The Triumph of the Light A Bible Study based on 2 Corinthians 4


‘The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overwhelmed it’
(John 1:5).
 

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,’
made his light shine in our hearts
pros / that [we might] give out the light of the knowledge of the glory of God
in the face of Christ
(vs. 6)

In the Creation God’s word brought light.
In the New Creation God’s gospel word brings light into our inner darkness.

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;
we do not use deception,
nor do we distort the word of God.
On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly
we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God
(vs 2).

Once and for all we have renounced evil ways.
Now, as a way of life, we reject
‘deception’ (guile),
adding to the gospel message or superimposing our ideas.

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,
and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake
(vs 5).

Since people are blinded to God
only the preaching of Christ will bring light.
We minister as ‘slaves’ not as ‘lords.’

We can fail to give the light where we fail morally (vs 2)
and or where we fail to preach Christ (vs 5).

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
to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.
We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed;
perplexed, but not in despair;
persecuted, but not abandoned;
struck down, but not destroyed
(vs 7-9).

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
and we experience Christ crucified and risen.
Our gospel sufferings replicate Christ crucified;
but God’s deliverances from those sufferings replicate Christ’s resurrection in us.

We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus,
so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.
For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake,
so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body.
So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you
(vs 10-12).

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.
Our sacrifices – like Christ’s – is the means of life for others.
No death no life.

The world is in darkness.
The darkness is cosmic and profound and aggressive.
The darkness attempted to blanket Christ and extinguish his light. But it failed. The darkness in every generation attempts to extinguish the gospel light.
Two things prevent this: our perseverance and God’s power.

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.

July 1999