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New Creation

2Corinthians: Paul Most Underappreciated Epistle

Sep 16, 2018


by: Jack Lash Series: 2Corinthians: Paul Most Underappreciated Epistle | Category: NT books | Scripture: 2 Corinthians 4:6–4:6
  1. 2Corinthians 4:6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
    A. There are many beautiful things in God’s world, and He has blessed most of us with eyes to see and enjoy them. Snow-covered mountains, dazzling sunsets, crashing waves, cascading waterfalls, starlit night skies, magnificent autumn foliage, spectacular flowers, and many other things. 
     B. They’re all designed to show us His glory: "The whole earth is full of His glory!" (Isaiah 6:3) 
     C. But there is one thing more beautiful and more radiant than anything else. There is one place where the glory of God gleams more resplendently than any other. It is the face of our blessed Savior Jesus Christ. 
    II. 2Corinthians 4:6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
     A. This verse contains an amazing string of prepositional phrases: “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” Let’s unpack it a little.
     B. The last phrase of this verse tells us where we find the glory of God: “the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”
     C. This means that we see the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 
     D. How do we know God? How do we find out what God is like? We look at Jesus. 
      1. We see God’s humility at His birth.
      2. We see God’s wisdom in His teachings.
      3. We see God’s kindness in His treatment of the needy.
      4. We see God’s tenderness and compassion in Jesus’ treatment of lost and broken people.
      5. We see God’s mercy in Christ’s response to those who came to Him for healing and restoration. 
      6. We see His power in His rule over disease & storms, gravity & matter, even over death & demons
      7. We see His righteousness in His perfect obedience and purity, and in His intolerance of human pride and hypocrisy. .
      8. We see His love for sinners in His willingness to be nailed to a cross to atone for human sin.
      9. We see God’s defeat of death by the resurrection of Christ. 
     E. Want to get to know God? Look at Jesus Christ. Study Jesus Christ. Get to know Jesus Christ. 
     F. One of the disciples said to Jesus, “Lord, show us the Father.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me. Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?” (John 14:8–10)
    III. 2Corinthians 4:6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
     A. But let’s unpack it even more. It says, “the light of the knowledge...”
     B. God shines the light of His glory in Christ on us. 
     C. Do we see this light? No, not with our eyes. 
     D. We have the light of the knowledge — It is knowing Him; it is not visually seeing Him. The disciples visually saw Him. Many in the first century visually saw Him. We know Him without visually seeing Him. 
     E. 1Peter 1:8–9 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
     F. Notice that it says, “God has shone in our hearts.”
     G. In this age, the light has shone NOT in our eyes but in our hearts. The light we now have is, as the verse says, “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” 
     H. But this light is the light of knowledge — It is knowledge, it’s not guessing. It is knowledge; it is not mere theory or conjecture. It is knowledge, not wishful thinking. It is knowledge, not just inward feelings.
     I. We know it. We know Him. That knowledge of Christ is what we have right now. And that knowledge makes all the difference in the world. Everything else is rubbish in comparison to the surpassing privilege of knowing Christ Jesus our Lord (Phil.3:8). 
     J. What about folks who are always seeing Jesus? In this age, we walk by faith, not by sight. Jesus shines in our hearts, not in our eyes. 
     K. This doesn’t mean He’s only real in our hearts. He is real physically too, though we can no longer see Him in this age.
    IV. 2Corinthians 4:6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
     A. As a physical being Jesus is hidden from us in this age. 
     B. But the glory of His face was largely hidden even while he walked upon the earth.
     C. There was one time where a few disciples got a glimpse of it — on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matt.17:1-8) — when his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light.
     D. But a day is coming when every eye will see Him (1Jn.3:2), when all men will behold His face – and melt. 
     E. For now, God is enabling some to see His face – not with their eyes but in their hearts (i.e. by faith). The rest remain blinded by Satan and unable to see light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
    V. 2Corinthians 4:6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
     A. These words of Paul are also autobiographical. This happened to him.
     B. When Paul met Jesus, he saw a bright light from heaven (Acts 9:3; 22:6, 11; 26:13). 
     C. But of course, Paul’s encounter with an outward light was accompanied an inward light. “Shone in our hearts”
     D. We don’t ordinarily experience an outward light, but we can experience the same inward light. 
     E. Think about the experience of the apostle Paul. 
     F. He had seen the glory of God in creation.
     G. He had seen the glory of God in the old covenant which God initiated through Moses. 
     H. He had seen the glory of God in God’s choosing of Israel and His faithfulness/patience with Israel. 
     I. He had seen the glory of God. But then He saw the Face. As he was walking to Damascus breathing threats against the Christians, suddenly he was blinded by a glorious light from heaven. And he heard a voice, “Why are you persecuting Me?” And Paul answered, “Who are You, Lord?” And then the shocking answer came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” (Acts 9:1-6) 
     J. And once Paul beheld the glory of God in the face of Jesus, he was no longer impressed by the fading glory of the old covenant on the face of Moses.
    VI. 2Corinthians 4:6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
     A. Of course, to describe the work of God in the heart of the believer, Paul here is quoting Genesis1:3 where God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 
     B. The Genesis citation shows us that Paul understands coming to Christ as an act of God’s new creation (2Cor 5:17).
     C. "The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep...Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light." (Gen.1:2-3) 
     D. Now in a similar way, people’s hearts are dark, empty and disordered. And again God says, "Let there be light" and commands light into the darkness of our hearts.
     E. God’s old creation was the creation of the universe as we see it and know it. But this old world is not the end of the story. God is now in the business of forming a new creation. It began with the resurrection of Jesus, the first act of the new creation. It continues with the resurrection power of God working to bring people from being dead in sin to being alive in Christ (Gal.6:15; 2Cor.5:17). One day it will culminate in the creation of new heavens and a new earth (Isaiah 65:17; Rev.21:1). 
    VII. 2Corinthians 4:6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
     A. In the original creation of light, God did not invite the light to come into being. He didn’t urge the creation to come into existence. He spoke and it happened. He spoke and it happened because He made it happen. As Ps.148:5 says, "He commanded and they were created." 
     B. So too when God creates light in the darkness of a human heart. He speaks, "Let there be light!" and there is light. 
     C. It can be confusing. 
      1. Sometimes God commands something and doesn’t make it happen.
       a. Most of God’s commands can be disobeyed.
       b. Even the 10 commandments are frequently disobeyed, God gave them but didn’t make them happen, at least not completely.
      2. But at other times, God commands something and DOES make it happen. 
       a. When Jesus stilled the storm (Matt.8:23-27; Mark 4:35-41)
       b. When Jesus raised Lazarus on the fourth day, He didn’t call into the tomb and invite Lazarus to come alive if he wanted. He said, "Lazarus, come forth!" (John 11:43) (If you ask a dead man if he wants to come to life, he will never say yes – because he’s dead!)
     D. There are a couple of theological expressions which refer to this: 
      1. Effectual call
       a. God calls something and effects that call; He makes it happen; He brings it to pass. 
       b. There is a non-effectual call, of course. Jesus calls all people to come to Him (Acts 17:30), but many do not.
       c. But when God said, “Let there be light!” that was an effectual call. God didn’t just request it, He effected it. 
      2. Irresistible grace 
       a. Some people object to the idea of irresistible grace, saying, “The Bible is full of examples where people resist God’s grace.” But that’s not the point. 
       b. Of course, there is resistible grace, e.g. common grace. People resist God all over the place. 
       c. But when God wills His grace to be irresistible, when He wills His grace to overpower any resistence, His grace is irresistible. 
     E. "No one comes to Me unless the Father draws him." (John 6:44) 
     F. Paul’s own conversion was a classic case of effectual call and irresistible grace. Jesus did not make this persecutor of the church an offer to try to get him on His side. He took him; He captured him;  He hijacked him. Read the call of Jesus on his life announced by the Lord on the road to Damascus in Acts 26:15-18 sometime. 
     G. Just as our first birth is not a choice, so our second birth is not a choice. The second birth is "not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God." (John 1:13) 
     H. "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." (John 3:6) 
     I. "So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who works, but on God who has mercy." (Rom.9:16) 
     J. God is the only one who can turn the heart of stone into a heart of flesh (Ezek.36:26). 
     K. When we realize that salvation is all of God, we realize why He deserves ALL the praise for it. 
    VIII. 2Corinthians 4:6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
     A. The God of light, who says, “Let light shine into the darkness of human hearts!”  therefore acts quite differently from the god of this world, who blinds people, leads them into utter darkness, and hardens their hearts (4:4).
     B. There is one who blinds people to Christ and there is One who shines the light of Christ into our people’s hearts.
     C. How gracious God is — that He would shine His light into the darkness of our lives!
     D. How can we neglect such a great salvation? How can we ignore such a great God?
     E. God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
     F. Do you think this means that the god of this world just gives up on blinding us and leaves us alone to live in the light of Christ?
     G. Not at all! Living in the light of Christ is a daily battle. We need to fight to see Him.