International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday August 17, 2014
Purpose: To find assurance that despite suffering, as Christians we share in the power that raised Christ from the dead, through which God sustains us
Bible Lesson: 2 Corinthians 4:2-15
2 Corinthians 4:2-15 (CEB)
(2) Instead, we reject secrecy and shameful actions. We don’t use deception, and we don’t tamper with God’s word. Instead, we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God by the public announcement of the truth. (3) And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are on the road to destruction. (4) The god of this age has blinded the minds of those who don’t have faith so they couldn’t see the light of the gospel that reveals Christ’s glory. Christ is the image of God.
(5) We don’t preach about ourselves. Instead, we preach about Jesus Christ as Lord, and we describe ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. (6) God said that light should shine out of the darkness. He is the same one who shone in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ. Physical bodies and eternal glory
(7) But we have this treasure in clay pots so that the awesome power belongs to God and doesn’t come from us. (8) We are experiencing all kinds of trouble, but we aren’t crushed. We are confused, but we aren’t depressed. (9) We are harassed, but we aren’t abandoned. We are knocked down, but we aren’t knocked out.
(10) We always carry Jesus’ death around in our bodies so that Jesus’ life can also be seen in our bodies.(11) We who are alive are always being handed over to death for Jesus’ sake so that Jesus’ life can also be seen in our bodies that are dying. (12) So death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
(13) We have the same faithful spirit as what is written in scripture: I had faith, and so I spoke. We also have faith, and so we also speak. (14) We do this because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will also raise us with Jesus, and he will bring us into his presence along with you. (15) All these things are for your benefit. As grace increases to benefit more and more people, it will cause gratitude to increase, which results in God’s glory.
My Thoughts by Burgess Walter
As we have previously stated, First and Second Corinthians refers to at least four letters and three visits by Paul with the church at Corinth. Paul’s relationship with the church at Corinth was at times quite stormy, and Corinth gave him more grief than any of the other churches Paul had started. As stormy as this relationship was Paul never gave up on them and continued to counsel, correct, and encourage them.
Today’s lesson is part of that conflict between Paul and the Corinth church. Evidently someone or some group had tried to discredit Paul’s ministry and teachings. At the time Paul wrote this letter it appears the church had corrected the problem by removing those within that were the troublemakers. The church at Corinth had teachers like Apollos, and Cephas as recorded in 1 Cor. 1:12 “What I mean is this: that each one of you says, "I belong to Paul," "I belong to Apollos," "I belong to Cephas," "I belong to Christ." and some claimed to be followers of men and not Christ.
In our text Paul lays out his argument, there should not be secrecy or shameful acts or deception. He also states that God’s light is veiled to those that have chosen a life where holiness is ignored. Light that reveals Jesus also reveals God, by faith.
Paul’s message is not about Paul, but rather about Jesus Christ as Lord. Paul proclaims Jesus and God want to be the Lord of our life. That means we are slaves to both the church and the Godhead.
In verse 7 Paul compares our lives and bodies to “clay pots.” It has been said that we are all pots of clay, but some of us could be considered “cracked pots.” When Paul refers to himself and us as “jars of clay” his point is that without God’s power in us we are pretty much useless.
If our lives do not reflect Jesus, then we are a worthless pot. It is the power that we carry with us through Jesus that gives us value and makes life worth the suffering and disappointments we face. We should always be willing to die to self and put Christ first, so that our lives are not just worthless pots, but vessels worthy of carrying Jesus with us. The more that we proclaim Jesus death and resurrection the more God’s grace is shown to the world and that increases gratitude and ultimately God’s glory.
We are always going to face all kinds of trouble in our lives, but we should not be crushed. We can be disappointed but not discouraged, we can be confused but not depressed. We can be knocked down but not out. We can be harassed but never abandoned.
The hope we have is “Christ in us, the hope of glory.” (Col. 1:27) “God wanted to make the glorious riches of this secret plan known among the Gentiles, which is Christ living in you, the hope of glory.” With Christ in us we become more than “clay pots” we become crystal vessels, vessels with value.