If you have your Bibles, I should say since you have your Bibles, as you have your Bibles, not if, turn to what book are we looking at tonight? All right, you tell me where I need to preach and we'll go from there. Down to verse number 12. I had planned on doing this in two parts.
I realize that's not going to work. So we're going to do this in three parts. Lord willing, preached Chapter four. A sermon is really the whole chapter.
We're looking at eight keys to a lasting ministry. I'm really excited to get into tonight's sermon. I really believe this is this is one of those sermons that you just need in life.
It's something that's going to be, I think, edifying to our own hearts as we as we navigate it. Verse number one says, Therefore, seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not, but have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth, commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost, and whom the God of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not. Thus, the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine into them. For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus, the Lord, and ourselves, your servants, for Jesus' sake.
For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure, an earthen vessel, that the excellency of the power may be of God and not of us. If you'd read verse eight and nine with me.
We are crippled on every side, yet not distressed. We are perplexed, but not in despair, persecuted, but not forsaken, cast down, but not destroyed. He goes on and says, always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh, so then death worketh in us, life in you. Father, again, your word before us gives us light.
It is the glory of God written in the pages of Holy Scripture. And we pray that what we read here would be read in our life, that when people see us, they would see the truth of Scripture lived out. God, I pray that the fruit of our life would be the fruit of the word. I pray tonight if anyone doesn't know Christ, that they would come to repentance and salvation that's only found in the Lord Jesus Christ, open their hearts to the reality of their need. I pray for those that are in our teens and our kids' ministries, bless all that's done tonight. For your glory, we ask it in Jesus' name.
And God's people said, man, you may be seated this evening. I believe it is important to define the purpose for which we live. Many Christians can be confused as to what their ultimate purpose in life is. Like if I gave you a pen and I said, I want you to write down what you believe your purpose for existence is. That is a very important question for you to answer because it's going to determine what you do in life. You have to answer the why questions.
Why should I? Why do I exist? Why am I here? And then you can begin to fulfill the what in life. And I believe the defining statement of our existence is 1 Corinthians 10 31 that whether we eat or drink or whatsoever we do, we would do all to the what? To the glory of God. We should live to glorify God in all we do. That we should love God with all of our hearts, all of our soul, all of our mind, and all of our strength. Somebody might oppose that and say, but what about our families?
Shouldn't they be first on the list? How can making your family a greater priority than God be good for your family? The fact is, the greatest way I believe we can love our spouses and our children correctly is when we have God number one in our love, in our life. When God is in his proper place, everything else falls into perfect order. My life's aim is to please God, to be faithful to God, to finish the course that he's laid out for me to do.
I want to end the race well. I say with Paul and Philippians 3, 13 and 14, which really have been my life versus when he says, Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended, but this one thing I do for getting those things which are behind and reaching forth into the things which are before I press toward the mark for the price of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. I will have counted my life as success if I can say at the end of my days, if I can hear the Lord say at the end of my days, well done, thou good and faithful servant.
And isn't that what we would desire? I mean, how much in life can you get right when you get it wrong with God? But how much in life can you get wrong if you get it right with God? And so is that your heart this evening? Do you desire to please God above everything else?
And my prayer is that it is in our service on Earth to our Lord. You need to understand that there will be some serious obstacles. You're going to face hardships, challenges, trials and struggles.
The narrow path doesn't have paved roads. Paul was no stranger to the pains that path provided. He was persecuted, imprisoned. He faced beatings, stone stoning shipwrecks, people hating him, lying about him, slandering him. People who tried to kill him. Then he faced friendly fire from even churches that he had started. People that slandered his name.
2 Corinthians 11, 28, he said, beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. He said, who is weak? And I am not weak.
Who is offended? I burn not. Yet Paul never quit. He never quit. He faced incredibly low times, but he never gave up.
He never gave in. 2 Timothy 4, 7, he gets to the end of his life and he says, I fought a good fight, I finished my course, I've kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day, and not to me only, but unto all them also that love is appearing.
I just want to set that in front of us. We have to see, like, what is my purpose? And when you know what the end is, you can aim your life in that direction. Goals make the difference between the drifter and the doer.
You have to know where you're headed. Like, why do you exist? The reason that Lighthouse exists is to glorify God supremely in all we do. Our main goal is not to see people saved. Our main goal is to glorify God, which results in seeing people saved. But if just seeing people saved, we would become pragmatic after a while.
And that's what happens. Don't ministries become pragmatic? They do whatever works. We're not doing whatever works, we're doing what glorifies God most. And it's the exaltation of the Lord Jesus Christ. It's proclaiming the word of God.
We see what glorifies God, and then whether people get saved or don't get saved, that's up to God. We plant, we water, but who gives the increase? God gives the increase.
It's a man-made conference, aren't there? And we don't want that, so we want God-made converts, people that the Lord has led to Christ. So you have to, in your life, aim for that. You have to set that as your primary goal. I've talked to people who've overcome addictions in life recently, and they've told me the thing, Pastor Josh, that helped me finally overcome this addiction was instead of doing it for my health or money or some other reason, I did it for God. I did it because I wanted to glorify God, and they were able to find great victory and strength in that because if our motive is something other than God, we can allow idolatry to creep in, can't we? If my goal is so I look better, so I want to get healthier, I want to be healthier, I want to save money, hey, those aren't wrong things, but they're not the best things.
They should be the byproduct but not the main product, right? When you glorify God with your life, He will bless you in many ways, but you keep Him as number one. So tonight, I want to look at the rest of chapter four. We're going to see eight keys to a lasting ministry, and tonight, we looked at three last week. We'll get through two more this week, and Lord willing, we'll get through the other three next week. So I just don't want to set your expectations false, all right? So how can we finish the course, and this should be on your radar whether you're young or old.
You should set your course, and I'm just telling you, you're going to face some serious opposition to your life. It's only increasing, and so eight keys to a lasting ministry. Last Wednesday, we saw the first is recognizing ministry is a gift of mercy. You said in verse one, therefore, seeing we have this ministry as we have received mercy.
He launches this section by saying the reason we don't faint, we don't quit, we don't throw in this towel is because he was so struck by the gift of mercy to be able to serve God, being called out as a persecutor, the one who persecuted the church, to being now a preacher of the gospel. We need to see that everything we do for God, even sitting here in church, is a gift of God's mercy. We don't have to come to church. We get to come to church. We don't have to greet work and nursery. We don't have to preach and teach.
We get to do all these things. These are blessings, and we should be struck in all of God's grace to allow us to serve his glory. Secondly, we saw that you need to have integrity, and he highlights this in verse two. He says, having renounced the hidden things of dishonesty.
The word integrity, we said, is from the Latin word integre, which means the whole of something. It speaks of the whole of character and not just parts of a character, not a fraction of a character. In that verse, he talks about integrity both in your personal life, in your ministry, how you handle the word of God. He says, not handling the word of God deceitfully, but manifestation of the truth, commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. So we must have integrity if you're going to last faithfully in ministry.
You can't get caught up in the lust and the sins and the pride of life and all that the world has to offer. Thirdly, you need to remember that the gospel is the only hope for the lost, and that's in verse three and four. It says, but if our gospel is hit, it is hit to them that are lost, in whom the God of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not.
You know, Satan never seems to take a day off, does he? He and his cohort are always working to blind the eyes of those who believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, which shine unto them. So we must remember the gospel is the only hope for the lost.
Now, let's get in tonight as we review those three. Let's jump in tonight to verse five through seven. And we see here in verse five through seven that we need to center our ministry and life and preaching on Christ.
Notice what he says in verse five. For we preach not ourselves, but who? Christ Jesus, who? The Lord.
Christ Jesus, the Lord. The false teachers had waged attacks against Paul that claimed that he preached with selfish motives. He wanted to build himself up. He wanted the prestige.
He wanted to be exalted. It is amazing how often those who make accusations against preachers often are the ones who are guilty of those crimes. And that's what happened in Paul's case. The false apostles were accusing Paul of what they were guilty of.
They used ministry for their own prominence and prestige. Paul did in no way minister for selfish or self-promoting reasons. When some were trying to elevate themselves by saying they were baptized by Paul, how did Paul respond to them in 1 Corinthians 1 verse 13? He says, Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? He's like, Why are you elevating me?
He's like, I'm nothing. Kent Hughes rightly says, Paul was a minister, not a master, a servant, not a Lord. Instead of focusing on himself, he said in 1 Corinthians 1 23, But we preach Christ crucified. Preaching must be centered on Christ, not the preacher.
You should leave a church service having learned more about God and Christ and His Word than you do about the man. David Guzik comments, Not everyone who opens a Bible and starts talking is preaching Christ Jesus the Lord. Many well-intentioned preachers are actually preaching themselves instead of Jesus. If the focus is on the funny stories or all the touching life experiences of the preacher, he may be preaching himself.
I like what another commentator said. He said, How long are your introductory remarks before you begin to exposit the Word of God? If you're spending a significant portion of time telling saints stories about yourself, and this man said, I listened to a sermon this morning where the pastor took the opening 10 minutes of 40 minutes to talk about himself, not once mentioning a specific scripture. He said, You are shortchanging both God and the saints. Shorten your intro so you don't shortchange God and God's people.
Amen. Have you been to churches like that? They get up, you know, this week and they'll talk for 10 minutes. I've been to so many churches in my life growing up like that. I mean, it's and after a while, you're like, Is he going to get to the Bible? Is he going to get to the scriptures? You know what Jesus told Peter in John 21? He said, Peter, feed my sheep, feed my sheep, feed my sheep. And Peter must have got it because in First Peter, five, two, he says, feed the flock of God, which is among you.
Right. And what do you feed him with? You feed him with the word of God. Paul in no way sought to elevate himself through preaching, but was intentionally humble so as to exalt Christ alone. First Corinthians two, verse one, he said, And I, brethren, when I came, you came not with excellency of speech. He says, declaring unto you the testimony of God, for I determined not to know anything among you save Jesus Christ and him crucified. And in First Timothy two, verse three or first Corinthians two, three, he says, And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling. I mean, he had no no desire to come across like he was some powerful, strong, eloquent person. You know, we need to be careful when we share the gospel, when we talk to unbelievers or when we talk to even believers, that they're not enamored with some intellectual ability that you or I have that we would not cause them to think much of us.
We would want to leave a conversation with them where they would think much of Christ. And I can tell you, the way that happens is when you point them to the word. I'm never impressed when somebody gets up and uses 15 words that nobody in the audience has ever heard of. It's always annoying to me anyway, because I'm thinking I read theology all the time.
How are you using these words? Like some of them, I don't even know what you're talking about. And most of you are smarter than I am. But it's like I don't like who are you? Stuff. I don't like that.
And and we're even in an educated area. But, you know, when you read the New Testament, the one who authored language spoke on a bottom shelf level. You know that Jesus isn't coming like, hey, what is the eschatological implication of the hypostatic union, is it? You know, he's not he's not throwing out things where it's like, what are you talking about? You know, I gave a trick question last week to Braden and, you know, I gave him that question talking about the kenosis and all that.
And one of the guys at church was emailing me. He's like, man, I've been studying that question out all week, you know, and trying to come up this and say, yeah, you'll be digging deep, baby. We dig deep. So just know this.
It's it's it's. You don't you don't have to ever write a lesson. And go to the source trying to find like what's what's some good words, what's some what's some ways I could what's the synonym for this? What's the give it clear, give it simple. Paul said, I came to you in weakness and trembling and fear.
It doesn't mean that you have to like make your languages in an elementary level, but it means that you're not trying to impress people. Right. And so first Corinthians three, verse five and six, he continues on. He says, who then is Paul and who is a policy but ministers by whom he believed, even as the Lord gave to every man. He said, I planted a palace water, but God gave the increase.
Paul's ministry was focused on the gospel of Christ alone, which saves not on personal profit. In first Corinthians 10, 33, he said, even as I please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many that they may be saved. Sometimes I'm concerned, you know, I love when people are excited when somebody gets saved, but sometimes. People can be so. Sometimes it can come across if people aren't careful that it could be where they're seeking self glory.
And so be careful that. That when you leave some of Christ, you say God gave me the joy of sharing the gospel with a lost soul and praise God, lift up the Lord. Verse five, he says, for we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus, and notice how he titles the end of it. The Lord true preaching declares Jesus is Lord of all. As we've said here before, salvation is not believing in Jesus. Salvation is believing in Jesus Christ, the Lord. That's why the Bible says that if we shall confess with our mouth, the what? The Lord Jesus and believe in our heart.
God raised him from the dead. That shall be safe for who? To verse 13 for whose whoever shall call upon the Lord shall be saved if he's not Lord, he's not savior. People say you believe in that lordship salvation, it just makes me laugh. I'm like, if you're comparing the two options as being easy, believe ism or lordship salvation.
Yes, lordship salvation. If you're going to tell me, does intellectually accepting the information save you, because that's what easy believe ism is. I just intellectually accept it. Yeah, I agree with that information.
Yes, yes, yes, yes, I agree with it. So that saves you if you just agree with that information. No repentance, no surrendered will to the Lord, right? I don't believe that's the gospel. I believe the gospel is when you confess him as Lord, not just intellectually, but in reality. Where it's not just intellectually, but it's the will bowing its knee to the king.
Does that make sense? That's the gospel we preach here. That's that's what we preach here. That's what we will preach here as long as I'm the pastor here. We in the word of God is here. It's going to be Christ Jesus the Lord.
That's the only way he saved. It's Christ. It's Christus. It's he's Messiah. That's the word for Messiah. And it's Jesus, which is salvation is courteous Christus.
Yeshua is courteous is what he's saying. Gee, the Messiah, who is Savior is also Lord. The Anointed One, the man who's the Savior is God Almighty.
You take him as all of him, right? You don't just I just I asked Jesus to forgive me. Well, who is your Jesus? Because I tell you, the Muslims have Jesus to the we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.
So. So Paul said, that's who you preach. And he says in verse five and ourselves, your servants for Jesus sake.
Paul preached the saving gospel of Jesus is Lord as a servant, not only to Christ, but also to those he preached to. In verse six, Paul compares the light that shined in creation to the supernatural light that shot God shines in the hearts of the lost to bring them out of the darkness into salvation. He says in verse six for God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness.
That's Genesis one, right? Has shined in our hearts because again, what's verse three and four say the gospel's hit its head to them the lost to the God of this world had blinded the minds of them which believe not. So there's blindness going on. So where does the light come from? Well, verse six for God as the same God who commanded light to shine in the physical, the foster physical light has shined in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God. Where's the glory of God found in the face of Jesus Christ. So when you preach Christ and not self for God and not self, then the light of the true gospel shines, right? salvation blinds the minds and it is the preaching of Christ that turns light on. That's why we don't get up and do a 10 minute introduction about the pastors last week. That's not the power of God into salvation. We preach not ourself and now again, if we ever have a guest preacher come in, if anybody ever gets up, I don't want you to like started like railing on, but so and only try to, you know, I've got friends who come in and they do a great job preaching and they do the same thing I do even better, but um, it's okay to tell a story about your life, tie your life in.
Nothing wrong with that. I'm just saying that if you've not been to churches outside of lighthouse, what you'll find is a lot of guys will get up and they'll give you a 10 to 15 minute like you could just read that in the newspaper that week or that just talking about themselves and something and it's like, let's, I need to get into this. I need scripture, like teach me God's word. He better have something to say when he gets up behind that pulpit. He better have something to say from the word.
There better be something of eternal worth that's coming out of his mouth. People often ask, you know, how do you share the gospel with someone who's a Muslim, a homosexual, transgender, or some other person that may present a challenge to the message. I say the same way you share with anybody. You take him to the law, you take him right to the law, you show them their guilt under the law of God because the Bible puts in homosexuals and liars and all of them all in the same category.
Right? So, so everybody who doesn't repent of that and people say, well, why are you hard on homosexuality? Well, I'm hard on lying too, but I'm telling you what, nobody in society promotes us promoting lying.
That's the difference. No one's affirming like, Hey, you need to affirm those liars. You need to affirm adultery. So don't tell me to affirm homosexuality when the Bible says it's sin to that makes sense. So we, we, we, we love people enough to tell them the truth and we say it in a loving way. And so if you, if you're not sure how to share the gospel, come to foundations class lesson one, we'll all walk it right through with you.
I'm telling you, uh, you will learn. We do not open people's spiritual eyes by some slight technique. We don't modify the message based on the person's unique sin.
So they got that unique sin. Like how do I approach them? You approach them with this. Well, what if they reject it? Then you plant you water.
God gives the increase. It is not your job to save them. Well, what if I fail in presenting the gospel? You fail when you don't tell them. And I understand it. It presents some unique struggles, doesn't it? I understand when it's family and friends and loved ones and close people, but you need that with tears in your eyes.
Say, listen, I need to tell you something. I need to share this with you. Let me take you to the scripture. What's Romans three 23 say for all of sin and comes toward the glory of God.
What does that mean to you? Says we've all sinned. Well, what is sin? It's breaking God's laws. First John three, four says, sin is violation of God's law. What are some of God's laws?
Let me just show you know some of the 10 commands. Walk them through the word of God. Take them through that. Let the word of God teach them that the word of God be planted inside of them. So Matthew 13 it can bring forth fruit into salvation. This is the power of God. You're lighting a match when you, when you open the dynamite up, right? This is the dunamis of God, the dynamite, the power of God and salvation. Romans one 16 you don't want to share the gospel and they think, wow, you're so smart.
You had such a clever response to all my questions. Listen, you need to be ready to give an answer. We believe in apologetics. We teach that here. You need to be ready to give an answer to every man of the reason to hope that's in you with meekness and fear.
Right? First Peter chapter three 15 be ready always to give an answer. Be ready always. You need to do that, but you do that for the purpose of glorifying God in the face of Jesus Christ.
Not so they can think, man, you are so intelligent. Verse seven he says, but we have this treasure in earth and vessel. This is beautiful. It just ties right in.
It doesn't it? So we preach Christ, not ourselves for the light is in the face of Christ because God is in Christ. Christ is God. Verse seven for we have this treasure in earth and vessel that the excellent, the power may be of God and not of us. Earth and vessels were jars of clay. They were very inexpensive.
They could break easily. Their lifespan was not very long. It has been said that the Roman Empire ran on olive oil. It was used in cooking, bathing, medicine, ceremonies, lamps, cosmetics. For decades, olive oil from southern Spain was shipped to Rome in large clay jugs called M4A. These jugs were not worth sending back, but were discarded, and so they broke them, and they were known as Monte Testaccio, the fragments of an estimated 25 million of those jars created the manmade hill which stands on the banks of the Tiber River in Rome.
And so this was known to all of the people in Paul's days, so they understood the comparison. He's like, were those, it's the Greek word, osterkinos. It's where we actually get the word for oyster, mollusk. And the value was not in the clay jar. The value is in the contents of the jar. The value is not in the oyster or the mollusk.
The value is in the pearl inside, isn't it? For us, the value is the glory of Christ that dwells within us. That's why you don't preach about the glory of the clay pot. You preach the glory inside of it. If you want to have a faithful ministry for the Lord's sinner, your ministry on the Lord Jesus Christ, proclaim the true and faithful message of Jesus Christ, not for self, for that alone is the light that brings salvation.
And then the last point, I only had two main points tonight. We need to rely on God's power in the midst of trials. This is a weighty reality. He says in verse eight through 12, he gives us several different paradoxical statements as a clay pot.
It's so brittle. Paul faced many adversities that beat against him. And for some reason, the clay pot just never broke because the power of God flows unhindered through weak vessels. This was not something Paul knew at first, but rather had to learn. He had to learn to face adversity. He had to learn to be content.
You have to learn when things don't go your way. Romans 4.11, Paul says, not that I speak in respect of one for I have learned in whatsoever steady am there with to be content. Babies aren't born content. You don't read about contentment and you're like, I'm content. You know, when you're content with your health is when you got sick, right? When you just got over a real bad sickness, you're like, I am so thankful just to feel good again. When you went through a major surgery and your legs finally healed up, you're like, I am just so thankful to be able to walk. When your back hurts so bad, you can't even breathe and then you get surgery done and you're like, I am just so thankful that I could live at least a few hours of the day without agonizing pain.
You begin to appreciate the things like that. He says in verse 12, I know how to be a based. I know how to abound everywhere in all things. I'm instructed both to be full, to be hungry, both to abound in the suffering aid.
And how do you do this? Paul, how do you do this so that I can do it all through the treasure that's inside the clay jar? It's the power of Christ that strengthens me. Now, when did Paul learn this? I believe he talks about it in second Corinthians 12. He says in second Corinthians 12 verse seven, lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of revelation that was given to me, a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. You know, Paul was being tempted with pride and God saw better to be afflicted by a satanic messenger than be afflicted with pride. Better to have hell assault you than pride assault you.
That's how dangerous pride is. Verse eight, for this thing I've sought the Lord thrice that it might depart for me. This is a very focused prayer Paul has for himself. And the Lord responds by saying, my grace is sufficient for thee, for my strength is made perfect when you're really self-confident, when you have high self-esteem, when you have real strong self-assurance.
You know, you just really need to have more confidence. He says, I am perfecting my strength when you understand you're just oyster kinos. Hey, jar of clay, you're feeling brittle today? I'm not trying to rhyme, I mean it. He says, my grace is sufficient.
And how does Paul respond to this? Is he like, Lord, I'm asking you, I need to be stronger. I feel really weak. Anybody else feel weak sometimes? You just feel like, man, am I this weak this far along? I thought I would be further along than this. I feel like I could break some days.
Oh, really? I think sometimes the Lord will let us shake a little bit to remind us of how frail we really are. And how does Paul take this? Like what happens when God answers your prayer the opposite way? Like, Lord, I need to get rid of this. He's like, no, I actually want it to be there. You're like, oh. What happens when Earth's expectations don't line up with Heaven's?
Either you bail or you bend, right? And Paul, unchanged Paul, like nothing changes, circumstantially everything's the same. How'd your prayer time go?
I just found out everything I was wanting to get rid of in my life, I need to have there. So how you feel about that, Paul? He says, most gladly, therefore, will I rather glory in my what?
Yeah. So either you line your life up with ultimate reality or you live in an illusion that you need to be stronger than you are. So he is now glorying, he is now praising what he had prayed to remove. You talk about transcendent application.
You talk about victoring over circumstance. I mean, this is like David when everybody else is hiding behind the rocks. He's like, he's only 10 foot tall.
I don't have a clue why you guys are afraid of this guy. Give me some pebbles. I don't even need your armor. And by the way, Goliath, I'm going to chop your head off with your own sword. Like the best statement ever, drop the mic. No girl in here has ever thought about that, but every guy's like, that is a rewind moment in Heaven, man. That is fantastic right there.
Chopped his head off with his own sword and you know, he just, it was just gory but great. I mean, this is, this is glorying and weakness. And he says that the power, he got it, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities and reproaches.
That's when people verbally assaults you in needs and persecutions and distresses for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I'm strong. I believe that's what Paul is referring to when he learned to be content in Philippians four. This is a process and the process, friends, involves pain.
There's no cheap way around it. He gives four contrasts in verse eight and nine in second Corinthians five or second Corinthians four. Showing the trials did not break Paul, rather they allowed him to even minister in the midst of those. Just a few notes about these statements in verse eight and nine. All of the verbs in second Corinthians four verse eight and nine are in the present tense, which is a, they're continual actions like we are continually troubled on every side. We are continually perplexed.
We're continually per persecute, like it never stops. Secondly, Paul declared, but not after each one of them. It says yet not in verse eight, then but not in the next three. And the word not, there is a Greek word spelled O U and it's, and it's like absolute negation.
Paul is emphatically denying that these actions or attitudes are his continued state. Like like we are not distressed. We are not in despair like that.
It's not where we stay. And then the power of God spoken of in verse seven that is contained in the clay pots is what keeps the pot from breaking and shattering into pieces. It is the power of Christ that's literally sustaining this fragile, cheap, easily discarded vessel.
So he says in verse eight, we are trouble in every side. It's the Greek word FLEBO. It refers to being under pressure to be squeezed, like squeezing grapes to get the juice out of them. You ever feel like you've been squeezed, like you're being crushed.
This can come from circumstance, it can come from antagonistic opposition. He says we are squeezed FLEBO. It's actually the same word used when it says enter in at the FLEBO gate, the compressed restricted gate for narrow is that gate that leads to life. It's very narrow. The way to heaven's a turnstile.
You don't enter in with groups, you just one by one. So we are trouble on every side, but he says, but not distressed. It's a word that refers to being confined to a narrow tight place where there's no escape. Paul's ministry was not confined by these pressures and oppositions. He says we are not, we are not confined without any way of escape in those areas. Christians, we live in a day when opposition seeks to silence the gospel. You need to understand we cannot be contained. We cannot be contained.
Second Timothy 2 90 says, where and I suffer trouble as an evil doer, even in bonds, but the word of God is not bound. I can tell you there will be people, you can't talk like that here. I remember working for a newspaper company in Missouri when I was in Bible college in this, a lot of college students, and there are some people talking filthy every day and it's a big college town, couple hundred thousand college students in Springfield, Missouri, and just every day, man, and then I'd be like chiming in, sharing the gospel, and this girl's like, you can't talk about that blankety blank in here.
You can get fired for that. I was like, let me tell you something, you can talk about your, I didn't use the blankety blank, but I said, you're garbage stuff. And I said it very nicely, you can talk about that. I said, I'm going to talk about Jesus Christ.
And we saw great fruit there even in that place. And listen, the word of God's not bound. I remember when the last places I worked before I went in the ministry, the guy that was, I was doing moved into an office job and this guy was like, he said this, he said, I don't want Jesus. He knew I was a assistant pastor at my brother's church. He said, I don't want Jesus moving into the office next to me. He was, he was just, so within like six months, that guy and the guy next to him, he was talking to about it. Both got baptized in our church and that guy's a PR that guy preaches today.
Is that crazy? But they would argue, they would try to argue with me, but I wouldn't argue and they would bring up like hot button issues and, but just bring it back to the gospel. And I don't say those things to lift myself up. I say to lift the gospel up, like you don't, you don't, you don't contain it. You're not like, well, you know, they're all again, you know, well you can, you do that. You're just, you're, you're turning the light off and a gospel is hit.
It's hit to them that are lost. The gospel is not bound and it's not preaching while you're on work hours. There's lunch breaks, there's other times, there's just living it out. I mean, all these bosses I've ever had in these other jobs have always come up and talked to me about my faith.
I'll never forget. I was working for one company and the guy, uh, one of the guys, one of my boss, my direct boss came to me and said, hey, you know, guy who's telling me you're sharing a gospel with him at lunch. He said, you can't be doing that here at work. I said, man, I said, I'm gonna listen to these guys.
It was a construction outfit at the time. I was like, these guys talk about all kinds of stuff. I said, I'm, I'm kind sharing the gospel with this guy. I'm not forcing down his throat, but he didn't like what I had to say. But within, and he said, I'm just telling you, you could end up getting fired over this stuff. I said, it just didn't concern me. I was, I don't know if I was just erratic. I just didn't care.
I was like, I'm moving city to city anyway. I don't care. The Lord will provide. And, and I, I had that in my mind, I didn't say that, but I was really gracious. Within two weeks I was sitting down with his boss's boss. He was repenting over adultery to me and the guy, I'm like, the Lord continued to open up the doors. Like, and I'm sharing the gospel with this guy. Man, you need to get right.
You need to repay and get right. Go home to your wife. And he's like, man, I know it.
And then the district manager ends up coming to our church and, and it's just, God opens those doors up. I'm just telling you the word of God is not bound. Don't isolate it. You're going to be troubled. Yeah.
Yeah, of course. But you're not, you're not confined to that. Can't use, said God's word can no more be chained than God himself could be chained. And he says in verse eight, we are perplexed, but not in despair. Perplexed means at a loss, not sure what to do, puzzled, difficult to solve.
Did you hear what he just said? We're perplexed. Do you think we're going to run into that some of these days? I'm not. I'm at a loss. I'm not sure what to do. We face that.
Haven't we are in the Navy. We face that some of these guys, some of you who work in some of these business areas who were saying, Hey, unless you take this jab, you know, and some of you like, man, I don't, I don't, I don't agree with that spiritually. I don't feel like it's okay for me to do that because some of these things were tested in this arena with the, and they, they just weren't okay with that. And some of you were facing like, do I hold my conviction or do I back off?
I mean, Steve, some of these guys, I mean, they, some of these guys were like, they're, they're, they're years of employment, like 20 years of serving and with the military almost lost retirement, willing to do that for their conviction. And it's tight. It's like, how do I get through this? It's not an easy answer. Sometimes it's very perplexing. Sometimes it's very difficult.
It's not easy to solve. And sometimes you're like, at the end of the day, I don't have a clear answer. I'm just like, Lord, you know what I'm saying?
You know what I'm saying? And if you've been in some of those, you're like, yeah, and then I usually get the phone call. They're like, Hey Josh, can you talk? I'm like, sure.
And they go through it. I'm like, let's pray, man. Let's take it home and pray because it's like a huge thing. And I'm like, man, like, I don't know.
Like I can give you some biblical parameters. This is, this is, this is a tough situation. Paul's like, we're like constantly never stops these puzzling, difficult to solve situations.
It just always there and then he says, but we're not in despair. What's interesting here is I'm not, I don't use Greek words to like make you think I'm smart. You can study Greek words, but the word perplexes a Pareto despair is exa Pareto. It's like saying this, we are, we are at a loss right now for what to do, but we're not at a total loss. That's the idea. We may be at a loss, but we're not at a total loss. Like God's going to work this thing out.
That's the idea. It's like we're not totally destitute. And then verse nine, he says persecuted, but not forsaken. Persecuted means to be pursued, hunted after, you know, Paul was hunted by people.
They trying to kill him. He says, but not forsaken. Paul was not abandoned.
The Lord never left. Paul, I think about second Timothy four, 16 and 17 he said at my first answer, no man stood with me, but all men forsook me. They, it's that word forsake is the same word that he used here. Um, and in verse nine he says, I pray God would not lay that to their charge.
He had no animosity for 17 he says, not withstanding the Lord stood with me and strengthen me. And then he says the last one in verse nine, he says cast down, but not destroyed. Cast down. Cut the bell.
Cut the bell. Oh, it means to strike down as with a weapon to, it's like if you were in a wrestling match and you got somebody down to pin them, he said, we may be thrown down, but we are not destroyed. Apollo, my ruined, lost, we're not killed. Paul was victorious, not by avoiding trials and hardships friends. He was victorious as we see in verse eight, nine by overcoming them. So this frail, weak, brittle, inexpensive clay jar holds the priceless treasure and is sustained against unimaginable onslaughts of the enemy by the power of God, victory over the real battles and challenges of life come through our total reliance on the power of God. Then in verse 10, Paul ties together these four paradoxical statements into this powerful truth. He says in verse 10, always bearing about in the body, the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. The glorious truth that you find is this, the trials of life that were designed by the enemy to destroy you, in fact become the tools that God uses to carve you into the image of Christ.
Literally what Satan meant for evil, God meant for good. As you become weaker in the flesh, you become stronger in the spirit. As you become weaker in trial, you become stronger through faith.
That's why Christ said, when you're weak, you're actually strong. It's like the early church, he's like, oh, Rome, you think you're winning, right? Nero, you think you got this, you're gonna pin that on the Christians, right? We're gonna see Christianity explode like something you've never seen before.
You've started a spiritual fire with your physical one. This is the glory of spiritual warfare. This is the glory of God's sovereign majesty. This is Psalms 2, he that sits in the heaven laughs.
And aren't you thankful the one who's laughing is for us? In verse 10, it is the dying in us that allows the life of Jesus to be manifested. The word manifested there means to make manifest or visible or known.
Listen, what has been hidden or unknown, it brings to light what was veiled. These trials begin to put to light and manifestation the glory of Christ, literally, the clay jar begins to resemble a golden jar. It begins to manifest Christ. And if we try to avoid the dying of self, then the Lord Jesus will be hidden from our life and blinded to the world. That's why Paul said in Galatians 2-20, I'm crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I but Christ liveth in me. And the life that I now live, I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.
How are you crucified but then you live, paradox, right? Because Christ lives in me. Friend, how have you viewed the trials of your life? And I would ask this, how have the trials of your life taught you that it is only through Christ that you're sustained?
How have they taught you that? How have the hardships and oppositions you have faced increased your dependence on the Lord? What has caused you to grow in your distrust of self and trust in the Lord most?
When was the day that you said, I can't trust myself anymore? How do you view the trials of life, a burden or something God could use to do something greater in your life? For sake of time, I can't run through James, but James has a whole lot to say about that. The gold that God is forming in us is the image of Christ. Job said in Job 23 10, but he knoweth the way that I take when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold. Second Corinthians 4 10, he says, always bearing about in the body, the dying of the Lord, that life also of Jesus might be made manifest in my body.
Verse 11 for we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. Listen, God's designed for saving you was not to make you look more like you a better you. Kills me. We see be better you. You don't need to be a better.
You need to be a deader you. I don't mean to rhyme all this stuff. It's just God's designed for saving us is to conform us into the image of who friends? Jesus Christ. This is Romans 8 29 and we know 8 28 very well for whom he did. Romans 8 28 tells us that all things work together for good to them that love God to them who are called according to his purpose. Verse 29 is even more wonderful and some many ways he says for whom he did for no.
He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his son. One day we will physically die in our bodies will be resurrected one day to reflect the glory of God and just as our physical death ushers in that great reality. So our physical trials begin to Usher that reality in as our body faces these trials it in essence begins to die off so that the glory of Christ could be revealed. If you want to have a lasting ministry one that doesn't Quint one that not only starts the race but also finishes you must have the right outlook when it comes to trials East Paul said they never stop.
You must expect that reality. We must have the right expectation when it comes to them. Second you must remember that what Satan designs for evil God can use for good when we're weak God is strong when child's trials bring us to the end of our self. It brings us to the beginning of the sufficiency that's only found in God. Remember we are just clay pots the glory and power is not in the jar.
That's why we don't preach about the jar. Paul gives us one more paradoxical statement in verse 12 as we wrap up. He says so then death worketh in us but life in you death worketh in us but life in you. Jesus spoke of the paradoxical principle of death birthing life in John 12 verse 24. He says verily verily I say to you except a corner we fall into the ground and die it abideth alone but if it die it bringeth forth much fruit just as Jesus is death produced eternal life in those that believe. So believers must die to self in order to be used by God to shine the gospel. Paul was constantly throughout his life facing the threat of death yet he was willing to face death to bring them eternal life through the gospel.
He says death works in us but life in you. We face death but you give the glory of you get the glory of the gospel through our message. So in conclusion the Christian life will face battles trials hardships and I tell you temperatures are turning up in America we used to have home-filled advantage in America no longer we're on foreign territory the only way not to faint the only way not to lose heart is to recognize ministry as a gift of mercy have integrity remember the gospel is the only hope for the lost center your ministry and preaching on Christ and rely on the power of God in the midst of trials and all God's people said amen if you would stand with me this evening. So we thank you tonight you're so good to us as your word has gone out Lord we pray that our hearts would now receive the word of God with humility to apply it to our lives. Forgive us when we get upset and think you're unfair when we face difficulties. Sometimes we foolishly accuse you help us to learn to thank you for the trials of our life instead of complain help us to remember that it is when we are weak then we are strong help us to be good learners so that we don't have to stay long in the fire of trial be stubborn give us humility Lord I pray that those that are lost in Xenia Fairborn date surrounding cities and counties see the light of the gospel proclaimed through the faithfulness of your people if anyone tonight doesn't know Christ may this be the day of their salvation raise up preachers pastors and teachers and missionaries God call out servants of God here the world is in desperate need of you in Jesus name amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-21 12:11:34 / 2023-05-21 12:33:10 / 22