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Sacrifice Outlives Survival, Part 1

Delight in Grace / Grace Bible Church / Rich Powell
The Truth Network Radio
May 7, 2024 10:00 am

Sacrifice Outlives Survival, Part 1

Delight in Grace / Grace Bible Church / Rich Powell

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May 7, 2024 10:00 am

Today’s message from 2 Cor. 4:7-15 is titled Sacrifice Outlives Survival. Our life on this earth, as Job put it, is few days and full of trouble, but we have immortal souls. We are meant to spend eternity with our Maker. It is clear that Paul believed this truth down to his core through his willingness to take risks for Christ and live with abandon. Malcolm Muggeridge writes, “ I can say that I never knew what joy was like until I gave up pursuing happiness, or cared to live until I chose to die. For these two discoveries I am beholden to Jesus”.

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Welcome to Delight in Grace, the teaching ministry of rich Powell, pastor of Grace Bible Church in Winston-Salem. Today's message from 2 Corinthians 4, 7 through 15 is titled Sacrifice Outlives Survival. The glory of the Gospel is that the regenerating Spirit of God with the illuminating Word of God transforms the redeemed people of God, based on the reconciling Son of God pointing to the righteous goodness of God overcoming the distracting enemy of God.

We see all of those elements in this series, chapter 2, 14 through the end of chapter 5. Unspeakable things that you and I will never have to endure, the magnitude of adversity, suffering, and pain. And I'm certain as the apostles said earlier, that we're not ignorant of his devices.

Who's he speaking of? The distracting enemy of God, Satan himself. He is not a God, He is a created being, He is a fallen angel, but He is the enemy of God and it is His ambition to draw people away from God.

Now, what does that mean for you and me? If you are in Christ, He cannot draw you away from God to the point of condemnation, but He can encourage you to drift away. And how would He do that? By adversity. Imagine what the Apostle Paul was having to face.

And the distracting enemy will say, you know, I'm just going to throw some hostility, some adversity into there. Isn't this what he did with Job? He went before God and he says, God, Job serves you because you've pampered him. You give him a hard time and he will turn away from you.

He will walk away from you. Did Job do that? No, he didn't, and that's the reason the book of Job exists in the word of God. But those are still his tactics, the distracting enemy of God. He wants to distract you away from God and often times he will do that through throwing adversity into your life. Paul had plenty of adversity in his life and he says, if I just throw adversity in their face, they're going to become distracted, they're going to take their focus off of God and they're going to become preoccupied with one thing, survival. How do I keep myself going in this life? How do I keep myself from having to suffer?

What can I do to manipulate my circumstances so that I don't have to suffer? Survival. He wants us, the enemy of our soul, the distracting enemy of God wants us to be preoccupied with our own survival because he knows that if we are preoccupied with that, it will distract us away from God and it will render us ineffective for God. And therefore we will not be manifesting God's character and purpose.

You remember Jesus in the wilderness just after his baptism, 40 days and 40 nights. You bet he was hungry and thirsty and the adversary goes to him and he tries to distract him away from the purpose for which God had sent him, his father had sent him. And he says, you see that stone? If you're the son of God, meaning if you have the creative power of God, you can turn that stone into bread. Could he have?

Yes, he could have. And he says, so if you are who you say you are, turn that stone into bread. There's no reason for you to have to be starving right now just to please your father. Had Jesus been preoccupied with his survival, he would have not been doing the will of the father. You see the tactics of the adversary here, the tactics of the enemy. Now listen, there's a lot of us in this room that are facing adversities.

Out of work, bad health, people mistreating you, being discriminated against because of your faith, whatever. Could it be this morning that the adversary is throwing that in your face to try to distract you away from God, to keep you from manifesting the life of Christ in your mortal flesh? Look what the apostle Paul had to endure. So look at that in verses 8 and 9, and he says we have, the apostle says we have this treasure in earthen vessels. What is this treasure that he is speaking of?

It is the gospel ministry. And the earthen vessel, the earthen vessel, the word vessel is a generic term for a jar or a pot or a basket. And earthen means it is made out of something that is made out of baked clay, something that comes from the ground, an earthen vessel.

And why does he mention that? Because they are common, they are weak, they break, they are comparatively unattractive compared to what? Compared to what goes in them.

But they are also expendable. You see, if you just, I mean, jars of clay like that, pots of clay, they're common, they're numerous, they're everywhere. And what if you have just a pot of clay and that's all you have and it just sits there, eventually you're going to look at it and you're going to say, pardon me for borrowing the line from Sherlock, but what exactly is the point of view? A pot of clay doesn't exist just for the sake of sitting there and existing.

It's not concerned about its own survival. That pot of clay is there to hold something beautiful. So it is. But it is an earthen vessel, it is common, it is weak, it is comparatively unattractive, it is expendable.

And in terms of our physical beings, then, this is what Paul is understanding and experiencing, in terms of our physical beings, what is now is not permanent, so it is not paramount. Touch your body. Okay? Do it.

Go ahead. Be brave this morning. Do something different. Touch yourself. And say, this too shall pass.

It will. You cannot keep that body. Some of you are very thankful for that too, aren't you? In terms of your physical beings, what is now is not permanent, so it is not paramount.

Therefore, the survival of this body is not my preoccupation, it is not my chief concern. You remember Chuck and Mary Campbell, dear, dear couple. And Mary had gone through surgery about a couple of years ago now, and she was recovering in the hospital, and Dwight and I happened to both be in the hospital room at the same time as she was recovering from that. And Dwight all of a sudden piped up, he says, Mary, you're good to go for another 50 years. You want to know what her response was? It's exactly what it was.

That was not an attractive proposition. Dwight meant it, you know Dwight. He meant it well. She was good to go, and she's still praising the Lord among us, but this body is frail. It decays, and Paul knew that firsthand. Some of you might remember who Christopher Hitchens is. He was a very outspoken atheist, and he was asked what the greatest contribution of Christianity was to his life. And he says, the greatest contribution of Christianity to my life is the reminder of the complete ephemerality, that's the state of being temporary or short-lived. The complete ephemerality of human power, and indeed of human existence. The transience of all states, empires, heroes, grandiose claims, and so forth, that's always with me.

And I dare say, I could have got that from other sources too, but the way I got it and the way it's implanted in me is certainly by Christianity. And if there is a message that becomes abundantly clear in the Word of God, it is that. We are but passing through this life.

And in terms of our physical beings, what is now is not permanent, so it is not paramount. So look at Paul's experience. We are hard, verse 8, we are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed.

You see the pressure there, but he's not breaking. We are perplexed, but not in despair. I can't figure things out, but that doesn't mean I have to be the one who understands everything, because I know the one who does. Verse 9, persecuted but not forsaken, struck down but not destroyed, always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus.

Listen to this, listen carefully. We can't imagine the hardship that the Apostle Paul had to experience, and he will cover that a little bit later on in this book, in this letter. But just reading from this here, understand this, never once did Paul conclude that God had forsaken him. Even in all the adversity that he faced, never once did the Apostle conclude that God had forsaken him.

You see, for Paul, it wasn't about his physical well-being, it wasn't about his physical survival. He was pleased to give himself with abandon. Thanks for joining us here at Delight in Grace. You've been listening to Rich Powell, the lead pastor at Grace Bible Church in Winston-Salem. The Delight in Grace mission is to help you know that God designed you to realize your highest good and your deepest satisfaction in him, the one who is infinitely good. We hope you'll join us again on Weekdays at 10 a.m.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-07 12:14:38 / 2024-05-07 12:20:13 / 6

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