BLESSINGS OF THE GOSPEL

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[2 Corinthians:3:1-18]; [2 Corinthians:4:1-16].

Lesson No.: 
395
Class: 
Junior
Memory Verse: 

“Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men” (II Corinthians 3:2).

Notes: 

Commendation
If your father should tell you that he was glad people knew you were his boy or girl, because you were kind and obedient, and because you were a Christian, would it not make you feel good? And you would want even more than ever to be good.

That must have been the way the people in the church in Corinth felt when they received this letter from the Apostle Paul. They were his converts. He had worked and suffered and borne persecution for them. He had been daily subject to death by the enemies of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in order to bring them to salvation.

Paul did not need a letter written by any man to prove that he was an Apostle and true minister of the Corinthian church. These people were written in his heart [2 Corinthians:3:2]). He carried their needs, their troubles on his heart night and day. He was like a father to them. He loved them; he prayed for them; he corrected them; and when they received his reproofs he commended them.

True ministers of the Gospel are a great blessing. The Bible tells us: “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief” [Hebrews:13:17]).

Known and Read
Paul said that Christians are something like a letter that Jesus might have written -– not with ink as we would write a letter today, nor on tables of stone like those on which the Ten Commandments had been written, but with the Spirit of the living God. When God writes His love upon our hearts, our teachers, our parents, our friends know we are Christians. The things we do and say, the places we go, and the things we enjoy show that we are saved. We are like an open book that everyone reads.

Paul’s Commission
We have learned about Paul’s being saved on the road to Damascus (Lesson 301. ), and that he went into Arabia. We are not told what Paul did there, but it may have been that he climbed the rocky side of Mount Sinai, and felt something of the glory and majesty of God that came down on the Mount when Moses was given the Ten Commandments 1,500 years before.

When Paul was a boy he had left his home in Tarsus and had gone to Jerusalem to sit at the feet of Gamaliel, perhaps the greatest teacher of the Law of Moses at that time. It may have been at this later time that in the wilderness of Arabia Paul sat, as it were, at the feet of the Lord Jesus Himself and was trained for his work as a minister of the Gospel. Paul said: “The gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

Whatever Paul’s experiences were, when he returned to Damascus he did not push himself forward and hurry to Jerusalem to offer his services as a preacher. No. He waited God’s time and God’s direction, very much as David did when he waited seven years to be crowned king of Israel.

Paul at Corinth
Barnabas went to Tarsus to find Paul and bring him to Antioch to help in the Gospel work there. Later, Paul was sent out by the church as a foreign missionary. From Antioch he made three journeys across land and sea.

Paul’s second journey brought him to the Isthmus of Corinth, the narrow stretch of land which connects northern Greece with the peninsula in the south. There at the base of a rocky prominence, which swept up some two thousand feet above the level of the sea, lay the wealthy city of Corinth, the capital of Greece at this time.

From Corinth spread two great roads, leading to the sea. Merchant ships and traders from Egypt and Syria came to the seaport on the Aegean Sea, and to the seaport on the Ionian Sea came ships from Macedonia and Italy. People from many parts of the world came to Corinth, and at the time of Paul’s sojourn there, the population was probably 400,000 -– about the population of Portland Oregon, several decades ago. (Portland, is the seat of the International Headquarters of our Church).

There Paul found a fertile field for his Gospel work, but how was he to make a living? Paul was a tent-maker by trade, and it wasn’t long until he found Aquila, a Jew who had lately come to Corinth from Italy, with his wife Priscilla, who were also tent-makers. With them Paul made his home while he worked and preached Jesus to all who would hear.

Silas and Timothy followed Paul to Corinth and stayed there with him for a year and a half as he preached and persuaded the people that Jesus was the Christ, and many of the Corinthians, hearing the preaching, believed, and were saved. So they were truly Paul’s children in the Lord, for it was through the ministry of Paul and his helpers that they had been born into the family of God.

The More Glorious Way
Most of the Jews believed that in order to be saved they still had to bring a lamb or a bullock or a turtledove to the Temple and sacrifice it as the Law of Moses commanded. The slaying of an animal at the brazen altar, the presenting of the blood and the perpetual incense at the golden altar, and the presenting of the blood and incense in the Holy of Holies were all instituted to point the people to Christ; but when Jesus came and made the great sacrifice of Himself, the forms and ceremonies were no longer needed.

Paul showed them a simple, humble way to be saved. He said it was a glorious way. The giving of the Law on Mount Sinai was attended by the majesty and glory of God when the Mount “was altogether on a smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire: . . . And when the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder, Moses spake, and God answered him by a voice.” But this simple way of faith in the shed Blood of Jesus is even more glorious. It brings the glory of the Spirit of the living Christ to dwell in the hearts of His people.

Blinded Minds
The minds of the majority of the Israelites who saw God’s glory on Mount Sinai were blinded. They did not understand. Did you ever close your mind when Mother asked you to do something? She explained just how she wanted it done, but you wanted to do it another way, so you did not understand. Many people do not appreciate and believe God’s plan of salvation through Jesus’ death and resurrection. They want to be saved in their own way, so they do not understand God’s way of salvation.

But we who have a deep longing to know God and love and serve Him, are glad when we read the clear instructions: “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” [Romans:10:9]). And if we continue to obey the sweet voice of the Holy Spirit when He calls us to prayer, when He tells us to speak a word for Jesus to a friend, or invite someone to church, He will give us liberty, or freedom, to walk in the straight and narrow way that Jesus walked before us. It is the way to Heaven.

God’s Looking Glass
When we are saved we continually look with clear conscience and open face into a glass, Paul writes. We read in the Book of James that the writer likens the Word of God to a looking glass: “For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: for he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed” [James:1:23-25]).

As we prayerfully look into this looking glass of the Word of God day by day, the Spirit of the Lord enables us to bring our lives into conformity with His will, and we become more and more like Jesus.

Paul’s Hope
The simple preaching of salvation through the shed Blood of Jesus did not suit the Jews nor the worldly-minded Gentiles, and many times Paul was in distress and was persecuted. But though he was in danger of even death day by day, he rejoiced because of those who did believe his preaching and were saved.

He looked forward to the time when his converts would share with him the glory of being forever with the Lord, for he said, “Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you.”

Questions: 

1. What was Paul’s letter of commendation?
2. Upon what was it written?
3. By whom was it read?
4. Under whose ministration did God begin to reveal the Old Testament?
5. Under whose ministration is the New Testament revealed today?
6. Why is the Gospel of Christ as revealed in the new Testament spoken of as being more glorious than under the Old?
7. Who gives us liberty to be followers of Christ Jesus?
8. By what means are we changed into the image of Christ?
9. What encouraged Paul to endure persecutions and distresses?
10. With whom did Paul hope to share the glory of the First Resurrection?