2 Corinthians Chapter Four
2 Corinthians 4
Having received this ministry of righteousness and of the Spirit, the foundation of which was Christ glorified beheld with open face, he not only used great boldness of speech, but his zeal was not abated, nor his faith enfeebled by difficulties. Moreover, with the courage which through grace was imparted to him by this doctrine, he held back nothing, weakened nothing of this glory; he did not corrupt the doctrine; he manifested it in all the purity and brightness in which he had received it. It was the word of God; such as he had received it, so they received it from him, the unaltered word of God; the apostle thus approving himself, commending himself to every man's conscience in the sight of God. All could not say this. The glory of the Lord Jesus was set forth by Paul's preaching in all the clearness and brightness of its revelation to himself. If, therefore, the good news which he proclaimed was hidden, it was not as in the case of Moses; not only was the glory of the Lord fully revealed with open face in Christ, it was also manifested without a veil in the pure preaching of the apostle. This is the link established between the glory accomplished in the Person of Christ, as the result of the work of redemption, and the ministry which, by the power of the Holy Ghost acting in the instrument chosen of the Lord, proclaimed this glory to the world, and made men responsible for the reception of the truth-responsible for submission to this glorious Christ, who announced Himself in grace from heaven, as having established righteousness for the sinner, and as inviting him to come freely and enjoy the love and the blessing of God.
Now there was no other means of coming to God. To set up any other would be to put aside and declare imperfect and insufficient that which Christ had done, and that which Christ was, and to produce something better than He. But this was not possible: for that which he announced was the manifestation of the glory of God in the Person of the Son, in connection with the revelation of perfect love, and of the making good perfect and divine righteousness; so that the pure light was the happy abode of those who by this means entered into it. There could not be anything more, unless there was something more than God in the fulness of His grace and of His perfection. If then this revelation was hidden, it was in the case of those who were lost, whose minds were blinded by the god of this world, lest the light of the good news of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine into their hearts.
This is translated "glorious gospel." But we have seen that the fact of Christ's being in glory, the glory of God being seen in His face, was the special subject of the preceding chapter. To that the apostle here alludes as characterising the gospel which he preached. It was the proof of the sin Christ had borne being utterly put away, of victory over death, of the introduction of man into the presence of God in glory according to God's eternal counsels of love. It was withal the full display of the divine glory in man according to grace, which the Holy Ghost takes to shew to us in order to form us after the same likeness. It was the glorious ministration of righteousness, and of the Spirit, which opened the free way for man to God, even into the holiest, in entire liberty.
When Christ was thus proclaimed, there was either the joyful acceptance of the good news, submission of heart to the gospel, or else the blinding of Satan. For Paul did not preach himself (which others did not fail to do) but Jesus Christ the Lord, and himself their servant for Jesus' sake. Because in fact (and this is another important principle) the shining forth of this gospel of the glory of Christ is the work of God's power-of the same God who, by His word alone, caused the light instantaneously to shine out of the midst of darkness. He had shone into the apostle's heart to give forth the light of the knowledge of His own glory in the face of Jesus Christ. The gospel shone forth by a divine operation similar to that which had, in the beginning, caused the light to shine out of darkness by a single word. The heart of the apostle was the vessel, the lamp, in which this light had been kindled to shine in the midst of the world before the eyes of men. It was the revelation of the glory which shone in the Person of Christ by the power of the Spirit of God in the heart of the apostle, in order that this glory should shine out in the gospel before the world. It was the power of God which wrought in it, in the same manner as when light was caused by the word "Let there be light! and there was light." But the treasure of this revelation of the glory was deposited, in earthen vessels, in order that power which wrought in it should be of God alone, and not that of the instruments. In all, the weakness of the instrument shewed itself in the trying circumstances which God, for this very purpose (among others), made the testimony pass through. Nevertheless the power of God was manifested in it so much the more evidently, from the vessel's shewing its weakness in the difficulties that beset its path. The testimony was rendered, the work was done, the result was produced, even when man broke down and found himself without resource in presence of the opposition raised up against truth.
Afflicted by the tribulation, this was the vessel's part; not straitened, for God was with the vessel. Without means of escape, that was the vessel; yet not without resource, for God was with it. Persecuted, that was the vessel; not forsaken, for God was with it. Cast down, that was the vessel; but not destroyed, for God was with it. Always bearing about in his body  of the Lord Jesus (made like Him, in that the man as such was reduced to nothing), in order that the life of Jesus, which death could not touch, which has triumphed over death, should be manifested in his body, mortal as it was. The more the natural man was annihilated, the more was it evident that a power was there which was not of man. This was the principle, but it was morally realised in the heart by faith. As the Lord's servant, Paul realised in his heart the death of all that was human life, in order that the power might be purely of God through Jesus risen. But besides this, God made him realise these things by the circumstances through which he had to pass; for, as living in this world, he was always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, in order that the life of Jesus might be manifested in his mortal flesh. Thus death wrought in the apostle; what was merely of man, of nature and natural life, disappeared, in order that life in Christ, developing itself in him on the part of God and by His power, should work in the Corinthians by his means. What a ministry! A thorough trial of the human heart, a glorious calling, for a man to be thus assimilated to Christ, to be the vessel of the power of His pure life, and by means of an entire self-renunciation, even that of life itself, to be morally like unto Jesus. What a position by grace! What a conformity to Christ! And yet in a way in which it passed through man's heart to reach man's heart (which indeed is of the essence of Christianity itself), not surely by man's strength, but God's made good in man's weakness.
226 Therefore it was that the apostle could use the language of the Spirit of Christ in the Psalms, "I believed, and therefore have I spoken." That is to say, 'At whatever cost, in spite of everything, of all the danger, all the opposition, I have spoken for God, I have borne my testimony. I have had confidence enough in God to bear testimony to Him and to His truth, whatever the consequences might be, even if I had died in doing it.' That is, the apostle said, 'I have acted as Christ Himself did, because I know that He who raised up Jesus would do the same for me, and would present me, together with you, before His face in that same glory in which Christ is now in heaven, and for my testimony to which, I have suffered death like Him.' We must clearly distinguish here between Christ's sufferings for righteousness and for His work of love, and His sufferings for sin. The former it is our privilege to share with Him; in the latter He is alone.
The apostle said, "will present me with you," for, he adds, according to the heart and mind of Christ towards His own, "all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might, through the thanksgiving of many, redound to the glory of God." And therefore it was that he did not allow himself to be discouraged; but on the contrary, if the outward man perished, the inward man was renewed day by day. For the light affliction, which was but for a moment (for such he esteemed it in view of the glory-it was but the temporary affliction of this poor dying body), worked out for him an eternal weight of glory which was beyond all the most exalted expression of human thought or language. And this renewing took place; and he was not disheartened come whatmight, in that he looked not at the things that are seen, which are temporal, but at the things that are not seen, which are eternal. Thus the power of the divine life, with all its consequences, was developed in his soul by faith. He knew the result of everything on God's part.
It was not only that there were things invisible and glorious. Christians had their part in them. We know, the apostle says in their name, that if this earthly house (passing away as it is) were destroyed-and it had very nearly been the case with himself-we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. Precious certainty! He knew it. Christians know it as a part of their faith.  -a certainty which caused this glory, which he knew to be his, to be a real and practical hope in the heart by the power of the Holy Ghost-a reality present by faith. He saw this glory as that which belonged to him, with which he was to be invested. And therefore also he groaned in his tabernacle, not (as so many do) because the desires of his flesh could not be fulfilled; and because satisfaction of heart cannot be found for man, even when those desires are fulfilled; nor because he was uncertain whether he was accepted, and the glory his or not; but because the body was a hindrance, tending to depress the divine life, to deprive him of the full enjoyment of that glory which the new life saw and desired, and which Paul saw and admired as his own. It was a burden, this earthly human nature; it was no distress to him that he could not satisfy its desires; his distress was to find himself still in this mortal nature, because he saw something better.
Not however that he desired to be unclothed, for he saw in Christ glorified a power of life capable of swallowing up and annihilating every trace of mortality; for the fact that Christ was on high in the glory was the result of this power, and at the same time the manifestation of the heavenly portion that belonged to them that were His. Therefore the apostle desired, not to be unclothed but clothed upon, and that that which was mortal in him should be absorbed by life, that the mortality that characterised his earthly human nature should disappear before the power of life which he saw in Jesus, and which was his life. That power was such that there was no need to die. And this was not a hope which had no other foundation than the desire awakened by a view of the glory might produce: God had formed Christians for this very thing. He who was a Christian was formed for this, and not for anything else. It was God Himself who had formed him for this-this glory, in which Christ, the last Adam, was at the right hand of God. Precious assurance! Happy confidence in the grace and the mighty work of God! Ineffable joy to be able to attribute all to God Himself, to be thus certified of His love, to glorify Him as the God of love-our Benefactor, to know that it was His work, and that we rest upon a finished work-the work of God. It is not here resting upon a work done for us; but the blessed consciousness that God has wrought us for this: we are His workmanship.
Nevertheless something else was necessary to our enjoying this, since we are not yet glorified in fact; and God has given it-the earnest of the Spirit.
Thus, we have the glory before us, we are wrought for it by God Himself, and we have the earnest of the Spirit till we are there, and know that Christ has so entirely overcome death that, if the time were come, we should be transformed into glory without dying at all. Mortality would be swallowed up of life. This is our portion through grace in the last Adam, through the power of life in which Christ was raised.
But next the apostle will treat of the effect as to the natural portion of the first fallen man, death and judgment; for the testimony here is very complete.
 Or rather, "putting to death."
 This "we know" is in fact a technical expression for the portion of Christians, known to them as such. "We know that the law is spiritual," "we know that the Son of God is come," and so on.
── John Darby《Synopsis of 2 Corinthians》
2 Corinthians 4
The apostles laboured with much diligence, sincerity, and faithfulness. (1-7) Their sufferings for the gospel were great, yet with rich supports. (8-12) Prospects of eternal glory keep believers from fainting under troubles. (13-18)
Commentary on 2 Corinthians 4:1-7
(Read 2 Corinthians 4:1-7)
The best of men would faint, if they did not receive mercy from God. And that mercy which has helped us out, and helped us on, hitherto, we may rely upon to help us even to the end. The apostles had no base and wicked designs, covered with fair and specious pretences. They did not try to make their ministry serve a turn. Sincerity or uprightness will keep the favourable opinion of wise and good men. Christ by his gospel makes a glorious discovery to the minds of men. But the design of the devil is, to keep men in ignorance; and when he cannot keep the light of the gospel of Christ out of the world, he spares no pains to keep men from the gospel, or to set them against it. The rejection of the gospel is here traced to the wilful blindness and wickedness of the human heart. Self was not the matter or the end of the apostles' preaching; they preached Christ as Jesus, the Saviour and Deliverer, who saves to the uttermost all that come to God through him. Ministers are servants to the souls of men; they must avoid becoming servants to the humours or the lusts of men. It is pleasant to behold the sun in the firmament; but it is more pleasant and profitable for the gospel to shine in the heart. As light was the beginning of the first creation; so, in the new creation, the light of the Spirit is his first work upon the soul. The treasure of gospel light and grace is put into earthen vessels. The ministers of the gospel are subject to the same passions and weaknesses as other men. God could have sent angels to make known the glorious doctrine of the gospel, or could have sent the most admired sons of men to teach the nations, but he chose humbler, weaker vessels, that his power might be more glorified in upholding them, and in the blessed change wrought by their ministry.
Commentary on 2 Corinthians 4:8-12
(Read 2 Corinthians 4:8-12)
The apostles were great sufferers, yet they met with wonderful support. Believers may be forsaken of their friends, as well as persecuted by enemies; but their God will never leave them nor forsake them. There may be fears within, as well as fightings without; yet we are not destroyed. The apostle speaks of their sufferings as a counterpart of the sufferings of Christ, that people might see the power of Christ's resurrection, and of grace in and from the living Jesus. In comparison with them, other Christians were, even at that time, in prosperous circumstances.
Commentary on 2 Corinthians 4:13-18
(Read 2 Corinthians 4:13-18)
The grace of faith is an effectual remedy against fainting in times of trouble. They knew that Christ was raised, and that his resurrection was an earnest and assurance of theirs. The hope of this resurrection will encourage in a suffering day, and set us above the fear of death. Also, their sufferings were for the advantage of the church, and to God's glory. The sufferings of Christ's ministers, as well as their preaching and conversation, are for the good of the church and the glory of God. The prospect of eternal life and happiness was their support and comfort. What sense was ready to pronounce heavy and long, grievous and tedious, faith perceived to be light and short, and but for a moment. The weight of all temporal afflictions was lightness itself, while the glory to come was a substance, weighty, and lasting beyond description. If the apostle could call his heavy and long-continued trials light, and but for a moment, what must our trifling difficulties be! Faith enables to make this right judgment of things. There are unseen things, as well as things that are seen. And there is this vast difference between them; unseen things are eternal, seen things but temporal, or temporary only. Let us then look off from the things which are seen; let us cease to seek for worldly advantages, or to fear present distresses. Let us give diligence to make our future happiness sure.
── Matthew Henry《Concise Commentary on 2 Corinthians》
2 Corinthians 4
 Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not;
Therefore having this ministry — Spoken of, 2 Corinthians 3:6.
As we have received mercy — Have been mercifully supported in all our trials.
We faint not — We desist not in any degree from our glorious enterprise.
 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.
But have renounced — Set at open defiance.
The hidden things of shame — All things which men need to hide, or to be ashamed of.
Not walking in craftiness — Using no disguise, subtlety, guile. Nor privily corrupting the pure word of God - By any additions or alterations, or by attempting to accommodate it to the taste of the hearers.
 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:
But if our gospel also — As well as the law of Moses.
 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.
The God of this world — What a sublime and horrible description of Satan! He is indeed the god of all that believe not, and works in them with inconceivable energy.
Hath blinded — Not only veiled, the eye of their understanding.
Illumination — Is properly the reflection or propagation of light, from those who are already enlightened, to others.
Who is the image of God — Hence also we may understand how great is the glory of Christ. He that sees the Son, sees the Father in the face of Christ. The Son exactly exhibits the Father to us.
 For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake.
For — The fault is not in us, neither in the doctrine they hear from us.
We preach not ourselves — As able either to enlighten, or pardon, or sanctify you.
But Jesus Christ — As your only wisdom, righteousness, sanctification.
And ourselves your servants — Ready to do the meanest offices.
For Jesus' sake — Not for honour, interest, or pleasure.
 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.
For God hath shined in our hearts — The hearts of all those whom the god of this world no longer blinds. God who is himself our light; not only the author of light, but also the fountain of it.
To enlighten us with the knowledge of the glory of God — Of his glorious love, and of his glorious image.
In the face of Jesus Christ — Which reflects his glory in another manner than the face of Moses did.
 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.
But we — Not only the apostles, but all true believers.
Have this treasure — Of divine light, love, glory.
In earthen vessels — In frail, feeble, perishing bodies. He proceeds to show, that afflictions, yea, death itself, are so far from hindering the ministration of the Spirit, that they even further it, sharpen the ministers, and increase the fruit. That the excellence of the power, which works these in us, may undeniably appear to be of God.
 We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;
We are troubled, etc.-The four articles in this verse respect inward, the four in the next outward, afflictions. In each clause the former part shows the "earthen vessels;" the latter, "the excellence of the power." Not crushed - Not swallowed up in care and anxiety.
Perplexed — What course to take, but never despairing of his power and love to carry us through.
 Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.
Always — Wherever we go.
Bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus — Continually expecting to lay down our lives like him.
That the life also of Jesus might be manifested in our body — That we may also rise and be glorified like him.
 For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.
For we who yet live - Who are not yet killed for the testimony of Jesus.
Are always delivered unto death — Are perpetually in the very jaws of destruction; which we willingly submit to, that we may "obtain a better resurrection."
 So then death worketh in us, but life in you.
So then death worketh in us, but life in you — You live in peace; we die daily.
Yet — Living or dying, so long as we believe, we cannot but speak.
 We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak;
Having the same spirit of faith — Which animated the saints of old; David, in particular, when he said, I believed, and therefore have I spoken - That is, I trusted in God, and therefore he hath put this song of praise in my mouth.
We also speak — We preach the gospel, even in the midst of affliction and death, because we believe that God will raise us up from the dead, and will present us, ministers, with you, all his members, "faultless before his presence with exceeding joy." Psalms 116:10.
 For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.
For all things — Whether adverse or prosperous.
Are for your sakes — For the profit of all that believe, as well as all that preach.
That the overflowing grace — Which continues you alive both in soul and body. Might abound yet more through the thanksgiving of many - For thanksgiving invites more: abundant grace.
 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.
Therefore — Because of this grace, we faint not.
The outward man — The body.
The inward man — The soul.
 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;
Our light affliction — The beauty and sublimity of St. Paul's expressions here, as descriptive of heavenly glory, opposed to temporal afflictions, surpass all imagination, and cannot be preserved in any translation or paraphrase, which after all must sink infinitely below the astonishing original.
 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
The things that are seen — Men, money, things of earth.
The things that are not seen — God, grace, heaven.
── John Wesley《Explanatory Notes on 2 Corinthians》
Chapter 4. All-Surpassing Power
Inwardly Being Renewed
I. Merely Preach Christ as the Lord
II. Treasure in Jars of Clay
III. The Directory of Believers' Lives
── Chih-Hsin Chang《An Outline of The New Testament》
Chapter Four General Review
OBJECTIVES IN STUDYING THIS CHAPTER
1) To appreciate Paul's transparency and view of service
2) To understand why some people are so blinded to the obvious
3) To gain insight into why God allows His children to suffer
4) To glean Paul's secret for not "losing heart" (getting discouraged)
Paul continues his defense of himself and his ministry. With such a
glorious ministry described in chapter three, he does not get
discouraged. Instead he has renounced the use of deceitful tactics and
openly proclaims the truth (1-2). If the gospel seems veiled, it is
only to those whom Satan has blinded so they might not see the light of
the gospel (3-4). Paul is simply preaching Christ Jesus as Lord and
considers himself as a servant for their sakes. He humbly realizes
that it is God who has shone in his heart so he might share that light
of the gospel with others (5-6).
As magnificent this "treasure" may be, he is simply an "earthen
vessel". As such he experiences great suffering in his ministry, but
he knows that God allows it so that the "life of Jesus" (the power of
God) might be manifested in his mortal body by the way he endures it,
and that such grace from God might cause much thanksgiving to the glory
of God (7-15). In addition, he does not lose heart because his inward
man is renewed daily by the knowledge that affliction is light and
temporary compared to the eternal weight of glory that awaits him, and
by keeping his focus on things which are unseen but eternal (16-18).
I. THE "HONEST" NATURE OF PAUL'S MINISTRY (1-6)
A. THE HIDDEN THINGS OF SHAME RENOUNCED (1-2)
1. Having received a glorious ministry by the mercy of God, Paul
does not lose heart (1)
2. He has renounced the hidden things of shame (
a. He does not walk in craftiness
b. He does not handle the Word of God deceitfully
3. But with open presentation of the truth he commends himself
before all and before God (2b)
B. THE GOSPEL VEILED ONLY TO THE PERISHING (3-4)
1. If the gospel seems veiled, it is only the perishing who think
it so (3)
2. For their unbelieving minds have been blinded by the "god of
this age" (
3. So that the light of gospel of the glorious Christ does not
shine on them (4b)
C. PROCLAIMING CHRIST AS LORD, AND THEMSELVES AS SERVANTS (5-6)
1. Preaching not themselves, but Christ Jesus as Lord and
themselves as their servants for Jesus' sake (5)
2. It is God who has shone in their hearts so that they might
spread the light of the knowledge of God's glory revealed in
Jesus Christ (6)
II. THE "SUFFERING" NATURE OF PAUL'S MINISTRY (7-18)
A. SUFFERING PERMITTED TO DEMONSTRATE THE LIFE OF JESUS (7-15)
1. The treasure of the gospel is in "earthen vessels", but this
is so the excellence of God's power might be demonstrated in
2. Examples of overcoming suffering (8-9)
a. Hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed
b. Perplexed, but not in despair
c. Persecuted, but not forsaken
d. Struck down, but not destroyed
3. In this way, "dying for Jesus" gives them opportunity to
demonstrate the "life of Jesus", which in turn blesses others
4. Confident of the resurrection and ultimate glorification, he
knows that all things can be to their benefit, resulting in
thanksgiving and glory to God (13-15)
B. AFFLICTION PRODUCES AN ETERNAL WEIGHT OF GLORY (16-18)
1. He is not discouraged, even when the outward man is perishing,
for the inward man is renewed daily (16)
2. Affliction is light and temporary, compared with the eternal
weight of glory (17)
3. His focus is on the unseen, on things that are eternal (18)
REVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THE CHAPTER
1) What are the main points of this chapter?
- The "honest" nature of Paul's ministry (1-6)
- The "suffering" nature of Paul's ministry (7-18)
2) Why does Paul not "lose heart"? (1)
- Because of the nature of his ministry (cf. 3:7-18)
3) In renouncing the hidden things of shame, what two things does Paul
not do? (2)
- Walk in craftiness
- Handle the word of God deceitfully
4) To whom is the gospel "veiled"? Who has blinded them? (3-4)
- Those that are perishing
- The god of this age
5) Who does Paul preach? How does he view himself? (5)
- Christ Jesus the Lord
- As their servant for Jesus' sake
6) How is the "light" that God has commanded to be shone in his heart
described? (6, cf. 4b)
- As the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ
- As the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God
7) How does Paul describe the gospel, and himself in comparison? (7)
- As "treasure" in "earthen vessels"
8) What four examples does Paul use to describe how God's power had
worked in him? (8-9)
- Hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed
- Perplexed, but not in despair
- Persecuted, but not forsaken
- Struck down, but not destroyed
9) Why was Paul and others allowed to suffer for Christ? (10-11)
- That the life of Jesus may be manifested in their mortal bodies
10) Who benefited by the things Paul suffered? (12,15)
- The Corinthians
11) Why did Paul not "lose heart" when his outward man was perishing?
- Because his inward man was being renewed daily
12) In what two ways does Paul contrast his affliction and the glory to
- Light vs. a far more exceeding weight
- Momentary vs. eternal
13) Upon what does Paul keep his focus? (16)
- Things unseen, which are eternal
We Do Not Lose Heart (4:1)
1. Twice in the chapter in which our text is found Paul makes the
statement "we do not lose heart" - 2 Co 4:1,16
a. The phrase "lose heart" means to "be discouraged"
b. If anyone ought to have been discouraged as a Christian, it
should have been Paul
1) Consider some of the things he suffered - cf. 2 Co 11:23-29
2) And yet note what he says in 2 Co 4:8-9
-- I.e., Paul says "we do not lose heart"!
2. However, it is not uncommon for Christians today to "lose heart" or
to become discouraged
a. This is both strange and sad
b. Strange, because we do not experience near the hardships Paul did
c. Sad, because as Paul wrote in Ga 6:9b...
"...in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart."
3. In this lesson, I want us to examine various aspects of "losing
a. We shall consider some SIGNS of losing heart
b. And identify REASONS people lose heart
c. And then identify PAUL'S SECRET to not losing heart
I. SIGNS OF "LOSING HEART"
A. LACK OF PERSISTENCE IN PRAYER (NOT SO VISIBLE TO OTHERS)
1. Christ equated fervent prayer with not losing heart - Lk 18:1
2. Most often, the first sign of losing heart is being haphazard
in our prayer life
3. In contrast, a strong Christian life is characterized by
a. "With all prayer and petition pray at all times." - Ep
b. "Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it." - Co
c. "Pray without ceasing." - 1 Th 5:17
d. "I want the men in every place to pray" - 1 Ti 2:8
B. GROWING WEARY IN DOING GOOD (VISIBLE TO OTHERS)
1. Paul equated this with losing heart in Ga 6:9
2. Some examples of growing weary in doing good...
a. Neglecting opportunities to help others in need - Ga 6:10
1) Such as visiting the sick and afflicted
2) Such as telling others of the gospel of Christ
b. Forsaking the assembling of ourselves together - He 10:
1) Which in itself is designed to encourage others
2) And encourage ourselves as well!
[Both of these are clear symptoms that one is losing heart. But when
there is PEACE to be found in prayer and JOY to be found in doing good,
what would cause some people to be discouraged and "lose heart"...?]
II. REASONS SOME "LOSE HEART"
A. ONE ANSWER: TRIBULATIONS!
1. Paul alluded to this in his remarks to the Ephesians - Ep 3:13
a. He was concerned that they not lose heart over HIS
b. If such was possible over his troubles, how much more over
2. Jesus warned in His parable of "The Sower" that some would be
affected this way - Mt 13:20-21
3. Tribulations can take different forms
a. Both Paul and Christ had reference to those peculiar to
1) Ridicule, ostracism, even physical abuse by those of the
2) Sometimes even from those we least expect it...brethren
who sin against us
-- Many Christians have "lost heart" being discouraged in
b. But there are also tribulations common to all men
1) Sickness and death
2) Frustrations at job and home
-- These also take their toll
B. ANOTHER REASON: LAWLESSNESS!
1. Jesus said this would happen in Mt 24:12
2. "Lawlessness" is lack of respect for God in both:
a. Attitude (toward God's word)
b. Obedience (in doing God's will)
3. Such "lawlessness" is infectious
a. For when many people demonstrate a lack of respect for
God's Will ...
b. ...it discourages the faithful and even encourages them to
unfaithfulness - cf. 1 Co 15:33
4. I suspect that today...
a. More Christians are "losing heart" because of lawlessness
rather than tribulations
b. Because in our country...
1) Most severe forms of tribulations are forbidden
2) The most severe forms of lawlessness are practiced and
[Yet Paul stands before us as an example of one who despite the worst
of tribulations, and living in the most lawless of cultures could still
say "we do not lose heart"!
What was Paul's secret? For the answer we must look at the context in
which his statement is found...]
III. SECRETS TO NOT "LOSING HEART"
A. APPRECIATE THE GLORIOUS NATURE OF OUR MINISTRY...
1. Paul refers to the relationship of this ministry and not
losing heart in 2 Co 4:1
2. "Therefore" refers to the previous chapter, in which Paul
contrasted the NEW Covenant with the OLD - 2 Co 3:5-18
3. Compare the OLD with the NEW...
The OLD Covenant The NEW Covenant
Of the letter vs. Of the Spirit 3:6
Kills vs. Gives life 3:6
Glorious vs. More glorious 3:7-11
Ministry of condemnation vs. Ministry of righteousness 3:9
Ministry passing away vs. Ministry which remains 3:11
Ministry with a veil vs. Ministry which is unveiled
Ministry which hardens vs. Ministry which gives
hearts liberty 3:14-17
Transformed one vs. Transforms all 3:18
4. The glory of the New is seen to be even greater when we
remember what is said about the value of the Old! - Ps 19:7-11
a. If this is true with what David had in his day (only part
of the OT)...
b. ...then consider what must be true when we have the
completed OT and NT!
5. It is in view of such a wonderful ministry that prompted Paul
to say "since we have this ministry, as we have mercy, we do
not lose heart."
-- Do we really appreciate the nature of the ministry we have in
Christ? It would help us not to "lose heart"!
B. REALIZE THE POWER OF CHRIST WHEN WE ARE WEAK...
1. Paul is referring to this when he makes the statement again in
2 Co 4:16
2. As we have seen, Paul suffered greatly for Christ - cf. 2 Co
3. But he saw it as opportunities for God's power through Christ
to be shown - cf. 2 Co 4:7,10-11
4. This was a lesson Christ taught Paul, when he struggled over
his "thorn in the flesh" - cf. 2 Co 12:7-10
a. When we are weak, that is an opportunity to depend upon the
Lord for strength!
b. So infirmities and tribulations can be occasions to
rejoice, not despair!
-- Have we learned this lesson? It would help us to not "lose
C. LOOK AT THINGS NOT SEEN...
1. This is what renewed Paul inwardly day by day (i.e., enabled
him not to "lose heart") - 2 Co 4:16-18
2. Things "not seen" refer to:
a. The "far more exceeding and eternal weight of GLORY"
b. Which makes our AFFLICTION...
2) Momentary, temporary
c. This "glory" is further described in 2 Co 5:1-5
3. Looking at things "unseen" renewed Paul daily!
-- Do we let such a hope of glory renew us? Or do we lose heart
because we never take the time to dwell an such things?
1. In closing, read with me what Paul wrote to the Galatians...
"Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows,
that he will also reap."
"For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption,
but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting
"And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we
shall reap if we do not lose heart."
2. Hopefully, we will not grow weary and "lose heart" in our service to
a. But if you ever find ourselves growing weary...
b. Review what Paul wrote in 2 Co 3-5, where you will find the
secrets to not "losing heart"
We spoke briefly of the glorious nature of the ministry we have in
Christ, a ministry of in which WE ALL can be TRANSFORMED. Have you
begun this "transformation" process with your obedience to the gospel
of Christ?... - cf. 2 Co 5:17; Ga 3:26-27
Outwardly Wasting Away
Inwardly Being Renewed
I. Merely Preach Christ as the Lord
1. Three “don’t”
2. Reveal God’s Grace
3. The Light of the Gospel
II.Treasure in Jars of Clay
1. Clay Jars Are of Little Value
2. Precious Is the Treasure
3. Four “but”
III. The Directory of Believers’ Lives
1. Troubles Are Light
2. Glory Is Eternal
3. See in Faith
－－ Chih-Hsin Chang《An Outline of The New Testament》