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2 Corinthians Chapters 4 and 5
2 Corinthians Chapters 4 and 5

Bible Study – Tucson (October 1980)

by Herbert W Armstrong


Paul is writing a long letter. I don’t think that someone read this whole letter at one Church service. He is continuing here what he had been saying in the previous chapters we covered last time.

II Corinthians 4:1: “Therefore, having this ministry(of the spirit not the letter). The new Covenant has not been made yet. In the Old Covenant, God made the covenant first and then let them try to live it afterwards. The New Covenant will be different. It is based on better promises, but on the same law. It is different in another way. God declares the conditions of the covenant – and that is the gospel, which we preach. We have a chance to take hold of it and see if we are willing to live it in this life now. We are living it on probation. That is if we do live it properly and have God’s Spirit and are being led by God’s Spirit.

Changing Life-style:

First, you have to have God’s Spirit – that comes from repentance and not only believing Christ but believing what He said. It means a complete change in your life-style. Life-styles in this world are something that change every few years. Just like hairstyles. There is a new hairstyle now that even the President of the United States and some of this world’s ministers wear. It has the hair just over the ears on the side where the parting is and then long on top and combed down so that it covers almost two thirds of the forehead. It is called a “unisex” haircut. Women have combed their hair down over their foreheads for a good many years. Some do and some don’t. Some have a fringe that comes almost down to the eyebrows. That’s all right, that is a woman’s style – but now men are following the women. We’ve all got to be one sex. They are trying to do away with marriage, and with the family. Women are to do everything men do – they have the Equal Rights Association.

But first of all, what right do any of us have? We have the right to obey or disobey – God gives us that latitude. The thing the world doesn’t realize is that it will be held accountable for these things. Judgment is on us now. These people won’t have any Satan to fight when judgment does come on them. All of our society then will be according to the laws of God. They will be judged first by whether they repent of the way they have lived in this life, and then by how they live their lives day by day in the 100 years they are given in the Great White Throne Judgment. So God is not unfair. He is not unfair when he says that we are going to have positions of high rulership in His Kingdom and they will not.

Greatest in the Kingdom:

I was thinking just this morning. The disciples asked Jesus who was the greatest in the Kingdom. If you want to be great when you get in the Kingdom of God, what do you have to do? He said he will be the greatest who is the servant of all. Not the master who rules all, but the one who serves all. I get to thinking of my own position. I am the chosen apostle of Jesus Christ and the Government of God is in force and effect in the Church of God and those who are willing of their own choice to come in and be under that government. They are not forced at all, but then judgment begins on them day by day – It lasts as long as we live or until Christ comes – whichever is first. So I was thinking – I am in a position of a certain supervision or rulership over the Church. But if I get to thinking of myself as a dictator and a ruler and a master and one who does nothing but give orders and let everyone else get on with it, I will be very little in the Kingdom of God. The way I will have the highest position is by whatever extent I am serving all the Church and the brethren. When I write the articles that I do to try to help and expound the word of God – am I bossing and ordering or am I helping and trying to serve? I have to temper whatever ruling there has to be by making it a minimum. I’ve been thinking about this thing of human government an awful lot.

I was watching a program on our educational channel last night about human government – it was discussing the theory of government and the office of the President and how much authority the President really ought to have. The President used to be advised by his cabinet members, but today he has his staff – these are the ones he talks with – he hardly deals with his cabinet members. But his chief of staff, etc. are the ones he sees every day. One of these men asked the question as to whether these men would have the nerve to come and tell the President if they think he is wrong. One or two who have had experience say that they don’t think they do. They stand in awe of the office and are afraid to say anything.

I was interested in the movie “Backstairs in the White House” which showed a lot of the goings on in the White House and the order that is there. Even the servants have a strict system of authority about them. There, does have to be a system of authority, but those in authority don’t have to lord it over others in the way they carry that out.

Using Authority:

When I have to take steps in carrying out the authority I have been given, I don’t want to do it. Sometimes it is a duty and I have to do it, but I try to do it in love and in the way that I ought to. I tell you, I’m still human. It is very hard to know how to handle things like that, but sometimes you have to be firm. I am by nature generous and more talkative and talk more openly to people than others.

Some people say only what they want others to know and you wonder what they don’t want others to know. I’m not like that. But it is quite a problem to me if I have to use any kind of a disciplinary action. I didn’t do it years ago up in Eugene Oregon, and it cost the life of some people who might have been converted and gone into God’s Kingdom. I may have cost their life forever and I was called down by a deacon in the Church who’s brother was coming along and was turned back because I didn’t stand up to another man. It was a preacher from another church, and I didn’t stand up to him. After that, when they began to heckle me in a meeting I stood up to them and I dominated every time when it was against the law of God.

Some people misunderstand my generosity and my manner and they get to taking that as an evidence of weakness and being kind of easy. I know my father was a little like that and I remember that there were people who were not necessarily hostile to him, but they called him an easy mark. He could be taken advantage of. He was friendly. I would much rather my father was like that than like a lot of other men I know. I knew an uncle who was a farmer and he took advantage of every other man in the neighborhood. He had some feed and the others didn’t and there was a kind of drought and he charged them 8-10 times more than it was worth. My father was not like that. My father would probably just have given it to them. Others could take advantage of my father. I learned a lesson about that. Maybe I am an easy mark to a certain extent, but not when I am aware of it. I can get tough if I have to, but I don’t like to and I don’t want to.

I write letters quite often but I don’t write them as long as these that Paul was writing. But they are important! I’ll tell you another thing that I have come to feel lately that I never felt formerly. I feel that God is leading and inspiring me in a way He did not years ago. That doesn’t mean that He leads and inspires me in every word that I say. I don’t mean that at all. I can still make mistakes just as much as I ever could. I know when I write, I’ll look at it later and think that I must do it over and do it better and I get it done again. I can’t help how hard it is and how much more time it takes but the job has got to be the best that I can do. Is that the way you deal with the things you’ve got to do? I think God leads me to set an example in that respect and I think it would be a good example for you to follow. So I talk to you and I write to the members just as Paul was doing here.

Old and New Covenant:

God made the Old Covenant of Mount Sinai with Israel. The New Covenant – we are under its condition now and the gospel is the proclaiming of the terms and conditions of the New Covenant and judgment is on us now as to whether or not we can make that covenant with Him. God made the Old Covenant at Mount Sinai – Israel said, all that the Lord has said we will do and be obedient. So He made that Covenant. It was ratified by the shed blood of animals. That Covenant was made. God isn’t making the New Covenant like that. It hasn’t been yet made. God started making the New Covenant with Christ at Jerusalem. Its been going on and now I’m proclaiming that New Covenant. People are stil1 proving whether they are going to make that Covenant. God says He won’t make that contract until He knows we are going to be obedient. Once He has made that Covenant He is bound to His part of it – and He isn’t going to do that this time until He is sure we wil1 keep our part of it. The Church has to prove that it will keep its part. What will that Covenant be? The marriage covenant with Christ, I have not made that Covenant yet, nor have you. You are still being tried and tested as to whether you will qualify to have overcome Satan and yourself and this world and whether you have kept God’s Word and whether you have lived God’s way. Don’t mistake God’s love. He doesn’t love us to the degree that He will allow us to do wrong and turn a blind eye to it. He hates wrongdoing. He doesn’t hate you when you do it, but He hates your doing it. I think we need to think of these things. All of the Bible studies, the writings and the Church services are helping our people to make the grade – to see if you will qualify to make that new Covenant with Christ. Are you going to go into the marriage?

It is as a man who is very wealthy and wants to marry a woman. He is a man of high character. He proposes to the woman. But if he finds that she is not living as she should before the marriage – he may never marry her at all. Long before I thought of marriage very much, I had a system. If I dated a girl, I had to think that she was a very unusual one and of high character. The first date was a test date. If it went all right, I would ask her for one more date, but it was still a test. I remember one girl in particular. She was fine on the first date, but on the second date I went to her home to meet her parents. There I found that she was lazy and didn’t help her mother. She wouldn’t wash dishes or make beds or do any of the housework at all. I found out things about her that didn’t measure up. That was the last date. Some girls got a third and fourth date. I tell you we are the prospective bride and Christ is this wealthy man of fine character. He is looking at us and thinking maybe He would like to marry us. But He hasn’t quite decided yet. We’ve all had a first and second date and are getting along fairly well, but we still have to meet His requirements. Maybe you did last week and maybe you did yesterday, but what about today? Are you meeting His requirements?

This new Covenant is different in that we will not make the Covenant with Him until we have from the time of conversion through our whole lifetime proved that we have come out of the world and that we have lived according to the way of God and that we are the kind that Christ would like to have for a wife. That is what this life is about – this is the purpose of the Church!

Chapter 4:

Chapter 4:1: “Therefore having this ministry, by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart.”

Verse 2: “We have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s Word, but by the open statement of the truth, we would commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.” We are not going to use trickery or cunning in trying to get the members through into the New Covenant so they can make it with Christ.

Verse 3: “And even if our gospel is veiled”(as mentioned in the chapter before) – the physical Israelites never could comprehend God’s law – the Ten Commandments are merely the summary principles of God’s law – and they never did obey it. The promise of the New Covenant is eternal life – God will not give it until we have fulfilled our part of the Covenant. The promise of the Old Covenant was that they would be the greatest nation on earth, that they would have material wealth, that they would be the head and not the tail – that 500 of them could put 10,000 enemies to flight – it was national greatness and material wealth. They never got that completely. God took away that greatness for 2,520 years. The promises God did fulfill were because of Abraham’s obedience – the children never did obey.

United States and British Empire:

Because God had made a promise to Abraham He gave that greatness after 2,520 years. Who were the descendants of Joseph through Ephraim and Manasseh? The United States is the descendant of Manasseh. The British nations, Canada, New Zealand, Britain are the descendants of Ephraim.

Wall Street Journal Ads:

By 1824 that 2,520 years was up and beginning at that time we spurted to the greatest wealth and we became the greatest power on the face of the earth. But what have we done with it? I’m writing ads in The Wall Street Journal to reach the men at the helm of the United States – in political and business and economic positions. I am saying some of these things to these people. I have written an ad about what is wrong with business and industry today. I started writing one this morning “What is Wrong with Organized Labor?” – “What is Wrong with Business and Industry?” I tell them what is wrong. I don’t mince words.

They think everything is good about organized labor, so I tell them what is good about it first – you notice in Revelation where God speaks to the seven Churches in chapters 2-3, did you ever notice that God starts out I know your works – He says the good things first – then WHAM – He tells them what is wrong. He says I’ve got good news and bad news. That is what I’m doing in these ads. I have one on modern education. It is all-materialistic and they have found only material knowledge while our problems which are spiritual are not being solved. I’m showing that business and industry is all GET – trying to take profits away from the other guy – unfair and hostile competition – quotes from leading businessmen one of whom says that he only knows two men who rose to the top honestly. These things are in The Wall Street Journal. I’m not mincing words. And I’m telling them about the law of God. It is the way of GIVE not GET and that they are not living that way.

We had a time when labor had not been organized, that the employer and the employee were both pulling together for the success of that business. Of course, they were in competition against other businesses, but at least that part of the team was still together. Labor unions came and made the employer the enemy of the employee.

Families began to be broken up – relatives separated from each other – and now it is coming into the very home – the kids are the enemies of the parents and the parents are the enemies of the children. They don’t eat together any more. Mum and Dad are both at work all day. While they are at work, the kids are having sex games in the house. This is the world we live in. This is the way of Satan. Satan tells us this is the way we should try to enjoy life. Mum and Dad enjoy being out and both working so Mum has her own money and Dad has his – then Mum and Dad are at odds and Mum decides she’ll sue Dad for alimony and then have part of his money on top of hers. Equal rights doesn’t mean equal – it means the woman wants to be on top of the man. The kids – they can shift for themselves. Mum and Dad don’t care. They just enjoyed the sex and the kids came along. The kids are a responsibility that Mum and Dad don’t want.

We’ve talked about the population explosion – we don’t need to talk about it any more. Ten years ago we did. But they aren’t having so many children any more today. They are having lots of abortions. That is all right. We believe in murder. The Supreme Court of the United States approves of that. The U.S. Government says “In God we trust” but the only God they trust is Satan. We teach evolution. We pass laws that say you can’t have any kind of prayer in school. The Supreme Court says it is unlawful to say that abortion is murder. You tell me God isn’t going to punish this nation? You bet God is going to punish this United States of America. We are all divided!

Verse 3: “For even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing.” Are you one who is perishing? They are not perished yet – they are on the way. Just as no one is saved yet, but is on the way.

Verse 4: “The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the likeness of God.”

Verse 5: “For what we preach is not ourselves (I don’t want to preach Herbert Armstrong – I only mention something once in a while if I think it might be good for you – not for my own good) but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.” That is what I am – a servant, nothing more.

Verse 6: “For it is God who said let light shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.”

Verse 7: “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us.” Transcendent means supernatural – way above anything human. That power belongs to God and not to us.

Verse 8: “We are afflicted in every way but not crushed. Perplexed but not driven to despair.” We have been persecuted lately but we have been delivered since the last Bible study. Yes, persecuted, but we never gave up. I never did lose any sleep over that at any time. I knew God would bring us through and deliver us. But let me tell you, Satan will try to bring something even bigger on us now if he can. But even then God will deliver us. We can’t trust in ourselves. “Persecuted but not forsaken. Struck down, but not destroyed.” Maybe Satan will strike us down even more, but we won’t be destroyed. The Work will go on. We’ll be there to make that New Covenant with God if we qualify.

Verse 10: “Always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the-life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.”

Verse 11: “For while we live we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh.”

Verse 12: “So death is at work in us, but life in you.” The ‘us’ here is the ministers and the ‘you’ is the Church. The sacrifice of the ministry to yield life in the Church.

Verse 13: “For since we have the same spirit of faith as he had who wrote ‘I believed and so I spoke’ we too believe and so we speak.”

Verse 14: “Knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence.” Let’s think of that. He was faithful to raise Christ. Christ hated to go to the cross the night of the last supper – the Passover. He was divine, but He was also human. Being divine, He went for that very purpose – but He never doubted for a second that God would raise Him up.

He knew on the cross He would be forsaken. He said, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.” The human part in Him cried out, but He knew that He had to die. God left Him to die. Then God raised Him up. As sure as God raised Him up, He will bring us into His Kingdom at the second coming of Christ.

Verse 15: “For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving to the glory of God.”

Satan Cast Down?:

Verse 16: “So we do not lose heart” And we did not lose heart today. This is the first time that Satan has ever struck at the Church as a whole – through this lawsuit. I was persecuted way back when I was about all there was as a Church, but the whole body has never been attacked before. This makes me think that we are just past that Great War in heaven spoken of in Rev. 12:9 – and in verse 13, we find that Satan will persecute the Church and then will come the Great Tribulation. Then he goes to seek the remnant Church who has the law of God and the testimony of Jesus. That will be Laodicea.

Verse 16: “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed every day.”

Verse 17: “For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” He is talking to the Church here. Judgment is not on the world now. We will receive our reward when Christ comes as we read in Revelation 19. We don’t get our reward in this life. We will rule then with Christ and will bring salvation to all the world. There won’t be any Satan around at that time to tempt them.

Verse 18: “Because we look not to the things which are seen - (physical, material things) but to the things that are unseen, (which are the spiritual) for the things which are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”

Chapter 5:

5:1: “For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed (this physical body – our consciousness is our mind, but it is not a spiritual soul) we have a building from God – a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” In other words, the promise of our citizenship is preserved for us in heaven. In the resurrection, we will not have the same body, but the spirit of man that is in us is like a mould that will form and shape other spirit to give us a spirit body to look just like we did look except that your faces will shine like the sun.

Verse 2: “Here indeed we groan in this life, and long to put on our heavenly dwelling.” People translate that to mean that we are going to heaven. It doesn’t mean that. It is reserved in heaven for us and we would like to put it on now. “So that by putting it on we may not be found naked.” (Verse 3)

Verse 4: “For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened, not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon that mortality might be swallowed up of life.” In other words, in the resurrection, this mortal man is going to go and we will have an immortal spirit body. We’ll have self-containing life. Your car has to be fed just like you do. We are a type of combustion engine. Being immortal would be like being a car that needs no fuel – it just goes for ever.

Verse 5: “He who has prepared us for this very thing is God who has given us the spirit as a guarantee.” (The earnest of the Spirit)

Verse 6: “Therefore we are always confidant knowing that while we are at home In the body (this fleshly body) we are absent from the Lord.”

Verse 7: “For we walk by faith, not by sight.”

Verse 8: “We are confidant I say and willing rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.” That is we will be in the resurrection. A lot of people take that to mean we “go to heaven.” It doesn’t say that anywhere. The spirit that will form the mould for our spirit may be kept in heaven, but there is no consciousness of that spirit until the resurrection. At death, the man dies and the spirit returns to God that gave it. If we have the Holy Spirit, we are begotten as the children of God.

Verse 10: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ (when He comes) so that each one may receive good or evil according to what he has done in the body.” That shows that those who do evil now will give account when their judgment comes.

Verse 11: “Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men, but what we are is known of God and I hope it is known also to your conscience.”

Verse 12: “We are not commending ourselves to you again, but giving you cause to be proud of us so you may be able to answer those who pride themselves on a man’s position and not on his heart.”

Verse 13: “For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God. If we are in our right mind it is for you.”

Verse 14: “For the love of Christ controls us, because we are convinced that one has died for al1.” (Christ).

Verse 15: “Therefore all have died, and he died for all that those who live might live no longer for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” Most people in the world live only for themselves and what they can get in a passing moment. We are to live for Christ and the hope that is in the future and that hope is the resurrection and making this New Covenant.

Verse 16: “From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view, even though we once regarded Christ from a human point of view, we regard him thus no longer.”

Verse 17: “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation (figuratively you can be born again in this life, but the actual action won’t take place until the resurrection) the old has passed away, behold the new has come.”

Verse 18: “All this is from God who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.” To reconcile us to God.

World To Answer for Actions:

Verse 19: “That is in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.” There is quite a lot in that if we get it. I say they are going to account for what they are doing. They will. But if in the Great White Throne judgment they do repent and turn from that old life and turn to the law of God and receive the Holy Spirit, then all that is behind them will be forgiven. I say the world is going to account for what it is doing now. They are not going to get off scot free, but if they will then repent and change and turn, Christ has paid for their past and all that will not be held against them. Even some who have been in the Church and go out angry don’t see that. They think that all you ever did will be held against you. But they don’t seem to think anything they have ever done will be held against them – the lies they are spreading – for one is always guilty of what he accuses in the other.

Verse 20: “So we are ambassadors for Christ (this is why the College is called Ambassador College) God making his appeal through us as though God did beseech you by us, be reconciled to God.”

Verse 21: “For our sake he made Him (Christ) to be sin, who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”