By Roger “The Famous Spearman”
Most of us, eventually, need help to keep us from giving up…
- in our goals,
- in our dreams,
- in our weight-loss,
- in our marriage,
- in our life.
Three—of the many—passages that encourage me as a Bible inspired writer include a verse from a Psalm, a small portion of one of the Apostle Paul’s “letters to the churches” in the New Testament, and a phrase from one the first five “historical books” of the Old Testament:
Psalm 36:9 in the New Living Translation says, “for you are the fountain of life, the light by which we see.” God indeed is the “fountain of life” in so many respects—and “the light by which we see” spiritual truth.
Ephesians 1:7-9 in the Amplified Bible says, “…in accordance with the riches of His grace which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and understanding [with practical insight] He made known to us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure, which He purposed in Christ.” The Bible is a fantastic source of “wisdom,” and “understanding [with practical insight].” It has been said that several of the famous inventors though out history used the Bible as the source of their tremendous insights.
Deuteronomy 8:3 in the Amplified Bible says, “…man lives by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD.” Three of my favorite Bible versions use the expression “every word” for this verse.
My Young’s printed Analytical Concordance—and an on-line Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance—does not reference the word “every” or “word” from this passage. Even though my three favorite versions use the English word “every” here, it is unclear what word the much more specific Hebrew actually used in this passage.
Although it may not be a Scriptural principle to live by every word of the Bible, it most likely is a principle to occasionally study smaller phrases—or even individual words—of the Bible for even deeper truths.
“In these verses” [8–18] “the apostle gives an account of their courage and patience under all their sufferings,” according to The Matthew Henry Commentary on the Bible. It goes on to say that:
“The consideration of the glory of God and the benefit of the church, by means of their sufferings, kept them from fainting, 2 Cor. 4:15. Their sufferings were for the church’s advantage (2 Cor. 1:6), and thus did redound to God’s glory. For, when the church is edified, then God is glorified; and we may well afford to bear sufferings patiently and cheerfully when we see others are the better for them—if they are instructed and edified, if they are confirmed and comforted. Note, the sufferings of Christ’s ministers, as well as their preaching and conversation, are intended for the good of the church and the glory of God.”
“The thoughts of the advantage their souls would reap by the sufferings of their bodies kept them from fainting: Though our outward man perish, our inward man is renewed day by day, 2 Cor. 4:16. Here note, (1.) We have every one of us an outward and an inward man, a body and a soul. (2.) If the outward man perish, there is no remedy, it must and will be so, it was made to perish. (3.) It is our happiness if the decays of the outward man do contribute to the renewing of the inward man, if afflictions outwardly are gain to us inwardly, if when the body is sick, and weak, and perishing, the soul is vigorous and prosperous. The best of men have need of further renewing of the inward man, even day by day. Where the good work is begun there is more work to be done, for carrying it forward. And as in wicked men things grow every day worse and worse, so in godly men they grow better and better.”
In this study, I will not comment on every word of the key passage (2 Corinthians 4:15-16). I will examine 7 inclusive words (from the total of almost 50 words used in these two verses)—that the God of the Bible uses. NOTE Enlarged phrases are taken from the New Living Translation; other versions are noted where used.
Insight 1 – All
I studied journalism for over four years. We were taught not to use inclusive words such as “all,” or “never,” or “everyone.” There usually are—at least one—exception to such descriptions.
Originally, I had purchased printed editions of various Bible versions. All these translations now—and others—are all available over the Internet—free. For this study, I have limited the translations used to my favorite four the Amplified Bible (Amplified), the New Living Translation (NLT), The Message Bible (Message), and the J.B Phillips New Testament (Phillips).
“For all [these] things…”
The Amplified, too, uses the word “all.” It starts this section of scripture with the phrase, “for all [these] things are for your sake.” “Every detail”—The Message Bible states—“works to your advantage.” The Phillips (he died before he could do the Old Testament) says, “we wish you could see how all this is working out for your benefit.”
This is one of the numerous all-inclusive phrases God inspired the authors of the 66 books of the Bible to use anyway—that “you could take to the bank.” It seems that every single one of our painful past experiences has the potential to do the things we are examining in this brief commentary.
The God of the Bible can make trustworthy promises that can be fulfilled for all people.
Insight 2 – Grace
“are for your sake, so that as [God’s remarkable, undeserved] grace…”
The word grace is a spiritual concept that often is tricky to really grasp. Sort of like scooping up water in your hands; there is usually very little left if it can’t be used very quickly.
We find the phrase “remarkable, undeserved grace” used in the Amplified for our two study verses in the fourth chapter of Second Corinthians. Whatever grace means, it at least is underserved—and remarkable.
Rather than turn to the many quaint theological definitions of grace, I want to explore a few from the Bible itself. I will use the NLT for these explanations:
Ephesians 2:4-9 “It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved… incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us.” This passage refers to “kindness toward us” and the theology of having “been saved.”
Romans 3:23-24 “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.” This passage refers to “his grace, freely makes us right in his sight.”
Romans 6:14 “Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace.” This passage refers to living “under the freedom of God’s grace.”
I Peter 5:8-11 “… God himself (from whom we receive all grace and who has called you to share his eternal splendor through Christ) will make you whole and secure and strong. All power is his forever and ever, amen!” Phillips This passage refers to “from whom we receive all grace…will make you whole and secure and strong.”
These quick samplings of New Testament passages use the word “grace,” define it, or elaborate on related ideas. These teach the concepts of kindness, being made right in God’s sight, freedom; being made whole, secure, and strong. We need things like this when we are going through struggles of life.
II Corinthians 12:8-9 “…I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might leave me; but He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you [My lovingkindness and My mercy are more than enough—always available—regardless of the situation]; for [My] power is being perfected [and is completed and shows itself most effectively]in [your] weakness’… ”
Many of us have things we have prayed for over and over for God to change. But He says to us every day as His adopted children, “My lovingkindness and My Mercy are more than enough—always available—regardless of the situation.”
The God of the Bible can give grace in its varied forms.
Insight 3 – More
“…reaches more and more people”
The phrase “more and more people” is used by the NLT, the Amplified, and the Message.
Many years ago I was fasting and praying: I was newly married, had just moved away from my hometown so my wife at the time could do a student teaching program, had rented our first place together, then lost a job I had recently landed after moving there when the company went out of business.
During a few moments of fading in and out of wakefulness, I had a dream or a vision I have never forgotten; that is very rare for me because I almost never remember my dreams once I wake up.
In it, I was walking through a particular hallway of the junior high (seventh through ninth grades) I went to in Kelso, Washington. I heard someone call out my first name, Roger, but when I looked around nobody seemed to be looking my way. Then I heard my name being called a second time. This time, when I the voice—which I somehow knew was God’s—say, “go to the multitudes.”
That was it. No explanation of what that means; no continuation of the dream or vision.
Although this happened about 30 years ago, I never for this. Bible phrases such as “more and more people” cause me to wonder all over again how that applies to my future: volunteering at with a non-profit agency, landing a different job, finally establishing a career, starting some kind of Christian ministry.
Our goal as “fishers of men” is how can we bring “more and more people” into the family of God, by our peace and attitudes even more than by our verbal witnessing.
The God of the Bible can help us do more and more.
Insight 4 – Thanksgiving
“there will be great thanksgiving”
So far we have examined things that bring about “more thanksgiving” Phillips, “increase thanksgiving” Amplified, and cause “great thanksgiving” NLT
There is that word—again—“more.” The related words for how thankful we will be are “increase” and “great.” The Message Bible uses the word “praise” in place of the word thanksgiving.
My wife, Nancy, and I refer to having a great day as a Tony the Tiger day. This expression comes from an old T.V. commercial for Frosted Flakes.
The God of the Bible can give more thanksgiving, then increase that thanksgiving, and then cause great thanksgiving.
Insight 5 – Glory
“to the glory of [our great] God.”
When we help ourselves—and others—become thankful it is to “God will receive more and more glory” NLT, “to the glory of [our great] God” Amplified, “Every detail works to your advantage and to God’s glory” Message, “will redound to his glory” Phillips.
The God of the Bible can bring about glory.
Insight 6– Never
“That is why we never give up.”
“That is why we never give up though our bodies are dying” NLT, “therefore we do not become discouraged…disappointed because our outer self is [progressively] wasting away” Amplified, “so we’re not giving up on the outside even though it often looks like things are falling apart on us” Message, “this is the reason we never collapse though the outward man does indeed suffer wear and tear” Phillips.
Insight 7 – Daily
“…Though our bodies are dying, our
spirits are being renewed every day.”
The Amplified, for our study verses, shows that we are “being [progressively] renewed day by day.” The NLT—and the Phillips version—states we are “being renewed every day.” The Message states that “not a day goes by without his unfolding grace.”
Now we know that at least grace means “being renewed” every single day of our life—without there being even one exception.
The God of the Bible can renew us every day.