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April 7, 2022 7:00 pm
Dr. Stephen Hankins continues a seminary chapel series studying the book of 2 Corinthians with a message titled, “Sufficiency from God,” from 2 Corinthians 3:1-6.
Welcome to The Daily Platform from Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina seminary professor Dr. Steven Hankins will continue the study in second Corinthians, and the title of his message is sufficiency from God like to invite you to turn in your New Testament.
The second Corinthians chapter 3 verses one through six. This is the In this section about apostolic ministry that were to be focusing our attention on this morning when you started in seminary you started on a journey, that journey as a destination hopefully and that is confidence for your future ministry confidence that in Whatever Pl., God leads you will be able to serve effectively for his glory your ministry confidence makes a great deal of difference. It really matters, but how you gonna react when as a youth pastor parents begin to criticize you because of the way you're handling their kids are when a few individual influential women in the church are not confident that you're really an effective example or counselor to other women.
As a pastor's wife about the day when a fellow staff member complaints to the senior pastor that in their view your preaching and teaching is really quite weak and you're not appropriately prepared when a leading very outspoken deacon says that he's convinced that your Ministry at their church is over and that there a lot of other people in the church who feel that way also. Or when families in the church just don't like you. How could that possibly reasonably happen. Someone is good-looking and is affable and godly as you but it will happen over irrational jealousy over because you remind of them.
Some of someone they don't like or had a bad experience with or someone they would rather see in your position that you are in their position. How will you react to these things will you wither up with hurt feelings and see your ministry confidence just evaporate. Well, if you look at this paragraph if we haven't read yet.
You'll notice immediately that it's very autobiographical.
Paul is talking about himself, talking about his experience with the Corinthian believers. So in the spirit of the author. I'm gonna go just a little autobiographical here for just a moment and take you along with me to an experience I had early in ministry. Actually I was just three years in a my full-time teaching ministry here at the University. I was 27 years old at a young family and got it open an opportunity for my wife and our little baby and I to go 3 1/2 hours up the highway every weekend to a church in a semi rural setting in North Carolina that about 160 active member attenders and about 325 people in a K-12 Christian school.
It was a wonderful experience a great opportunity to serve. I've met the pastor the church when leaving a ministry team from the University and he graciously is a guy in his late 40s early 50s had opened the door of opportunity for me to be as associate pastor on Friday through Monday.
Was it in the wee hours of the morning and it was a wonderful experience always be indebted to you for that opportunity. But six months in, I received a late night phone call from the chairman of the board of deacons tell me that the pastor and left a letter of resignation on the desk in his study had gone to a neighboring state to look for employment.
It was difficult to locate the pastor, but the next week I received another call, this time telling me the pastor and return to the community that he was on the site psychiatric floor of a neighboring hospital in a larger community. And so when I arrived that we can for ministry.
I went and visited him.
Of course he was not in good shape. Shortly thereafter he was released from the hospital and was then that I learned that he had actually returned from his employment search to the community to try to persuade the wife of the principle of the Christian school, with whom he had had fair to leave with him so they could go off and live together by themselves away from their spouses.
But what would you do there was nothing that could be done but follow what Scripture commanded. So I went to the pastor. I talked to him. I begged him to repent of what he had done and what he was doing. It was initially to no avail. But then I went with others with deacons and we played with him and begged him to be restored to the Lord and God broke his heart and he did repent and in the service. Not long after that on a Sunday morning after I preached a message on forgiveness. He read a letter of repentance to the congregation in person, and a letter was also rented repentance from the wife of that principle the Christian school.
They subsequently experience what was an incredible outpouring of love and support and forgiveness from the people of God and that assembly, I mean that very morning. They literally rose up out of their seats and came as a group and encircled this brother and prayed for him and encouraged and supported both couples. The pastor's wife in the principal and his wife remained together they left the area and went to seek other employment. So what was the long-term outcome of that experience a crisis will unbelievably know people left the church. No parents withdrew their kids from the Christian school.
The spirit of unity was astonishing in the assembly. It was simple. We simply followed Scripture and God honored that in a remarkable way with the spiritual impact in the hearts of the people that was a tremendous ministry confidence builder for me as a young man there been a great spiritual impact on the hearts of the people in that church, and for some of those people that even continues to this day in that ministry, which thrives and prospers.
Even as I speak, but within a few months after that morning service. Now I'm serving as the interim pastor. What were looking for a senior pastor of the church. Satan launched an attack against me and it came through the complaints and slander of a very young deacon and a few others he'd recruit recruited about some imagined slight had committed against him and something happened to me. I found I experienced a deeply shaken and seriously weakened ministry confidence. I was not used to people complaining about what I did in service for Christ, especially in light of what transpired in the ministry there. This was really quite a shocking thing very disturbing and upsetting to me will in time.
That problem resolved itself. Things worked out well.
The church remain strong. As I said they've prospered and they going on a course of physical full-time pastor now for many many years as was planned from the beginning, but my overreaction to the criticism wrongful criticism of that young deacon and the others brought something polite in me. They revealed something to me that needed to be corrected and that was my basing of my confidence in ministry on the opinions of other people. This was a problem.
It was a flaw in my ministry philosophy and I had to address it. I didn't address it and this morning I want you with me. To address this for your cells. From this passage of Scripture.
Your ministry confidence for the future really matters is extremely important and we need to determine what the sources of true ministry confidence are as we look at this passage of Scripture reading it together with me.
We begin again to commend ourselves or need we, as some others epistles of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you. Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men. For as much is your manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink but with the spirit of the living God, not in tables of stone, but in fleshly tables of the heart and such trust, have we through Christ to God word. Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves and our sufficiency is of God who have also who also hath made us able ministers of the New Testament, not of the letter but of the spirit. For the letter kill of, but the spirit giveth life of the first thing I'd like us to observe from this paragraph is that our ministry confidence as you serve in whatever local church ministry missions and evangelism. Your call to is not based on human approval. This ministry confidence cannot be based on self commendation as part of human approval. Look at the very first verse we begin again to commend ourselves. It's interesting he says again. You see, there had been this problem before with the Corinthians.
They knew the proof of Paul's ministry and he had said to them, in his first epistle. Listen to these words from first Corinthians 415 and 16 for if you were to have countless tutors in Christ. Yet he would not have many fathers for in Christ Jesus, I became your father for the gospel therefore exhorts the be imitators of me. Paula been down this path before and he had committed himself legitimately before to them. He had been there faithful example as a shepherd as a pastor father in the faith he had reason to have confidence with reference to them. The poem written in first Corinthians chapter 13 and is 15 faceted description of love that love does not brag and is not arrogant he was not about to start down that path now.
He wasn't going to go down that path again with the risk of seeming to do that and you know sadly men and women. We all face the test. The challenge of allowing the testimonies of ministry to others to do falls down into really what could be called brag about is not testimonies about how God's hand is so uniquely upon us in ministry. We really must avoid this and Proverbs tells us in the spirit of Solomon and his heart and 27 to let another man praise you and not your own lips, a stranger and not your own mouth, ministry, confidence is not based on self commendation and ministry common ministry confidence is not based either on the confidence of others. This is all part of human approval. Look at verse one. Again, it says or need we, as some others epistles of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you all had a really healthy very healthy spiritual independence about them is ministry confidence was not based on the words or assessments of other people about his ministry. As I said he'd been through this before with the Corinthians then he said to them in first Corinthians 4 in verse three, but to me it's a very small thing that I may be examined by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even examine myself. He says his men and women our own hearts are so treacherous and so deceptive that we often cannot even come up with the correct evaluation of our own motives for what we do in ministry, let alone others coming up with the right assessment of that Paul was wholesome late unconcerned about the approval and the commendation of others toward him. Is that your heart ministry usefulness and fruitfulness is not about a self cultivated reputation with others. It's not about your network of ministry friends who approve of you. It's not about manipulating your spiritual image with others through social media. As you make posts about your spiritual life and work. It's not about currying favor with other people by being a sycophant of brown nose or another words of flatterer of other people because of some favor an advantage, you think you will gain spiritually by being that way toward others know we are not looking for glory from others.
We are looking from the glory that only comes from God.
Jesus said in John 544 how can you believe when you receive glory from one another and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God is a most remarkable statement by Paul in second Thessalonians.
In chapter 1 verses 11 and 12 are he gives up a description of his prayers for them.
He says to this and also we pray for you always, that our God will count you worthy of your calling, and fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power so that the name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified by you and you by him. According to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. We are to glorify him and he will choose whether to glorify or honor us through the fruit of our ministry so confidence in ministry does not come from self commendation. It does not come from the commendation of others.
We are not looking men and women at all for human approval that has got to be left behind. You have to walk flat by the grace of God out of your mind and your heart ministry.
Confidence will be affirmed, affirmed by the transformed lives of other people. Ministry confidence comes through a letter of affirmation that is written in our own hearts about the transformed lives of others see this in verse two. Ye are our epistle written in our hearts. There is an internal private inscription a letter by the Holy Spirit about the transformed lives of others of certain ones you have served and have to serve a ministry for while these letters get written on paper, not digitally, but in your memory in your thoughts, your heart you know and they know that your life has impacted them in immensely in immense ways permanently and there is no denying that God has used you and this is a source of great confidence to you and encouragement of comfort to you in ministry as you serve and it's vitally important for you one day these letters of commendation in your thoughts and your memory will include your own children, your wife, your grandchildren and your sons and daughters of the faith and in ministry that you have influenced whenever you think of them. Your heart will soul soar with joy.
You'll smile you can't help it.
It's proof positive that God has used you in ministry to impact others. You've impacted them you're aware of it and they are aware of it. What is happened is real. You know it, and there is no denying it, and you come away praising God, but you another something else about these letters of affirmation there not only in your own heart. But the verse says that they are known and read of all men ministry confidence from these letters of affirmation may be known and read of by all men by many authors. In other words, these letters become very public. Letters when you serve others. The spirit will work in them and their life will be transformed and it will command your ministry because people will know the ministry in effect you've had in their lives. Every one of those people will be like a letter commending your service because of the spirits transforming work in them and it's not a work like being carved in stone is the law of God was or written by Inc. letters of recommendation by men in writing know it is a real transformed life you you look at a guy are you look at a girl and you ask yourself, is she a woman of a woman of God is he really a man of God. When you look for the evidence and what is the primary evidence it is the transformed people through their ministry. They are each letters of commendation of your ministry. Now, for example and bear with me. I'm thinking of Dave right now in Ohio I'm thinking of Gary and North Carolina. I'm thinking also. Stephen Pennsylvania and others like them.
They're all wonderfully fruit bearing pastors today, but that was not always so. It took a long time serving them as a pastor, teacher, disciple maker, mentor for this to be the outcome but they are letters and they are rentable men. I can't explain to you at this point in my life and ministry. The joy that I experience from that and that awaits you as a result of your service to people in the future when your letters are known and read of all men. There is no joy like it, but in the process of all this letter writing that we do in the hearts of men on the lives of people, known and read of others, we come to one, glorious and inevitable conclusion and that is that our ministry confidence is found in God alone, not in ourselves.
How does that happen. Ministry confidence we see in verse four is found through Christ as we seek him and walk with him and commune with he and him and the father.
Verse four says in such trust, have we through Christ to God word you know it takes a while in ministry to really believe Jeremiah 923 as it's quoted in first Corinthians 1 verse 30 and 31 that the Lord Jesus alone is the one who became to us wisdom from God. The Wren righteousness and sanctification and redemption. It takes a while in men and ministry remembering daily and seeking according to Hebrews 415 and 16, his grace and his mercy which will sustain us on a daily basis. It takes a while in ministry. According to John 15 five as Jesus put it, that as we abide in him and he abides in us. We will bear much fruit, but without him we can do nothing. There must be a Christ focused a Christ dependence and hourly communion with him. That gives us the power and the possibility of bearing fruit for the glory of God for ministry confidence is found in the Lord Jesus Christ through his spirit is found in rejecting ourselves as the source of confidence in ministry see that in verse five.
Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God on me ask you a question.
Do you hear ministry self adequacy or self-confidence in second Corinthians 47.
The very next chapter where Paul wrote, but we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not of ourselves. No, you don't hear self adequacy and self-confidence. There because it's not there, you hear that self adequacy or self-confidence in second Corinthians 12 nine and 10 where the Lord Jesus said to Paul, my grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness and then Paul said most gladly therefore will I rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me for when I am weak, then I am strong know our ministry.
Confidence comes through Christ our ministry. Confidence comes to rejecting self-confidence and self adequacy and men and women to crown this to The soft, the apostle says to us that our ministry confidence is found through the Holy Spirit's work through us see that in verse six, who also have made us able ministers of the New Testament, not of the letter but of the spirit.
For the letter kill it, but the spirit giveth life. This is the spirit of the living God at work in us sent by Christ, the spirit of Christ sent by the father, the spirit of our father into our hearts to work mightily look with me at the end of verse six it says, but the spirit giveth life. Yes, the spirit gives life, power to our hearts for regeneration.
Titus chapter 3 verses five and success. The spirit gives us the power of life for daily personal transformation as second Corinthians 3 verse 17 and 18, says the spirit gives the power of life in our prayers as Romans 826 teaches the spirit gives the power of life for light and understanding the Scripture to understand the riches of our inheritance.
According to first Corinthians 212 the spirit gives the power of life for bold witnesses. Acts 18 says, and the spirit gives power for life were preaching the truth. According to first Corinthians to four and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the spirit, and of power. I want to step just for a moment, as were concluding back in the church history to look at towering example of ministry confidence. But there's a reason I want us to look at this character in church history who will hundred and 29 years after his death.
You will still immediately recognizes name. There are few in churches to have received the commendation or condemnation of others like this man is stable.
Ministry confidence in both cases is why were looking at him for a moment. Charles Spurgeon was that mid-19th century, pastor of the first mega church of the modern era, the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London. He preached for over 35 years to crowds of 5000 people twice every Lord's day during that period of time ministry and 1/2 decades when England was superpower of the world. London was the capital city's sermons were published weekly surrounded the globe were translated eventually into 29 different languages. This essentially self educated though.
Though privately, and home educated as well. Men became the pastoral and theological giant of his era, offering 140 titles and one of them a 2 million word seven volume set called the treasury of David Spurgeon's influence was and still is profound today but now today, few remember that in 1888, just three years before his death at the age of 57 while still serving, while still preaching to 5000 people in the morning and in the evening in the Metropolitan Tabernacle that Spurgeon was publicly and officially castigated, censured and rejected by the British Baptist Union of pastors because of his defense of biblical purity and orthodoxy, but he remained faithful until his death at 57 and 1891. How did he endure with the same confidence and boldness and ministry to the end. In spite of that unbelievable condemnation which happened at an annual meeting where there were 2007 votes 2000 against him and seven for him. When you read his biography is men and women, you come away with only one conclusion is true.
Ministry confidence was found in the power of his work through the spirit of God: whose work was clear and undeniable, and it and that is where your confidence in ministry must come from. So, in the words of the writer to the Hebrews. Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has great your true ministry confidence really matters find it and God the Spirit alone. You've been listening to a sermon from BW seminary professor, Dr. Steven Hankins. Thanks for listening and join us again tomorrow as we continue the study in second Corinthians on The Daily Platform