Gracefully Truthful

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Discover the original intent of Scripture. Make good application to our everyday lives.
Become equipped to correctly handle the Word of Truth!

Read His Words Before Ours!

2 Corinthians 4:7-9

Now we have this treasure in clay jars, so that this extraordinary power may be from God and not from us. 8 We are afflicted in every way but not crushed; we are perplexed but not in despair; 9 we are persecuted but not abandoned; we are struck down but not destroyed.

The Original Intent

1) What is meant by “jars of clay”? (verse 7)

In telling us “we have this treasure in jars of clay”, Paul is poetically referring to our beginnings in Genesis when God created the first man, Adam, from the dust of the Earth. (Genesis 1:27) Adam was a vessel, a jar, formed by the clay of the earth by the very hand of God.

In the ancient Middle East, the culture of the Bible, earthen clay vessels were used to store supplies and often necessities for life like food or water. Some vessels were sturdier than others. Clay jars used for storing water and oil were probably the heaviest, having thicker walls. There were also clay jars made of finer quality, likely kept on a high shelf (a mantel of sorts perhaps), this held sacred (holy) oil. This oil was used for anointing for prayer. (John 12:3Luke 7:37-38)

No matter the contents, vessels were still made of the same material. Clay. Earth. Fragile.

Paul uses a metaphor by saying we, as human beings, are those vessels. Human, but still fragile. Each of us, regardless of shape, gender, race, or age, carry such value that God Himself has chosen us to store His treasure within!

The Everyday Application

1) What is meant by “jars of clay”? (verse 7)

We have value and worth because, not only were we handcrafted by the God of the Universe, but each of us were also made in His own image. We are etched with the image of God! Every one of us! (Genesis 1:27)

Every bitty baby in its mother’s womb and every wizened elderly being have been fearfully and wonderfully made to reflect God’s own image and have inestimable value. (Psalm 139:13-14)

However, for the one who trusts fully on the Lord Jesus Christ for their eternal salvation and has surrendered their lives to Jesus, these clay pots become the holding place for a treasure beyond comprehension, God’s Own Spirit! (2 Corinthians 1:21-22)

Christians are still clay treasures, but they hold within them the Treasure of God’s Spirit. We are the fine vessels containing the costliest of contents. God’s love through His Spirit. The love He poured out on Calvary and the power he gave us when His spirit was poured out on Pentecost is available for all today. (Titus 2:11)

It doesn’t matter if our vessels are tarnished, chipped, or cracked. We are still His chosen, and still invited to contain the greatest gift of all time, the Spirit of the Living God!

The Original Intent

2) What is the “treasure” and the “all-surpassing power”? (verse 7)

When an ordinary man, woman, or child chooses to trust in Jesus, believing Him to be exactly who He claims to be in the Bible, God places His Spirit within that individual. The Spirit then begins the work of transforming that person into someone who loves and follows Jesus and reflects His amazing divine love to a world lost and lonely without Him.

The Spirit teaches the Christ-follower about God, helping him or her understand the Bible and discover deeper truths about God and His character. Vine’s Dictionary defines the treasure as “the full knowledge of the goodness of God.”

The treasure we have through God’s Spirit, the treasure available to all who surrender to God, is the knowledge of who God is and the power that comes along with that belief. The more we know God through studying His Word by the power of the Spirit teaching us, the more closely we will follow Him and love those around us. This is God’s power unleashed through us!

Through the Holy Spirit, we have access to the same power that raised Jesus from the dead (Luke 24:5-6), healed a bleeding women (Mark 5:30), made dead men breathe again (John 11:44), and changed the leper’s skin to clear as snow (Luke 17:14).

With the treasure of God’s Spirit within, the power of God is at work both in us and through us, drawing in those who are far from God to be close to Him, so they too might know Him deeply.

The Everyday Application

2) What is the “treasure” and the “all-surpassing power”? (verse 7)

We can have access to the power of God’s Spirit by storing up His treasures within us, His earthen, human vessels. His treasure, His word.

Paraphrasing Dr. Suess, “the more you know, the more you grow” applies to our walk with Christ too.  Need a starting point? Begin in the Gospels MatthewMark, Luke, or John. If you have a Bible with Christ’s words in red, begin there. John is a great gospel to start with.

Go slow, write down your questions and curiosities. It’s not a race to finish so you can check it off a list, it’s an invitation to know the God of the Universe!

Everything Jesus gave His followers, His disciples, is available to you, to all of us, through reading His Word! There is no cost other than submitting and turning your heart over to Him. Consider making this passage in Ephesians 1:17-18 a personal prayer.

Simply insert “me” in a few spots for ‘you’ and ‘my’ for ‘your’.  Pray that your eyes are open to the glorious knowledge and wisdom Christ has for you. With that comes relationship with Him and the power of His word as the Spirit makes it alive for you!

The Original Intent

3) With all of these trials and afflictions, why believe in God?

Paul is not only referencing what he himself has gone through, which was significant. (shipwrecked, betrayal, beatings, stoning to near death, Acts 9:23-25, imprisonments, and house arrest to name a few) He is also pointing to Christ Himself in what Jesus endured while He was on earth.

Christ was also betrayed (Mark 14:44) and carried a weight (the sin of the world) Christ prayed would be removed from Him. (Luke 22:42)

This letter was written during a time of great persecution for the church as a whole, and Paul’s recipients in Corinth would have been facing severe difficulty and danger for following Christ. All of these trials were real, heavy and pressing, yet Paul encourages his readers that they will not be abandoned in the midst of them.

In his letter to the Philippians, Paul writes that compared to knowing Christ, everything else is rubbish! (Philippians 3:8)

The Everyday Application

3) With all of these trials and afflictions, why believe in God?

Jesus, Paul, and the believers who made up the early church were not the only ones to face difficulty, just take a peek in any family’s life around the world! While hardship is common to everyone who breathes oxygen, the difference is that, for believers, we have hope and strength and power from the Living God. We can’t manufacture this on our own!

We have a God who works all things for good, for those who love Him, even in the middle of trial. (Romans 8:28) Wiersbe’s commentary says all the struggles we go through in our everyday lives are not our final destruction, and don’t necessitate our despair.

Rather, when we are faced with hardships, crushed a bit, it allows for the ‘goodness of God, the light of Christ’ to seep out and affect others in the midst of our hardship because His strength shines brilliantly in our weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10) For us it means that we, in all of these life circumstances, in the persecutions, disappointments, betrayals but also just the general wearing down of our physical bodies, we have a blessed hope to which we fervently cling. (Titus 2:11-14)

Not only are we given the ability to endure through trial, we are not alone. (Matthew 28:20) We have the Lord of Hosts, God Himself ever present in our time of need. (Psalm 46:1)

We have a host of angels who are surrounding us, unseen by human eyes, but always at the ready just like the story of Elisha and his servant. (2 Kings 6:15-17)

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