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)