2 Corinthians 4:13-5.1
But having the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed therefore I spoke,” we also believe therefore we also speak, 14 knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and will present us with you. 15 For all things are for your sakes, so that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God. 16 Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. 17 For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, 18 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. 5 For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
Have you ever been so disheartened…discouraged…so down-and-out that you just wanted to throw in the towel?
I’m not talking about being disappointed…but broken.
Broken because you’re afraid there’s no returning to when things were better.
This was Apostle Paul’s challenge.
Look at what he’d been through in verses 8-11…
We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. 11 For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.
- Afflicted in every way
Constantly being delivered over to death….
He writes two times in chapter four…do not lose heart. (1, 16)
How…how does Paul endure all he does and stay hopeful?
I think the answers are imbedded in today’s text.
I’m going to present them under four headings.
- Be Grateful
- Be Renewed
- Be Looking
This is a timely message because we live during discouraging days for the church.
A recent poll concluded that this is the first time in our nation’s history that less than half of the population is connected to any church.
The influence of Christianity on the culture is rapidly receding.
At the same time our denomination continues to shrink despite its significant investments in church planting.
An average of 4000 churches a year permanently close their doors…
With just 1,000 new starts.
There is growing interest in the tenants of Marxism both in the educational and governmental arenas.
Rising crime rates and escalating instances of domestic violence are well established.
Folks, we’re in a mess and we’re still recovering from losses because of the COVID restrictions.
This is a timely message…because it’s easy for the church to lose heart.
To lose our enthusiasm for the word and His Kingdom work.
So, let’s allow the counsel of His word work in our hearts and minds this morning.
Encouraging us no to lose heart.
But having the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed therefore I spoke,” we also believe therefore we also speak.
The first attribute of not losing heart in challenging times is to believe Scripture.
Paul’s quote references Psalm 116:10, which is titled, Thanksgiving for Deliverance from Death.
Verses 1-2, read, I love the Lord, because He hears my voice and my supplications. 2 Because He has inclined His ear to me, therefore I shall call upon Him as long as I live.
God had proven Himself faithful to protect the psalmist…He kept His word…
So, the writer pledges to keep God’s word.
Even though he experienced great distress…he believed and spoke the word.
Speaking the word of God is a formidable sustainer of hopefulness.
It promotes courage.
Because the word causes us to remember God’s faithfulness toward His people during times of great adversity.
Paul believed Scripture and spoke it to himself and others as a defense against losing heart.
You’re going to absorb thousands of messages this week.
- Social media
- And you’ll likely believe much of it
No source of information is able to accomplish what God’s word can.
What does Hebrews 4:12 teach?
For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
We often think of this verse applying to the word’s ability to expose sin.
- Which is true
But it’s also able to bring comfort.
Look at the verses before it.
4:8-11, For if Joshua had given them rest, He would not have spoken of another day after that. 9 So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. 10 For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. 11 Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience.
And what is the catalyst of God’s rest?
Trusting…believing His precious word.
When you lose heart…find comfort and rest in God’s word.
Let it speak to you…
It is alive.
This is the age of the apostle’s prophecy from 2 Timothy 4:3-4…
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.
Is it any wonder people have wandered from His word.
They’re not receiving it…therefore they don’t rest in it.
Believe the word of God…and you won’t lose heart.
Be Grateful (14-15)
Knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and will present us with you. 15 For all things are for your sakes, so that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God.
Here, Paul writes on abounding gratefulness.
- …more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God.
What’s the inspiration of his thanks?
Knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and will present us with you.
It’s the expectation of his resurrection and being with the Corinthian believers eternally.
Paul encouraged them to not lose heart because their present problems weren’t whole story.
He’s reminding them that what happened to Jesus will happen to them.
It’s easy to be thankful for past and present graces.
Future grace is quite another matter.
Paul appeals to the Corinthians not to lose heart because of God’s promise of their resurrection.
His urging isn’t based on what they’ve experienced but on what’s been guaranteed to them by faith.
Being grateful for what’s to come is essential to remaining hopeful in hard times.
It’s in fact impossible to not lose heart if you’re ungrateful.
- Ingratitude guarantees losing heart…being discouraged
Because if I believe I’ve been robbed of some goodness…cheated of God’s grace in the past…
There’s absolutely no reason for me to be thankful in the present…
Let alone for the future.
By his logic we must conclude that being grateful is a decision.
It’s a personal choice…conviction…based on believing God’s word.
His two claims are connected.
Believing the word and gratefulness run-on parallel tracks.
Thankless Christians do not trust in the promises of Scripture.
Remember what Jesus taught in Matthew 5…
Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way, they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Where is our reward?
- In heaven
And what is it?
Listen, we can decide to be miserable over our present/past situation or thankful in advance of what’s coming.
Husband’s, I’ll ask you, “Were you grateful for your wife before you married her?”
Mothers…were you grateful before your baby was born?
Were those with their chosen job thankful before the first day at work?
If we know how to be thankful for the earthly blessings to come…
How much more gratitude we should have for what God’s promised.
It’s hard to lose heart when we’re grateful for future blessings..
[Believe, Be Grateful]
Be Renewed (16)
Therefore, we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.
Paul starts verse 16 with the word “therefore.”
As I’ve said before…whenever you see the word “therefore” in the Bible…
Ask yourself, “What’s it there for?”
Because what follows “therefore” is the result of the preceding instruction.
- His next teaching builds on what’s before it
So, believing the word and being grateful for its future promises renews troubled hearts.
I love Paul’s honesty.
He says that though our physical body is decaying…
- Not a pleasant picture
Our inner man…what truly matters is being renewed.
It’s in the process of renewal.
- Being renewed
We’re not fully restored until we’re with the Lord but the idea of being in process is consistent with Romans 12:2…
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
The renewing happens in a world that’s hostile to it.
Which is why our spiritual formation develops over time…day by day.
This can be hard for those of us who prize instant gratification.
For many, if not most believers, investing in their spiritual renewal is one of the hardest things to do when their losing heart.
That’s why it’s important to build up your spiritual reserves during quiet seasons.
Don’t wait for the crisis to hit to pursue day by day renewing.
You know, one of the persistent criticisms of Christians is that they’re a bit slow witted…
- Clinging to their guns and Bibles.
Those Bibles, however, present a very different image.
It calls for rigorous discipline of the mind.
Not for blind mindless faith…but genuine inquiry and investigation.
This is the Divine invitation.
Day by day…diving into the word to discover its rejuvenating properties.
It’s not always an easy endeavor.
Because in searching His word we often encounter our sin.
Yes, we find joy in God’s promises and we find lament in some passages.
But lament leading to genuine repentance is critical to the renewed heart.
2 Corinthians 7:9-10, says it best…here’s Paul again…
I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. 10 For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.
The wound must be exposed before healing can happen.
[Believe, Be Grateful, Be Renewed]
Be Looking (4:17-5:1)
For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, 18 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. 5 For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
This portion of the passage is similar to being grateful in light of God’s promises.
But it’s also different.
Here, not losing heart isn’t centered in future promises, but in present realities.
Verse 18 captures this.
- While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things whichare not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
How do we look at the things which are not seen?
- Eternal things…
Well, Hebrews 11:1 tells us how…
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
Our faith gives us a view of things not seen.
This same chapter details how the champions of the Old Testament saw the things having eternal outcomes by faith.
Writing about Moses in verse 27 we have this…
- By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured,as seeing Him who is unseen.
We’re talking about a working-class faith…
Not about a set of creeds and rituals as in the “Christian faith.”
But faith that propels decisions and actions.
Paul makes this argument further down in chapter five when he writes…
- For we walk by faith, not by sight…(7)
There’s never been a more important time for God’s people to walk by faith and not by sight than the present.
Because the philosophies of this world are fixated on forcing us to abandon our faith and walk strictly by what we see in the flesh.
- Temporal things
- Race…class…sexual orientation…gender or the godless position that denies it
- The god of this world is determined to keep us obsessed with this world
Church…if we only focus on what we see with your eyes…we will lose heart.
Because this is a heartless world, we live in.
If Christians spent as much time in prayer as they do on social media…
There’d be a movement of the Spirit that’s not been SEEN in generations.
We’re so captivated by the latest worldly trends that we’re blind to the unseen things of God.
- That have eternal outcomes
These are the inner promptings of the Holy Spirit that guided great men and women of the Bible and beyond…to affect Kingdom accomplishments.
Every earthly kingdom will be torn down.
All worldly governments and systems destroyed.
Global corporations left penniless.
All that matters is the building from God, a house made without hands, eternal in the heavens.
What we see depends on what we look at.
There is a present reality that’s only seen by faith.
It’s the only reality that matters because only it has eternal outcomes.
What are you looking at?
The god of this world wants you to look at his kingdom…by sight.
The King of heaven calls us to look at the things unseen…by faith.
The first leads to losing heart.
The second…to gaining courage.