2 Corinthians 4:1-7
3But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:
To our text I add the words of Ephesians 5:14 by way of inspiration to arrest your attention
14Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.
I have titled our study for this time Enthusiasm. A good many people are afraid of this word. Do we really know what it means? enthusiasm, (GK. “en theos”) to be possessed by a god. originally supernatural inspiration. now — intense, eager, zeal, to be inspired. The root of this word means "in God" The person who is "in God" surely will be filled with enthusiasm.
If the lost are to be reached by the Gospel of Christ, (Romans 1:16) Christians must be more aggressive in our teaching, we need to consider the condition of the (world) our friends, family, neighbor, without the gospel. Note again our text: 2 Cor. 4:3
“3But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:”
Too many are not aware of this, we fail to see those outside Christ as really lost. Perhaps we don’t understand what it means to really be lost. Ephesians 2:11-12 “Wherefore remember, that once ye, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called Circumcision, in the flesh, made by hands; 12that ye were at that time separate from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of the promise, having no hope and without God in the world.”
They are dead in sin and trespasses lost and without hope! Beloved we have a responsibility to them. In John chapter 4: 35-37 the words of Christ
“35Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh the harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields, that they are white already unto harvest. 36He that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal; that he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together. 37For herein is the saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth.” Every man and woman in Christ must wake up to the fact that we have a mission in the world, in reaching the lost.
A man may talk in his sleep, he may even quote the Bible, somewhere I read the following story: “There a preacher who raised right up in his sleep, preached a lesson, His wife took notes, and he later preached it. “ So a man may talk in his sleep, he may walk in his sleep, but a man cannot work in his sleep.
There is no better way for a congregation to awaken than to begin working. One man when awaken will provide enthusiasm for another and he too will began to labor.
Of course the moment we awaken and enthusiastically began to work, other will cry: "Zeal without knowledge". I believe I have heard that objection all my life as a Christian.
I remember growing
up in a small rural congregation in
I heard another story where one speaking of a task that needed doing, and he stated, he hoped that zeal would be tempered with moderation. Another wisely replied, "I hope that moderation will be tempered with zeal."
In Philippians 1:12-18 these words
“12Now I would have you know, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the progress of the gospel; 13so that my bonds became manifest in Christ throughout the whole praetorian guard, and to all the rest; 14and that most of the brethren in the Lord, being confident through my bonds, are more abundantly bold to speak the word of God without fear. 15Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: 16the one do it of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel; 17but the other proclaim Christ of faction, not sincerely, thinking to raise up affliction for me in my bonds. 18What then? only that in every way, whether in pretence or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and therein I rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.”
In every age, God has used those who were in earnest. Satan calls idle men into his service, but God calls the active, zealous and earnest man into His service. When we are thoroughly aroused and ready for work, God will call us into His vineyard and use us. Do you remember where Elijah found Elisha? He was plowing in the field, he was at work.
Gideon was at the threshing floor. Moses was away in Horeb attending sheep, Saul of Tarsus was busy, persecuting the church yes, but in good conscience, he was actively perusing what he thought to be right.
One commentator stated: "The zeal of the apostles was seen in this — they preached publicly and privately, they prayed for all men, they became all things to all men that they might by all means gain some” They traveled through deeps and deserts, they endured the heat of the desert day. They suffered the violence of winds, rains, seas, in peril of their own countrymen, all this to carry the gospel to the lost.
I've always thought that we need to learn to have the attitude that carried the apostle Paul, given to us in 1 Corinthians 9:13ff
“Know ye not that they that minister about sacred things eat of the things of the temple, and they that wait upon the altar have their portion with the altar? 14Even so did the Lord ordain that they that proclaim the gospel should live of the gospel.
15But I have used none of these things: and I write not these things that it may be so done in my case; for it were good for me rather to die, than that any man should make my glorifying void. 16For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of; for necessity is laid upon me; for woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel. 17For if I do this of mine own will, I have a reward: but if not of mine own will, I have a stewardship intrusted to me. 18What then is my reward? That, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel without charge, so as not to use to the full my right in the gospel”
How the church needs to heed the words of Ephesians 5:14 —
”Wherefore he saith, Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall shine upon thee.”
When a man goes into business filled with fire and zeal, he will generally succeed and carry others with him. In the armed forces, a general who is filled with enthusiasm will fire up his men and will accomplish a great deal more than one who is not.
Bible teachers going into classrooms without enthusiasm will rarely motivate their class, and in many cases never really teach them anything.
Ever sit in a class on Sunday morning where everything was real quite before the class started? It was generally pretty quite after the class stared. Give me a class where the teacher is zealous, anxious to teach, everyone is talking before the class begins, "Good morning Charlie, how's your mother this morning?" "How are you this morning Johnnie, how's the baby doing?" Enthusiasm! This is the kind of teacher we like to see, beginning the lesson and all the class is ready and anxious to hear what he is going to say.
I read of a man in the ninth century who came up against a king. The king had an army of 30,000 men, but this man only 500 soldiers. The king realized his enemy was small, sent an messenger with a note stating that if he would surrender he would treat him and his followers mercifully. The man read the note, called one of his men before him and said, "take your sword, and cut off your arm". The man's follower did so. To another he said," jump off that cliff yonder". The man jumped to his death. He turned back to the king's messenger and said, "Go to your king and tell him we may die, but we will never surrender. Tell him that I will have him chained with my dogs within 48 hours."
When the king heard the message and knew what kind of men were arrayed against him terror struck his heart, his army was demoralized and scattered as the wind. The king was taken captive and chained with the dogs within 48 hours of being conquered
I believe that many do not obey the gospel because we are not earnest and enthusiastic in reaching them. Many are not aware they are lost n the words the song “You Never Mentioned Him To Me” written by Brother Gaines who was the grandfather of our Margaret Eads. One of the verses state: “you met me day by day, and knew I was astray, but never mentioned Him to me.” How sad that would be on the day of judgment to hear this said of us.
Continuing In the second letter of Paul to the Corinthians chapter 3 beginning in verse 1
“Are we beginning again to commend ourselves? or need we, as do some, epistles of commendation to you or from you? 2Ye are our epistle, written in our hearts, known and read of all men; 3being made manifest that ye are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in tables that are hearts of flesh. 4And such confidence have we through Christ to God-ward: 5not that we are sufficient of ourselves, to account anything as from ourselves; but our sufficiency is from God; 6who also made us sufficient as ministers of a new covenant; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life1- Beloved we are to be living epistles, "known and read of all men". When men begin reading and seeing the Lord Jesus Christ is us, they will begin turning from sin to the Lord.”
I think our problem is that we become zealous when prodded by someone, but it dies out too quickly. I heard a man say of a well of water that he possessed. "It is a very good well, except it had two faults. I would freeze up in the winter and go dry in the summer." Perhaps that describes the zeal of many Christians, they freeze up in the winter, and go dry in the summer.
Hear the words of our text 2 Cor. 4:1-7
“1Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; 2But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. 3But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: 4In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. 5For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 7But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.”
The church here has a great task before it. We MUST reach this community with the gospel of Christ. Beloved we have a long way to go. Let us not “Freeze Up In The Winter Dry Up In The Summer.”
This often quoted poem has a great message for all of us
the clock is wound but once
And no man has the power
to tell just when the hand will stop
at a late or early hour
now is the only time you own!
live! love! toil with a will,
place no faith in tomorrow !
for the hands on the clock
may then be still.
Another oft sung song, written by the late and beloved Tillit S. Teddlie
“Swiftly we’re turning life’s daily pages, swiftly the hours are changing to years. How are we using God’s golden moments, Shall we reap glory? Shall we reap tears”
Into our hands the gospel is given, into our hands is given the light. Haste let us carry God’s precious message, guiding the erring back to the light.”
Finally we read in 1 Corinthians. 15:58
“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not vain in the Lord.”
If we can assist you in further studies, be let us know.
Ron Cope Minister churches of Christ