2 Corinthians 1:12
For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom…
How much is included in the word Yes! Upon that word, waiting for it, what anxious hearts have hung! The soul cries for certainty and satisfaction, and —
I. CHRIST SOLVES THE PROBLEM OF NATURE. We are perplexed by "the burden of the mystery" around us, and yearn for its solution. This yearning has borne witness and fruit in all ages. We see this especially in Hindooism — the religion of the natural man — God without character, consciousness, will. And Hindooism is making its converts among us. The myth system of Strauss, the pantheistic absolute of Hegel, the Pantheistic substance of Schelling, the idealisation of Fichte, all these systems have their disciples among us. Nature answers no questions, resolves no doubts; she meets the inquisitive intelligence of man; and when these two marry, they make a religion. But it is a religion without motives, and without safeguards. Now upon this state of mind Christ descends, and in Him is the Divine assurance. He says, "He that hath seen Me, hath seen the Father." In this personality God lifts the curtain from His eternity. "He" was and "is the brightness of the Father's glory, and the express image of His person." As light paints likenesses, so that I may have the express image of a person I have never seen, so Christ is the portrait of God. I know God is a person and a power, a conscience and a will, when I am able to believe in Jesus. There has come no answer from nature, or to nature; but He has come, and the true light shineth.
II. CHRIST RECONCILES THE CONTRADICTIONS OF SCRIPTURE. How is it that in God is "no variableness nor shadow of turning," and yet He hears and answers prayer? How is it "the pure in heart see God, whom no man can see"? How is it that a "man is justified by faith," and yet "by grace"? How is it that God is omnipotent, and yet man is spoken to as free? Well, no doubt contradictions exist, but they are explained in Him: Contradictions may exist in God even as opposite parts exist in a circle, but it is the circle which explains. See men at work on opposite walls of a building, while it grows, opposite to each other they work; but the unity of the conception and the labour is beheld in the roof. I look on the doctrine of God's grace, and man's responsibility, they seem to be in conflict with each other; so the infinity and the eternal omnipotence of God, and the freedom and the power, and the volition of man, but these things become clearer to me as I see Jesus. Hence He is called the "corner-stone"; the corner-stone meets what otherwise would never meet, reconciles what could not be reconciled.
III. JESUS GIVES THE YES TO YOUR MOST INTENSE QUESTIONS, AS OTHER MASTERS AND CONSOLERS CANNOT GIVE IT, That which is higher than I am, and which is satisfied, should satisfy me. Christ's knowledge, experience, love, and sympathy, surely are greater than mine; He was satisfied, and this should satisfy me. This may be a low ground to occupy, but I can from this climb far higher. I am in sorrow; if I could feel that sorrow had any purpose or plan, I could bear it. I go to Him, and I say, "Lord, is there any plan in my pain?" and "in Him is yea." "The cup which My Father hath given, shall I not drink it?" But, ah! is there any life beyond this? Wast Thou satisfied? "Father, I will that they whom Thou hast given Me be with Me where I am." "Because I live, ye shall live also." And salvation! may I hope, may I trust Thee? "Him that cometh unto Me I will in no wise cast out." Conclusion: We read of the disciples, on one of the mornings after the resurrection, they saw Jesus standing on the shore, and knew not that it was Jesus; but at last they knew; so, after wading through seas, and fires, and fogs, may it be given to us to see Him.
(E. Paxton Hood.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward.
WEB: For our boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience, that in holiness and sincerity of God, not in fleshly wisdom but in the grace of God we behaved ourselves in the world, and more abundantly toward you.