Sermon 3288. Why the Gospel Is Hidden
A SERMON PUBLISHED ON THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 8, 1912.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON LORD'S-DAY EVENING, FEBRUARY, 11, 1866.
"But if our Gospel is hidden, it is hidden to those who aire lost." 2 Corinthians 4:3.
In this verse and the following one we have a very brief yet very full description of what every minister of the Gospel oughtto preach. In the first place, he is to preach the Gospel-not metaphysics, not politics, not mere morality, not simply doctrinesas such. He is to preach the Gospel, which signifies good news, something new and something good-so good that nothing elsecan equal it-the glad tidings of mercy for the guilty, the blessed tidings of God coming down to man that man may go up toGod, the welcome tidings of atonement made for human guilt! It is also new as well as good-it comes as a strange novelty tothe attentive ear. Mythology never dreamed it, human wit could never have invented it, even angelic intellect could not havedevised a scheme-
"So just to God, so safe for man." The business of the Christian minister is to preach this Good News, to publish to the sinnersthe glad tidings that there is a Savior, to point the guilty to Christ and to be constantly saying to each individual sinner,"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved." I care not what may be the learning or eloquence of the minister,though he may speak with the tongue of men and angles, if he does not preach Christ and bid sinners trust in Him, he has mistakenhis mission and missed the grand objective for which he was sent!
This Gospel is called in the text "our Gospel"By this expression I understand that the minister must accept it for himselfbefore he can hold it out to others. I am myself to look to Jesus as my own personal Savior-and then I am to cry to others,"Look unto Him, and be you saved, all the ends of the earth." I must be able to say-
"I came to Jesus, and I drank Of that life-giving stream-
and then, but not till then, I am to cry, "Ho, everyone that thirsts, come you to the waters." What a miserable wretch musthe be who preaches to others a Gospel in which he has, himself, no share! He spreads the table and invites others to cometo the feast, while he, himself, is starving! He is like a plague-stricken physician who knows the remedy for the diseaseand sees others cured by it, yet dies with the remedy in his hand. Ah me, of all the portions, that must be most dreadfulin the world to come, as well as most uncomfortable in this present life! Surely it must be the portion of the man who preachesto others what he has never experienced in his own soul. Paul might well call it "our Gospel," for it had saved him, the chiefof sinners, and made him a beloved Apostle of Jesus Christ. He might well call it "our Gospel" for he had held it fast intime of persecution and amid all the perils to which he had been exposed-and he was, at last, to give his life as a sacrificefor it! And it must be "our Gospel," too, "to have and to hold," or else we cannot preach it with any power!
In the verse following our text, something more is said about the Gospel-it is there called "the glorious Gospel" There wassomething in it that aroused and inflamed the Apostle 's noblest thoughts. Paul was no boaster. "God forbid that I shouldglory," he said-but there was one exception-"save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ." He did not stand up as a mere apologistfor the Gospel, or say, "I can defend it against all comers and maintain that it is reasonable," but he gloried in it as thebest and highest Truth of God-as wiser than all the Stoic's wisdom and more full ofjoy than all the Epicurean's pleasure!He gloried in that Gospel which brings full and free forgiveness to the penitent! That Gospel which takes the meanest andbasest of mankind and makes them princes in the court of the King of kings! That
Gospel which comes to men in poverty, in slavery, in the degradation of superstition, idolatry and crime-and lifts them upout of the horrible pit and the miry clay, sets their feet upon the Rock of Ages, cleanses them, clothes them, puts a newsong into their mouth, preserves them from falling and, at last, brings them where they shall see the face of God and dwellforever in His Presence! It is, indeed, a glorious Gospel which can do all this! Yet, alas, the most of men are like the roosteron the dunghill who, when he found a pearl, said that he would sooner have found a grain of barley-they think more of theircorn and their wine, their feasts and their mirth, than they do of the inexpressibly glorious things of the Kingdom of Heaven.Oh, that they were wise enough to perceive the glories of this glorious Gospel!
Paul further calls it "the glorious Gospel of Christ" And well he might, for it is all about Christ from beginning to end!Give me a true preacher of the glorious Gospel of Christ and I will gladly listen to him. I would like him to be an educatedminister if that is possible, for there is no need for my ears to be tortured by mistakes in grammar, but I do not care somuch about that as about the other matter! I would sooner hear Christ's Gospel preached ungrammatically than I would hearthe best philosophy set forth in the most orderly sentences, but with the Gospel of Christ left out. When the table is spreadfor dinner, it is well to have a clean tablecloth, china, glass and cutlery of all the right sort and in their proper places-butif there is no food on the dishes, all those other things are a mere mockery to the hungry ones who are waiting to be fed!Sooner, by far, would I go to a bare table and eat from a wooden bowl something that would appease my appetite, than I wouldgo to a well-spread table on which there was nothing to eat! Yes, it is Christ, Christ, Christ whom we have to preach! Andif we leave Him out, we leave out the very soul of the Gospel! Christless sermons make merriment for Hell. Christless preachers,Christless Sunday school teachers, Christless class leaders, Christless tract distributors-what are all these doing? Theyare simply setting the mill to grind without putting any grist into the hopper-all their labor is in vain! If you leave JesusChrist out, you are simply beating the air, or going to war without any weapon with which you can smite the foe!
Dear Friend, if you are unconverted, let me pause here for a few moments to remind you that this is not a Gospel of self,nor a Gospel of works, nor a Gospel of baptism, nor a Gospel of priests, nor a Gospel of ministers, but it is "the gloriousGospel of Christ!" Forget the men who preach it if you will, but, oh, forget not the bleeding, dying Savior to whom they bidyou look. Your hope must be in Him and in Him, alone! To Him would we affectionately point you and we pray the Holy Spiritto shut your eyes to everything but Him whom God has set forth to be a Propitiation for sin-
"There is life for a look at the Crucified One!
There is life at this moment for thee!
Then look, Sinner-look unto Him and be saved-
Unto Him who was nailed to the tree!
It is not the tears of repentance or prayers,
But the blood that atones for the soul-
On Him, then, who shed it, believing at once
Your weight of iniquities roll!
We are healed by His stripes-would you add to the Word?
And He is our righteousness made-
The best robe of Heaven He bids you put on,
Oh, could you be better arrayed?
Then doubt not your welcome, since God has declared
There remains no more to be done!
That once in the end of the world He appeared
And completed the work He begun." With this rather long introduction, I now come to the three points upon which I am goingto briefly speak, but very solemnly, for I think they concern many of you who are here, tonight. So, firstly, I ask, why isthis Gospel hidden from some people? Secondly, what is the state of those from whom it is hidden?'And, thirdly, what is tobe feared concerning them in the future?
I. First, then, WHY IS THIS GOSPEL HIDDEN FROM SOME PEOPLE?
It is evident that there are some persons in the world who do not understand the Gospel-and I will venture to say that theGospel is never understood until it is received. You might have thought that men could very readily understand anything assimple as, "Believe, and live," yet those of us who have been converted must confess that we did not under-
stand the Gospel until we received it. I am sure that I never fully comprehended the plan of salvation until I believed inthe Lord Jesus Christ. And when I did believe, the whole matter seemed so simple that I wondered why I had not understoodit before! You notice that the Apostle decreed that it was not his fault that the Gospel was hidden from some people. Andalthough we would not put ourselves on a level with any Apostle, we are as clear upon this point of plain speaking as anyApostle who ever lived! If "our Gospel" is hidden from any of our hearers, it is not because of the fine language that weuse! We fear that there are some who, in preaching the Gospel, indulge in such eloquent oratory that their Gospel is hiddenfrom their hearers-but this is not a sin which can be laid at our door. We use what Whitefield called, "market language."We use a great many more Saxon words than Latin words. If we had to find out the Gospel through the types and symbols of theLaw, we might have a difficulty in understanding it, but the Gospel we have to preach is simply this, "Believe on the LordJesus Christ, and you shall be saved. Trust in Him as suffering as a Substitute in your place and you shall be saved." Cananything be more simple than that? We try to use the plainest similitudes so as to bring the Truth of God within the comprehensionof the weakest of our hearers. We make it a matter of conscience, as in the sight of God, to speak to men very simply so thateach one, after he has heard the message, is compelled to admit that it has been delivered to him very plainly. How is it,then, that you do not understand it?
Certainly, it is not because we hide the Gospel in a long roll of ceremonies. We have never said to you, "You must be christenedin your infancy, you must have sponsors to promise all sorts of things in your name and then, as you grow up, you must beconfirmed and must take the responsibility upon yourselves." Oh, no! We have never talked like that! We point you to the Divinely-InspiredBible and tell you that all you need to know is plainly recorded there. We point you to the Eternal Word who became Incarnateand we say, with all the emphasis of which we are capable-
"None but Jesus Can do helpless sinners good!" We bid you not to trust in forms and ceremonies, but to look alone to JesusChrist and Him Crucified, so that it cannot be for lack of plainness that the Gospel is not understood!
And again, it cannot be because of any obscurity in the Gospel, itself. I will venture to say that there is no propositionin the world more simple than the one which the Gospel sets before us. The formula, "Twice two are four," is so simple thata child's mind can understand it. And the degree of intellect which can comprehend is sufficient-so far a intellect is concerned-tocomprehend Paul's declaration, "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into theworld to save sinners." Or John's, "He that believes on the Son has everlasting life." To trust Jesus Christ, as far as itis an intellectual act, is a matter that does not require the slightest education-there is no need to sit down and calculate.Here is Jesus Christ standing in the sinner's place. God punished the sinner's guilt upon Christ instead of upon the sinner-allthat the sinner is bidden to do is to trust Christ to save him-and, as soon as he does that, he is saved! What could be simplerthan that? I grant you that as the Gospel is sometimes preached, there is obscurity in it, but there is no obscurity in theGospel, itself! Well then, if it so, and it is, why is it that the Gospel is hidden from some people? And the answer is that"the god of this world has blinded the minds of those who believe not." Let us see how this is.
First of all, the Gospel is hidden from some men because they have never felt sin to be an evil. "Why," they say, "do youtalk to us about the punishment of sin? Why do you tell us that God punished His own Son in the place of sinners? We believein the universal fatherhood of God, so we have no need of any Doctrine of Substitution." So you think that it is a small thingto offend the Most High God, but He thinks it is a very great thing! You consider that sin is a mere trifle, scarcely worththinking about, but God regards it as exceedingly sinful-an evil and an accursed thing which He will, by no means, pardonexcept in them who trust His Son, the Divinely appointed Substitute and Savior. If you realized what sin is, you would soonunderstand the Gospel! If the Holy Spirit shall teach you that sin is the most deadly and most damnable thing of which youcan conceive, you will at once understand the Glory of the Gospel that shows how you can be completely delivered from itscurse, penalty and power through the mercy of God in giving His only-begotten Son to die in your place! You love sin-thatis the fact of the matter-and you suppose that one is no more offensive to God than it is to yourself. Fool that you are,you are fascinated by the serpent that has filled your veins with the venom which shall burn in you forever and ever unlessyou shall look by faith to Him who was lifted up upon the Cross even as Moses lifted up the bronze serpent in the wildernessthat all who looked upon it might live! May God give you Grace to see sin
as it really is in His sight, for then will you realize your need of a Savior and you will give heed to the Gospel which bidsyou believe in Him that you may be saved!
Another reason why men do not understand the Gospel is that they do not understand themselves. Some of you who are here tonightthink that you can save yourselves. I know what your thoughts are-they are to this effect-that if you do your best, if yousay your prayers, if you attend church or chapel, if you give some to the poor, then you will go to Heaven. You have not yetlearned that all you do is tainted with the leprosy of sin and, therefore, cannot be acceptable to God! Your best works arebad since you do them with the motive that you may be saved by them-selfishness, therefore, is at the bottom of them all!You are not serving God by your good works! You are all the while trying to serve yourselves. If you knew yourselves better,you would know that all your works are nothing but sin until the Holy Spirit brings you to know your needof Christ-and thento knowChrist as the very Savior you need! If I am not in need, I have no need of the gifts of charity. And if you do notknow how needy you are spiritually, you will never apply to Christ for aid. But once let the real needs of your soul stareyou in the face-that you realize that you are "wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked," then the simple Gospelmessage, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved," will be so welcome to your soul that it will almost leapout of your body to lay hold of it!
Yet another reason why men do not understand the Gospel is because their will is not subdued. "We want to know," they say,"why the requirements of the Gospel are so strict." Oh, Sirs, that is not the language for you to use to your God! The messageto you is, "Except you are converted and become as little children, you shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven." Thathectoring spirit which says, "Why is this the only way of salvation? Why is this precept enjoined? Who is the Lord that weshould serve Him?"-that spirit has been the eternal ruin of many! There is no likelihood that you will ever understand theGospel while you are of this humor. Come down, Man, come down-there is no blessing for you while you set yourself up high!May the Lord make you know the corruptions and abominations which dwell in your heart that, in the Presence of the thrice-holyGod, you may demean yourself after another and a humbler fashion! But while that wicked will of yours says, "I will not dowhat God requires," there is no hope whatever that you will be able to understand the Gospel!
There are some who cannot understand the Gospel because it interferes with their worldly interests. If you take a sovereignout of your pocket and cover the word, "God," in your Bible with it, of course you cannot see the word! There are a greatmany men who never seem to see anything beyond pounds, shillings and pence-they never look above their ledgers-they neverrise to anything that is Godlike and Divine. They have no more spirituality than so many pigs at a trough! They say they cannotunderstand the Gospel, but how can they when their understanding has been eaten through and through with the canker of theirgold? There are many here to whom I am a stranger, but I should like to put this question to any of you who do not understandthe Gospel-Is there not in your hearts a desire not to understand it? Is it not a sorrowful fact that many of you do not comprehendGospel preachers because you do not want to trouble yourselves by comprehending them or have an uneasy consciousness thatGospel Truth and your pleasures will not agree? You are like men who are on the way to bankruptcy, but who dare not examinetheir books to see how they stand! Yet did you ever know a man retrieve his position by refusing to look his difficultiesin the face? Is it not the most sensible plan to know the worst of your case and to know it at once? I have known some whodid not want to understand the Gospel because they were engaged in a business which would not bear examination. There areothers who are hindered by their besetting sins. If the Lord Jesus Christ would grant pardons and yet allow men to keep theirsins, what a host of disciples of that sort He might have! But He says that though sin is as dear to us as our right arm,it is to be cut off-and though it is as precious as our right eye, it is to be plucked out! Yet many will not agree to theseconditions and, therefore, the Gospel is hidden from them.
II. Now I must try very briefly to answer the second question, WHAT IS THE STATE OF THOSE FROM WHOM
THE GOSPEL IS HIDDEN?
Paul says that they are lost-"If our Gospel is hidden, it is hidden to those who are lost." But, Paul, are you not very uncharitablein saying that men are lost? Preachers nowadays tell them that they will all get to Heaven at last. Ah, Beloved, the Apostlesknew nothing of this modern, maudlin "charity!" They said, as their Master said before them, "He that believes not shall bedamned." Our Lord Jesus Christ knew that there was no alternative between believing and being lost. But in what sense arethey from whom the Gospel is hidden, lost?
Well, first, they are lost to the church. You may be a subscriber to the funds of the church, you may attend the service ofthe church, you may even be an ardent admirer of the preacher and find a certain measure of interest in listening to his discourses.But if the Gospel is still hidden from you, if you do not understand it and believe on the Christ of whom it speaks-you arelost to the church of which many around you are members-and if you remain as you are, you will be lost to the one great Churchof the first-born and will never form a part of the general assembly of the redeemed around the Throne of God above!
It is a dreadful thing for anyone to be lost. I do not know if there is a more dreadful word in the English language thanthat word, "lost." Do you remember, my Friend, when you came home from work one night and your wife met you with the sad newsthat your little Mary was lost, how you hurried from one police station to another? And your poor distracted wife went tearingup and down one street after another seeking for tidings of your lost child! It was her misfortune to be lost in thatsense,but I hope you may never have a child lost in a sense in which it shall be her crime when the mother, night after night, searchesthe cold streets for any trace of her poor lost daughter! Ah, Sinner, you are lost to God in that sense. You have turned awayfrom Him who made you. You have despised the love that He has lavished upon you. You have forgotten all the care that He hastaken of you. I am quite sure that you are not happy while you are thus lost-how can you be happy? You are not at rest. Yoursoul is like a ship drifting in a storm with neither a rudder to guide her, nor an anchor to hold her and unless the Lordshall mercifully interpose to save you, you will be lost forever!
What a mercy it is, Sinner, that you are not yet "lost" in the full meaning of that term, as you soon will be if you do notrepent of your sin and turn unto the Lord! But even now it is a terrible thing to be lost in any sense-and if you are notsaved, you are lost-you must be either the one or the other, you cannot be partly saved and partly lost! I will ask everyone of you again tonight to do what I asked my congregation once before to do. You are either lost or saved, so will you definitelydecide which word applies to your case and write it down and sign your name to it? I remember that on the previous occasionwhen I made this request, there was one Brother, who, after sincere heart searching, felt that he was lost, so he wrote downthat word and signed his name below it. When he had done so and looked at the word, "Lost," written with his own hand, andwith his signature appended to it-and felt that it might be brought forward as evidence against him at the Last Great Day,it broke the heart that had never been broken before and brought him as a true penitent to the Savior's feet, so that beforethat night passed away he could write himself down as, "Saved," just as truthfully as he had before acknowledged that he waslost! I pray that this Brother's experience may be repeated in many of you here. Do not hesitate to look thoroughly into yourown case. If you are saved, it is not difficult for you to know that you are. And if you are not saved, it is well that youshould know it at once! If you think you are saved when you are not, your ruin will be all the more terrible because you hadnot the courage to find out the truth! If there is any doubt about the matter, let it be cleared up at once. Go to Jesus Christthis very moment! Confess your sin to Him and trust to His precious blood to wash it all away! And then you will be no longerlost, but shall be saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation!
III. Now, in a few closing sentences, let me answer the third question, WHAT IS TO BE FEARED CONCERNING THOSE FROM WHOM THEGOSPEL IS HIDDEN?
It is to be feared that in addition to their natural blindness, a second film has been cast over their eyes by "the god ofthis world." That is a very remarkable expression, "the god of this world." Does this world, then, really worship the devil?There are devil-worshippers in certain far-off lands-and we hold up our hands in horror and say, "What shockingly bad people!"Yet there are also many devil-worshippers in this land! The lover of pleasure-what is he better than a devil-worshipper? Itis the devil in his best suit of clothes whom some people worship, but it is still the devil! Worship the devil with the goldenhoofs, but it is the same devil all the while! If I were to be lost, it would make little difference to me whether I was lostin a gold mine, or in a coal mine. If I were to break my neck on a slab of gold, it would be no better for me than breakingit upon a slab of stone! So, if you are lost, you will find little comfort in the thought that you are lost in a more respectableway than others are!
When "the god of this world" comes to a man who is already blind by nature, he seeks to "make assurance doubly sure" by bandaginghis eyes so securely that the Light of the Gospel shall be still more completely hidden from him! If such a man attends aplace of worship, the devil persuades him that he is not a sinner, so that he need not take to him the preacher's warningsand exhortations. Another says, "I don't intend to trouble about any of these things-my one aim is to get on in the world."Yes, just so, "the god of this world" has blinded his eyes! So effectually does Satan blind the man that he cannot see hisown depravity! O Soul, what shall it profit you if you shall gain the whole world, and yet be lost forever? What if you shalldie upon a bed of down and wake up among the lost in Hell? May God give all of us the Grace to look upon the two worlds intheir proper light! If the next world is only a trifle, trifle with it! If this world is everything, make everything of it!As you possess an immortal spirit, think well where that spirit is to spend eternity. As all have sinned and come short ofthe Glory of God, you are a sinner and you need salvation, so do, I entreat you, trust in Him who alone can save the guilty,"for there is none other name under Heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved," but the name of Jesus-and He is ableto save unto the uttermost all who come unto God by Him. I said just now that I do entreat you to trust in Him, and so I do,yet this is not half so much my business as it is yours. The preacher of the Gospel ought to be in earnest, but when he hasfaithfully delivered his message, the responsibility is transferred to his hearers. As the Lord lives, I will take no responsibilityof yours upon myself-to our own Master you and I must stand or fall! But, as your fellow man. As one who devoutly desiresthat you should not be lost, I do beseech you to seek Divine Grace from God to get rid of the scales from your eyes so thatyou may see sin, salvation and everything else as they are in His sight-and may look to Jesus and find eternal life in Him!
Some of you young men are perhaps going to Oxford or Cambridge. Well, study hard, be senior wranglers if you can, but withall the knowledge that you may acquire, do get a clear understanding of eternal things and seek the wisdom that comes fromabove. When you wear the degrees which earthly knowledge will procure for you, may you also wear the higher degree which Godshall confer upon you as the children of the Kingdom, children of God by faith in Christ Jesus! Sit at the feet of divinesand philosophers if you will, but also sit at the feet of Jesus and learn of Him, for so shall you have honor and glory thatshall last forever! Seek after the honor which comes from God-which can only be found by believing in Jesus and seeking toplease Him in all things!
My time has gone and your time for repentance and faith is almost gone. May the realities of eternity be deeply impressedupon us all-and may we be prepared-when death shall summon us to stand before God, to prove that the Gospel was not hiddenfrom us, so that we may not be among "those who are lost." May God save us, by His Grace, for Jesus' sake! Amen.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: 2 CORINTHIANS 4; 5:1-9.
2 Corinthians 4:1-2. Therefore, seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; but have renounced the hidden things ofdishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the Word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the Truth commendingourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. Paul's description of his own ministry and also that of Timothy shouldbe true of every servant of Jesus Christ! There must be no dishonesty, or craftiness, or deceit about the minister of theWord of God-and it is by the manifestation of the Truth of God that he must commend himself to every man's conscience in thesight of God! He may not win every man's approval, yet even those who differ from him must perceive his loyalty to his Lord.
3, 4. But if our Gospel is hidden, it is hidden to those who are lost: in whom the god of this world has blinded the mindsof them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine
unto them. [See Sermons #1663, Volume 28-THE TRUE GOSPEL IS NO HIDDEN GOSPEL and #2304, Volume 39-BLINDED BY SATAN.] The lightof the Gospel is so glorious and bright that it is only hidden from those who have been blinded by Satan, "the god of thisworld." The only hope for them is to believe in Jesus who can give sight to the spiritually blind as easily as He gave sightto the physically blind when He was here in the flesh.
5. For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus 'sake. "Christ Jesus theLord" is to be the great theme of our preaching! And when it is so, we naturally take our right position with regard to ourhearers, as Paul and Timothy did-"and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake."
6, 7. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, has shinedin our hearts to give the light of the knowledgeof the Glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the powermay be of God, and not of us. God might have put the priceless treasure of the Gospel into the golden vessel
of cherubim and seraphim-and He might have sent angels who would never suffer, who would never err, who would never sin-topreach the Word. But instead of doing so, He has chosen to send the Gospel to men by commonplace beings like themselves. "Wehave this treasure in earthen vessels," and this redounds much to God's Glory and, dear Friends, the great objective of thesending of the Gospel into the world is the Glory of God! He would manifest His mercy to men that His mercy might be glorifiedand, therefore, He has committed the Gospel not to the trust of perfect men, but to the trust of poor, shallow, earthen vesselslike ourselves!
8, 9. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken;cast down, but not destroyed. The Apostle is here speaking for himself and all the members of the Apostolic college and, also,for all the early saints. They appear to have been very much troubled and sometimes to have been very much perplexed. I meetwith certain brethren, now and then, who have no troubles-they are so supremely wise that they are never perplexed and soeminently holy that they do not appear to belong to the ordinary democracy of Christiani-ty-but are altogether supernaturalbeings! Well, I do not belong to their clique and it does not seem to me that Paul and the Apostles and the early Christiansdid. Those great pioneers of the Church of Christ were men who were troubled on every side-perplexed, persecuted, cast down-infact, they were men of like passions with ourselves!
10, 11. Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life, also, of Jesus might be made manifestin our body. For we who live are always delivered unto death for Jesus'sake, that the life, also, of Jesus might be made manifestin our mortal flesh. So you see, Brothers and Sisters, to have an anticipation of death upon one is no hindrance to one'swork, but a great help to it-to bear about in our body the dying of the Lord Jesus is a great help towards the manifestationof the life of Christ! When we begin to reckon that we shall live long, we are very apt to live loosely. But to live as thoughtomorrow might be the Judgment Day, or as though today the King might come in His Glory-that is the style of living whichis the best of all! "A short life and a holy one"-lengthened as God may please, but reckoned by us as short even at the longest-maythat be the Christian's motto. As the worldling says, "A short life and a merry one." But we say, "A short life if God sowills it, but a holy one whether it is long or short."
12. So then death works in us, but life in you. These Apostolic men lived as if they were on the borders of the grave-livedexpecting to die a cruel death-and in this way spiritual life was brought to the Corinthians and others who witnessed theirholy lives and heroic deaths.
13-16. 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; knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise us up, also, by Jesus, and shall present uswith you. For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant Grace might through the thanksgiving ofmany redound to theGlory of God. For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perishes, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.As the flesh goes down, so, by God's Grace, the spirit goes up! You know that there are heavy weights that keep men down tothe earth, but he who understands mechanics knows that by the use of wheels and pulleys those same heavy weights may be madeto lift a man-and God often makes the weights and burdens associated with bodily decay lift up the inward spirit.
17, 18. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of Glorywhile 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
2 Corinthians 5:1, 2. For we know that ifour earthlyhouse ofthe tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands,eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan. In this poor body it is our lot often to groan, but the groan is a hopeful one,for it is a birth-pang and it will bring joy in due time-"For in this we groan."
2-6. Earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from Heaven: if it is that being clothed we shall not befound naked. For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothedupon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. Now He that has worked us for the same thing is God, who also has givenunto us the earnest ofthe Spirit Therefore we are always confident That is a blessed experience, "always confident." Thereare some Christians who are neverconfident and some who are afraid of being confident. I know some who, if they see this holyconfidence in other Christians, begin to tremble for their eternal safety. Never mind about them, Brothers and Sisters-ifGod gives you a holy confidence in Him, hold fast to it and do not let it go, whatever anyone may say!
6-9. Knowing that, while we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord, (for we walk by faith, not by sight). Weare confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. Therefore we labor,that whether present or absent, we may be accepted of Him. [See Sermon #1303, Volume 22-the believer in the body and
OUT OF THE BODY.] That is our main business-whether we live or
whether we die is of no consequence at all! But to be accepted of Christ-so to live is to be well-pleasing to God. Be thisour heavenly ambition and may the Holy Spirit graciously enable us to attain to it!