Title: Where does confidence come from in the Minister?
Text: 2 Corinthians 4.1-6
Introduction – Paul continues to communicate his confidence to his audience and to us as he says: Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart; that is, The Ministry of the Spirit, The Ministry of Righteousness. His declaration of Confidence comes in three ways:
The Proclamation of the Message: v 5; His Focus on what God has accomplished in the Past. – 4.1-6
The Power of the Message: v 7; The Power of the Message preached in the present. – 4.7-12
The Purpose of the Message: v 15; The glory of God. 4.13-18; There is an eternal, futuristic aspect to this section cf.: v17;
Let’s turn our attention to today’s lesson in asking: From where does the minister’s confidence come?
Let me give you those answers as outlined by Paul and then we’ll make our way through the text, taking time to locate his answers.
1st, he says that confidence comes from one’s personal experience.
2nd, he says that confidence comes from the message being straightforward.
3rd, confidence comes from the fact that the results aren’t up to me.
4th, confidence comes from Christ and the fact that we know who He is.
Transition: it’s funny to stand here and proclaim this confidence when I don’t always portray it – Confidence! Preachers are real people with real problems that plague us. In recent weeks you’ve probably heard of Mark Driscoll’s failures, struggles and his recent resignation from Mars Hill in Washington. I only mention it here because it demonstrates the struggle of a heavenly message shared through fallen humans.
Some Christians will shun the news and avoid the topic out of embarrassment and lament a pastor’s very public failures. Such people think the church should have perfect people in it – and perfect pastors in charge.
Some non-Christians will celebrate and revel in it all. I hope you’ll see this as a moment for the grace of God to come shinning through. Indeed, that is my hope and prayer.
Mars Hill consequently, announced that it is closing its doors on January 1st, 2015. That is 14,000 members – 14,000 members who need to be encouraged, who need to find a new church home. I wonder will any of these people fall away, leave church, abandon the faith because so much of their faith was tied up in a man. I sincerely hope not.
You see this is a great moment and a great opportunity for the church – Not Mars Hill, but the Church – Capital C. It is a moment for us to display the very qualities and characteristics of this message of hope we proclaim. Indeed, our confidence isn’t in a man or a church or program. Our confidence is in what we as believers have already experienced in our own lives – the incredible mercy of a holy God.
Rd v 1: Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, …we do not lose heart. Paul is saying…
1. Confidence Comes from the Commission to share what we’ve ourselves have experienced (1)
exp.: you and I are sinners; that hasn’t changed. We need God’s incredible forgiveness – everyday – ever hour! And this ministry we’ve received – it’s what we’ve experienced; by God’s mercy; it’s God’s mercy in our lives being extended to whom anyone this message is proclaimed!
ill.: we don’t just work for the company, we’re satisfied customers; Do you know who you should be concerned about?
- Someone who works for Pepsi, but drinks Coke
- Someone who works for Microsoft, but owns an Apple
- Someone who works for Reebok, but wears Nike
app.: the salvation we preach is the salvation we’ve received! The forgiveness of sins is what we’ve experienced! That makes an easy pitch, ladies and gentlemen.
Transition: Confidence Comes from the Commission to share what we’ve ourselves have experienced, and 2ndly, Paul says…
2. Confidence Comes from a Straightforward Message (2)
exp.: rd v 2a; we’re not salesmen; there are no tricks; there are no gimmicks; our message is straight-forward because we have:
- Renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways
- Refused (to act in two ways:)
- to practice (live in) craftiness or cunning
- to tamper with God’s Word (Thus saith the Lord); look back in 2.17;
ill.: I have to admit that preachers who don’t use Scripture, scare me, bother me. Now, I’ve seen some impressive men preach from memory. I watched T.D. Jakes do it once. Wow. Even quoting from the passage he was teaching – from memory. But, there are men (and women) who take a passage here and a passage there, tampering with God’s Word to make it say what they want.
I can understand why they don’t take on certain passages – some things are hard to understand and even harder to communicate. But that’s no excuse. Paul is saying we don’t make excuses and we don’t tamper with God’s Word. NASB – We don’t adulterate the Word of God. Ouch! But, rd 2b;
3we openly state the Truth –
- to others; i.e., we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience
- in the sight of God – who for me is an even scarier audience.
ill.: have you ever tried to buy a car? Don’t you wish the salesman would just sale you a car and not haggle with the price? spinning wheels and making deals; Can you imagine what it’d be like if you bought your groceries that way?
app.: Paul says we are confident because there isn’t any spinning wheels and making deals. No punches pulled, no trickery or gimmicks.
Transition: It is simply “Thus saith the Lord.” Confidence Comes from the Commission to share what we’ve ourselves have experienced, and it Comes also from a Straightforward Message. Thirdly,
3. Confidence Comes from a Knowledge that it’s not up to me (3-4a)
exp.: rd v 3-4; if they are blinded, it is because the god of this world has blinded them; if they believe, it is because Jesus has shone in their hearts;
I can’t make people be saved or lost. I don’t have the power to hold someone’s sins against them or the power to forgive people their sins. I don’t even have the power to save myself! I can’t be good enough, or work hard enough. No, that’s above my pay grade. There is a spiritual battle here that I can’t control and don’t have the power to enforce. I’m involved, though. And so are you. As a soldier in this battle I’ve been commissioned:
- To Pray
- To Go
- To Share
ill.: And so have you. Rudy: two immutable truths – there is a God and I ain’t him.
app.: there is freedom in knowing that the results aren’t up to me. It gives me the confidence to simply, straight-forwardly share what I know – what I’ve experienced.
Transition: And Finally, Paul tells us in v 5;
4. Confidence Comes from the Christ (4b-6)
exp.: rd 4-5a; for what we proclaim; and what is that? the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, He expounds on this and says: This is what we see and proclaim to you. Paul lists three different aspects to the Glory of Christ.
The Glory of Christ shows us that:
- He is the Image of God – rd v 4c; Heb 1.3: 3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature; if you go to that verse in the ESV, there is a footnote, a reference note to 2 Cor. 4.4; Col 1.15-20 says: 15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. Jesus said in John 14: when you’re looking at me, you’re looking at the Father.
- He is the Savior of the World – look at these three titles; rd v 5a;
- Jesus – he was a Man – he came to earth in human form –; Yeshua – the Lord saves; Simeon – I have seen your salvation, a light for the Gentiles and the glory of your people, Israel.
- Christ – he is the Messiah –the promised one who would rule and reign and save his people. The promised one who would rule on David’s throne. Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ!
- Lord – He is God – How is this possible? 100% of Human, 100% God. I don’t know, I can’t explain it in scientific terms. I don’t know of any earthly artifact or person like him. But I know the God’s Word tells me that In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. I know that God’s Word tells me he thirsted and he got tired and he wept. He was fully human – tempted in everyway that I’ve been tempted and yet He was without sin! Fully man – Fully God – the Messiah of the World. Three titles describing him as Savior of the World.
He’s the Image of God, He’s Savior of the World and 3rd, He’s the aspect is…
- He is The Light of the World; rd v 6;
- they believe, we believe because Jesus, the Light of the World, who said, “Let there be light” and there was light, has shone in our hearts;
app.: When you think about it, it is truly amazing how it all works. Someone believed. Someone heard the gospel and believed. Their lives were changed because of the message. Their sins were forgiven; their destiny was changed and they needed to tell somebody. I don’t know who that was – but they were faithful to share with you. They experienced the forgiveness and mercy of God. And, so evident was it in their lives, that told you. They told you the Truth about your sins and God’s mercy. They held nothing back, but with the greatest of simplicity they shared with you the Gospel of God. And somehow, the veil that covered your heart was pulled back and the bright light of Christ shone into your heart and changed you forever.
Transition: And now, you’ve been commissioned to share that same mercy. And with the results not up to you – you tell them that straightforward message. You have confidence because you’re forgiven, because Christ is who he claimed to be: God, in the flesh, savior of the World.
Are you perfect? Will you ever mess up? Listen, that’s the beauty of this message. I wish we could find a way to use the failures of our past to display the awesome mercy of our Savior. Too often, we let those failures, that rebellion – let’s call it what it is: sin, we let that sin stop us from taking this message to the lost. It’s probably the best tool Satan uses against us. Listen to me now, if you’ve failed in the past, stop using it as an excuse and start using it as an example! The past is just that – it is past. If we’ve confessed our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and has purify us from all unrighteousness. Isn’t that our hope?
You know, if the story of Mars Hill comes up, it might just be a great opportunity to share the story of God’s mercy. In many ways, it’s not just an abracadabra; get out of jail free card. God’s mercy is something we need our whole lives through. Maybe you’re in need of that mercy this morning.