The Ultimate Greater Good of the Gospel (2 Cor. 4:3-6)

Publié le 13 juin 2021 dans Traductions

Sermon by Pastor Vincent Bourrel

Thanks to Desiring God and Cruciform Editions, we have distributed free copies of John Piper’s book “God is the Gospel” in the last weeks, if you do not have yours, I encourage you to pass by the bookstore to pick one up. If you have one but have not yet started reading it, I would like in this message to give you a little bit of content, so it will encourage you to go until the end. 

So, this morning I am in the skin of John Piper and hopefully I will not betray his thought too much, but above all, that we will have a clear understanding of God’s Gospel.

Reading of 2 Corinthians 4 : 3-6

« And even if our gospel is veiled ; it is veiled to those who are perishing. The God of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is he image of God. For he do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servant for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness, 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. »

When a person becomes a Christian and perceives the beauty of the gospel for the first time, they usually have an overwhelming urge to share this good news with those close to them. But what a surprise and what a disappointment when you realize that their enthusiasm is not as contagious as you imagined. Why do your friends seem blind to the new realities that now shine before your eyes?

Our passage answers this question and others, which I invite you to check out now:

1. What is the sweetest, highest greater good, the best in short, the ultimate greater good of the gospel? What is the ultimate greater good of the good news that makes the greater good news good, and without which all other greater good news goods would not be good?

2. What obstacle has kept you from enjoying this? Because there was a time when you did not – and you might still not like it. Why? What is blocking?

3. What must happen to remove this obstacle? What must happen for you to have or can now enjoy this ultimate greater good of the good news?

4. Is there anything you can do to help others overcome this barrier? What can you do to help them appreciate the ultimate greater good of the gospel?

WHAT IS THE ULTIMATE GREATER GOOD OF THE GOSPEL?

Each of us should ask ourselves the following question, 

« Why would you consider as good news that your sins are forgiven and that you are now justified before the Judge of the Universe? » « 

Someone could answer:

« Being forgiven is good news, because I don’t want to go to hell » or

« This is good news, because I hate living with a bad conscience. »

« Because my wife was a Christian and passed away and I would like to see her again »

« Because there will be new heaven and new earth where justice and beauty will reign »

But what is wrong with those answers? You don’t have to be a newborn Christian to not want to suffer forever in hell. Nobody wants to go to hell or collapse under guilt, everyone wants to know the harmony of the new creation and being done with the pains, the illnesses and the bereavements… But the problem is that God is not considered the ultimate greater good of the Gospel.

These benefits are, of course, of infinite value. But these are gifts of the gospel. Jesus died to provide you with each of these blessings, but they are not the ultimate greater good of the gospel. The answer is given in 2 Corinthians 4: 4 and 6.

In v. 4 Paul talks about what unbelievers (those who perish) do not see, what the devil tries with all his power to hide and in v.6 what believers (those who have life) see and what makes them rapturous.

v.4 « so that they may not see the splendor of the gospel of the glory of Christ, which is the image of God, shining.

and v.6 For God … made the light shine in our hearts to shine the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. « 

He is not talking about gifts but about the glory of Christ.

The content of the gospel here is called the glory of Christ. Glory is beauty, it is splendor. The gospel is the beauty of Christ, the magnificence of Christ – That is what He is.
Did you notice that in v. 6 the believers saw the « glory of God » where? “In the face of Christ”. So Paul says that divine and magnificent glory springs from the radiance of the beauty of God in the events called the gospel.

The spiritual beauty of Christ is made known through his actions as he loves this Samaritan woman, touches lepers, blesses children, heals the crippled, raises from the dead, and he takes authority over demons. It is also manifested when he teaches with unparalleled authority, when he silences the unbelievers, when he gently reproves his disciples, when he announces in detail what concerns his death, when he resolves firmly to go to Jerusalem and weep over that city. We also see this spiritual beauty as he remains silent before his accusers and demonstrates gentle sovereignty before Pilate (“You would have no power if it had not been given to you from above” Jn 19.11 ). , We still see this beauty again when he is crucified, and he prays for his enemies, that he forgives a thief, that he takes care of his mother in spite of his own torment, that he gives to God his spirit and that he resurrects (« No one takes my life from me, but I give it myself; I have the power to give it, and I have the power to take it back », Jn 10:18). Such is the glory of Christ.

The splendor of the knowledge of God shines in the face of Christ.

And this knowledge is not only cerebral, but it is experimental.

There is a difference, as Jonathan Edwards said, between rationally conceiving honey to be sweet and knowing it is sweet to have tasted it.

Why be forgiven, delivered from anger, from guilt, why go to heaven and not to hell…? To be with Christ. People who believe that they can be happy in heaven without the presence of Christ will not be there. The gospel is not the way to lead humans to heaven, but to bring them to God.

What is the ultimate greater good of the gospel? It is to enjoy fellowship with Christ.

Why would you want to be forgiven, justified by faith? If not to be accepted and loved by the one who, in his glory, satisfies your soul.

John Piper illustrates this as followed:

Suppose one morning, when I wake up, on my way to the bathroom, I stumble over some dirty laundry that my wife has left on the floor in the hallway. And rather than putting it myself in the basket or in the washing machine, I attack her when she wakes up saying that she wanted to kill me, I could have broken my neck by tripping over this damn cloth… Some minutes later. My wife comes down to the kitchen and takes her tea while turning the back to me, the atmosphere is freezing. What should happen? I sinned against her. I must ask her forgiveness, that’s obvious. But why do I want her to forgive me?

So she can prepare me my breakfast? Wrong answer.

So that my guilt goes away, and I can concentrate at work?

So that we can enjoy sex tonight?

So that the children do not see our conflict particularly to my disadvantage?

What is the good answer ? I want her to come back to me. I want her to forgive me so that I can continue to enjoy a sweet fellowship with her. She herself is the reason the ultimate goal for which I wish to be forgiven. So it is with God. Of course, we don’t want to go to hell, but to be with God. We want God’s smile, we want God’s embrace, we want God’s acceptance. We want to have a relationship with the all-glorious, all-satisfying God. That’s why. If that’s not your answer, then you ignore it.

WHAT OBSTACLES?

What is preventing you from enjoying this ultimate greater good? Or what is it that makes or hinders you’re seeing the splendor of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God?

The answer is given in v. 4. Satan blinds people « that they may not see the splendor of the gospel shining. » Of course, he sabotages the work of preachers and missionaries. He throws them in prison, drives them to discouragement and abandonment … But even more so he hinders the perception of the Gospel. People hear the Good News, they understand its affirmations, but no “light” is shed in their soul. They do not see the beauty, nor the infinitely preciousness of the gospel.

So, when the gospel is presented to them by a mother or a friend or a pastor, when the work of Christ is exposed to them, they find it boring because they can’t really see. In fact, a veil is in front of their heart, and they see nothing, it even irritates them.

We all know people like that and it’s terrifying, especially if they’re related to us. You have done your best to describe Christ as fascinating and beautiful, like anything a human could want in eternity and in this world, and you have no reaction in front of you, it means nothing to that person. It’s terrifying. They are blinded. Cry and beg.

To be lost, to perish, is to be blind to glory. They can see glory in sport, they see echoes of glory in the stars, in nature, in art… echoes of glory everywhere, but when you present the greatest glory, a veil falls before their eyes. They don’t see anything. No sweetness, no beauty, no love, no joy, no treasure, no satisfaction …

WHAT SHOULD HAPPEN FOR THEM TO SEE?

v.6 What is Paul doing here? He compares the creation of light in the beginning to what is to take place in your heart. The God who said « let the light shine from the bottom of darkness » must do it again. And this time, in our hearts to give that light, « the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ ».

So, our problem is blindness to glory, and the answer to the problem is that God – as sovereign as on the first day of creation – enlightens our hearts. He said, « Let there be light. And there was light « . This is how I was saved.

Illustration: My parents were enlightened by God a few years before me. I remember a road trip I took with my father for several hours. At one point he said to me « don’t you mind listening to a message on K7? » « . At the end he asked me, « So what do you think? I replied: Nothing. I even remember telling my girlfriend (Anne-Sophie) after the trip that « my father instead of chatting with me, he listened to a message ». I know today that he must have chosen the message carefully for me, that he had to pray during the entire time that my heart would open. But until God said « let there be light » nothing happened in my heart.

But one day a few years later, God worked in my heart without my father knowing it, and I was prompted to go to a church on a weekday to find out if there was any good news for my sinner soul. And that day God answers the prayers of my parents the light of God sprang in my heart, and it has never been a more beautiful news announced to me. And suddenly what had been boring until then, what had no shine, what was like a fable, struck me as incredibly real and relevant. God shed light in my life.

This is what must happen.

WHAT CAN YOU DO ?

If God is completely sovereign, is there anything you can do? Because you have people you care about who are still blind.

Some people might be tempted to say that if God is sovereign then we should just wait for him to turn on the light. Sounds logical, doesn’t it?

But look at v. 5.

Between blindness v.4 and sight v.6, there is the preaching of Jesus Christ in v.5. Why? Because that’s the way God works. No one anywhere in the world has their heart opened in a saving way without a human being presenting the gospel, whether in a leaflet, on the Internet, or in person.

When God takes the veil away, there must be something to see. This is why the preaching of the gospel is necessary, and the lord takes the veil off and men see the splendor of the gospel shining. The Holy Spirit does not open your eyes to see nothing.

You are essential in people’s vision. You are not doing the miracle; God is just using you to make the miracle happen.

Look again at Acts 26. After Jesus’ resurrection and ascension. Paul (Saul) is on the road to Damascus, a religious Jew on his way to act vigorously against Christians, to beat them, to imprison them, to drive them to blasphemy. Suddenly at noon Jesus Christ the Lord appears to him in glory, knocks him off his horse, blinds him and makes him hear these words « Saul Saul why are you persecuting me? »Who are you Lord? »« I am Jesus whom you are persecuting »He asks himself, what does all this mean? What am I supposed to do? Jesus gives him an incredible mission. It is an impossible mission. v.16-18

This strikes a parallel with 2Co 4: it mentions that they need light and that they need to be freed from Satan. Paul could have said, “I can’t do it. Only God says, « let there be light ». Only God is stronger than the devil. What do you mean by sending me to open their eyes?

What Jesus means is that you go, you open your mouth, you declare the lordship of Jesus and the facts of the gospel, you plead and pray with the people, and God will come and remove the veil from their hearts.

In 1 Corinthians 3: 6-7, Paul says « I planted, Apollos watered, but God made it grow, so that it is not he who plants that is anything, nor he who waters, but God. that makes it grow”.

Farmers are essential to crops, but they do not grow the seed; they sow it and just water it. The parable says in Mark 4.26-27 “It is with the kingdom of God as when a man sows seed in the earth; whether he is asleep or awake, night and day, the seed germinates and grows without him knowing how. Scientists are putting names to this miracle of life, but they cannot order it. Now, because it takes a farmer to plant the seeds, Paul went and opened the eyes of the blind.

In 2 Timothy 2: 24-26.

You have a speaker, he teaches the gospel, he corrects, and his whole behavior is patience, kindness, and sweetness. And God gives repentance. You cannot provoke repentance.

You see again the correspondence with 2 Corinthians 4: 4. You have the devil blinding the minds of unbelievers, and you have the light of the knowledge of the glory of God upon the face of Christ. You have the knowledge that flows through repentance, and you have the devil’s trap that is broken.

So, my answer to the fourth question – What can you do? – You can teach. And by teaching, I don’t mean in a formal way. I mean sit around a pizza with someone and tell them your story, share what you think is appropriate at that moment. They need the truth. You speak the truth, and then you love them. You are a servant, and you are not quarrelsome, but kind, sweet, and patient, and the Almighty God can grant repentance.

CONCLUSION

What is the ultimate greater good of the gospel? God himself the creator of the universe with which you can sinfully have fellowship Whaouh! It is the greatest joy you can have.

Why couldn’t you take advantage of Christ? Because the devil blinded you.

What would have to happen for you to enjoy the greater good of the good news? God must have said, « Let there be light. It happened while someone, either in person or through a book or text, someone was telling you about the Lord Jesus – which he did, when he died for your sins, that he rose in triumph, which he does today by enlightening hearts.

What can you do ? You are just telling the story – the greatest story in the world. There is glory in this story, and if it pleases God to grant repentance, it will flow into their hearts. So that’s what you do patiently, gently and with joy. And sooner or later you will become the instrument of the miracle of sight in people’s lives.