Text: 2 Corinthians 4:7-12

What exactly is this treasure that we have in earthen vessels (v.7)? The answer is found in verse 6 – it is “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (i.e. the saving knowledge of the gospel). Now that we have this knowledge, we are to be witnesses for Christ Jesus in the world of darkness in our “earthen vessels” (i.e. our bodies and minds).

It was common in the days of Paul to use earthen wares for storage of items. However, these clay containers are extremely brittle and crack easily under pressure. So too are our bodies and minds – they are weak and often succumb to the stresses of life.

Why then did God put the treasure of the gospel in earthen vessels? This is so that God’s glory and power may be clearly manifested in the weakness of man (c.f. 2 Cor 12:9). When “earthen vessels” which should ordinarily break under stress are sustained through the punishing rigours of labour for Christ, it would be made manifestly clear that this is by the power of Christ. “By utilizing frail human ministers, God demonstrates that the ‘surpassing greatness of the power’ that transforms men’s lives is from God and not from any preacher.’ (Kent)

Paul then employs four seemingly paradoxical statements to press home his point (v.8-19) – “Troubled, yet not distressed; Perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; Cast down; but not destroyed.” These were descriptions of how Paul and his associates endured hardships and trials so that the gospel work may proceed for the salvation of souls and the edification of the saints. This is what Paul meant when he said, “So then death worketh in us, but life in you.”

A good restatement of the passage is found in the hymn Keep on Believing: “If all were easy, if all were bright; Where would the cross be? And where the fight? But in the testings God gives to you, Chances for proving what He can do.” God is glorified in our weakness.

THOUGHT: What does it mean to take up the cross?
PRAYER: Father , help me to deny myself and take up the cross.

Text:2 Corinthians 4:13-18

What sustained Paul throughout the gospel ministry? Paul’s answer: “the spirit of faith”. He then quoted Psalm 116:10a – “I believed, therefore have I spoken”. When Paul preached, he did so out of a faithful conviction of his heart concerning the truth of the Holy Scriptures. It was not a vain show. Because he genuinely believed in the truth, he cannot help but proclaim the truth despite the opposition that it might bring. “For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.” (2 Cor. 12:8)

On the other hand, the opponents of Paul preached with no real conviction of biblical truth. They manipulate the Scriptures to preach their own ideas and philosophies. It is therefore not surprising that such hirelings will flee once the first sign of trouble comes. They cannot endure toughness because they were never truly convinced of the truth in the first place.

Herein is a lesson for preachers today. Preaching must always be done out of biblical conviction from the heart. When preaching is done out of such conviction and a reliance on the Spirit, the Lord will find it pleasing to bless such preaching. The Lord’s promise is that the Word which had proceeded will not return unto Him void (Isa. 55:11).

Furthermore, Paul states that he is willing to go through such suffering because of the hope of the resurrection. On the day of Christ, the temporal corruptible body shall be raised up with one that is incorruptible (see 1 Cor. 15:51-58). That gave Paul encouragement to speak boldly among the masses because he knew that the afflictions he faced were for a moment. Soon, he will be forever be with the Lord.

This is also the same encouragement we have today as we serve the Lord in this world of darkness. Let us press on then and not despair. In the sure hope of Christ, we can be indefatigable Christians!

THOUGHT: We must press on in the work of the Lord.
PRAYER: Father, help me to be steadfast in Thy Work.

Lovingly in Christ
Pastor Clement Chew