Welcome to The Daily Platform. Our program features sermons from chapel services at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina. Whether it's the general chapel service for the whole student body or services for those in the ministerial class or seminary, everyone at the school is blessed by the preaching of the word each day from the chapel platform. Today, we're continuing the seminary series from 2 Corinthians, and today's message will be brought by Dr. Bob Jones III, Chancellor of Bob Jones University. Bob Jones is leading you, please, in your text to 2 Corinthians 2, beginning in verse 14. It's the theme of the whole chapel.
I got to thinking as I was preparing this, what can I say that they haven't heard four or five times already if others have come and spoken with this theme in mind? But this is what the Lord has laid on my heart. I would point you to verse 14 to begin.
You know it well. Now thanks be unto God, which always causes us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savor of his knowledge by us in every place. For we are unto God a sweet savor of Christ, in them that are saved and in them that perish.
To the one we are the savor of death unto death, and to the other the savor of life unto life, and who is sufficient for these things. Our time is very brief this morning, as it always is in chapel, so much I would like to say about this, but imagine the Apostle Paul. He just got off of a ship coming over from Asia Minor, and they arrived at Neapolis, which is a short distance to Philippi, where he was headed. Maybe he needed some refreshment, so he got into one of those Roman baths, and he had struck up a conversation with a citizen of Neapolis and said, Hey, you're a stranger. I don't think I've seen you here before. No, he said, I'm new here.
Well, where do you live? Well, I was born in Tarsus. I went to school in Jerusalem. I've been spending a lot of my time all through Asia Minor, and I've come to a new place. I've come over here to Macedonia.
It's new to me. And he said, What business are you in? Well, he said, My name is Paul, and I'm a perfumer. I deal with fragrance.
Oh, the citizen says maybe, Well, my wife has a birthday coming up. I need a fragrance. You got any myrrh? You got any frankincense? What have you got?
Well, no, that's not quite what I have. Well, what is your fragrance? It's the fragrance of the knowledge of Jesus Christ.
Maybe that guy went running. Hope he got his clothes first out of that bath and just wanted to get away as fast as he could. Well, this is what Paul was. He was a perfumer.
And he said right here that that he was a perfumer. There are three things about in these three verses that I just want to share with you briefly. There were three things that smelled good that Paul told us about here. The gospel itself smells good. That's verse 14.
We'll talk about that. The gospeler, the gospel laborer smells good to God. And to those who receive the fragrance of the gospel, those who get saved. And there is the labor of the gospel.
Let's look at 14. Thanks be to God, which always causes us to triumph in Christ. I'm in victory in jail or out of jail or being beaten or being cared for by the kind gifts of God's people.
I am in victory at all times. In Christ, ladies and gentlemen, in the most laborious of your studies, the most pressure of your schedules, you are entitled to be in triumph in Christ. And indeed, if we're not, then there's something wrong with our relationship with Christ. So he said, I'm in victory and I am making known the savor or the fragrance of the knowledge of Christ in every place. The salvation of all people is God's desire, as you know. It's part of God's benevolent nature and his love. He tells us in 1 Timothy 2, 4, tells us that God desires all people everywhere to be saved. The gospel is the savor of life unto life and of death unto death.
Some receive it and live, some refuse it and die. It's the fragrance of a savior who was smitten and bruised for our sakes. Fragrance to be produced requires cutting, slashing, thrashing. The fragrance of incense is produced when a tree is slashed and the protective ooze between the bark and the tree comes out and is harvested and hardened and then burned and makes the aroma of incense.
The tree got hurt, it got bruised, it got slashed. Flowers to produce the fragrances that you ladies like, the floral fragrances. Those flowers had to be dried and crushed. There's always a sacrifice involved when there is a fragrance. Christ was wounded for our transgression, he was bruised for our iniquities, he was chastised for our peace.
There's a price to be paid for the production of fragrance. And Paul said, the gospel smells good. And the knowledge of Christ, the savor, the fragrance of the knowledge of Christ is what my life is all about. Ephesians 5-2 tells us that Christ also has loved us and given himself for a sweet smelling savor. This is our savior, this is our Lord.
It is our Lord who gave everything. And if we don't keep ourselves reminded of the essential nature of the gospel and the telling of the gospel, then our ministries are going to dry up and blow away. It's easy in the pressures of ministry, the daily routines, the care of all the churches, or your church as it was expressed by Paul, plural for him, singular for you.
The care, we get so involved in the care of study. The thrill of the gospel which we understood and reveled in when we first got saved, yes, we know it, we cherish it, but it's something that's somewhere way off the front burner. And the fragrance of our lives will become an odious fragrance if we don't keep near to the surface of our lives the fragrance of the gospel.
Paul's life was making that fragrance known everywhere he went. I was reading from Barnes the other day about this passage. He said, the regular tendency of the gospel is to save, not to destroy men.
It is the tendency of medicine, as the tendency of medicine is to heal, of food to support our body, of air to give vitality, of light to give pleasure to the eyes. The gospel is provided for all and adapted to all. There is sufficiency in the gospel for all people and its nature is suited to save one as another. Whatever may be the manner in which it is received, it is always in itself the pure same glorious system full of benevolence and mercy. Paul said, the gospel itself, the knowledge of Christ, which is the essence of the gospel, and the aim of the gospel, has a great fragrance that really smells good. And he said in the second verse here, verse 15, we are unto God a sweet saver of Christ. Not only is the gospel a wonderful, sweet saver fragrance, but the gosperer is a sweet fragrance unto God. God is pleased with such people.
He delights in their work. I think sometimes we maybe get hard on ourselves and down on ourselves because it just doesn't seem like we matter too much. We preach to the same people week after week. It's just the nature of things in America right now. It's the nature of things in Europe and in the Mideast and many other hard, hard countries.
This is a hard country now. Just about every missionary I speak to, my wife and I were just speaking with some from Poland the other day. He said, you know, I've become convinced that my life is about sowing all the gospel seed I can and leaving the rest to God. We don't see great results, though Poland, as opposed to other European nations, would be a gospel garden.
Just one or two here and one or two there is talking with the Murphys, our graduates who are out in southeast Arizona near an Apache reservation. And they are giving their life to a work just off the reservation, which seeks to salvage the people who get saved on the reservation, bring them and their families and teach them what a Christ-centered life and home are all about, and then put them back on the reservation where they can be hopefully a transplanted plant that will survive the intense harshness and pressures of that place. But he said, my wife and I from the day we arrived here said, if we can see four families saved and established and flourishing and fruitful for Christ, four in our lifetime, we'll consider that our ministry to these Native Americans to be successful.
That's a hard work. The gospeler who has hard work to do is a sweet saver to God, and his labors are a sweet saver regardless of their fruitfulness. Verse 16, to the one, we are the saver of death unto death. We give this sweet fragrance of the gospel, one hears it, despises it, dies and goes to the second death. Another receives the message of life, he's born again, he has new life in Christ, and he dies and goes to eternal life.
But he said, I'm not in charge of the reception of it or the rejection of it. My job is to labor in this effort, and that is a sweet saver to the Lord. It is gospel labor that smells good to God, not gospel success. God would have all men everywhere to be saved. You and I are out there, I hope, for the rest of our lives as passionately as we can, getting the message of the sweet saver of the gospel of Christ to everybody. And some will receive the Savior and be saved.
But our fragrance to God, our acceptability to God does not have to do with the results of it. That's in God's head. He builds the church.
He's in charge of who receives and who rejects. I have to keep myself reminded of that. My grandfather, who preached to big crowds in those big gospel meetings in the teens and twenties when the cities would bring in an evangelist like Billy Sunday, my grandfather and others put up a pole barn, sawdust on the floor, crude wooden benches, two services a day, one in the afternoon, one in the evening. Those big pole barns would seat between five and ten thousand people.
It would be filled every afternoon, every evening for four to six weeks. Multitude. They wouldn't even give an invitation until the last week. And by that time, these people had come night after night. There was no competition, no television, no circuses, no nothing. It was the big show, if I can put it that way, in town. And they came and they heard and multitudes got saved, churches got started. It was a glorious day. I heard my grandfather say in the late fifties toward the very end of his ministry, you know, we're not seeing people saved very much anymore. He said it's like the Holy Spirit has removed his convicting presence. Well now that was in the late fifties. I was a college student, just about ready to graduate at the end of, I did in 1959. And compared to today, that was a verdant, flourishing gospel production.
But compared to what he had seen decades before, it looked pusillanimous. And so, the greatest enemy you and I will have to face, perhaps, is our own despondency over the fruitfulness, the apparent evidential result of what happens when we are gospel preaching people. And by the way, whatever God's calling for you is, as Paul reminded Timothy, the pastor, have an evangelistic quality to your pastoral ministry.
It's incumbent upon all of us. I remember one time in my life when, in my early twenties, I was doing some evangelistic work. I didn't have much to do here at the university.
I was teaching at the time, but I was also doing some administrative things through the dean of men's office and all of that. And I had periods of time I could be away. And I would go four or five days to a church, and sometime a week. And I was doing evangelistic work. And on a really, really good week, really good week, there might be 25 or 30 professions of faith.
On an average week, four or five, six. And then I would read in a weekly newspaper that was sent out to preachers particularly all over the southeast reports of other evangelists and the results they were having. And evangelists so-and-so would say, last week in such-and-such a town, I saw 45 people saved.
And somebody else would say, I saw 145 people saved, or 85 people saved. And I would read those reports week after week, and one time I just got so fed up with myself. I took that paper and I went into my father's office, and I threw it on his desk, and I said, Dad, I'm through with this. God hasn't called me to this. He said, sit down, son. What's wrong with you? I said, Dad, look at this paper.
These reports every week, great results. I've never seen results from my preaching like that. Well, he said, son, are you prayed up?
Are you living right? I said, yeah, Dad, the best I know how. Well, he said, son, listen, at the judgment, God's not going to stand you up beside those other men and say, why didn't you have His results or His results? He's going to say, did you do the best you could with the opportunities and the gifts and the anointing that I gave you? Were you faithful in what I gave you to do? Then he said something I understand better now than I did at the time.
He said, beside that, son, you don't even know if those reports are true. Well, it was a great load lifted off of me. God is delighted in the gospel, faithful gospel labor.
And the faithfulness in that is what He's going to reward, not the results, because you and I are not in charge of that. One time in New York City, when my children were small, we were up there for whatever reason, I don't remember, and we were on a subway one day going to a museum. I was taking the children to a museum up in upper Manhattan. We were sitting at the side of the car facing the door, one of the doors. We got to a station, and I noticed that a man at the other door at that station got on with a signboard, didn't say a word, walked right down the aisle, came and stood at the door in front of us. The signboard, I don't remember the exact verses. The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life. Maybe whosoever shall call the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Just a couple of simple verses, gospel verses. And I thought, I've got to talk to that guy. I jumped up and said, sir, I'm glad for your witness here.
Do you do this every day? He said, no, just on Thursdays. He said, I work for the electric company here in New York. He said, I can't preach. I'm not a very able speaker, but I do love the Lord, and I want to do something to make Him known. And so he said, several years ago, I decided I could at least let these verses do the speaking, and this is what I do every Thursday. I get on at that station. I'm getting off at the next one. I'll catch the next train back the other way.
Several hours, I'll do this every Thursday. I said, sir, I praise God for you. Has anybody ever commended you?
Has everybody rejoiced him? He said, no, I've got a lot of cussing, but I've never had anybody say thank you. I said, I'm saying thank you. My family is saying thank you. I'm glad you're here for the sake of the Gospel.
The doors opened, he got off, and that was it. Now, that wouldn't have been a ministry I could have done, but it was a ministry he could do, and I believe God was very pleased with his Gospel labor. The labor is pleasing to God, not the results. So I'd just like to close by urging you to keep your perspective about ministry right, and keep the perspective of your training right. That's whoever your hands find to do it today for the glory of God.
That's pleasing to him. And your Gospel labor, done with a pure heart and for the glory of God, regardless of the results, will be pleasing to him. And keep in mind that all over the world, people like you who are known only to God, they'll never be in the headlines.
Their names will be known to few outside of their immediate circle. They're being faithful where God has planted them as well. Many of you know the name of Pastor David Yerrick. He was, I think, the founder and certainly the longtime pastor of Hampton Park Baptist Church here in Greenville.
He's with the Lord. He told me one day, he said, after he retired from the church, he said, I would go out once a week to such-and-such a retirement home, and I would hold a little service. And he said before the service, I would go and meet people, invite them to the service. And there was one lady that just wanted nothing to do with me whatsoever. She was hard, an old, old lady. So she never came to our services, but I would always call on her. I'd always speak to her of Christ. He said, one day I came and she was bright and cheerful and welcoming. And I said, Sally, or whatever her name was, you're so happy today.
What has made you so happy? She said, Pastor, you've told me of Christ week after week, month after month. And you know I wanted nothing to do with him, but I got saved this week. And he said, my thought was, well, hallelujah, all those efforts that I made, boy, the gospel got through and she's a trophy. And then her next sentence was, so he said to her, well, tell me about it. She said, well, Pastor, there's a cleaning lady who comes every day and tidies up my room. And she's been telling me of Christ for many weeks now. And when she came this week, I understood what it was all about and I got saved. He was expecting her to say, Pastor, it was your great effort and your wisdom and your gospel power.
And it was a cleaning lady and her gospel power and her anointing all over the world. God's doing his work through preachers, through laymen, through teachers, through gospelers, whatever their place in life may be, they are the sweet savoring gospel servants, sweet savers. God loves them. God knows them.
God keeps the record. The rewards will be according not to how much they did, but how faithful they were in the doing of it. May you and I, we can't be great people. It should not be our desire because it's the humble who before God, who is the exalted one, just try to do in the niche where they are the work of the gospel. May you and I be able to be that kind of a person. We are, our lives smell good to God. The world is a smelly place.
It stinks with sin. But you can be a sweet saver, a sweet fragrance in the midst of it all. Heavenly Father, thank you for the privilege, the exalted privilege of everywhere we go, like Paul, taking the sweet savor of the gospel. Thank you for the power of it, for those who will be saved. It is not your will that any should refuse the gospel, but there will be many who do. But may they know as we live among them that there is an aroma about our life that only the difference of Christ can make that would give a credibility to our fragrant message as we speak it, and would be all used to your glory and the good of those who need you. In Jesus' name, amen. You've been listening to a sermon from Dr. Bob Jones III, Chancellor of Bob Jones University. Thanks for listening, and join us again tomorrow as we continue the study in 2 Corinthians on The Daily Platform.
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