Our study of 2 Corinthians brings us to a text that reminds us that the Christian mission faces great opposition in this world. The “god of this world,” Satan, works to blind the minds of unbelievers to prevent them from seeing the light of the gospel. Yet, “we do not lose heart” because we know that God is at work shining “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” into human hearts.
How fitting to study with this passage as Christmas approaches. Christ came into the world as light shining into darkness (John 1:5). And so we sing of the glorious incarnation of our Lord.
Call to Worship Isaiah 60:1-3
Prepared Music For Unto Us a Child is Born
Hymn 94 O Little Town of Bethlehem
Note: Famed 19th century preacher, Phillips Brooks, wrote this Christmas hymn for the children of his church in 1868. It was inspired by his memories of a visit he paid to Bethlehem three years earlier. We find the theme of “light” in the first verse: In contrast to the dark night (a metaphor for the world’s condition), “in thy dark streets shineth The everlasting Light.” We will sing it to Ralph Vaugh Williams beautiful arrangement of the tune, Forest Green.
Worship through Giving
Congregational Response: Hymn 137 When I Survey the Wondrous Cross
Note: The father of hymnody, Isaac Watts, invites us to employ sacred imagination to stand at the foot of the cross. The view of our Savior hanging there turns our efforts to nothing and crushes our pride. The fourth verse perfectly expresses the appropriate response to such a sight: “Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.”
Hymn 91 Once In Royal David’s City
Note: Mary’s child born in Bethlehem so long ago was no ordinary baby. “He came down to earth from heaven Who is God and Lord of all.” He was the long-expected Messiah.
Scripture Reading Ephesians 2:1-13
Note: The sermon text makes it clear that Satan works to blind the minds of unbelievers, veiling the light of the gospel. What, then, can open their eyes? God alone can do this. Paul describes that work of God in this text, using the imagery of spiritual death and spiritual resurrection.
Hymn 120 Who Is He in Yonder Stall?
Note: This beloved Christmas hymn begins with the birth of the baby Jesus, but follows him through his life, death, and resurrection. (Please note that the word “succor” in verse 3 means “to give aide” or “rescue.”)
Message The Glory of God in the Face of Jesus
2 Corinthians 4:1-6
Pastor Steven Thomas
Hymn 588 A Mighty Fortress is Our God
Note: The story is told that Martin Luther, composer of this hymn, once threw an inkwell against a wall, explaining that he was trying to hit Satan. The evil one was very real to Dr. Luther. This hymn reminds us of our formidable foe, but also encourages us with knowledge that a powerful word from Christ “shall fell him.” Confident that “his doom is sure,” we may confidently, like Paul and Luther,
Let goods and kindred go,
This mortal life also;
[Knowing] The body they may kill:
God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.
Prayer Response Mark Williams
Benediction John Miles