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Summary: Paul was under attack at Corinth. His authority and honesty were being challenged. Charges of dishonesty were circulating in the church. Paul was facing a church in revolt.

May 8, 2014

Tom Lowe

The Second Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians

Lesson II.B.3: The Ministry of the New Covenant. (4:1-6)

2nd Corinthians 4:1-6 (NKJV)

1 Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not;

2 But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.

3 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:

4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

5 For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake.

6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

Introduction

Paul was under attack at Corinth. His authority and honesty were being challenged. Charges of dishonesty were circulating in the church. Paul was facing a church in revolt.

How did Paul handle opposition? At every step he deflected criticism of his abilities. He simply refused to defend himself. He even submitted to his opponents a list of weaknesses and trials he had endured. Why did Paul do this? He knew that this list would focus the Corinthians on what was important: GOD’S GLORIOUS PLAN OF SALVATION.

Commentary

1 Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not;

This is a wonderful ministry. God has given to us a message which no man could have conceived. It would be impossible for anyone to work out a plan like the gospel presents. I don’t know why God has allowed me to have a ministry, but I suspect it was simply a matter of mercy. We have seen before that God is rich in mercy. God didn’t exhaust his mercy before he got to me, because He saw I would need a whole lot of it. He has been rich in mercy to me. His mercy has allowed me to publish sermons and Bible studies on the internet for thousands to read. Since it is by His mercy, we faint not. We rejoice in it!

Someone will surely ask, “What is so wonderful about this ministry?” There are many religions in the world and the thing that makes Christianity so wonderful is also that which makes it so very different from all other religions. It is very simply expressed by one word. All the religions of the world say, “Do, do, do.” The gospel says, “Done.” The Bible tells me that God has done something for me; I am to believe it; I am to trust Him. The only way I can come to Him is by faith. That is my approach to Him. “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Heb. 11:6). But in contrast to this, the religions of this world all say, “Do.” It is almost amusing to see what the cults in this country say one must do to be right with God. One cult claims there are four things, one of them says there are seven things you must do, another has ten things you must do—the Ten Commandments.

Some of these cults say you must have faith. However, by “faith” they do not mean “trust in Jesus Christ,” but rather an acknowledgment as historical fact that Jesus lived and that He died over two thousand years ago. My friend, simply believing that Jesus died will not save you. Jesus Christ died for our sins and rose again, according to the Scriptures. That is the important distinction. We must put our trust in His finished work. It is done!

At one time Paul had been under the Law. He knew what it was to be under a system of “Do, do, do.” He said of himself, “Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless” (Phil. 3:3-6). He was really under the Law, and he hoped he would be able to work out his salvation. Then one day he met the Lord Jesus Christ on the Damascus Road. After he came to know Him as Lord and Savior, he wrote, “Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith” (Phil. 3:8-9). You see, after Paul had stood in the presence of Jesus Christ, he saw that he could not make it on his own. Any righteousness he might have due to the Law would not be enough. He would need to have the righteousness of Christ. Paul says that was a new life for him.

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