A Cruciform Life – Part 3

2 Corinthians 4:1-18

A Cruciform Life – Part 3

When Change Comes Slowly…

A. One PROBLEM after ANOTHER. (1 and 2 Corinthians)
B. Hits a LITTLE close to HOME. (Heb 4:12)
C. So WHY is Paul not DISCOURAGED? (v.1,16)

We’ve spent the last 8-10 weeks learning about the church at Corinth. And the one thing that stands out is that this was a church with some issues. Pride, arrogance, dissension, lust, selfishness. It was all there.

1. Kid’s question: When have you tried to do something, but it was so discouraging you wanted to give up?
2. What areas of struggle and failure in Corinth remind you of your own struggles?
3. What is one thing that you are discouraged about in your own spiritual life? Or your prayers for another person? Describe how you feel when you think of this situation?

II. This MINISTRY comes through MERCY. (v.1)
A. It REMINDS us of the TRUTH…
     1. …About REALITY. (v.3, 14, 16-17)
     2. …And about OURSELVES. (v.6-7)
     1. We ACT with INTEGRITY. (v.2a)
     2. We SPEAK the TRUTH. (v.2b, 13)
     1. DEEPER than CIRCUMSTANCES. (v.8-9)
     2. RESTING in a deeper REALITY. (v.10-11, 17-18)

What kept Paul focused was this ministry of the Spirit we talked about last week. You remember, the one that comes with increasing glory as we reflect the love, mercy, and grace of Jesus to the world. Paul doesn’t have to depend on his ability to bring about change in Corinth…he just has to keep pointing the church back to Jesus and the mercy they have all received.

  1. Take a moment to describe what God’s mercy means to you? How does that impact your day to day life?
  2. What about your current life enables you to identify with v.8-9? How can v. 16-18 help you with that?

III. LIVING this MINISTRY out today.
A. Everything STARTS with the MERCY of God. (v.1; Eph. 2:4-5)
B. DEATH and LIFE are bound up together. (v.10-12, 16-17; I Cor. 15:50-55)
C. CIRCUMSTANCES aren’t CONCLUSIVE. (v.8-12; Mk. 15:44-45)
D. DRAWING from a deeper REALITY. (v.18; Col. 2:9-15)

As always, there are ways that we can apply these same ideas into our own lives. Call this a layer of foundational truth that we revert back to when the world seems to be going in ways that don’t make sense to us. These are the invisible things we are called to focus on.

6. What does Jeff mean when he says that “Death and life are bound up together”? How does that intersect with your own life?
7. Isn’t saying that circumstances aren’t conclusive just a way of turning a blind eye to reality? How can you be realistic and have faith at the same time?
8. What situation in your own life is challenging your ability to draw from the deeper reality of Col. 2:9-15? How can you address that?