From Suffering to Triumph

Key Verse: “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed.”
—II Corinthians
4:8, 9

Selected Scripture:
II Corinthians 4:5-18

IN ADDRESSING THE Corinthian brethren about the necessary experiences of the Church, Paul tried to make clear what he had said to other congregations. “We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22) Some in the church of Corinth thought otherwise. In his first letter, Paul said to some of them, “Now ye are full, now ye are rich, ye have reigned as kings without us: and I would to God ye did reign, that we also might reign with you.” (I Cor. 4:8) The mistaken notion that some had was that the testing was over and the glory to come was now due. On that occasion the Apostle Paul used sarcasm to drive his point home to them, saying: “We are fools for Christ’s sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised.”—vs. 10

In this second letter the Apostle was making certain that they had not lost sight of the need for suffering for Christ. He used his own experiences as a model, emphasizing to them that God is aware of their hardships and will bring them to triumph by his great power. Paul had described the glorious ministry of reconciliation, that they (and we) are being trained to implement, using the giving of the Law to natural Israel as a picture and comparing it with the New Covenant to be established through the ministry of the church. To be qualified to be part of this ministry they had to endure hardship. These were not matters that would be understood by the world, who were successfully blinded by the Adversary.—II Cor. 4:4

In contrast, their experiences (and ours) are like the preparation of the earth for habitation when God’s first act was to command the light to shine out of darkness: “Let there be light: and there was light.” (Gen. 1:3) The light of God shone into their hearts, giving them (and us) “the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (II Cor. 4:6) We, however, are still bound by our flesh, having this treasure in an earthen vessel. (vs. 7) This is so because God is to have the glory, and not us.

Although the pathway for participation in this ministry is through suffering of present experiences, there can be no comparison of these present experiences with the glory that shall be ours! For this reason the Apostle Paul alludes to these difficult experiences as but “light affliction, which is but for a moment, [and which] worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”—vs. 17

Nothing can stand in the way of this achievement because the power of God is behind it. Hence we know “that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you.” (vs. 14) As Paul explains, all this is for our benefit so that the grace which is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.

The sacrifice of our lives, then, is to show everyone our willingness to die with Jesus. We do this so that his life (character) may be revealed in us, as we strive (Rom. 8:29) “to be conformed to the image of his Son.” This, then, is the triumph that shall be achieved through the sufferings of the present time.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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