that can come to us, comes when we don't expect it. The blow you don't see coming, can really devastate you.
4. In some Christian circles -- such as the prosperity gospel – there’s some false advertising going on. They teach that if you live for God, bad things won't happen to you. This contradicts the clear teaching of Scripture that, “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God” Acts 14:22.
B. TRIALS ARE BENEFICIAL
1. Trials are not only inevitable, they are beneficial. Biologists have discovered "the adversity principle;" – “habitual well-being is not advantageous to a species.” Adversity actually gives us greater vitality.
2. When you get saved, your troubles -- far from terminating -- are just beginning. There’s no triumph without a trial, no testimony without a test, and no crown without a cross!
3. We’d rather have nothing but mountaintop experiences, but no growth ever occurs on the mountaintops. It always happens in the valleys -- the places of trials, troubles, setbacks, defeats -- that’s where the growth occurs in our lives.
4. ILLUSTRATION “All things for the best.”
a. During the reign of ‘Bloody’ Mary, Queen of England, Bernard Gilpin, a Protestant, was accused of heresy and was being moved to London to stand trial. His constant saying was, “All things are for the best.” On the way, he broke his leg. His guards mocked saying, “All things are for the best?” He said, “I believe so!”
b. His journey was delayed a few weeks. As he began his journey again, Queen Mary died and the next Queen, Elizabeth -- a Protestant -- sent him home in triumph! [7700 Illus, #6846.] Though God allowed his leg to break, God used that to save his life!
II. GOD MEANS US VICTORIOUS OVER OUR TRIALS
A. GOD IS OUR HELPER
1. Paul assured the Roman Christians that no enemy has greater power than God! “If God is for us, who can be against us?” The logical answer is “NO ONE!” There is no power that can equal God’s power!
2. NOBODY BIGGER(ILLUS.)
a. An old country preacher was challenged by a highly educated agnostic. The skeptic asked, “Why do you Christians constantly claim victory when it doesn’t appear the side of religion is winning!?”