Note: This is a machine transcription, and it has not been reviewed for accuracy.2020 just keeps on coming. And if the gospel is so good, this good news, the gospel is so good, then why does life sometimes feel and look so bad? If the gospel is such great news, then why does life turns so bad? Isn't that a contradiction like homeless, real estate agent or, um, out of shape personal trainer? Isn't there just an inherent contradiction? When we look at the world around us and we see how bad it is, and then we see this gospel, we see how good it is, and we say this doesn't seem to mesh. That's the way the world looks at our faith. That says, If the gospel is so good, why does your life look so bad? Why do you experience so much suffering? Why do you talk about unparalleled glory when all we see is unrelenting suffering? And it's not just the world that asked these questions? We ask these questions, especially on mornings like this. If our gospel is so good, why do we suffer the way that we do? Why doesn't God just exempt us from all the trials at the moment of our conversion? So that we could be a better witness for him, right? Because wouldn't it just be a better witness if you became a Christian and then you didn't have to face any trials? Wouldn't everybody want to be a Christian? Why must we walk in constant weakness? Why must we experience pain and stress and the fear of the future and the constant sting and presence off death? Paul the Apostle has an answer for these questions that we're going to see this morning. And I no matter where you are in your life this morning, no matter what you're bringing in, I know. I know for a fact, I know for a fact that you need this word this morning. You need God's words and he's teaching this church in Corinth that for Christians suffering is not purposeless. And we've heard this message time and time again because it's in the scriptures over and over. But we're going to hear it again this morning because we need to be reminded this morning that suffering is not purposeless. In fact, it is a necessary ingredient in the witness of the Christian life to the glory of God. It is a necessary ingredient in our witness. Not just get rid of it will be better witnesses. No, with its very presence in us and among us, we are a better witness to the power and the glory of Christ. We're going to see that this morning from second Corinthians Chapter four, verses seven through 15 off familiar passage perhaps too many. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way but not crushed, perplexed but not driven to despair, persecuted but not forsaken, struck down but not destroyed. Always carrying in the body the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus sake so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us But life in you Verse 13 since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, I believed and so I spoke. We also believe and so we also speak knowing that he who raise the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. For it is all for your sake. So that as grace extends to more and more people, it may increase Thanksgiving to the glory of God. Father, please give us your spirit this morning to comfort us, to convict us, to bind up our wounds and the challenge Just this morning and the draws ultimately near to Christ, we pray in Jesus name. Amen. Paul is confident that are suffering is not purposeless. Our sufferings are not in vain. Our sufferings are necessary ingredient in the Christian life. Because of what those sufferings accomplished, we're going to see two main points this morning. Endurance in suffering shows off the power of God. Endurance and suffering shows off the power of God. We see this in the beginning of this great section in verse seven when he says we have this treasure in jars of Clay to show that the surpassing power surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. So what is this treasure that we have? It is the treasure off the gospel. It's the treasure of knowing Christ in this book that he's writing to the Corinthians in Chapter three. He ends with this this awesome scene of when one turns to Christ the veil that's over, their faces removed and you can finally see, see and behold the glory of God. So we're blinded without this work, were unable to perceive the value of the beauty of God and of Christ and of his cross. And there's absolutely nothing we can do in that condition toe open up our eyes. What Paul says is that God, who created light itself, flicks on the flashlight of his glory into the heart of man. And he shines the light of the knowledge of the glory of God into our hearts so that we can see and we can behold and we can treasure. And we can love our creator, God, who has saved us through Jesus Christ. This is the illuminating treasure that we possess as Christians. This is what lives inside of us, and it's been entrusted to us. We're to guard it, were to protect it, and we're to show it off in all of its glory, through the way that we live our lives. According to that, very power. God is putting his power on display in the life of his church to endure suffering. Now, when you think about something that's on display, you think about a museum that wants to display. It's its's precious jewels. They put it in a glass case they put in the center of the room. They shine them, they put lights on them. They want to draw all attention to it because it's the it's. The main thing is, I think it's most valuable. And as people walked by, they stare at it and they look at it and they gaze at it and they marvel at it. And when that treasure is done being looked at, they don't just leave it out in the open. They take those jewels and they put it away in a safe they put away in a vault, and it's monitored 24 7 high tech security because it's priceless and their fragile and they're handled with care, Paul says. God has put this treasure on display, this priceless value of the gospel of Jesus Christ on display not under a glass case in a museum, but in jars of clay. Now, if you're my age, then Jars of Clay is just a rock band. But before the band came along jars of clay with common containers of the ancient world, they were They were ancient Tupperware. They were used to store food and water and oils and pretty much anything else you wanted to store. You put it in a jar of clay, and these jars lasted a couple of years. Probably like our Tupperware does. You might lose the lid, my chip or break, and they would break. They would crack and you would just throw them away. They were disposable, so common worthy that Phillip Hughes says that every domestic archaeological excavation site contained there remains. That's how common these things were. So I'd be like if we went out on the dig and we found a McDonald's cup. That's how common it waas cheap, easy to replace disposable. You would never think to find a treasure hidden inside Ah McDonald's cup. But that's exactly what Paul says God has done. He has placed this treasure of the gospel. Inside. Our clay jars are fragile, easily breakable bodies, which doesn't seem to make a whole lot of sense to us, right. It's like, Why did they put the eggs one of the most fragile things in the grocery store? Why did they put eggs in cardboard containers that are so easily broken? It doesn't seem to make any sense. But God has done this for a reason. He's done it to show that the surpassing power off God comes from him, not from us. It's not about our carton, and this gospel comes to us with power. You know, every little boy wants toe. Have power. Superhero powers rightto leap a tall building in a single bound or tow shoot Spider webs out of their wrists. That's pretty cool, Paul assumes that we have in this gospel, we have power, he says. It's surpassing power. It's a power that surpasses our problems. And so we asked, What is this power? What is it that Christians conduce that other people can't do because of the gospel? Can we walk on water? Can we turn water into wine? What is it? Can we open the eyes of the blind? And here is the power that we have. We have as believers the power to endure suffering with faith. We have the power to endure suffering with faith. If there's ever a time, we need to hear that again and believe that again. It's now. This year has sucked. There's just no other way to say it. 2020 has been so difficult in so many ways. And yet in the midst of this fallen world, the more we experienced the suffering of God. The more we experience the endurance of God, the more we shine the power of God. So while this world has just fallen and broken in so many ways, and we're just experiencing a greater measure of it this year God's power is with us as his church. In every way, Paul defines this power in four ways, he says. First, we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed. We are afflicted. Yes, that's what it feels like. We are afflicted literally. This means we're being squeezed. Squeezing out that last bit of the toothpaste were squeezing every way like a like a boa constrictor, wrapping itself around ever tighter. We are squeezed, but we're not being squished, were afflicted but not being crushed. This is the sure experience this morning of all of Charlotte's family. I know it's your experience this morning, too. I'm sure many of us have issues in our lives that don't seem to have clear answers. Unexpected relationships that have broken you're not sure how to get them fixed some of your walking through extended sicknesses without a clear path for how you're supposed to get better. Some of you were walking through the guilt of your past and decisions you've made some of you are facing. Once again, job pressures and financial pressures were constantly being squeeze like a giant trash compactor just pushing us in, threatening to squeeze the very life out of us and what's supposed to happen to a clay pot when it's under that kind of pressure, it's supposed to just crack and just break disintegrates. But Paul says we're not crushed because when you face an outward pressure as a Christian, you have this inward pressure that meets that force on force, so that even though everything is squeezing you in and trying to pressure you, you have this pressure from the inside out that's keeping you perfectly still fueled by the Holy Spirit. We can withstand the squeezing of this world, and we can endure, so we're afflicted but not crushed, were perplexed but not driven to despair. This is the ability to not understand and yet not give up. Isn't that a good definition for 2020? Don't understand, but not giving up? Paul was often perplexed. We are often perplexed how many of you here. You don't have to show your hands, I think. But just in your own art, How many of you are just perplexed by this year were perplexed. We don't understand why God works in the ways that he does. You know, we don't understand why the story of life takes the turn than it does, Paul says. Even when you don't know why, even when you don't know why. If you're a Christian, you have something inside of you that helps you to not be driven to despair. There's actually a play on words here. There's like a rhyme in the Greek like we would say, stressed but not stressed out. We're confused but not confounded, and that's because of the treasure we possess. We have been given brothers and sisters. We have been given the knowledge of God, the knowledge of God, the knowledge of the true god in the face of Jesus Christ, who loved us enough to sacrifice his body and his blood to die in our place as a sacrifice for our sins so that we would one day be with him forever in glory, as our sister is experiencing right now, it is a deep abiding knowledge that keeps us from despair when we have no sufficient answers for the confusion. I talked to Robert this morning and he said one thing is for sure I know where she is. I know she's with Christ. Perplexed, doesn't understand why she could go in for what seems to be a routine surgery on Friday and is not with us anymore. On Sunday. Perplexed but not driven to despair, 30 says were persecuted but not forsaken. You know, oftentimes feels like this world has deserted us because it has deserted Christ and so we feel persecuted. We feel cut off from God, and we think of the words of Jesus and Mark, 15 34 when he hangs on the cross and he's being persecuted by men and he says, My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? And some of you may have uttered words like that in 2020. Why have you forsaken me? Why have you turned your back on me? Why have you turn your face away from me? But it's the ironic words of Jesus on in this moment on the cross because it's precisely the knowledge of the cross that we know that we're not forsaken. Jesus feels like he's forsaken by the father on the cross. We look at the cross and we know because of Jesus's death in our place. We're not forsaken. We know that no matter what persecution comes our way. We know beyond a shadow of a doubt that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers nor height nor death, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ. Jesus, our lord. So we're afflicted, were persecuted. But we will never be forsaken. And fourth, he says, were struck down but not destroyed. This is the ability to endure pain but not be overcome literally. This word means whacked. You just get whacked like Paul when he's stoned outside of Lister and they're just stoning him trying to kill him, leaving him for dead at the side of the road. You can feel like you've just gotten wack. That's what this morning has felt like for so many wave upon wave upon wave and now this. And at times there's just no way you think you could take another way. If you've been knocked down, you think there's no way there's just no way not gonna be able to get back up, Paul says. Even when you've been left for dead on the side of the road, kind of whacked, God's power is there to get you through. Being knocked down is not the same thing as being knocked out. God will give you the power to endure until your jar has been completely used up for his glory. And so why has God put this treasure in frail pot like us? Well, as Kevin DeYoung put it, the treasure shines brighter in the cracked, blistering pot of clay. He didn't want people marveling at the craftsmanship of the jar, but marveling, How does that stay together? And friends? It is only by the surpassing power of Christ. That's how that's it. That's the only way by the power of Christ Verse 10 It says We're always carrying in the body the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus's sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you do you get it? Do you get it? The Christian life is a life of death. It's death upon death, upon death, upon death, upon death upon death. Until there's finally life, they're one famous TV preacher has taught hundreds of thousands of people that God wants you to be happy and sappy and healthy and wealthy and victorious in all the material kinds of things of this world. Let me just read some of the quotes for you so you can understand some of the other kinds of teaching that is out there when he says, because of the price he paid. Speaking of Jesus, we have a right to live in total victory, not partial victory to where we have a good family and good health. That's not enough, but we constantly struggling our finances. That's not total victory. If God did it for you in one area, he could do it for you in another area. He has paid the price so that we may be totally free, that God wants us to be totally free. Let me assure you he didn't create you to be average. He didn't create you to barely get by to have all kinds of things holding you back. You've got to get the right vision. God created you to be totally free to have peace in your mind. Toe walk in divine health toe. Have good relationships. Toe. Have plenty to pay your bills. God has created us as victors, not victims. All I can tell you this. Second Corinthians four says, Death, death, death, death, death, death, death, death, life, God's life being worked outside out of our death. That's what it says. And we are Victor's. So in some ways there's truth there, but not in the way that's being described there. Not in the way that we should have more money. Really. Christianity is an ongoing death to self so that the life of Jesus might shine through you. It is a ongoing death to self so that others would be strengthened. Death in you strengthened in others. So what this means is you as a Christian, Don't get to live your life off in the corner. We're together and people are watching you as you suffer on. I could look around this room and I know some of the suffering that you face in this very room. And as you've suffered, you've put on display God's surpassing power in the Gospel through your clay jar. And it has given strength the other believers. That's God's way. His power is perfected in our weakness. I don't want it that way. But that is God's way. His power is perfected in our weakness. Have you embraced weakness as a way of life as an invitation to display the surpassing power of Christ? Have you embraced that? You might ask, How do I embrace that? How do I embrace a life of ongoing death to self so that Christ has shown powerful in my life? Friends, this is flat out impossible to do if you keep your eyes off of Christ. If your eyes are in the wrong place it is flat out impossible if your eyes are on this world on Lee and what this world provides and what this world gives and what this world has to offer. If that's if that's where your eyes are fixed, it is impossible like not 1%. It is impossible if your eyes are fixed on the wrong place because we find out here now. Second main point, that endurance to press on comes from knowing your future from knowing your future from knowing what the future holds. God has given to us a revelation of what the future holds. And for those who are in Christ, it is unbelievable. It is beautiful. It is majestic. It is heaven. There's a lot of thoughts gonna be happening about heaven this week. Lots of thoughts about heaven happening this week. Someone asked me a long time ago whether or not heaven was all that we had to look forward to, as as if the Christian message was just, you know, life stinks. You're going to go toe having some days, so suck it up between now and then because in some ways that's what it feels like. It feels like we're just passing your time here day after day until that day. Well, that is not Paul's perspective. Paul has a robust vision for life to preach the gospel toe, live out the gospel, to finish the course that step before him to fight the good fight of holiness. He has godly ambition, He has motivation, and he has initiative in this life. But here's the key. It is Paul's vision of heaven, his vision of the future with Christ that motivated him now in this earth toe live for Jesus. It wasn't self will. It wasn't self power. It wasn't just because that's what everybody else is doing. It was his vision for a life to come that reoriented his priorities in this life. So, he says in Verse 13 since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written quote, I believed and so I spoke. We also believe, and so we also speak. Paul is quoting Psalm 1, 16 10 which is at the heart of this song that David Rights and in this psalm, David's describing a time where he almost died and God rescues him. David believed in God's faithfulness, even when he was suffering and even when he was facing death. And Paul says he shares in the same spirit of faith that David has in belief that in the midst of suffering, God will deliver him. And so he's confident to speak the way that he does, and he believes this truth. Listen to what he says. He says he believes that knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus well also will raise us also with Jesus and bring all of us who are in Christ together into his presence. So David's facing death and he's trusting God that God's going toe to rescue him from his sufferings. Paul is saying, Even when I do die, I'm trusting God to raise me from the dead. So whether you're David or whether you're Paul, you can believe with the same faith and speak the same words knowing knowing that Jesus rose from the grave and knowing that because he rose friends, we who are in faith in Christ, we will rise also with him. If there's anything that moments like this morning press upon our souls, it's that what you believe, what your convictions are about, what happens after this life is over. What happens after you die make all the difference in how you live and endure this life. E don't know how to say it more clearly than that. It can't just be a theology. It can't just be up in your head. It has to be a conviction. It has to be a conviction when someone dies to know because, Christ, Rose, they're gonna rise again to And because, Christ, Rose, I'm going to rise again. To if you believe, like Paul, as confident as Paul is that the next time you breathe, you're going to take an air. If you believe that Christ rose from the dead and that means you're going to rise from the dead, then death is not really death. Death is not really death. Death doesn't end in the grave, which means that there's no suffering, no suffering that you can face that can change your future. No suffering you can face. That can change your future, which means you can stay in that clay jar of yours as long as God has for you. Facing whatever trials he gives you without being crushed without being despairing, without being forsaken and without being destroyed. In fact, you can give yourself two loving and serving others so that as the death of Christ is made known through you, the life is being poured out into others, and you haven't lost a single thing by doing it. No, I'd rather listen to Jim Elliot than Joel Osteen When Jim says he is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose. You know, sometimes we hit moments of suffering and we think, Well, we just have to, you know, press on press forward, dont show emotions. We come out with the spirit of indifference, like a stoic I'll reserve all your emotions. No, there's a reality that there's a reality that grief touches our hearts. Grief is painful. Grief makes us cry. It's okay to be sad. It's okay to cry. In fact, if we're not, if you if you're not affected by the pain and suffering of people around you, that Zatz probably the worst spot to be in, then someone who's crying over it. But we, as Christians have a hope that no one else on this planet can have none. Do you believe that you will be delivered. Do you believe you in this room? You listening online? Do you believe that Christ has risen from the dead for your sins? Do you believe that's true? And do you believe on the basis of that that when you die, you will rise again? To that, you will stand in the resurrection. Do you believe that's true? Do you believe you will receive the crown of life? Do you believe that you will be lavished with the riches off God's inheritance for his saints as you enter into his everlasting glory? Do you believe that's true? Do you believe that you're going to experience the ever increasing love of God for all eternity in the presence of the States as we worship Christ together? Do you believe that that is what this teaches us? That's where hope is this morning. If so, God will grant you surpassing power to endure the suffering that you're facing the suffering that the Smith Family Very Cough and Alfonzo's and Van Horn's Molinos families air facing knowing, knowing these promises are guaranteed knowing they're guaranteed for tomorrow. Listen, how hard is it to give up a dollar today when you are guaranteed 50 million tomorrow. It's hard to let go of your precious dollars today, but when you're guaranteed 50 million, tomorrow makes it a bit easier. It's not as hard to give up precious moments of time today if you know you have eternity tomorrow. It's not as hard to give up comforts today when you know you have pleasures at his right hand tomorrow and forever more as a Christian. Listen, 2020 is teaching us something. This world will not last but God's eternity. God's heaven will last forever. So let that reorient your priorities. Let it reorient your purpose for living. Let it reorient the way you spend your time and your money. Let it reorient the way you give to other people and you serve people. Let it reorient your vision for life so that those who don't know Christ around you can come into this fellowship. As your life is transformed by this vision, you will endure suffering, knowing that God has ordained your path and he can be trusted because he is an absolutely trustworthy got, and nothing can shake our confidence in that because of the cross. So as we come to Communion this morning, we must ask, What is the result of this endurance? What's what's supposed to happen here as we endure with this power inside of our clay jars that we're putting on display for the world to see? Verse 15 says Grace overflows tomb or and more people, and it increases their Thanksgiving. Do you see that in verse 15? That is Grace Overflows, Tomb or and more people through this death life continuum, it increases their Thanksgiving as they come into their own knowledge off this God who saves So we could say grace leads to gratitude in God's people. Grace leads to gratitude in God's people. Grace produces Thanksgiving in our hearts this morning, even as we suffer, even as we remember what Christ has done. We remember that he was crushed, that he rose from the dead, that he ascended on high. That is coming back, that we will rise with him. And from there we let our song of Thanksgiving begin to well up in our hearts, even in the pain, even in the storm, even through the heartache of this morning so that the glory of God would shine like a light pushing back the darkness of this dark world. Let's pray together. Let's let's take communion together. Mm. A za Christians. Um, Father, I pray you would strengthen us and encourage us and equip us with the truth that we've heard this morning. God, we are all suffering in many ways. Lord, I pray you help us not give up. You've assigned each one of us this life. You've ordained the boundaries of our lives. You've put us here in this time in place to endure this kind of suffering and other sufferings with faith to shine your glory so that the death of Jesus in us would become life for others. Give us a vision, lord of that. Give us a vision of where we're going. Give us a vision of this promise that has been assured for us that you will hold us fast even when our faith seems to fail. Even then, Lord, we've even is Our grip fails on you, Lord. You've got us, Lord, I pray you would bring not just comfort this morning, but even beyond comfort Hope Lord, give us hope this morning and then give us power, Lord toe live for you cause our hearts to repent from the sin that so foolishly entangles US lords so that we could be these faithful witnesses for your glory In Christ name, we pray.