How can something made from dust become “an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” ?
The Second Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the CORINTHIANS – Chapter 4
1 Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart.
2 But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. – 2 Corinthians 4:1-2
Looks like Paul is yet again having to refute peoples’ ideas that he is cunning and a manipulative. He says we, and here I assume he means himself and his fellow workers, have given up evil ways which include tampering with the word of God. He speaks the word in love:
9 For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,
10 who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him.
11 Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. – 1 Thessalonians 5:9-11
Paul speaks the word of truth openly. His habit was to speak in synagogues, when ever he arrived in a new place, to give the gospel openly to the Jewish people. He did not do things in secret. He did not bury his talent or hide his light under a basket. He openly preached the word of truth. He handled it with reverence as the word of God Almighty, maker of heaven and earth. Spurgeon said if you do not have a message from God to give them; go to bed, work your farm but, if God has given you a message speak it out before God without delay.
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. – 2 Timothy 2:15
In one sense Paul was happy to be judged because he knew he stood in Christ; unmovable, unshakable in faith. As we heard recently he was “unable to be shaken because he had been shaken.”
3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing.
4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
5 For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.
6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. – 2 Corinthians 4:3-6
The god of this world blinds people to the truth. The Living God brings light. When God created the heavens and the earth the bible records that the first words God spoke was “let there be light”: and there was light. God brings light into darkness. Darkness represents evil. When Jesus was on the cross there was darkness:
Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. – Matthew 27:45
During that time Jesus was in torment because His Father had forsaken Him. But God raised Him from the dead and:
4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men.
5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. – John 1:4-5
Darkness did not defeat the light of life. Jesus is the light of the world. When He healed the man born blind He said:
Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” – John 9:39
A blind person lives in darkness and the god is this world tries to keep people in spiritual darkness groping about seeking anything to avoid the Truth. But, God has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. We see Jesus:
But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. – Hebrews 2:9
Our eyes are open to see the face of Jesus. Let’s pray that God will open the eyes of those arriving us.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. – 2 Corinthians 4:7.
How often the bible reminds us we are but clay. Created from the dust of the earth Adam was totally one with his environment. But he was MADE therefore the maker has the right to do with him as He wills.
Remember that you have made me like clay; and will you return me to the dust? – Job 10:9
You turn things upside down! Shall the potter be regarded as the clay, that the thing made should say of its maker, “He did not make me”; or the thing formed say of him who formed it, “He has no understanding”? – Isaiah 29:16
“Woe to him who strives with him who formed him, a pot among earthen pots! Does the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’ or ‘Your work has no handles’? – Isaiah 45:9
We always try to turn things upside down. The incomparable power belongs to God and not to us. But, we have that power living in us through the Holy Spirit. We have that treasure in our earthen vessel. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit. God in us, God with us -Immanuel
8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair;
9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;
10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.
11 For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.
12 So death is at work in us, but life in you. – 2 Corinthians 4:8-12
This is one of the passages that seems to have the emotional tone of Paul feeling the pressures of life, which we might call depression, and yet he sees the Lord working. He faces death that life might work in others, just what Jesus did. Paul experiences pressure but is not destroyed. Attacked but knows he is loved. Facing danger and life threatening conditions but seeing Jesus shine through. When we are under pressure we need to see it as the chaff being separated from the seed. As Dave said this weekend the seed is then planted in our hearts to bring forth fruit in due season. As Peter said:
6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials,
7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith-more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire-may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. – 1 Peter 1:6-7
13 Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak,
14 knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence.
15 For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God. – 2 Corinthians 4:13-15
The quote “I believed, and so I spoke” comes from Psalm 116. David is seeking deliverance from the snares of death. He knows the heart of God:
Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; our God is merciful. – Psalm 116:5
And has experienced deliverance by the Lord before. As he believes therefore he can speak praises to his God. He knows that he can praise God and offer his vows to the Lord through praise because he believes he will see deliverance.
I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the LORD. – Psalm 116:17
Paul has seen deliverance time and time again but knows that as he experiences “death” in this life so others will receive life. He knows the the Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead will raise us up also, so he has nothing to fear and everything to praise God for. As grace is extended to more and more people and more and more believe, so the sacrifice of praise will grow towards our God. Because our God is merciful. Our God is righteous. Our God is full of grace. The ultimate goal is – to give God the glory.
16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.
17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,
18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. – 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
Paul sets his eyes on the eternal glory ahead. Inwardly He is being made a new man. The cost of discipleship is nothing in comparison to the eternal weight of glory. We live by faith believing that the things which can not be seen are of far greater importance that the world around us. Eternity is what matters.
The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms. And he thrust out the enemy before you and said, ‘Destroy.’ – Deuteronomy 33:27
Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. – John 5:24
11 And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. – 1 John 5:11-12
Teresa of Calcutta is quoted as saying:
“In light of heaven, the worst suffering on earth, a life full of the most atrocious tortures on earth, will be seen to be no more serious than one night in an inconvenient hotel”
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers