Series: 2 Corinthians
II Corinthians 4:14-15 ESV
…knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. 15 For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.
As we have said, in this letter Paul is talking plainly about trials and suffering for Christ’s sake. He says that all who have their lives formed by Christ and the gospel will experience these things. Yet he does not want his readers to be overly focused on these things. The apostle leads us live in hope, because glory must also be in the believer’s perspective. Paul has said that he speaks before God with sincerity (2:17). Now he says that he speaks with faith, through all the trials and sufferings that God willed for him. The key is the reality of faith. Christians must live by faith in God.
Now the apostle states the basis for speaking with such faith. We must agree with what he says here. True Christianity is not some sort of philosophical or ideological system that a person takes up. It is not even something you inherit from your parents, regardless of being raised in a Christian home. I am glad that many in my family have believed in Jesus Christ. I am glad that my great grandfather was a Baptist preacher. But such matters cannot be the basis of our faith. During times of suffering, pain, and death, family tradition and religious ritual prove inadequate to satisfy the human heart and conscience. Then we need reality—to which we turn.
I. Faith is based on Christ’s resurrection (4:14). Observe how Paul states that faith arises out of knowledge of the gospel event of the resurrection of Jesus. True Christianity is based upon a supernatural event that happened in real human history.
A. Knowledge of Christ’s resurrection
1. The resurrection of the Lord Jesus is the central truth of Christian teaching. It is crucial to salvation (Rm 10:9-10; 1 Cor 15:3-4) and to all our hopes (1 Cor 15:17-20).
2. The resurrection is the act of God (cf. 1:9; Ac 26:8). God reveals himself in the character of the One who raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Again, we are not simply interested in some system of facts. Paul refers to a person, God the Father. We know him. We know God as the One who raises the dead.
B. Knowledge of the believer’s resurrection
1. We are raised with Jesus because our resurrection is through union with Christ (cf. 1 Cor 15:22; 1 Th 5:10). Since we are members of Christ’s body through faith, we share in his resurrection life. Christ as the first-fruits guarantees our resurrection (1 Cor 15:20). Since God has raised the head (Christ), the rest of the body (the church) will rise also.
2. For this reason the apostle Paul can speak of our resurrection with certainty. It is something that we know, and so provides encouragement to everyone who relies on Jesus as Lord and Savior. This is a person to person matter, between the Lord and you. Are you relying on Jesus Christ for forgiveness, righteousness before God, and eternal life?
3. This also means that we will appear before the Lord together (5:10). All history is headed toward the destiny of Jesus Christ’s lordship over all. Everyone will give a personal accounting to him on that day. People are responsible for what they do.
Apply: This is what people do not like about Christianity. This is why they reject it. The problems people have with what we believe are primarily moral. They want to do things that they know are in rebellion against God and so makes them liable for judgment by God.
II. Faith draws present encouragement from future expectations
A. In the midst of his sufferings for Jesus Christ, Paul knows that the Lord will help him as he speaks for him.
1. His spirit or disposition of faith caused him to speak out for Christ and the good news. This proved to be costly in this present age, as we will see later in the letter when Paul lists his troubles for Christ’s sake.
2. Yet through it all, Paul pressed on to reach others. Notice “all this is for your benefit”. He had a community spirit that looked for ways that others might share in the benefits that come from God’s grace in Christ. It led him to press on in seeking to lead the Corinthians into a close friendship with the Lord Jesus.
B. Faith maintains a proper perspective in our lives (4:15).
1. There is more to life than experiencing the present moment for our limited pleasure. The believer in Jesus has different values than the unbeliever at this point. They live for the next sixty to eighty years; we live for eternity. Of course, from their perspective, even their own causes are nonsense. Why should anyone protect the environment? Why worry if the world economy collapses and we descend into a new, more sinister dark age? In a few years everyone now living will be gone anyway! What can future generations do for us when we’re in the grave? Will they even bring flowers? What would it matter anyway? Thank you, Lord Jesus, for giving us a living hope!
2. Whatever we do in the present should be with an eye on what the Lord is doing in our time. Paul looked at how God was working in his time and saw a growing number of people being reached by God’s grace. The church had spread far in those first thirty years. It was about to enter long years of harsh, bitter suffering. In our time, the church is struggling in the west, but in other parts of the world, many millions are becoming followers of Christ. And yes, the Lord is still saving people in our nation.
3. Whatever we do in the present should be with an eye on what the Lord is doing for the future. God is moving all history toward the destiny he has planned, and we are able to be workers together with him in this process. This helped Paul to be alert to the needs of people around him—people who needed to be reached with the message of the good news (Ph 1:12-14; 1 Th 1:8; 2:19-20; 2 Tm 2:10). This is part of the ultimate goal of bringing glory to God. As more and more people are saved by God’s grace, there are more and more people to praise and thank him—to experience the delight of God’s surpassing worth.
Apply: Do you long to see thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God? Then get involved in a missional way of life!
Apply: Do you trust in the risen Lord Jesus Christ? Do you rely on him to be right with God? A new life may be yours today? If you want to know more, talk with my wife or me at the end of this service.