Sermon Feb. 2, 2014 “The Older Believer Faces Loss and Death, with Grace” Aging with Grace Sermon # 4. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Aging with Grace Sermon Series Sermon # 4 Lord’s Supper Feb. 2, 2014
Pastor Louis Prontnicki Maple Glen Bible Fellowship Church
“The Older Believer Faces Loss and Death, with Grace”

Jay Adams, in Wrinkled but not Ruined, suggests that we think of aging as a process of loss.
Loss of health…Loss of taste buds and senses….Loss of independence (losing your driver’s license)….Loss of stamina… Loss of memory….Loss of companions and friends….Loss of finances…And ultimately, a loss of life.
How should we, as believers in Christ, view these losses?
On the one hand, we struggle with the same infirmities and loss as the unbeliever. We are not immune from the process of groaning, loss, and dying.
On the other hand, as adopted children of our Heavenly Father, we have a hope and encouragement that the world does not have, and we know that we are not only moving to our glorious graduation in heaven, but that as we age, the Lord is shaping us and making us holy! So even our losses have a divine purpose. God is both working in us now (and inn others through us) and He is weaning us from this fading world to prepare us for a glorious and eternal one!

How Older Believers (and all of us) Should Look Upon Loss and Death
Key Text: 2 Cor. 4:16-18 (ESV) “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 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.”

Main Truth: The Lord gives us an eternal glory that far outweighs all our difficulties.
v. 16 “ though outwardly we are wasting away…” Paul knew that he was dying—and that everyone is also in the process of dying. He experienced tremendous suffering, and in it he saw the decay and the wasting away of his earthly life. There were weaknesses and sicknesses and injuries and hardships and pressures and frustrations and disappointments. And every one of them cost him a piece of his life. One way to say it was that “death was at work in him” (cf. v. 12).
So how can you and I prepare to suffer without losing heart? How can we accept the decaying of our bodies and the ebbing away of our earthly lives, and at the same time not lose heart, but find renewed inner strength to go on with joy to the end with acts of love? Consider…

Four Reasons why the Older Believer (and all of us) Can Face Loss and Death with Grace:
1. Our Suffering and Losses are Momentary Troubles. (v. 17)
Paul does not lose heart FOR his affliction is momentary. Verse 17: “For our momentary troubles…” This does not mean it lasts 60 seconds. It means it only lasts a lifetime (which is momentary compared with a million ages of millenniums) and that’s all. Our afflictions that will not outlive this present life. I do not lose heart . . . FOR my afflictions will end. They will not have the last say in my life.
The analogy of the momentary pain of a needle in your arm, to give blood or for a vaccination.

2. Our Suffering and Losses are Comparatively Light (v. 17)
Paul does not lose heart FOR his affliction is light. Verse 17: “Our light and momentary troubles …” When Paul says his afflictions are light, he does not mean easy or painless. He means that compared to what is coming they are as nothing. Compared to the weight of glory coming, they are like feathers in the scale. “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared to the glory to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18). I do not lose heart . . . FOR my afflictions are light.
The analogy of a mother giving birth: comparing the labor pains to the joy of having that newborn in her arms.

3. There is an Eternal Weight of Glory (17)
Paul does not lose heart FOR his affliction is actually preparing him, and producing for him, an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison.
Verse 17: (ESV) “For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison.” What is coming to Paul is not momentary, but eternal. It is not light, but weighty. It’s not affliction, but glory. And it is beyond all comprehension. Eye has not seen nor ear heard what God has prepared for those who love him (1 Corinthians 2:9).
And the point is not that the afflictions merely precede the glory; they also help produce the glory. There is a real causal connection between how we endure hardship now and how much we will be able to enjoy the glory of God in the ages to come. Not one moment of patient pain is wasted. How does that work?
The present affliction produces more future glory. Paul knows that his progressive, outward decay is being accompanied by a proportional renewal of his inward self. For God is creating within our inner nature a new person out of the old, and we must take that in faith. We don’t see it or feel it, but by faith we know it is true.
v. 18 “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.” Paul is not contrasting visible and invisible things, but rather is setting up a contrast between what is NOW visible and what is NOT YET visible but is about to be revealed (at Christ’s coming). Think of the stars and the planets… they are up in the heavens, but during the day, they are invisible to us, yet at night, they are revealed.

4. There is the Unseen, Eternal Glory Yet to Come. (v. 18)
Paul does not lose heart FOR he sets his mind on the unseen, eternal glory to come.
Verse 18: “We look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen.” God might offer you all the glory in the universe to keep you from losing heart and to renew your soul day by day, but if you never looked at it, nothing would come of it.
Hughes: The gaze of our faith (fix our eyes) should be focused on eternal realities, which though now unseen, are more real than what is now visible (Heb. 11:1). Paul fixes his gaze not on earthly treasures nor on our inevitably decaying bodies, but rather on the face of His Redeemer (Phil. 3:14).

Brothers and sisters, we need to “apply” these principles to our aging, our losses, and our physical decline, and also to the worry and depression that may accompany them.
But how do you apply these truths? In the same way you “apply” the beauty and glory of the Grand Canyon or beholding the Milky Way on a clear night or beholding a beautiful bride on her wedding day… you stand in awe of this amazing glory, and let it capture your heart!
As our earthly faculties fade, the things of the Spirit should become more real to us.
As our bodies fall apart, we should start tasting the glorious things of God in eternity.
Paul Barnett: “At death, the scaffolding of our outer frame will be removed and God will unveil to us the building from God, the house not built by human hands, (one that is) eternal in heaven.”

And so we have God’s lavish invitation as we face loss and death:
2 Cor. 4:16-18 is a lavish invitation from God for you to look at all the reasons why you don’t have to lose heart—all the reasons why you can be renewed day by day.
Fix your gaze upon the power of God and the life of his Son, manifested in your weakness.
Consider the life of Jesus that is flowing through your suffering, into the lives of other people.
Remember how God has sustained you in your afflictions and will not let you be destroyed.
Believe that your afflictions will not have the last word; you will rise from the dead with Jesus
and live in joy forever and ever.
Remember: your afflictions are momentary. They are only for now, not for the age to come.
Consider: your afflictions are light. Compared to the pleasures of what is coming they are as
nothing. These afflictions are producing for you an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison. So LOOK! Focus! Meditate! Think on these things! Believe what God says. And you will not lose heart, but your inner person will be renewed day by day, and you will be able to face loss and death, with His marvelous grace!