WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
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DOWN BUT NOT OUT
(GOD’s salvation shines through the body of CHRIST)
(2 Corinthians 4)
There is dynamic, life-saving power infused in the Gospel of GOD. Therefore, we must not hesitate to speak out, even though we may not be as skilled, or as knowledgeable, as others may be. We have to always keep in mind that it is the message, not the messenger that saves. And since GOD, in HIS mercy, has given us this wonderful news and ministry, we must take courage in our delivery and never, ever give up, or be dissuaded.
In 2 Corinthians chapter 4, the Apostle Paul shows us how firmly his attention is focused on the eternal truths of the Gospel, which are more easily experienced spiritually, than seen physically. The Christian must not lose heart by focusing on the temporary physical setbacks, and momentary troubles, that tend to pockmark our lives here on this earth. If we are in any sense, to become followers of CHRIST, and over-comers of this world, we must come to learn what it means to “live in the SPIRIT”.
As believers, “the perishable containers” that are our bodies, are but mere vessels that GOD uses to show HIMSELF through, in the world. Satan has already blinded the minds of those who do not believe, and so they are unable to offer themselves up to GOD, or, see the glorious light of the Good News that is shining through CHRIST, even on them. They simply can’t understand the message we preach about the glory of CHRIST, WHO, is the exact “spiritual image” of GOD HIMSELF (Vs.3-4).
True believers don’t go around preaching about themselves, but rather, they preach about CHRIST. All we can say about ourselves is that we want to serve others because of what JESUS has done for us. When GOD said “let there be light in the darkness” we understand that that light is the brightness of GOD seen in the face of JESUS CHRIST, our LORD and SAVIOR (Vs.5-6).
In verses 8-12 Paul says;
“We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies. Yes, we live under constant danger of death because we serve Jesus, so that the life of Jesus will be evident in our dying bodies. So we live in the face of death, but this has resulted in eternal life for you.” (NLT)
To live the life of one who is ministering the Gospel in the world is not an easy undertaking, because the Word of GOD suggests in itself, that, the majority of the world’s populace will be blind to the message that it brings through HIS anointed. And it will remain that way until the time of JESUS’ “Second Advent”, when HE comes to establish HIS Millennial Kingdom here on earth (make the world a better place). And so, just as JESUS suffered during HIS “First Advent”, so too, those who follow HIM, must also suffer in completing the work of HIS Church, until HE returns to comfort our pain, and reward us with eternal life in Heaven.
The hardships of the Christian life are very real. And although it may be glorious and transforming to those who are willing to commit to it, it is not a life that is free of suffering. Physically, sometimes our burdens may seem hard to bear, and spiritually, it can be just as overwhelming if we allow our emotions, that come with dealing with people, to throw our focus off of CHRIST JESUS, our leader and pioneer.
Here in this chapter, Paul focuses on the issues of hardship in ministry to try and encourage those who may be presently experiencing some of those hardships, as they try and minister to others. Here Paul seeks to direct us and point out just how he himself has overcome those obstacles by maintaining a strong faith in GOD. He understood very clearly, that the same GOD, WHO raised CHRIST from the dead, was totally able to do the same for him and others, who strive to walk as CHRIST did, by faith. And GOD’s grace will continue to bring more and more people to CHRIST, and HE will continue to receive more and more glory because of it (Vs.13-15).
Suffering for the sake of CHRIST in this world, brings immeasurable benefits in the world to come, and that is why we should never give up. Even though our bodies may be dying, our spirits are being renewed every single day. Our earthly troubles become quite small when we realize that, we are, through our suffering, producing immeasurably great glory that will last forever, for us, and, for those that we help bring to CHRIST (Vs.16-17).
A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website