Sermon Detail

Living in Gospel Community How We (Progressively) Change

October 24, 2021 | Buster Brown

“Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him. For God's temple is holy, and you are that temple. Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, ‘He catches the wise in their craftiness’”  2 Corinthians 3:16-19

The apostle Paul rejoices in an ”unveiling” experience and process whereby the centrality and glory of Christ is revealed to God’s people by the Holy Spirit.  

Regarding sanctification or progressive growth in Christ: “In this war, the remaining corruption may greatly prevail for a time (Christians can fall into sin) yet through the continual supply of strength from the sanctifying Spirit of Christ, the regenerate part overcomes. So, the saints grow in grace perfecting holiness in the fear of God. They pursue a heavenly life, in gospel obedience to all the commands of Christ as Head and King has given them in his Word.”  1689 Baptist Confession of Faith, XIII-3

How We Progressively Change in Christ

1. The foundation: the sufficiency and glory of the work of Christ.

“...but so long as they (OT individuals) think to be wise without Christ, they will wander in darkness, and will never arrive at a right understanding of the law. Now, what is said of the law applies to all Scripture-that where it is not taken as referring to Christ as its one aim, it is mistakenly twisted and perverted.”  John Calvin, Commentary on 2 Corinthians

“Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.”  Romans 3:19-20 

“...all Scripture is a testimony to Christ, who is Himself the focus of divine revelation.”  Baptist Faith and Message 2000, Article I, The Scriptures

2. Continuously move from darkness (unknowledge/misinformation) to light (knowledge grounded in the gospel). 

"How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light.”  Psalm 36:7-9

3. Proclaim the heritage of freedom. (v.17)

This freedom is more than being freed from sin and the flesh but is also the confidence and boldness which we acquire from the Holy Spirit bearing witness in our hearts to our adoption and full embrace by the Lord.

“For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’”  Romans 8:15

“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”  Hebrews 4:16

4. Continually mirror the reality of Christ. (v.18)

“But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.”  James 1:25 

“(Many Christians may) repeat the catch words of the theology of grace, but many have little deep awareness that they and other Christians are ‘accepted in the beloved’ and fully adopted into the Father’s embrace. Since their understanding of justification is marginal or unreal–anchored not to Christ, but to some conversion experience in the past or to an imagined present state of goodness in their lives–they know little of the dynamic of justification. Their understanding of sin focuses on behavioral externals which they can eliminate from their lives by a little will power and ignores the great submerged continents of pride, covetousness and hostility beneath the surface. Thus their pharisaism defends them both against full involvement in the church’s mission and against full subjection of their inner lives to the authority of Christ.”  Richard F. Lovelace, Dynamics of Spiritual Life: An Evangelical Theology of Renewal, p.205


1. Why is it important to remember these letters were written to a GROUP OF PEOPLE in the church at Corinth? 

Consider the following: “Face to face conversation is the most human-and humanizing-thing we do, fully present to one another, we learn to listen. It’s where we develop the capacity for empathy. It’s where we experience the joy of being heard, of being understood.”  Sherry Turkle, Reclaiming Conversation

2. What is the significance of saying, “Sanctification (growth in Christ) is progressive and admits to degrees”?

3. How is the veil of unbelief or a hardened heart removed? How do we continuously say to one another, “We are helping broken people treasure Jesus”?

4. What does it mean to reflect, as in a mirror, the wonder of Christ?

5. What is the end result or an aspirational goal of today’s passage?