As we observe the condition of the Christian Church in Western civilization, it appears that there is an obsession with finding something new and different in order to attract more and more people and increase the numbers of each congregation. While this is not true of every pastor and every church, generally speaking across the country, there seems to be an obsession with entertainment, entertainment centers, contemporary and hip-hop music, seemingly almost anything that will attract pagans. Some pastors are even preaching redistribution of wealth, acceptance of sexual perversion and same-sex marriages, Marxism and Leninism, liberation theology, merging of Islam with Christianity, and new and different “marketing plans" in order to sell their church and increase the numbers of people coming to their church. In short, almost anything other than the preaching and teaching of God's Holy truth contained in the Holy Scriptures, and the proclaiming of the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ. Many churches have even renamed this effort as the pursuit of “conservative values".
The great expository preacher of the 20th century, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, said that “the business of the Church and of preaching is not to present us with new and interesting ideas, it is rather to go on reminding us of certain fundamental and eternal truths.” The description that the Apostle Paul in Second Corinthians Chapter 4 uses is “manifestation of the truth"! Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God, the Son of Man, who calls Himself TRUTH! If there is to be any revival in the Christian Church in America, it must center on The Truth, the whole Truth, and nothing but The Truth.
The Apostle Paul in writing his second letter to the church at Corinth said the following:
“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 has 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, has shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." (2 Corinthians 4:1-6)
The great Apostle Paul talks about all of these “other things" rather than knowing the Lord Jesus Christ and the power of His resurrection in his letter to the church at Philippi. First, he says that “we are the circumcision who worship God in the spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and place no confidence in the flesh." (Philippians 3:3) In describing how he could also have confidence in the flesh, the great apostle says that if anyone else thinks that he has something to trust in the flesh about, he (Paul) has more. He details a very brief summary of his “record" in verses 4, 5, and 6. All of these things are representative of the things that people place confidence in. We like to tell people about our record. We want to advise people of our “testimony", the things that we have done. The Bible says that all of our righteousness is as but filthy rags. In fact, in Isaiah 64 verse 6, the Lord God's Word tells us that “We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.” In short, we have no record to trust in.
The great Apostle Paul says, “but what things were gain to me those I have counted loss for Christ. Indeed, I also account all things lost for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ and be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is thru faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith, that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death, if by any means I may obtain unto the resurrection of the dead. (Philippians 3:7-11)
The great apostle goes on in his writing to the church at Philippi to say, “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12-14) Are you a “this one thing person"? This is a major problem in the Christian Church today .Looking briefly at Second Corinthians Chapter 4, we can identify those things which in the first century the Apostle Paul used as key to bringing men and women to Christ, and thus, true revival. This is, indeed, a recommended process, to look at what was done before as we consider those things that need to be done now. In the Gospel of John in the 7th chapter, John described an event that took place on the last day of the feast of Tabernacles as follows: “on the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying ‘if anyone thirst, let him come to me and drink. He who believes in me, as the Scripture has said out of his heart will flow rivers of living water."(John 7:37-38) So Jesus describes Himself as living water. He calls everyone who thirsts to come to Him. Indeed, He makes a call to everyone to “come unto Me all ye who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me for I am meek and lowly in heart and you shall find rest unto your souls for My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30) Jesus is THE living water.
a) THE EXAMPLE OF ISAAC AND WATER
When Isaac was looking for water to give water to his flocks and all of those who were with him, we see what he did in the account described in Genesis Chapter 26 verse 18, “ And Isaac dug again the wells of water that had been dug in the days of Abraham his father, which the Philistines had stopped after the death of Abraham. And he gave them the names that his father had given them.” Isaac did not run around looking for new and different wells, or food, nor did he try to come up with new and different ideas and get the well-diggers and diviners of water to run around trying to find water. He went back to the source where his father, Abraham, had dug the wells and digged, and digged again, those wells of water. Note that the description is that the Philistines had stopped the wells after the death of Abraham. We have Philistines in the Christian Church today! Not literally Philistines, of course, but we do have those who are stopping the preaching of “living water” and the manifestation of the truth by seeking virtually anything and everything that would attract the pagan society. This is solely in order to increase the numbers of their particular congregations. There are even reports that there are churches on the West Coast of America where the preachers actually preach licentiousness in order to attract people, and urge people to seek pleasure, and to do whatever pleases them! These are the very things that the Apostle Paul wrote to his son in the faith, Timothy, when he said the following:
“But notice, that in the last days perilous times will come. For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, despisers of God, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!" (2 Timothy 3:1-5). We see clearly here that a return to the things that were being done and preached by Paul and the other apostles in order to seek potential revival in the Christian Church is appropriate. Therefore, a brief look at Second Corinthians Chapter 4 verse 1 through 6 follows in a sincere hope and expectation that this would be helpful to you and to your congregation.
I. MANIFESTATION OF THE TRUTH
“Therefore, seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy we faint not.” (2 Corinthians 4:1 KJV) Each of us has been given a ministry. Our ministry may be similar to others or it may differ. Each of us has been given the ministry of preaching and teaching God's Holy Truth and the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ, perhaps only to our family, but that is our ministry nevertheless. Some of us have been given a ministry of prayer. Not just organized prayer meetings, but fervent, effectual, prayer in the spirit, according to the will of God, in faith, doubting not, seeking and knocking and asking in Jesus’ name. Just you and the Lord our God through our Lord Jesus Christ and His Holy Spirit. So, the proposition is that because we have received mercy – we have been given salvation as a sheer gift by the Lord God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ - therefore do not faint. In Second Corinthians Chapter 4, verse 2, the Apostle Paul made clear that he had renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth, commending himself to every man's conscience in the sight of God. That is our calling. We preach the truth of the Lord Jesus Christ; to our children, to our grandchildren, to our neighbors, to all around us by word and by deed as ambassadors for Christ, we beseech them in Jesus’ name to be reconciled unto God. “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” (John 3:17) How is this accomplished? By the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and by God himself giving us repentance toward Him and saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. In reality, salvation is all of God. Therefore, he is telling us everywhere in His Word how to pray; Lord have mercy on me, a sinner! Lord have mercy on my family and on others who are also sinners!
In this second verse of Second Corinthians 4, we see that the great apostle is stating that we are to renounce the hidden things of dishonesty. We are not trying to fool people! We are not trying to be crafty and come up with some new and different plan! We are not trying to use the word of God deceitfully! We are calling people to be holy for God is Holy! In short, we earnestly and fervently desire to manifest the truth of God’s Holy Word and the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ to every person that God gives us the ability to reach. Thus, we are made able to commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God and to desire not the praise of men. We are to walk in truth, letting our light so shine among men that others might see our good works and glorify our father who is in heaven.
II. NOT HIDING THE GOSPEL
In the third verse of Second Corinthians 4, Paul tells them that if you hide the Gospel it's going to be hidden to them that are lost. We want those who are lost to hear the Gospel, therefore we do not hide the Gospel. In the first chapter of Romans, in the 16th verse, the same apostle tells the Church of Rome that he is not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ for it is the power of God to everyone that believes, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile. The terminology used, “I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ" is a literary technique that actually means “I am proud of the Gospel of Jesus Christ!” It is the power of God unto everyone that believes, to the Jew first and also to the Gentile! Lord God, do not let me hide your light under a bushel!
Secondly, in the fourth verse, we see that it is the God of this world that has 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. Just as the the Philistines stopped up the wells that Abraham had dug, the current day “Philistines” have stopped preaching God’s Holy Truth and the Gospel of Christ, wherefore we want to dig again the wells, even as Isaac, that Abraham had dug. We want to present again the same old fundamental Truth and glorious Gospel that was presented by the Apostle Paul. We preach Christ crucified! We glory in the Cross of Christ! Our mission is not to find some new and interesting ideas, pleasure seeking, entertainment centers, marketing plans etc. it is rather to go on reminding all people of those certain fundamental eternal truths disclosed by the Lord Jesus Christ and preached by His great Apostle Peter which is disclosed in the Holy Scriptures. Ask the Lord God to help you to be a preacher of righteousness; to help you and all who name the name of Jesus to depart from iniquity and to proclaim the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ and His Holy Truth; to dig again the wells which were dug by Abraham; to point people to the Lord Jesus Christ who bids all to come unto Him and to take His yoke upon them and to learn of Him for he is meek and lowly in heart; to come unto Him if they are thirsty and to drink, and all those who hunger and thirst after righteousness to come to Him, for he gives them living water and they thirst no more! He is our righteousness!
III. WE PREACH NOT OURSELVES BUT CHRIST JESUS THE LORD
For we preach not ourselves but Christ Jesus the Lord and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. The Christian message is all about the Lord Jesus Christ! This seems to be such a plain, straightforward truth that it would hardly need explanation, however, there are many false teachers and false preachers in the church today. We live in perilous times. The Lord Jesus Christ told his disciples and us to take heed that we be not deceived. We need to be like the Berean Christians who searched the scriptures daily to see if the things that were being said by Paul were true. Are you doing that? Do you search the scriptures to see if the things that are being said by your pastor are true? That's not an affront to your pastor. Your pastor should be encouraging you to do exactly that. In his first letter to the Church at Corinth, the Apostle Paul says in the very first chapter that the Lord God did not “call him to baptize but to preach the Gospel of Christ, not with wisdom of words less the Gospel of Christ become of no effect.” So it's never about the preacher. It is not about the messenger. It is about the Lord Jesus Christ who is the truth and thus is the message! For we preach not ourselves but Christ Jesus the Lord and ourselves your servants for Jesus sake. We are the servants of each other. We are not our own. We are bought with a price. We need to be seeking to be servants to those around us, for our master, the Lord Jesus Christ, came not to be served, not to be ministered unto, but to minister to others, to serve them, and to give His life a ransom for many. We are to be followers, and real disciples of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, has shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. Do you have that assurance that God has shined in your heart? If not, ask Him to shine in your heart. Ask Him to be in you. Come unto Him! And then go. Go expeditiously without hesitation, as He Himself said, "Come unto Me.” Do not wait another second. Come to the Lord Jesus Christ and ask Him to shine in your heart for He has commanded the light to shine out of darkness, and ask Him to give you the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. Once you have done that, purpose not to faint but to renounce the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by the MANIFESTATION OF THE TRUTH commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.” Tell everyone that you know of Jesus who is mighty to save. Don't tell them about yourself, tell them about Jesus who is mighty to save.
If you have questions, I invite you to talk with your pastor concerning these matters. You may also contact me, should you desire, at WPG@grayattorneys.com. I hope that this has been helpful to you. For we preach not ourselves but Christ Jesus the Lord and ourselves your servants for Christ's sake that the God of peace, who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant make you perfect in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ our Lord to whom be glory forever and ever, Amen.
Worldview Weekend Foundation
PO BOX 1690
Collierville, TN, 38027 USA