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December 21, 2020 7:00 pm
BJU Seminary professor Dr. Ken Casillas continues a Seminary Chapel series titled “The Aroma of Christ – Ministry According to II Corinthians.” The passage is II Cor. 4:1-6.
Welcome to The Daily Platform from Bob Jones University in Greenville South Carolina today were continuing the series from second Corinthians which was preached for seminary students. Today's message will be brought by Beecher you seminary professor Dr. Ken Casillas will invite you to turn the second Corinthians chapter 4 and will be looking together in verses 16 you and I face any kind of challenge in life. There are basically three approaches that we can take those also are the three possible responses when you and I face difficulties in opposition in the ministry that the Lord has given us.
We have those same three options. We can give up, we can sheet or by God's grace we can stick with it and keep working faithfully and diligently in the test Lord is given us.
I bring that up because in the core of our text this morning. Paul brings up all three of those options. Those are the three that he has before him, as possibilities any deals with all of them. He rejects the first two.
He concentrates and gives himself over to the third one, but take a look with me at what I would call the essence of the passage starting at the end of verse one. Here is his resolution.
He says, first of all, we do not lose heart.
That's the giving up option. Paul resist the tendency to become overwhelmed by the burdens and the problems of the ministry. He refuses the cave to the pressure of his critics, he refuses to give into a spirit of self-pity and to despair or quit altogether and that's his commitment here.
That's the heart of it.
We do not lose heart.
But there's something else. Also that he is gonna rejects that they could be another approach when he goes on in verse two, he says, but we have renounced the things hidden because of shame, not walking in craftiness, or adulterating the word of God. We are something else that he sets aside, it is an option. It is an option that other people may engage in actually in chapter 2 verse 17 he speaks about people who are peddling the word of God but an option that he does not take seriously. He is not going to engage in those kinds of forms of cheating in the ministry maybe soft peddling or otherwise corrupting the message, presumably to gain a greater following or to get some kind of material gain seems to be that Paul brought up his rejection of that alternative because among the things that were being hurled at him by his critics, was that he was in it for himself and that he had some kind of underhanded motive and that he was adapting the message in a way that would be to his advantage.
And Paul says I have renounced all forms of shortcuts cheating and so if he's not gonna lose heart and give up if he's not going to engage in shortcuts he's left with the one option of one of sticking with it which is what then he says at the end of verse two, but by manifestation of truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God is good to be faithful. He says he can continue doing what the Lord had put in his hands to do despite whatever attacks or discouragement you might be facing out of concern for people right in the conscience of every man and ultimately out of a burden to glorify the Lord in the sight of God is going to keep manifesting the truth, proclaiming it openly, reclaiming it boldly proclaiming it straightforwardly. He is going to keep putting the gospel on display and that idea of perseverance in truth telling. Ministry is the essence of this passage. This is the commitment of the apostle Paul. He is going to maintain his lifestyle and his effort by God's grace to openly proclaim the truth no matter the circumstances, no matter the difficulties that's easy enough to say you would expect the Paul would have that kind of commitment. The question is what kind of fuel is going to keep that engine running. Where is it that Paul is going to get the impetus the power the energy the motivation to continue being so bold. Actually, Paul gives all kinds of answers to that question in second Corinthians as to where is the fuel to keep this engine running, but in our text. He mentions two factors that spurred him on to persevere in proclaiming the gospel and those two factors. The way this passage is structured actually flank the statements that I just read. There is one of those factors at the beginning before he makes his statement in a short and is recapping what came before and then in the rest of the passage versus 3 to 6. He gets into the second of those factors. What are these realities. The drive Paul to persevere in truth telling.
Ministry the first of them is the merciful privilege of ministry and I word that on the basis of the beginning of verse one. He starts by reminding us of the privilege that he had when he says therefore, since we have this ministry, the course the word therefore alerts us.
The fact that we are reading a logical conclusion from what came before and what came before really is entirety of chapter 3. That chapter was all about the new covenant ministry that the Lord had entrusted to Paul, and particularly about how the new covenant ministry was so much better than the old covenant ministry that Moses had the privilege of carrying out his ministry was about the deathdealing letter of the law, whereas the ministry of the new covenant is about the life-giving spirit. That's one contrast another one is that the ministry of Moses was the ministry of condemnation making people aware of their guilt. With this emphasis on the heaviness of the law of God in the ministry of the new covenant is all about the righteousness of God through Christ provides for us as a gift. Number three difference. The ministry of Moses was something temporary and yet the ministry of the new covenant is something permanent indeed eternal number for the ministry of Moses, there was this concealment that went on when Moses covered his face and there was a limitation on the amount of information of truth of Revelation that came out from the old covenant, but on the other side. The new covenant is all about clarity. It is the fullness of God's revelation through Christ and finally, here's another contrast the ministry of Moses, did not have the ability to actually change people's hearts. In fact, is associated with a veil that is put over people's eyes that prevents them from understanding where all that was going but in the new covenant.
Those blinders are taken off and there's all this vision and this clarity that people have as a result. And Paul is getting at when he says therefore, since we have this ministry, we does heart he saying, given all of the superiority of what I've been given to do so much greater than even the great Moses, it would actually be the height of folly and the height of ingratitude to give us all up to abandon it because I get tired along the way or to find some way to change the message or make it easier for myself why would I do that given the glorious privilege that I have as a spokesman for the new covenant. This ministry is an awesome privilege. It is worth surrendering my entire life to it is worth making whatever sacrifices are necessary and as if that were not enough. He mentions as well. As we received mercy. The apostle is ever conscious that God did not owe him anything and certainly didn't owe him the privilege of being able to serve him in this way. The only reason that Paul was in the ministry was at the Lord had taken pity on him and had transformed him from eight Christ persecutor to a Christ proclaimer all heart was so melted by the undeserved privilege of being a spokesman for Christ that he was willing to keep preaching. Despite all of the internal and all of the external opposition they constantly face and that this letter gives us a little taste of the undeserved, the merciful privilege of ministry. Nobody struggles from time to time with motivation about their work whether somebody is a teacher, a mechanic salesman, a doctor or mother. Every job has its downsides in every job has its bad days and times that you feel like either quitting or taking a shortcut somehow and you find yourself going through life and observing other people in their work life, and this question naturally comes up. Why do people stay in their jobs.
In some cases for decades and devote their entire life to some career despite the kinds of frustrations and opposition that we all face people a motive motivated by a lot of things and sometimes people are motivated simply because they need a paycheck. Certainly wrong with that but they also have higher motives they may stay added because they sense that there is a very strong fit between their skills and the opportunities that they have. They may love the job itself. They might love a challenge and actually thrive on the difficulty that they face. They might look forward to the thrill of visible success when it does.
Sometimes, that's what drives them. Or maybe they love the people that they serve, or they love the people that they work with and when you look at that little list those actually are all solid motivations for ministry as well and some of them match up to the sorts of comments of Paul makes insane. Corinthians.
What he is saying at this point is a bottom-line issue of motivation that you and I must never lose sight of what he saying is that of all the jobs in all the world that God could have given him he gave him the task of devoting his life to minister the glories of the new covenant, and as you go on the ministry. Whatever work the Lord may have you do pastoral work, evangelistic work, counseling work, leadership work at the end of the day it is going to be some kind of dimension some kind of outflow of this same issue that Paul is getting that he is put in your hands the privilege of taking the glories of the new covenant that far surpass anything that the Lord is given so far in the history of redemption and he is saying out take this and apply it and serve it to administer it to some group of people that I put 40. Don't ever get over the wonder of that ministry is a merciful privilege as we move on to our next point I want you to notice the Paul ends verse two.
In describing his ministry commitment. He ends that verse by saying commending ourselves to every man's conscience to stop and think about that comment at this point, commending ourselves to every man's conscience that seems to have been a generalization, but someone who was not inclined to support Paul could easily object say what are you talking about commending yourself to every man's conscience. There are all kinds of people who don't recognize you as a true minister.
Many of your own Jewish brethren repudiate the Messiah that you preach. How can you claim the people all over the place. Find your ministry compelling. If in fact you are actually speaking on behalf of God and are a minister of the new covenant. How do you explain all of the rejection that you experience your own ministry.
There may be times when your own calling of the authenticity of your calling or question that way also particular because of the limited visible results that you see and in fact the worst part about it is when you are the one doing the questioning, and you're looking out at the smallness of the results and you are frustrated and questioning whether in fact you are called to this ministry are gifted for this ministry, the sky questions came at the apostle Paul.
And in this passage is going to deal with them immediately, and his answer becomes a segue to the second factor that keeps him persevering in this truth telling ministry as we move from the first factor of the merciful privilege of ministry to the illuminating work of God in verses 3 to 6 and begins on the negative side as far as those who have not been illuminated as an explanation for the unbelief of so many that listened to him verse three. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. Is it mentioned already, the veil there. It has come up before, it is a metaphor for some kind of obstacle that prevents acceptance of the gospel and back in chapter 3, Paul talked about the veil that Moses had over his face. He talked about a similar veil spiritually that the people of Israel had over their own hearts and here the effect is that the gospel itself is veiled to unbelievers at large. Even if our gospel is veiled is veiled to those who are perishing.
They Paul explains why that is why is it that this veil keeps people away from embracing the gospel. Verse four, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. Here is the reason here is the explanation for unbelief and rejection of the gospel is not the problem of the gospel.
In this case at least is not the problem of the gospel messenger either. The problem is an invisible one.
The problem is a supernatural one. The problem is that Satan himself keeps those unbelievers blinded to the true nature of the gospel. They listen to that message and they think it's nonsense when in actuality the gospel reveals that the fullness of God's perfection is his glory dwells in Jesus Christ. The Christ is the divine glory that glory that we were created to enjoy the glory that our hearts yearned for. It is all concentrated in the person of Jesus. He is the one being presented as social satisfying in the gospel but Satan keeps these people blinded to the reality of the message and no wonder, given Paul's realization of the glory of Christ.
No wonder that unlike those people he is so thrilled to preach Christ, which is precisely what he goes on to say next. In verse five. For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus is Lord one more time. Paul is denying that his ministry is about putting himself forward that it is about seeking accolades and it is about making money or some other way of self-promotion. Instead, it is simply about elevating Christ in the world is about proclaiming that Jesus is Lord of all. That's his emphasis here that that he is Yahweh in the flesh, come to earth to re-assert divine Lordship over all creation.
Paul has come to realize that.
And Paul is driven to proclaim that and people are blinded to the truth. That's his message that he makes no comment along the way, since he just said were not preaching ourselves, but Christ as Lord makes little common along the way about what what about yourself what is actually your role. How do you view yourself if you're not of the essence of the message and this is really about you. He throws us into the universe.
Five and ourselves as your bond servants for Jesus sake. The apostle viewed himself as a slave just like his own Savior became a slave during the incarnation and ultimately Paul is a slave of Christ.
But his specific role is to humbly serve believers and unbelievers in the hopes that they will also come to embrace Christ.
You put all that together and again you're asking why would somebody give themselves over to to being a slave and actually viewing yourself that your self-concept that is your sense of what your ministry is all about.
I'm here to humbly serve for the glory of Christ, these people, many of whom at this moment are injecting me why would someone devote his life to such a lonely position. Why would someone put up with all the self-denial and the affliction and the rejection and the humiliation that a slavery of ministry entails. And now we finally come to that second factor that is driving Paul to persevere. He has been building up to this main point with all these comments I just covered in here is the factor. It is his experience of something he calls light in verse six for God, who said light shall shine out of darkness, is the one who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. That's why I'm saying that the the issue that drives him to persevere in truth telling.
Ministry is the illuminating work of God primarily his own experience of that illumination.
Just as Paul was deeply moved by the mercy of God and calling him to ministry. He was deeply moved as well, by the mercy of God in miraculously illuminating him in the first place, bringing him to faith. Opening his eyes to the glory of Christ, and to illustrate the effectiveness of that illuminating work in bringing somebody to faith. Paul references first of all God's own effortless creation of light on the first day of the creation week. This is how it works just like the Lord said, let there be light and immediately it happened it was not difficult for the Lord.
There was no delay. There was no really activity your instrumentality use.
It just happened that idea of the effectiveness of the miracle Paul says that's what this is like this is the sort of thing that is happened in my own soul in many by using that creation analogy is also suggesting that as the Lord does this work of converting sinners. That is a part of the new creation that is bringing about in the world as a whole. So Paul alludes to creation is, but an illustration or the measure of the power of illumination, but he also alludes to his own conversion on the road to Damascus as he goes on to say that God is the one who is shown in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God the face of Christ, etc. nine tells us a story about that conversion and it describes how a flashing light from heaven knocked him over and temporarily blinded Paul physically, but there's an irony there because even while you have a physical blindness that experience of physical blindness was actually the means by which Paul's spiritual blindness was removed. At that moment of conversion by the Lord's own gracious working in his inner man. Paul's thinking about Jesus is dramatically changed.
It was a total conversion of his theology, Jesus and his mind was no longer an imposter Messiah but again it was the possessor and the revealer of the glory of God himself. And really that access the path for us to enjoy that glory as well put it this way when his eyes were opened this one that Paul had so long rejected. He came to see Jesus as compelling as magnificent as beautiful as all worthy as glorious and having had that supernatural experience of the truth of the gospel. Paul could do nothing but get up each day and proclaim Christ with clarity and boldness and he was also confident that whenever God was pleased to shine on someone else the same spiritual light that transformed him, that person would also humbly and joyfully follow Jesus. He was driven to perseverance.
He was encouraged to endure. Because of the glory of the illuminating work of God that he experience yesterday. I was trying to dip in every now and then into the hearings where they are questioning Amy Barrett for the Supreme Court, and probably a lot of you saw the clip of the eighth grade civics lesson that set up and sass gave to his colleagues. There and among other points that he was making to them to get them hopefully on the right track with your questions.
He focused on the need to avoid a religious test in the questions that were to be posed to Mrs. Barrett and here's what he said this committee isn't in the business of deciding which religious beliefs are good and which religious beliefs are bad and which religious beliefs are weird, and then he went on to say this, and I just want to say, as somebody who self-consciously a Christian. We got a whole bunch more really weird beliefs.
Forgiveness of sins, the virgin birth, resurrection of the dead eternal life there a whole bunch of really, really crazy ideas that are a lot weirder than some Catholic moms giving each other advice about parenting, I was an incredible moment in those hearings in my heart was warm to see somebody in that position in that setting in the highest places of power in the land being so forthright about what Paul encourages calls the foolishness of preaching.
He's not hiding the fact that this stuff is weird that this is a belief in the supernatural.
He is willing to be mocked for it. He is being very plainspoken, just like the apostle Paul was an uncaring about whatever mocking a rejection he might receive. He said again, why would somebody do that. Why would somebody endanger his own reputation in this high position and at least in part, were back to the same issue. Here's a man he's a believer who has been deeply convinced of the truth of the gospel and his condo that persuasion because of divine illumination and because of that he's not afraid to just speak it forth plainly and even acknowledge this is gonna sound crazy to a lot of you. Here is the kind of thing that the apostle Paul did.
I trust that we have all had that experience a divine illumination and that we also are emboldened by that to speak forth plainly and will Paul is encouraging us to do here by his example is to study and to stay aware of the grace of illumination and the glory of the illumination that we have experienced a more we grasp how supernatural it is, the more you and I will be strengthened to stay added truth telling ministry God has been exceedingly merciful to us in first of all, illuminating us and secondly in calling us to serve as his instruments of illumination you been listening to a sermon from B to U seminary professor Dr. Ken Casillas. Thanks for listening and join us again tomorrow as we continue the study in second Corinthians on The Daily Platform