How Affliction Becomes Light

Pastor Tom Ascol continues teaching through 2 Corinthians in a message entitled “How Affliction Becomes Light” based on 2 Corinthians 4:16 – 18. In this life sorrows and suffering are sure. This is true for Christians as well as non-Christians. Christians, however, have different resources with which to endure and triumph over troubles.

The passage makes plain that though our outer self is wasting away our inner, spiritual self can and should be experiencing renewal everyday. This is so since temporal, material things and trials are for but a time. Paul contrasts that truth with unseen, eternal matters which do not pass away. For this very reason Paul does not lose heart despite the many setbacks, persecutions, and discouragements through which he has suffered. Paul’s point is this: An eternal perspective produces a hope-filled perseverance. His argument is threefold.

First, Paul claims to experience daily renewal. As a result of communion with God through Jesus Christ, the born-again, new, inner self created by the Holy Spirit is daily refreshed and sustained. It is the grace of God toward believers, a grace which cannot be restrained, which renews and refreshes. This grace kept Paul from losing heart.

Second, current affliction produces eternal glory. A light, momentary affliction, viewed from the perspective of eternity, produces, in the believer, glory for eternity. Looking back to vv. 8 and 9 and looking forward to Chapters 6:4 – 5 and 11:23 – 27, we can see some of the afflictions Paul had suffered, Yet, despite suffering he looked to eternity not his “light, momentary” suffering. In fact, current suffering prepared Paul for eternal glory, a glory beyond comparison to temporal, material matters. There is no wasted suffering; God uses it to prepare the sufferer for his reward. This was the perspective of a spiritual warrior who had suffered more than any of us are ever likely to suffer. Paul earlier wrote, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).

This leads directly to Paul’s third point. Renewal happens, affliction produces eternal glory, as believers look to unseen eternal realities rather than visible, temporary realities. We should not look at only the obvious, that which is physical and transient, those things which last but a lifetime. Paul teaches we must learn to observe what is invisible, not the seen but the eternal. He is talking about spiritual realities. God has promised His children many things, His presence (Romans 8:35 – 39), provision for our needs (Romans 8:32), Jesus’ intercession at the Father’s right hand on our behalf (Romans 8:34), the certainty that despite our temporary woes God is working all things for our good (Romans 8:28), and His plan of salvation to name just a few. The Bible tells us these things are true.

As we take an eternal perspective we find our first and most pressing need is for a saving relationship with Jesus Christ whereby his sacrificial work on the Cross is applied to our spiritual poverty and our sins ae paid for. Once having established that relationship the eternal perspective continues to give us resources and abilities to triumph over the temporal trials into which we may come.

Tom Ascol has served as a Pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, FL since 1986. Prior to moving to Florida he served as pastor and associate pastor of churches in Texas. He has a BS degree in sociology from Texas A&M University (1979) and has also earned the MDiv and PhD degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth, Texas. He has served as an adjunct professor of theology for various colleges and seminaries, including Reformed Theological Seminary, the Covenant Baptist Theological Seminary, African Christian University, Copperbelt Ministerial College, and Reformed Baptist Seminary. He has also served as Visiting Professor at the Nicole Institute for Baptist Studies at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida. Tom serves as the President of Founders Ministries and The Institute of Public Theology. He has edited the Founders Journal, a quarterly theological publication of Founders Ministries, and has written hundreds of articles for various journals and magazines. He has been a regular contributor to TableTalk, the monthly magazine of Ligonier Ministries. He has also edited and contributed to several books, including Dear Timothy: Letters on Pastoral Ministry, The Truth and Grace Memory Books for children and  Recovering the Gospel and Reformation of Churches. He is also the author of From the Protestant Reformation to the Southern Baptist ConventionTraditional Theology and the SBC and Strong and Courageous. Tom regularly preaches and lectures at various conferences throughout the United States and other countries. In addition he regularly contributes articles to the Founders website and hosts a weekly podcast called The Sword & The Trowel. He and his wife Donna have six children along with four sons-in-law and a daughter-in-law. They have sixteen grandchildren.
Get Founders
in Your Inbox
A weekly brief of our new teaching resources.

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Teaching BY TYPE
Teaching BY Author
Founders Podcasts