THE PROSPECT OF THE MINISTRY — FUTURE RESURRECTION AND REWARD ENABLE US TO ENDURE PRESENT PHYSICAL SUFFERING IN THE MINISTRY WITHOUT LOSING HEART
In what ways are you physically challenged? Paul experienced such severe suffering that he could say that he was “constantly being delivered over to death.”
I. (:7-12) SHOWCASING JESUS INSTEAD OF OURSELVES REQUIRES DYING SO OTHERS MAY LIVE
A. (:7) God is Our Power Source (made obvious by our Human Frailty)
“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing greatness of the power may be of God and not from ourselves”
Gromacki: Gideon learned this lesson when his army, reduced to three hundred, besieged the Midianites with weapons of trumpets and burning lamps within clay pots (Judg. 7:16). Just as the pots had to be broken to let the lamps shine, so believers must be broken to manifest the light of God through them.
B. (:8-10) Jesus is Our Resurrection Life
1. (:8-9) Four Contrasts Between Intense Suffering and Surprising Perseverance
a. “we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed”
b. “perplexed, but not despairing”
c. “persecuted, but not forsaken”
d. “struck down, but not destroyed”
Paul and the apostles suffered physically for the gospel in the extreme. In our circumstances these phrases might have a somewhat different application.
Afflictions: These are the normal trials which everybody faces, Christian and non-Christian alike. . .
Perplexities: This refers to all the pressing calls for decisions, when we don’t know what to decide. We are at a loss, we can’t see the end, we don’t know how it is going to turn out. We are afflicted with fears, anxieties, worries, and uncertainties, all gathered up in this word “perplexities.”
Persecutions: These are the misunderstandings we all run up against, the ostracisms, the cold shoulders which are shown to us at times, the malicious actions and attitudes, deliberate slights, attacks on our character and our reputation, and oftentimes, the bigoted, prejudiced, unfair practices of members of society against one another, all part of the Christian’s life as well as the non-Christian’s.
Catastrophes: “Struck down!” Stunning, shattering blows which drop out of the blue into our lives — accidents, fatal illnesses, war, earthquake, famine, riot, insanity — these terrible episodes which shatter a family or an individual, and leave us frightened and baffled. All these things are part of normal Christian experience. There is no change in the problems, the pressures.
2. (:10) Sharing in the Death and Resurrection of Jesus
a. Sharing in the Death of Jesus
“always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus”
b. Sharing in the Resurrection of Jesus
“that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body”
C. (:11-12) Death is Our Ministry Calling (So Others May Live)
“For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death works in us, but life in you.”
II. (:13-15) SPREADING GRACE TO THE GLORY OF GOD REQUIRES PROCLAIMING THE POWER OF THE RESURRECTION
A. (:13) Testimony Springs From Faith
“But having the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, ‘I believed, therefore I spoke,’ we also believe, therefore also we speak.”
B. (:14) Testimony Springs From Confidence in the Resurrection
“knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and will present us with you.”
C. (:15) Testimony Springs From the Ultimate Desire to See God Glorified
“For all things are for your sakes, that the grace which is spreading to more and people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God.”
III. (:16-18) SUFFERING AFFLICTION WITH PERSEVERANCE REQUIRES FOCUSING ON THE ETERNAL WEIGHT OF GLORY
A. (:16a) Main Application
“Therefore we do not lose heart”
B. (:16b) Battleground: Physical vs. Spiritual –
Maturing Spiritual Life More Than Compensates for Deteriorating Physical Life
“but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.”
C. (:17) Eternal Reward — When it Comes to Eternity – No Comparison
“For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison”
D. (:18) Eternal Focus
“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.”
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1) We need to be intimately connected daily to the dying of Jesus. This is the aspect of taking up our cross daily and following after Christ as a genuine disciple.
2) We access spiritual power when we are intimately connected moment by moment to the indwelling life of Christ so that “the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.”
3) Our resurrection will be patterned after that of Christ’s. Therefore, our resurrection is certain and glorious and yields an eternal result.
4) Christ is our connection to the realm of ultimate reality = the realm of the spiritual unseen and the realm of eternity.