Text: 2 Corinthians 4:3-4

Have you ever wondered, why should God choose to save you? In fact, the marvel of it all is that God should save anyone at all. We are all undeserving of salvation, for there is not one good thing in us. There is no one good, no not one (Rom. 3:12). Yet the Bible tells us that God has set His love upon us in His good pleasure even before the foundation of the world to be elected unto salvation (Eph. 1:4-6). This is often called the unconditional election of the saints. When rightly understood, it should serve to humble us that we are saved not by any merit in us, but simply in the merit of Christ (c.f. Eph. 2:8-10). In other words, the salvation of the election is in God Himself. Salvation is of the Lord. (Jon. 2:9)

On the other hand, there is also an election of those who are lost. This is the teaching in verse 3, that the gospel is hid to those who are “lost”. However, we must understand that the destruction of the reprobate is fully of his own responsibility. He chose to rebel against God, and thus is fully deserving of God’s wrath. Buswell put it this way – “The chargeable cause of the loss of the lost is in the lost himself.”

In today’s text, Paul’s explains that those who wilfully opposed him have been blinded by the devil, who is “the god of this world” (c.f. Eph. 2:2). This is the judicial blinding of the Lord. Since Paul’s accusers had hardened their heart against the truth, the Lord had permitted Satan to blind them spiritually. This is in the thrust of what the Lord said to Isaiah – “And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.” (Isa. 6:9-10)

The principle of judicial blinding of the reprobate is similarly proclaimed in Jude 4 – “For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Jude 4) While they are divinely decreed for destruction, yet they are every bit responsible for their destruction, having their hearts set in opposition to the Lord and His truth.

Rev. Timothy Tow in his book The Clock of the Sevenfold Will of God explains the doctrine of judicial blinding in this way:

The decretive will is a high mystery of Divine Sovereignty and human responsibility. It may be illustrated by this moot question often discussed in the schools of law. Suppose I invite you to come to a party. On the way you trip on a banana skin and break your kneecap. Who is to blame? You or I? Can you sue me at law?

Thus, we see from the above that it is the immediate cause (the one who suffered the broken kneecap) that is to be blamed and not the remote cause (the one who initiated the invite).

How then should we respond to this high mystery of God’s decretive will? Deuteronomy 29:29 has the answer, “The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.” When we preach the gospel of Christ, some will believe, and others will reject. God will save those whom he has ordained unto eternal life (Acts 13:48). Our concern is not to dwell on who are the elect and reprobate, which is in the secret will of God. We should focus instead on obeying God’s Word and fulfilling the Great Commission. Do what we must do, and leave the results to God.

THOUGHT: What are my human responsibilities in life?
PRAYER: Help me to fulfil my human responsibilities, O Lord.

Text: 2 Corinthians 4:5-6

Just like John the Baptiser, the Apostle Paul was always seeking to glorify Christ in his conduct and message. “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (Jn. 3:30)

Paul’s preaching was never a bombastic show of oratorical skill or sophistry. He had earlier declared in 1 Corinthians 2:1-5, “And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.”

To push home his point, Paul was quick to point out that the ability to believe in the gospel did not come from himself but from God (v.6). The allusion here is to Genesis 1:3, where God created light by the power of His Word. “And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.” (Gen. 1:3) Just as God is the giver of physical light, He is also the giver of spiritual light that so illumines the minds and hearts of men. Paul was just an instrument in the hands of God. As the servant of Christ, he was most willing to serve men so that Christ may be glorified.

On the other hand, the opponents of Paul were often quick to preach about self. Their preaching was designed to draw the admiration of men. They were also keen to lord themselves over others, that they may gain an advantage. There is no spirit of servanthood in them. “These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage.” (Jude 16)

How do you conduct yourself in the service of Christ? Are you like Paul or his opponents? Never be self-serving in the ministry of Christ.

THOUGHT: Christ must increase, and I must decrease.
PRAYER: Give me a servant’s heart, O Lord.

Yours affectionately,
Pastor Clement Chew