2 Corinthians 4 v 1 - 6

Paul here puts people into FOUR different groups:

1. Firstly, he writes about himself and those who travel with him. He says that they have been given an enormous task which, at times, threatens to overwhelm them: but they are kept going by two things: A great task, and the consciousness of being involved in one brings its own strength and, secondly, always Paul had in his mind the mercy and grace of God towards him, he of all people knew what it was to be turned around and transformed by Jesus Christ!

2. He talks about his opponents and those saying lies about him. They reckoned that he had used underhand methods, that he had used an unscrupulous cleverness to get his own way and that he had altered the pure message of the Gospel.

3. He writes about those who have rejected the Gospel. The New Testament writers were far more aware than the twenty first century believer of the forces of evil and darkness, which wasn't so much a theological conclusion as a lived-in experience. Think back to the many demon-possessed whom Jesus cured and, if you go to certain areas of the world even now, there is the obvious influence of evil. Those who cannot accept the good news of Jesus are those who have so given themselves over to the evil of the world that they can no longer hear God's invitation. It isn't that God has abandoned them, it is they who have shut themselves off from him. We have some examples of this in the book of Acts-for example, Acts 24 v 24, 25- where those who had heard Paul were fascinated by what he said, but rejected the call to follow Jesus, because they had too much to lose. The tale of the Rich Young Ruler is another example.

4. Paul lastly writes about Jesus. When Paul preached, he didn't say, ''Look at me!'', but ''Look at Jesus Christ!'' and it is there you will see and find God. We were told at Bible College to resist any urge to wear anything bright or which might attract others to us rather than our message.

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