Sermons by Marlin Harless

HOUSEHOLD OF FAITH

TRULY SPIRITUAL PARADOXES
Reveal A Magnificent Treasure-trove
Text: (2 Corinthians 6:10)

INTRODUCTION: The context presents several paradoxes, beginning with verse eight, however, the last three pairs of opposites presents an authentic and proper overview of the Lord Jesus Christ! Consider this: To the best of my knowledge, He never owned a piece of land, nor an animal for transportation, yet, He created the universe!!! Our text reads as follows: "As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things." Our purpose in this lesson will be to take a very careful look at the three pairs of opposites in this text, and let the scriptures interpret themselves.

"As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing." The early Christians always insist on "joy" as one of the fruits of the Spirit. "Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you" (Matthew 5: 10-12), and especially joy in the midst of grief and anguish: "And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also; knowing that tribulation worketh patience (Romans 5:3).

"For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost". (Romans 14:17); "Rejoice evermore" (1 Thessalonians 5:16). The best proof that this was no mere phraseology, but an amazing and new charism granted to the world, may be seen in the Epistle to the Philippians. It was written when Paul was old, poor and deserted, imprisoned, in danger of immediate death, and apparently in the lowest deeps of forsaken sorrow: yet the spontaneous key-note of the whole Epistle is, "Rejoice in the Lord always; I rejoiced in the Lord greatly" (Philippians 4:4,10) 1

I. TO THE SECULAR EYE HE WAS VERY SORROWFUL; TO THE SPIRITUAL HE WAS ALWAYS REJOICING.

1. As if Paul had said, "Under our sufferings, we seem to be very cast down and sad; dreary, degraded, and wretched does our life seem to the worldly men around us." So it often is with the life of a Christian man. But, on the spiritual side, a truly godly man is "always rejoicing," rejoicing in a good conscience, rejoicing in a stream of pure and noble thoughts, rejoicing in a consciousness of Divine favor.

II. TO THE SECULAR EYE HE WAS VERY POOR; TO THE SPIRITUAL HE WAS WEALTHGIVING.

"As poor, yet making many rich." Paul and his colleagues were poor; they had suffered the loss of all things. Yet spiritually they were not only rich, but made others rich. a. The highest work of man is to impart spiritual riches to his brother man. b. Worldly poverty does not disqualify a man for the discharge of this sublime mission. Consider both Paul's, and the Corinthians' personal experience: thus, molding their lives after Jesus "For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich" (2 Corinthians 8:9).

"But this I say, he which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give, not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work: (As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever" (2 Corinthians 9:6-9).

III. TO THE SECULAR EYE HE WAS DESTITUTE; TO THE SPIRITUAL HE WAS ENORMOUSLY RICH.

"As having nothing, and yet possessing all things." Nothing of this world's good, yet "possessing all things," not legally, but morally. Christliness gives us all things. "All things are yours" (1 Corinthians 3:21). Do not estimate life by appearance---things are not what they seem. Christliness with poverty, persecution, and suffering, is infinitely to be preferred to wickedness with the whole world at its command.2 "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28).

"And when I was present with you, and wanted, I was chargeable to no man: for that which was lacking to me the brethren which came from Macedonia supplied: and in all things I have kept myself from being burdensome unto you, and so will I keep myself" (2 Corinthians 11:9). "That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart" (Romans 9:2). "For the same cause also do ye joy, and rejoice with me. For indeed he, (Epaphroditus) was sick nigh unto death: but God had mercy on him; and not on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. "Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord… Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice" (Philippians 2:18,27; 3:1a, 4:4).

Spiritual riches Paul has in mind as in (1 Corinthians 1:5 cf. Matthew 5:37; 1Corinthians 3:22). "That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil. Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours." (1 Corinthians 3:2; 4:8), "I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. Now ye are full, now ye are rich, ye have reigned as kings without us: and I would to God ye did reign, that we also might reign with you." 2

IV. STILL, ANOTHER OVERVIEW OF 2 CORINTHIANS 6:10 IS AS FOLLOWS: "As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing;"---He was sorrowful under his own sufferings and the wickedness of others, but in it all found joy in suffering for Christ and man. Every Christian finds joy and peace in all the sorrows of life endured for Christ. [Sorrow was a real note in Paul's life, but it was interwoven with: "Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice." (Philippians 4:4.) To him the sense of the love of God, assurance of his support, confidence in future blessedness, and the persuasion that his present light afflictions would work out for him and an eternal weight of glory, mingled with his sorrows, gave him a grace which passed all understanding.]

"As poor, yet making many rich;"---While poor and suffering the want of all things he brought the riches of life eternal to many. [He worked with his own hands as a tentmaker to support himself and fellow workers so that he could preach the gospel to a world that did not want to hear and that was doing its utmost to defeat him in the effort to do it. But he was of the spirit of the ancient worthies of whom it is said: "They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth." (Hebrews 11:37, 38).

Paul manifested this spirit to make many rich in Christ. Those who accepted the offer of salvation had everything, for they had Christ and God, "Whether Paul or Apollus, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours" (1 Corinthians 3:22). This is the spirit of the faithful preachers of the gospel who have carried the message of love all over the world. Paul did not wait for a place to be made ready for him. He spurned the thought, declaring "Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon an another man's foundation" (Romans 15:20).]

"As having nothing, and yet possessing all things---" While he had nothing of earthly good, the riches of the eternal world were his possession.3

V. AN OVERVIEW OF THE CONTEXT OF 2 CORINTHIANS 6:8-10, BY J. W. MCGARVEY; THE READER WILL NOTE HIS USE OF THE [A.S.V.]

8 by glory and dishonor [When present in such cities as Philippi, Thessalonica, and Corinth, etc., Paul had been held in glory and honor by the converts of his ministry, but had been dishonored by heathens, Jews and Judaizing Christians], by evil report and good report [in his absence those who honored him spoke well of him, and those who dishonored him gave him an evil report]; as deceivers, and yet true [regarded by some as a deliberate cheat and a misleading imposter, yet approved of God and his own conscience as a true apostle].

9 as unknown, and yet well known [ignored and unrecognized by the rulers and the general public, yet well known by all those in any way interested in the gospel of Christ, either as friends or enemies]; as dying, and behold, we live {the life of the apostle was constantly exposed to death and just as constantly delivered and preserved]; as chastened, and not killed [Paul was being continually schooled and educated by suffering and yet the suffering was not more than he could bear - "The Lord hath chastened me sore: but he hath not given me over unto death. And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the Father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastening, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness" (Psalm118:18; Hebrews 12:5-10).

10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing [having abundant sorrow as to this present life, yet boundless rejoicing in contemplation of the life to come]; as poor, yet making many rich [being penniless indeed in worldly goods, yet able to enrich all men with the knowledge of the grace of God, and the heavenly blessings and benefits resulting and to result from that grace]; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things. [As having sacrificed all things for Christ and his gospel, "But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ" (Philippians 3:7, 8).

And yet sensible of having lost nothing by the exchange, but of having made infinite gain thereby, "For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours; Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours" (Matthew 16:25; 1 Corinthians 3:21, 22). Such had been the ministry of the apostle on behalf of the Corinthians, and therefore in the next three verses the apostle appeals to them to show to him an affection like that which he has bestowed upon them.] 4

The sum total of the foregoing scriptures, teach man, that the way up is down, and that, man's obsession with the things of this world, are self-defeating and destructive! Professed Christians need to realize that materialism can make ship-wreck of their faith, before one actually becomes aware that he is drifting from God!! The process steals upon one, in a very subtle and deceptive manner: Consider this warning from the apostle Peter, "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour" (1 Peter 5:8).

VI. CONCLUSION: Are you absolutely sure of your salvation? If you aren't, then, my friend, you may be lost, and not realize it! Consider the following: "(For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)" (2 Corinthians 6:2). Beloved, no one can know he is saved, until he has completely obeyed the gospel!! This term is never employed by the denominations, simply because their preachers preach that there is nothing to do to be saved, that it is, a better felt than told story, However, Jesus, and the apostles, to the contrary, notwithstanding, tells us that we must obey the gospel, if we are to be saved!

Man MUST HEAR the gospel, (Romans 10:14); b. Man MUST BELIEVE the gospel, (Romans 10:9); c. Man MUST REPENT of past sins, (Luke 13:3, 5); d. Man MUST CONFESS faith in Christ, (Romans 10:9, 10); e. Man MUST BE IMMERSED OR BAPTIZED into Christ, (Romans 6:3, 4); f. Man MUST BE FAITHFUL unto death, (Revelation 2:10). If man lives, and dies without obeying the gospel, he is lost eternally, (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9). Beloved, man needs to realize that he MUST OBEY GOD COMPLETELY, in order to be SURE OF SALVATION!!! Please, do it TODAY, TODAY, TODAY!!!

ENDNOTES:

1 The Pulpit Commentary on 2 Corinthians 6:10, page 146, Exposition, by F. W. Farrar

2 The Pulpit Commentary on 2 Corinthians 6:10, pages 149, 150, Homiletics by David Thomas

3 Gospel Advocate Commentary on 2 Corinthians 6:10, page 91, by David Lipscomb, and J.W. Shepherd

4 A Commentary on 2 Corinthians 6:10, pages 201, 202, by J.W. McGarvey

BIBLOGRAPHY:

1. King James Version of Bible: The New Thompson Chain-Reference Bible, Fifth Improved Edition

2. The American College Dictionary

3. The American Heritage Dictionary

4. The Expanded Vines, Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words

5. Theological Dictionary of The New Testament

6. The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology

(E-Mail Address: mlharless@kvinet.com). Dear reader: In the event you find errors or mistakes in this sermon, spelling, scripture references, etc., please feel free to inform me of same! Thank you! (MLH).

Marlin L. Harless
Email: mlharless@kvinet.com




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