2nd Corinthians – Wayne Barber/Part 17
By: Dr. Wayne Barber
|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©2006|
|In verses 11-15 he shows us what is involved in living the life of faith. Now we have only two options: lose heart or live the life of faith. There are only two options: you’re one side or you’re the other. There’s no in-between at all. But what’s involved in living the life of faith? How to Live Without Losing Heart – Part 4|
Living the Life of Faith
Well, turn in your Bibles to 2 Corinthians 4:11-15. We’re going to continue in our little series. We’ve been talking about how to live without losing heart. And today we’re going to talk about what’s involved in living the life of faith. Now, this whole series began in verse 1 of chapter 4 as we’re working our way through 2 Corinthians, and it was talking about losing heart.
Verse 1 says in chapter 4, “Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we received mercy, we do not lose heart.” Now maybe you’ve been on vacation and you haven’t been with us during this series; maybe you’re visiting today and you don’t really know what I mean by “losing heart.” Now, this is very important. Losing heart: yes, it’s acquainted with faint-heartedness or growing weary, but in the Greek it means that a person has changed. He’s stopped trusting God; something’s happened. Something in his life has overwhelmed him or deceived him and he’s gone back to doing things his own way.
It was the word used of a soldier in battle who would turn coward and go back. It’s not a good thing. And all believers have been there. For example, it’s when a believer is so overwhelmed with the events happening in this world that instead of praying, instead of trusting that God is faithful and that God is in control, the world is not falling apart, it’s coming together, what happens is they let go and they let their own fears cause them to grow weak and faint-hearted. And prayerlessness begins to show up in their life.
This past week was the London bombings that reminded all of us of 9-11, and then we also had the hurricanes that are coming in, and people are getting a little bit antsy and they’re saying, “What’s going on in this world. Is it really falling apart?” No, it’s not, but when a person lets that overwhelm them and overcome them, they’ve lost heart. That’s why they’re weak and that’s why they’re afraid and that’s why they are depressed.
Well, it’s when a believer allows the world to influence his thinking. He gets to the point that he thinks that, as he was successful in the world in business, he can certainly be successful in ministry. And he tries to do ministry in his own flesh and in his own power and as a result he burns out. We saw that in 2 Corinthians 4:1. It’s when a believer allows his own fears about what others will say about him or what they may do to him to keep him from sharing the precious message of grace, of the Lord Jesus Christ to other people. And he grows weary. And he loses heart. And he begins to show the results of that in his life. That’s 2 Corinthians 4:16. It’s when he grows weary waiting on God.
You know, sometimes—people have told me all my life: God is slow, but He’s never late. He’s slow in my mind, but not in His. Time is of no essence to Him—and when we grow impatient and we’ve done the right thing, we’ve asked God, we’ve trusted God, He is faithful, but nothing is happening, nothing is happening that we believe God is doing in our life. And so therefore we take matters into our own hands and we try to produce the results ourselves. That’s what it means to lose heart. We saw that in Galatians 6:9.
It’s when a believer becomes so distraught at life, so overwhelmed at what’s going on that he becomes disillusioned and grows irresponsible in the normal everyday responsibilities of life. He has lost heart. Now, let me ask you a question. We’ve been in this series for awhile. How are you doing? I’m wondering how many are here today that have lost heart? You’ve flat-out lost heart. Maybe it’s an illness, maybe it’s something else that has happened in your life, but you have just flat-out just given up.
You see, you don’t have to live that way. You can walk by faith. That’s what we’re going to be talking about today. In part 1 of this little mini-series of the symptoms of one who has lost heart, that’s the first thing we saw of losing heart. And we just went over those. In part 2 of this series we saw the secret of one who has not lost heart, and that was the apostle Paul himself. In part 3 of the series, last time, we saw that if we’re going to live without losing heart, we’re going to have to learn the basics. There are certain basics that if we don’t hold on to, it’s going to cost us down the road. Just like a coach every season takes those seasoned athletes into the room and he says, “This is a football,” and they think, “What is he doing?” And he’s starting all over again with the basics.
There are certain basics that sometimes we tend to forget, and that’s why we lose heart. The first basic that we saw was the frailty of our flesh. We’ve got to understand that living grace, God did not come to renew our flesh, He came to replace it. We’ve got to understand how weak our flesh is. In 4:7 he says, “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing greatness of the power may be of God and not from ourselves.” And that term “earthen vessels” that we studied last time simply means that we’re nothing but empty clay pots apart from what God wants to do in our life. We can’t. God never said we could. He can. He always said He would.
And the paradox of this is that within these clay pots the treasure, the Lord Jesus Himself in the person of His Holy Spirit has come to live in us. Christ lives in us, the frail vessel, the empty clay pot. He has come to live in us to do through us what we could have never done ourselves. You know, I’ve preached this message, tried to be faithful to it for the last three years or more. I don’t know how I can preach it any different. And one of these days it’s just going to be caught. I believe it’s taught, but I believe it’s caught. And that little chain clicks on and all of a sudden you realize it’s not bad to admit you’re a failure. It’s not bad to say, “I can’t do it. He never said I could.”
You see, that’s what the grace message is all about. We’ve got to remember the frailty of our flesh. Now, when the treasure is manifested in us, this is a wonderful truth. Christ living His life through us, but the downside of that is that we secondly, the second basic we’ve got to learn is when we start letting that happen we must expect the fight of our lives. The fact that the world hates Christ, it’s going to hate us, folks. This is going to bring a lot of pain because, what are we? We’re weak vessels and weak vessels suffer. And we’re going to suffer as a result of letting Jesus be Jesus in us. But this is a bittersweet truth. The bitter side is the pain; the sweet side is the treasure that lives within us.
Paul says in verses 8-9, “we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.” Now he uses several words that every weak vessel can associate with. He uses “affliction” which is physical but mainly emotional stress that people put on us when Christ is living through us. He mentions being “perplexed.” Every one of us has been there: at a standstill. We don’t know whether to go left, we don’t know whether to go right. We don’t know what to do. He mentions “persecution,” which is the same as being hunted down like an animal. He mentions “being struck down,” and when it’s used figuratively as it is here, it doesn’t mean just to be thrown down because Paul was thrown down many times. But it means somebody tries to knock down what Christ is doing in and through our lives.
But, like I said, it’s a bittersweet truth. That’s the bitter side. And folks, there’s nobody that’s a Christian that’s not going to suffer. People suffer, but we’re going to suffer in a different way: we’re going to suffer because of Christ, and these things will come into our lives. But the refreshing comfort, the beautiful truth is the treasure lives within us. And so on the one side, the weak vessel is afflicted, but on the other side, the treasure in the vessel causes him not to be crushed. On the one side the weak vessel is perplexed, but the treasure within him keeps him from being in despair. The word “despair” means at a total loss. God always shows us the way, even when we’re at a standstill. On one side the weak vessel is persecuted, but on the other side the treasure within him causes him not to be destroyed. On the one side, the weak vessel is struck down, but on the other side he’s not going to be destroyed.
This is a beautiful truth. On the one side the weak vessel and on the other side the treasure. And that’s a bittersweet truth, but we must expect the fight of our life because we’re going to begin to experience the sufferings of Christ. And that’s our third basic. We must learn to make sure that our sufferings are not self-inflicted. It’s not because we ran our big mouth when we shouldn’t have been talking. It’s not because we did something stupid and brought the thing in on top of us. It’s because of living the life of faith, letting Jesus be Jesus in us, that our suffering should come to us. Suffering will come to you, suffering will come to me. We don’t have to go looking for it. But His sufferings will only come as we allow Him to live through us.
Verse 10, “always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.” It’s so incredible. When we start suffering the right way and people look at this and they know us and they know that we didn’t do something wrong to cause that suffering and they realize that we’re trusting God in the midst of it, they begin to connect the dots and the message that we’ve been wanting them to hear from our lips, they begin to get it from our life. And all of a sudden they connect the dots and say, “Wait a minute. That suffering, that person is willing to believe even in the midst of pain. And I see now what he’s trying to tell me. I see the treasure in the midst of the earthen vessel.” And this will deepen the message that we preach and that we share. Our walk will start matching our talk. We’ll have more to say than just what comes out of our mouth.
The painful proof of living the life of faith
And this leads us into today’s text. In verses 11-15 he shows us what is involved in living the life of faith. Now we have only two options: lose heart or live the life of faith. There are only two options: you’re one side or you’re the other. There’s no in-between at all. But what’s involved in living the life of faith? First of all, the painful proof of living the life of faith, in verse 11 and in verse 12. “For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus” sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.”
Now, if you’ve read verse 10, and we just read it a moment ago, and you’re looking at verse 11, you’re saying all he’s doing is rehearsing what he just said in verse 10. That’s correct, but with one little addition. In verse 10 he says, “always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.” But in verse 11 he says, “For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus” sake.”
“We who live.” Now, I wonder if you understand that statement? The word “live” there is in the present tense with a definite article. “We who are the living ones.” He’s categorizing something. Paul, by using the word “live,” is not just referring to physical life. The word that’s used there is a word that you can use, but it’s talking more about that. We’re all living physically right now and yes, we will die someday unless Jesus comes first. But the word he uses here for “live” is zao. And zao can be and is used of physical life, but when it comes to the believers; believers live in a very significant and special way.
It categorizes a way that a believer lives. Example: in Philippians 1:21, it’s the word that is used: “For to me,” Paul says, “to live [zao] is Christ and to die is gain.” To live is Christ. Christ is not my motivation, He’s not my inspiration, He is my life. And so it’s a certain way that we live. Yes, it’s physical life, but it’s a certain way we live spiritually in the midst of that. Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ. It’s no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me [zao] and the life which I know live [zao] in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”
You see, believers live in a certain significant way, or they’re supposed to, and that’s the way of faith. Paul is saying “we, the ones who are living the life, we the ones who are walking by faith, trusting the Christ of the new covenant.” Now, if you’re living today in the 21st century that way, if you’re living and walking by faith, you can identify with Paul. You can say the very same thing he says in verse 11. Then he adds, “For we who live,” for we who are living this way, “are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus” sake.” Now that’s the painful side of this.
The words “constantly being delivered over to death” means exactly that. Constantly handed over or delivered over to death. Paul was daily under the threat of being executed; he was daily under the threat of being handed over to death just like the Lord Jesus was when He walked on this earth. In fact, the words “delivered over to death” is used of Christ when He was handed over to be put to death. It’s the word translated “betraying” in Matthew 26:25. He says, “And Judas, who was betraying him,” handing Him over, delivering Him over, “said, “Surely it is not I, Rabbi.” And Jesus said to him, “You said it yourself.’” It was because of the life of Jesus in Paul that caused Paul to be constantly delivered over unto death.
Now how do we know that? How do we know that for sue? Well, he adds, “for Jesus” sake.” That means because of Jesus, daily he’s being handed over unto death. Verse 11, “For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus” sake.” Christ’s life in us, if we walk by faith, will be seen and it will be displayed so that others can see us. Not us, we’re just a weak vessel. They see the treasure that is in us. But because others see Jesus displayed in our life, this evokes a hatred in them, the same hatred they had for Jesus when He walked on this earth they’re going to have for you and me. And that’s going to be painful.
But the proof of our living faith, or our living the life of faith, regardless of its consequences, is not just the pain we go through, but the rest of the verse. He says, “so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.” “So that” means “in order that.” In other words, something is happening as a result of our righteous suffering. Something is happening, “so that” the life of Jesus, the very life of Jesus also “may be manifested in our mortal flesh.”
The word “manifested” means to be put on display so that everybody can see it. Now Paul rehearses again the treasure as I said of the earthen vessel. It’s through our suffering for the sake of Christ that others are able to see Jesus in us. In other words, when you squeeze somebody with suffering, when you put them in a time of pain that comes as a result of saying yes to Jesus, what happens is that what’s on the inside comes out.
You see, this is what Paul is saying: I’m going through the pain of suffering, but what’s being squeezed out of me is that the life of Jesus is manifested in the midst of my pain. The word for “mortal flesh” there: “mortal” is the word thnetos. It means that it is subject to death. We’re weak vessels, folks. We are nothing; we’re clay pots apart from the treasure that God has put within us. We can die and we can suffer and we will have pain, but when we’re squeezed, what Paul is saying, the whole proof that we’re walking by faith is that what comes out and manifested to everybody so that all can see, is the life of the Lord Jesus Christ.
So the painful proof; and it is painful because as vessels we’re going to suffer. We’re going to be perplexed, we’re going to be persecuted, we’re going to be afflicted, we’re going to be knocked down, but the treasure on the other side causes people to see the life that is within us. It will be evidenced when we’re squeezed. We’ll feel the pain but the world will see the life in the midst of that pain. That’s when you know you’re living the life of faith.
The personal privilege of living the life of faith
The second thing is the personal privilege of living the life of faith. The personal privilege. Now Paul saw this as a personal privilege, and you’ll see this in the text. We just saw that he was constantly being delivered over unto death. I want you to know that death is stalking everyone of us. And at some time it will conquer its prey. But the death that Paul is talking about is not the natural death that all of us will have ahead of us, but he’s talking about the death that comes as the result of persecution. A result of people hating the life that is within us. Paul wants us all to know that even death cannot touch the treasure that is within us, the life that is within us.
And he says in verse 12, “So death works in us, but life in you.” Now that phrase “works in us” is in the present tense. Death is constantly working in us. He’s already clarified that: he’s daily being turned over or handed over to possible death. People were out to get Paul; it’s in the middle voice which means somebody is enabling this to happen. People were out to get Paul everywhere you’d go. And the sad thing is, many of these people who hated Paul because of the Christ in him, lived in Corinth, so the people to whom he’s writing this epistle.
Paul and his crew had learned to yield their bodies to Christ no matter the cost, even if it be death. Now, this is what you’ve got to understand, this is what chapter 5 is all about. There’s no fear of death to a believer who walks by faith, but at the same time there was a divine purpose to their suffering. Now watch this: the life of Christ in them was seen in the midst of their suffering by the people at Corinth and they were beginning to catch it. “Death works in us but life in you,” because Paul and his team were willing to die for Christ if need be, they believed to the point that they were willing to speak boldly the truth. People in Corinth caught that. They saw the treasure in the earthen vessels.
The word for “life” there, “life works in you,” is the word zoe. It’s not the word for physical life again; it’s the word “spiritual quality of life that only Jesus can give.” And what he’s saying is the believers at Corinth, many of them, were catching it and now they’re living that particular life where they are. They saw that Paul was willing to go the distance, even in the valley of the shadow of death, to let that message get out of him. And now it was in them and they’re letting it begin to get through them. Life was working in them and the result would be that the Corinthians now in turn would face the same problem Paul faced: death would now start hounding them. Because they’ve seen it in Paul; Paul was boldly willing to share it even at the expense of death. Now they’ve caught it, now they’re sharing it, now others are catching it and it’s a divine cycle.
And what a privilege to be in this divine cycle. Paul was willing not only to die spiritually, but to die physically if need be, in order that others might see his Christ-life manifested in him. And the Corinthians saw it. And as they were catching it, as they were gleaning from Paul, now that life is working in them and now others will see it as they face the same persecution that Paul faced. And what a privilege to be in the long line of people who have believed to the point that they’re willing to speak the truth boldly no matter the consequence that may come to them.
That divine cycle didn’t start with Paul. It’s been going on since God began to draw man into Himself. Look at verse 13, “But having the same Spirit of faith, according to what is written, ‘I believed, therefore I spoke,’” and Paul says as a result of that, “we also believe, therefore also we speak.” And what Paul is doing is reaching back into that long line of people that have done the very same thing. And he quotes from David and he quotes from Psalm 116:10 where David said, “I believed when I said I am greatly afflicted.” And the context of that Psalm that you find these words that David said is the impending death coming to David from his enemies.
You see, death stalked David just like it stalked Paul, just like it stalked the Corinthian believers and now just like it stalks us. And in Psalm 116:3, to show you that, David said, “The cords of death encompassed me, and the terrors of Sheol came upon me; I found distress and sorrow.” But in the midst of that David believed without any fear. He trusted God and therefore spoke boldly. And what Paul is saying is just like David, he believed and therefore he spoke.
He said, “we also believe, therefore also we speak.” And you can put in parenthesis “even though it’s in the face of impending death by people who hate the message that we share.” The word “believe” is the word pisteuo. And we need to get hold of this in the 21st century. Pisteuo is not something that you just comprehend. Some people say, “I believe that.” Do you really? You may comprehend it, but if you believe it, then you have been changed by it. It’s somebody who has been so persuaded by what he understands that he’s given himself to it and it has radically changed his life. Belief goes far beyond just mentally comprehending something. If you say you believe something and it has not affected your behavior in how you speak and how you live, you do not believe that. You understand it, but you do not believe it.
Paul so believed God that it radically changed his life. And in the midst of impending death, death working in him daily, he was willing to speak. Why? Because he believed, therefore he spoke. But what did he believe in the face of death? Verse 14, “knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and will present us with you.” Wow. “Knowing” is the word eido, and it means “intuitive knowledge.” It’s the kind of knowledge you ladies have that us men are so jealous of. My wife will say, “I know something.” And I’ll say, “How do you know?” And she’ll say, “I don’t know, I just know.” Oh, that bugs me. And 99.9% of the time she’s right. That just kills me. But she has an intuitive knowledge. That’s what the word is; it’s not just knowledge that you can learn, it’s knowledge that comes by walking by faith. And Paul says we have in our hearts that death is not our enemy. That the One “who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and will present us with you.”
“Knowing that He who raised Jesus.” Now do you notice in the New Testament before Jesus went to the cross it’s “Jesus Christ;” after He goes to the cross it’s “Christ Jesus.” “Jesus” expresses His humanity, the word “Christ” expresses His deity and the names are reversed after He is resurrected from the death.
And so he uses the word “Jesus.” “He who raised Jesus from the dead will also raise us and will present us with you.” That’s the most fascinating truth. Let me just see if I can get it out like it got in. He’s not talking about the event particularly. Don’t try to get hung up in that. But it’s more than that. He’s saying, “Listen, I’m willing to live the life and I’m going to live the life of faith. I’m not going to lose heart. I’m not going back to doing things the way I used to do them. I’m going to trust God even in the face of death. I’m not afraid of death, because I want you to see the life of Christ in me, not just by what I say, but how I live. And when you catch it, then you’ll start living it; and when you start living it, then they’ll come after you; and then they’ll catch it and then they’ll start living it. And one day when we stand before God we’ll all stand there together.” What a harvest that’s going to be some day. It only takes one person who believes and is willing therefore to speak and the rest is history. And one day we will see all of those who have been affected and we’ll stand together in glory. It will be worth it all.
Let me ask you a question today. Do you believe, therefore do you speak? I hear these people say, “Wayne, you’re not evangelistic enough. Wayne, you need to be more evangelistic.” Oh, come on. Evangelism is the natural cause or consequence of an individual who believes. If he believes, therefore he’ll speak. The problem is not with the speaking. The problem is with the believing in the 21st century. We don’t believe. “Why do you know that, Wayne?” Because we don’t speak.
We’re not willing to speak in the face of what they may say back to us. We’re not willing to speak in the face of what they may do to us. When God is so alive inside of us, wanting us to share that message, you can’t help but share it. Peter said, “We can’t but speak of the things that we’ve seen and that we’ve heard.” Evangelism is not a program. Evangelism comes from an individual who, like David, and who, like Paul, says, “We believe, therefore we speak and we don’t care about what the consequences are that may come to this weak body that can suffer.”
You know, we believe that we’re living in bad times. How many of you believe we’re living in bad times? Many of you do. Well, let me just tell you what a bad time is like. We haven’t got a clue what a bad time is. A bad time to us is when the air conditioning doesn’t work. A bad time for us is a lot of things. But let me take you back to 258 AD. Let me show you how bad times can get. This is to believers. This is right out of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. When it begins to talk about the different emperors and how over the centuries they persecuted different ones. This is about a man by the name of Lawrence and how he was persecuted. And some of it’s written in Old English, so bear with me.
But in 258 AD, under the cruel reign of the Emperor Valerian, his general, a man by the name of Marcianus secured permission, now listen to this, for all of the Christian clergy, anybody who believed, therefore they shared, to be put to death. All of them. Now that’s bad times, folks, we think we’re living in bad times, that’s bad times. Now I’m going to read right out of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, taken just word for word. And let me get you the story.
“Let us draw near to the fire of martyred Lawrence, that our cold hearts may be warmed thereby. The merciless power of Marcianus, understanding him to be not only a minister of the sacraments but a distributor of the church’s riches, promised to himself a double prey by the apprehension of one soul. First of all, with the rake of avarice to scrape to himself the treasure poor Christians, and then with the fiery fork of tyranny so to toss and to turmoil them that they should wax weary of their profession. With furious face and cruel countenance the greedy wolf demanded where this Lawrence had bestowed the substance of the church. Who, craving three days respite, promised to declare where the treasure might be had. In the meantime, Lawrence caused a great number of poor Christians to be congregated so when the day of his answer was come, the persecutor strictly charged him to stand to his promise. Then valiant Lawrence, stretching out his arms over the poor congregants that were there, he said, ‘These are the precious treasure of the church. These are the treasure indeed in whom the faith of Christ reigns in whom Jesus Christ hath His mansion place. What more precious jewels can Christ have than those in whom He had promised to dwell? For so it is written, “I was a hungered and you gave Me meat. I was thirsty and you gave Me drink. I was a stranger and you took Me in. And again in as much as you have done it unto the least of these My brethren, you’ve done it unto Me.” What greater riches can Christ our Master possess than the poor people in whom He loveth to be seen?’
“Oh what tongue is able to express the fury and madness of the tyrant’s heart? Now he stamped, he stared, he ramped, he faired out as one out of his wits. His eyes were like fire glowed, his mouth like a boar formed. His teeth like a hell hound grim. Now, not a reasonable man but a roaring lion he might be called.
“’Kindle the fire,’ he cried, ‘of wood make no spare. Hath this villain deluded the emperor? Away with him! Away with him. Whip him with scourges, jerk him with rods, buffet him with fists, brain him with clubs. Jesteth the traitor with the emperor? Pinch him with fiery tongs, gird him with burning plates. Bring out the strongest chains and the fire forks and the grated bed of iron. On the fire with it, bind the rebel hand and foot and when the bed is fire hot, on with him. Roast him, boil him, toss him, turn him. On pain of our high displeasure do every man his office, oh you tormenters.’
“The word was no sooner spoken but all was done. After many cruel handlings this meek lamb was laid. I will not say on his fiery bed of iron, but on his soft bed of down. So mightily God wrought with His martyr Lawrence, so miraculously God tempered his element with the fire that it became not a bed of consuming pain, but a pallet of nourishing rest.”
In the midst of our suffering we have the privilege, the personal privilege, of believing; therefore we speak and we’re in a long line of people who have been there. Don’t you ever think you’re living in bad times. We don’t know what bad times are. But what Paul is saying is just like David spoke when he believed that he was being threatened with death, we believe and we’re threatened with death but therefore we speak. What a privilege.
Next time you’re in a situation and God wants you to share Christ with somebody and it’s burning in your heart and you choose not to do it, just remember what you’ve just chosen not to do. The problem with us getting the message out is, I don’t think the message has really deeply sunk in yet within us. We don’t believe. We don’t really believe. If we believed, we would share and the world would come to know the message that we have.
So, what does it mean to live by faith? The painful proof is in our pain His life will be squeezed out. What’s the personal privilege? We believe, therefore we speak and we’re in a long line of those who have done the same.
The powerful passion in living the life of faith
Thirdly, the powerful passion in living the life of faith. In verse 15 Paul says, “For all things are for your sakes, that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God.” Do you know what Paul’s passion was? Paul’s passion, no matter what it cost him, was that everyone be giving thanks to the glory of God. He just wanted people to understand the message that had overwhelmed and changed his life. Everything that happened to Paul as a result of living the life of faith was for the benefit of other people. That was his passion. That’s the way every one of us ought to live every day of our lives. “For all things are for your sakes,” he said. “All things” refers to everything in the context he’s talked about. All the suffering that he’s been through.
And he says in order that, “so that the grace which is spreading to more and more people.” That’s Christianity in action. How does it spread? In the midst of our pain, we’re willing to share. Why? Because we believe. And then somebody catches that and then somebody shares it with somebody else and then somebody shares it with somebody else. That’s what evangelism is. It’s a message you can’t help but share, and more and more and more people begin to see the message of grace. It’s spreading and abounding more and more. Unashamed to share the message of God’s grace so that others might hear and believe it and then they spread it to somebody else.
And then what? We’re all raised together and one day, you know what? Isn’t it going to be a great time when we see Jesus one day? Isn’t that going to be awesome? All the times that we were willing to share when we believed, therefore we were willing to share the message that was in us, and in the midst of our pain people saw the light manifested in us as they did in Stephen when he was stoned to death in Acts. You know, one day we’re going to get to see the results of all that. We’re not going to see it down here. We’re not going to see it down here.
Every now and then God gives us a little glimpse. I remember being in South Africa, in Cape Town one time and they said, “Wayne, do you want to go to a Precept Rally?” Because I was with Kay Arthur for 15 years, I was her co-teacher. And they said, “Wayne. Your tapes have been going over here for 5 years. You’re going to be surprised.” I walked in that church and it was standing room only in a church that would seat about 450 or 500 people and I stood there for over 4 hours when people would come by and just tears streaming down their face of how God had used the Word to transform their lives. God gives us little glimpses just every now and then just to encourage us, just a little glimpse, but one day Paul says we’re going to stand and we’re going to stand together in a great throng of people and we’re going to see the people that we’ve influenced because we believed, therefore we shared the message.
That’s what it’s all about. We’ve come so far from Christianity in the 21st century it scares me. It’s nothing more than an add-on to people’s schedules during the week. I’ve had people tell me over the last several years, “I’ll give you one hour a weekend. That’s all you get.” No, they’re not telling me they’ll give me one hour. They’re telling God they’ll give Him one hour. It’s not a life anymore. It’s just something that we can manipulate if we don’t like it, we’ll go to another church. There’s “your church,” “their church,” everywhere a church, church, and we’ll just move around until we find what we’re looking for. And it’s not a life that is transformed by the Holy Spirit of God.
“For all things and 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.” Well, folks, we live in a hostile world. If you don’t believe that, you start walking the life of faith; you’ll find it out. But what a privilege in the midst of the pain, to believe, therefore you’ll share and the people see the light that’s in you, squeezed out of you when you walk through those difficult times, and then one day, to understand that we’ll all stand there together in heaven.
The painful proof, the personal privilege, and the powerful passion that only Christ can give to a believer. Let me ask you one more time, and by the way, I get passionate every now and then. It doesn’t mean I’m mad. I’m just passionate. I hope you know my heart. But I want to ask you a question now: have you lost heart? Are you living your life your way? And Christ, every now and then you add Him in? He’s kind of like Sweet-‘n-Low, when it’s not quite sweet enough you’ll throw a little bit in. Sometimes you get a little too much and so therefore you back off, or are you walking by faith; are you living by faith?
And we see what the Scriptures say of what living by faith really is. We who are living the life, that’s a special kind of life, trusting God moment by moment.