Tag Archives: 2 Cor. 3

Hope-fueled boldness

Giovanni_Bellini_016-large

Giovanni Bellini, “Transfiguration of Christ”, Naples, Italy, 1480 – 1485.

2 Cor. 3:12-4:2
For Sunday, February 7, 2016
Transfiguration Sunday

We ought to be exceedingly bold in living out the gospel.  This is the only conclusion we can reach once fueled by the power of this passage.

To understand what the Apostle Paul is saying here we need to start back at v. 7.  Paul is contrasting the ministry of the old covenant with the ministry of the new.  If the ministry of the old covenant, which brought condemnation, set Moses’ face aglow, how much more should the ministry of the new covenant, the gospel, set our faces aglow?  “Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold” (v. 12).

Secular culture tells us that we are free to worship in any way we like, privately.  But there’s the rub.  As Chuck Colson, one of my mentors (and he can be yours too) liked to say our faith is to be personal but not private.  One of Chuck’s favorite quotes was from Dutch theologian Abraham Kuyper: “There’s not a single square inch in the whole domain of human existence over which Jesus Christ who is Lord of all does not cry out, ‘Mine!’ “.

So what would a boldness reboot look like?  “Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.  Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God.  On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God” (ch. 4:1,2).

Father, may the Apostle Paul’s excitement and passion for the hope and freedom he found in you be so utterly contagious for us that we can’t stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.  Let us be the church in the world.  Amen.

Your turn

  • Where do you most struggle to be bold with your faith?
  • What encouragement do you find in this passage to be bolder?
  • If you succeeded what would it look like?

How bold should we be?

The Apostle Paul’s answer In 2 Cor. 3:7, ff. is very bold.  Paul notes that Moses’ face was radiant after meeting with God (Exodus 34).  Paul then asks, “If Moses face was radiant in carrying the message of condemnation, how much more radiant are our faces in carrying a message of freedom?”  So how bold should we be at work, at school and with friends?

Paul lays it out for us.  “Since, then, we have such a hope, we act with great boldness …  We have renounced the shameful things that one hides; we refuse to practice cunning or to falsify God’s word; but by the open statement of the truth we commend ourselves to the conscience of everyone in the sight of God” (2 Cor. 3:12, 4:2).

But I’m afraid,” we say.  Wouldn’t it though be refreshing to go all in with the same love and passion for God that Paul had?  To put it bluntly, our fear is misplaced.  “Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience” (2 Cor. 5:11).

All in is the very best place to be.  Paul knew it and we know it.  Let’s go.

freedom

"Transfiguration of Christ," Giovanni Bellini, Galleria Nazionale di Capodimonte, Naples, Italy.  d. 1516.

“Transfiguration of Christ,” Giovanni Bellini, Galleria Nazionale di Capodimonte, Naples, Italy. d. 1516.

2 Corinthians 3:12 – 4:2
For Sunday, February 10, 2013
Transfiguration Sunday

If you have ever worked on a team you know how strained relationships can become.  We are so quick to ascribe failure to to others yet so slow to recognize fault within ourselves.  When faced with such conflicts the important point to remember is what the Apostle Paul says here:  “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (3:17).

The Corinthians were not pleased with Paul when he wrote this letter to them. They were experiencing him as operating out of worldliness and insincerity (the opposites of what Paul affirms for himself in 1:12).  Paul had promised to visit, didn’t, and they likely felt slighted (1:15-17).

Yet rather than getting caught up in a “he said, she said” exchange, Paul kept his eye on the bigger picture.  The bigger picture was that as glorious as was God’s ministry to Moses on stone at Sinai, so much more glorious was God’s ministry to Paul and his brothers and sisters at Corinth.  While Moses was the only one to reflect God’s glory then, on this side of the cross we all now reflect God’s glory (3:18).

Remember this the next time you find yourself in conflict with another Christian brother or sister or the next time your motives are misunderstood.  Don’t get caught up in defending yourself or in mutual recrimination.  Instead, marvel at the connection we share with one another  in the gospel and keep proclaiming the gospel’s hope with great confidence and boldness.  Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

Points to Ponder:

  • What would most help you hang on to the freedom of the Spirit of the Lord the next time you find yourself in conflict, whether with Christians or non-Christians?
  • How does the fact that God has illuminated our faces with the gospel cause us to be more bold in proclaiming the message?
  • Where is the freedom of the Spirit of the Lord leading you next?