30 Oct 2022
There are 3 important principles in the apostolic ministry according to Paul. 1. The Privilege. Serving God in the gospel ministry is a privilege for Paul. He sees it as God's mercy upon him, an unworthy sinner saved by grace. He also sees the majesty of the ministry of the gospel- a ministry of life, of righteousness, and of glorified Christ-like lives. 2. The Purpose. Paul understands that the minister of the gospel must teach and preach as men of sincerity- not being peddlers who use secret, shameful methods to corrupt or adulterate God's word. He must simply preach Christ! His goal is not to gather huge followings, but to speak the truth of the gospel regardless of results. 3. The Paradox. Paul understands that God uses the weakness and sufferings of His servants to manifest His glory. In Paul's words, God's servants are jars of clay to show the all-surpassing glory of the power of the gospel. These 3 principles are not new. They were sown (in seed form) in 2Co 2:14-17, and Paul now expands and enriches these principles in 2Co 4, and will indeed continue to do so till chapter 7. To Paul, these are important truths he wanted the Corinthians to be established in. May they also be established in you.
These 3 principles are not new. They were sown (in seed form) in 2Co 2:14-17, and Paul now expands and enriches these principles in 2Co 4, and will indeed continue to do so till chapter 7. To Paul, these are important truths he wanted the Corinthians to be established in. May they also be established in you.
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Repetition is the key to learning, isn't it? Because very few people can learn something just by watching or hearing about it once. I think it's true for many aspects of life — mathematics, music, driving, swimming, badminton. We learn best with repetition, and it is also true for spiritual truths. It is very hard to learn about something by just hearing about it once, you need repetition.
The apostle Paul certainly understands the importance of repetition. Because when the Corinthians questioned his authority, questioned his apostleship, Paul did not just mentioned in passing the things that could answer them, but he made sure they were established in the truth. He made sure that he elaborately explained the apostolic ministry, to which he is called to.
That's why when we come to 2nd Corinthians, chapter 4, some of the things you read here are very familiar. It's like déjà vu, "I ... I thought, I heard that before?" You ... you have! Because we covered these things in earlier chapters, but now in chapter 4, Paul reaffirms these truths and expands upon them, enriches them, so that the Corinthians may be established in these realities.
So, I hope you understand that even though we are coming to similar or familiar concepts and principles, Paul is not being a lor sor [Hokkien dialect], Paul is not being naggy, but he really wants them to know and to be established in these realities.
For example, let me give you some here. We start with verse 1, he says, "Therefore having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart."
Clearly, the emphasis here is that Paul says, "We appreciate the ministry that we have received, we recognize the tremendous privilege we have to serve God in the Gospel." So he says, "Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart." [2 Cor 4:1]
Now, this is familiar, because in chapter 2 and verse 14, he says, "But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession."
So early on, in chapter 2:14, he says, "I give thanks for this privilege to preach the Gospel and to make Christ known."
And right now in chapter 4, he repeats it again.
Second example of how there is this echo chamber effect between chapter 2 and chapter 4, is in verse 2, "But we have renounced ..." the word there is to put aside, to not be involved in any disgraceful. The word there is secret and "underhanded", the word there means shameful.
"So, we've put aside all secretive, shameful ways, we refuse to practice cunning, we refuse to practice sophistry, trickery, deceit. We refuse to tamper, we refuse to corrupt or to adulterate God's Word. We refuse to do all these underhanded, unfaithful, deceitful things." "We want to be faithful," Paul says.
And again, this is familiar because early on in chapter 2, verse 17, he likewise has said, "For we are not like so many peddlers of God's Word ..." People who in a picture of this word, take water and pour it into a bottle or container of wine, dilute it and then sell it.
"We are not people who do that, we're not the peddlers of God's Word, we do not deceive people in the handling of God's Word. "... But we preach and we teach as men of sincerity, and we recognize we do it in the sight of God." [2 Cor 2:17]
So again, a very familiar concept. And maybe another familiar concept is found in chapter 4, where Paul says, "We are jars of clay." You know jars, not fine china, alright. Just jars, ordinary clay jars, very fragile, very cheap, very vulnerable jars.
"We are just jars of clay, and in the ministry God has called us to suffer affliction, we are perplexed, we are persecuted, we are struck down, we are always carrying in the body the death of Jesus." [2 Cor 4:7-10]
So he says, "When we serve Christ, we don't go through health and wealth, we don't go through, we don't live in the lap of luxury, but we face all these sufferings and weaknesses, so that God may be glorified."
And again, this concept is not new, in that in chapter 2, verse 14, Paul has already given this picture, "But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession."
Now, if you were with us a few weeks ago, you would remember this. But if you're new with us, this is the context that in the days of Paul, there was usually, sometimes, when there is a huge victory won, a parade. This is a triumphal parade, this is a triumphal procession.
The Roman general who has conquered his enemies would be celebrated by the entire city of Rome. So, he will march in a city with his entourage, with his soldiers, with priests offering incense, to their gods, like Jupiter. There'll be music playing, and at the end of this parade, will be a bunch of captives, a bunch of former enemies, who are now captured and they are dragged along this parade.
And when people see the capture enemies, they praised their Roman General for being so takong [outstanding in Hokkien dialect], for being so capable and powerful and wise and good in his battle strategies. So these captives are paraded, so that people may now praise the Roman conqueror.
So Paul says, "We ..." that's the Greek there, the sense is that , "... we are the ones who are led in captive, we are the conquered ones, Jesus conquered us by His love. And now through our sufferings, through our weaknesses, He is glorified."
So, the idea of jars of clay and suffering that will be elaborated further next week, demonstrates the power and the glory of God. And this demonstrates the paradox, the irony of ministry. That God's glory is advanced through the weakness and the sufferings of His servants. Very counter intuitive, but that's what Paul was developing way back in chapter 2.
So, what are the ideas that are déjà vu? What are the ideas that are like echo chamber effects here?
Well, I think number one, Paul speaks about the privilege of ministry. Wow, "Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart, thanks be to God."
The second thing I think he was repeating here is the purpose of ministry. We are not here to deceive people, we're not here to manipulate God's Word, so that more people join us. But we plainly, with open statement declare the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We refuse to be manipulative or deceitful, we just plainly preach Christ.
And then the third thing is he re ... reminds us, he reinforces the paradox of ministry. That the glory of God is advanced through the ... through the weakness of His people. So I think this is the key thing.
For me when I was preparing this text, this is the main thing that stuck out to me. It is this, that Paul in chapter 2 laid or sown those seeds of what it means to be in the apostolic ministry — privilege, purpose, paradox.
And then like a masterful teacher, he cycles back to these familiar themes in chapter 4, and later on as well. And tells us as we look at these same principles and see these concepts blossom and bloom. So he doesn't just repeat them, but he's going to enrich them and that's what we're going to look at this morning.
So what I've just said is probably the most important thing about the sermon today. And I hope to encourage you next time when you read your Bible to recognize and to respect the way the author writes it, and it allows you to appreciate these verses in a greater depth.
Alright, so what is my three point this morning, very simple three points are all here already. Nothing hidden, very obvious, but I hope we would appreciate what Paul is trying to do and to just plunge the depth of his teachings further.
Alright, so number one, let's, for those who are taking notes about the title, I, today give a super long title, can't find a shorter suitable one, "We Do Not Lose Heart In The Gospel Ministry", an adaptation of verse 1 in effect.
 The Privilege of Ministry
Alright, so first of all, let's look at the privilege of ministry.
Earlier on, Paul has already expressed, even though the apostolic ministry is a call to suffering and weakness, he does not despair, he does not despise, but he rejoices in it. He says, "But thanks be to God."
And likewise, I think the ... the sense of it, is that he's recognizing the privilege of ministry, because he says, "Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God." [2 Cor 4:1]
Why is he thankful for this ministry? Two reasons, I see in this text.
Number one, he says, "This is a ministry of mercy of God to me." He recognizes that he is an apostle, not because he's Mr. Capable. He recognizes he's in the ministry not because he's smart and eloquent, but he is in the ministry purely by the mercy of God. Because elsewhere, he tells us, he knows he's a blasphemer, he's a murderer, he's a persecutor of the church of Jesus Christ. But it is God's mercy that saved him and entrusted to him this ministry.
To Paul, serving God is not an obligation only, it's not just something that he deserves, he recognizes serving God is a tremendous privilege.
The second reason why I think he says this is a privilege, is found in the word, "therefore". You know, when you read the Bible, we always make a big deal about these connecting words, and "therefore" is there for a reason.
Earlier on in chapter 3, so we are now in chapter 4, right?
Earlier in chapter 3, Paul speaks about the grandeur and the glory of the ministry, he is in. He says, "You guys despise me because I'm not talking much about the Mosaic Law, I'm not talking much about the Old Covenant. But you know why? Huh, it's because the ministry I'm serving in is premised in the New Covenant."
"The New Covenant where it is not about you, working your way to God, but it's about God giving us a new heart. A New Covenant that is based upon Mount Calvary, where Jesus died and rose again for us, and not on Mount Sinai, where there is fear and trembling, because men can never work his way to God. I have this wonderful ministry of the New Covenant, where it is about righteousness and life and forgiveness, whereas the Mosaic law can only give you death, and condemnation."
"And look at the way the New Covenant is expressed, look at the way your lives have been changed! You asked me for a letter of commendation, I say I do not need, because your lives are the living proof of Christ and His Spirit's work in all our hearts."
So he says, "Because I've such a majestic glorious ministry, by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart."
Does it mean that ministry is easy? No, Paul says, "It's not easy! There will be dangers and discouragements and difficulties, but we do not lose heart because we have a sense of the wonderful privilege of ministry."
The word, "lose heart" means to be faint, to be weak, to be timid. He says, "We don't back off, we are not going to let loose, we're not going to be backing off in a sense of fear, because we understand the tremendous privilege we have."
As a Christian, there are two significant events in my life that shaped the way I am today, or the way I serve today. And they happen very early on in my Christian life. I was saved at 18, round about the time I was going to National Service. And at about that age, my memory is not very good now about exact sequence of events, there were two significant things that I still recall with fondness up to today.
One is that I went on a mission trip to the northern part of Thailand, called the Akha Tribe. Many old-timers here in Gospel Light might remember Akha Tribe. Okay, do I want to ask how many of you, may just reveal how old you are what? Well, some of you would be familiar.
It was not an easy trip in a sense because you know, you go to tribal areas, they do not have the modern amenities. I can still remember when we were up there, we had to bathe. But it's high up in the mountains ah, and there's no hot water, you know. So, it's just water and it's super cold. It was so cold that before we bathe, actually one of us had to pray. "God, help!" I'm not kidding you, it was that scary.
I was thinking maybe don't bathe lah! But no, everyone had to bathe, so I had to bathe. And we had to pray for strength to endure the cold. Well, that was the scary part, but the really heartwarming part was that in the evening, we were gathered in that small little hut to worship, and no electricity, of course, but just candle lights. And I saw the Akha Tribe, tribal people who are followers of Jesus, they worship, they sang.
I have no idea what they were singing because it's in their own native language, but I saw the way they had joy. I ... I looked around them, and I knew they had very little materially, but they had the joy that I hardly see in Singaporeans. And I thought to myself, "If that is what gives joy, this is what I want to give my life to. I want to bring this message of the Gospel to more people, tremendous privilege to serve God."
The second event was a hard-core Bible Conference, also, when I was about 18 years old. It's hard core Bible Camp, if you will, like it's held in Singapore. It's hard core because you wake up at 5 a.m. Very few people wake up at 5 A.M now, and you have seven or eight sermons the entire day, seven to eight in a day, and it's for five days.
Some of you must be thinking, "Siow [crazy in Hokkien dialect] ah, this one! But I totally enjoyed it, I'm half tempted to say, "Next year's Church Camp also seven to eight sermons." Huh, then I think, I think none of you will signed up and say, "Siow ah, this pastor go crazy!"
But it was such a joy! I mean, I was a young Christian, I was hungry, I wanted to know God's Word and ... and we had great preachers who teach us the Gospel, teach us God's Word. And I just lapped it in seven to eight sermons, loved it! In the afternoon, we'll go to the one-room flats here in Singapore, knock on doors, give the Gospel tract, share the Gospel, I learned it from them, and it was a blast.
Throughout the camp, I would hear God's Word and at the end of the camp, there was this invitation by the preacher to consecrate, to surrender our lives to Jesus to God and ministry.
I think that was the only time I raised my hand and I meant it then. The ... the preacher was very upfront, He says, "If you do commit yourself to God, if you make this vow before God, remember God is very serious with vows of His people." He quoted Ecclesiastes, chapter 5.
I heard that and I ... I ... I couldn't help myself, but say, "I have to give my life for the Gospel ministry, because of His deep love for me, because of how Christ died for us, and saved us from our sins." So when I come to this text, I'm not an apostle, but not by any means. But in a way, all of us are called to the ministry of the Gospel, isn't it? The Great Commission is given to His church.
And so when I looked at this verse, I say, "I can see number one, why Paul says this is a privilege to serve, because he recognizes the mercy of God in the Gospel. How he was a sinner, and now he's changed and entrusted with this glorious privilege."
And number two, he recognizes the majesty of this ministry.
People ask me often, and I often say this, "Why did you want to give up medicine?" As if giving up medicine is a big deal! To me, yes, you give up some things, but they are nothing in exchange for the tremendous privilege of the Gospel ministry. What is more glorious, then to see Christ formed in people's lives!
Please don't misunderstand me. I'm not asking you to quit your jobs. And for those who are doing medicine, I'm not asking you to follow exactly in my footsteps at all, because God has His ways for different people, different callings. And we all can glorify God, regardless of which vocation He has called us to.
But what I'm saying is, "Please never shortchange yourself, nor shortchange the Kingdom of God by living for your vocation, and neglecting the marvelous majestic ministry in the New Covenant, in the Gospel that God has given to us."
Sure, ministry is difficult, ministry is discouraging, there'll be people who will attack, there will be people, be people who will reject. But don't keep your eyes on these things, follow Paul, he has a clear eye to the privilege. The Corinthians were attacking him, he suffered hunger, starvation, persecution, there was betrayal, there was rebellion. But to Paul, he says, "We do not lose heart, because I recognize the tremendous privilege I have." I hope you will, too!
So Paul, cycles back to a familiar idea and enriches it after teaching about the New Covenant, helping us to have a better appreciation of our roots and our foundations in serving God.
 The Purpose of Ministry
The second thing is, I guess, easier and again, it's a reminder of the purpose of ministry.
What's the purpose of ministry? To get more people in the church, so that we look good, so that we look impressive? Well, Paul says, "Very simply, my goal is an open statement of the truth."
The word, "open statement" in the Greek means to exhibit or to manifest. That's all, just a simple word there. "So, my goal is to manifest or to exhibit, to lay out truth." You say, "Truth about what?" Well, the context tells us about the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ.
So his goal is simply to lay out, to exhibit, to manifest the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In short, if I may put it this way — his goal is to preach Christ. That's what he wants. He already said so, isn't it in 1st Corinthians, "I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus and Him crucified." That's his passion! That's his goal! That's his ministry! Simply to preach Christ.
Just this morning, we had prayer meeting, and we have it, we have this every Sunday morning, and one brother was praying. In the past, he used to talk about this church, about the food ministry, how amazing it is, one of a kind here in Singapore, I suppose. He talks about the ... in the past he would talk about the building and how beautiful this place is. But he has since recognized these are totally inferior things.
Now, not that the food ministry is no good, huh huh. Not that the building is no good, But when you compare it to the surpassing glory of Jesus, and what He has done, these are nothing. Now, we talk about Christ, We want to point people to Jesus, and that's what Paul wants to do. That's all he wants to do to preach Christ.
And again, this is a familiar idea, as I've mentioned earlier on. Paul, in these words, in chapter 2, I think this is a very key passage, because the picture of the triumphal procession and the aroma, the incense that is being burned along this triumphal procession, lays down that seed, from which chapter 2 to Chapter 7 develops.
He says, "Our goal is to be like that spreading of the fragrance of the knowledge of Him, like the incense that permeates the entire city as the Roman General marches through. To some, well, first of all, "We are the aroma of Christ to God." Our lives are to be lived, our ministry is to be performed before God. First and foremost, we are an aroma of Christ to God.
But it has an effect upon the people who catch a whiff of it, "To some who are being saved, it is a fragrance from life to life and among those who are perishing, it is a fragrance from death to death."
To the Roman citizens, this is a beautiful smell of victory, but to the captives, it's a terrible smell of impending doom. Therefore, he says, "Because we know not everyone will receive God's Word, not everyone will appreciate the Gospel. Not everyone will see the glory of Christ in the Gospel, we do not engage ourselves in sophistry, in deceit, in cunning ways to deceive people, manipulate people."
"But we are not like so many, so many false teachers who are peddlers of God's Word, we preach in simplicity in integrity and in truth."
So Paul says, "This is my purpose — simply to preach Christ. "Therefore, I renounce all disgraceful, secret, underhanded, shameful. We refuse to practice cunning deceit, nor do we temper or adulterate, or corrupt God's Word."
I've been preaching for many years now, and I would suppose I am not the most knowledgeable, most eloquent, most interesting preacher you will ever find. But if there's one thing I aim for, is that I want to present to you what God's Word has to say. That's all! Every week, that's my joy, not to share with you what I already know, I think that's actually quite pointless, but to share with you what God's Word has to say.
And this is such a joy for me each and every week, and I hope in the years to come, God will raise up many more preachers, many more shepherds, many more Gospel workers. And I pray all of you would have the same spiritual backbone to say, "We aim to do nothing more than to faithfully present God's Word." Now, I'm not saying be boring, be uninteresting, try to be engaging, huh, but never at the ... at the expense of truth, and faithfulness to God's Word.
Paul says, "This is my purpose and even if our Gospel is veiled." He's very realistic, he doesn't imagine that everyone will cheer him and celebrate his ministry and approve of the Gospel, because there are those who will not see.
And he says, "If there are people who will not see, it's because the Gospel is veiled." [2 Cor 4:2] It's covered up, their eyes are covered up."
Again, I think you must read it with context of chapter 3 about the veil on people's faces or people's hearts. And he says, "In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers." [2 Cor 4:3]
People today do not believe the Gospel because they are hardened in their hearts. They love sin, they love darkness, and will not come into the light. There are passages in the Bible that speak so. So, do you know why today you do not come to Jesus? Maybe you have heard the Gospel many times and ... and you say, "The Gospel is Good News."
You ... you can even articulate these words, but do you know why you will not come to Jesus? Because your heart is sinful, because you love sin. Because you know that if you follow Jesus, you have to forsake these sins, not as a means to earn your salvation, but that's what it means to follow Christ. And you're not willing to do that.
But besides that, the Bible does tell us of another dynamic and that is Satan. The god of this world is Satan. Elsewhere, he is called the prince of the power of the air. But here, he speaks ... it speaks of his tremendous influence in the system, the powers around us that seek to draw us away from God. He is the god of this world, And via influence, via people, via philosophies, he blinds the minds of unbelievers.
He does his level best to keep people from seeing God and Jesus, for who He is. And these unbelievers, blinded by Satan, are the ones who are perishing, those who will face the judgment of God on that final day. So Paul says, "This is my goal, I preach Christ. I know there will be people who will not receive it and I am not interested to manipulate the message at all to fit them."
Many Christians and churches measure their church based on statistics, size, attendance. Size is important, not for ego, but that each and every body added to the church is precious, is very important, I'm not downplaying that! But I hope that we as a church will not be sucked into this numbers game and say, "Oh, that church is bigger, so they must be doing the right things. Let's copy their message! Let's copy their ministry!"
I, I hope we will always resist that temptation and recognize big is not always better, because sometimes you have a mixed crowd where not all are truly born again anyway. But most importantly, integrity in ministry must be established. The purpose is not a big church, the purpose is to preach Christ faithfully. That's Paul's philosophy anyway.
 The Paradox of Ministry
Finally, my time is running out and I come now to the paradox of ministry.
This actually should take us to the end of the chapter. But, you know, we have not much time to cover all these things. So I'm going to cover a little bit, and we will leave it for the next week, otherwise next week, nothing to say.
So the paradox of ministry, as I've mentioned is found in the picture of the triumphal procession. The captives in this parade are paradoxically meant to display the power and glory of the Roman conqueror. So Paul is saying, "We ... we, the apostles, who were formerly the enemies of God, are now captives in a display that glorifies Him."
That's why it's called a paradox in my mind, and the paradox is this the glory and power of God is seen through the suffering and the weakness of His servants. Very counter intuitive as I've mentioned, most people think, "Wah, you serve Jesus, must be shiok [very enjoyable in Singlish] lah, must be glorious lah!" "No, no, Paul suffered, Paul was weakened in many ways, but he says, That's what ministry is all about!"
So back to verse 5, of chapter 4, "For what we proclaim is not ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake."
The posture of ministry is not a triumphalistic veneer, that ... that wants to look good. Paul readily admits, "When we are serving God, when we are the apostles, we are doulos." The Greek word for the word servants here. "We are just slaves. It's not about ourselves, it's about Christ, and we are humbled for your sake. May Christ increase, and may we decrease."
The reason why we are willing to do this is because, "God has shone in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." [2 Cor 4:6]
The unbelievers are blinded, but to His elect, God has chosen to shine that light." The image here is taken from Genesis chapter 1. When God created the world, it was dark, then He said, "Let there be light." In an unbeliever's heart, there is darkness, chaos, confusion, but one day God spoke and say, "Let there be light".
You know why today you're a Christian? Not because your IQ is higher than someone else's, not because you are naturally more sympathetic towards Christian things. There's only one explanation for that, and that is because God has said, "Let there be light."
And Paul says, "I'm so thankful, He shone in my heart. Now I can see the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, previously, I never knew Jesus, I wanted to kill Jesus, I wanted to kill His people. I sent many of His people to death. I was a blasphemer, a murderer, a persecutor! But thanks be to God who shone the light into our hearts and therefore today, I'm willing to be your servant, for Jesus' sake."
"That's why today, I'm thankful for the ministry. That's why today I ... I'm happy to be a jar of clay. I'm willing to be afflicted and persecuted and struck down. I'm willing to carry in my body the death of Jesus always. I'm willing to be in this paradox of ministry, willing to suffer."
Well, more will be spoken I think next week, but let me just conclude with a few questions for you.
What are you living for today? Really, what are you living for? You wake up early on Monday morning. You come home late at night, you slog from ... I do not know 9-5 is no more the right reference anymore, but your slog your life away. I'm not saying, don't work hard, but I'm asking you, "Why? What about the ministry of the Gospel, God has called you to?" "But pastor I'm not like you, I can't give up my job and preach the Gospel."
No one is asking you to quit your job, if God is not calling you to quit your job, but I'm asking you, "Where in your life is the Gospel ministry expressed? Where in your life are you making effort to preach the Gospel and to disciple men and women?"
Maybe some of us are feeling discouraged, defeated, tired of ministry. Have you thought about the mercy of God? Have you thought about the majesty of ministry? Some questions for you to think about. This is a privilege! It is so sad actually, in my mind when there are obvious Gospel opportunities, and we are asking for volunteers, and we don't have enough. I feel sad not because the slots are not filled up, but I ... I feel sad, because people are not recognizing it's a privilege to serve God.
God does not need you to serve Him, He can make stones praise him if He wants to. But He's giving all of us a wonderful privilege, and I pray each and every one of us would seize opportunities to serve Him.
Purpose of ministry - What kind of church are you looking for? A big, successful, impressive looking church, or a church that may dwindle in size over time, because truth is being preached and people don't like it. Would you be happy with that too?
What about yourself? Maybe you look at your ministry, your ... your Care Group is not growing as you would like. Maybe your congregation is not growing as you would like. And so it's tempting to start preaching what people like, subtle departures here and there. Oh, it's so tempting! But I pray, you will never do that. There's nothing more important and glorious, than to simply preach Christ, the biblical Christ, the biblical Gospel. Never stray from that, it will be worth it at the end of the day.
And finally, the paradox. If you came to Gospel Light, hoping that Christianity will give you health and wealth and success in life, I think you've come to the wrong place, because that's not the message of the Bible at all.
I think it is very clear when Jesus said, "If any man will follow Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross." Christianity is not a path to have the best life now. Christianity is not the path to self-fulfillment. We often say this, "Christianity is a path of self denial."
If you ... well, Dietrich Bonhoeffer says, "When Christ bids a man to come, He bids him come to die." So I hope every Sunday, as you come, you say, "Lord, let a part of me die, that the life that I live will be lived in the power and the glory and the purpose of the Lord Jesus Christ."
Well, these are familiar thoughts, thank you for bearing with me, cycling together with Paul back to these familiar concepts and ideas. But I hope it's enriched as Paul intended it to be, and I hope it is established in our hearts as a people.
Let's bow for a word of prayer together.
There is nothing more glorious than the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul said, "I'm not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes." Like Paul, 20 over years ago, God said in this wretched man's heart, "Let there be light," literally changed my life.
From the man who hates Christianity, despises religion, lives only for myself, I humbled myself at the foot of the cross, and recognized I am a mere creature and a sinful creature at that. And I stand before the Holy God who made the heavens and the earth, the Holy God who will judge man for his sins, the Holy God who made me, and who I betrayed and rebelled against. But yet, the Holy God, who sent His Son to die and to save me from my sins, that I may be reconciled with Him.
I recognize that as a former enemy, I can have truce with God and not just truce, I can be now His child. God shone that light in my heart, and I turned from my sin, and I relied on Jesus and what He has done. And today, I count it a tremendous privilege, I do, I don't complain about any single day, I have served God all these years, because it has been a tremendous privilege. It is sheer mercy, and it is sheer majesty to labor in the Gospel.
And together with Paul, I pray I will keep these things forefront in my mind, that I will not lose heart in any way. And that's my prayer for you, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ, that you go back to the day God shone that light in your heart, where you see the supremacy of Jesus Christ, His infinite worth and beauty, His love for you. And maybe like me, you someday in your life, you did say to God, "Lord, I give you my life. Lord, I will serve You, I will be faithful to You." My friends, take that vow very seriously.
Maybe today, it's a day where we come back to where it all began, for you and for me. Maybe COVID has come, maybe life is hard, maybe family, children, jobs, they've come to distract you, and Satan is really fighting hard to blind you from the glory of the Gospel again. But come back, come back to the privilege of ministry.
Jesus did not save us, so that we can enjoy our life here, Jesus did not save us so that we can enjoy ourselves here. Jesus saved us for a higher, grander purpose — to display the supreme worth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
One day, when all of this ends, and when we hear God say to us, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant, enter into My rest." All those so called sacrifices melt away, and they usher us into a glorious, beautiful, endless eternity. Be wise, my brothers and sisters in Christ, follow Paul.
And if you're here today, and you do not know Jesus, can I encourage you? Last week, we learned that when one turns to the Spirit of the Lord, the veil is taken away. Oh, I know Satan is working hard, we can't do anything to Satan in a sense, but there's something you can do about yourself. And that is if one turns to the Spirit of the Lord, the veil is taken away.
If you today are willing to humble yourself and turn to God and say, "Lord, I'm a sinner. Thank You for Jesus who died for me, I repent of my sin, and I believe in Your Son and I'll follow Him." God says, "Let there be light." I long for you to join us in the Kingdom of God. I longed for you to see the glory of our Savior. This is the Gospel, this is the Good News, Jesus died and rose again to save you from your sins and to bring you to a loving relationship with God. What a gift! What a salvation! What a life!
Father, thank You again for Your Word, thank You for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It's so humbling this morning, as I recognize that even as we deliver these words, as we hear these words, some will be veiled, still — sadly so. Oh, but God we pray for mercy from You that men and women will also some, in fact many we pray will turn to the Spirit, and many today will experience Your voice, let there be light.
So please save souls, galvanize Your Church, strengthen us for the work of the ministry. May Gospel Light be focused on shining the Gospel Light indeed. Thank You, we pray all this in Jesus' Name. Amen.
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