The Ministry Given To His Servants

Bible Book: 2 Corinthians  4 : 1-12
Subject: Ministry; Servants
INTRODUCTION

This passage gives reasons for encouragement. The way you look at ministry helps to determine how you fulfill it. If you look at serving Christ as a burden instead of a privilege, you will be hindered and do only what is “required” of you. When you look at ministry and the fact that He has called you and you have received mercy, you are overwhelmed by the privilege and responsibility.

2 Corinthians 4:1, “Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart.”

God’s mercy is His withholding of the judgment (wrath of God) that he deserved and given him the opportunity for repentance and faith.

1 Timothy 1:12-13, “And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.”

v.1 “we do not lose heart” – we don’t surrender, give in to fear, lose courage or behave like a coward.

I. THE CONSECRATION OF GOD’S SERVANT. 1-2, 5-6

CONSECRATION IN HIS WALK WITH GOD. 2a

“renounced the hidden things of shame” – speaks of that which is disgraceful or dishonorable that could produce embarrassment and humiliation. Speaks of a dark, hidden (private), hypocritical lifestyle before conversion.

2 Timothy 2:20-21, “But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work.”

“not walking in craftiness” – trickery, deceit, willing to do anything to achieve his goals.

Not a decision with a hidden agenda

This passage speaks both of the character of the ministry (glorious) and the character of the minister (godly). Paul desired to live real, honest, and sincere.

COMMITTED TO THE WORD OF GOD. 2

“nor handling (adulterating) the word of God deceitfully” – no falsifying of the word of God

Paul desired to be faithful both in:

- His Personal Life

- His Preaching Life

Paul was not guilty of giving wrong emphasis or withholding significant parts of truth. He did not dilute God’s truth;

- “handling deceitfully” – speaks of corrupting gold or wine with inferior ingredients

2 Corinthians 2:17, “For we are not, as so many, peddling the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ.”

- “peddling” – adulterating for gain

- “sight of God” – accountability

Back to v.2

“but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God” – Paul’s chief commendation is his fidelity to the truth of God’s Word and the impact which he makes on the consciences of his hearer; (Confidence in the Gospel)

The preaching of the gospel activates the conscience, which bears witness to the truth of the message, even in those who reject it.

Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

CLEAR ON THE WORK OF GOD. 5-6

Our Preaching – Savior 5
Our Position – Servant 5
Our Power – Gospel 6

Paul compared conversion to creation in Gen 1:3.

Like the earth of Gen 1:2, the sinner is formless and empty, but when he/she trusts Christ, they become a new creation.

2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

God then begins to form and fill the life of the person who trusts Christ, and he begins to be fruitful for the Lord. The Lord is the Light that turns on the Light – the light of the face of Jesus shines into a person’s heart. The same God Who turned on the light physically turns on the light spiritually.

II. THE CONTENT OF GOD’S SERVANT. 7

A. CLAY POTS. 7

“this treasure in earthen vessels”

earthen vessels – jars of clay; the metaphor depicts pottery jars used as storage for all sorts of items. Household lamps were made of clay to hold oil and a wick. Valuables were stored in such jars. The Dead Sea Scrolls were found in pottery jars after being hidden for 19 centuries. Paul used the figure to depict either the human body with its frailties, or perhaps the entire human personality, showing how it is subject to weakness, suffering, and discouragement.

Paul wanted no mistake to be made abut the true nature of the Christian message in comparison to the significance of the minister. The human instrument is weak and expendable; the message is vital and of inestimable value. By utilizing frail human ministers, God demonstrates that the “surpassing greatness of the power” which transforms men’s lives is from God and not from any preacher.

J. Hudson Taylor, missionary who opened Inland China to the gospel, said, “All God’s giants have been weak men who did great things for God because they reckoned on Him being with them.”

B. GOSPEL POWER. 7

“treasure” – term describes the glorious message that the eternal God came into the world in the person of Jesus Christ, died on the cross, and rose again to provide forgiveness of sin and eternal life for all who repent and believe.

The treasure is of incalculable worth. Like a precious pearl hidden in an oyster. Reminds us of the parable of Jesus and the hidden treasure.

Matthew 13:44, "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”

What a very precious treasure God has entrusted to us.

1 Thessalonians 2:4, “But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts.”

1 Timothy 6:20, “O Timothy! Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge”

Content is more important than the vessel.

If we will guard the treasure, God will guard the vessel. Sometimes God permits our vessels to be jarred so that some of the treasure will spill out and enrich others.

1. POWER.

“that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us” – speaks of exceeding greatness

1 Corinthians 2:4-5, “And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”

2. PROVISION.

“may be of God”

We need to be vessels that are:

- Clean

- Empty

- Available

He may choose to use us like Gideon, Judges 7

Trumpet, empty pitchers, lamps within the pitchers

- Broken vessel

- Let your light shine

- Trumpet out a clear witness

III. THE CONFLICT OF GOD’S SERVANT. 8-12

1. God permits trials

2. God controls trials

3. God uses trials for His own glory

Ministry Brings:

1. Pressures .8

2. Perplexities .8

3. Persecutions .9

4. Problems .9

Difficulties are simply God’s way of writing your life’s message clearly enough so people can see Jesus.

A. OUR IDENTIFICATION WITH CHRIST. 10a
B. OUR MANIFESTATION OF CHRIST. 10b - 11