Series on II Corinthians, I Paul's Dedication to Ministry, D Steadfast,3, Seeing Eternity, Text:4:16-18, Title: More and More Glory.

Introduction:

Paul's dedication to his ministry meant that he was steadfast in preaching the gospel. The sixth ordination question in the Presbyterian Church in America surely describes Paul’s attitude in II Corinthians 4. "Do you promise to be zealous and faithful in maintaining the truths of the gospel and the purity and peace of the Church whatever persecution or opposition may arise unto you on that account?" The Apostle has indicated that it is through trials in which we are given over to death that the life of Jesus is revealed in us. in v.12 Paul has indicated that this is for others, So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you. One of the most profound truths of all life is expressed in the simple little acrostic we teach to children “joy,” j-o-y- stands for Jesus first , others second and you third.  Applied to most life situations this principle creates a truly Godly perspective.  It is Paul's principle. He leaves no question he serves Christ first and others second which is an exceedingly difficult set of priorities. But he is not reticent to point out that even though you are in third place it is through this set of priorities that you yourself receive the greatest blessing. Thus we do not lose heart as we read in verse 16, Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. We see here, then, the path to glory. As Jim Elliott, martyred by the Auca Indians in the 50's put it, "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose".  Nate Saint, the aviator who died with him said, “i  would rather die now than to live a life of obvious ease in so sick a world.”  Did they lose?  Not according to Jesus who said, He who loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will find it. Paul is echoing that sentiment here. we see three things, losing learning and looking.

I Losing

Outwardly we are wasting away says Paul. Deterioration and decay is what we outwardly see. Sickness and death surround us. Moses says in Psalm 90, Our days quickly pass and we fly away. James says, What is your life, you are a mist that appears for a little while then vanishes. What Scripture says applies to all men equally and without exception. That's enough to make anyone lose heart. The existential despair, the futility and the suicide so prevalent in our day all stem from the inability to look beyond this inevitable decay. Our culture is aging, graying and yet we worship youth because we cannot face the truth. This is the world's answer, and the result is that people in places of power wealth and influence live lives that are subject to their sinful desires. In their philosophies of economics and politics they deny Christian principles and Christian morality because they wish to justify their lifestyle, but in the end it is the same for them as everyone else. The common man who tries to carve out his own little comfortable corner is no different. But notice Paul is not talking about them, but about us. We do not lose heart and therefore we do not eat drink and be merry for tomorrow we die.

II Learning

We do not lose heart because we are learning, and we are progressing in glory.  We are being inwardly renewed even though outwardly decaying.   As we read in verses 16 and 17, Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. This inward renewal is surely a learning process because it occurs day by day as Paul says in v.16. And the apostle gives us a series of contrasts in v.17. the contrast between the present and the future, between trouble and glory and between the light and the weighty.  It is this last contrast, the lightness of the affliction contrasted with the weight of glory that is his main point.  In the present we have affliction, in the future we have glory, but only the right perspective can enable us to see that the affliction is light and the glory is heavy.  In fact the author of Hebrews reminds us that no affliction for the present seems pleasant, but painful, later on however it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. He is speaking in a similar vein but does not deny that the present decay is painful. It is only when we see the end that we are able to call the affliction light.  It isn't light as we experience it for such a view is not Christianity but the philosophy of Christian Science. The suffering is light in comparison to the glory as we gain the right perspective. The Hebrew word for glory is the word heavy.  What we see here is not a simple statement that we have suffering now and glory later, but rather an urging to see the glory now. The glory is in the future, but it renews us inwardly now every day. It is a present reality in Christ.  I talk about perspective. In a drawing, perspective is the ability to show that some things are near and others are far away.  You have to get far away in order to see in the present that the affliction of the present is light. how do you do that?

III Looking v.18

Now if you're just looking around at your troubled and decaying life, everything will appear to be the same. Its like a picture drawn by a three year old.  Everything is in the same plane, there's no perspective. Its one dimensional. But if you look elsewhere you can get perspective. We are to look at what is unseen. This seems to be a contradiction. How can you see what is unseen. In the Word of God, for there the invisible God speaks. There His mysteries are revealed. There His hidden purposes are presented. There you will understand our sinful condition, our decay and death, and you will also see that it is part of his plan.  You will see, as well, His love and mercy in Christ. You will not  find out why you are undergoing a particular trial, but you will see why we all go through them. You will also see the future and what God has promised to those who believe in Christ.  Now there is a very important thing about perspective. The further you get away the smaller an object becomes. This ought to tell us something about fixing our eyes on Jesus in the Bible. The Greek here suggests concentration. We cannot spend our lives looking at material things in this plane or realm and expect to have glory in our souls. Paul says in Romans  10, Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. Hebrews 11 reminds us that faith is being certain of what we do not see. Such certainty comes only from deeper study and meditation. Growth in grace comes from growth in knowledge.

Conclusion

When Jesus says, He who loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will find it.  He is not saying simply that we should suffer for an eternal reward.  He is telling us that the true joy of life comes from the glory that grows in our souls when we see the invisible and gain a perspective on the troubles of this present time. Only then will they seem light.