TWO IMPORTANT TRUTHS THAT PAUL IS SEEKING TO COMMUNICATE TO THE CORINTHIANS IN THIS SECOND LETTER IN THE CANON OF SCRIPTURE:
- THE GOSPEL HUMBLES MAN AND EXALTS GOD
- CHRISTIAN MINISTERS ARE JUST MEN
In this letter he puts his hat off and tells of his weaknesses.
“…we ought to pay for the privilege of preaching the glorious gospel entrusted to us…”
In this chapter describes the ministry that we have – of preaching the gospel and then goes on talk of what sort of people ministers are – they are jars of clay holding a great treasure.
1) Our ministry
It is given to us, by the mercy of God – we do not deserve it. What implication does this bring to us?
a) We do not lose heart – But having it by the mercy of God, then we do not give up on ourselves or on its effectiveness (efficacy).(v.1)
b) We renounce all methods that not gospel-like (v2)
c) We commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. No fear of men in telling them the truth.
d) We are not to blame for those who fail to receive the gospel (the gospel is only veiled to them because they are perishing (vv.3-4)
e) We proclaim Jesus Christ (not ourselves) (vv.5-6)
2) Our composition
a) We are compared with treasure in jars of clay (we are weak, and very fragile)
b) We are a display of the surpassing power that belongs to God and not us
c) Consider the pressures of the ministry of the gospel that ministers experience. We are a paradox, e.g.
- we are afflicted in every way but not crushed
- perplexed but not despairing
- persecuted by men but not forsaken by God
- struck down but not destroyed
- when I am weak then I am strong
Paul talks of the difficulties of being in the ministry. While prosperity produces vice, problems produce virtue!
The purpose of these present troubles:
The purpose of the paradox and the difficulties in Christian ministry is that we may share in Christ’s problems so that we may be like Him (v.11). This yields the highest glory to God. But this is not the only purpose, the present difficulties are also particularly used of God for edification of your hearers – those to whom you minister (vv.12, 15). . At the Westminster Chapel 1969 with D M. Lloyd-Jones said that after diagnosed with Cancer and he was asking himself … what is God communicating to others through my present problems?
Moreover, it is good for us to be afflicted so that we may be able to understand the surpassing worth of the glory that our hope holds (16-18). For in these difficulties we learn to look not on things that are transient, but to the things that are unseen and eternal.
This way we experience more and more of Christ’s power working in us. Suffering should produce thanksgiving and praise to the Lord and resilience.
There should be no despair when we are suffering there is the process of constant renewal taking place in us for our sanctification. In our suffering there is the wonderful prospect of eternal glory that changes our ideas, vision and perspective.