“But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task?” 2 Corinthians 2:14-16
Paul had chosen not to return to Corinth. He could not make another painful visit. [2 Corinthians 1:23; 2:1] But he still longed to know how the people, who made up this fledgling church, were doing. Paul’s love for them had not ended. In Day 1 of this week’s lessons, we read that Paul traveled to Troas and had hoped to see Titus there. He wanted to receive news about the Corinthian church. However, Titus wasn’t there and Paul made the decision to journey onward to Macedonia.[2 Corinthians 2:12,13] We responded to questions in our lesson about how to continue when disappoint, hardships, and uncertainties come into our life. We also looked at the redeeming of broken relationships. The bulk of this lesson focused on how Christ leads us. To those who are perishing, his words, message, and followers are the smell of death but to others the fragrance of his life is salvation. Paul wore the fragrance of Christ with sincerity of heart and he chose to walk wafting the sweet aroma of Christ by enduring through the difficulties he faced for his Lord.
“You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.” 2 Corinthians 3:2,3
On Day 2, we learned that Paul was refuting claims made by false teachers that had infiltrated the church in Corinth. We considered those in our own lives that are our letter of recommendation and to whom our lives represent their letters of recommendation. We also answered questions about what scripture means regarding tablets of stone and a heart of flesh. We closed the day pondering the descriptive words that Paul chose to describe his calling to others. His words suggest that believers are called to a more connectional, intimate ministry with others.
“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:17,18
Our lesson on Day 3 of this week issued a call to a new ministry. We considered the ministry of death and reconciliation in addition to the ministry of the Spirit and righteousness. We also learned about the Old Covenant and what the Law’s intent was according to scripture. Then, we considered the New Covenant and what Jesus accomplished by establishing the New Covenant. We also pursued a detailed look at the word, glory in scripture.
“Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.” 2 Corinthians 4:1,2
On Day 4, our lesson focused on truth. We answered questions pertaining to things we harbor secretly along with deceptions and distortions of truth that we have done. Kelly Minter also had us consider how people have used a distortion of God’s word to condone wrong behavior or even condemn right belief. Paul called for the telling of truth to others as well as living with a clear conscience before others and in the sight of God. Kelly Minter reminded us at the end of this lesson that wherever we have been, the things we have covered up, or the issues with which we have struggled that we have access to the glory of God. Because of Jesus, we can draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith to be restored. [ Hebrews 10:22]
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” 2 Corinthians 4:7
“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:17,18
Our last lesson for the week taught that God takes our fragile lives to display His mighty power when we are yielded to Him. Our questions dealt with how God has used weakness, hardship, pain, and difficulty in our lives to display His power and strength. We were also encouraged to view our struggles through the lens of eternity and not focus on their temporal nature.
Begin the Session 4 lessons this week starting on page 69.
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