Light shall shine out of darkness. Salvation is the light of Christ shining in the darkened heart. It's a creative act. That's why 2 Corinthians 5 17 says, if any man be in Christ, he is a new what?
Creature. You have been created. You're a new creation. Phil Johnson Welcome to Grace to You with John MacArthur.
I'm your host, Phil Johnson. You may remember a time when the average person, in America at least, had a basic knowledge of the gospel. But now you can't take it for granted that someone has even heard about sin or the resurrection or even Jesus Christ. So in a society that is becoming more and more biblically illiterate and more hostile to Christ, what is the most effective way to preach the gospel?
Do you need to master a new technique? John MacArthur has an answer you'll want to hear as he looks at why the light of God's truth can penetrate even the most sin-darkened heart. It's part of John's brand-new series titled The World Versus the Kingdom of God.
And now here's John with the lesson. John MacArthur As we come to the revelation of God and His Word, we are drawn back to 2 Corinthians 4. We have been talking about the fact that there are two kingdoms in the world. There are two rulers in the world. There's the kingdom of light, ruled by Christ, who rules by the power of His Spirit through His church by indwelling believers. And there is the kingdom of darkness, ruled by Satan, who by his demons and human agents and by the influence that he has on the human heart, rules the world that is passing away. Jesus said, "'My kingdom is not of this world. The kingdom of this world is evil and headed for hell.' However, Jesus said, "'My kingdom is present in this world. It is the kingdom of righteousness, and the folks who are in that kingdom are headed for heaven.'"
That's the simple way to look at the world around you. The kingdom of darkness manifest by sin, the kingdom of light manifest by righteousness. The kingdom of darkness ruled by Satan and all who are outside of Christ are in the kingdom of darkness, and they follow their father, the devil, who is a liar and a murderer. The kingdom of righteousness manifest in the church, the true church. The King is Christ, and He indwells every true believer. Why did the Lord leave us in the world?
We have been looking at that. It's an obvious answer. All who are in the kingdom of light are commissioned to shine the light of the gospel into the darkness so that the Lord can redeem His elect people. Now as you look at 2 Corinthians 4, this becomes clear to us. If you look at verse 3, the apostle says, "'If our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the God of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.'" I just want to focus on that incredible statement, the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. The light is just that.
That defines the light that we shine into the darkness. It is the light of the gospel, the good news of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. Says it again down in verse 6, "'The one who has shown in our hearts has done so to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.'"
The light is the gospel of Christ. Christ is the very incarnation and image of God. That's why we're here, and that's why He says in verse 5, we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus' sake. Back in chapter 1, verse 19, we read, "'For the Son of God, Christ Jesus, who was preached among you by us, by me and Silvanus and Timothy, was not yes and no, but is yes in Him. For as many as are the promises of God, in Him they are yes. Therefore also through Him is our amen to the glory of God through us.'" What is Paul saying there? He is saying all the promises of God are bound up in Christ.
He is the yes to the promises of God. So for us to shine the light means the light of the gospel, the good news of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. Acts 4, 12 says there's no salvation in any other. Romans 10, 17 says they can't be saved unless they hear the message concerning Christ. Unlike the preachers that Jeremiah addressed who preach the deceptions of their own mind, who speak a vision from their own imagination, we do not preach ourselves. We preach Christ. Now, necessarily when you're preaching Christ, you're calling sinners to repent. It is necessary if they are to receive the good news that they hear the bad news.
They don't want that. They love the darkness rather than the light. They cherish their sins. They flaunt their sins to one degree or another. Even Jesus said in John 7, 7, you hate me because I tell you, your deeds are evil. That is what generates the hostility and the hate. Because first of all, the dominating human sin is pride.
People want to defend their goodness, their nobility. And when you unmask the wretchedness of their hearts, they're usually angry. In the flesh they're angry, and apart from the convicting work of the Holy Spirit, they will remain angry. In the face of opposition then, the question is, in the face of hostility and in the face of persecution, how do we remain bold in proclaiming Christ, which means confronting sin?
Well, Paul answers that in this text, as we saw last time. You'll notice in verse 1 he says at the end of the verse, we do not lose heart. And then down in verse 16 he says it again, therefore we do not lose heart. So he sort of brackets the revelation here with this idea that he doesn't lose heart. He doesn't defect. He doesn't give up. He doesn't give in. He doesn't demonstrate cowardly flight.
He doesn't give in to evil. He could actually come to the end of his life and did, and he said, I have fought the good fight. I have kept the faith. I have finished the course. Henceforth there's laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord shall give to me, but not to me only, but to all who love His appearing. All of us would want to come to the end of life and say I fought the good fight, right? I kept the faith. I finished the course.
How do you do that? Realizing that the confrontation of sinners is going to result in hostility, Jesus said, as I pointed out, if they hate you, don't be surprised. If they hated Me, they're going to hate you. And they hated Him to the point that they actually executed Him, in spite of all the good, good that had never been seen in the history of humanity and never will be seen again until Jesus comes.
They killed Him anyway because He confronted their evil. So you have to recognize that that's a reality, and it cannot be avoided. If you avoid it, you are defecting. If you avoid the confrontation with sin, you are defecting. Now it is to be done with love and graciousness, mercy.
The very kindness of God is extended in salvation to the sinner, and we have to bring that message in that same fashion. Now what kept Paul locked down on his spiritual responsibility, no matter how much persecution he received and how do you have that kind of courage? It comes from convictions.
It comes from down inside related to the things that you believe that are non-negotiable. And we've been looking at those, but I just want to remind you of the first one. The first thing that was a conviction, a certainty in Paul's mind was he was certain about the superiority of the new covenant in verse 1, since we have this ministry. What ministry is he talking about?
The one he just described in chapter 3. You go back to chapter 3 and you look, for example, at verse 7. He describes the old covenant, the law, as the ministry of death in letters engraved on stones. It had 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. If there was glory in the law, which only condemned, how will the ministry of the Spirit fail to be even more with glory? For if the ministry of condemnation has glory, much more does the ministry of righteousness abound in glory. So he is saying the new covenant in Christ has far more glory than the old covenant law. He had no, this is important, he had no hesitation regarding the truth of the gospel.
That's where everything starts. That's why we make such an issue out of you understanding the gospel. You must understand it.
You must believe it. You must understand its superiority and its absolute uniqueness and excellence. Paul had certainty about the superiority of the new covenant from personal experience. He was passionate about making sure sinners heard the good news. Secondly, he was certain that ministry was a mercy. He says, we have this ministry as we received mercy.
That is to say, he never lost sight of the fact that this was an overwhelming mercy to allow him to preach this message. This is not something that you earn by your education. This is not something that you earn by your erudition.
This isn't something you earn because you have a gift for speaking. Any of us who has ever been given the privilege of proclaiming the gospel knows it is a mercy. We preach a far better message than we can live. But we also understand that if God couldn't use flawed people, He couldn't use anybody because we're all flawed. Paul never got over the mercy of putting him into the ministry.
The third certainty in his life that we looked at last time was he was certain of the need for a pure heart, and that's what he says in verse 2. We've renounced the things hidden because of shame. There's no secret life. There's no hidden life.
There's nothing to be discovered. Some men's sins follow after them, Paul says. Paul had no fear of that, no fear of that.
No fear of a post-mortem episode where the truth would come out because he had no hidden life of shame. He said his conscience was clear and he was winning the spiritual battle on the inside, and if you want to be useful to the Lord, you need to be a clean vessel. And we saw fourthly that he was certain of the duty to accurately preach the Word. He says, not walking in craftiness or deceptiveness, or adulterating the Word of God, but rather by the manifestation of truth, commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. Not walking in craftiness or adulterating the Word, that's the negative, but by manifestation of the truth, that's the positive. He was commending himself even to the unbelievers and in the sight of God.
That brings us to a fifth point. Paul was certain that salvation is the sovereign work of God. Immediately in verse 3 he says, and this is so helpful to us because we're asking the question, so we have a pure life, so we're faithful in handling the Word of God, proclaiming the truth, commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. Why don't we have results?
Well, why don't we get the results we want? Paul immediately says, And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, to the category of people who by nature are perishing, those who are perishing. To them, he says in 1 Corinthians 1 18, the gospel is foolishness. It is not understandable, 1 Corinthians 2 14, the natural man understands not the things of God there, foolishness to him. It's incomprehensible because the people in the category of the perishing, those who are on their way to hell, are by definition dead in trespasses and sins.
They have no mechanism to respond to the truth. Further, not only are they perishing, but the God of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving. The very category of perishing is a consistency or a state of blindness. But he adds a kind of double blindness, a satanic kind of blindness so people can't see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ who is the image of God. So this is the resistance we have. They resist us because they're offended. They resist us because they're bound in death. They resist us because they're satanically blinded.
Romans 11 8 says, God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes to see not and ears to hear not. They can't see. The light of the gospel of the glory of Christ who is the image of God, they can't comprehend.
They are stone blind. Just to comment on that phrase, the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ who is the image of God. Christ has glory as the image of God, right? He has glory. He shares the glory of the Father. Hebrews 1, He's the exact representation of the Father, the image of the Father. In Him all the fullness of the Godhead dwells bodily. He is the fullness of God's revelation.
John 1 14, the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, and it was the glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. So He has glory in His incarnation as God. He has glory as the image of God.
But there's a second kind of glory being talked about here, and it is this. He has the glory of the gospel. Yes, He has glory as the image of God. That's His intrinsic glory.
That belongs to Him eternally. That's why in John 17 5 He said to the Father, restore to Me the glory I had with you before the world began. That glory He eternally possessed, the divine glory of the eternal Son of God.
He always possessed that intrinsic glory as God. But in the gospel His glory is manifested in a new way, in a new way. The gospel allows the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ to be demonstrated in a new way. And I think the most wonderful way to understand that perhaps is to look at Ephesians, chapter 1.
In Ephesians, chapter 1, we have a repeated phrase. If you look down to verse 6, you'll see a phrase, to the praise of the glory of His grace, to the praise of the glory of His grace. That is really the new revelation of His glory. He is glorious as the image of God. But there is a new manifestation of that glory, the glory of His grace. By His death and by His resurrection, He triumphed to provide regeneration for His people.
He defeated Satan, conquered death, satisfied divine justice, propitiated God's wrath, redeemed, reconciled, rescued His people from judgment and hell, and so perfectly fulfilled that assignment God gave Him, that God gave Him a name above every name, the name Lord at which every knee should bow. Forever we will be worshiping Christ as the sacrificed Lamb. That is the glory of His grace. Yes, we will worship Him as the Creator. But the celebration crescendos past creation to the glory of His grace. This is the high point of His glory.
Do you understand that? When we get to heaven, He will be the slain Lamb with the scars. Salvation, grace will be the primary theme of heaven. As glorious as He is, as brightly as He shines, as wondrous is His eternal light of perfection, and as blessed as the glory of His grace appears in the gospel, the perishing and the blind cannot see it.
Do they have any hope? This is where we turn to verse 6. How can the dead sinner, the blind sinner believe? For God said, He's looking back to Genesis 1, 3, let there be light. Light shall shine out of darkness.
That's creative. God spoke light into existence in creation. And the one who said, Light shall shine out of darkness, is the one who has shown in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. How do you come to a correct understanding of the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ?
Because God does a creative miracle. God shines in our hearts. Light shall shine out of darkness. Salvation is the light of Christ shining in the darkened heart. It's a creative act. That's why 2 Corinthians 5, 17 says, if any man be in Christ, he is a new what?
Creature. You have been created. You're a new creation. And again, thinking of Ephesians chapter 1, unmistakably the apostle Paul gives all credit to God. Blessed be the God and Father, verse 3, of our Lord Jesus Christ, who blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to the adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. God willed to speak life to us.
Jesus is talking to Nicodemus in John 3, and Nicodemus says, how can a man experience the new birth, regeneration, being born from above? And our Lord doesn't say, well, pray this prayer and that will take care of it. The Lord says, well, it's like the wind. It blows where it wills.
You don't know where it's coming from or where it's going, but you feel it. So it is with the Holy Spirit. Regeneration is a work of the Holy Spirit, a sovereign work of the Holy Spirit. What role does the sinner have? The sinner's role is to believe, to repent and believe. Can an unaided sinner repent? No, that's why Paul says God has to grant repentance.
Can an unaided sinner believe? No, that's why you're saved by grace, and that not of yourselves. Even the faith is a gift of God. God gives you the gift of repentance and faith because He wills to give you life.
So what are all these people doing trying to come up with mechanisms that are going to save people? There's only one way that people will ever be redeemed and taken out of their death and darkness, and that is by a sovereign, creative miracle of God which produces in them repentance and faith at the hearing of the gospel. So what do we do? We preach, not ourselves. We preach Jesus Christ as Lord. This is Grace to You with John MacArthur, Chancellor of the Masters University and Seminary. His current study is showing you the invisible battle between the world versus the kingdom of God. John, today you looked at God's sovereignty and salvation, the doctrine of election. That subject is foreign to many Christians, and when they first hear about it, among the questions they have is one that we received recently on our Q&A line. We'll listen to that question now, and then, John, please respond to it.
Hey, John, this is Lisa Collins from Bowling Green, Kentucky. My question is on election, and you have great concerns with it. The long and the short of it is, when God created people that are chosen to be saved, does He choose people not to be saved? I hope you can understand what I'm trying to ask you here in reference to election. Thank you very much.
Thank you, Lisa. And that is a provocative question, and all of us ask it, and all of us struggle with the right answer. The bottom line in the Bible is that no one is saved by his own power, not by might, not by power, but by my Spirit, says the Old Testament. And the New Testament puts it this way, who are born not of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
The New Testament is clear about the doctrine of election, names written in the Lamb's Book of Life before the foundation of the world, chosen in Him before the foundation of the world, predestined. All of that's in the Bible. It is obvious that if God chooses some to be saved, He passes by others. That is what Scripture teaches. The balancing aspect of that, however, is that God holds all people responsible to put their trust in Christ and to be saved. Now, while those two things seem mutually exclusive, the Scripture lays them side by side. The sinner is responsible if he rejects, he is accountable if he rejects the gospel, and he is punished because he would not believe. We have to hold those two in tension and realize that the harmony and the unity of those two is clear in the mind of God, but it's beyond our comprehension.
For us, all we need to know is that if we've come to salvation, it's by the power of God, and if we reject, it's because of our own will, and we are responsible. Right. Thank you, John. And, friend, keep in mind our Q&A line is open to everyone. If you have a question for John, call us at 661-295-6288. Leave a message and you may hear John answer it on a future broadcast. Contact us today. Again, the number for the Q&A line is 661-295-6288. You can call any time, leave your question, and you might hear John answer on an upcoming broadcast.
I'll give it to you one more time. The Q&A number is 661-295-6288. And if you're driving and you can't write that down, you'll find the Q&A number at our website, gty.org. And when you get in touch, pick up a copy of our flagship resource, the MacArthur Study Bible. Scripture has all we need for life and godliness, and the Study Bible has tools that will help you understand what you're reading and see the life-changing power of Scripture in your life. It's available in the English Standard, New King James, and New American Standard versions, as well as Spanish, Chinese, Arabic, and some other non-English translations. To order the MacArthur Study Bible, call toll-free 800-55-GRACE. That's 800-55-GRACE, or you can shop online at gty.org. Now for John MacArthur and the entire Grace To You staff. I'm Phil Johnson. Be here tomorrow when John looks at the powerful ways God can use you despite your weaknesses. John is continuing his series, The World Versus the Kingdom of God, with another half hour of unleashing God's truth, one verse at a time, on Grace To You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-25 22:53:02 / 2022-12-25 23:02:33 / 10