07 May 2023

Final Words On Paul’s Apostolic Authority [2 Corinthians 12:11-19]


It's time to wrap up. Paul now concludes his defence of his apostolic authority. And he does so by repeating the themes of. 1. The Signs of an Apostle. Paul reminds us that the true Apostle is identified by signs. Besides earlier mentioned signs like changed lives through his ministry, endurance through sufferings, godly character, love, truthful speech and so on, he also mentions signs, wonder and mighty works. 2. The Sacrifice of an Apostle. The true Apostle is not looking to grab from people, but to give to people. He is willing to spend and to be spent for them. He is like a parent, looking only to lay up for his children. 3. The Single-mindedness of an Apostle. Paul's defence was never for his own reputation per se. It was for people to be built up in the faith. His goal is that they will continue to grow in holiness.

2. The Sacrifice of an Apostle.
The true Apostle is not looking to grab from people, but to give to people. He is willing to spend and to be spent for them. He is like a parent, looking only to lay up for his children.



Sermon Transcript

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We are going through as a church the book of 2 Corinthians. It's one of the books in the New Testament and we come now to Chapter 12. And this will be the last few sermons in this book. We are coming to the end of 2 Corinthians. Actually it's been a long journey because we started 2 Corinthians after we finished 1 Corinthians.

So it's been a long while and in the month of June, I will be... I will be starting a new series in the Old Testament, the books of the Bible written before Jesus came. And we'll be looking at the book of.....? Not Isaiah but very close huh. A lot of people like to guess Isaiah but no, not Isaiah. We'll be looking at the book of... Hosea. Ok, so very close, not Isaiah but Hosea.

Uh.. It will be an interesting journey because it's a minor prophet. We have looked at different genres as a church already. The Pentateuch and the poetic books like Song of Solomon and so on. We are venturing into a minor prophet, Hosea. And so I hope you'll join us in the month of June.

But let's wrap up 2 Corinthians. And Paul, the writer of 2 Corinthians - he's an apostle, a messenger, a leader from God. He's been very burdened and worried in a sense about the church at ancient Corinth. We call them the Corinthians. Because they have been seduced and dazzled by false teachers who seem to be very impressive.

They have been boasting about their credentials and so these Corinthians admire and adore these false teachers and are on the brink of being led astray from Jesus Christ as they listen to these false teachings.

So Paul, because he loves them, decides to fight fire with fire. He decides also to boast. He decides also to talk about his credentials except that he doesn't talk so much about his accomplishments or his abilities, but he speaks about his sufferings. So he does this in order to convince the Corinthians back to the simplicity of the apostolic teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ.

So we come to the end of his boasting, as it were. He says, I have been a fool, huh. Because he knows that it is not good to boast. But he had no choice. You forced me to it. You are listening to these false teachers and are being tempted away from true teaching. So I have to do this in order to win you back to Christ.

For I ought to have been commended by you. Actually I should not have had to boast. You should have been approving me. The word commended means to stand with me. You should have stood with me but you didn't. So I had to be boasting or I've to launch into that fool's speech, as it were.

For I was not at all inferior to these super apostles. They call themselves the super apostles, the Greek word - the lian apostles, the fantastic apostles. I was not in any way inferior to them, but I remind you that it's not because I'm anybody. But it's because of God's power in me, even though I am nothing.

So Paul finishes his fool's speech. And throughout the epistle, throughout this letter, Paul has fought back criticisms about himself, whether they criticize him that he is not eloquent enough, or they criticize him because he is like a paper tiger - talk a lot but never really dare to execute discipline amongst us, or that they criticize Paul for not having letters of commendation. Paul has fought back and today, we come to the final words on his apostolic authority.

So this is the last segment where we're going to read about him defending himself. And it's significant in these nine verses how he seems to cycle back to familiar themes and ideas that he has been talking throughout. So we want to respect the repeats or the emphasis Paul is going to make, and that's how we're going to look at these nine verses.

The final words on his apostolic authority will revolve around, I think, three things. Three things that he has been talking about regularly; we notice the repeats and therefore I emphasize them to you once again.

[1] Signs
First thing he talks about - what about his apostolic authority? He reminds us about the signs, the marks, the evidences, the tokens of apostolic authority. What makes him obvious to people that he is the true servant of God, the apostle, the messenger, the leader that God has given to the early church? So he mentions, the signs of a true apostle were performed among you with utmost patience, with signs and wonders and mighty works.

So we see the word 'signs'. The word means a mark or a token, an indication, an evidence. How do we know that Paul is a true apostle? Because there are a lot of fakes. Just like you have Rolex watches; you have real Rolex watches. Eh.. I don't have lah, don't worry, I'm just... Ah, you have real Rolex watches and of course with real ones you have fake ones.

So how can you tell a real from a false apart? So Paul says that there are signs of a true apostle. And you may think, ah.. it's obvious. The signs of a true apostle are signs and wonders and mighty works. But actually that's not how you should read the English here, right? Or the sentence construction. The signs of a true apostle, with signs and wonders and mighty works. In other words, the signs are not just signs, wonders and miracles, but the signs do include signs, wonders and miracles.

So there are other signs. That's what I'm trying to say. There are other signs than immediately referring to only miracles. So what are the other signs? Well, if I ask you, to tell me what are the signs of an apostle according to Paul, what would you say? I suppose many of you right, actually not many of you, none of you right now, look into your Bible and say, I'm going to find them.

Most of us, if I ask you this question, you say, okay, let me go to Chapter 12 which is what we're studying and try to see what Paul says are the signs. But if you try to do that, you will realize he doesn't mention any of these signs at all in Chapter 12. So you look at it and it's not there. But I remind you that when you read this passage, it is not to be read in isolation.

Paul has been writing this epistle from Chapter 1 all the way now to Chapter 12 and later on to chapter 13. So we have to read the entire letter, and so when he says the signs of a true apostle, it is not that there is nothing mentioned but that they were already mentioned in the earlier chapters.

So now as we come to Chapter 12, we should be reminded of them. So let me kind of remind you what are the signs that Paul has mentioned.

In Chapter 3, he was being asked, where are your letters of commendation? Because the false teachers go around with certificates, with diplomas, with degrees, with letters, saying, oh this is so and so, this is so and so, looks very impressive. Paul, where is yours? Paul says, I don't have these physical letters, paper letters but you. Paul says, you... you guys, you Corinthians, your lives are the best letters of commendation.

A. Changed Lives
So Paul is saying, what are the signs of an apostle? Well in number one, I would say, lives that have been changed by the grace of God. How do we see that he's a true leader, messenger sent of God? When we see the trail of lives that have been blessed by him. Something also more explicit is in Chapter 6. Paul says, we commend ourselves, we prove ourselves, we exhibit ourselves, we show ourselves in every way.

B. Endurance through Hardships
What way? Number one: endurance. How do you know we are an apostle, or we are apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ, we are servants of God? You know us by the way we endure. How we stick through it, what afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots and labours. The key is not so much the afflictions, the key is the great endurance.

C. Life, Fruit or Character
And besides endurance, Paul says, by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, Holy Spirit, so on and so forth. So you say, what are the signs of an apostle? Changed lives. What are the signs of an apostle? Endurance through hardship. What are the signs of an apostle? Life, fruit or character.

D. The Power of the Spirit, the Preaching of Truths
What are the signs of the apostle? The power of the Spirit, the preaching of truths. These are the various signs.

And of course, we must not forget Chapter 11, where Paul says, I'm a servant of Christ. How so? Through these sufferings as well.

So if you were to listen to this letter read, from Chapter 1 all the way to the end, you would be able to say the signs of a true apostle - I know what they are. If your memory not so bad lah. It.. it is read in one shot mah, so you should remember, ah I remember Chapter 3. You are the letters of commendation. I remember Chapter 6, we commend ourselves with endurance, with purity, with kindness and so on. I remember Chapter 11, the sufferings.

So it is really interesting that Paul mentions all that earlier on and says these are the signs and now he makes a reference that these are done with utmost patience. It's not easy to serve God and to preach the Gospel. There will be difficulties and opposition, he mentions utmost patience. And then he mentions signs and wonders and mighty works.

Actually throughout 2 Corinthians, he did not mention any of the miracles. Now is the first time he talks about miracles. Very interesting because if I were to tell people if I can perform miracles, and people ask me, are you a servant of God; I will say to you, I perform miracles, you have or not?

I mean that would be the number one thing I would try to impress you with. But Paul leaves it right to the end and he doesn't even speak much about it except this one liner. To him, the life, the love, the labour of the apostle are greater signs than the ability to perform miracles.

So the apostle Paul now talks about miracles. He doesn't say much here but actually the question is, did he actually perform any miracles at all? Did he? Well, you can't see that he performed miracles in 2 Corinthians but we see that he performed miracles in the book of Acts. That's the historical record of what he has done.

So Acts 13, we see him blind a sorcerer. In Acts 14, we see him heal a cripple. In 16, he cast out evil spirit. In 19, he cast out demons and he healed the sick.

In Chapter 20, he resurrected Eutychus. This is a very interesting story about how he was preaching and because it was such a long sermon, someone was drowsy, like some of you are. Eh, let me tell you what happened to this guy who was sleepy. He fell from the window and he died. So if you're not awake right now, better be awake. Because if you die, I'm not an apostle who can resurrect you. So Eutychus died and he resurrected Eutychus.

Acts 28, he was bitten by a venomous snake but there was no harm to him and he also performed healing. So Paul, I mean I'm sure he did probably more miracles than this but these are the recorded signs, wonders and miracles that we can read of in his life.

So what are the credentials? What are the proofs of an apostle? I would hope that you would say miracles, signs and wonders but I think that's not number one for Paul. Number one: life change, his own character, his faithful, truthful speech, his endurance in sufferings and so on, and then miracles.

Now I think this is a good point for me to deal with this subject of signs, wonders and miracles because this is a good text. This is one of the texts that many people refer to in understanding miraculous gifts.

So I'd like to just pause here, kind of divert a little bit to answer some of the FAQs you have. I know this is relevant because in my care group that we gathered last night, I mean this was like the dominant question, even though that's not the dominant idea in this text. So I thought might be good for us still to deal with this. Some frequently asked questions about miracles.

1. Can all Christians perform miracles?
Number one: are all or can all Christians perform miracles? Can, cannot? Yes or no? Most of you say no, why? Most of you say no, why? Why is it that it is not that all Christians can perform miracles? Do you have a basis for saying that? Very good. Glenn. So it says, 1 Corinthians 12 says: To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the working of miracles and so on.

So, this passage is about how God by His Spirit gives different people different gifts. God does not give everybody the same gifts because if He does so, everybody will be like an eyeball in the body. It's a monstrosity. So every part of the body is unique to perform a function. So the point is very clear - not everyone will be given the gift of miracles.

2. Do miracles save?
Number two: do miracles save? In other words, do miracles bring people to salvation in and of itself? Does witnessing a miracle mean that you automatically will become a Christian? The answer is no. Why? Very simple - Jesus, when He did so many signs before them, they still did not believe in Him.

I think this is very counterintuitive for us. We often think, oh if only God gives us more miracles today, aiyah, there will be a lot more Christians. No, not true.

Jesus performed many miracles. I don't think anyone did more miracles than the Lord Jesus Christ. But what did the majority of the people do? They left Him. In fact, they would shout 'Crucify Him'.

When Moses led Israel out of the wilder... or out of Egypt into the wilderness, there were plenty of miracles. But by and large, the whole nation did not believe in God.

So I think this is what the Scriptures teach us - miracles do not save. What then saves us? Very simple - I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.

Now I know today if you are new with us, you may not be very interested in, how.. how do you know Paul is an apostle? That, that is not relevant to you. Maybe the question you want to ask today is, how can I be saved? How can I be cleansed of my sins? How can I be forgiven? How can I have a right relationship with God? Is it through witnessing miracles? Is this church going to perform some miracles so that I can be wowed? So that I can be saved? No.

But let me tell you what this church is supposed to do. I hope for many years to come, our church would believe that this is the centrality of our ministry. I am not ashamed of the Gospel. The word Gospel means Good News. What's the Good News? The Good News is that even though we are sinners who are doomed and damned and helpless in and of ourselves, God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, that He might die on the cross and save us from our sins.

And He does so freely. Not because we are good nor because we can do anything to pay Him. But He does so freely, graciously. And everyone, everyone, whether you are young or old, male or female, Chinese or Indian or Filipino, it doesn't matter; everyone who believes in Jesus Christ will be saved. That is what saves you. This Good News. Jesus paid it all.

So miracles don't save. That's why I think our church is called Gospel Light Christian Church, not Miracle Light Christian Church. I'm not downplaying miracles. I'm just highlighting a distinction that miracles in and of themselves do not save.

3. What's the purpose of miracles?
So your follow-up question then is: what's the purpose of miracles? What's it for? Well, I think Hebrews 2 is clear that miracles are meant to bear witness or to point to the miracle workers as the people of God or the messengers of God. And likewise, this is the idea here - the signs of a true apostle include signs and wonders and mighty works.

Now, there are three words here to describe miracles. Signs, as I've mentioned, is marks or tokens. They are the indication that this person is someone you should pay attention to. The word 'wonders' speak about the awe and the spectacular nature of miracles. The word 'mighty works' speak about the great power that may be involved to effect that miracle.

But signs, wonders and miracles are common triad of.. of words or phrases. Tell us that miracles are spectacular, they are performed with great power so that they are signs to draw attention to and authenticate God's servant or servants. That's the purpose.

So Jesus performed many miracles. Of course, the miracles are blessings to people. But at a very fundamental reason, every level, the miracles point out to the people that He is the very Son of God. He is a messenger of God. And they should listen to what He's saying instead of reject what He's saying. So the purpose of miracles is to draw attention to and to authenticate God's servants.

4. Do we still have miracles today?
This is another important question. Do we still have miracles today?, you all answer fast uh because time running out. I..I realize I'm a bit too slow. Do we still have miracles today?

Yes? Yes ah? Okay. The Bible, I'm not sure if I can say yes or no, I can only tell you the Bible does not rule out the possibility of miracles today. I don't see an explicit text in Scripture that says there will be no more miracles. So it does not rule that out. But there are things I think we need to be careful about.

i. Is the claim real?
Just because the Bible does not rule it out doesn't mean that everyone who says he can perform a miracle is truly a miracle worker. I mean that's true, right? Just because someone say to you, ey, I'm a handsome man with $10 million in my account, marry me. Would you marry? First of all, you check whether he's really handsome. Number two, you really need to ascertain if he has $10 million. You cannot just take a man at his word what.

So when someone comes to you and say, wow, I can perform miracles. Eeah... You have to check is the claim really real? Because there are lots of scammers in the world today, isn't it? Actually, there have always been scammers and religion is one of the best ways people scam you.

Well, let me just give you an example. There's a preacher who talks about a certain miracle. Let me share with you what he has said.

Video plays:
A woman was there who had been shot twice by her husband. Wow. Anybody else glad that Jesus heals the inside as well as the outside? Yeah. And because of it, she had to have three toes amputated. And it happened that evening to be talking about creative miracles that we've seen. We just began to pray just randomly for creative miracles. And specifically things like, you know, missing cartilage and you know, stuff like that, that the Lord would just make new. Organs of the body - I have a friend who was missing a kidney and the Lord recreated a kidney, verified by x-rays, all the stuff. So we began to pray into that. And this gal was at one of the other campuses and said, I want my toes back. And so another girl was praying for her. And as I.. as I.. I have, I have the.. the statement. Took about 30 minutes but they saw the bone come, wrapped in flesh, completely grow out and by morning, the toenails, everything had formed - she got three brand new toes. Three brand new toes. (Clapping sounds.)
Video ends.

A lady whose toes were amputated. A group of women prayed over her and the toes started to grow. Bones, cartilage and by the next morning, toenail also come out. Well, let's look at the lady and what she said also.

Video plays:
I had three toes that were amputated and in a terrible accident. I heard the word for creative miracles and I thought, well I certainly have a creative miracle that I might need. I need three toes to grow back. The person next to me said, do you want new toes? And I was like, well sure! All the women got down and they prayed over my foot and I decided to take my shoe off to see what was happening. When he said, let's see the progress or if anything's happened. And when I did, I had to grab the person next to me and say, do you see what I see? And I saw three toes that were forming and now there's length to them. Tonight, I can stand on my tippy toes. Listen, do you understand? I can stand on tippy toes. No, I couldn't do that because I didn't have toes to tippy on.
Video ends.

Wow, sounds so exciting huh. So what was interesting is after this was made known, there was this man who decided - I'm not sure if it was a man or a lady actually - but this person decided to ask for evidence of the toes. So he started or she started a website or Facebook page called 'Show Me The Toes'. And he's saying, anyone who has any information, pictures or verification that there was these amputated toes that grow back, please show me the evidence. And so he wrote about this and the.., uh.. yup, the website is there. And so far, as far as I know, there has been no concrete evidence.

Now, I'm not here to judge if the miracle is real or not. I'm just saying it is very reasonable for anyone who hears anybody perform miracles to ask, is your claim real? That's all. Have you witnessed this? Witnessed that miracle yourself? And have.. can.., is there a way for me to verify? Just because it is possible doesn't mean we have to believe every claim.

ii. Is it truly miraculous?
The second thing I thought it's important for us to think about is: is it truly miraculous? Because in today's church or in a church scene today, there are lots of people who say we have healing miracles but the healing is like, I got diarrhea and I got healed. I got headache and I got healed. I got gluten allergy and I got healed.

I mean, I'm not.... I'm not trying to downplay anything but when I read the New Testament miracles, for example, the miracles performed by the apostle Paul, they were spectacular. Not headaches and diarrhea and back aches and so on.

So this question, do we still have miracles today? I would say it is possible, but we need to understand these are not things that we should crave for, because that's not the main thing in the Bible. On the other hand, because it is possible, neither should we totally reject someone who says he or she can perform miracles. We.. we don't cringe immediately when someone says he has the ability but we have to wisely consider - is this real and is this truly miraculous? That's all I'm saying.

5. Are miracles the key to ministry?
Number five: are miracles the key to ministry today? Well, I think I've already let the cat out of the bag. Ah, I don't think that is the key.

The apostle Paul says this is the key - the Gospel. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. It's really important, I think, as we look at 2 Corinthians 12 to see the balance. Paul did not major on signs, wonders and miracles. He reminded them about the signs he has been writing about in Chapter 3, Chapter 6, Chapter 11, and only now he talks about signs, wonders and miracles. What a complete opposite of what's happening in the world today.

How do people tell you they are the leaders? They tell you the miracles they do. They don't really talk about the things Paul has spoken of.

[2] Sacrifice
Well, time is moving on, let me move on. Not only does Paul talk about signs which he has been talking about throughout the book, he also talks about the sacrifice that he makes.

There's this note that a son wrote to his mom. He wrote: mowing the lawn - $2, drying the dishes - $1, raking leaves - $3, cleaning garage - $4. Mom, you owe me $10 for the chores I do.

After a while, he came back and he found another note. Uh, written to him and it is this: ironing clothes - nothing, mending socks - nothing, cooking meals - nothing, bandaging cuts - nothing, baking cookies - nothing. Love, Mom. That's how it is, right? Children like to say, I did this for you, you should pay me back. Parents don't ask that. Parents unconditionally give themselves to the parents (sic children). That's sacrifice. That's love.

So Paul now in this text also reminds us about his love for the Corinthians. For in what were you less favored than the rest of the churches, except that I, I myself did not burden you? So this is a pain point. This is a sore point for the Corinthians, that Paul did not receive financial support from the Corinthians. They very 'beisong' here. Uh you..., we notice this already throughout the book. Uh, they were somehow thinking, is it because you don't love us, therefore you don't receive support from us? You are fearful that if we give to you, you are somehow obligated to us?

Paul says, are you thinking that because I don't receive financial support from you that you are less favored? He says, forgive me this wrong (sarcastic tone).

Here for the third time, I'm ready to come to you. He's going to visit them a third time. The first time, Acts 18, when he stayed with them for 18 months; taught them the Gospel, established the churches.

Second time was the painful visit we read about in this book. This is going to be the third time he's going to come. And he says, if I come to you the third time and when I come to you the third time, I will still not be a burden from, for you. I will still not receive financial support from you. For, this is the reason, I'm like the mother who's not here to get from you. I am not seeking things from you, I'm seeking you. I'm seeking your welfare.

For children are not obligated to save up for their parents, but parents for their children. This is a natural rule or principle in life. So I will not be a burden. I would like to be a parent, a father to you. I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls. So Paul's mindset is sacrifice. I'm not to grab from you, Corinthians. I'm here to give to you.

You know this week, my son, Shawn, lost his glasses. At least he couldn't find them and we were going out and running out of time, and so he was not able to find it. Of course, half-heartedly say, I've searched, couldn't find it. So we all activated as a family to hunt for his missing glasses. Well my wife and I, we did try but my youngest son, Matthias, was very lackadaisical about it, very 'beisong' about it. His fault, why you ask me to help? Well, I mean, that's how it is. And after a while, we said, Matthias, if you find the glasses, we will transfer a certain amount of money from Shawn to you.

Wah.....! It's like a bolt of lightning struck him and it was.. his energy level shot up like a rocket. I can't think of someone more energetic than that fella. And within a minute or two, Shawn, you owe me the money! Here you are! Well, he was very motivated by what he can get from his brother.

That's the total opposite of the apostle Paul. He was not interested to get anything from the Corinthians. He said, I would rather spend on you and be spent, be exhausted. I'll give my time, my energy, my emotions for you.

If I love you more, am I to be loved less? I mean, because I did not receive from you, means that you love me less? That's so ironic! They doubt Paul's love for them and in fact, it's worse. They suspect that actually Paul may be swindling them, or scamming them, or cheating them, or lining his own pocket. Because they say, or Paul says, but granting that I myself did not burden you - I did not receive support from you - you say I was crafty and got the better of you by deceit.

What do you mean? Paul, you don't receive financial support from us so that somehow you lull us into a sense of complacency, that you're not after money but actually... You know the money that we are collecting for the Jerusalem church? You are secretly lining your own pocket with it. You are crafty, Paul. You want to give us a smokescreen that you are actually very holy and don't want money, but actually you are stealing from us.

That's a terrible accusation that Corinthians are leveraging on Paul. And Paul says, did I take advantage of you through any of those whom I sent to you? I mean, Titus and the brother that, that I sent to you. Did they take advantage of you? These are the people I have kind of diligently and conscientiously set up for the collection of funds. Where is your evidence that I've been stealing from you?

So from verse 13 to 18, I think Paul is addressing the issue of sacrifice. I'm here, not here to grab from you. I'm here to give, to spend and be spent. I love you. And like I said, these are the final words. And again, we respect how Paul has repeatedly dealt with this idea of love and sacrifice for the Corinthians throughout the book.

Chapter 2 verse 4: I want to let you know the abundant love that I have for you. Chapter 4 and verse 5: we ourselves as your servants. I'm not here to serve myself, I'm here to serve you. Our heart is open wide. In return, I speak as to children. So the idea of a parent, sacrifice, love. And in Chapter 7, I've wronged no one, corrupted no one, taken advantage of no one. So make room in your hearts for us.

So in the final words of his apostolic authority, Paul reminds his listeners, his readers that true ministry is about giving, not about getting. I hope that, that is the reason why we do what we do. I hope that the pastors, shepherds, the leaders of this church will never be motivated by money, will never be serving people who are rich because somehow they can give you some kickback. That should not drive our ministry. I hope pastors today will not serve in churches or areas just because that's where they give you a higher pay. We, I.. I hope pastors will not be hirelings, but be shepherds.

I think that's not just for pastors, I think that should be the motivation or the principle in care group ministry, Bible studies. We, we do what we do not because we can get from people, but because we want to give. And the reason we want to give is because God first gave His Son. And with His Son, freely all things to us. We are such beneficiaries and that's why we can live lives of sacrifice.

Just last week, we were meeting with newcomers in our newcomers chit chat session and people asked about membership. And this is the thing I say to them about membership. You know in the past, there was this advertisement; this is an old thing, those younger than me you will have no clue. But in the past, there was this advertisement about a credit card and they say membership has its privilege. Ay, a lot of old people here. Uh.. membership has its privileges.

But I say to the person, in Gospel Light, membership has no privilege. You don't get an extra car park lot; you don't get any car park lot. There is no car park lot here in this church for anybody except for the, uh.. handicapped. No pastor has a car park lot. We don't. Because that's not our philosophy. We are not here for ourselves. And if you want to be a member in Gospel Light, I hope you are not here because you want to get something.

Oh I can do this uh, no.. no.. no. If, if you want to be a member, let me tell you, you are signing up to be a servant. You're signing up to sacrifice because you recognize how much God has given for you.

[3] Single-mindedness
Finally, I remind ourselves about single-mindedness. Uh, Paul says, have you been thinking all along that we have been defending ourselves to you? Do you think that I wrote all these things so that I can defend my reputation to you? It's about me? No. It is in the sight of God that we have been speaking in Christ and all for your up-building, beloved. It's all for your blessedness. It's all for your spiritual maturity. It's all for you, for your up-building.

This is a repeated theme. Again, I think these three ideas are repeated ideas. He's concluding them here, summarizing for us. Because in Chapter 10 and verse 8, he says, for even if I boast a little too much about our authority which the Lord gave, for building you up and not for destroying you, I will not be ashamed.

He recognizes that the apostle and the apostolic authority is not to be used to bully people or to subjugate people, but to bless people and to build up people.

And may I remind you that for Paul, spiritual up-building is not just emotional wellness or physical provisions. To Paul, up-building is a lot about spiritual life. It's about freedom from sin and likeness to Jesus. And that's what we're going to cover next week. If you look at the subsequent verses in 21 and so on, it will be about dealing with sin.

But I remind you, apostolic ministry at the end of the day is about the changing of lives, the growth of lives, the likeness to Jesus. And this is where I end.

The mission of Gospel Light is the same. Our mission as a church is leading generations into a life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ. It's about life change. It's about your up-building. It's about how you are living less and less sinful lives to be more and more like Jesus. And it is only possible if you're holding on to Jesus Christ. If you're not straying from Him, you're not led astray by false teachings. Then I say, you will be, I think, more and more like Him in a blessed way.

So on this day, these are the three final words from Paul about his apostolic ministry. And these are the three final words I hope to remind all of us in. True ministry is not just marked by miracles. Yes, it can include that, but more evidently or more eminently, it should be about life change. It should be about love and labour and ministry.

Secondly, real ministry is about sacrifice. It's not grabbing from people, it's giving to people. And finally, real ministry would see people being built up in the faith.

The apostle Paul was a man of God. And if I may also remind you, the Lord Jesus Christ is the true Messiah, Servant, Saviour, sent of God. He was marked by signs and wonders and miracles, but more eminently, He's marked by His teachings and His life and His love.

The Lord Jesus Christ came not to be served, but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many. The Lord Jesus Christ came so that our lives may be changed. He did not come to save beautiful people, He came to make us beautiful in the sight of God. That's true servanthood, that's true ministry. Let's bow for a word of prayer together.

I want to thank all our guests and friends who have been with us. I know this has been a long, maybe difficult sermon for you. But I still want to cycle back to that verse in Romans 1:16 where it says, 'For we are not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes.'

This morning I want to tell you some bad news. And the bad news according to the Bible is that you are a sinner. The Bible concludes all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. There is no one in this world who has never lied, who has never cheated, who has never lusted, who has never been angry or hating someone for a wrong reason. The Bible concludes that we are all guilty before the Holy and Perfect God.

But this is the Good News: that God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, so that He may be our Substitute, so that He may be our Sacrifice, so that He can be our Saviour. So this morning, I tell you, we tell you, the Bible tells you, this Good News of Jesus Christ. This message is the power of God unto salvation.

God can change your life, save you from your sins as you repent and believe, as you turn from your sin and rely on Jesus Christ. I pray you will think about these things. And one day, like many of us here, find that joy and comfort and peace as you turn to Jesus.

Maybe today you are struggling with guilt, shame and fear. Maybe today you are wondering about the purpose of life, the meaning of life. These questions cannot be answered apart from God. And God cannot be known apart from the Good News of Jesus Christ.

I pray for our church today. I ask that we will be a church that will be centred in the Gospel. A church that will be discerning and vigilant against false teachings. A church that will continue to grow up in truth. And may God protect us for the days ahead.

Father, thank You this morning that we can worship You. Thank You for Your Word. And bless our friends, our guests, that today may be the day they may come to know You.

And we pray for our church that we will hold on to these precious words of the Bible, that we will feast on it and grow thereby. Thank You even now as we would soon remember the Lord Jesus Christ via the Lord's Supper. We pray that Your people would drink in and remember the Gospel once again. Thank You. We pray all this in Jesus' Name. Amen.

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