Summary: This is a sermon of encouragement to those who already experience suffering and even those who will experience suffering.
Text: 2 Corinthians 4:7-10, 16-18
Title: I’m Still Standing
Introduction: “Out of all the things I been through, I still have joy.” I have been hurt, but I’m still standing. I’ve been misunderstood, but I’m still standing. The devil has tried to knock me off my feet, but I’m still standing. The purpose of the sermon today is to encourage every saint to know that these can be your words of victory as you leave here today and face whatever comes your way this week, that at the end you can say, “I’m still standing!” Paul writes the 2nd letter to the Corinthians for 3 reasons: 1) to vindicate the purity of his life and the authority of his ministry, 2) to crush the false accusations against him with a final blow, and to solidify the church more firmly in the gospel, and 3) to encourage the church to complete its special mission project to the poor saints in Jerusalem and Judea. This letter is Paul’s apology to the believers there regarding the authority and authenticity of his Apostleship. There is the melodious music of hope to the Thessalonians, of joy to the Philippians, of faith to the Romans, of heavenly things to the Ephesians; but there is the sad symphony of affliction to the Corinthians in Paul’s 2nd letter. When reference is made in the 1st chapter of this book (see verses 4-8ff) the evidence of Paul’s concern is highlighted. Paul places emphasis on the concept of suffering in these verses today. The underlying cause of much of Paul’s suffering because of what Paul and other believers possess.
It’s right in verse 7. Paul states that we have this treasure (valuables, wealth, riches) in us. Paul pictures our body as a jar of clay, into which God has placed the treasure of the gospel. This is done “so everyone can see that our glorious power is from God and is not our own. Those who bear the glorious light of the gospel are compared to jars of clay, inexpensive and easily broken; and this serves to show that the power released through the preaching of the gospel is from God and not from us. The message of salvation and the results it produces are glorious and divine. By contrast the bearer of the message is a mere mortal person. The contrast is like a great treasure contained in common jars of clay. A deepening sense of his own unworthiness, compared with the grandeur of his message, characterized Paul’s life cf. Eph. 3:7-9). God intended this sharp contrast so that no one would question the source of the gospel and its all-surpassing power. Salvation is the work of God not men (cf. 1 Cor. 2:5; 3:7). Clay cooking vessels like those found in every 1st–century household kitchen. Clay vessels were the least valued by the woman of the house. They were easily broken and cheap to replace. In contrast, metal and glass vessels were expensive and most likely to be on display. Paul sees himself as a clay vessel. What is important is the ministry he has been given and the message he bears to the world. Paul doesn’t want to be put on display, as if he or any other servant of God were what is important. Today too the Spirit within us and the Gospel we share deserve priority.(footnote)
I. The Reality of Suffering (8-9)
• 8-Troubled (pressured) (externally induced/caused), not Distressed (crushed) (restrict one’s affection)
• 8-Perplexed (at a loss; puzzled), not in Dispair (exaporeô) (totally without resource, expire)
• 9-Persecuted (to systematically oppress and harass), not Forsaken (abandoned) (leave)
• 9-Cast down (thrown down) (also knocked down; put down; hurt badly), not Destroyed (ruined)
• (see Illustration in textbox)
II. The (desired) Reaction to Suffering (10, 15)
• (10) For the cause of Christ, and (15) for God’s glory.
III. The Rewards for Suffering (14,16-18)
• (14) resurrection; (16-18) renewal
Conclusion: (Bishop Noel Jones, illustration of the line)
(Richards, Lawrence O.: The Bible Readers Companion. electronic ed. Wheaton : Victor Books, 1991; Published in electronic form by Logos Research Systems, 1996, S. 777)