The arduous process whereby Christians are transformed into heroes of the faith who do great exploits for the Kingdom of God is described in the first few chapters of Second Corinthians. In these key chapters Paul describes that his new true self rests in the eternal glory of Christ because God graciously takes him through the sufferings of death to his natural and temporary old self. He teaches that our new true self in Christ (5:17) which is unseen [and] eternal (4:18) is revealed in our mortal body as our natural self is given over to death via the sufferings brought our way (4:8-11).
He starts this epistle praising the God of all comfort (1:3), and explaining For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows (1:5). The comfort is soul-rest in Christ. He expounds: the hardships we suffered… happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us. (1:8, 9b-10).
Forwarding to chapter 4: Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. (4:16-17)
The reason for this paradoxical death-life of highly effectual Christians is described poignantly a few verses before: God… made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us (4:6-7).
There is the point: others see God doing His mighty works through the flesh of redeemed sinners who CHOOSE to die to their selves for His glory!
Paul continues: We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. Then the reason again: For we who are alive are always 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 (4:8-9; 11-12).
Verses 5:4b-5 disclose that God made us for this very purpose (v.5): so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by what is life (v.4b). Oh, that we would apprehend this glorious truth! We were crucified with Christ 2,000 years ago, yet it is encumbent upon us to bless all of creation by allowing the death of Jesus to continue working in us so that His life is increasingly revealed in and through us! The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed… (Rom. 8:19).
So in Christ it was finished on the cross – we have already been reconciled to God and restored to His image in Christ. Yet WE must work out our salvation by actively denying self, picking up our cross, and following Him so that Jesus may increasingly live His eternal life through the members of His Body presently on earth. God Himself lives and accomplishes great exploits here and now in the mortal bodies of all who believe, deny self, and follow Christ! Let us worship Him together… [to be continued…]
Increasingly living this divine life together with you, your sister deanna
(modified from “Resting in Christ – Part II” posted 7-17-2015)
4 thoughts on “Resting in Christ – Part II (Swallowing up Mortality with Life)”
Ah, my favorite verses as the Lord ministered to me in such powerful ways while my dad laid dying of undiagnosed cancer, then my dear brother in law who was a big brother to me died of a heart attack at age 52:
“3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 5 For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.”
I love how you’ve on expanded this. It was so sad to watch my believing step dad and my mom not handle his recent “death sentence” of cancer if the liver in a way that glorified the Lord, to draw others to Him. His 2 unsaved kids grew even harder of heart over it….Ah believers, life is but a vapor! We all have a death sentence on our mortal bodies….but our blessed assurance is Life Eternal!
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Thank you so much for sharing this, dear sister! You have really touched many hearts with this… May God continue to bless you exceedingly abundantly; your lampstand emits much Light…
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Very good word Deanna. I want to quote a portion of what you pointed out and give my comment:
“He starts this epistle praising the God of all comfort (1:3), and explaining For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows (1:5). The comfort is soul-rest in Christ. He expounds: the hardships we suffered… happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us. (1:8, 9b-10).
Forwarding to chapter 4: Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. (4:16-17)”
With my daily physical sufferings, I do not count that against God’s grace which is working mightily in me. I may suffer in this mortal body but this also works for others an even greater increase because I do not place any importance in my flesh but in His wonderful working of grace, transforming the inside of me. Daily, if my arthritic tailbone is not inflamed, I may another round with gout. If this does not flare up, a new pain has risen in my left hip causing me to walk about the house with the aid of a wheeled walker. My dependency on the Lord for daily strength to overcome this weakness of the flesh to continue to write and give what He is giving me to give through this medium, has not diminished but instead, is flourishing. All I can find in me is to praise Him, even in the midst of my pain. I’ve had 3 heart attacks, frozen shoulder, fallen on my tailbone causing a deep bruising in the tailbone (I weigh 270 lbs), compression of my spinal column in 2-3 places where I’ve lost an inch in height in less than 30 days, diabetes, high blood pressure, shortness of breath, dizzy spells and muscle spasms that can make a grown man cry. Add to this nerve damage in my feet (foot neuropathy), and trying to sleep when it is cold, very painful at times. I wake up exhausted every day, even with 8-10 hours of sleep with a couple of visits each night to the toilet. Believe me, it is not the future of growing old I envisioned for myself. Yet, His Spirit and constant presence with me turns me away from self-pity to finding all kinds of reasons to praise Him and to worship Him. Many times, just be ‘thinking’ about heaven, He gives me tastes of it. I got to hear the music of heaven, the tones that each of His creation, including every human being, emanates and that He can distinguish every single tone. I was even able to distinguish that all the things of earth has an ‘earthy’ tone while all those in heaven has a distinctive ‘heavenly tone’. It was given to me to be able, at times, to ‘smell’ the incense of prayers to the Father. On the earthly side, I’ve been given to ‘hear’ the cries of those who are to suffer in this world, not currently but in the near future. To ‘see’ the condition of the church while never being able to leave my home because of my physical limitations. It is as if I am not homebound in this life but as free as a bird according to the Spirit. I’ve had many dreams of flying and these have given me much insight to distinguish between the freedom in the Spirit and those who are ‘earth bound’ because of their unbelief. None of these things have caused me to be ‘exalted without measure’ but have all worked to humble me further. I am so incredibly grateful and would not trade my natural health for anything else because of all He has chosen to give to me. Once, I was ‘pinched’ between two cars and immediately I thought I had lost my legs and did not want to look down. My first thought that came to me after the initial impact was, “Lord, I will serve You even without legs!” I was shocked by that thought even though I was the one thinking it. He has graciously preserved my legs and it was given me to recover, to walk again.
So, coming to that place of ‘rest’ in Christ is not dependent on circumstances or our present condition but a faith in Him that trusts Him implicitly and that no longer measures the faithfulness of God based on our present conditions. For what is our body? How DO we measure success? If we live crucified lives and realize we no longer belong to ourselves but are HIs, then whatever He chooses for us is the only thing that matters. My relationship with Him continues to grow along with my faith and hope. I already know that a crown is laid up for me and that a new body, free of all the pain and diseases of this world, has been prepared for me. So why should I let my current and temporary physical limitations cause me to be cast down? I rejoice because He is faithful and it is through His power and His love that continues to sustain me that I am able to love my life and all that is in it, regardless of what happens to me physically. If He chooses to heal my body, I will praise Him. If He chooses not to, I will praise Him. For my praise of Him is not for what He can DO for me but for the greatness of His love for me and that He has chosen to reveal Himself to me and allows me to draw nearer and nearer to Him and truly know Him as my Father.
Once again Deanna. Thank you for this message of hope and praise in the One who continues to carry our heavy loads and make what He gives to ‘light’ in comparison.
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Praise God for sending His servant Jerry to demonstrate to us a true hero of the faith, one who intercedes for all of us, the members of the Body of Christ, with his very life! A living epistle he is, a true prophet whose very life IS the message he is fashioned by the hand of God to convey to us!
Jerry epitomizes the message the Lord conveyed in this post: he who is alive is always given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the Life of Jesus may be revealed to us through his mortal body; so death is at work in Jerry, but life is at work is us!
Brother Jerry, so many, many words may be said regarding every sentence of your exceedingly rich comment here – at this moment I have time for this one spoken by our Lord to Peter upon His arrest in Gethsemane:
“Do you think I cannot call upon My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled…” (Matt. 26:53-54).
The Lord continue to bless you exceedingly abundantly, mighty warrior! Thank you on behalf of the entire Body of Christ for loving and obeying Him as you do, for we are all rich in the love and mercy and healing of Christ flowing forth from you! To God be all the glory!
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