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October 4, 2022 4:00 am
Are pulling in our duty as the children of light as Paul calls us is to make sure that we shine the light of the gospel into the darkness. That's our responsibility. We don't make alliances common cause with darkness, but we shine the light of the gospel into the darkness that no matter how evil the world became or how often he was persecuted, Paul endured. But what gave this man of God the strength to stay faithful.
What truths did Paul cling to when his trials no doubt seemed too tough to bear.
And yet they kept coming. John MacArthur considers those questions today in a brand-new series airing for the first time on grace to you.
It's a biblical look at how to understand the current chaos in our society why you can have confidence that God is still in control and how to effectively serve the Lord and serve others in these difficult days. John calls this series the world versus the kingdom of God.
And now, here is John.
I want to take you to passage that has been the treasurer to me for many many years. It's one of those defining portions of Scripture as I look at my life and my ministry in your life and your ministry in the kingdom of light that passages second Corinthians chapter 4 second Corinthians chapter 4 now we been looking at the idea of the fact that there is revealed in Scripture that the world is made up of two kingdoms is the kingdom of light in the kingdom of darkness, and we looked at second Corinthians chapter 6, which says light and darkness are incompatible is incompatible is lawlessness and righteousness as Satan and Christ as unbelievers and believers and so we said that the word of God calls on us to be separate touch not the unclean thing, have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness. The kingdom of light is not ever helped or advanced by an alliance in a common cause with the kingdom of darkness. Christ does not need Satan to accomplish his purposes and that breaching that reality is what causes all the compromise that infects and has always infected the church so there are two kingdoms in our calling in our duty as the children of light as Paul calls us is to make sure that we shine the light of the gospel into the darkness.
That's our responsibility.
We don't make alliances common cause with the darkness, but we shine the light of the gospel into the darkness. Paul gives us some help on that when he gives his testimony. The 26th chapter of acts, and if you look down at verse 12. It's a good place to start. Paul is giving his testimony to pagan King and he's rehearsing what happened to him on the Damascus Road choices were also engaged.
As I was journeying to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests. At midday, okay.
I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun shining all around me and those who were journeying with me and when we had all fallen to the ground. I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew dialect, Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me it is hard for you to kick against the goats and I said who are you, Lord, the Lord said, I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. But get up and stand on your feet for this purpose I have appeared to you to appoint you a minister and a witness not only to the things which you have seen, but also to the things in which I will appear to you rescuing you from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you and here's his calling to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, and that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in me that is crystal clear isn't it. We read it again. Your purpose is to open the eyes of Jews and Gentiles, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in me. We are lights in the world. We have the same calling the apostle Paul had to shine the gospel light into the darkness. Paul accepted this calling.
In Romans chapter 1 he says this chapter 1 verse 14. I am under obligation to the Greeks and barbarians to the wise into the foolish.
This is an obligation. So, for my part, I am also eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome, for I am not ashamed of the gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith as it is written, but the righteous man shall live by faith.
I am not ashamed of the gospel is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes.
Paul was not ashamed to boldly shine the light of the gospel into the darkness effect in first Corinthians 916 he says woe is me.
If I preach not the gospel in first Corinthians 123 he says we preach Christ crucified in chapter 2 of that same book in verse two we preach nothing but Christ and him crucified.
I want to say immediately the boldness of Paul and the fact that he was not ashamed of the gospel put them in a precarious position from the very beginning of his ministry.
He is conversion story is back in the ninth chapter of acts, and I won't go through that. But I do want to mention one thing is conversion is in the beginning of the ninth chapter of acts on the Damascus Road we read his rehearsal of that in chapter 26, of acts, but no sooner had he been converted and called by God. Midway through that same chapter that gives the story of his conversion, we read this and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying he is the son of God, that would be the most hostile place you could possibly go to a synagogue. He's been converted and he goes immediately into a synagogue to declare that Jesus this crucified you is in fact the son of God, the boldness of Paul validates the fact that he was not ashamed and the rest of his life he faced the inevitable hostility that comes to one whose bold, they may not suffer the same things that Paul suffered. But there is rejection on that level of boldness that he exhibited so it's hard given that to stay with it hard to stay with it but postdated with it. Let's go back now. The second Corinthians chapter 4 verse one he says in verse one notices that phrase of the universe. We do not lose heart. We do not lose heart. He says it again over in verse 16. Therefore, we do not lose heart. This is the remarkable thing about this man. His life was just just a constant act of dodging death because it was so much fierce hostility against the good news of the gospel.
There would be many people today who would suggest to Paul that he could he could maybe alter the message a little bit and it wouldn't always be a jail ministry. Maybe not to be so bold, what is it that you're saying is supposed to be good news.
What is it that you're saying that is causing this level of hostility everywhere you go. So extreme that he was even stoned to death and raised again. He says we do not lose heart. He was faithful to the very end to the time that he laid his head on a block in an accident severed from his body and he died in martyrdom. He never lost her was that mean what is that verb mean neck cacao in Greek basically means to them, act cowardly to defect sinfully to get into evil to burnout, a Paul has to remind Timothy not to do that in second Timothy don't do that. Timothy don't abandon the gift that was given to you a firm by the laying on of the hands of the elders.
Timothy preach the word you have God watching you. How does this apostle maintain such endurance when so many people bail out at some point complaints about burnout about the ministries to difficult there are fewer people who leave the ministry that way. Then there are who stay in the ministry and just avoid anything that's offensive never say anything could make anybody mad. How did he endure well at the end of verse three sits at the end of chapter 3 it says that the Lord is the spirit where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
We all with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just from the Lord, the spirit, the answer is, the Holy Spirit was consistently sanctifying him and making him more like Christ and there was no lack of boldness and the preaching of Christ was is the Holy Spirit sanctified him, he became more like his Savior, and he demonstrated the attributes of the Lord Jesus himself and one of them was certainly preaching the truth boldly as you come into chapter 4 he defines for us some convictions. People will debate about whether theology is important.
I think a lot of people assume that your Christian life is lived in some sentimental way that it's it's sort of some emotional connection to God. But the fact of the matter is you can only live the Christian life with any strength and you can only avoid being a coward who defects when you have a very firm structure of certainties, absolutes, convictions that keep you strong because living the Christian life. Shining the light into the darkness is difficult can be painful will be persecuted.
Starting with your own family and the people around you to whatever other level you go. So how do you endure, you have to have some inviolable commitments, unchangeable beliefs that can't be.
You can't be adjusted from them. And Paul had those he was able to face the hostile darkness take whatever they through back at him for the following reasons. Number one. He was certain of the superiority and exclusivity of the new covenant matter was he was certain of his message. He was certain of the urgency of his message that it was the truth that it was superior to the old covenant and that it was the only hope for sinners was like in verse one therefore, since we have this ministry have stopped either what ministry what this ministry were you talking about go back to chapter 3 verse seven. If the ministry of death and letters engraved on stones right what set law Moses. It's a ministry of death, but it came with a certain glory because after all, was divine revelation carved into the stone by the finger of God, as it were. If the ministry of death and letters engraved on stones came with glory so that the sons of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face fading as it was, how will the ministry of the spirit failed to be even more with glory. So you had the old covenant ministry with a certain amount of glory.
God revealed himself partially to Moses on the Mount in Exodus 33 the glory got on Moses face. He came down. That is to say, the law of God is represented as having glory because it comes from the glorious one, but on Moses face. It was a fading glory. Yes, it was glory but it was a fading glory, because the law is the ministry of death. The law only condemns you, it only kills you and send you to hell because you violated far more glorious is the ministry of the Spirit. Paul makes the contrast.
Another way in verse nine.
If the ministry of condemnation has glory, much more does the ministry of righteousness abound in glory for indeed what had glory in this case has no glory because of the glory that surpasses it.
That is to say the glory of the new covenant salvation in Christ far surpasses the fading and condemning deadly glory of the law. Verse 11 for if that which fades away was with glory, much more that which remains is in glory. Therefore, having such a hope, we use great boldness in our speech.
So why is he so bold because he understands the glory of the new covenant gospel. He is certain of its superiority to the old covenant, which only condemned and damned all the world is under sentence of eternal death because they have violated the law of God. Everyone has the law, then, is a ministry of death is a ministry of condemnation. The only way that any soul can escape that condemnation is through the new covenant, which is a ministry of the Holy Spirit and a ministry that provides righteousness. It really is this something better of Hebrews chapter 11 the New Testament gospel gives spiritual and eternal life New Testament gospel gives righteousness New Testament gospel has glory that is eternal New Testament gospel provides hope hope verse 12 because it's such a hope. Set your hope. Hope for eternal glory that will never fade away. He understood that he understood that clearly enough when he wrote in Philippians chapter 3. These very very familiar words, he says as far as the law was concerned.
Chapter 3 I can put confidence in my flesh and I jotted a dotted every I and cross every T he says I was. Verse five circumcised the eighth day. I was of the nation of Israel as of the tribe of Benjamin.
I was a Hebrew of Hebrews it was addressed to the law the most zealous possible. I was a Pharisee, Estes Eli, I was a persecutor of the church because I thought they violated the law of God as to righteousness found in the lie was blameless far as anybody knew, I kept the law perfectly but whatever things were gain to me, those I have counted as loss is done for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be done in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish. That's where use that word that I may gain Christ may be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness that comes from God through faith. He understood that the only hope of salvation was in the new covenant what drives us in ministry to be faithful and not defect not give up not become a shame because we can't take the hostility and the rejection what drives us is the certainty that this is the sinners only hope this is the sinners only escape. They're all around us going to hell do you care enough to shine the light into their darkness. Do you understand they have no hope.
Without it, Paul understood that and it kept them bold until he was martyred. The second characteristic. Second, certainty is second strong conviction. That's also in verse one it says. Therefore, since we have received this with since we have this ministry, as we receive mercy, and again I have to stop. He understood that ministries of mercy.
This is the second certainty ministry is a mercy. In other words, he never lost the wonder over the fact that he was doing something he didn't deserve to do. He was not worthy to carry this message not at all. It was always a stunning shock to him. He never got over it. Even late in his ministry as he writes his first letter to Timothy in chapter 1 he says this. I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who is strengthen me because he considered me faithful, putting me into ministry even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor yet. I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus, then this it is a trustworthy statement deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost it.
For this reason, I found mercy, that in me is the foremost center. Jesus Christ might demonstrate his perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in him for eternal life. Paul says this God's mercy Christ in his grace saved me to show the world but no one is beyond redemption. I was the worst. I was the worst. So Paul is saying God is mercifully allowing me to minister, even allowing me to preach this glorious gospel and God is merciful to surround me with the people that I need. None of us deserve it. No one deserve such privilege. No one deserves as he says in chapter 5, verse 20 to be an ambassador for God representing the heavenly kingdom. The kingdom of light such ministry always is a mercy, always a mercy. That's why back in chapter 3.
Look at verse five. Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything is coming from ourselves, our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of the new covenant were not adequate. We don't deserve this and we are capable but what the Lord chose us and empowers us by his Holy Spirit was a sense in which Paul understood that even his own unworthiness was not a hindrance to what the Lord could do through his faithful life. I don't think he ever got over that I think always through his life as a as a person who was bent on imprisoning Christians at one time that he was the worst antichrist activist on the planet and the Lord gave him the ministry of the gospel in the new covenant, and he was so aware of how wretched he was. What an antichrist life he lived that he always saw ministry as a mercy, and to sustain them out of sheer gratitude. This is grace to you with John MacArthur. Thanks for being with us.
John's lesson today from second Corinthians 4 is part of a new series called the world versus the kingdom of God.
John wanted joy and encouragement. It is to realize that even in this dark world. The kingdom of light is still operating. It brings to mind a letter that we received recently from a man who was snatched out of some deep spiritual darkness and grace to you played a part in his transformation. So John, you have a letter read it to us that this letter is from Lynn and I'm just gonna read it as it comes.
After losing my career of eight years, and after being homeless for a time, I found work on a horse farm with a cruel owner, a man who would sometimes come unannounced into the trailer. I shared with my wife and son. Many times, startling us. I started doing mixed martial arts to learn how to protect myself and my family. We left the farm soon after I continued in martial arts and was also deep into philosophy but I lacked peace every day I struggled with fear. Fear of men. Fear of losing my family.
Fear of losing shelter again.
At this point Glenn went on to describe an absolutely devastating injury he received to his head and his face from his from his martial arts fighting and then the letter goes on. That was it. I was at the lowest point in my life, no love, no peace, just hostility. So I decided one day that I was going to end my life I've been reading philosophy quotes on a social media threat and decided to pick up my gun and kill myself but somehow the app I was using started to be populated with quotes from Jesus Christ that had never happened before. I broke down in tears. I didn't know what to do except download a copy of the Bible.
When I search for Bibles in my app store. The first app that popped up was grace to you. I immediately downloaded it in the first sermon I clicked on was from your series. The grip of God. Romans eight 2839 and I lost my mind. I cried for hours for the first time in my life, I felt the will to live. I had a desire to know Jesus. I couldn't stop listening. I discovered grace stream and listened all day long. I started looking for a church to go to but I was hesitant because of your messages on false teachers, but we found a good church in Fort Worth, Texas, and we been fellow shipping with the Saints ever since.
Thank you John for holding my hand in helping me find the narrow gate since my salvation, my wife has come to know the Lord in my four-year-old son loves listening to your sermons while we play them each day in our trailer. We love you and are so thankful for grace to you. God bless you all, that wasn't me holding his hand that was God leading him to us amazing. There are lots of people like Lynn people from all sorts of backgrounds and all kinds of conditions and circumstances. Some of them desperate. Their finding their way to grace to you because that's where the Lord leads them and were able to bring them biblical truth every day.
The changes lives, because you are a part of our ministry because you pray for us and you help us meet our expenses. So thank you for being a part of all the Lord is doing. Thank you for being a part of reaching Lynn and others like him across the globe.
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