“ You have been singing, ‘On that day you will see Him’. On that day as the curtain is drawn aside – you’ll see and understand the fulness of My grace – My Grace has been surrounding you and protecting you and even as you have said, ‘Your grace is sufficient for me’ – you have never really plumbed the full depth of what that means. But on that day it will all be revealed to you and even as all your cares and worries are shed the best part of all is that My Grace will be replaced by the fullness of My Presence – that is a promise from Me which you even now cannot fully appreciate – but relax now and receive My peace and grace and enjoy every moment I give you here in preparation of that great day.”
As we go on now into this letter to the Corinthians, in Ch 2 from vs 12, (till 3:18), we see Paul continuing the defence of his ministry, in the face of severe criticism and suggestions that he was not an authentic Apostle. After some personal notes as to his travel plans, he makes the first point. We see that in vs 17 where he reminds them that he did not come to them trying to make money out of preaching the gospel. This sort of gives one a picture of what was happening at the time when there were no written scriptures available yet. Nothing’s changed as we look at the world around us today, with many trying to and succeeding, may I say to get rich from peddling the gospel.
He goes on to mention letters of recommendation. It seems that some of the travelling teachers carried letters of recommendation to authenticate their ministry, which was probably very helpful in the face of the many false teachers around. However Paul makes the point that he did not need any letter, because the people who he had ministered to were his letter. Obviously he is speaking about the real change that happens when people are genuinely converted to Christianity.
Buried in there (2: 15 ff) is the classic statement about the aroma of Christ, which I am sure you have all experienced and seen from time to time. It is a very apt description of the two ways that people respond to the gospel and the eventual outcome which follows each decision.
In 3:4 Paul once again affirms the important point that his appointment is from God and that leads him to describing his message in terms of the New Covenant as compared to the Old. There were probably quite a number of converted Jews in the congregations and Paul wants to make clear how the New Covenant is a major advance over the Old. Why don’t you read through3:6 – 3:18 and see what the three points are that Paul is making in comparing the two.
- Vs 7. The law, as glorious as it was, set the standard, but was unable to provide the power necessary to obey it, which the Spirit who is even more glorious does (vs 8).
- The law had an honourable purpose, but it was only temporary. Paul uses the example of the fading glory on Moses face (v 11).
- The law betokened a barrier between God and the people of Israel – both in Moses’ day as then and even today. The barrier, which is likened to the veil over Moses’ face, hides the truth and only Christ can remove that barrier. This is the work of the Spirit and is responsible for the glorious transformation that the message of the New Covenant brought then and right up to today.
This brings us right back to the beginning of our passage today. The authentic gospel always brings a dramatic change to those who embrace it and the measure of a church’s effectiveness is the many lives that are changed through its ministry.
So what has Jesus’ being saying to me this week? Firstly the reminder of the power of the gospel is so relevant and makes me excited as a minister of that very glorious gospel, which I feel God has appointed me to do even if only in a modest way.
Secondly it is also a reminder, if we need one, of the many who turn their backs on the gospel message, to whom it is the aroma of death. Knowing this as a fact means I should never take a negative reaction personally, as long as I have been careful to respect the person I am speaking to.
I suppose there is much else, but finally there is a reminder, and I’m sure this is for all of us, in 4:18. It is a timely reminder that God is busy with each one of us busy transforming us into His likeness, through His Spirit. Written between the lines is the reality of this whole letter that that transformation often happens through greater or lesser suffering and difficulty.
So keep walking with the Spirit this week friends and be ready to give an answer for the hope you have, which is demonstrated by your changed life. Even and often in the face of suffering.