|Sunday School & Bible Class (Sept-May)||9:15 AM|
Confident to Speak
3rd Sunday after Pentecost
June 10, 2018
Lincoln Heights Lutheran Church
Confident to Speak
2 Corinthians 4:13–18 (NIV84)
It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak, 14 because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence. 15 All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. 16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
Dear Friends in Christ,
What causes you fear? Are you afraid of certain creatures? Spiders, snakes and sharks are often feared and I can understand that. Some people have a fear of heights. I understand that one too. Many are scared of death, either their own or a loved one. That is very understandable. Then there is the fear that often tops the list of fears, depending on the survey you look at. The fear of public speaking.
This is one fear I completely understand. It is one I have struggled with in my life. I had my first speech class as a sophomore in high school. The teacher was the father of one of my best friends. I knew the teacher well and we got along well outside of class and in class. But speech was terrifying to me. I still remember the first speech we had to give. Impromptu. One minute. Sixty seconds. We had to draw a topic out of a bucket and talk about it for sixty whole seconds. I was trembling when my turn came. I drew my topic and it was the best possible topic for me. Baseball. I love baseball. I played baseball. I knew lots of things about baseball. So I began and said something like, “The Cardinals are my favorite baseball team. Ozzie Smith is my favorite player…..” And then I fell silent. 10 seconds was all I could talk about my favorite sport because of my fear of public speaking.
Does this ever happen to us in spiritual matters? When the perfect opportunity comes to talk about Christ, are we confident to speak or do we remain silent? Paul wants the Christians in Corinth and us to be confident to speak about our Savior. This confidence is not something we have in ourselves but comes from God’s promises. These promises give us the confidence to speak the gospel and a reason to speak. For we want others to know and trust in these same promises of God. We are confident to speak because death will be changed to life. We are confident to speak because troubles will be changed to glory.
Death Will Be Changed to Life
It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak, 14 because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence.
Paul quotes from Psalm 116 when he writes, “I believed, therefore I have spoken.” When we quote from the Bible we often quote only the verse that directly applies to or proves the point we are making. Sometimes biblical authors quote a phrase that reminds their readers of the entire section – in this case, all of Psalm 116. Jesus does the same thing when he says from the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” He is quoting part of Psalm 22, which details the suffering of the Savior.
The author of Psalm 116 is suffering persecution. He is overcome with trouble and sorrow but the Lord delivers him. It is very much like what Paul described for us last week in 2 Corinthians. Paul was persecuted and struck down but not destroyed. The confidence that the Lord will deliver one from trouble gives the confidence to speak God’s Word to others. “We also believe and therefore speak.”
However, we may get stuck on the fear of suffering, never getting to the confidence of deliverance. What is the coach going to say if I tell her I’m going to church instead of the Sunday morning practice or game? Will I lose my starting position or not get to play? Will the others make fun of me for going to church? Or a coworker says in a group, “Can you believe that there are people who still hold to the outdated and hateful idea that marriage is only for one man and one woman?” Do we remain silent or risk the wrath of the group by kindly and gently speaking up and saying what we believe based on God’s Word? When an unchurched person you know is hurting, lonely, scared, or confused in life, do we tell them about the hope we have in Christ both now and eternally? Or do we offer some words of comfort that will be sure not to cause controversy?
Fear of ridicule, of uncomfortable conversations, and of hostility can make us silent when we have an opportunity to speak about the One in whom we believe. But what is the worst that could happen to us? The worst unbelievers can do to Christians when believers speak the gospel is to kill them. The world can and has ended the lives of believers for holding to faith in Christ. Paul gives us confidence to speak even with that possible consequence of speaking.
We know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence.
Christ has died. His precious blood was shed to cover our sin of denying his name by our silence. He has covered every sin. The cross of Christ gives us comfort that we are forgiven. Now, Paul looks beyond the cross to the empty tomb. Jesus rose from the dead! That means that we who are in Christ will also rise. What can man do to us if Jesus is going to raise us to life again? Nothing. Not even death will separate us from the life our Lord has won for us by his death and resurrection. Paul is confident to speak because Jesus rose from the dead. We can also be confident to speak because Jesus rose from the dead.
His resurrection has opened the way to eternal life for all people.
All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.
Paul is confident to speak even though he will suffer for it. One day he will die at the hands of the Roman government. But Paul will keep speaking about Jesus, the Savior in whom he believes in the hope that those who hear the message may join Paul in giving thanks to God. Paul had a great love for all people, a love that wanted all to believe in Jesus and be saved.
He wanted his fellow Jews to believe and spoke to them again and again in their synagogues about Jesus. Paul wanted the Greeks and Romans to know about Jesus and spoke to them in marketplaces and in front of their rulers while on trial. He wanted his enemies to know about Jesus and spoke to them about the resurrection in front of the Sanhedrin. He wanted those who guarded him to know about Jesus. He wanted his friends to know about Jesus and wrote many letters to the churches to encourage them in their faith. He suffered and spoke the Word of God for the benefit of others so that others would know the same grace of God that Paul, himself has received. He was confident to speak because the Lord changes death to life through Christ. May God give us the same love for people and confidence to speak to people today.
Troubles Will Be Changed to Glory
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
It is difficult to confidently speak about Christ when we are worrying about the problems of this life. And Christians will have troubles in life just like everyone else. There are bills to pay and doctors to visit. There are people who don’t like you, projects to complete at work, house repairs that need to happen. And there are spiritual troubles – our own sins, the sins of our family, the suffering as a believer and so on.
These troubles of life can keep us from confidently speaking about Jesus. First of all we can worry so much about these things that we forget about Jesus. Secondly, we might not feel we are qualified to speak about Jesus. If our Christian life is a bit of a mess, who are we to tell others about Jesus? Paul gives us the cure to these objections so we can be confident to speak.
He says to fix our eyes on what is unseen. It is all too easy to fix our attention on the problems and troubles of life and become consumed with them. We should look at troubles but not stare at them. When our sin is the problem, repent and believe that Christ has forgiven your sin. When the trouble is not of our own making, see how we can help. Pray for God’s help. If the problem is beyond our ability to help, leave it in the hands of the Lord. Instead of staring at the troubles, Paul says to fix our eyes on what is not seen.
Be renewed inwardly by the Holy Spirit as he works invisibly to build your faith in Christ through the Word of God. Touch and handle things unseen as you receive the body and blood of Christ in Communion. Fix your eyes of faith on the glory of eternal life where there is no sin, no suffering, no troubles. Paul tells us that compared to eternal glory, our troubles now are light and momentary.
We could examine all our troubles with a microscope which would make them all seem like terrible troubles no one has ever experienced. Or we could fix our eyes on Jesus and the glory he has prepared for us in eternal life. One will make us afraid and worried. The other will give us comfort and confidence. May the Lord help us to focus on the spiritual blessings he gives that last forever and not on what is temporary.
Then we will be able to speak about Christ during good times and troubling times. We will be able to tell what we believe because it does not depend on us or our lives. Instead, everything depends on Christ. He is the one who changes death to life. He is the one who changes troubles to glory. This we believe and this we speak.