Treasure in Jars of Clay

Pastor Tom Ascol continues his 2 Corinthians series with a message about 2 Corinthians 4:7 – 15 entitled “Treasures in Jars of Clay.” The Dead Sea Scrolls, the oldest manuscript fragment we have of the Old Testament books, were found in the late 1940’s in jars of clay. For over two millennia simple earthen pots had held treasures of the Old Testament. In a similar manner, the bodies of believers, simple earthen vessels, are indwelt by the Holy Spirit with the ability to proclaim the gospel message, a treasure of even greater value than the scrolls. In fact, it points to one of the truths regarding a faithful gospel ministry: gospel ministry consists of ordinary people declaring an extraordinary message.

Paul presents a clear contrast between the messenger and the message. The message, the gospel of of the glory of Christ (v. 4) is the good news. The messengers, however, are just jars of clay, baked dirt. It is a graphic way to illustrate Paul’s awareness of his own weakness and failures while at the same time pointing out that God uses just such broken vessels to declare the glorious truth. Paul uses this argument as he continues to justify his apostleship to those false teachers sowing discord in Corinth. By the use of Paul, weakness and all, God shows His power as a broken pot becomes useful both to God and to the Corinthians. Paul is weak. God used him. Corinthians came to Jesus Christ.

Paul proves God’s enabling power in vv. 8-9. Despite Paul being afflicted, perplexed, persecuted and struck down, God continued to use Paul’s ministry. God addressed each of those problems as needed giving Paul and his companions the strength they needed to have a faithful gospel ministry. Their suffering manifested the life of Jesus. Death and sorrow, suffering and pain are inherent to the life of a Christian. Just as their Master suffered so must they. However, the lives of Christians have been purchased by the blood of the Lamb and no longer belongs to them; it belongs to God. Still, God gives His own the ability to suffer well to a watching world. Indeed, the sufferings of Christians has more than once led others to a saving relationship with the Lord. It is through the hope provided by faith that Christians continue on. After all, Jesus having suffered and died was raised again, never to die again. That resurrection is the hope, the reasonable coming expectation for believers in Paul’s time, through the ages, and for us today.

It is comforting to know that one day Christ will come again and “we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as he is.” But wonderful as that may be, we minister for the glory of God and for the hope that we may reach others for Christ, that they might share in eternal bliss with a loving God. That eternity is reserved for those called by God. Only by answering that call can one be saved.

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.
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