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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder

THINGS SEEN AND UNSEEN

2 Corinthians 4:15-18 For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many, redound to the glory of God. For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look, not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

Despite all of the suffering and persecution they had to endure, the apostles, including Paul, as well as other inspired disciples of Christ, continued to preach the gospel of Christ throughout the world. That which was revealed to them by God, they spoke at every opportunity, to all that had open and receptive hearts - to all that were truly seeking the hope of salvation through the Savior, Jesus Christ. They were confident of their preaching of Jesus Christ, knowing that He (God) which raised up the Lord Jesus, shall raise up us also by Jesus. Of this they were sure. And this was the same message of God that they confidently preached, bringing salvation to all people of the world that would receive it (See preceding verses 13-14).

Here Paul assures the church at Corinth that all things are for your sakes - that is the truths found in God's word, the hope of salvation by God's mercy and grace, would redound to the glory of God. The preaching of God's word should always have, as its goal, to bring salvation to as many souls as possible, and the more that are saved, the more glory would redound,orgive creditto God, the Author of our salvation. Bringing glory to God should be the motive of all Christians that teach His plan of eternal salvation. There should never be any motive for self-glory or covetous desire for personal material gain. The gift of salvation is from God. Preachers are the instruments through whom God's gift is offered; therefore, God, and God alone, it due all glory, and not the earthen vessels (Vs. 7 above) delivering God's message.

It is for the glory of God that Paul, and other first-century preachers of the gospel of Christ, continue to suffer the trials, tribulations, and persecutions of the world, in order to carry out His will. Driven by their faith, hope, and love for God, and their intense desire for the salvation of the souls of mankind, Paul says we faint not to carry out this inspired mission. Their outward man, their fleshly bodies, may be harmed, or even slain, yet, in carrying out the will of God, their inward man, their spiritual bodies, were renewed day by day. Even though the outward man was designed by God to perish, yet it is the good deeds of this physical body that renews, and gives strength to the spiritual body. The suffering they endured in order to preach God's word was merely light affliction,when compared to eternal rewards that await them in heaven; when compared to eternity, their suffering was but for a moment of time during their physical lives here on earth. The physical harm and pain they suffered, for the sake of serving God, by preaching the gospel message of salvation through Jesus Christ, meant nothing. Rather, it further prepared them for the eternal joy and bliss of heaven. Such is the glorious pattern these first-century preachers left as examples to Christians then, now, and in the future, until the end of time.

Paul now tells us the importance of things which are not seen, as compared to things which are seen. The things we can see are temporal; the physical eye can see only physical things here on earth. Only through the eye of faith can we see things that are eternal - things the physical eye cannot see. Many things will come to pass during one's lifetime. However, eternal salvation is not one of them. We know this from Paul's letter to the Christians at Rome. For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it (Rom. 8:24-25). The writer of the Hebrew letter confirms this by saying, now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Heb. 11:1).

Our vision should never be totally fixed on things of the world that can be seen with the physical eye. All material things that have worldly value will eventually perish and pass away. Things that cannot be physically seen, are the things that inspire hope. Only through the eye of faith can God, His Son, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit, be seen. Many things seen and unseen are important. However, eternal life in heaven is among the unseen, and should be the focus of our unerring eye of faith while we sojourn here on earth. May the glory of God redound!