A New Glory

June 5, 2016   II Corinthians 3   A New Glory 

 

   At the beginning of this chapter Paul talks about letters of recommendation and commending himself to them.   The Corinthian church had a lot of problems and some rebelled against Paul and some did not respond well to him. Paul preached grace and the Judizers came in and would preach the law.   It is OK to receive Jesus they would say but you also have to do this stuff for your salvation which was totally false.   They came saying they had letters of recommendations from certain leaders.   Paul argues in these first few verses that the Corinthian church was his letter of recommendation.  He started the church and Paul poured out his life in the church and I believe that Paul led many of them to Jesus.

   Paul is in essence saying I do not need a letter from someone to recommend me to you.   I do not need a letter written on paper or on stone.  You are the result of my walk with Jesus.  My letter of recommendation is flesh and blood.  It is people.  It is people who have been touched by Jesus.  It is people whose lives have been changed by Jesus.  It is people who once worshipped vain idols and have now turned to the living God.  Letters of recommendations can be helpful but what really counts is what the person produces.  What are the qualities and abilities of the person?  That is what speaks.  A letter of recommendation may or may not be valid. 

    Then Paul writes saying we really cannot claim anything as of ourselves.  Our competence comes from God.   We need to understand that it comes from God.  It is not me but Him.  It is not my ability but it is what God allows me to do.   It is what God has helped me with.  It is like Paul is saying do not look to me but look to God.  Then Paul writes God has made us competent ministers of a new covenant.  Can you minister?  Are you competent to minister?  How has God made you competent to minister?   Well we could say this is just one passage of scripture.

    Jesus told his apostles to go and make disciples.  Ephesians 4 tells us So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service.  All Christians are empowered to serve and minister.  God has blessed us with all that we need.     Sheep reproduce sheep.  God has made us able competent ministers of a new covenant.  The new covenant is not of the letter but of the spirit for the letter kills but the spirit gives life.  The law came by Moses.   The law was good.  The law was glorious.

    But God’s people did not do well under the law.  God wrote his law on stones but that did not change their hearts did it?   We see that in Ezekiel 36 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.    And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.  God told them I have something better coming.  I will give my spirit.  God said I will put my spirit in you.  God’s Holy Spirit in us is better than laws on stones.    God grace, forgiveness and power in us are better.   It is more glorious.  It is better.   It is a game changer.  

    People are law breakers.  But the law was external and what people need is help with what goes on inside of us.  We need a heart change.   We need an attitude change.  We need forgiveness and a new power to live differently.  The law did not help change the heart.   The law also told me that I was in sin and the law condemned me.  The law judged me and condemned me.  The sting of death is sin and power of sin is the law.  The law came by Moses but grace and truth came by Jesus.  Jesus is far better.  Grace is better than the law.  We do better under grace. 

    There are 2 different ways here.   There are 2 different ministries here and they are very different.   One is written on stone, the other is written on hearts.   One is of the letter; the other is of the Spirit.   One ministry is unto death, the other is unto life. One way is veiled and hidden, the other is unveiled.  The one leads to condemnation, the other brings us into righteousness.  The old one passes and the new covenant super cedes it and is lasting.  The glory of the new one is far better than the glory of the old one. 

    We see that the law was deficient in Galatians.  The law did not justify the lost sinner.  The law could not give the sinner righteousness.   The law did not give us the Holy Spirit.  The law does not give us an inheritance.  The law did not give us life.  The law does not give us freedom.   The glory of the law is really the ministry of death.  The law tells me I am sinful.  But the law points me to Jesus.  The law condemns me and there is glory in that. 

    Then Paul talks about the glory.  There was glory under the old covenant.  In verse 9 Paul writes the ministry that condemns men is glorious.  Moses face shined after he spent time with God.  The glory of God shined in his face.  The glory of God shined through him.  Paul writes the Israelites could not steadily look at his face.  There was glory there.  There certainly was glory back then.  Moses goes to Egypt with a rod or stick and God uses it to release 3 or so million slaves.  Moses uses that rod or stick to part the red sea and the Israelites go over on dry ground.  The Egyptian army follows and drowns.  That is glory.  They are fed with manna every day in the wilderness for 40 years and there is a rock that follows them around and gives them water.  That rock was Jesus and it gave water to people and animals in the middle of a hot desert.  That is glory.  God made a way for his people through the sea and through the desert.  Their shoes did not wear out for 40 years that is glory in a sense.   There were some pretty powerful and glorious things that happened in the Old Testament. 

    In verse 13 Moses put a veil over his face because the glory was fading away.  The glory was fading away.  Who wants to follow someone whose glory is fading away?  The old fades away but the new covenant glory is ever increasing.  Consider verse 18 and we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.  The glory of the new covenant is ever increasing.   It just gets better and better.  We do not look back.   We do not need to desire the glory that Moses had.  Moses did not have the glory that we have been granted.  I appreciate Mark Casto for his thoughts on this.  We have a far better glory then Moses had.  The glory in you ever increases.  It does not fade away.  The Holy Spirit in us is to get brighter and better.  It does not dull.  The glory does not fade away.  What God has done for us is so marvelous.  It is powerful.  But I think there is a veil over us and we cannot see what we have within us.   The Jews have a veil over them.   They are clinging to Moses.  They are still looking to Moses and following Moses.  They are living under the old covenant. 

    In the Old Testament the Israelites wanted a king.  We want to be like the other nations they said.  We want a leader to lead us.  They had God.  They had God’s prophets but it was not good enough for them.   At one point God invited the Israelites to come before him and they were afraid.   They told Moses you go and meet with God and then come and tell us what He says.  Moses you go before God and not us.  They had a veil over them and we can have a veil over us today.   What kind of qualifications do we place on a person who serves communion?   Who can baptize?    When I first started preaching in 1986 I could not serve communion.  I was to lead the church and preach but do not serve communion.   That is pretty funny isn’t it?   We could say the same thing about Sunday school teachers.  That is interesting I think.   There is a veil over people who do not see God.  There is veil over people who do not hear from God.  Jesus is truth and light.  For those that do not walk with him they walk in darkness.   We need to walk in the glory and power of the Holy Spirit.   God invites you to do that.  It is not for the pastor only.   God has made every Christian an able minister.

    Today we say you pastor you go before God and listen to him and then come and tell us what God has to say but the people say I will not do that.  That is a veil.   I know God has blessed many of my sermons.  God has spoken to you through me.    People think Pastor you lay hands on the sick and ask God to heal them in Jesus name.  You have the same power in you that I have.  Pastor you deal with any demonic activity.  Pastor you lead people to Jesus.  All of us are ministers.  We all need to break into the glory that God tells us about in this chapter.  I say you lay hand s on people and pray they will be healed in Jesus name.   You drive the demonic away.  Let all of God’s people walk in the glory and walk in the power of God.  You walk in the power of the Holy Spirit.   I say you lead people to Jesus.  Is there anything greater in the world than leading others to Jesus?   Let’s see miracles in this place. 

     Moses and Abraham are key people in Israel’s history and they still are today.  Moses the law giver is very important to the Jews.  He was the pinnacle or the top.   Jesus comes on the scene and Jesus said truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.   That is interesting because the leaders did not recognize John the Baptist ministry.  John the Baptist was the pinnacle of the prophets.  He was the top and in Jesus words the greatest person born of woman.  Jesus puts John above Moses.  Jesus puts John the Baptist above Abraham.  Then Jesus said but the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than John the Baptist.  The least Christian is greater than Moses.   The least Christian is greater than Abraham. 

    In Ephesians 3 Paul writes that God hid what he was doing.  God did not allow the Old Testament believers to see or know what God had God for us.   They wanted to see what was coming that which we now have but could not.   In Hebrews 11 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.  What God has done for you and I is glorious.  God gave us his spirit.   God gave us the Holy Spirit.  God has poured out his glory on us.  God has poured out his glory on you.  God is in the Christian.  God’s power is in the Christian.  God’s glory is in the Christian.  God’s blessing is in the Christian.  The least of the Christians is greater than John the Baptist and greater than Moses.   But we have a veil today and we do not see it.  We do not lay hold of the glory.  We do not lay hold of the power.  Don’t look back because the glory increases.  What we have today is better than what they had. 

     John the Baptist would say that Jesus was the greatest.  Jesus is the top and Jesus is the pinnacle.  And Jesus said in John 14:12 the works that I do you shall do and even greater works shall you do.  It almost seems like there is a blessing an anointing upon us that Jesus did not have.  Well that could sound almost like blasphemy.  Jesus did lay aside his powers and abilities as God and became a man which we see in Philippians 2.  Before the cross the spirit was on God’s people but not in them.  There are various verses that talk about the spirit on Jesus.  In John 3 John the Baptist said the spirit of God is given to Jesus without measure or without limit. 

    God has blessed you.  God’s spirit is in you.  God’s glory is in us.  God’s power is in us.  We need to ask God to remove the veil so we can see clearly.  We can break through into his presence in new and greater ways.  We can break through and into his glory and power. We can see miracles here in this church.  We can see people healed and set free.  We can see the power of sin broken.  Romans 8:32He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Ephesians 3:20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.  What do those verses mean to us today?  God has done his part for us today.  We need to lay hold of those promises.  Greater is he in us than he that is in the world.