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April 5, 2022 7:00 pm
Dr. Kevin Oberlin continues a seminary chapel series studying the book of 2 Corinthians with a message titled, “The Fragrance of the Knowledge of Christ,” from 2 Corinthians 2:14-17.
Welcome to The Daily Platform, our program features sermons from Chapel services Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina, whether it's the general travel service for the whole student body or services for those in the ministerial class or seminary. Everyone at the school is blessed by the preaching of the word each day from the chapel platform in second Corinthians. The Holy Spirit breathes out perfect guidance of how to minister God's truth in love through Paul's ministerial testimony, a testimony full of difficulty, but more full of Christ be to you. Seminary professor Dr. Kevin Oberlin will continue the study in second Corinthians in the title of this message is the fragrance of the knowledge of Christ. Please take your Bibles and turn to the second book of Corinthians chapter 2 attacks begins at aggression beginning in chapter 2 verse 14 all the way through 74 of which Dr. Tauber gave a clear explanation last week and the first message of the series and this is regarding Paul's ministry, so he begins in chapter 1, and talking about various things will will talk about a little about those things and then in chapter 2 verse 14 through seven for you have this digression, and that's of course on water series is looking at the semester. This year, second printing chapter 2 verse 14 but thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing to one of fragrance from death to death to the other a fragrance from life to life who is sufficient for these things we are not like so many peddlers of God's word.
But man, but as men of sincerity as commissioned by God in the sight of God, we speak in Christ, and so really looking today at the fragrance of the knowledge of Christ. You probably have seen these means is been going around about 2020. Maybe you seen one with the limits is one 2020 gives you a lemon, make lemonade. When you look at the lemons and inside the lemons are actually all dried up. You can't squeeze anything out of them. Or maybe I've seen pictures like this action had a friend that that posted a picture of something that happened to in his living room where there's so much water damaging to see the drywall coming down the ceiling of this nice living room.
It's flawed and completely destroyed any and he says in the caption is as just another day in 2020. We can all relate to some degree this year has brought some unexpected twists and turns, and if there was someone else who could relate to the unexpected twist in stressful situations. Perhaps too much a greater degree and going through it year after year. Perhaps I would be the apostle Paul turned back, maybe want one page to chapter 1 in verse eight where he reads.
For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers of the affliction we experience in Asia.
For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself, and D.
We felt that we had received a sentence of death, but that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again.
You also must help us by prayer, so that what many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessings granted us through the prayers of many turnover.
Maybe one page chapter 2 verse four E. He talks about that he wrote to you out of much affliction and anguish of heart, with many tears not to cause you pain, but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you and Chris Paul wanted to go to them, but was delayed and he says inch in verse 12 when I came to show absence of chapter 2 verse 12 to preach the gospel of Christ.
Even though the door was open. The for me in the Lord. Verse 13.
My spirit was not at Ross because I did not find my brother Titus there so I took leave of them and went on to Macedonia. So in the context of a passage Paul had been waiting to hear regarding the Corinthian's response to some expectations and given to the church and as he was waiting for Titus Tetrault as here and update.
But Titus for some reason was delayed so Paul was in turmoil when it happened.
Was it the response of the Corinth gave her was a something happened to Titus. Personally you can see in verse 13, the Paul's spirit was not at rest and if you go to the end of the degree digression of this dissection only to chapter 7, it picks up again with the same theme. It says or even when we came to Macedonia. Our bodies had no rest, but we were afflicted at every turn fighting without fear within so in chapter 2, right before our text Paul is communicating that he's afflicted and he's communicating to the Corinthians.
What was going on his own heart and then immediately following that Paul pivots and gives this exclamation. In verse 14. But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and it's as if Paul explains where his heart was and then how his theology and the realization of truth. Let his mind and heart, and truth led Paul to the utmost confidence. It led into ministry focus and led them to humility. Personally I were to see the Paul's helping the Corinthians.
Understand a proper ministry mindset and as he argues that although he is frail, the fragrance of the knowledge of Christ can be seen in his ministry that God makes the an adequate adequate for his glory, and so really our theme today is that it pleases God to make frail servants in Christ adequate to spread the fragrance of the knowledge of Christ everywhere in Paul does this, you may recall, in many other letters how we help you shift your mindset.
Your thoughts, for example in the book of Philippians to be just like if you think for a moment through the chapters skipping through that in chapter 1 he says you know it's right for me to think this about you.
This is how I care for you and this is all I think about other believers in chapter 2 how we should near Christ mindset and how Timothy a proper diet us do so. How they exemplify Christlike mindset in chapter 3 of Philippians, Paul had to do a major shift in his own thinking right regarding his identity and what he should actually value is is that he says in chapter 3 verse eight that I count everything is loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing who of knowing Christ Christ Jesus my Lord and what is particularly interesting in Philippians 3 is a Paul wants to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and he wants to share in his sufferings, something we find played out in second Corinthians, and then we finally come to Philippians 4 like the grand finale at the end of a fireworks display. Paul writes, whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and praiseworthy think on these things have this mindset set shift and so it is in this letter in second Corinthians chapter 2 Paul provides the Corinthians, with the proper mindset in the midst of his own frailty.
After explaining about the barely escaped deadly perils and afflictions.
In chapter 1 of the emotionally wrought letter in chapter 2, his plans being delayed his intense fear and wrath restlessness were not finding Titus Tetrault as Paul reflects in verse 14 but thanks be to God, who is leading us in triumph, and there are two metaphors that are found in verse 14 and both of them. God is doing something. Look at the verse in verse 14 but thanks be to God who what who leads us and you might have to skip over some other words, and God spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of Christ everywhere but thanks be to God in Christ who leads us and spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of Christ everywhere. So what does God do will first God leads us in triumphal procession. This phrase comes from the Roman triumphal procession.
The Roman general and his soldiers would lead their shamed captives in the spoils of war and triumphal procession after great victory and are two ways to understand this in relation to the believer. First, it could be that the apostles and the fellow believers are the victorious soldiers who share together with the benefits of Christ's victory in this perhaps fits the spirit of Romans 837 where it says that in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. Or it could be as the NIV translated translated that the apostles and the fellow believers are willing captives themselves and are there privileged to be part of Christ's victory in that way, and perhaps this would fit the spirit of Romans will force as Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the spool of God and this could make sense contextually where in Paul's frailty or weakness. Christ is exalted and throughout this letter in second Corinthians, Paul argues that his weakness in his suffering actually legitimizes his ministry to hold your place here and go over to chapter 12 and look at it went with me.
Verse eight and chapter 12 verse eight Paul writes three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me but he said my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
For the sake of Christ than I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, calamities, notice for when I am weak, then I am strong on your way back to chapter 2 of second Corinthians stop in and chapter 4 in chapter 4 verse seven a reads but we have this treasure in jars of clay to show the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed, perplexed, but not driven into despair persecuted, but not forsaken, struck down, but not destroyed, always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies, for we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh so we don't want to press a metaphor further than the writers purpose we share in Christ's triumph and his exultation and victory is although we are frail you feel frail today you feel weak. Although we are frail, God leads us in Christ in triumph, and the emphasis is that triumph is connected to our union with Christ. You can have complete confidence in God's working because God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession. It has everything to do with Christ, triumph in our connection to Christ in this confidence in God's continual leading us in Christ and triumph has been believed by saints throughout church history, whether it was bunion who found 12 years of imprisonment for preaching to be quote a painful and fruitful gift or more recent missionary friend who has suffered years of physical pain while serving in Asia, which is given him a platform for Christ in a context where his own audience knows great pain-and-suffering and yet he's that. Yet they see the difference of weakness in Christ triumph that a second metaphor is that God spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of Christ everywhere. The how does God do that look down in verse 14 there are two words of explanation. Can you find him if the words through us. So what is the instrument that God uses to spread the fragrance of the knowledge of Christ, frail and imperfect humans whom God has redeemed by his own blood us and this is just something God does once in a while. This is his plan through human history and Paul was well acquainted with this, even as Paul quotes Isaiah effect you take a moment and just turn over to Isaiah chapter 49 verses five and six Isaiah 49 verse five says, and now the Lord says Isaiah 49, five key, who for me from the womb to be his servants okay so this is the servant understanding Yahweh is giving him something and he says to bring Jacob back to him that Israel might be gathered to him, for I am honored in the eyes of the Lord my God has become my strength.
He says it's too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and bring back the preserve of Israel. I will make you as a life for the nations that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.
Well, how does that happen will turn a few pages over to chapter 52 were you find this and in verse 13 behold chapter 52 verse 13 behold my servant, there it is again. He shall act wisely, he shall be high and lifted up, shall be exalted, as many were astonished at you. His appearance was so marred beyond human semblance and is formed beyond that of the children of mankind, so shall he sprinkle many nations. King shall shut their mouths because it because of him for that which was not have been told they will see and that which they have not heard the understand so you have chapter 53, the suffering servant. And so you can turn to page 2 or two over the chapter 55, and what you have is this free gift, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters, and he who has no money, come by and eats chapter 55 verse one and so what is amazing is when you come to the next chapter in chapter 56. Look at verse six that the foreigners who join themselves to who to the Lord to minister to him to love the name of the Lord and to be is what chapter 56 verse six to be his servants.
He holds them fast in his covenant and Paul knew this clearly even as he quotes and acts chapter 13 he says in verse 46 Paul and Barnabas spoke out loudly saying it was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles for so the Lord has commanded a saying I made you a light for the Gentiles, so that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth. So Paul understood what God was doing in his plan in human history in both metaphors God's leading and God's writing is accentuated by the universals found in the text.
God always leads us in Christ in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of Christ everywhere. This is always something that is divinely initiated, but done through our frailty and weakness in this is an amazing fact deserving of exclamation but thanks be to God, and Paul understood this. The God's plan in Christ have been for his servants to represent Christ and proclaiming light and life. So what we do, why does Paul begin this section with the exploit exclamation thanks be to God, while he does so because what God is doing what God is doing in Christ by leading us in triumphal procession in using us to spread the fragrance of the knowledge of Christ everywhere is on what basis. How is it that God can say this, on what basis the got does God actually spread the fragrance of Christ through us will look at verse 15 in verse 15 of chapter 2 it says for we are the aroma of Christ to God. For we are the aroma of Christ, the actual word order points to crisis significant. It says because of Christ in aroma. We are to God, and there are two groups that actually come out of this for which this is true for those who are being saved and for those who are perishing, and there are only two groups in the world.
In both of these groups are influenced by the fragrance of Christ to God. There is no third option. These groups are actually similar, are actually identical I should say to those that we find in first Corinthians chapter 1, maybe this passage comes the mind, even as you hear this language being used. The first printing chapter 1 verse 18. Those who are perishing, and those who are being saved and sat across from one another. You have a similar develop development you have, you know, the message of the cross.
Will we are to God, the aroma of Christ and it's foolish to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved. It's the power of God. So you have some see the death of on the cross and respond to that and they say all that's foolishness and other see what happened on the cross and they understand the resurrection and what actually happened there and they respond to life, resulting in eternal life in this message delivered by the apostle Paul led by God himself divides hearers into one of two groups and perhaps our people even right now in this room or even through lifestream will hear this message. We have not actually responded in faith onto life.
So what does that mean will Paul provides us with the truth that although our testimony and message of the cross that we spread has direct bearing upon the eternal future of our listener actually are primary audiences who are primary audience is God himself are primary audience is that we are a aroma of Christ to God in his blood bought ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ our life and message is ultimately a sweet savor on the God for his pleasure. And you know passages like this right. Romans chapter 12 verses one to Paul writes I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God which is your spiritual worship. So do not be conformed to this world but be transformed. And here's the thing, by the renewal of your mind wants you to think correctly by the testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. So God takes pleasure in what his son Jesus Christ has done and how it changes you. His servant God loves to hear you testify to someone else. God loves when you rejoice in it. When you think about it through the day God loves to hear you sing about it that Christ is sufficient his work is finished or be thou my vision or day by day.
Christ is the only answer God loves it when his people sing about his son, and God loves for his people to proclaim his death until Jesus comes to the Lord's table. God loves it for his people to turn away from their formalized former identity and to unite with the people of God publicly through baptism, God loves to use his own servants to see new people obtain eternal life and God takes great pleasure in the fragrance of what his son, the servant is accomplishing for eternity through the servants of the Messiah.
And so what we do as believers in Christ is actually done. Even right now in the presence of God Almighty and its own aroma to God of Christ, you are in aroma to God's will look at what's happening were sitting here were listening to Scripture were praying together were singing or not really seen but seen in our hearts were listening to the spirit and later today were working or studying or grabbing opportunities with our neighbors were going to store meeting people having words of kindness helping hands we give to others in verbal proclamation in all of this is done in Christ before the presence of God, and God takes delight in it. And for those who receive it. It is life and for those who do not his death unto death, God is actually using us for such a great of his ministry as this.
And so Paul cries out you can see there in verse 16 crew is sufficient for these things. That's Paul's exclamation where he goes to this coup is adequate and is actually a negative answer to that right is action negative answer. First, in regards to this and a positive answer as well. In one sense no one here is sufficient.
None of us in this room are a lie, she would not of us are sufficient of us were all completely inadequate to be God's ministers to spread the fragrance of the knowledge of Christ. That's the point that right were frail were weak without Christ bread – simple creatures. Creatures without hope. But here's the truth. Although I am frail the fragrance of now, the knowledge of Christ can be made known in my life. So while in one sense no one is sufficient. God makes the inadequate adequate as our life in word and deed magnifies Christ, but for those who believe they are sufficient and it all depends on them to build the church to win people over to get dishonest gain with those people. Paul has worked for them, their peddlers, their peddlers of the word of God. In verse 17 Paul uses this word menu which refers to the altering of something in the profiting of that sort peddlers God's word would alter the message. For the purposes of profiting from the message with plenty of examples of peddlers of spiritual things in our day to field up huge buildings by peddling the word of God, even as there were false prophets in the Old Testament. False teachers in Paul's day there messages. What this life offers is most important, and they set their minds on earthly things rather than on Christlike eternal mindset and their message is not from God but yet there are four positives that Paul mentions in verse 17 as he finishes out those four positives demonstrate the possibility of the inadequate made adequate look at number one ministers who are sincere their pure and their motives before the Lord. I mean, you are so taken over by a full sense of certainty and confidence in the message that you have and that you're studying about hear about Joan seminary is a story told by David Hume the 18th century British philosopher who rejected his store.
Christianity and he once met a friend hurrying along London street and asked him where he was going, and the friend said one off to hear George Whitfield.
He said will surely you don't believe what Whitfield preaches do you know I don't. But he does and there's unattractiveness right by those who are the aroma of Christ to God you believe it, and you are living in speaking wars that have gripped you completely in your own soul today and you are preaching these things only because you are Harold of God and you are commissioned as the text as you are commissioned by God to live and to speak before this world you believe Matthew chapter 28 is true, you believe passages like first Peter chapter 2 verse Peter chapter 3 and third, I can take the last expression that you speak in Christ, your life and words are adequate because of your union with Jesus Christ. Christ is the source of all life, strength and sufficiency. And finally we speak. In Christ, and we do so with complete transparency. We do it in the sight of God, because God knows all things, and you can see in our next chapter chapter 3 verse four, such as the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the spirit. So although you and I are frail were weak. The fragrance of the knowledge of Christ be known through us so thanks be to God how comforting and encouraging.
That is for us as we train and as we minister as God would have it, whispering father, we do pray that you would allow us to be men and women who carefully and thoroughly and graciously minister before you to others for your glory and we prayed in the precious name of Jesus. Amen. You been listening to a sermon from BJ you seminary professor Dr. Kevin Oberlin.
Thanks for listening and join us again tomorrow as we continue the study in second Corinthians on The Daily Platform