Today at Third Avenue Baptist Church (very I am a new member) Matt Smethurst, who is one of our elders, preached all of the fourth chapter in Paul’s second epistle to the Corinthians. Now, I don’t know if you you know this but 2 Corinthians 4 is a stockpile of riches. For this brother to preach the whole thing was no easy task. But God was pleased to feed His sheep mightily through Matt’s exposition.
Verses 4-6 of chapter four are some of the most breathtaking verses in the whole of Scripture. It reads as follows:
In their case the god of this world 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. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
(2 Corinthians 4:4-6 ESV)
Paul shows us that the gospel is foolish to natural man. Just as we read from 1 Peter 2 today, Paul is belaboring the ignorant blindness of the nonbeliever. This is not to boast of moral superiority that now separates us from them. Instead this doctrine exalts the grace of God, showing the gospel is powerful enough to save anybody. God takes what is foolish to us and makes us see it as it is: altogether worthy. God does this, not by taking a poll and seeing who is interested, but by creating life (v.6). With the same power that it took to produce light in the lifeless void that was the universe, God has shown light into our dark hearts to give us the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. Where foolishness reigned, beauty has supplanted it. The object has not changed but we have, profoundly.
Matt used a very helpful illustration to show just what effect these verses have on our ministries. After all, Paul is using these truths to explain why they are not tricksters but those who openly state the truth of God’s Word. We see that we cannot manipulate someone into the Kingdom of God. People who do not love Christ will not be drug into His presence to experience fullness of joy forever. What follows is a rough paraphrase of Matt’s brilliant window into the text:
“Picture mankind sprinting towards what they think is the beach. With all they have, they are running towards perceived pleasure. These runners are blindfolded. Blind to what is in front of them, they run towards what they feel to be true. We on the sidelines have had our blindfolds removed. We now see that what we had been running towards was not the beach but hell itself. Will our all we shout, “turn back, repent!,” testifying to the truth that saved even us. “Shut up, you religious phanatic,” is the blind man’s reply. “We are going to the beach.” “In fact,” they assure us, “We can feel it getting warmer now.”
Surely the last couple of days testify to the universal blindness of man. Thousands who think they are gaining freedom from the government these last weeks are actually just being confirmed on their way to the “beach.” Apart from grace, there also am I. And you. Who is God that He would save us? And since He has in fact saved men and women like us, He can remove anyone’s blindfold.