Pilgrim, Was it Worth the Trouble? – Part 3

By: Dr. Michael Easley; ©2005
Things do happen to make us lose heart. Things happen to discourage us. Things happen, life is broken. We go through heartache, through divorce, through disease, through illnesses, through diagnosis that we don’t want to hear. How do we hang on to hope?

Pilgrim, Was it Worth the Trouble? – Part 3

This message was recorded at the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove in Asheville, North Carolina. Through the ministry of The Cove we’re training people in God’s Word to win others to Christ. It’s our goal to develop Christians who experience God through knowing Him better, knowing His word, building godly relationships and helping others know Him. We trust that this message will strengthen your walk with God and help you experience Him right where you are.


Dr. Michael Easley: Have you been watching the Occupy Wall Street bunch? It’s compelling television, and I was watching it, and this guy walked up to the, this Buddhist hotdog vendor and he walks up to the guy and he’s looking at him and he smiles and he says, “Make me one with everything.” Alright then, that’s a great joke, and nobody got it. Make me one with everything. Okay, so the guy makes him a hotdog and throws it to him and he pulls out a twenty and he hands the vendor a twenty and the vendor stuffs it in his pocket. And the guy says “Where’s my change?” And he says “true change can only come from within.” I love that joke. Make me one with everything. Every time I tell it, Cindy rolls her eyes and goes it’s a dumb joke, Michael. I know, it’s a great joke.
Things do happen to make us lose heart. Things happen to discourage us. Things happen, life is broken. We go through heartache, through divorce, through disease, through illnesses, through diagnosis that we don’t want to hear. Jeremy only told you about this much of his ongoing health story and he only told you about that much of his story of what they continue to deal with. He won’t tell you this, so I will, but they’ve lost their home. They had mold in their home, the kind of mold that can’t be dealt with and they were all getting sick. And he lent his band van to a young Christian band that was starting out, and they were driving it across Nevada, Arizona and he pulls out his I-Phone and this kid is calling Jeremy saying, “Jeremy, what do I do?” And he’s showing Jeremy a video of his van burning up on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere in Arizona. And they move to another house, and they rent another house and that house has mold in it. And so Jeremy and Jennifer and their kids are going through some extraordinarily complex times with their health and medications and trying to figure things out and you put MS in the mix of all that, so you pray for Jeremy and Jennifer because they are going through a lot and it’s a challenge to do that, make a living and probably lose his home unless God intervenes in a huge way, and all their equity is going to go away. And so pray for our brother and our friend.
These things happen and we can lose heart. Probably not one person in this room that something hasn’t visited your door, an unwelcomed guest and you have lost heart. And when we lose heart and when we lose hope, we know, we know, we know the answers. We know too many answers probably, but what are you going to do? How are you going to process it?
I grew up in a Roman Catholic home. I don’t know for sure if any of my family understands a thing about Christ. I’m pretty sure they don’t, but I hope they do. My father passed away. I am completely unsure of what he believed. He clung to his Catholicism and his rosary and refused to talk about his faith. And when we did, earlier in my life, in my 20’s, it was always an argument. So I prayed when I was about 25 that I would no longer argue with my father, but love him to Christ. And in God’s kindness did okay with that most of those years. He was proud of his children, but I don’t know what he believed.
My mentor died in 2001. I can still remember when Floyd died. I got the phone call. He was the father I never had. He was a retired psychologist. He’s been a pharmaceutical salesman. He called himself a drug dealer. He sold pills. And I met Floyd Sharp in Irving, Texas. I was a brand spanking new Grand Prairie Bible Church pastor, 28 years old, didn’t know anything. And I was doing a lot of counseling and needed 8-10 hours a week and over my head and I started calling counselors in the area looking for a Christian counselor to refer people to. And I called him on the phone, through the phone book, and Christian counseling.
This was in 84 or 85, and I had my set of questions, you know, that I was trying to figure out what they believed. And so I asked him a whole bunch of questions, and he said, “This is interesting. Why don’t we have lunch?” Okay, so we had lunch and we chatted. And I got back to my office after lunch and my assistant, little secretary, she says, “There’s a man named Floyd Sharp on the phone. Isn’t that who you just had lunch with?” I said, “Yeah, what’d I leave my wallet somewhere or something?” And this is pre-cell phone and so I answered the phone and he says, “I just wanted to tell you, I really enjoyed that lunch. I’d like to do it again sometime. That was the most stimulating conversation I’ve had in an awfully long time.”
And that began a 15 year old friendship. And I wish I’d written “Friday’s with Floyd” before “Tuesdays with Morrie,” because I’d have been retired by now and Floyd’s mentorship was far better than Morrie’s, I can promise you. But Floyd taught me so many things and the day he died I just felt like someone took a shovel and just cut the middle of me out.
2001, I think. A cold morning; I remember walking. Cindy said, “Ron is on the phone.” I went, “Oh, no! I know what that means.” I’d been to visit him. Ate a peach, his jaw hurt; went to the dentist. “Oh, you’re fine. Just take it easy.” A couple of weeks later had it x-rayed, full of bone cancer. It was very, very sad, quick death. And he was afraid and I was selfish and scared. I haven’t told anybody this publically. I grieved more for Floyd than my own father. And my dear mentor friend Howard Hendricks, whom I talk to every 10 days or so, is 80. Dad was 88 when he died. Prof is 86 and he is fading. And it just kills me to talk to him. The man who could fill this room two times and fill that room two times because there were too many people here to feed at one time. And you could ask him and he’d say “There’s six things you need to know,” boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. You couldn’t stump the man. And now we talk and he repeats himself and it just breaks my heart. In fact, there’s not a lot left to dig out.
Cindy’s brother died suddenly at 57, self-diagnosed, had pain in his left arm. That’s a bad thing. Goes to the emergency room in a little town in Texas, little crummy hospital, and they do an EKG and they go, well, we can’t see anything. They put him in a room. An hour and half later a nurse comes in; he’s dead in the chair. Could have sued them. Could have done all the courts and sort of things. They didn’t, probably rightly so.
How many people have cancer? How many people are dying of cancer, MS, lupus? A young woman in our church, crusade staff, delightful gal. Got a smile the size of Texas. Her husband courted her for 12 years. She’d have nothing to do with him. He’s an independently wealthy businessman. He’s got this baby-face and just knows business, and he’s made millions. And he even had a list, one of those guys, what he’s looking for in a wife, and it was always Sally. And she wouldn’t go out with him. But he just waited and waited and waited. Finally she went out with him. They got married. About three or four years ago, he’s a little older than her. They went to Israel with us last year, had a great time, fell in love with them. She comes back. She’s a nurse by training, got a little problem here. And then she’s pregnant. Oh, they’re so excited. It’s so wonderful!
And then she has radical breast cancer, both breasts and she’s pregnant. What do you do? So they do certain kinds of chemo and then they say when the baby gets to be 30 weeks, 28 weeks, we’re going to take the baby. And then we’re going to go in and do massive chemotherapy and we don’t know if the baby’s going to live or if you’re going to live, what’s going to happen. And oh, by the way, you’re going to have to have surgeries, and she’s got spots on her brain. And you just go, come on. How do you not lose heart? Put on a happy face. Pick yourself up. What do you do?
Open your Bible to 2 Corinthians 4. When you read the book of Corinthians, the two letters Paul wrote to the believers in Corinth, know that Corinth is a corrective letter. Both of these letters are written to a church that’s doing about everything possible you can do wrong. I always laugh when I see the First Baptist Church of Corinth or, you know, when they put, it’s like saying this is the First Bible Church of Sodom. I mean, it just sort of doesn’t work, if they understood a little bit about the book and the story of the Corinthians.
We have a dear friend. Her name is Corinthia because her mother liked the name. Every time I see her I just have to laugh and she hits me. We’re very close friends. I go, “Why would your mother name you Corinthia?” I mean, it’s just, “Well, she liked the name.” Okay, I’ll have to get over it.
We don’t understand what it means, but it’s a corrective letter. There are three letters. One’s the so-called lost letter. We know that from hints in the second one we have. When Paul wrote the second letter of Corinth he gives you a little bit of backdrop. There were some false apostles and teachers that emerged. They were starting to feed the Corinthians with information contrary to the gospel. And idolatry, immorality, all these things were rampant in Corinth just like they are today, and they’re rampant in Corinth. And Paul is writing back defending his apostleship as well as trying to help them out.
First Corinthians deals with issues of, you know, I’m of Cephas, I’m of Paul, I’m of Apollos, I’m of Christ, divisions and favoritism. He deals with immorality, such as not found among the Gentiles. It deals with issues of delivering a person over to Satan because he’s sleeping with his father’s wife. I mean, all sorts of perversions. And he says, “I can’t talk to you as adults because you’re still children.” The book of 1 Corinthians is a bowl of milk. And we read the book of Corinthians and we don’t, we still don’t, we don’t agree on the issues raised in Corinth and how Paul addressed them. So when I read 1 and 2 Corinthians I’m reminded we’re still in the need of a lot of correction and reminding.
Now what Paul does, and this is new to me. As I’ve been studying my devotions, 2 Corinthians is it’s not a book you hear taught very often. And what is interesting to me, I think he uses more sarcasm here than any other book he wrote. I’ll show you some of it tonight. I could be wrong and you need to take it carefully any time a Bible teacher tells you something that you haven’t heard before. You better sift it carefully because he’s probably a heretic and I may be a heretic. I teach a little heresy from time to time. So you should be careful with me.
In 2 Corinthians 4, where I want to look at our text, and we begin, most of your Bibles have a heading like “Paul’s Apostolic Ministry.” This break here, he’s starting to defend this naysayer, let’s call him, or this audience is starting to attack his apostleship and his credentials. “And since we have this ministry,” there’s one, “and we received mercy, we do not lose heart.” Now if you’re a person who makes notes in your Bible, you’ll see from verse 2 over to verse 16 you have the phrase again, “We do not lose heart.” I want to give you just a tad of an intro before we go to our text which is going to be 16, but I want to give you a little picture of what this means and we’ll develop it more.
“Therefore since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy we do not lose heart, but we have renounced the things hidden because of shame, not walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God.” I don’t know if it scares you as much as it scares me, but it really scares me when I hear people teach the Bible completely wrong. When I watch; I’m glad there’s some people on the TV that teach Scripture. I really am. But I’m very sad that some who pretend to teach Scripture and they are charlatans. And people over the age of 60 sit parked in front. You know, Christian television is an interesting medium. You know, most of us watch multiple channels. The people that watch Christian television watch one channel all day long. They will park in front of one or two or three Christian channels and watch it all day long. It’s kind of scary. It’s good as long as there’s good teaching on, not so much other times.
“Adulterating the word of God, but by the manifestations of truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. And if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in the case of the God of this world who has blinded the minds of the unbelieving.” And if again, you’re a note taker, verse 3, you see veiled, veiled, blinded. The gospel is veiled, it’s veiled to those who are perishing. In verse 4 they’re blinded to it. They can’t see it, “so that they might not see the light of the gospel, the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as for your bondservants for Jesus’ sake.”
And let us drop down to verse 7: “We have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body.” Now, let’s go back to verse 7 for just a moment. Excuse me; when I read this, and I have to be transparent with you; otherwise I’m standing up here lying. When I read these verses I say, “We are afflicted, but not crushed.” I can’t always say that. Sometimes I feel crushed. Perplexed, and I do despair. There are days I wake up and I say, “God, can’t You just turn the noise down a little bit on the pain? I mean, really. I’m not asking for a healing. I’m not asking to do jumping jacks and play racketball again and, you know, work on my car, and fix my house again. I’m just asking, is that too much to ask?”
Persecuted, but not forsaken. I’m never really experienced persecution. Struck down but not destroyed. And then Paul gets spiritual, “Always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus.” And this is where the title of this so-called four series I have tried to weave together starts to come in. Why? “So that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body.” We’re always dying in order to live. This is what Paul is saying here. We’re always dying in order to live.
And when a baby’s born, that baby grows and science and psychologists and doctors and people who study anatomy and anthropology will say that somewhere in our mid to late 20’s we stop growing and we begin to die. And we can argue when that happens. Some might say, well, the moment you’re born you begin to die. But you understand this little seven, eight pound creature becomes a full adult at some point, and then things start to slow and change. Paul says we are, look at this, “We are always carrying about in the body what the dying of Jesus.” Why? So that the life of Jesus,… This is so important to get. You are dying in order to live. We are always dying in order to live. And if you don’t grasp that the rest of this is going to be really confusing.
Alright, let’s go ahead and jump down to verse 16 and we’ll come back as needed. The first point I want to tell you is don’t lose heart when affliction comes. Don’t lose heart when affliction comes. Let me read verses 16 and following: “Therefore we do not lose heart,” ties back to how he began chapter 4, verse 1, the way we count these numbers. “Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen. We look not at the things which are seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things that are not seen are eternal.”
Let’s take it apart. We’re not to lose heart when affliction comes. To lose heart is to lose motivation, to lose enthusiasm. It includes fear. It includes desperation. Even though we fear we press on. When Floyd died I thought my world was over. When my dad started to die I wondered how I would live. I called a psychiatrist friend of mine, very dear friend. I’ve known him for many years in DC, and we had an hour phone counseling. And I said, “Dr. Thompson, I haven’t shed a tear for my dad. What’s wrong with me? I can still grieve for Floyd at the drop of a hat. What’s wrong with me? My own father, and I love him.” An interesting hour of discussion. It’s like flat affect. What a terrible thing to say as a son.
My brother didn’t shed a tear either, not even at the funeral service. I cried at the funeral. I got to do the eulogy at the end of the Catholic mass. That was a kick in the pants. You should have seen the politics. In this former Catholic, now Protestant, you know. They used to call me the Protestant Pope. Protestant Pope gets up in front of a Catholic church after the mass had been done and the politicking that went on before I stood up, whether it was going be in the mass, after the mass, before the mass, around the mass, somewhere else. The mass was 27 minutes. I spoke 32. I didn’t care. I was going to honor my dad and my mom.
And watching my mom and sister sob like little children, that’s when I cried for them. My brother never cracked a tear. We should not lose heart when affliction comes. Does that mean we just put on an apathetic, I don’t care, somewhere in my convoluted, depraved, psychiatric illness, I don’t cry at the loss of my dad? I don’t know. But notice what he says. The contrast is between our present condition and our future condition and he says the present condition is dying, is decaying, but our future condition is going to outweigh any discouragement imaginable.
Now, most of us get this mentally. Some of you may get it totally. You may holistically have embraced it. I don’t know that I have. I’m still on the journey. Paul acknowledges the reality here. We’ll look at it. Our outer man is decaying. The word “decaying” in your first century New Testament meant rusting. It’s rusting. The ways cars are made today, it’s so wonderful. I used to be a mechanic and cars today, you change the oil every 6,000 miles and you put gas in them and you drive them until you change the tires or get bored with them. And the things you get fixed are things that bother you, but the car still runs. The door won’t open or the blue tooth won’t work the way it’s supposed to work, or you can’t get the radio station. It’s things like that as opposed to being broken on the side of the road waiting for three hours for some help. And we get so mad when those things happen. The contrast is our present condition is crumbling. We’re dying but the eternal condition is to outweigh, outstrip, outshine this and that’s why when affliction comes we’re not to lose heart.
I’ll give you a couple of verses that Paul uses to color in the same idea of the outer man is decaying. In 2 Corinthians 1:8, he uses the same word. “We do not want you to be unaware brethren of our affliction which came to us in Asia. We were burdened excessively beyond our strength so that we despaired even of life.” Paul hit the bottom too. I don’t want to live. Have you been there? Have you been someplace where you’re so discouraged, you’re so despaired your kids, your husband, your wife, your, maybe you buried a spouse, went through a divorce, something tragic has happened to you.
You know, children can just break our hearts and smash them in pieces and flatten them and continue to hurt us all our life. I was talking to some friends here earlier today. We have a dear friend in Florida. She’s in her 90’s. She has five children. None of them are believers; none of her grandchildren are believers; and she’s one of the most zealous vibrant believing women you’ll ever meet. Love her like crazy and she is just indefatigingly believing her kids are going to come to Christ at some point in time. And it’s not just put on a happy face. She really believes it. I say, “Norma, how do you believe it?” She goes, “Michael, you can’t change them. But you underestimate your prayers for them.”
Jeremy and I were talking about prayer on the way up. What is prayer? Gert Behanna, if you ever got to hear her story, the Waldorf Astoria wealth family, Gert Behanna had a line in one of the few recorded messages we have of her, and she said, “People say, ‘Does prayer work’?” She says, “I don’t know what prayer is. I just know that prayer is.” The Mennonite said pray until you’ve prayed. You greatly underestimate what you can change in your child, and we greatly underestimate, overestimate, and we underestimate what we can do with prayer.
Second Corinthians 4:8, “We are afflicted in every way.” Same word. William F. Buckley turned 80 and some reporter said, “How’s it feel to be 80?” He said, “I’m decomposing.” The outer man is decaying Paul says. So how does Paul not lose heart? Put on a happy face, snap out of it, be a man, be a woman. Is that what he says? No. Watch what he says. How? Look at verses 14-15: “Knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and will present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, so that he grace that is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God.”
We have to take this apart a little bit. It’s a cumbersome set of sentences in any English language. Paul, first of all, he begins to fight off discouragement based on a number of things. First he talks about the new covenant. I won’t bore you with this, but what he’s saying is there’s a future resurrection based on the new covenant. And what he’s saying is to put it the way we would tell our children, we’re not going to eat a snack now because we’re going to get a really good meal later. We’re not going to give you Gummy Bears right now because we’re going to get a real nice dessert later. “The things of earth grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.” And Paul is trying to help us understand the new covenant gives a purpose for the resurrection.
Paul’s Christ, the way he speaks of His formalized resurrection was that this resurrection that He has was the hope of the believer. And if you look, some of your versions kind of fumble with this. It is a hard verse to translate. Let me read it again: “Knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus.” We get that part. “Will raise us also with Jesus and will present us with you.” It’s an anticipation on Paul’s part, he’s going to die first and he’s going to be raised with Christ. But he also has a good eschatology and he believes that resurrection may happen around the same time. So even though he dies first that resurrection somehow in corporately outside of time and space is going to happen in tandem. We won’t get into all that, but that’s for the better theologians.
What does he translate that into? Verse 15 is an explanation word. “For,” the reason for this, “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.” Grace to many, I believe, has to do with the offer of salvation. He’s not talking here about grace in the term God be gracious to you and the grace of God descend upon you and. Grace is undeserved favor in the face of deserved wrath. I argue checed is the most important Old Testament term, God’s loyal lovingkindness. He loves to be loyal to His covenant people, His chosen people and His covenant promises.
The lovingkindness, probably the best relationship we have in the New Testament is grace, charis. And we often hear “underserved favor.” I add the sentence “underserved favor in the face of deserved wrath.” We all deserve hell. There’s not one good. We are all on a freight train going straight to hell with no handbrake, no conductor, no way to slow the train. And unless someone pulls us off the train, we are destined to hell. None righteous, no not one. All have turned astray. All deserve hell.
And he says here, the explanation for this hope that He who raised the Lord Jesus will also raise us. Verse 15: “For,” explanation, “all things are for your sakes, so that the grace which is spreading to more and more.” So this gospel to the Corinthian believer that’s doubting Him; we’ll see more of that tomorrow morning. He said, “Look, the whole point of this was what I went through and the afflictions I endure, and the suffering I endure. And the reason I don’t lose heart is because I believe in the resurrection and I know if you believe in the resurrection. The way God’s using you is grace is going to more people.” And he’s trying to get us and them off of our affliction and our persecution and our distresses and our pains and our sufferings and say there’s something a whole lot bigger out here, because this outer thing is decaying, but this inner thing is being renewed day by day by day.
The ultimate thanks is going to be to the glory of God. Some of you have the NIV. The last phrase is again complex to translate. I think the more and more people are coming to Christ we would say and giving thanks and the thanks is not amended to that. The thanks is to the glory of God. So the sentence would say something like this, if I could read it in Easley narrative, I would say, “For all things are happening for your sake, the grace and gospel’s going out and more and more people are getting saved. And because of this, we’ll give thanks to abound to God’s glory.” So the thanks and the abounding go to the glory of God, not for people getting saved, but for God’s glory.
Every one of us gets discouraged with our health, our limitations, our disappointments, the unusual problems that face us. When I tell you the stories I just did, we had a 50 year old man on his 50th birthday, hang himself in our church. We had a family next door to the church, they did not attend, next to a church member; they didn’t attend our church, a star athlete, a star student, 4.2 GPA at a prestigious Christian private school in the area, had a wonderful football career in front of him, a wonderful academic career. His parents went out to their anniversary dinner for their 20th anniversary. Came home, he’d put a 38 in his head when they were gone with his Bible on his chest.
What do you do? We can readily become preoccupied with the trouble of life and we can get bitter and withdrawn and we can fold our arms and say, “Well, if this is the way You’re going to,…” Haven’t you talked to people like that? If this is the way God deals with me I want nothing to do with Him. What a dumb thing to say, but we understand what they’re saying. If this is the way life works, wait a minute. What’s life doing? We’re dying. We’re dying. Get that straight. We are dying. I’m so glad I paid all this money to come to The Cove to learn I’m dying. We are dying to live, to live. And, man, is it hard to keep this in perspective? Yes, because life is daily and the troubles come. Entropy is the second law of thermodynamics. You cannot beat entropy. Everything gets bad. Everything goes to seed.
You ever get those amaryllis bulbs around Easter time, someone sends you these little things and it comes in a pot with this little green thing about the size of your little pinkie? And by the time it blooms it’s four feet tall and falling over in the pot. And it has one, maybe two or three gorgeous blooms on it. And then it starts to smell and you cut it off and if you’re like me, you follow the directions. You put in a zip lock bag, knock the soil off, you put it in the refrigerator. Six months later you pull it out, let it thaw, and let it warm, put it in soil. You know what happens next year? Nothing. Nothing, piece of ugly looking celery comes out, and it never buds. It’s a ruse.
What is it? It’s a hybrid. A hybrid goes back to seed. You can have hybrid corn and it will go back to seed. You can have hybrid flowers and they will go back to seed, they’ll go back to mother, so to speak. If you’ve ever seen Ken Handly, he talks about creation and does a tremendous argument for dogs and canines. And he says there was one dog. Even the AKC recognizes there was one dog. And standard poodles and dachshunds and German shepherds and Weimaraners and Pugs are mutations. We have turned them, we have made them into a hybrid. We’ve teased out different reproductive patterns. I mean just look at a poodle. It’s bizarre. Be honest. It’s a weird looking. Look at a Shar-pei; it looks ugly. Look at a Bassett hound. God would not have made a Bassett hound. Only man would mess with that and turn it into a Bassett hound. It’s hybrid. You let those dogs alone they become mutts.
We are trying to live forever, but our outer man is decaying. But our inner man is being renewed day by day. Notice there are two processes here. And as I study this very carefully I’ve come to the conclusion, and I could be wrong, that decaying and being renewed are proportional. The verbs and the way Paul has laid them out here, I am convinced that you have to decay in order to be renewed. And I think that’s why it happens as we get older. I was talking to somebody; it was yesterday morning or this morning, when we picked Jeremy up, and Hutch and Cindy were running around. And Hutch has got more energy than about ten of us in this room. And he’s running around eating a piece of toast in the front yard. He’s running around. I said, “Can you give me some of that energy?” And he looked at me like I was crazy. And he was just running around and running around. I looked, I said, “Jennifer, we’re built backwards. We need them to be built slow and tired like us in the morning and we need the energy to be their parents.”
Think about it. Why do children cry when they’re tired? Take a nap. Just go to sleep. It’s because they’re depraved. That’s why; that’s the only explanation I’ve got. That’s one of the first questions I’m going to ask Jesus. When children were tired why did You make them cry? Why didn’t they just go to sleep? Because they’re depraved. Next question, okay. And when you’re young you don’t see that. When you get older it makes perfect sense. We’re built backwards because of the fall.
Notice what he says. “The outer man is decaying and the inner man is being renewed.” Sort of sounds like death and resurrection, doesn’t it? That’s why I think they’re proportional in corollary. As we decay on the outside we are being renewed on the inside. I think this is big stuff. And he says it’s for the gospel’s sake in chapter 4 verse 15. “For all these 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.” Michelangelo said, the dictum is attributed to him at least, “The more the marble wastes the more the statue grows.” Pretty good: “The more the marble wastes the more the statue grows.” Allegedly he, as well as other sculptors, could see what was in the rock and they had to cut away what wasn’t necessary.
The outer man is decaying, but the inner man is being renewed day by day. Now this is not a renewal or a revival of the inner self, rather the correlation is sanctification. It’s transformation, not just merely change. We’re being made into something we’re not. We’re being made into something that is otherworldly.
I don’t know if you did this with your kids, but we do it in all kinds of varieties. The caterpillar, or I did it with quail eggs. We lived in Texas. There was a local guy who had these huge machines and he had hens and they had these little quail egg machines and they would put them in these huge racks. And they would take them out for these places you know where they hunt quail and put them out when they were two or three days old in these groups of like 40. Half of them would die and you have a little covey of quail. And then the hunters come in later and kill them all and eat them.
Well, I went over there and we bought ten quail eggs. I mean, they aren’t that big, and we had this little incubator thing. And we got the little sponge and the light and little thermometer. And every day – Hanna was itty bitty; we didn’t have Jessie so she was under five – and we would turn the eggs and keep the little moisture in there. And three of them hatched. And of the three that hatched, when they start coming out, fortunately we were able to see it. And when they start coming out of that quail egg just like a chicken or a duck or anything else, what do you want to do? You want to help them out of the shell. And if you do, you’ll kill them. Same with a butterfly. They have to struggle.
And it was very vivid and tragic and marked-my-daughter-for-life example, because one of them was not getting out of its shell, and she was extremely worried about it. And it started not working as hard. So Dad decided to help it. It wasn’t right. And the minute I got it out of the shell the other two quail attacked it. They went after it, killed it. These things are just, I mean, minutes old. And how God has wired the animal kingdom will be a mystery for us to learn in heaven. But this quail that was not right, that would not have lived at all had I let it stay in its shell, was being attacked by its brother and sister. And then I had to deal with it and my poor daughter was traumatized.
That’s not what’s happening. There’s an inner transformation that we can’t hurry up that God is at work doing, but it’s going to happen. And there is a corollary with the outer man that is decaying, because we are being made into something we are not. Look again at the passage. Look at verses 16-17: “Therefore.” Whenever the “therefore” is there, you’re supposed to ask the question, why is the therefore there for? “Therefore we do not lose heart.” What has he been saying? Death works in us, but life is going to be the result. We didn’t look at all the verses leading up to this, but this is the argument he’s making.
In fact, just back up to verse 11 for a second. “Constantly delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that,” explanation, “the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death works in us, but life in you.” Paul’s dying physically to give them the life of the gospel. “But having the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, ‘I believed, therefore I said,’ we also believe, therefore we speak, knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us with you.” Back to the same argument.
Now go to verse 16, “Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at things which are seen, but at things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
I mentioned this last night. It’s the chiasm and you can see it now in your Bible. And what I do is draw two parallel lines so I can see it, because I have morning by morning new verses I read. I forget everything I saw the day before. So I draw two lines so it’s parallel. So between “momentary,” I have two lines going to what? “Eternal;” momentary “light”, two lines going to what? “Weight;” momentary light “affliction,” two lines going to “glory.” It’s a perfect opposite pairing, “momentary/eternal, light/weight, affliction/glory.” It’s a perfect theistic devise.
And then he says, “beyond all comparison.” We are going through a momentary light affliction. It does not feel momentary. It does not feel light. He acknowledged he despaired and wanted to die. If we all were under a truth serum and bright white lights and sleep deprived, I bet every one of us would sit up here in a chair and tell of a time when we wished we would have died. It doesn’t feel momentary and light when the bottom drops out, when an injustice is perpetrated against us.
Can you imagine walking in on your 20th anniversary and finding your senior son who’s got a huge picture in the school year book, a beautiful smile, a huge strapping kid with a 4.2 GPA in AP courses as a star football player with a .38 in his head in his room and a Bible on his chest? Can you imagine walking into that? Is that momentary light affliction? No! It’s the end of the world! No preacher come in there and say, “All things work out for good.” That’s the guy I would shoot. “God needed him more than we do.” I’d carry a gun just to kill people like that. There’s going to be a special place in heaven for them; I’m telling you, far away from me.
“Momentary light affliction produces an eternal weight of glory.” Now look at your English Bible: “Beyond all comparison.” This is where I wish we all could speak Greek fluently. You know the word “hyperbole”? Hyperbole. In Greek it’s hyperbole eis hyperbole. Hyperbole into hyperbole is what it would literally say if we translated it word for word. Hyperbole, eis hyperbole. And so what we do is, we can’t say it and we can’t say “momentary light affliction and, produces the eternal weight of glory” hyperbole into hyperbole. No one would know what the heck that means. So we come up with some of the alternatives that you have in front of you, “beyond all comparison.” When the physical is overwhelming it’s still important to come back to the gray matter and say, even though the physical is overwhelming, I will trust that there’s a spiritual element here that is bigger, because it’s momentary light affliction over against the eternal weight of glory. It’s so big.
Go back to his argument. You must keep the argument in mind. If Jesus Christ was raised from the dead, this is the new covenant. If He’s raised from the dead, there’s a future resurrection for all who are in Him. Paul aligns himself with that, and you also. And because of that, grace is going out more and more; the more people are coming to the knowledge of the Savior; and thanksgiving is going to abound to the glory of God. So that when we are tempted to lose heart we remind ourselves of these things. In comparison to that this is momentary light affliction.
“Oh, it doesn’t feel that way, Paul!” That’s right. I just told you you were dying. But it’s light compared to eternity. Beyond all comparison it outweighs. In the moment we can’t see it. We don’t feel it. Certainly that makes sense in the moment; it may never make sense. Weight of glory.
Well, let me talk about eternal for just a second. The hyperbolized, hyperbole is an immeasurable degree, and that’s why your English Bible says “beyond all comparison.” The eternal weight of glory is immeasurable in nature, and so Paul uses language the Holy Spirit gives him. It’s immeasurable. Eternal is twofold. It’s ageless and durative. It goes on forever, but it has the ability to live forever without beginning or end.
Let me give you – this is truly Easley heresy. I don’t think I’ve ever done this in public before; I was sharing this with Jeremy yesterday in the car and I thought, well, The Cove’s a mature group; they can filter it – Imagine all of human history from the first Adam and Eve to the last stand is a one inch piece of string, okay. And somewhere at a quarter inch Galatians 4:4, “At the proper time He sent His Son born into the law, born to a virgin, Jesus Christ,” intersects linear time. Yes, He appeared a few times in the Old Testament. We could talk about that for another conference. But the little string is one inch. That’s all of linear life, from when Adam was designed until the last man’s dead, okay.
Now image a sphere immeasurable. Let’s just say as big as this room for a visual, one inch piece of string and the sphere. The sphere is the immeasurable eternal nature and existence of God: always existed, past, present and future, immeasurable. Make it as big as Asheville. Make it as big as the globe. I don’t care. You have a one inch piece of string and that sphere is immeasurable. This (portion of the one inch string) is our life in the little sequence of events. What I just said is not gone forever. It will never come back again, never repeat. This group of people will never be together in a room like this again talking about this with Jeremy singing, and me here and Ron leading us. It’ll never happen again. It’s gone. It’s over. Tomorrow’s here. It’ll never happen again.
Linear; is Jesus outside that linear boundary? Yes. Is God the Father outside that linear boundary? Yes. Can He enter into it? Absolutely. Can He step out of it? Absolutely. We’re tied to it. We’re tied to it. Now don’t build a theology on this, but I’m trying to make a point. Does it help make a point? Momentary life, a fraction. It can’t even measure on an inch because an inch is a 100 millionth of a part of that thread is my life. If one inch is all of time, we haven’t even started yet. We should start with a micron.
Let’s go, you know what they call, you know what they do in the super conducting semi-colliders? You know what that’s all about? What’s the smallest particle we have? Atom, that’s what it’s been called. I don’t think so. A quark. Scientists believe there’s a quark and if you could smash an atom you reduce it down to quarks. But you know what? There’s going to be a sub-quark. So the super conducting semi-collider that is now full of water in Waxahachie, Texas; God bless it, is built in China and other places and scientists explain why.
Why do they want to do this? Do you know why? They’re looking for the first origin. What’s behind it? What does it matter? They want to know how we got here. The scientific community is pretty smart, and they know that Adam had to come from somewhere. And if they’re going to hold on to a big bang theory they’ve got to figure out where the big bang started because they know there has to be a first action. And so they think it was somewhere, and so let’s blow that atom to bits and find out where the quarks are. But then they’re going to have to find the sub-quarks. And so you have to have multiple million dollar electron-microscopes they haven’t even designed yet to measure.
And you know what they’re measuring? They’re measuring, they call them traces. When they hit the atom that gets this, it goes around and around speeding, throws up this thing and smashes it and these little hair-like little things that go off, they’re, the pictures are taken at, I don’t know how many thousands of images of a second they take pictures of these little particles and they measure the angle and degree of the particles and from there, try to come up with an algorithm to explain what they are. You talk about nonsense. Millions of tax government dollars in these countries used to see what a quark is.
Why do I go off on all this? Very good question. Because we live in a place now that is a spiritual paradox that we cannot see. Because the momentary light affliction does not feel momentary nor light, and it is an affliction. It feels long and tiring and old. And the paradox is, you know what antinomy means? An antinomy are two truths that occupy the same space. “A” in Greek means a negative. If you’re “amillennial” you believe there’s not a millennium, “amillennial.” Antinomy, truth, two truths that conflict, but they’re both true. Alright, this is an antinomy. How can there be momentary light affliction with eternal weight of glory when I’m looking at it from this side of the lens?
The Jews saw a trajectory. They saw time was transitory. Paul was speaking to the Greek mind. And the Greek mind did not fix its gaze on a destiny. They looked outward to the temporal. The Jew just thought we transitioned, but the Gentile brain, the Corinthian brain, was the outer man was very important. That’s why the Greeks were into the body images and the sculpting and all those things, because they worshiped the body.
Note two things: “While we look not at the things which are seen.” How do you do that, Paul? How do you look at something you can’t see? That’s what he’s trying to drive us to. Our temporal current experience tries to tell me otherwise. What did I say last night? My experience rarely tells me the truth about God. And sometimes it may. But my circumstances and the way life works does not tell me consistently how God works, because we’re in a fallen world that groans. And I’m fallen and everybody else is fallen. We’re all fallen together and our experience works against us. “While we look at things which are seen,” they’re temporal, but we’re to look at things that are eternal that we cannot see.
“Look” here is used several times and it has the idea of contemplation or consideration. NIV says, “We’ve fix our eyes on.” That’s pretty good, actually. We might say think about this a lot. Don’t just take a glance at it, believer, you’re to be fixated not on the momentary light affliction, but on the eternal weight of glory. Believer, you’re to look at your trials and disappointments and discouragements and these horrible things that happen to families and people and injustices that happen to women and atrocities that occur to children around the world and sex trafficking. We’re not to hide and play Chicken Little and run away from this stuff, but we’re to understand it’s a momentary light affliction over against the eternal weight of glory. Lift your hopes and your eyes more often to heaven.
Now transition: he doesn’t lose heart when affliction comes, but he focuses on the eternal, the unseen realities. Chapter 5, verse 1 – and your Bible might even say the temporal and the eternal, because that’s what Paul’s talking about – “For we know that if our 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. For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven, inasmuch as we, having put it on, will not be found naked. For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life. Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge.”
Number one: we are not to lose heart when affliction comes. How? Number two, or further: Don’t lose heart because even when we face death God has given us a pledge. Don’t lose heart when the affliction comes. This begins with proper thinking, and a proper heart attitude. Verses 1-5 he’s saying God’s given us a reason, a deposit, we’re going to see in a second, so that we don’t have to worry about it in the same way.
Now the contrast here is the earthly tent versus the building from God. The earthly tent is wasting away. It’s failing. It’s our human body. Earthly has the roots stem of geo in it. And you cannot miss the connection. Remember “Adam” how is Adam made? From dirt. You know what the word is? Adam. The Hebrew word for dirt is “Adam.” Erets is the earth. The dirt. When it says the Lord God formed out of the ground, that’s the word adm, adam. Why is he called Adam? He’s a dirt man. It’s a wordplay. He fashions him into the shape of a man. How does that occur? Huh? How is the man made? How did God make him? Jesus Christ is on His hands and knees making a man in His image out of dirt. The text tells us nothing but that He formed out of the ground in His image. It looked like Him.
What makes him alive? The breath of God. He breathes the breath of God. What do we say when a person dies? The death rattle. They quit breathing. The Hebrew talked about nephesh being the soul. This was life. The Greek, this was life, cardia, the heart, was life. For the Hebrew it was the neck, because the breath came in and created the nephesh and he was a living being. So if that’s the play, and I will argue it is, we’re reminded the tent we have is geo. That would be the New Testament equivalent. We’re of the earth. We’re matter. Latest studies have shown we’re worth less than a buck and half if you take all the water out of us. Calcium, magnesium, a little sodium. I have little more sodium than most of you because I have a salt deficiency so I have to add salt to my food. That’s what I tell my wife.
Tent means a temporary shelter; never intended to be permanent. In the Old Testament we had the tabernacle complex. It was a big tent, a huge tent. They set it up for a while. When they spent the land and bled the ground too much with animals what happens? The cloud moves and the rabbis say move the tent. I had a Hebrew tutor who was Jewish and the word for tent is ohel, ohel. Say it, ohel. You know a Hebrew word now, ohel. And he said every time the cloud moved the rabbis went, ohel, move the tents. I’ll never forget it as long as I live.
Tabernacle complex, and then we have a temple complex. The temple complex is built with materials, right? Now, where am I going here? I have, there’s a reason I’m going here. Stay with me. The tent of meeting was a temporary construct. It wasn’t the house of God. David wanted to build God a house. “No, you can’t because your hands are bloody. You’re a man of war and blood, murder. Your son will do it.” So David amasses the wealth for his son to be the engineer and the architect, the builder. And the folding contraption that they move around in the wilderness,…. Ever been over in Israel? You must go to Israel. There’s a number of these things around the country where they have set up a mock, nothing fancy, but just the dimension of it so you can see what it’s like, and to imagine the twelve tribes in formation and around this thing. It’s really quite chilling to see just a tent in the wilderness.
Well, then they build the tabernacle complex which now the Dome of the Rock adorns. And on that is,…. What’s underneath the temple complex? What mountain? Moriah. What’s significant about Moriah? Abraham and Isaac, “Take your son, your only son whom you love and kill him.” Wait a minute. He does it. So Jews say that where the temple complex is. Wouldn’t it be fitting that if they built the complex they would park it right where that occurred? And if you were able to see with x-rays, the land formation is like this and they build a platform on it. In Solomon’s day it was much smaller.
Herod’s is much bigger. Herod was big about everything. Herod the Great, huge platform and dais over it. The Muslims are building the largest mosque in the world underground right now. They estimate they can put about 10,000 people down there, and they’re excavating illegally against the Antiquities Commissions. They haul out antiquities and they’re building a mosque underneath Al-Aqsa to make another mosque underneath the Dome of the Rock. It’s going to get exiting if we live that long.
The tent of meeting was completed. The glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle and Moses was unable to enter the tent of meeting because of the glory of God. Remember?
Now, house is mentioned two times in one verse. We have this house torn down, a house made with hands. Beginning to see the picture? The dirt man’s made with hands. Adam is Adam. He’s a living being. The temple complex was a temporary shelter until the real one could be built. The real one is made with hands. And it’s in rubble today. It’s all gone too. Starting to see the picture? We groan in this outer shell that we try to make better. The tabernacle complex is much worse than the temple complex, but it’s still going to fall apart. Arnold Schwarzenegger has got a better body, physique, metabolism, than I’ll ever have. He’s going to die too.
Had two elders at the first church I served and one of them loved to eat. He was the most delightful guy; he loved to eat and you could tell. And we went out to eat quite a bit and we’d go overeat. And his best friend was a pilot and he was very, very in shape. And he worked out and worked out and he would always tell this other elder, he would say, “You need to exercise. You need to eat better. You need to take care of yourself.” They’re very close friends for many years. And he would just laugh and he’d say, “Bodily exercise profit little, but godliness is profitable for all things” and he’d just laugh and rub his belly. I served his funeral and my friend said, “If he’d have just worked out.” And I said, “No, it was time. It was time and he’s better off now with a new suit of clothes than the ones we’re limping around with.”
Notice that the ability from God is in contrast to that which is made with human hands. Look at it again. “We know,” verse 1, “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.” Would you really like to carry this carcass around the rest of your life? Cindy and I have this ongoing thing about plastic surgery and Botox and people that, you know, and I don’t mean to get too personal here, but when you get older some women have these things. You know what, we know what they’re called, batwing disorder, because if you call it a disorder what does that mean? You can treat it under insurance. There’s names for all these things. That’s why insurance is going up.
But, no what is it? We’re getting old. I weigh the same that I weighed when I was in the prime of my life, but my upper is now in my middle. And I look in the mirror and I go, you are the saddest looking 54 year old man on the planet compared to what you used to be in your youth. I see pictures when my kids were little, holding my girls in the swimming pool, and I go, I thought I was always going to look like that. I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen if I live longer. The building from God is contrasted to the one made with hands. Our current house is temporary.
At a funeral service years ago, and I just give, you know, as musicians get songs and the words and the lyric and music work, and millions of people love it, it’s a thing of God. It doesn’t happen to preachers very often, but had a woman in the church die of breast cancer in her mid-30’s, and it was very tragic. And she had fought it and then given up. Her wanted her to keep on, and she was tired of fighting it. She was sick. She was down to nothing. She was sick, sick, sick, sick, sick. And she quit. And she was a nurse. She died in her bed at home. I went over to see her. Her two boys were very young, maybe nine and six, nine and seven. Her husband was mad. We buried her. And the day of the funeral all I could think of the whole two days leading up to it, what do I tell those boys? What do I tell those boys? What do I tell those boys?
You know, we have these metaphors in the Bible. Death is like a sting. Death is like being absent, present, so forth and so on. So I did two things. I got my backpacking tent, when I used to be a backpacker and a mountaineer. It weighs 8 pounds, fits in a little duffle bag. And had it set it up, and I had an empty desk, school desk with a spotlight on it. And these little guys were sitting down here and they’re freaked out because their mommy’s dead. And I sat down here and I just talked to them. And I said, “I used to go backpacking and that tent over there, I’ve been in hail where the hail was up 18 inches on the side of that backpacking tent. And that tent kept me safe and dry. I had to tighten the cords some and I’ve got pictures. It looks like something on Mars with golf ball and nickel size hail all around that tent and it sagged in the middle. But that tent held up because it’s an expensive mountaineering tent designed to do that. And I’m glad it did that. But I don’t want to live in that tent every day of my life.
Then I looked at the desk and I said, go to school tomorrow and Johnny’s not here. What do we say? Johnny’s what? Johnny’s, he’s absent. He’s absent, the school desk, Johnny’s absent. I said, “Your mommy’s tent worn out and she’s absent from school. But when you’re absent from school where are you? You’re present at home or you’re present in the hospital, or you’re present at the doctor’s office.” From then on I see those guys in the hall, they say, “The tent didn’t last and she’s absent, but she’s present with Jesus.” This thing isn’t meant to last forever, but you have one made by God eternal in the heavens.
Mark 14:58, hang on. We heard him say, “I will destroy this temple made with hands. And in three days I will build another made without hands.” Jesus’ words. Write it down. You’re going to want to look at it later, Mark 14:58.

[continued in Part 4]


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