CONFIDENT IN GOD: The Basis of Real Ministry
You Can’t Get to God from There
2 Corinthians 3:12-18
Jerry A Collins
v How is the Law a barrier for the Jew?
v What kind of ministry is a ministry of the New Covenant?
v What difference does faith in Christ make today?
Many of us are usually comfortable with the same things. We can calculate our schedules by them. We can calculate our income by the cadence of sameness. I can count on my check every second and fourth Fridays and so on. Familiarity breeds a certainty and an expectation that provides security. If these expectations become permanent, a sort of privilege sets in. I deserve this position. They do not. After all I have been enjoying this for a long time. This is a primary reason why people are reluctant about change. It might jeopardize their privilege. Make them vulnerable to uncertainty. So they dig in, making the status quo seem reasonable because of what it does for them. This is where the Jew found himself when Christ came onto the scene. They were privileged as beneficiaries of the Old Covenant of Moses. Notice the connection between such in vs 14-15. So they marginalized Christ and his disciples. Eventually they manipulated to have Christ murdered. Now they are attempting to discredit Paul, Christ’s apostle. Prompted by the inference that his credentials were inadequate, spurred by Judaizers, Jews with a vested interest in the privilege of the Old Covenant for them, he defends himself. He does so by underscoring the superiority of the New Covenant 3:6, to that of the Old 3:14. In this passage Paul reviews a handful of reasons why this is so.
IN CHRIST HOPE IS ETERNAL; IN MOSES HOPE IS TEMPORARY
1. Eternal hope is in Christ 12.
Notice the connection between ‘hope’ in vs 12 and our relationship to Christ in vs 14-18. The glory that fades with Moses vs 13 remains for us in Christ. So a basic characteristic of the New Covenant is ‘Hope’. Hope that God accepts us. Hope that we have eternal life. Hope that in Christ all of the work to atone for our sins is accomplished. Hope for the other side of the grave. An interesting by-product of our hope is ‘great boldness in our speech’. Actually our hope creates boldness. The sharper the focus of your hope the greater will be your boldness in ministry. Our confidence is not based on people’s response. Since we have a glory in Christ that does not fade away—we are always in His presence, not like Moses who was not—we can speak with the authority of God all of the time. At any moment of any day, we have the boldness with God’s authority to speak the salvation message to whoever will listen. This same hope is what made Paul very bold in his proclamation of the gospel as well as the apostles and their disciples.
2. Moses hope
is temporary 13. The contrast is striking because Moses
only had moments of glory, which faded from his face when he went away from
God’s presence. Notice that it was not Moses fault that anything was made about
this fading glory but the Israelites thought this was a big deal. They ‘looked
intently’ for signs of this glory fading—sort of like watching a suntan fade
while you are away from the sun. The veil Moses wore kept this fact hidden from
the Israelites, becoming a barrier, which hid the truth from them. By
implication, the glory that remains and does not fade is the greater glory. The
Law was transitory and preparatory by nature and never a permanent arrangement.
So we look at the OT in a different way than
FOLOWING CULTS OR RELIGION INCREASES ONE’S INABILITY TO PERCEIVE TRUTH IN CHRIST
1. Jews hearts were hardened 14-15.
When you study Jesus ministry with the disciples we learn that he ‘opened their minds to understand the Scriptures’ Lk 24:45. The Jews, so committed to the Law of Moses, don’t see that only in Christ is the veil lifted and the glory of the old covenant seen to permanently fade away. Their minds were dull either because they were unwilling or unable to comprehend the temporary nature of the Law. The Law was a preliminary message not the final word of God’s revelation. He says that this hardening remained to his day—over 1500 years later—he says this twice. There is a perceptible spiritual veil that has not been removed (4:3-4; Rom 11:7-8, 25). The Jews have hardened their hearts unwilling to believe and God has hardened their hearts so they are unable to believe. Both their minds and their hearts are veiled so they will not and cannot perceive the truth in Christ. There comes a point when God gives you what you want. That means you get to live with the consequences. He does that for people who suppress the truth—he gave them over—and he has done that with the Jews.
2. The truth is only in Christ 16.
only happens when one turns to the Lord vs 16. Today
many people see their religion or good works as having value with God. But it
is those very things that keep them from repentance and turning to Christ vs 15. But the very act of a person turning to the Lord
means that this veil that was hiding Christ is taken away. During the
Tribulation God will begin to turn the hearts of the Jews toward Himself so
that in the Millennial Kingdom God says He will place His law within them and
write it on their heart, He will be their God and they will be his people (Jer 31:34). Today, in our age, there is no distinction
between Greeks and Jews and we ought not to make any! This age is the age of
ministry to the Gentiles. Anyone in this age following religion or cults has a
veil over their hearts making it hard to believe in Christ. A follower of Islam
has much in their mind and heart to un-believe (Abdul
THE SPIRIT REMOVES OUR SPIRITUAL VEILS AND FREES US
1. Freedom to see God’s glory 17.
Moses removed his veil when in God’s presence. But the Jews are still veiled. Today, when we seek the Lord the Spirit of God grants us access to God (Heb -22). Our access is not denied. Only Moses and not the Jews had access to God. Not so for us today. We can glimpse the full glory of God in Jesus Christ.
2. Seeing this glory is the means of our spiritual transformation 18. We all have become a Moses in that as believers we all have unveiled faces in God’s presence. So we can move from one stage of glory to another as we behold God’s glory in Christ. Rom says with the goal of conforming us to the image of His Son—something that could never be done under Law. The agent of this process is the Lord’s Spirit indwelling us. This glory is the experience of our salvation available only in Christ and then sanctifying us and finally glorifying us. Unlike Moses’ glory, which was transitory until he returned to God’s presence, a believer’s glory is eternal. So this means
1. People who pride themselves with their religion having value with God are mistaken, misguided, and need to un-believe what they do believe.
2. The Spirit of God lifts the veil so we can see the glory of God in Christ that it might transform our lives.