— Brother Phil Enlow: If you have been called to be a part of the Body of Christ, to be a part of His Kingdom, there is a call of God in your life. You may be called to be a faithful housewife and mother of children. You may be called to be a faithful mother in Israel. You may be called to be a faithful worker on a job who manifests the Spirit of Christ, or the father of a home, the man of the house that builds a godly home. All of these things are divine calls that are just as real as the one Paul had.
And it’s interesting in the context here, he has just been talking about that what comes through him, he calls it, “…the aroma of Christ…” (NIV). You know, a good sermon title sometime might be, ‘what do you smell like?’ Well, Paul had the right kind of odor, didn’t he, spiritually speaking?
When Christ is in the life, there will be an aroma. There will be an atmosphere that that person generates that people…I’ll tell you, the Devil will know about it. It will have an effect on those around you.
I pray that God will…God will give us more of that, give me more of that, because I confess my need. God, it’s so easy for us just to run and do and be in our own strength and not realize what God has us here for. It’s not for this! It’s for eternity and God has a place for every one of us in this place.
But are we living from God? See, if we’re living from God, we’re gonna have an effect that will draw some, and they’ll say, man, I love that smell. Tell me more. And then there are gonna be others that are full of self-will and sin, and they’re gonna say, no, that stinks.
But are we really making that kind of a difference in people’s lives? May God help us to recognize that. So, of course Paul has this ministry now. God sent him. Okay, now how do I do this becomes the next question, doesn’t it?
And the scripture we have read so many times in chapter 3, he talks about the confidence that he has. “Such confidence as this…” in verse 4, “… is ours through Christ before God.” Now, he jumps right in and says, “Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.”
Our ability—our ability to do the job! How does it come? It comes from God! Every one of us, if we’re honest and we’re seeking God, and we’re wanting to do His will, we confront inability and this sense of inability constantly! I certainly do. Oh my God, I’m not up for this. I can’t do this.
Well…guess what? Of course, you can’t. That’s the point. That’s why we’re called to live a ‘from God’ life. If God has put you in a place, you have every right to go to Him and say, God, You put me in this place. I’m trusting in You. I want to live with Your energy, with Your ability…You give me what I need.
This is not a…this is an ongoing relationship he’s talking about, isn’t it? I mean, every time I stand up here, I’m literally saying, God, I can’t do this, because He knows that in myself I can’t. This isn’t about human ability. This is about God. But God wants you to know that. He cares about you!
You…if God’s put you in a place, you have the ability that you need. God will supply it. God deliberately puts us in places where…we know we need Him. We don’t have any choice but to look to Him with all of our hearts. I’ll tell you, and it shows in the results.
You put somebody that’s an orator, that has a natural ability, that can entertain, you can fill churches with that. But I’ll tell you, I’d would rather stand up here in God’s energy, to whatever degree, and preach the truth and see a true remnant, because that’s all that’s going to be left when it’s done.
Those are the only ones that are going to stand, the ones that have the goods in the heart. It’s not the strong, it’s not the wise, it’s not all those things that the world values so highly. It’s those that come to this humble place and say, God, I don’t have anything. I just need You! And that’s what you’re offering through Christ. Praise God! That’s a message of hope for everybody.
And of course, we know the scriptures in chapter 4. This is when Paul talks about the outworking of that ministry. Now, he’s got the ministry. God’s given him the ability. He goes to the fountain, the source of that, and he talks about the fact that, yes, the world is blind, the Devil has blinded them but God brought me to a place where He shined His light in my heart.
The same God that spoke in the beginning and said, “Let there be light…” He shined deep in my heart and what He put there was a revelation! It’s the kind of knowledge that you cannot get from a book. You cannot get from another human being…I mean, unless God’s using it.
You cannot get it any other way except God penetrating the heart with the knowledge of who Jesus Christ is…not just to see Him as a babe in a manger but of Lord on a throne, who rules, before whom all men will one day stand. And not only seeing Him that way, but seeing the heart that would draw us and say, this is the glory I long to share with you. This is what it’s all about!
Do you think that made a difference in Paul’s life? It was a 180. He went from being a relentless opposer of anybody who would name the name of Christ to the greatest warrior that the first century had, who relentlessly went out and proclaimed the Gospel of Jesus Christ with power.
But look at what he says in verse 7. How many times have we used this scripture? “But we have this treasure…” What’s the treasure?
( congregation inaudible ).
Well, it’s Christ, but, “…the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” It expands it just from the person to the attributes of that person. This revelation of God’s glory and God’s heart, God’s purpose for us.
“…We have this treasure in jars of clay…” Why? “…To show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” That’s what God was trying to…wants every one of us to know. And so, this is where he launches into the discussion about how God wants to get the treasure out of Paul into the people. What does it take?
( congregational inaudible ).
Yeah, we’ve got…if we’re left to ourselves, we will simply live in human energy, human will, all these human characteristics will dominate, won’t they? And so, God had to deliberately bring Paul through circumstances that put those to death. Why? Because He was mad at Paul? No, because He longed to fulfill the desire, that He put in Paul’s heart to share Christ.
I’ll tell you, something is going to dominate our lives, some form of life is gonna dominate in every single one of us, and God wants it to be Him. And so, you know, if He puts us in things, in situations that show us how much we need Him and how the wrong thing would just…it’s there and we need to let it go, we need to turn away from it. We need to say, oh God, let Your life live in me. If He does that, He’s doing it because He loves you.
But it isn’t just for you. It’s for somebody else that He’s ordained that you be in a position to help. God wants to pour life through every member of the Body of Christ for the benefit of every other member. This is what it takes.
And Paul…you know, Paul comes to the end of this and he’s just exulting in the glory of what God has given to him. And where were his eyes in all these troubles, all these difficulties that he goes through, where are his eyes? What’s he looking at? Is he looking at the trouble, looking at this world and, oh God, poor me? He is looking at the glory. He’s looking ahead.
There are some words that he uses in this that are interesting and I’d forgotten this. I’ve probably pointed it out before. You know, we have this word in English called ‘hyperbole.’ We tend to use it as an exaggeration, you want to make a point and you say it in a ‘way over the top’ way like, you’re on time today! Oh my God, the world’s going fall off its axis. Well, obviously, you know what we mean. We’re making a humorous point. It’s an exaggeration. Of course, my Dad used to call me ‘the late Mr. Enlow,’ I’m afraid.
( laughter ).
Sadly, I gave him reason, at times, to do that. But, nonetheless, we use it in a humorous way, but the same word…that’s a Greek word, hyperbole, and it means surpassing. It’s this, but it’s way beyond that. That’s the sense that you get. And when he’s talking about the power that’s from God, he’s talking about this all surpassing…this hyperbole power. This isn’t just power, this is way beyond, this is all we could ever hope to need.
But oh, when he comes down to the end, “…our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” How in the world do you translate that? In the Greek, it’s hyperbole unto hyperbole. It’s not even just way beyond, it’s way beyond way beyond!
You know, Paul had this sense of what it was about. Now I understand that Paul had actually had visions and been in heavenly places. He had seen with his own eyes. But God did that because He wanted a witness to the reality and the power and the glory that lay before us so that we would never be bogged down with the world, never be bogged down with our troubles here. But always say, wait a minute! This is part of getting ready for that! That’s where my eyes are.
And I will continually draw strength because He is enough. He is the one who’s going to take me there. I’m gonna live a ‘from God’ life instead of a ‘me, all about me’ life. And so, Paul launches directly into that with the hope that we have in chapter 5. “Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed…” What’s he talking about?
( congregation inaudible ).
Our bodies. Yeah, we know they’re gonna die. I don’t care what you do with it, how pretty it is, and all this stuff you do with it to get through this life, it’s gonna die. It’s not eternal. So that’s what he’s talking about. It’s destroyed.
“…We have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.” Well, wait a minute, it’s a house from God, isn’t it? There’s that phrase again. Paul is not just living a ‘from God’ life here, but he’s recognizing my future is from God. That is what He’s promised me! One day I’m gonna have a body that won’t be like this one. It’s going to last forever.
This is a temporary home for me. I live in it right now, and it’s getting older, and all those things. And it’s gonna go away one of these days. But boy, I know what’s coming! I’m living for that! Praise God!
He’s got something for me that’s worth everything over there! He’s with me now! It’s not just that I have to wait for it all. He’s with me right now to get me through all this, to use it for His purposes here! But oh, what I’ve got waiting for me over there is amazing! The glory of what He has given…praise God! He talks down here about what is mortal being swallowed up by life.
“Now it is God…” verse 5, “…who has made us for this very purpose….” You want to know why God made you? Do you ever think about that? Why did God make me? He made me so that He could fill me with Himself and I could live with Him forever. That’s the purpose for which He made us.
Now, there are a whole lot of people that, sadly in this world, they’re gonna say, no, I want my life here. This is more important. They’re completely blind to reality.
But I’ll tell you what, God made you because He loved ‘you’ and wants ‘you’ to live with Him, forever, in a world that is nothing like this. Praise God!
He “…has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” I’ll tell you, when God comes in, by His Spirit, and we are born of that Spirit, that’s the seal! When God says, that one is mine, that is the guarantee of what is to come. Praise God! I’ll tell you, God’s able to finish what He started, and He’s promised to do it.
There’s one other expression that he uses and it’s later on this same chapter. When God is talking about the new creation…I needed to underline…yes, I have it. Down here he says, “Therefore…”, in verse 17, “…if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation….”
Now, that’s a present tense thing, isn’t it? That’s talking about here. Yes, we’ve got some of the old that we live in, but there is something eternal that God does in here. “…He is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”
Now, listen to what he says. “All this is from God….” Everything is from God. There is always this sense that Paul is laying out. Now think about this context. He’s saying, my ministry, I need to defend it, because there are people that are coming in that are messing with you. And I know that what I have is from God. This is not about me.
But in the context of that, he is painting a picture of himself as one who lives a ‘from God’ life. Everything about Paul, whether it had to do with his relations with the world, or the ministry, or the church, or whatever it was, God, You’re the source! God, You are my resource. I don’t want to live any part of my life just in my own strength, for my own purposes. God, help me. Paul’s whole life…it defined his thought and his actions.
Very quickly, what are some of the lessons…things that we know very well? And one of the lessons is, my resources are not enough. How many of you know that?
( congregation inaudible ).
Yeah. We need to reckon more readily than we do…my resources are not enough. If you’re bopping along through life and you think, yeah, I got it handled, God, you are blind! If God is constantly, or frequently, showing you your insufficiency in any area of your life, you need to be praising God. Why would He do such a thing? Except to deliver us from the tyranny and the slavery to our old nature so that we can be set free to live out His life! Praise God!
Now think about this simple lesson. God ‘is’ all we need…not just, God ‘has’ all we need. Do you get the difference? There are a lot of people who look at God as a divine vending machine…where I put my little faith nickel in there when I feel the need and I get out a blessing, and then I go on and live my life. And they want to use God for their purposes.
But I’ll tell you, we need to be seeking the Blesser, and not the blessing. And…while Paul talks about the particulars of what he receives from God, there’s this constant sense that, oh my God…if ‘from God’ is what my life is about, then He is the one. It’s my relationship with Him, so that whatever comes, He’s my resource. So, yes there was a blessing, but I’ll tell you, there was a relationship with the Blesser.
How many of you remember the scripture where God spoke to Abraham? What did He say to Abraham in Genesis 15? You look it up sometime. He said, “I am your shield, your very great reward.” He didn’t say, I will give you a shield and I’ll give you a reward. He said, I am—I am your reward.
What God…God wants us to see, wants every one of us to see Him in a deeper sense as, Lord, if I have You, I have it all. If I just have You, whatever I need will take care of itself. But I want you, Lord.
I don’t you just to heal me so I can go live my life. I don’t want You to give me money so I can pay my bills and then the crisis is over. I want You to…I want to have a relationship with You, I want my life to be connected with You as much as the branches are to the vine. I want to live out Your life. Isn’t that what God is looking for from every one of us in a deeper way?
You know, a lot of people look at God as a gas station. They live their life and they run on their own strength until they’ve run out of gas, and they want to come to a service and get gassed up a little bit. And you know, it’s important that we come together. I’m not minimizing that aspect of it. But, if that’s the source of your spiritual life, you’re gonna come and you’re gonna get something and go away and feel good, and you have a little bit of encouragement and then you…
( draining sound ).
That’s not how God wants us to live. He wants us to live where, when we walk out of here, we have learned something about the God who wants to walk with us, wants to be our resource, on the job, in the home, all the other, all of it…wants to be Himself in and through us. That’s what He wants for us as individuals, what He wants for us as a church. He longs for us to live a ‘from God’ life.
I’ll just make a couple of very small points. Think about God’s ultimate purpose. Think about the last couple of chapters of Revelation. I’m not going to turn over there. But you remember the essence of it was God’s dwelling. Where was He going to dwell? With men! He longs to dwell in the midst of us! He longs to share Himself! That’s His heart!
In all of this, God didn’t…I mean we were the ones who were running pell-mell from God. He came looking for us! We didn’t go looking for Him. Doesn’t that reveal His heart towards us? And just like the circumstance this morning, help came, didn’t it? We’ve got a God who feels that way toward you when you’re in trouble, when you feel your need.
But you think about where He’s going with all this. One day there won’t be any of these difficulties and these trials. He’s gonna live with us. We’re gonna experience the wonderfulness of His being, His love, His joy, His peace. And it’s something that will never end. But He wants us to begin to experience that now. And the only way He can do it is to teach us through the experiences of life.
And look what He had produced in Paul. Paul defends his ministry and at every point he says, from God, from God, my virtue, my ministry, my ability, my purpose…all of this is from Him!
What an amazing thing to be able to make that our testimony. I can’t do a thing, but I’ve got God! And He loves me and He wants me to just let go and let Him have His way.
You know, a simple little statement at the end. If I have Him, circumstances do not determine my well-being. Think about that. If I have Him, circumstances don’t determine my well-being. Paul got to that point, where he could glory in his weakness, because he saw past it! He saw God’s heart in it. He saw God’s purpose in it.
And so, he was able to lift his eyes always and say, I see what’s going on, God, I have You in this. You’re bringing it for a good purpose and I have you. So, these difficulties that I’m experiencing right now, they do not define my well-being. My well-being is defined because I have You. I would rather have You in a prison, than live in a palace and have it all as the world defines that.
So, I’ll tell you, these are things God longs to teach every one of us, because He longs for you to know Him, and me to know Him in a better way, in a deeper, more practical, more everyday kind of way…to where we could say with Paul, every aspect of my life, it’s a ‘from God’ life, because He is the one who is orchestrating my life so He can share Himself with me. Is that worth everything? Yeah, it sure is. Praise God!