The Sustaining Power of the Gospel
2 Corinthians 4
There is a temptation to lose heart in pastoral ministry. Paul was very familiar with this temptation.
In this chapter we are reminded of the temptation to lose heart and Paul’s resolve to not lose heart.
Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. (2 Corinthians 4:1)
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. (2 Corinthians 4:16)
Even the best of pastors and preachers are familiar with this temptation. There is no pastor exempt from this temptation.
I wonder how many pastors here have lost heart of pastoral ministry. I believe this conference is a gift from God to address and strengthen your heart. So let none of us waste this conference and listen humbly to each and every message. Use meals to review the messages and see evidences of grace.
We gather as needy men! Not as those who are to impress each other. We need grace.
If it is not well with your soul then acknowledge that with those around you. Grace and help is just an acknowledgment away.
What does a pastor do when he begins to lose heart?
Here are 3 heart protectors for this temptation:
1. The Call of Christian Ministry
Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God (2 Corinthians 4:1)
This call of God sustains Paul in “This Ministry.”
Acts 18 is a living example of Paul being sustained by his calling while being tempted to lose heart.
We too have been called to “This Ministry” of proclaiming the gospel.
When one has been captured by the light of the glory of Christ, why would they want to proclaim themselves?
For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. (2 Corinthians 4:5)
Paul seems to have never gotten over his calling to “This Ministry.”
Surely you must be aware that the mercy of God is the only reason you have been called to this task?
Yet by God’s mercy he has called us to this gospel to help sinners see THAT FACE! They see the bleeding sacrifice. They see him as the one the Father who has seen the lamb who was slain and their lives are transformed.
You look at verse 4 and it looks like it is hopeless. Then you see in verse 6 what God alone can do. Pastors we live in verse 5.
Keep in view this calling. Keep in view 2 Corinthians 4. Keep in view your congregation.
May we never lose a sense of wonder that we have been called to this ministry.
2. The Context of Christian Ministry
This ministry takes place in personal weakness and the realities of ministry in a fallen world.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; (2 Corinthians 4:7-9)
Oh young pastor this is what you have to look forward to. It is not just proclaiming the gospel that we get to do. We get to be familiar with affliction and suffering and bewilderment.
I’m so glad Paul was familiar with these things and had a “I don’t know in his pastoral toolbox.”
The Ministers Fainting Fits from Charles Spurgeon’s “Lectures To My Students.”
These harsh realities are not an accident. Each of them is an opportunity for God to display his surpassing grace. Then we begin to see God at work.
Your congregation is not just studying your sermons but your life.
The accent of this passages is not these realities but it is the power and grace of God to keep you because left to myself I am not destroyed or forsaken.
The accent is on the BUT NOT!
We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; (2 Corinthians 4:8, 9)
Every pastor has BUT NOT written over your life.
So death is at work in us, but life in you. (2 Corinthians 4:12)
We die every week. Death is at work in you. The ministry is about dying but the result is sweet. LIFE IN YOU!
If you look behind a genuinely fruitful church you will find a dying pastor.
3. The Eternal Perspective
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)
We are all wasting away, but the eternal perspective makes one conclude that there is no comparison with present suffering and future glory.
We so often compare by saying, “Well it could be worse!” That is not what Paul says.
If Paul’s afflictions were light and momentary then what are your afflictions.
We must learn how to look into the unseen in the future.