November 2, 2014

A Wonder Smell Or A Stench – Don R. Patton

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

“But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life.” (II Corinthians 2:14-16)

I was seven years old, in Birmingham, Alabama, when I attended my first religious debate. It was between Brother W. Curtis Porter and Baptist, Glenn V. Tingley. I remember thinking they sure talked a long time, but even then, I was amazed that two groups of adults could react to the same speech in completely different ways. It was much more like a football game than a search for truth. A dozen years later, an Elder at that North Birmingham church told me that over one hundred were baptized into Christ as a result of that debate. But I remember many there who seemed ready to lynch brother Porter.

A presentation of powerful scientific evidences supporting creation may be received with excited joy and grateful appreciation by some, and at the same time provoke furious hostility in others! (not an exaggeration) Still others may respond with determined indifference. Such diametrically contrasting reactions (verbal, written or behavioral) are typical when messages have any kind of spiritual dimension, messages which Satan works to oppose. Faithful Christians should know all about this, from experience. Unfortunately, many are taken aback and disillusioned.

The contrasting reactions are analogous to the pillar of cloud in the wilderness, which came…

“between the armies of Egypt and Israel. Throughout the night the cloud brought darkness to the one side and light to the other side; so neither went near the other all night long.” (Exodus 14:20 NIV)

We have seen that same sermon that draws and wins the one, repels and condemns the other. We need to remember that there are some with noble hearts (Luke 8:15; Acts 17:11) who appreciate truth. At the same time, there have always been those who hate it. We must remember that this does not indicate a flaw in the truth. The fault is 100%, squarely on man’s self-serving reaction to God’s holy and perfect truth.

“…men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.” (John 3:19)

We should not be amazed and must not be discouraged when the beautiful message of the gospel yields two diametrically opposite results. Peter reminds us that the prophets understood the Messiah would bring both unity and division.

For this is contained in Scripture: “BEHOLD, I LAY IN ZION A CHOICE STONE, A PRECIOUS CORNER stone, AND HE WHO BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.” This precious value, then, is for you who believe; but for those who disbelieve, “ THE STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS REJECTED, THIS BECAME THE VERY CORNER stone,” and, “A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE”; (I Peter 2:6-8)

In our text, contrasting reactions to the gospel are compared to very different aromas. Linski, in his commentary, expressed it well.

“Paul and his co-workers are the aroma of Christ as they proclaim the gospel. But when they proclaim it, they see that the gospel divides mankind into two groups. Some people hear the spoken words, refuse to accept them, and turn away from the source of life. They perish because the gospel is for them a smell of death that leads to death….the smell which a corpse emits is death. When people reject the Word of God, they constantly smell this foul odor.

Others listen to God’s voice and respond in faith. For them, the aroma of the gospel is a fragrance that emerges from life and produces life. As in the spring of the year nature bursts forth with new life, so the smell of newness is everywhere. By preaching the good news, Paul and his associates bring life to those who believe so that together they rejoice in the word of life.”

 

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