So Paul knew that if he was going to be faithful to the end and he was going to endure, he knew that if he was going to be faithful to shine the light into the darkness, there had to be some things that anchored him down, some certainties. He was certain regarding the superiority and exclusivity of the new covenant. He was certain that ministry was a mercy.
He was certain that he needed to have a pure heart. Welcome to Grace to You with John MacArthur. I'm your host, Phil Johnson. In his book, Seven Ways to Fix the World, Christopher Barnett suggests that mankind needs to adopt a low energy lifestyle, listen to a diversity of opinions, and put more women in authority. And while some of his ideas might be helpful, none of them would truly fix what's wrong in the world. But what would?
What would it be? John MacArthur tackles that question head on today as he continues his series called The World versus the Kingdom of God. And with that, here is John. As I look at my life and my ministry and your life and your ministry in the kingdom of light, that passage is 2 Corinthians chapter 4, 2 Corinthians chapter 4. Now, we've been looking at the idea of the fact that there is revealed in Scripture that the world is made up of two kingdoms. There's the kingdom of light and the kingdom of darkness. And we looked at 2 Corinthians chapter 4. 2 Corinthians chapter 6, which says, light and darkness are incompatible, as incompatible as lawlessness and righteousness, as Satan and Christ, as unbelievers and believers.
The light is not ever helped or advanced by an alliance in a common cause with the kingdom of darkness. Christ does not need Satan to accomplish His purposes. And that, breaching that reality is what causes all the compromise that infects and has always infected the church.
So there are two kingdoms. Our duty as the children of light, as Paul calls us, is to make sure that we shine the light of the gospel into the darkness. That's our responsibility. We don't make alliances common cause with the darkness, but we shine the light of the gospel into the darkness. We are lights in the world. We have the same calling the apostle Paul had, to shine the gospel light into the darkness. Paul accepted this calling, and in Romans chapter 1 he says this, chapter 1, verse 14, it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith, as it is written, but the righteous man shall live by faith. I am not ashamed of the gospel.
It is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes. Paul was not ashamed to boldly shine the light of the gospel into the darkness. In fact, in 1 Corinthians 9, 16, he says, woe is me if I preach not the gospel. In 1 Corinthians 1, 23, he says, we preach Christ crucified.
In chapter 2 of that same book and verse 2, we preach nothing but Christ and Him crucified. And I want to say immediately, the boldness of Paul and the fact that he was not ashamed of the gospel. Put him in a precarious position from the very beginning of his ministry. How did he endure?
Well, at the end of verse 3, I should say at the end of chapter 3, it says that the Lord is the Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. He's making him more like Christ, and there was no lack of boldness in the preaching of Christ, was there? As the Holy Spirit sanctified him, he became more like his Savior, and he demonstrated the attributes of the Lord Jesus Himself, and one of them was certainly preaching the truth boldly.
Congratulations. How did this apostle maintain such endurance when so many people bail out at some point? So how do you endure? You have to have some inviolable commitments, unchangeable beliefs. Some of them, and Paul had those. He was able to face the hostile darkness, take whatever they threw back at him for the following reasons. Number one, he was certain of the superiority and exclusivity of the new covenant. In other words, he was certain of his message.
He was certain of the urgency of his message. That it was the truth, that it was superior to the old covenant, and that it was the only hope for sinners. So what drives us in ministry to be faithful and not defect, not give up, not become ashamed because we can't take the hostility and the rejection?
What drives us is the certainty that this is the truth. This is the sinner's only hope. This is the sinner's only escape. They're all around us going to hell. Do you care enough to shine the light into their darkness?
Do you understand they have no hope without it? There's a second characteristic, a second certainty, a second strong conviction that's also in verse 1. It says, In other words, he never lost the wonder over the fact that he was doing something he didn't deserve to do. He was not worthy to carry this message, not at all.
It was always a stunning shock to him. So Paul is saying, God is merciful, even allowing me to minister, even allowing me to preach this glorious gospel, and God is merciful to me. He's merciful to surround me with the people that I need. None of us deserve it.
No one deserves such a privilege. No one deserves, as he says in chapter 5, verse 20, to be an ambassador for God, representing the heavenly king and the kingdom of light. Such ministry always is a mercy, always a mercy. There was a third certainty.
He was certain about the need for a pure heart. We've renounced the things hidden in our hearts. Hidden because of shame. We've renounced the things hidden because of shame. What does shame mean here?
Anything disgraceful, anything dishonorable, anything that produces shame? People speak or preach, or we know some Christian who's seemingly representing the Lord Jesus Christ, but something seems wrong there, and we wish we knew what really was going on inside that individual. Sometimes we find out. Sometimes we don't. But we have a right to expect of those who minister the gospel that there is no secret life of shame. And when there is, it is devastating. It is devastating.
You've got to be dealing with it. There had to be some things that anchored him down, some certainties. He was certain regarding the superiority and exclusivity of the new covenant. He was certain that ministry was a mercy. He was certain that he needed to have a pure heart. He was certain that he needed to have a pure heart. He was certain that ministry was a mercy. He was certain that ministry was a mercy.
He was certain that ministry was a mercy. A workman needing not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. You've got to get it right.
You've got to get it right. You get it right, and all Scripture is profitable, he says to Timothy, and then you preach it. So first you have to interpret it correctly, and then you have to understand that every single thing it says is profitable, and then you preach it. Conviction of handling the word of God accurately. Conviction of handling the word of God accurately. Conviction of handling the word of God accurately. And he uses the word craftiness, not walking in craft, panorgia. Literally, if you take the word apart, it's the word for all and the word for energy, all work.
What does all work mean? That there are people who will do anything to accomplish their ends. They'll be shrewd with the Scripture. They'll be unscrupulous with the Scripture. They'll twist and pervert it.
They'll deceive people with it. A synonym for this word is kakorgia, which is an evil-doer or a criminal. I don't think there's much difference between a criminal and someone who twists the Scripture. That is a crime against God. The New Testament uses panorgia, craftiness, always in a negative sense.
It is being willing to do anything to gain your end, anything with the Scripture, and he describes what he means. Adulterating the word of God, adulterating it, using it in an illegitimate way. Adultery is a sin. It's a violation of a covenant. It's having sexual relations outside your marriage covenant that is violating that covenant. And you have a covenant with the word of God to teach it faithfully, and if you do not, you have violated that covenant. It's a trap.
It's a fishhook. It's something deceptive to hook people using the word of God as a way to deceive them. Preachers always twist, always pervert the word of God in a deceptive way, corrupting it, diluting it, twisting it to make their lies look scriptural, to make the people who follow them think they speak for God. We don't use the Scripture. We teach it faithfully and accurately.
This leads to a really amazing point here. The apostle was truly faithful to the Scripture, and notice what this verse says it accomplished. Manifestation of the truth.
That can't be overemphasized. The duty of every preacher, the duty of every witness is to proclaim the truth, to manifest the truth. Accuracy of interpretation demands a clear, careful exposition of Scripture. So, Paul says, not in craftiness, not adulterating the word, but rather by the manifestation of the truth of God's revelation, what happens? Commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.
This is a most unexpected promise. A lot of the greatest promises in the Bible. This is the best possible truth for all Christians to hear. If you proclaim the truth, it will commend itself to the heart of the hearer. The truth of sin and condemnation and forgiveness and justification through Christ. And you have this promise that it will commend us to every man's conscience in the sight of God.
Hostility. And then this fifth one. Okay, verse 3. He is certain that salvation is the sovereign work of God.
You ready for that? He is certain that salvation is the sovereign work of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In his case, the God of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
He is certain about this, that if the gospel is veiled, if it's covered over, if it's not received, it is veiled to those who are in a category, the perishing. So the blinded by Satan, the God of this world has blinded their minds. We do not have the power to overcome the sinner's resistance. There's no amount of cleverness. There's no amount of manipulation. There's no amount of oratory that can cause repentance and salvation.
We can't fight this battle with human weapons. Why is this true? Let's go back to verse 3 for a moment. Number one, they are the perishing. These people are the perishing.
Strong verb. Those are those devoted to destruction. That's a category of people. These of God, they're foolishness to them. Secondly, they're blinded by Satan. So you have this category of people who are the perishing, as contrasted in 1 Corinthians 1, from those who are being saved. And then additionally, the God of this world has blinded their minds so they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
The God of this world, the God of this age may be a better way to say it. Is Satan? Satan has blinded them. Satan has deceived them. Chapter 10, Paul says they're fortified in ideologies of doom and death.
They need to be led captive out of those. John 8, they're of their father, the devil who's a liar, and they believe his lies. They love darkness rather than light. They're under the wrath of God. Their minds are corrupted by their perishing status. And the double blinding of Satan so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. They can't.
They can't see it. So that's the level of consumer resistance that we have to attack. You say, well, what do we do in a situation like that?
You recognize this. We do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus' sake. We preach Christ. Because we know this, God who said, light shall shine out of darkness is the one who has shown in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. So this is Paul's certainty that salvation is a sovereign work of God. It is a sovereign work of God.
So what does Paul say in verse 5? We then do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus' sake. We just preach Christ. We preach Christ Jesus as the Lord. We're just slaves to us. Spiritual results don't come from us. No, we preach Christ.
That's sufficient. That's our calling. We preach Christ as the only hope for the sinner to escape judgment and hell. We preach Christ as Lord. Father, thank You for our time this morning.
The best of all possible experiences to be in Your presence and the presence of Your people, worshiping You, hearing You speak, through Your Word. May sinners repent right in this very service and beyond where this message is heard. May they turn from their sin. May they feel the fear, weight, dread, guilt of their sin and flee only to Christ who offers complete forgiveness.
Our Lord, we love You. We desire to be faithful to serve You as Paul did to the end of our days. May we never lose heart. May we never defect. May we always be bold and unashamed, and may You be glorified in our lives, faithful to the very end. Preach Christ, the only hope of salvation.
That is how you can help the world the most. John MacArthur, chancellor of the Masters University and Seminary, drove that point home today on Grace to You in his new series titled The World vs. the Kingdom of God. John, today you talked about Paul's conviction to proclaim the gospel with boldness no matter what.
And frankly, we all need to cultivate that same conviction. I've often heard you say, there's only one aspect of worshiping God that we as Christians can actually do better here on earth than we will in heaven, and that is evangelizing the lost, proclaiming the gospel. Yeah, well, that's the reason we're here. If all we were to do was glorify God and worship Him forever, He would have taken us to heaven where we will do that. But He left us here to proclaim the gospel. And that is the reason we're here. I mean, I want you to get that.
Did you hear what I said? The reason you as a believer are still in this world is not so you can see your kid graduate from high school. The reason you're still in this world is not so that you can find the girl of your dreams and get married if you're a believer. The reason you're in the world is not so that you can reach the next plateau in your business achievement. The reason you're in the world and not in heaven as a believer is because the Lord wants you to evangelize the lost, both by what you say and how you live. That is your raison d'etre, as the French would say.
So I want to mention a resource that would help you with that. It's a book called Nothing But the Truth. Nothing But the Truth. And I know, you know, saying that you're here for the sake of the gospel can be daunting because it's a tough world and it's a doubting world. You feel like it's a hard world.
It's an indifferent world. It's becoming more and more agnostic and even atheistic. But this book will be a great help to you. The title, Nothing But the Truth, a subtitle, Upholding the Gospel in a Doubting Age. And this was my first book devoted solely to the issue of evangelism, and it's had a great response through the years. It'll give you some building blocks, some chapters like who is God, the reliability of Scripture, the reality of sin, the virgin birth, deity of Christ, death and resurrection of Christ, all the things that make up the gospel. Chapter by chapter discussion questions, applications, even prayer requests.
Good for personal use, good for a group as well. The title again, Nothing But the Truth. It'll equip you to be an effective evangel.
That's right, friend. This thoroughly documented book can help you know right where to turn in Scripture for the truth you need to share with unbelievers. The title again, Nothing But the Truth. To order yours, contact us today. Our number here, 855 grace, and our website, gty.org. This book, Nothing But the Truth, will show you why there is only one road to heaven, and it will equip you to tell others about that narrow path with love, yet without compromise. Again, to order a copy of Nothing But the Truth, call 800-55-GRACE or go to our website, gty.org. And when you visit the website, gty.org, check out and take advantage of the thousands of free resources available, including Grace Stream. That's a continuous loop of John MacArthur sermons starting in Matthew, going all the way through the end of the book of Revelation, and it takes a couple of months to get through all of them, and then the sermons repeat. So whether you have just a few minutes or a couple of hours to listen, jump into the Grace Stream today and anytime for verse-by-verse encouragement from the New Testament. You'll find Grace Stream at gty.org. Now for John MacArthur, I'm Phil Johnson inviting you to watch Grace To You television this Sunday, and make sure you're here tomorrow when John helps you see how the power of God's Word cuts through even the deepest darkness. It's another half hour of unleashing God's truth one verse at a time on Grace To You. .
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