02 Apr 2023

Is Paul A Paper Tiger? [2 Corinthians 10:1-6]


Paul had been accused of being a timid, weak and wimpy man by his enemies. They say that he is all bark but no bite. He is just a paper tiger. An empty threat. He doesn't carry out the discipline he writes to warn people about anyway. He is not forceful nor assertive like the other false teachers. So Paul sets out to explain that he is not weak, but meek. He clarifies that the gospel ministry is not to be undertaken in carnal, fleshly ways. And so, we learn about the true nature of spritual ministry or spiritual warfare. We also gather that the power for effective gospel ministry lies in the simple and plain preaching of the gospel. >



Sermon Transcript

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A very good morning to all of you and welcome to Gospel Light, our second English worship service this Sunday morning. Glad you can join us. Now, we read a long passage, 2 Corinthians Chapter 10 verses 1 to 18, but we are just going to look at six verses today. So we're going to look at verses 1 to 6 and that will be all.

This is a picture of 紙老虎. In Chinese, it means paper tiger. It's a phrase that is coined in 14th century BC by the Chinese and it refers to something that looks threatening but is anything but, huh! It is actually just something that represents an empty threat.

Now this phrase '紙老虎' is made popular in English in 1964 when Mao Zedong used 紙老虎 to describe the United States of America. He says that America outwardly is a tiger, but it's only made of paper, unable to withstand the wind and the rain. So he says, US is just an empty threat.

Well, the apostle Paul, the writer of 2 Corinthians which we have just read, if he had lived in 1964, I suppose his opponents and his enemies would also say that he is a paper tiger. Because that's what he is, what they said about him. His letters are weighty and strong, but his bodily presence is weak and his speech is of no account.

In other words, they say Paul, he barks like a dog but his bite is nothing very special. When he's far away from us, when he's far away from you, he writes letters that are very threatening, very strong, very severe. But when he turns up in front of your door, he is very meek, he's very weak; his bodily presence is weak and his speech is of no account. He doesn't seem to do very much. He's just an empty threat.

So Paul, are you a paper tiger? Are you weak and wimpy and timid? Or are you really the servant of the Living God? Why is it that you write so impressively, but when you turn up, you don't seem to do very much?

Well, Paul here is going to answer the question - am I a paper tiger? He says in verse 1, I, Paul, myself entreat you, by the meekness and gentleness of Christ - I who am humble when face to face with you, but bold toward you when I am away. I think the only way to make sense of what he's saying here is to see that the second half of this sentence is really a quotation from the accusation of his enemies or his opponents.

His opponents are saying, Paul is someone who is bold toward you when he is far away from you but he's actually very lowly and humble and timid and weak when he comes face to face with you. He doesn't seem to be able to confront you about what he said he would. So Paul now says, actually you thought that I was weak but I'm not. I'm not weak; I'm simply meek and gentle.

Now there's a big difference between meek and weak. They sound very similar. They sound almost the same but they are actually quite the opposite. Meekness is not weakness. Meekness is actually great strength under control. The Lord Jesus Christ is meek and lowly. That's how He describes Himself. But Jesus has infinite power in His hands.

So Paul says, I'm not dealing with you not because I am weak but because I'm meek. I'm exercising restraint, there is strength under control.

He goes on to say in verse 2, I beg of you, I entreat you, I appeal to you, that when I'm present, I may not have to discipline you, I may not have to deal strongly with you. That's his point here.

He says, I do not want to do this. It's not pleasant, it's not helpful in a sense. I appeal to you guys that you should repent, get right, because otherwise I will have to be severe towards you. As I count on showing against some who suspect us of walking according to the flesh. So there are already some people in the Corinthian church who are accusing Paul of being fleshly, being carnal, doing things in a humanistic way.

Now the chapter here doesn't quite tell us why do they say Paul is fleshly. We can only gather why from other parts of this book. So for example, if you kind of recall what we said earlier on in Chapter 1, there were those who were accusing Paul of being double-minded. Because they hear that Paul wrote that he would like to visit the Corinthians but he did not. So they wrote and said that Paul was a double-minded man. He is not a man of integrity. He said he would come but he didn't come. He 'suka-suka' say I will come.

So they say Paul was making plans according to the flesh and I hope you still kind of remember that sermon months ago in Chapter 1. Paul is saying, defending himself, I am not behaving in a double-minded way. I was not double-tongued. So, that may be one of the reasons why there are those in Corinth who accuse Paul of being fleshly.

It could also be something that is said later on, because in Chapter 11 and 12, Paul is going to talk about miracles and signs and wonders. And it may be that there are the people, the opponents who say that Paul is fleshly because he does not exhibit as many miracles and signs as the false teachers do.

Regardless, this is the accusation of some against Paul. And so Paul says, I'm going to discipline then (inaudible) and when I come, I hope you guys would have repented, would have come back to me, and I will not need to show this boldness of discipline against the rest of you.

For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. Now it gets a little bit complicated. Paul writes in not such a simple way because he talks about the flesh in different ways here.

So let me put it, put this in verse 2, just the verse we have looked at moments earlier. There are those who suspect us of walking according to the flesh - verse 2. For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. So flesh.. flesh.. flesh, can get confusing. But I think this is the simple way to look at this. Paul is saying, I will deal with those who accuse us of being fleshly. That's verse 2.

Alright, I'm going to deal with those who accuse us of being carnal. I'm not going to let that sit. I'm going to deal with that because the office of the apostle is at stake.

For though we walk in the flesh, he is not saying, using the word flesh in the same way, but he's saying, for though we live in the physical body. Now the word flesh can refer to a fleshly, carnal way of life, or it can refer to the body, the 'ba'. You know the 'ba' - the meat, the flesh, the body. So he's saying, for though we walk in the flesh - we live in the physical body - we are not waging war according to the flesh, we do not conduct ministry according to the flesh.

So that's how the fleshly, physical body, and fleshly comes up again. But they are the same word in the Greek - sarx which is flesh.

So Paul says now, even though we live in the physical body, our ministry is not in a fleshly way. The ministry, the Gospel ministry, is given a metaphor, is given a word picture. He says the Gospel ministry is like war, it's like a war campaign. And we do not conduct our ministry according to fleshly methods.

Why? For, because the weapons of our warfare - the tools, the effectiveness of our warfare are not of the flesh. They cannot be by human energies because it's got to have that divine power, God's power to destroy or to pull down strongholds. So the Gospel ministry or the Christian ministry is to pull down strongholds by the power of God.

Now, what then are strongholds? You see, if Christian ministry is about pulling down strongholds, then what are strongholds? Why do Christians serve the way we serve? Why do we preach the way we preach? Because we want to pull down these strongholds. And what are these? They are the arguments and lofty opinions that are raised against the knowledge of God.

So, strongholds here are fortresses of thoughts and arguments and opinions that keep people from the knowledge of God. We today are a people, or many people in the world today, are trapped behind these fortresses. They are not able to know God because they're trapped there by such opinions and arguments and thoughts.

So Paul says that the ministry of the Gospel, the Christian ministry, is to pull down these fortresses so that people may know God. And when people know God, every thought then can be led captive to obey Christ because right now, it cannot obey Christ.

So Paul is saying these things. And finally he says in verse 6, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.

So he comes back and says, you say that I'm a paper tiger. You say that I'm all an empty threat. Well, if, if and when I come, and when you guys are settled in your convictions, you guys have returned to me, I will deal with those who still will not repent and will not accept my ministry and my apostleship amongst you.

So Paul says, I'm ready to deal with every disobedience; I am no paper tiger. I will deal when I come. There's a Chinese saying that is very closely related to 紙老虎, er.. or paper tiger, and it's also about the tiger. Anybody knows? It's a lot longer, and it goes like this - 老虎不发威,当我是病猫. Uh.. which means, don't mistake this tiger to be a sick cat just because I do not show my prowess.

So I think he would have said the same thing. You think I'm a sick cat? You think I'm all talk and I will not deal with you? Well, when I come and you guys are still unrepentant and still disobedient towards my apostleship, I will come and deal with you.

Characteristics of the Gospel Ministry
Now admittedly, these six verses are not easy verses. They link very much together, somewhat convoluted. But I think let me just end by, not end, it's still quite some way, but let me just go to extract some characteristics or principles of the Gospel ministry for our consideration, having understood that Paul was defending himself against the Corinthian accusations.

The first thing I'd like us to take note of is this. The battlefield for spiritual warfare is primarily in your thought life. He speaks about spiritual warfare. And I think in our day and age, when you speak to Christians about spiritual warfare, they generally think about those eerie, er.. scary, er.. things, such as how demons are, are kind of levitating around in your house. They think about how demons can possess people and..and trouble people and afflict people.

Now I think the demonic realm certainly can do that because that's what we read of in the Bible. There is plenty of evidence of such demonic activity. We think about the demoniac at the Gadarenes, how he was tormented by demon possession. We think about Job, how he was afflicted, his family was decimated by Satan when God gave Satan permission to do so. So there are real satanic attacks that way.

But, if you look at the entire Bible, then I think the primary arena where Satan strikes is not really coming into your body, nor is it about hanging around in your house. But the primary arena he attacks, the primary battlefield is the mind - your thoughts. That's where he loves to attack.

Because Satan's preoccupation is not so much to scare you. His objective is to separate you from God. And the best way to do so is by keeping you from the knowledge of God. Not allowing you to come into allegiance to the True and Living God. See that's the stronghold he sets up in people's lives and minds.

See in the Garden of Eden, the Bible tells us, Satan was present in the form of a serpent to deceive Eve so that she will not obey God. And Paul is saying, just as Satan did that in the Garden of Eden, Satan is still very much active today amongst the Corinthians to lead their thoughts astray, so that they will not have a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. I think if you are a child of God, if you are a Christian, you should fear very much that your thoughts are led away from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.

I think naturally we are afraid of things like demon possession, different demon affliction - they are real. I'm not saying they are not present but aren't we afraid of sinning against God? Aren't we afraid of departing from Christ? That should be what we are afraid of and that's where the arena for spiritual battle really is.

Satan is called the deceiver of the world. He's called the father of lies. And he comes along and suggests to you the deliciousness of sin and the joy of living your independent will apart from God and thereby, somehow lead us, tempt us away from obedience to Him. So what does Satan do? Satan today throws up arguments and lofty opinions that are set up so that we may not come into the knowledge of God.

Have you ever wanted to share the Gospel with your friends and loved ones and colleagues and relatives and you find that somehow, even though you give a clear explanation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, they just won't see it. They just don't want to see it. Well, perhaps one of the reasons is because they are trapped behind such fortresses and strongholds.

What are these fortresses and strongholds? What are some examples?

Well, some may be atheism. I..I was trapped behind this fortress for many years of my life. Huh, I wouldn't want to read the Bible. I wouldn't want to talk to anyone about the Christian faith because I was firmly a believer of atheism. I don't think there is God. I don't believe there is God. Somehow, I have come to believe that there is no God.

Now when I read the Bible later on in my life, I realized, deep in the heart of every human being is the knowledge of God. Romans 1 makes it clear. We all know from the creation of the world that God is real. But somehow there is this lofty opinion and argument - there is no God, that has trapped me in this fortress, in this castle that has kept me from knowing Him.

Well thank God, years later, that stronghold was torn down by the power of God, none else. But there are people today trapped in atheism.

Then there are people who are trapped in agnosticism. You say, what is agnosticism? Atheism is the belief that there is no God. Agnosticism is the belief that there is God but this God cannot be known. So there is a God but there's no way mere mortals can get to know this Great Being.

So there are people who say, yah, I think there is God but I don't think there's any religion, any way you can really get to know this God. There are some therefore trapped in such a state where they will then not be incentivized to seek God because they see that it is not possible.

But swing to the other extreme, there are people who are trapped behind materialism. That belief that life is all about stuff. That if I have this and if I have that, I will be happy and that's what life is all about. And there are people today who do not serve God, who do not want to know God because they are stuck in materialism.

And then there are people who are stuck in moralism. Moralism is that belief we can reach God by being good, by being moral, by obeying. That somehow by our own goodness we can earn the right to be like God or to know God.

That's a lie! Because by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. The Bible is very clear. But there are people today who believe this. In fact, every single religion operates on moralism. It's a fortress, do you know that? And millions and billions of people today who look pious and religious are actually trapped from the knowledge of God because they are believing in moralism.

Wow. Satan has set up a huge and powerful fortress.

Then there is nominalism. I want to speak to people who are in maybe a Christian church environment.

There are people who are nominal church attendees. Maybe they have been born in a Christian family. They have been given a Christian name. They have a Christian cross on their neck. They have even been baptized as a young boy or young girl and so they grow up thinking, I have been associated with the church. I am called a Christian. Therefore, I must be a child of God.

But that cannot be anything but further from the truth. Because the Bible tells us, a child of God is not just someone who is a child of God on the outside, but he is someone who must have a new heart - he must be born again. So having this nominal, external identity with Christ is empty. It's useless. And yet there are plenty of people who think that just because I am a nominal church-goer, I must be right with God. They are trapped, they are duped.

Moral Relativism
Moral.. I know there is a lot of -ism, -ism, -ism uh. Very complicated but I..I think this is however the easiest way to summarize the various concepts and false beliefs in the world that keep people from God.

You say what is moral relativism? Quite a new term I suppose in.. in history, but moral relativism means that there is no objective right and wrong in this world. What is right and wrong is determined by me. It's determined by us.

So, if I feel that LGBTQ behaviour is acceptable, the society accepts it and if it doesn't cause me too much harm, then you cannot say that that is wrong. You cannot say that that is sin.

However, the Bible makes it very clear God is the One who sets the rules. He is the One who sets the standards. He is the One who is absolutely holy and therefore He has the right to call sinners 'sinners'.

And if you do not believe that there is objective right and wrong, you do not believe that there is such a thing as ten commandments, then you will not see your sin and you will not humble yourself to seek this True and Living God who offers Jesus to die for your sins. That's what moral relativism is. I think a lot of people have kind of used this shifting benchmark to excuse away their sins.

Then there is traditionalism. Now traditions are not bad, but an over-reliance on traditions and not looking to the Word of God as the standard of life and practice is a problem and I think that's traditionalism.

And finally, hedonism - that belief that life is about having happiness here and now alone.

I dare say, your relative, your colleague, your neighbour, your classmate, who you want to reach with the Gospel of Jesus Christ is probably trapped behind one of these strongholds. Somehow they are saying to themselves, there is no God. Don't talk to me about Christianity. Somehow they believe that the goal and the purpose of life is to enjoy life. Don't tell me about this God I have to answer to.

These are powerful fortresses. These are powerful strongholds. And this is where spiritual warfare really is all about. The battlefield for spiritual warfare is primarily in your thought life.

That's why the Bible tells us, that man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. That's why the Bible tells us, be not conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. This is where the real battle is. That's why Jesus says if you continue in My Word, then are ye My disciples indeed and you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.

The real battle is right here. And that's why it's important for you to know God's Word, so that you will not, you will not be deceived by Satan. So that you will not be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. That is Paul's desire and this is also our desire for each one of you.

Now, if you understand this then we go next to this verse that Paul was talking about. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds. What can pull down those false beliefs?

The eloquence of a preacher? The charisma of a pastor? No. It can only be pulled down by the Mighty God. It can only be done by God's power, the divine power that comes with it. And therefore it cannot be by fleshly humanistic methods.

The Gospel ministry does not need to be complicated. The Gospel ministry does not need for us to put up a song and dance. The Gospel ministry needs to squarely depend on God in the preaching of His Word. That's what Paul believes in.

You see, he says earlier on in this chapter or in this book in Chapter 4, but we have renounced disgraceful underhanded ways. Now there are people who don't believe in the power of God and they want to achieve more results on their own, therefore they manipulate God's Word. They kind of put in false promises, remove difficult-to-talk-about things. But Paul says, I don't believe in anything like that.

We totally renounce disgraceful underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper or to adjust or to adulterate God's Word. We simply by the open statement of the truth commend ourselves. That's all we do. We just plainly preach the truth. Because no matter what we try to do to manipulate it, it never works at pulling down strongholds. Only God can do so, so we do not employ carnal methods.

In Chapter 1 of 1 Corinthians, so this is an earlier letter Paul wrote about, he kind of already told us his philosophy of the Christian ministry. Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the Gospel and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. Interesting, right? The more we depend on our own eloquence and powers of persuasion, the more likely it is for us to depart from the power of the cross.

So Paul says, I just determined to know nothing among you but to preach the Gospel. For the Word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

So, when I come to you brothers, I did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom, I did not bother to embellish it too much at all. I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. And my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.

Plain and simple philosophy of ministry. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, not fleshly wisdom, not human eloquence, but mighty in God in the preaching of the Gospel that will be effective in pulling down strongholds that are thoughts and opinions and arguments that prevent people from knowing the True and Living God.

Now it doesn't mean that as a church we don't want to engage people and help them understand the Gospel in interesting ways. We try our best to. But we do not think that we need to compromise the message. We do not think that the burden of proof is on us. We simply preach and we trust God to use His Gospel to be the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes.

Gospel Light has remained, I think, over the years, a simple church. Actually I like that description. Even though ministry has changed somewhat in that more people are here and so on but I think philosophically we have remained very simple. Nothing complicated. Our Sunday services are simple. Our care groups, I think, are simple. Our shepherding groups are simple. Our Sunday school ministry is simple.

This is our simple goal - we preach Christ and Him crucified! And we pray that people will be delivered from these strongholds. They will break free from these fortresses to come to know the True and Living God. And over time, as we are faithfully doing these things, we see people getting delivered from sin, from the devil's clutches to come to know God and to obey Christ. That's what we do.

Years ago I was speaking to a friend. He's a pastor now of a significant size church and I.. I remember he was speaking with me and he showed me a photograph of him holding some gold speckles in his hand. He says, ey, you see what is this? I say, what is this? He says this is gold dust. We were in a prayer meeting and we prayed and when I opened my hands I see all these gold specks. They are not dust, neither are they nuggets. Ah, nuggets then I say, please pass me some, but ah.. they are..they are like little gravel-like things, just small little lumps.

And I asked him what are these, he says gold dust. When we prayed, God blessed us. This is a miracle! Wah, I said, well, that's interesting, I never read about gold dust in the Bible but he says it can happen. God can give anything, right? I said, yah, I suppose so.

I asked him, why is this significant? Well, because I will show this to our young adults. I asked him, why show this to your young adults? He says, because young adults, young people in our day, young people nowadays, to them, hearing God's Word is not enough. You've got to show them these evidences, these miracles.

I said to him, but doesn't the Bible say, faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of Christ? He says, yah but not enough. Well, deep in my heart I was thinking, the Bible says Jesus did many miracles before them, yet they did not believe in Him. I read in the Bible over and over again, there are many people who witness miracles but they do not believe.

Classic example - the whole nation of Israel during Moses' time. They saw miracles every day, not gold dust, you know. Spectacular miracles, manna that rains from heaven every day. They saw the pillar of cloud, the pillar of fire, there's this, there's this rock that followed them with water and yet they did not believe in God.

Jesus did so many miracles but they did not believe in Him. Well, I fear that we have come to a time where more and more people are not seeing the sufficiency of Scripture. And they are beginning to think that we have to kind of a help our God out a little. Add some signs, add some wonders, and use perhaps methods that I think are not exactly endorsed in Scripture to try to achieve some goals. I don't think it's necessary. I think Paul has kept to a very simple philosophy - I determine to know nothing about you except Jesus and Him crucified.

Finally, I just want to end off with Paul's defence of himself. Paul, you're a paper tiger, you're weak, you're timid, you're a wimp. Paul says, no, I'm not, I'm just displaying and practicing the meekness of Christ. As I've said, meekness and weakness may sound very similar but they are anything but the same. Meekness is strength under control. The Greek word is a word that describes a horse, a wild horse that has been tamed. It describes strength under control.

Now it may seem that in those days, the Corinthians, like many people, liked leaders who are strong and assertive and dominating. It's probably what I think is true because Paul says in Chapter 11, for if, for you bear it, take it well, if someone makes slaves of you, they order you around. Or devours you or takes advantage of you or puts on airs, they.. they strut their stuff or strikes you in the face, seem to like them. Huh. You like this kind of leaders. As for me, Paul says, I'm meek and gentle.

Meekness is something Jesus spoke about in the Sermon on the Mount. He said, blessed are the meek, He did not say blessed are the weak. He said blessed are the meek, ah, strength under control.

And I think this is a quotation from Psalm 37 and verse 11. And in Psalm 37, we are given a little bit more information about the person who is meek. He's someone who does not fret because of evildoers. He's not envious of wrongdoers. He trusts in the Lord, he does good. He delights himself in the Lord. He commits his way to God, he trusts in Him.

So what is a meek person? A meek person is not someone who is weak. A meek person is not someone who is self-defensive. But a meek person is someone who has tremendous trust and faith in God so that he does not need to be self-assertive. He's gentle. He's kind. He's helpful to those around.

Thayer, who gives us Thayer's lexicon, he says, gentleness or meekness is the opposite to self-assertiveness and self-interest. It stems from trust in God's goodness and control over the situation, very much derived, I think, from the understanding in Psalm 37. The gentle person is not occupied with self at all.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones, a well-known preacher, likewise says, meekness is not weakness, but meekness does not use its power for its own defense or selfish purposes. Meekness is controlled strength or power, completely surrendered to God's control.

W.E. Vine, from which you get the word, or the books, of the Vines Dictionary. He says, the common assumption is that when a man is meek, it is because he cannot help himself. But the Lord was meek because He had the infinite resources of God at His command. Meekness is the opposite to self-assertiveness and self-interest.

Spiritual leadership is not to be like the false teachers who orders people around. Spiritual leadership is to be seen in a lack of self-assertiveness, gentleness, meekness.

Now these are very important things because I think in a secular, humanistic world, we tend to admire leaders who are strong and domineering. And that can be a problem in a church.

Some of you may be familiar with the podcast 'The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill'. What is Mars Hill? It's a church in the States. And it was a very famous church in some time ago. Some of you may have read about it. Uh, it was gathering a lot of people, a lot of young people, learning about the teachings in Mars Hill and they seemed to be benefiting and it became the talk of the town.

The leader was someone who is rather brash, very confident, very smart man. But what happened was that later on, the, there were accusations of pastoral abuse by Mark Driscoll who's the pastor. And these are some of the things that were said. Pastor Mark exhibits lack of self-control by his speech and by verbally assaulting others. We believe that the way Pastor Mark leads has created a culture of fear instead of a culture of candor and safety. People are often afraid to ask questions or challenge certain ideas. Pastor Mark is verbally abusive to people who challenge him, disagree with him or question him.

Now I do not say this in a derogatory or denigratory way. I think this can be a danger for someone like myself too. But I think this is a warning for us, that spiritual leadership is not about being dominating, abusive and bulldozing your way through. Spiritual leadership has to be marked by meekness and gentleness.

It's not just Mark Driscoll, I read about James MacDonald. Again, someone who may not be that famous but pretty well known. He was also disqualified from ministry because this is what he had to admit at the end of the day. He owned up to careless and hurtful words and a regression into sinful patterns of fleshly anger and self-pity that wounded co-workers and others.

Now, I'm sure there are pressures in ministry and there are challenges in dealing with people. But I think what Paul said here is of tremendous importance for us, that God's men or servants are not to be marked by such abusive behaviour.

Peter would corroborate with this. Peter says, I exhort the elders among you. This is speaking to spiritual leaders, the elders, the pastors, the shepherds. Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, not domineering over those in your charge but being examples to the flock. This is important.

Someone said this dominating behaviour, abusive behaviour and speech is an anti-elder behaviour. It's very uncharacteristic of an elder. Paul would say in 1 Timothy that the qualifications of an elder are many, including not violent but gentle and not quarrelsome. Well, this is what Paul had to say, this is what Peter had to say this is what a minister of God should be like.

Perhaps today at the end of the day, this is not an easy passage to look at. Paul, are you a paper tiger? How come you're not like the other false teachers or the other leaders we know of? Why aren't you showing off more of your miracles if you have? Well Paul says, I'm no paper tiger, I'm going to deal with your rebellion if you still will not repent.

But I believe that the Christian ministry, this warfare is only possible by the power of God. And all I'm interested to do is to simply preach the Gospel and trust that God will tear down strongholds. So my style and my approach to ministry will be totally different from those that you are emulating or you're trying to learn from today.

As we close, I'd like us to think about meekness and majesty, think about Jesus on the cross. As I've mentioned, He had infinite power. But on a cross, when He could have called down legions of angels to destroy His enemies, He did not do that. But instead said, Father, forgive them for they know not what they do. That is our meek and gentle Saviour. Not about Himself, but to seek and to save that which is lost. This is our Saviour. He died for you and I pray you will too one day repent and believe in Him that you may be saved.

Let's bow for a word of prayer together.

The Lord Jesus Christ is the most meek person in the world. Yes, I think there are those who misunderstand His meekness to be weakness. But one day Jesus will return and He will unleash His fury upon those who will not believe upon Him.

On that day, He will judge the world in severity, in holy wrath. He is no paper tiger. He is the Judge of all the earth. But today, He is still that gentle Saviour who stretches forth His arms to welcome repentant sinners home. On the cross, He said, Father, forgive them for they know not what they do. So this morning I appeal to you, you can turn from your sin and come to this gentle Saviour that you might be saved.

I pray, Gospel Light, we will be a church marked by deep humility and meekness. It's sometimes easy to raise our voice, to push our agenda and to bulldoze our way through. But that has never been the wisdom of the Kingdom of God. The wisdom that is from above is gentle and peaceable. May we today be servants of the Living God, trusting in Him as we obey that He will pull down strongholds and we need not be those who bulldoze our way through.

May we be a church that will be faithful in keeping to the simplicity of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Whether in my generation, or in our children's generation, or in the generations to follow, may Gospel Light determine to know nothing except through Jesus and Him crucified.

So Father, thank You again for this time. May these characteristics of Gospel ministry apply beautifully in the congregation here. Again we pray for friends that they will come to the wonderful, gentle, loving Saviour Jesus this day. May they be beautifully saved. May You tear down strongholds, may You lead them home. We ask all this in Jesus' Name. Amen.


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