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Untitled Document
2nd Corithians 1:1-7
2 Corinthians 1:1-14
2nd Corinthians 1:15-24
2nd Corinthians 3:1-18
2nd Corinthians 4
2nd Corinthians 5:12-21
2nd Corinthians 6:4-18
2 Corinthians 7:1-16
2 Corinthians 8:16-24
2 Corinthians 10:1-18
2 Corinthians 11:1-33
2 Corinthian 12:1-21
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2nd Corinthians 3:1-18

 

“Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or need we, as some others, epistles of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you?  Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men:  Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshly tables of the heart.  And such trust have we through Christ to Godward:  not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit:  for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.  But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away:  how shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious?  For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory.  For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth.  For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious.  Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech:  and not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished:  but their minds were blinded:  for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ.  But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart.  Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away.  Now the Lord is that Spirit:  and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.  But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

 

The Proof of Paul’s Calling and Ministry---‘What is our ordination of ministry inscribed on?’---The Proof of God’s Ordination, the Fruit That It Bears

 

“Paul begins by saying “Do we”, chapter 3, 2nd Corinthians, I’m sorry, “begin again to commend ourselves? or need we as some others, epistles of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you?  Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men:  forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the Living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.” (verses 1-3)  Paul saying, as he writes this second letter of Corinthians, with much pathos.  As you read Paul’s letters, 2nd Timothy certainly we find much of that there.  But 2nd Corinthians here, sharing his heart in a tremendous way, and we’ll see that as we go on, in the way that he often does not share in his other Epistles.  Some of this really giving us a glimpse into his heart towards the Lord, and the Lord’s work.  Paul says, ‘Do we really need letters of recommendation to you again, do we again have to commend ourselves?’  That’s what he did in the first Epistle, he defended his ministry, he addressed the church, and he challenged them about the division, and the accusations that were made against him, and the challenging of his authority.  Paul said, ‘Do we have to do again?  Do we need, as others, letters of commendation, do we need ordination papers, do we need someone to write to you, to tell you who we are, to prove who we are?  Do we need letters of commendation from you?  Is our authority based on the fact that somebody signs a certificate or writes a letter telling other people about what authority or about our ordination or about our calling?---and then somebody influential puts their signature on that piece of paper, and therefore that causes us to be something, because we have this ID from somebody else?’  Paul says, ‘Is that really the way that it works?’  “Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men:” (verse 2) The proof of his calling, the proof of anyone’s calling.  Paul says ‘What is the document that matters?  What is the ordination of ministry inscribed on?  Is it written on paper?  Is that the proof of it?  God looks down from heaven and calls, and anoints, and sends somebody into ministry.  Is the proof of God’s calling, God’s anointing that which is written on a piece of paper and handed to someone?  Or is God interested in life?  Is he interested in human lives?  Are human lives the script that God writes upon?  Are human lives God’s letterhead, his paper?  Paul says ‘We don’t need ordination papers, letters of recommendation, pieces of paper.  That’s not the currency that God deals in.  God sent his Son into the world to die for human beings, and then that humans beings could then have open fellowship with God again, and he said ‘The proof of our ministry is the fruit in human lives, is that which is written into human beings, by the ministry God’s given us, through the power of his Spirit.’  Certainly through truth, it isn’t in and of Paul himself, but he said ‘That is the evidence of our ministry.’  Jesus would say, “Wisdom is justified of her children.”  Are you wise, do you have something to share, let’s see the fruit of it.  Jesus said you could judge a tree by it’s fruit.  You remember when Aaron was challenged by Korah and those in Israel in the book of Numbers, saying ‘Who gave you authority, who made you head-honcho, who do you think you are?  You know, there’s millions of us, why do you have to be the center of attraction?’  And just that envy, and of course you know the whole process, where the earth opened up and swallowed Korah and those who were in rebellion with him.  And then God said, ‘Do this, grab one of the rods from each of the heads of the tribes of Israel, and bring them into the tabernacle, and take Aaron’s rod also, and leave it [and them] there overnight, and in the morning see what’s there.’  And of course in the morning the other rods where the same way, same condition they had been placed in, but Aaron’s rod, which was Moses’ rod, had brought forth branches, and flowers, and almonds.  And the proof of God’s calling and ordination was the fruit that it bore, that there was life.  And it’s ever the same, it doesn’t change.  I mean, we have people that come to us all the time, saying, ‘And I have such a burden for this, and I have such a burden for that.’  And what they’re really saying is, ‘Put an announcement in the bulletin for me, give me 500 people, and I’ll prove I have a ministry.’  And we say, “No, show up with 500 people, and then we’ll know you have a ministry.”  You know, God’s people are not some type of product that you hand out to people who say they have a ministry.  It’s like somebody walking up to you and saying, ‘You know, I’m a cattle rancher,’  ‘Really?  Where’s your ranch?’  ‘I don’t really have one.’  ‘Oh, where’s your cattle?’  ‘I don’t have any of those, either, but I’m a cattle rancher.’  ‘Oh really?’  Or, ‘I raise oranges for a living, produce oranges, orange-raiser, put my name in the bulletin.’  ‘Where’s your orange groves?’  ‘Oh, I don’t have any.’  ‘Where’s the oranges that you sell and export?’  ‘I don’t have any of those either.  I’ve got an orange growing certificate though.’  And it’s the same thing, ‘I’m a shepherd.’  ‘Really, I don’t see any sheep behind there, you’re just walking around with a staff, don’t shepherds usually have flocks?’  ‘Look at the fruit, look at what God has done with human lives, look at the evidence, look at God’s endorsement.  Look at God confirming ministry.’  He doesn’t do it the way men do it.  “That which is esteemed amongst men is an abomination before the Lord.”  Just because you have a certificate, or you have this or that doesn’t mean that you’re approved of God.  It means you’re approved of men.  And it’s wonderful if both of those things are happening.  Paul says ‘We don’t need that.’  “Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men:  forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ”, ‘You’re living epistles, we can look at you and see that there’s a change in your life.’  People are watching, you know it’s saying that, too, to you.  You are our epistle, people are watching, written on human hearts.  People are watching.  You say you’re a Christian, he said that before, we should have the savour of life.  There should be evidence.  People are watching, aren’t they?  Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshly tables of the heart.”  (verse3)  Not in tables of stone, that’s the law, that’s what he’s going to begin to look at, the Ten Commandments, that was external.  “And such trust have we through Christ to Godward:” i.e toward God “not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God…” (verses 4-5)  You know, we’re not claiming that we’ve produced this, our sufficiency is of God.  “Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit:  for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.” (verse 6)  God is the one who has made us able ministers, God is the one who enables any, the only ability that anyone has to have effective ministry in the Kingdom of God is through the enabling of God and the anointing of the Holy Spirit.  There’s no other way that God’s gifts and God’s calling come without repentance, he is the one who divides severally as he wills.  Paul said God’s the one who enables us to have this ministry.  It’s his glory.  What a great reminder.  He’s made us able ministers of the New Testament.  And by the way I think he’s made you guys able ministers of the New Testament, too, you’re living epistles.  It should be your life speaking as loud as your mouth, how important that is.  And how often we fail there, don’t we.  I do too sometimes. 

 

Purpose of God’s Law, To Expose Sin, Like A Mirror Exposes Dirt

 

Now interesting, “not of the letter, but of the spirit:  for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.”  I want you to take note of something very important here.  Paul doesn’t say “the Bible killeth, but the spirit gives life.”  Because there are those people out there, hyper-Pentecostal, who want an excuse to act strange, and they don’t like the order that you worship in, because of your familiarity with Scripture.  So what they’ll say to you is, “You’re a Bible-worshipper!  That’s what’s wrong with you.  You don’t like us rolling in the aisles, howling, screaming, barking, yapping, hooting and hollering?  Probably didn’t like Country music either, did ya?  That’s because you’re a Bible-worshipper, and the letter kills and the spirit gives life.”  That’s not what Paul’s saying, that’s not the context, he’s saying “the law”, religion kills.  [and by that, Paul is referring to the Old Testament administration of the Law killeth.]  The letter of the Law, tables of stone, that’s our context.  Not the Bible.  The Word purifies, the Word gives life, ‘the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.’  Don’t let anybody lay that trip on you, that’s nonsense.  The Bible is God’s Word.  It cleanses, it feeds, it strengthens, it purifies, it transforms, it sanctifies.  He’s not saying ‘the Bible’ kills, but the spirit gives life.  He’s talking about the Letter of the Law, and look, there’s a context, he’s going to talk about it.  “But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away:  how shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious?” (verses 7-8)  He’s saying, ‘Look, if the ministration of death, in the sense that the Law came to measure sin.’  The Bible clearly says, before the Law was given, there was transgression, there was no measurement.  Once the Law was given, sin was brought out in the open and exposed for what it is.  Paul tells us the law had a purpose, it was supposed to be a school-master to bring us to Christ.  Isn’t it a shame when you get around legalistic people who are still trying to keep the Law, and they think they can have some righteousness by keeping the Law?  It’s like having a fever and chewing up a thermometer to take it away.  The thermometer doesn’t remove the fever, it just lets you know you have it.  Or it’s like, you know, if you have little kids, you know how their faces, somehow they always get dirt on their faces.  And if you say to your kid “Go wash that off”, if he stood in front of the mirror and took a soapy cloth and wiped off the image in the mirror, that wouldn’t get rid of the dirt, the mirror (ie, the Law) is there to let him know that his face is dirty.  The Law came to measure sin. And it was glorious.  [Comment:  The Law is not done away as many like to teach, but it’s a mirror, as the half-brother of Jesus explained (read James 1:22-23).  Mirrors don’t clean the dirt, they just show where the dirt is.  The Law in and off itself, even combined with very sincere human effort, never produces righteousness.  It’s just a mirror.  But the Holy Spirit, writing on the tables of flesh, helps us clean the dirt, live law-obedient lives.  The Law has no power to do that.  That doesn’t mean the Law of God, the Ten Commandments, are done away.  But our Holy Spirit-led obedience is so high above the actual law (cf. Mt 5:17-48), that we in a sense are “over” the law, not “under” it.  Jesus showed us in Matthew 5:17-48 that the Ten Commandment Law of God wasn’t being done away with, but actually, was being brought to its lofty spiritual intent in the New Testament.  Law & Grace is a tough subject, and many super-grace oriented churches and denominations like to think the Ten Commandments have been done away with (especially the 4th Commandment, they hate that one).  The Bible teaches no such thing.  The early Church didn’t think so, either.  See http://www.unityinchrist.com/history2/earlychurch1.htm.  The apostle John said “Sin is the transgression of the law” (1st John 3:4).  We’re told throughout the New Testament not to sin, which by John’s definition, means we’re told not to break God’s Law.  Hmmm.  For more on the subject of Law & Grace, see: http://www.unityinchrist.com/whatisgrace/whatisgraceintro.htm.  What people fail to realize, is that the Law was given to 3 million Israelites, who were told to keep it, and they said they would, all without the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit, which would have enabled them to keep it.  That’s why they could never keep it.  The Holy Spirit was not writing the laws of God on their heart and in their minds, which defines the New Covenant (read Jeremiah 31:31-34 and Hebrews 6:6-13).] The mountain shook.  There were angels involved.  There was the feet of God on a pavement of sapphire.  God spoke from heaven and two to three million people heard the Law being given.  It was glorious in that sense.  It was truth entering into human history.  In Deuteronomy it says ‘Who is it like the people of the nation of Israel who have a God who loves them, who gives them ordinances and commandments and morality, and truth and dignity---and spoke to them about their marriages and their homes and their child-raising and work ethic and about thievery, and where has this happened elsewhere in the world?’  And yea, there’s a glory to it, the way it was given, the truth of it.  But ultimately it’s impossible to keep [all on their own without the Holy Spirit].  It was come to make us realize that we need a Saviour, we need forgiveness.  In fact, if the Law [all on its own] could produce righteousness, the sacrificial system would never have been given.  Right after the Law was given, the sacrificial system is outlined, all about how to offer a lamb for your sin.  And again, it was never the worshipper who was examined, it was always the lamb that was examined.  It was presumed when the worshipper came, he had flaws and sin, that’s why he was there.  The lamb that was offered had to be perfect, because that was looking forward to Christ.  Now the problem is, people who like to keep the Law, you know, I don’t like to be around them.  They’re miserable.  You know the way legalistic people are, because they’re under such tremendous strain, they don’t know God’s grace.  Oh, they may not be disbelievers, they may be misbelievers [those he’s calling legalists believe the same thing about him J ].  But they think the Law of God is written in three-piece suits and ties.  They think that’s how it’s written.  They think it’s written in keeping this and keeping that, and I don’t smoke, and I don’t chew and I don’t go out with the girls that do, they have all of these rules and regulations.  No, it’s written [that very same Law of God] in human hearts by the Spirit of God.  And then they have stars on their refrigerator, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, put stars up, ‘I didn’t do that today, I didn’t do that today,’ giving themselves stars, keeping score.  They think God is Santa Claus, making a list, checking it twice, gonna find out whose been naughty and nice.  And here you are bumbling around, ‘Oh man, I love Jesus, yeah!  Oh we were watching the Eagles game last night, we just praised the Lord…’  ‘You watch television, you watch sports, that’s carnal.’  And they can’t stand the fact that you have joy and that you have liberty, and that you love Jesus Christ with all of your heart. And they want you to join their club because misery loves company.  And they are just more miserable than ever, because you’re happy, and they ain’t.  There.  [laughter] [I suspect he’s talking about the extreme Southern Baptist type legalist, and not the Sabbath-keeping Churches of God, who are obeying the laws of God in the Spirit, through the help and power of the indwelling Holy Spirit.  There is a huge difference between the two.  We watch ball games too, but I seldom watch, because my team is the Boston Red Sox  L.  Oh, and our services are filled with joy, good sermons, and lively singing of hymns.  So there! J ]  But the Law of God itself is good, Paul tells us that in Romans 7.  The ministration of it was glorious, but it’s something that’s to be done away.  [Comment: the Old Testament governmental administration of the Law of God was done away with, not the actual Law of God, which Jesus said would never be done away with, not one jot or tittle, until heaven and earth pass away, cf. Matthew 5:17-19.  People tend to misunderstand this.]  “How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious?”  or be more glorious, “For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness [of course that’s through grace] exceed in glory.  For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth.” (verses 8-10)  Yea, it was glorious, the Law [administration of it, with all it’s legal system and penalties for disobedience], but those were the types and the shadows, not the body, they were looking forward to the One who would come and fulfil the Law.  Jesus fulfilling the Passover, the Passover given before the Law, pre-Levitical, pre-Law, the foundation of the nation, the deliverance from Egypt, making them a nation, bringing them through the Red Sea, then the Law given, all of those things, looking forward to the Lamb of God who would come, who would die on the Passover, and shed his blood.  So yea, the Law was glorious, but it wasn’t to be compared because of the glory that excelleth, the truth that would finally be seen, which was only reflected in the Law, and in the old covenant.  “For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious.” (verse 11)  If that which had an external impression on us was glorious, how much more now the truth, that [the same law of God] which is internal, written on human hearts, he says, by the power of the Holy Spirit.  The glory, and he’s going to talk about Moses, what he had, was a fading glory, and it was a reflected glory.  That glory that we have as believers, indwelt with the Spirit, is a radiated glory, it comes from within, it doesn’t come from without.  And he’s going to talk about that.  “Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech:” it’s on the surface, you don’t have to fish for it, it’s there, it’s true. 

 

There’s A Vail Of Blindness Over the Jews and the World

 

“And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished:  but their minds were blinded:  for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ.” (verses 12-14)  He says, ‘Look, Moses, we have this hope now, and we’re speaking plainly.’  And here’s Paul, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Jew of the Jews, seed of Abraham, and he tells us the whole thing in Philippians chapter 3, circumcised on the 8th day, a Pharisee of the Pharisees, he can speak with authority from this place, and say ‘we have this hope, and we’re just speaking plainly about it.  Moses, yes it was a glory, it was reflected on his face,’  and he tells us the vail was put there not so the children of Israel wouldn’t be freaked out, but because Moses really, he’s telling us something that Exodus doesn’t, that that glory was fading.  And Moses put the vail there so that they wouldn’t see the glory fading.  I’m sure they were freaked out when Moses came down.  Moses was in the presence of God 80 days, he went up there, he fasted for forty days and forty nights, no food or water, he was sustained miraculously.  You can’t do that.  He comes down, gets mad, throws down the tables of stone, the only guy to break all ten commandments at one time.  God sends him back up for another 40 days and 40 nights, without food, 80 days without food or water, sustained in the presence of God.  His battery was so charged up that when he came down he was glowing.  Now you have to understand, these are people that have never seen a neon bulb, they’ve never seen a lightbulb, never seen anybody flick a switch.  They’ve seen the sun, and the moon, and a fire.  Here’s a guy whose head is glowing.  [laughter]  But Moses is recognizant of the fact that that glory was fading,  it wasn’t his.  It wasn’t there because he was keeping the Law, wasn’t there because he was the Law-giver.  You know, and people who try to maintain their righteousness by keeping the Law, they find that their glory fades very quickly. Because in a day or two or three they’re facing their own frailty and their own humanity again.  [Comment:  Now he’s trying to take pot-shots at the poor Sabbath-keepers, who merely believe in keeping all ten of the Ten Commandments, whereas Calvary Chapels keep nine of the Ten Commandments, right to the spirit level as well as literally.  Everybody wants to haggle over that one Commandment, the 4th.  And the Sabbath-keepers adhere to the Sabbath command, the 4th Commandment, merely because they do not believe the Sabbath command has been abrogated or changed to Sunday, which happened as a result of changes made by the proto-Catholic church and Constantine in 325AD.  That’s where I have to part company with Pastor Joe’s reasoning here.  This is not an accurate analysis of the Sabbath-keepers I fellowship with, who are keeping God’s laws in the spirit, just as Calvary Chapel brethren do.  We in the Body of Christ have to stop doing this.]  Moses vailed himself so that they wouldn’t see this glory fading.  “But” interesting, “their minds were blinded:  for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ.  But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart.” (verses 14-15)  Isn’t it interesting, here’s Paul, nobody knows better than him about that vail.  And he was so angry when it was challenged that he was going around slaughtering Christians, causing people to blaspheme the name of Jesus to the point of a sword.  He was the enemy of the Church.  He was so angry, and that vail was over his heart, over his eyes.  And isn’t it interesting today, we have to understand, Romans chapter 11 tells us that Israel is judicially blinded.  It’s very interesting to talk to a devout Jew and say “Well what about Isaiah 53?  Who is this speaking of?  “Who hath believed our report, and to whom is the arm of the LORD been revealed?”  What is it talking about?”  “Oh, it’s talking about the nation of Israel.”  “Oh, no, no, this is singular, it’s talking about a person.”  “What is it talking about, Zechariah 12, verse 10, where it says ‘And they shall look upon me whom they have pierced?’, and it’s the LORD of hosts speaking, when did the nation of Israel ever pierce the LORD of hosts?  What is it saying in Isaiah chapter 9 when it says ‘Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and unto him the government shall be upon his shoulders, he shall be wonderful, counsellor, everlasting father, prince of peace’, how can he be the father and the prince?  Who is it talking about?  Whose it talking about in Psalm 22 hundreds of years before crucifixion was ever a reality, saying ‘They’ve pierced my hands and my feet, my soul is poured out, my God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’  And you know you say those things, and you think ‘Hey, the light’s gonna go on, the light’s gonna go on, the light’s gonna go on.’  No, there’s a vail, Paul’s own description of the Jew, very interesting to see that.  You know, if you say “‘The Old Testament says, without the shedding of blood, there’s no forgiveness of sin.’  What’s been going on for the last 2,000 years?  Since Titus Vespacian overthrew Jerusalem and the Temple there’s been no bloodshed (i.e. no sacrifices for sin).’ Well they’re going to say, ‘It’s by faith.’  ‘Well that’s diametrically opposed to everything that you’ve been taught and handed down by tradition and given to us by Moses and the Law---that you’re saved by faith, and you don’t need a sacrificial system?’  We know that’s true, but it ain’t true when we say it, it’s only true when they say it.  Paul says there’s a vail, just like the veil over Moses face, to hide a fading glory, there is a vail.  It’s not taken away, “in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ” he says, “But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart.  Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away.” (verses 14b-16)  “when itGreek grammar referring back to “their hearts”, so your translation may say ‘Nevertheless when they shall turn to the Lord’, which is correct, because it’s speaking about the spiritual part of them, “nevertheless when it”---their heart---“ shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away.”  And how Paul experienced that in a remarkable way.  “Nevertheless when it shall turn”, you know the Lord had come to him saying ‘Paul, you’re kicking against the goads, you’re like an ox that’s being stuck with a stick, I’ve got you moving in the right direction, you’re under tremendous conviction.  You know, Stephen, he delivered the final blow to your theology, and here you are kicking and yelling and carrying on.’  Paul fell down, the vail removed, turning to the Lord. 

 

‘We Are All Being Changed Into The Image of Christ, From Glory to Glory’

 

Now, verse 17, the conclusion.  I’ll read it to you the way it is in the King James, I don’t know what translation you’re using, I’ll read it to you in the way the grammar kind of communicates these ideas. “Now the Lord is that Spirit:  and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty.  But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (verses 17-18)  Now I’ll read it to you in the grammatical sense that it should be read, because all through the passage the “Lord” and the “Spirit” are the same, there’s no separation.  ‘Now the Lord is the Spirit, the Lord Jesus is the Spirit:  and where the Spirit, the Lord (there should be no “of” there).  Where the Spirit, the Lord is, there is liberty.  But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit, the Lord.’  That would be the English translation.  Again, ‘Now the Lord is the Spirit.  And where the Spirit, the Lord is, there is liberty.’  He said that back in verse 3.  ‘You are our epistle, written on men’s hearts, you’re manifestly declared to be the letter of Christ, ministered by us, but written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the Living God.’  Now he’s telling us here, ‘The Lord is the Spirit.  And where the Spirit, the Lord is, there is liberty.’  So as the Holy Spirit prompts you and he speaks to you.  You know, I appreciate the places where the King James says “the Holy Ghost” in this sense.  We know what a ghost is, Casper the friendly ghost, yes, you know what a ghost is.  A ghost is, parapsychologists tell us, the spirit of a person, without the body.  I don’t believe all their stuff, but I’m just telling you, we understand what a ghost is.  [Comment:  the middle English word “ghost” is taken from the German word “Geist”, which exactly translated from the German means “spirit.”  The German word for “ghost” in the sense that we take it in is “Gespenst.”]    And when we talk about the Holy Ghost we’re talking about the Spirit of Jesus.  And that’s what he’s saying here.  ‘The Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit, the Lord is, there is liberty.’  It doesn’t say there is side-show, where the Spirit the Lord is, there is circus, but there is liberty.  He’s talking about in regards to the Law.  Liberty, freedom from the Law, not liberty to act like nincompoops. You know, you know you’re going to the wrong church when your relative gets saved and they say ‘Oh, should I come to your church?’ and you say ‘Ahh, no, no, don’t come to my church, go to that church up there.’   ‘Because you know, if they walk into my church, they’re gonna think we’re nuts when they get a load of what goes on here on Sunday morning.’   I’m only saying that because I was in a ministry like that, Charismania.  ‘Friend got saved, should I…no, no, no, no, don’t go there.’  ‘Go over there.’   I wanted them to survive, not have nightmares.  ‘Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit, the Lord is, there is liberty.’  From the Law, not from order. [Comment:  Now here is where many parts of the Body of Christ are in apparent disagreement about what Law & Grace is.  Some say the Law is done away, but proceed to live their very lives by the same Law of God, at it’s tougher spirit-level (cf. Matthew 5:17-48).  It can be very confusing to some who witness this.  Something is very wrong with our explanation of what Law & Grace really is all about.  For an explanation and discussion about that dichotomy see: http://www.unityinchrist.com/whatisgrace/whatisgraceintro.htm.]  We’re told in 1st Corinthians chapter 14 that everything should be done decently and in order, and that is when the Spirit is ministering.  There is liberty from the Law.  “But we all,” Paul including himself, with open face [no vails] beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord,” in a mirror, it was polished brass then, you didn’t get as good a reflection as you get today, “beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit the Lord.” [“of” doesn’t belong there, according to Pastor Joe]  “But we all, with open face, beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord,” that we’re looking.  What glass, reflection?  By his written Word…by the Holy Spirit, ministering in our hearts.  We seek his face, we seek Christ.  Well what does his face look like?  Well you can go down to the art museum and see it.  Isn’t it amazing, when you go to the art museum in Philadelphia, how many artists were consumed with Christ.  Well of course, if it’s an Irish artist Jesus looks like an Irishman.  If it’s an Italian artist Jesus looks like an Italian.  What does his face look like?  Well we’re not given that.  And yet we seek his face.  We see him through the gospels [see http://www.unityinchrist.com/gospels.html], our heart is stirred, we see his gentleness, his tenderness.  And we’re called to seek him.   I do, you do, we seek his face.  And there’s something of the Spirit making it real to us, “Eye hath not seen, ear hath not heard, neither has entered the mind of man the things that God has prepared for those who love him,” ‘but by his Spirit he’s made those things real to us.’   ‘The One whom we love, though we haven’t seen’ Peter says.  So yeah, we seek the Lord, we seek his face.  Not just ‘Give me this, give me that, give me this, give me that,’  ‘But Lord, you, beaten, bruised, for me, your beard ripped out, your face beaten beyond human recognition, the nails, the thorns, the shedding of blood, oh Lord.  And the Spirit enlivening all that, ‘the Spirit, the Lord.  And it says in that process of seeking him, we are changed.  We are literally being changed, and it is passive, ain’t you, ain’t your Phd, ain’t your smarts, ain’t men, ain’t counselors, ain’t cell-groups, ain’t psychobabble, we’re being changed ‘by the Spirit, the Lord.’  Being changed is passive, we’re not adding to it, we’re not doing it.  There is a miraculous work that takes place in our lives.  And you know, I’m as guilty as anybody.  I go on, I do good stuff, I’m not selling drugs, I’m not beating people up, I do good stuff, all the time, 99.9 percent of the time.  I’ll check that with my wife when I go home, make sure that’s right.  But I do good stuff.  But my service for Christ can be the major enemy to my communion with Christ.  And there’s no change in me unless I’m in front of him, seeking him, pouring out my heart, looking, not with human eyes, longing, reaching out to touch him, to hear his voice, and his presence, change taking place supernaturally.  And we’re changed into the same image, that’s our destiny.  Not just heaven [or the kingdom of heaven], not just a place, an image.  It’s our destiny, “changed into the same image from glory to glory,” not a fading glory, a growing glory.  even as by the Spirit, the Lord.”  No magic, no quick fixes.  Don’t you wish you could buy a paperback in a bookstore, ‘How To Be Like Jesus, Cheaper, Faster’?  No, there’s a cost.  Oh, it’s not a cost of maintaining the Law, it’s not a cost of producing your own righteousness, it’s not a cost of anything you could add to what he’s already completed and finished.  It’s a cost that any groom wants from his bride, intimacy.  It’s the cost that any father wants from his children, love, communion, relationship.  He’s lifted the burden of all of it from us, keeping of the Law, the weight of sin.  [And I would say, the burden of keeping the Law does not do away with obedience, but the burden of doing it all on our own is lifted, by the power and enablement of the Holy Spirit that indwells us.  Again, the tricky subject of Law & Grace.], hell, death, the grave.  What he leaves with us is simply ‘Come away, my beloved, seek me.  I’ve done all this so you can spend time with me, the vail is removed.’  I’m so thick and so dumb I forget that, couple times a day.  He’s gracious though, isn’t he, to remind us?  You believe that’s true?  OK, good.  I’m expecting you to be seeking him, and the next week you’ll all look different.  [laughter]  e H   

 

2nd Corinthians 4:1-6

 

“THEREFORE seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; but have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.  But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:  in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.  For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.  For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” 

 

Our Ministry: Pointing People To Christ, Feeding Jesus’ Sheep---Not Watering Down the Word of God

 

“Therefore seeing we have this ministry,” and that is, pointing people to Jesus.  That should be my ministry.  I should be a signpost.  Jesus said “If you love me, feed my sheep.”  He didn’t say ‘If you love me, count my sheep.’  Some people are doing that.  ‘If you love me, entertain my sheep.’  He didn’t say that.  ‘If you love me, give culturally relevant things to my sheep.’  Didn’t say that, either.  ‘If you love me, traumatize my sheep.’  He didn’t say that.  “If you love me, feed my sheep.”  It hasn’t changed in 2,000 years, feeding the Word of God.  We have this ministry, Paul says, pointing people to Christ, to the divine Word, to seek him.  [What is one of the most effective ways pastors can feed Jesus’ sheep?  See:  http://www.unityinchrist.com/wwcofg/ConnectiveExpositoryTA.htm]  “THEREFORE seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not;”  Paul’s not suffering from ministry burn-out.  He is sometimes weary to the point of exhaustion, but he’s never tired of Christ or serving Christ.  “seeing we have received mercy, we faint not; but have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.”  (verses 1-2) Paul says, ‘Look, we put away phoniness, we put away the old life, we put away craftiness, this is not a franchise, this is not whoever brings the most amount of kids to Sunday school gets a free Schwinn bike, it’s not a contest about whoever does this gets this, whoever sells the most light-bulbs, gets that.’  Paul says this, ‘We put away the methods, we put away the franchising, we put away the craftiness,’ and we see enough of that, don’t we? making merchandize of God’s people.  We’ve done that, Paul says, put all that stuff away, that’s not the idea here.  Secondly he says, ‘We are not handling the Word of God deceitfully.’  Adulterously, is the idea.  It was a word that was used for the merchant who was selling wine, who would water down the wine so he could make more money.  He would dilute it.  Paul said ‘We’re not diluting the Word of God, we’re not watering it down, but by manifestation of the truth, we’re not making any excuses for the Word of God.  We’re not trying to make it fit people’s lives, we’re not taking the power out of it.’  Martin Luther said to someone who was talking about defending the Word of God, he said, “Defend the Word of God!?  The Word of God is a tiger, just let it out of it’s cage!”  You don’t have to defend it, it’ll chew people up.  It’s alive, it’s powerful, you don’t need to defend it.  And Paul says ‘We’re not watering it down, we’re not trying to make it culturally relevant.’  Let me tell you something, the thing that was true 2,000 years ago is true now, human beings are sinners.  Without Jesus Christ they are lost and they have no hope.  The Good News is we can come to God and take away the vail, and simply ask him for forgiveness, and he’ll wash us and he’ll cleanse us in the blood of Jesus, and he’ll give us eternal life.  [Comment:  and part of that cleansing process is a lifetime of overcoming sin, by and through the enablement of God’s Holy Spirit.  That entails the whole subject of Law & Grace.  See: http://www.unityinchrist.com/whatisgrace/whatisgraceintro.htm  for a more thorough treatment of that subject.]  That has not changed in 2,000 years. 

 

People Try To Make The Gospel and The Word of God Friendly---Did Jesus Do That?

 

People are trying to make that “friendly” now, ‘We don’t want to offend anybody, use a little drama here, do a little bit of this, we’ll get the seekers.’  I didn’t know there were any.  Paul said “No man seeketh after God, no not one.”  Must be a new group that Paul didn’t know about.  ‘We want the Word of God to be friendly, we don’t want to offend anyone.  We don’t want to offend this group, don’t want to offend that group, want it to be politically correct, don’t want it to cause any waves, no ripples.’  Let me tell you something, Jesus said, ‘I’ve not come to bring peace, but a sword, to divide a house, to turn a father against his children, husband against wife, children against parents,’ in this sense, he’s not come to destroy homes.  In this sense, what happens when you grew up in a religious background, where everybody has a vail on?  And people do that today, they’re trying to keep the glory from fading, so they have ‘Oooooh, incense, stained glass windows, robes, Oooooh, you know boogly-spooky holy,’ and all of that is simply a vail trying to cover up the fact that the glory has faded, and religious systems that maybe were born in a period of revival or a time of life no longer maintaining life.  [See http://www.unityinchrist.com/history/IntroChurchHistory.htm to learn more about the life-death cycle of revivals-turned-denominations.]  But what happens when you grow up in a family that embraces one of those systems, and all of a sudden you come skipping home, ‘You’re not saved!  I’m born-again, I don’t have to do that no more!  I have Jesus!’  ‘What!?’  The sword comes out, division comes.  ‘You mean what!?  ‘Oh you’re saved now, huh?  Bible thumper.  I suppose that ‘friend’ of yours too, that heroine addict friend of yours, the freak you hang around with, he’s singin’ the same song now too, huh?  That won’t last long, you ain’t saved, it was flying saucers last month, it was brown rice this past week, now it’s Jesus this week, it’ll be something else next week.’  I got those speeches [from his parents].  [laughter]  [Comment:  this is a common occurrence in Calvary Chapels, as well as any genuinely alive Holy Spirit indwelt church where people are being actively drawn to Jesus and salvation through Jesus Christ.]  ‘That hippie friend of yours, you mean to tell me your mother and I go to church our whole life, I helped put the stained glass windows in, put the carpet in, lit the candles, and that hippie freak heroine numbskull of yours, that friend accepted Jesus and he’s going to heaven, and we ain’t!?’  ‘Yup!’  [laughter]  It causes division, it divides.  The cross of Christ was an offense when Jesus presented it.  It was an offense when Paul preached it.  It was an offense when the Waldensians embraced it.  [Comment: for a history of the Waldensians, see: http://www.unityinchrist.com/history/revivals3.htm]  It was an offense when Huss and Calvin and Luther proclaimed it.  It was an offense when Whitfield and Spurgeon preached it.  And it is an offense today, it’s not politically correct, but Paul says ‘We are not as those who water down and dilute the Word of God, we are giving you the pure truth.’  [applause]  And if we stop doing that here, throw us out!  You paid for this place, throw us out.  If you ever come here and I say ‘You know, Buddha, Krishna, Allah, all the same God…’ get me, drag me off the stage, and throw me out!  Please.  Because I have lost my mind, if I do that.  Be gentle with me, but throw me out.  [laughter]  ‘We haven’t announced the things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the Word of God deceitfully, we’re not watering it down, but by manifestation of the truth, commending ourselves to every man’s conscience, in the sight of God.’  That’s where the offense is. 

 

Satan Has Blinded The Minds Of Them Which Believe Not

 

“But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:  in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” (verses 3-4)  “It is hid, is the same root word for “vailed”, “hid” is.  “that are lost, that word is literally, “if our gospel is hid, it is hid to them that are slowly perishing.  “the god of this world”, i.e. “the god of this age, eon literally.  ‘If our gospel is hid, it is hid to those who are in the process of perishing, whom the God of this world has blinded,’ there is a god of this world.  Well they’re not going to believe you when you talk to them about the god of this world, the devil.  They won’t even believe you when you talk to them about the real God.  To them the devil is a little guy on a tuna fish can, with a pitched fork, and a red tail.  [No, actually a “Deviled Ham” can, he ain’t even Kosher, has to be Deviled Ham]  And that’s exactly who he wants to be to them.  And how does he work?  He’s blinded their minds, lest they should see the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, and come to eternal life.  He’s blinded their minds.  We can see it around us.  You say to somebody, ‘Look, you’ve got that old junker, give it to me and I’ll give you a Rolls Royce.’ ‘Ok.’  ‘Look, you know you’ve been struggling for years, you’ve got a nice apartment, but I want to give you this 15-bedroom mansion, just want to trade you.  How about it?’ ‘Ok.’  Look, I want you to meet me here tomorrow, bring all the pennies you have in your piggy bank, and I’ll give you a hundred dollar bill for every one of them.  What do you think?’  ‘ok.’  Sane, right?  ‘OK look, you’re dying.  You’re getting older.  You get nipped and tucked and drink carrot juice and get hair implants trying to, denial, but you’re getting older.  You’re dying.  And you’ve sinned.  Now you can get rid of all of that.  You can live forever.  You can ask Jesus for eternal life, he’ll forgive you, he’ll wash you, he’ll cleanse you, he’ll call you his son or his daughter, he’ll remove your sin from you as far as the East is from the West, you won’t have to worry about hell and darkness anymore, you’ll come into his presence forever, and you’ll live in light and joy where there’s no suffering, no pain and no death, no sorrow.  What do you think?  Do you want to trade away your misery and your sin for Jesus and accept his love in your life?’  ‘Oh, let me think about it.  Wait a minute, Rolls Royce or junker’  ‘Well ok, duh. Hundred dollar bill for a penny,’ ‘ok.’  See we get to this, ‘Jesus Christ, eternal life, forgiveness, hope, joy, in place of death, hopelessness, for sin.’  ‘Well I’ve got to think about that.’  Why?  Paul says ‘Because the god of this world hath blinded the minds of those that don’t believe, lest they receive the light of the glorious gospel of Christ.’  If you want to pray for your friends and relatives that are not saved, pray specifically, the fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much James tells us, the on-target prayer---pray specifically that God would remove the enemy from blinding their minds, so that they could see the light of the gospel of Christ.  You hear people say that, “I saw the light.”  Well it’s not talking about that kind of light.  It’s an inward light.  It’s something different.  But it is light.  We think we know a lot about light.  It’s interesting, when you watch the days of creation, God said “Let there be light, and there was light.”  Wait a minute.  Where did it come from?  Light bulb?  No.  Sun?  No, no, that’s fourth, fifth day.  He just made light.  Light be, light was.  And a couple days later he says, ‘Look, we should probably make sun, stars, moon that light can come from so people are not freaked out by the fact that there’s light and nothing making light.’  He understands light, physical light, spiritual light.  He understands what resonates with us in regards to electro-radio waves and our eyes, and he understands what resonates in the spirit, which is much more sensitive of the truth of light.  Satan blinds the minds of this world.  Isn’t that interesting?  You know, those of you who have been to New York, you know, what an opportunity that is right now [right after the Trade Towers were hit], it’ll fade, but right now what an open door for the Gospel.  And how many people, all of a sudden snap! had to take inventory, had to take inventory.  It opened things up, causing people to ask themselves, “What is it all about, how could this happen?  How can death come that quickly?  Am I that mortal?  Could it happen at this end of town?  Could it happen in this town?  Could it happen in my neighborhood?  Could it happen today?”  And they’re more open to light, because they’re not wrapped up with all this stuff that Satan uses to blind their minds.  “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid from them that are in the process of perishing, in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” (verses 3-4)  “For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.” (verse 5)  “and ourselves” literally ‘slaves, doulos’ “for Jesus’ sake.”  “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (verse 6)  Just light out of darkness, not coming from anything, just light out of darkness.  Isn’t it amazing?  God hath caused that light to shine in our hearts, the light of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.  Not a physical light.  I mean, doesn’t it just sometimes blow your mind when you get alone with the Lord, and you just feel that light inside, you feel that truth, you’re bathed with it.  You’re reminded once again, ‘Oh Lord, you love me, O Lord I can trust you today, Lord I can go to work and not be filled with fear, Lord you are my redeemer, you’re my Shepherd, you’re my King, you’re my Husband, you’re my Father, you’re my strong tower, my shield and my buckler, Lord you’re the bottom of Gilead to me, Lord,’ and the light comes on within.  Not physical light, but the light of truth.  How it bathes us and encourages us.  Now, read ahead.  Because he’s going to say the remarkable thing about this, of course, is it’s contained within earthen vessels, so that the glory won’t be of man, but of God.  We’re a bunch of pots, clay pots, cracked pots.  The glory, when we stand in his presence, no flesh will glory there, the glory will be his.  He has looked at us, he has decided to use us, he has decided to fill us, to enable us, to call us his sons and his daughters, to send us forth to change the world, to give hope, to give the truth, never watering it down, of Jesus Christ the Saviour of the world, the Son of God, and poured of that into us cracked pots.  Isn’t that amazing?...[transcript of a connective expository sermon on 2nd Corinthians 3:1-18, and 2nd Corinthians 4:1-6 given by Pastor Joe Focht, Calvary Chapel of Philadelphia, 13500 Philmont Avenue, Philadelphia, PA  19116]

 

Related links:       

 

Many parts of the Body of Christ are in apparent disagreement over the proper definition of Law & Grace and how to properly define it in Scripture.  Some say the Law is done away, but proceed to live their very lives by the same Law of God, the very same Law they accuse others of being legalists for following.  For an explanation and discussion about that dichotomy, see:

http://www.unityinchrist.com/whatisgrace/whatisgraceintro.htm

 

What Does Christ look like, his spiritual image?  See:

http://www.unityinchrist.com/gospels.html

 

What is an excellent way for pastors to feed Jesus’ sheep?  See:

http://www.unityinchrist.com/wwcofg/ConnectiveExpositoryTA.htm

 

Why many denominations are in a state of watering down the Word of God---the life-death cycle of a denomination.  See:

http://www.unityinchrist.com/history/IntroChurchHistory.htm

 

Who, what is Satan?  See:

http://www.unityinchrist.com/Satan/satan.htm

 

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