Title: Confidence in the Power of the Message
Text: 2 Corinthians 4.7-12
CIT: Paul’s confidence was in the power of his message and not the vessel carrying the message.
Introduction: Isn’t it funny or odd how you can be looking at something and not see it? Like this: Jesus
This past Spring, I was walking and came upon a copper head snake. It was straight across the trail and a little hard to see. He didn’t move. I grabbed a stick and tried to pin his head down. I missed. He took off into the leaves just inches away. I was finally able to pin his head down, but that didn’t kill him. I had to find another stick to force through his body and detach his head. I looked around me and found one. I looked back and he was gone. I started to drop the stick and run, but as I let up he moved and I was able to see him again. I did kill him. Show pics;
I’ve not forgotten that moment when the snake was right beneath me, but I couldn’t see it. It blended in perfectly with the leaves. How could he be right there and I not see him. Answer: Perspective.
A paradox is a seeming self-contradictory statement. The Christian life is filled with examples. St. Francis of Assisi: It is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Jesus said: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?
Today we’ll see how Paul expresses his confidence in this message of hope by using a series of paradoxical statements. Our text is 2 Corinthians 4.7-12; read with me; rd v 7-12;
Prayer; What would cause this confidence in the power of the message?
Paul was confident because…
1. Paul understood who he was in light of who Christ is. (7a)
exp.: rd v 7a; – this is what it is – A treasure in you – Paul calls it a mystery: Col 1.27-29 – 27 To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. 29 For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.
Of the Treasure – it is the light of the Gospel of God – Jesus Christ as Lord in you; there is so much we could say about this treasure, but let me just ask you: Do you view this gift of salvation – having received Christ Jesus as Lord into your life – as a precious treasure? Matthew 13.44-46
The Parable of the Hidden Treasure
44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
The Parable of the Pearl of Great Value
45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, 46 who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.
Of the Vessel
ill.: How Much Are the Elements in Your Body Worth?
Ann Marie Helmenstein, Ph.D.; www.chemistry.about.com; Updated: October 2014
Have you ever wondered how much the elements in your body are worth? First, let’s take a look at the elements from which you are made. Your body is approximately:
- 65% Oxygen
- 18% Carbon
- 10% Hydrogen
- 3% Nitrogen
- 1.5% Calcium
- 1% Phosphorous
- 0.35% Potassium
- 0.25% Sulfur
- 0.15% Sodium
- 0.15% Chlorine
- 0.05% Magnesium
- 0.0004% Iron
- 0.00004% Iodine
Your body contains trace amounts of other elements, such as silicon, manganese, fluorine, copper, zinc, arsenic and aluminum. What is the going rate for a body’s worth of these elements? One US dollar! Are you surprised?
Let’s see if we can bump the price up a bit. If you’re looking to make a buck with your bod, your best bet would be to sell individual organs, but since that’s illegal, an alternative might be to tan your hide for use as leather. Your skin would be worth about $3.50 if it were sold at the price of a cowhide, which runs around $0.25 per square foot. So, if you take a dollar’s worth of elements plus the value of your skin, you might be able to get $4.50, which we’ll round up to $5, so you’ll feel better about your chemical value.
app.: Jars of Clay! But, these vessels contain a valuable treasure.
t.s.: Paul understood the importance of a proper perspective: seeing himself for who he really is and seeing the treasure he held for its great value
Paul was confident, because…
2. Paul understood that God’s purpose was to demonstrate God’s power through Paul. (7b)
exp.: rd v7b – this is why it is –; Paul understood that God’s purpose was to demonstrate God’s power through Paul; have you ever thought to yourself that you’d like to be taller, shorter, better looking, darker hair, lighter hair, straighter chin, squared chin, more muscular, a little heavier, a bit more slender, not needing glasses, not needing medication, less freckles, more freckles, a little faster, a little stronger, a bit wiser, a little smarter, a lot smarter? Really, what would the perfect vessel, clay Jar look like? What changes would God need to make to you or in you to make you the perfect jar of clay? I found a pretty good answer. Can I share it with you?
his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind—
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
…yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
…He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people?
9 And they made his grave with the wicked
and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.
10 …Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
…Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
and he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors.
exp.: we think that God’s message should be carried in perfect vessels and that we’re not suitable. We think we don’t look good enough, we’re not smart enough. Well, what Paul is telling us is that God’s power is displayed through our weakness. rd
- Of Power – hyperbole – surpassing power
- Of Weakness – not to us; 12.7-10; 7 So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
ill.: I think Satan is good about making us feel unworthy to share this incredible message. You’re no good. You’re not worthy. Remember that sin. Maybe you’re afraid of sharing with someone and you know they know you. You know they’re gonna throw your sin back in your face. I think our sin should be a catalyst for launching the gospel. Yes, look at my sin – Paul would say – of all the sinners, I’m the worst – Yes, look at my sin. But don’t stay there. Because I don’t want you to see the how ugly my shame is – I want you to see the mercy of God in my life!
app.: you are a vessel, a clay jar that carries a light to a dark world.
t.s.: Paul’s perspective and understanding was clear. And that gave him confidence. It was a springboard for evangelism.
Paul was confident, because…
3. Paul understood his suffering allowed the powerful light of God to shine through his life. (8-11)
exp.: what it is; why it is– this is how it is – rd v 8-11; Paul knew the suffering he endured, the persecution he endured would somehow brilliantly displayed the glory of God. Notice his suffering:
Afflicted, Perplexed (to be at a loss), Persecuted (Jesus told us to expect), Struck down.
Afflicted, not crushed; why? it was the will of the Lord to Crush him, not us.
Perplexed, not driven to despair; means to be utterly at a loss; this almost sounds like a contradiction compared to 1.8; but he explains; rd 1.9-10; to die. He was crushed, he was put to death…
Persecuted, not forsaken; indeed, it is his promise to us who said: I will never leave you nor forsake you. We are not forsaken, but he was! Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani. My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?
Struck down, but not destroyed; Mark 8.35, 35 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. Yes, should Jesus tarry, we’ll all die. And, it just might be through persecution, suffering. Paul is saying that suffering in these weak vessels allows the life of Christ to shine through.
We are afflicted, perplexed, persecuted and struck down. But in all of that, even if we die, it is Christ who shines through it all. If you’re not getting it, rd the next verse, His point is clear: v 10-11.;
Given over to death, but displaying the life of Christ; we glibly quote Galatians 2.20; I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I’m not sure at time that we fully understand what Paul means
ill.: There is a story in Judges that communicates just how the light shines; 7.16-22;
app.: the light which shines in the Jar of Clay, can only be seen by others when it is broken.
t.s.: Paul was confident because he knew who he was in light of who Christ is; he knew the purpose and power of God was displayed through his weakness and suffering.
Paul was confident, because He had
4. Seen the Outcome this message had in others lives (12)
exp.: rd v 12 – So death is at work in us, but life in you.; – this is his conclusion; the power of God at work through us effectively changing lives.
Conclusion: Dr. Matthew Sleeth; 24/6: Story of man who went to ER;