Manifesting the Change of Christ to All People.

As Paul continues to write according to his theme of ministry integrity, he turns to the quality of Christian relationships. This is one way people can suffer in a local church. When they are persuaded that Jesus is not enough, their relationships inside the church struggle, and they don't know how to develop redemptive relationships in the community. When unsure of the permanence of their relationship with God, then people have no foundation from which to build other relationships and no message of how the Gospel changed them.

Paul's words "the truth" in 2 Corinthians 4:2 indicate the message of the Gospel. He describes its content elsewhere in 1 Corinthians 15:1-5. Religious people questioned the success of Paul's message because the numerical growth did not seem impressive. But numbers alone are not the indication of the Gospel's power. As 2 Corinthians 4:4 clearly says, unbelief is caused by human sinfulness and perpetrated by the god of this world blinding people's eyes.

We will continue studying the following 5 sections of 2 Corinthians 4:1-6:

  1. Motivation (verse 1)
  2. Activity (verse 2)
  3. Divine rationale or thought process (verses 3-4)
  4. Message (verse 5)
  5. Conclusion (verse 6)
Living the Gospel

Someone who has truly owned and understood the Gospel will have a transformed life. This will be known by people in their home, who worship with them at church, and friends in their community.

When a person truly loves someone, they want to be with them and can't stand to stay apart for long. This is heightened when someone is hurting. It works the same way in the spiritual family of Christ in the church. We need Christ in each other and to see each other's lives that have been transformed. We should not be able to live without each other. 1 Thessalonians 4:9 says that the Spirit teaches us to live and love like this. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 shows that love is demonstrated in building each other up in the faith. We have a sacred trust to invest in one another (John 13:34).

Those who believe and teach falsehood don't appreciate deep and wide relationships. Paul knew the Corinthians were having trouble trusting him and each other. They were being pulled apart by falsehood. Paul was in agony waiting to hear how they were doing, and hearing news from them calmed his heart. (See 2 Corinthians 2 and 3 John 1:4).

The integrity of divine activity of the church is found when it meets, grows, weeps and rejoices together. As each connected part grows each other into a more full understanding of Christ, the truth of the Gospel is made familiar to both saved and unsaved. The word "manifestation" in verse 2 means full disclosure.

2 Corinthians 5:11 says that God knows us omnisciently. This naturally will result in allowing ourselves to be fully known by one another. In 1 Thessalonians 4:11, Paul commends that church for 3 ways they love each other. In 1 Thessalonians 5:14, he encourages them to love every kind of Christian in the church.

The worship context requires saints who are familiar enough with how Gospel changed one another to minister to each other. Can you provoke fellow believers to love and good deeds without making your conscience manifest to them? It is easier to just show up to church and not invest in deep relationships. It is hard to let others know you well enough to tell you have a changed life. This display is not intended to impress people but minister to them (1 Cor. 4:3-4).

If you are pleasing to God in Christ, don't be afraid to manifest Him wherever you go (2 Cor. 2:14). Don't hold back from developing a few deep and wide relationships with believers and unbelievers. As you walk with God, you will not gratify the lusts of the flesh. Others need to see this in you. If you are already doing so, keep persevering!

Application Points

  • There is a small percentage of struggling souls in the church who are contemplating a permanent breakup with the bride of Christ. For these, the trials of this year are not resulting in perseverance. Pray for them, and if you know one, encourage them to return to their relationships with their brothers and sisters in Christ.

  • Do you value in-depth, interdependent, transparent Christian relationships? All the "one another" commands are fulfilled in these relationships. How do you experience this in the natural rhythms of life?

  • If you don't love the bride of Christ, can you truly say you love Christ Himself?

  • It's not possible for one person to know everyone at Grace Church deeply. But is your Gospel-changed life on display to 1 or 2 lives of those who believe and those who don't? How can you build others up more in practical ways?

Tools for Further Study

Cross References to Explore
  • Colossians 4:2-6 – A believer's conduct toward those yet outside of Christ.
  • Psalm 139:1, 23; Psalm 24:3-4; Psalm 15; Colossians 3:11-17 – Being known omnisciently in a worship context.