|‘The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overwhelmed it’
The darkness is deep, cosmic and evil due to the ‘prince of this world’ blinding people. But it did not obliterate the light of Christ and it will not obliterate the light of the gospel.
1. The Gift of the Light
For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’
In the Creation God’s word brought light.
Paul’s use of pros shows that God shines in our hearts for a purpose,that we might give that light to others who are in the darkness, blinded by the ‘god of this world.’
We cannot give out the light unless we have received the light.
2. The Challenge of the Light
God’s light is moral.
Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways;
Once and for all we have renounced evil ways.
Rather, we ‘make visible’ the truth of the gospel in our own lives as a challenge to the consciences of others before God.
Preaching Christ not ourselves (cf. 11:19)
For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord,
Since people are blinded to God
We can fail to give the light where we fail morally (vs 2)
3. The Triumph of the Light and the Life
The perseverance and hope of the minister
Twice in 2 Cor 4 Paul says he ‘does not lose heart.’ Both times are preceded by ‘Therefore…’
Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart (vs 1).
…we know that…[God] will also raise us….Therefore we do not lose heart (vs. 14,16)
God’s merciful salvation and his gift of ministry and resurrection hope are the basis (‘therefore’) for perseverance in the work.
IT IS BY OUR PERSEVERANCE THAT THE GOSPEL LIGHT SHINES ON DESPITE THE ATTEMPTS OF THE DARKNESS TO EXTINGUISH IT.
The triumph of the Light (cf. John 1:5)
But we have this treasure in jars of clay
Paul does not play down the personal cost of bearing the light of the gospel. We are cheap clay lamps who carry the light of the gospel. Frail and vulnerable. The fourfold ‘but not’ is God’s surpassing power in us overcoming the pressures and the pain.
The triumph of Resurrection Life
Now there is a change of imagery.
We preach Christ crucified and risen
We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus,
Vs 10-11 speaks of our experience. Note the change in vs 12.
Death works in us but life works in you who have the gospel from us.
The world is in darkness.
God’s light will triumph. It will not fail.
This Bible Study was presented at a conference for missionaries and ministers at the Nowra Missionary Convention May 15, 1999.