Hello everybody and welcome in to episode #239 of the Bible 2021 podcast. We are reading 2nd Corinthians 4 today and our focus is on Advice For Every Seminary Student + Clay Pot Christians.We are a daily 10 minute podcast, where we will dig in to the truth of the Word of God by reading one Bible chapter a day and discussing it. Welcome to new in listeners in Our goal is to encourage DAILY Bible reading, so you can jump in at any time and join with us. We want to invite as many people as possible to join us in daily Bible reading, so help spread the word and share the podcast! Don’t forget about our web-page, Bible2021.com – contact page, show notes, transcript and more– Click here for our Bible 2021 reading plan\
I’ve had a lot of experience in seminary – basically a grad school for pastors. I went to two different seminaries, and worked at a third seminary for around ten years. I love seminary, and had a great experience both as a student and as somebody who worked for a seminary. In our passage today, we find some advice from Paul that should be read by seminary students at the beginning of every week – and by church leaders at least weekly. The wisdom in this passage helps us to avoid so many of the pitfalls that can come when seeking to minister to people:
3 But if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 In their case, the god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For we are not proclaiming ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’s sake. 6 For God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:3-6
What wisdom do we see here?
#1 God’s Word is veiled to some and clear to others. It is sweet smelling perfume to some, and the stench of death to others, as Paul says. Why? Scripture gives various reasons. Sometimes it is because God hasn’t opened their heart to receive. Sometimes, as in this passage, the enemy blinds their minds so they can’t see the goodness of the good news. Sometimes, says Jesus in Mark 4, the worries of this world and the necessities of life take over and choke out the Word. It can be any number of reasons, and sometimes we don’t know, and thus we should never treat somebody who rejects the good news with any sort of disrespect or unkindness or even a prideful ‘holier than thou’ attitude. Patient love is always called for.
#2 Our message has nothing to do with our merit as followers of Jesus. HE Is Lord and we are servants of those we speak to. Thus we always maintain an attitude and air of SERVANTS. Not enemies. Not rivals. SERVANTS. We serve those we seek to take the good news to.
#3 We weren’t saved by our superior understanding or spiritual merit. We were saved by God shining the light of Jesus into our hearts. No room for pride there, any more than a many who was saved from drowning by the Coast Guard should brag about his superior swimming ability.
Let’s read our passage, and then discuss one of Paul’s best – and most humbling – metaphors for a Christian.
What is a Christian? The word Christian itself does NOT mean “little” Christ, or something like that. The suffix “ianos,” when affixed to a name could indicate a slave-master relationship, or even a General-soldier relationship. It basically means a follower in the sense that a slave serves his master and a soldier follows their general. But, all through the Bible there are many illustrations and metaphors used for followers of Christ, and today’s is quite surprising, humbling, and very, very descriptive. Here’s what Paul calls us in 2nd Corinthians 4:
7 Now we have this treasure in clay jars, so that this extraordinary power may be from God and not from us.
WE are the clay jars. Fragile. Unimpressive. Not super-beautiful, but carrying the greatest treasure in the world. What is that treasure?
the light of the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ. 2nd Corinthians 4:6
Christians then are containers- bearers of the light of the world. In other places, Paul calls this treasure a mystery, and says that it is worth every ounce of our effort to tell the world all about this glorious treasure:
27 God wanted to make known among the Gentiles the glorious wealth of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 We proclaim him, warning and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ. 29 I labor for this, striving with his strength that works powerfully in me. Colossians 1:27-29
So -who are you? As a follower of Christ, created by God, you are a treasure of invaluable worth, because you are made in the Image of God – and nobody else has been created like you. On the other hand, you and I are very simply clay pots that carry something enormously important. Like the box that might carry the crown Jewels, only more important than that…or the case that holds the Declaration of Independence (or the Constitution, or the Magna Carta, etc), only more important than that. We are bearers of the great treasure, the great light, the great mystery that the world needs, and we must share that treasure wholeheartedly. Let’s close with some words from pastor Tony Evans on being clay pots/earthen vessels/jars of clay:
The life of Christ; he says in verse 7, we have it in earthen vessels. That means clay pots. You say, I’m not supposed to be living in discouragement. No, you don’t understand. Christ is in you but the you He’s in is a clay pot. He says an earthen vessel. It’s weak. It breaks easily. Not Christ breaks, the pot that Christ is in breaks. It cracks, it chips, and just as it gets older physically, it can become emotionally unstable. He says “that the surpassing greatness of the power of God may not be from ourselves.” God will let the plate, the clay pot chip so that you can see who’s really the power here. He will let you try it all you can by yourself until you have given up and say I can’t take it anymore. … Ah, yeah, we get persecuted but we never are forsaken. We get struck down, but we won’t be destroyed. He says, because we are always carried about in our body the dying of Jesus that the life of Christ may also be manifested in our clay pots. So, if you are discouraged today, God is showing you, you’re a clay pot. And what He wants you to do is understand that that pot can’t fix itself. He wants you to stop believing that the lie of the devil, He wants you to stop believing that just because you’re discouraged, that means that God has left you. God has gone nowhere. He just wants you to look up. He wants you to believe Him when believing Him is the last thing you want to believe.
Tony Evans, “‘A Lesson about Discouragement,’” in Tony Evans Sermon Archive (Tony Evans, 2015), 1 Ki 19:1–8.
Bible Memory verses for the month of August: 4 Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not arrogant, 5 is not rude, is not self-seeking, is not irritable, and does not keep a record of wrongs. 6 Love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth. 7 It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:4-6
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