2nd Corinthians - Knowing God - 2014 - Northern Virginia
A Study of Second Corinthians
Moving Beyond Knowledge into Experience—
Igniting the Tinder of Truth by the Fire of the Spirit
“For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” 2Co 4:6
The relationship between the first and second Corinthian epistles is similar to that of Ephesians and Colossians. In those epistles, we see the Church as the Body of Christ (Ephesians) and Christ as the Head of that Body (Colossians). In the Corinthian epistles, we see the Church under correction toward what she should be (first epistle), and then Paul, as the example of what faithful service and ministry look like (second epistle).
But Second Corinthians is much more than just a defense and vindication of Paul’s ministry. It expounds the foundation of his life and service in the experiential knowledge of God in all His varied manifestations to Paul. In other words, Paul was who he was, and did what he did, because he continued to grow in his knowledge of God. This knowledge was not merely intellectual or academic. Rather it was essentially experiential, as Paul came to know the living Christ in his daily life.
In all the hardships, necessities, and disappointments of his life, Paul learned the all-sufficiency of his ever-present and powerful Savior through the indwelling of His Spirit. Every need represented to Paul an invitation and an open door to enter more fully into communion with the risen Lord who watches over our lives with infinite compassion and who provides for each need out of His matchless grace.
It is my abiding prayer that this study will encourage each of us to hear, in the circumstances of our lives, the knocking hand of Jesus Christ. May we learn to face the uncertainties of life with the certainty and assurance of His presence, participation, and power as He skillfully works to mold us in His own image!
The Theme Summarized
- In the passage cited above (2Co 4:6), Paul compares the work of regeneration to the original creation. In both cases, God “commanded light to shine out of darkness.”
- In the biblical record, God is seen in the initial work of creation, followed by His work in revelation, and culminating in the incarnation of His only begotten Son—Jesus Christ.
- These three stages—creation, revelation, and incarnation—are also taking place in the life of every believer.
- What is clear is that the creative power of God is inherent in His eternal and infallible Word, by which He brings about the incarnation of that Word into life and experience.
- Note the key words: light, knowledge, glory. Revelation understood brings knowledge, and knowledge applied displays glory.
- The implications for this study are great. To know about God is not the same as to know God. It will be the aim of this study to demonstrate that the true knowledge of God is never realized short of transformation by the power of His Word.
- This spiritual transformation comes as we experience not only what God says, but also what God does, in accord with His Word.
- The end result is an inner focus on “the face of … Christ” which manifests itself in an external expression of “the glory of God” in demonstration of “the power of His resurrection.”
“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the
same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” 2Co 3:18
“… that I may gain Christ and be found in Him … through faith in Christ, … that I may know Him …
and the power of His resurrection …” Phi 3:8–10
It is worth noting that in the Old Testament, all the compound names of God built on the word Jehovah, are developed what God said He would do, and then the actual experience of what He did!
- Jehovah-jireh: The Lord will provide, Gen 22:8, Gen 22:14
- Jehovah-rapha: The Lord that heals, Exo 15:25–26
- Jehovah-nissi: The Lord our banner, Exo 17:8–15
- Jehovah-shalom: The Lord our peace, Jdg 6:22–24
- Jehovah-ra-ah: The Lord my shepherd, Psa 23:1
- Jehovah-tsidkenu: The Lord our righteousness, Jer 23:6
- Jehovah-shammah: The Lord is there, Eze 48:35
- Jehovah-macadescham: The Lord who sanctifies, Exo 31:13; Lev 20:8
- Jehovah-sabbaoth: The Lord of armies, Jos 5:14; 1Sa 1:3; Psa 24:10
Through his experience of affliction, Job declared …
“I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You.” Job 42:5
He had learned that who God is (divine nature) is expressed in what God says (divine revelation) and demonstrated by what God does (divine intervention).
The guiding premise throughout this study is that the knowledge of God of which Paul speaks is experiential and results from not only knowing God’s promises, but by experiencing the reality of them through faith. In the spiritual intimacy that results, we gaze fully on the face of God in the person of Jesus Christ, and are transformed into His image.