Light of the Knowledge of the Glory of God in the Face of Jesus Christ
“For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task?” (2 Corinthians 2:15-16)
Christians were given an incomparable task: to share with the world the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. As bearers of this light, Christians have to speak before God with sincerity, “like men sent from God”.
Ours is a task that came from the Son of God. Jesus Christ, at his resurrection, told the eleven disciples to make disciples of all nations. They were specifically told to baptize people in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teach them to obey everything He commanded (Matthew 28:19).
In response to their great calling, the apostles navigated the known lands at that time to tell the people of God’s salvation in Christ Jesus His Son. Paul, in particular, became an apostle to the Gentiles and trained others to carry on the task.
To this day, the mission is still the same: to proclaim to the world the glory of God, His love and His power! Our task, as Christians, is to ensure that we respond to the mission, that we teach to others what Jesus Christ had taught His disciples and that others are up to the same task.
Carrying out our mission is not an easy task, because not all people are willing to accept the Gospel (2 Corinthians 4:4). It becomes even more difficult if we do not fully understand the Word of God, if we allow the world to dilute the message that we received and if we rely on our own strength and wisdom.
We could only truly respond to the call if we have “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6b). It comes with our total submission to the will of God, who is the source of our competence (2 Corinthians 3:5) and our willingness to become fools for Christ (1 Corinthians 4:10).
The apostle Paul provided a clear illustration of how we should train to become disciples and how we should train others for the same task. In training Timothy, his son in faith, Paul did the following:
- He trained Timothy to preach the Gospel.
- He told him to follow his example.
- He asked him to put on Christian virtues.
- He warned him against false doctrines.
- He asked him to train others.
Timothy was charged to preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; and correct, rebuke and encourage. “Keep your head in all situations, endure hardships, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry” (2 Timothy 4:5).
In particular, Paul asked Timothy to devote himself to public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching (1 Timothy 4:13).
Paul told Timothy to follow his example. “What you heard from me, keep as a pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you – guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us” (2 Timothy 1:13).
This brings to mind what Paul, in another letter, told the churches in Corinth. “Therefore I urge you to imitate me” (1 Corinthians 4:16). “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the teachings, just as I passed them on to you” (I Corinthians 11:1-2). He even sent Timothy to Corinth to remind them of his way of life in Christ Jesus (1 Corinthians 4:17).
In his letter to the Philippians, Paul said: “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:9).
Paul asked Timothy to put on Christian virtues. “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the Word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).
He asked Timothy to train himself to be godly and set an example for the believers in speech, in love, in faith and in purity. “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers” (1 Timothy 4:16).
Paul, in his letters to Timothy, allotted a large space to warn the young pastor against false teachings and the deception of the world. “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit up their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths” (2 Timothy 4:3-4).
He even asked Timothy to command certain men in Ephesus not to teach false doctrines nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies (1 Timothy 1:3). Aside from resorting to myths, other forms of false doctrines at that time included deception, distortion of the Word of God (2 Corinthians 4:2) and peddling of the Word of God for profit (2 Corinthians 2:17).
Today, similar false doctrines exist and others even try to accomplish their task with their own wisdom and strength. Paul warned against relying on our own strength to further God’s ministry. God’s work is by faith (1 Timothy 1:4) and not through our abilities.
“My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power” (1 Corinthians 2:4).
Paul, on the other hand, boasted of holiness and sincerity from God. “Now this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, in the holiness and sincerity that are from God. We have done so not according to worldly wisdom but according to God’s grace” (2 Corinthians 1:12).
He explained that many times he had to suffer for Christ so that he could admit his weaknesses and acknowledge God’s power. “Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead” (2 Corinthians 1:9).
Paul reasoned that while God uses us as instruments in His Work, it is He who gives us the triumph. “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” (2 Corinthians 2:14).
One good advice in avoiding false doctrines is not to go beyond what is written (1 Corinthians 4:6b). Five questions can be used as a guide to determine whether a doctrine diverts from the Word of God.
- Does it manifest the glory of Jesus Christ as the Son of God? (2 Corinthians 3:12-18)
- Does it manifest the love of God? (John 13:34-35)
- Does it manifest the power of God? (1 Corinthians 4:20)
- Does it manifest the wisdom of God? (1 Corinthians 2:7-16)
- Does it manifest the fruits of the Holy Spirit? (Galatians 5:16-26)
Lastly, Paul asked Timothy to train others. “You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others. Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 2:1-3).
The training process of Timothy did not end when he was assigned as a pastor. It was continuing even as he was ministering to other people. Paul, himself, went through the same training under Jesus Christ, Ananias and the apostles. He had persevered and trained himself to become righteous like Jesus Christ, His Lord until the day he finished the race.
“Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).
Like Paul, we could one day finally say: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7-8).
1 John 3:1
“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God”.
Bible verses were quoted from the New International Version.