This evening I want us to consider a passage of Scripture where the apostle Paul talks about the demands of ministry. Do not think that this only applies to those who are "full-time" ministers. Tonight, if you are born again by the wonderful grace of Jesus Christ, then you have a ministry! Note: 2 Co. 5:18-20.
So what about these demands? What are they? We find some of them in 2 Co. 4:1-6.
I. Quitting is not an option. (v. 1)
A. The ministry demands constancy, it demands that we not faint (v.1).
1. We may quit serving the Lord, but it does not change the fact that God expects for us to be faithful.
2. The words "faint not" mean not to give up, not to lose heart, not to become discouraged, spiritless, fainthearted, despondent, or discouraged.
B. Paul, did not quit or give up for any reason, not even because of persecu- tion or weariness and exhaustion.
C. There are two reasons why he did not quit.
1. He did not quit because of the greatness of his ministry: "We have this ministry."
a. "This ministry" refers to the great task God had given him, the task of proclaiming the message that man can now have a glorious relationship with God through the Spirit of God.
b. This ministry is the ministry of the glorious gospel, the good news about Jesus Christ, that men can now be saved and forgiven their sins and redeemed to live forever in the glory of God.
c. No greater task could be given a person than to proclaim the cure for death to men.
d. That cure is the glorious news about Jesus Christ.
e. Because of this great task, Paul did not faint; he did not quit, no matter the demands or circum- stances.
2. He did not quit because he had received mercy.
a. Paul had personally received the mercy of God.
b. Godís mercy had forgiven his sins and given him life forever with Christ.
"In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace" (Eph.1:7).
"But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) and hath raised us up together and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: that in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of this grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus" (Eph. 2: 4-7).
c. Godís mercy had given him his great task: to be a minister and to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ.
"Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;" (Eph 3:8)
D. As servants of God, we must never faint, regardless of circumstances...our task is too great, and His mercy has done too much for us for us to just quit.
"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord " (1 Cor.15:58).
II. Character is Mandatory. (v.2)
A. The servant of God who desires to minister must renounce all dishonesty.
1. The word dishonest means shame, disgrace, scandal.
2. The hidden or secret things that shame and disgrace men, that cause scandals are to have no part in the life of one who ministers.
B. The minister is to have an open and above-board life, a life of honesty and integrity.
1. If we cannot be trusted to tell the truth...who will believe us when proclaim the truth of Godís Word?
2. We must be careful not to do or say anything that would bring reproach upon Christ or the Gospel.
3. I personally know of Pastors who have lied to their people.
4. It brings every area of their character into question.
C. The servant of God who desires to minister must not walk in craftiness.
1. The word means trickery, cunning, cleverness shrewdness, evil design.
2. It means a man who will do anything and use any means to get what he wants.
3. Note that the minister is not to walk- this way, he is not to walk using and misusing people, circumstances events, and things for his own end.
4. The minister of God is to walk as Jesus walked.
"This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh." (Gal 5:16)
"As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him:" (Col 2:6)
III. Failure is Disastrous. (v. 3-4)
A. People need the Lord, and without Him they are lost eternally!
1. Salvation is not just some kind of religious fad.
2. It is an eternal necessity!
3. When we fail in ministry...people will die and go out into a Christ-less eternity!
a. If an investment broker fails...a person loses money.
b. If a mechanic fails...a person may have to get a new automobile.
c. If a builder fails...a person may need to have some repairs to their home.
d. But if we fail in our ministry to those who are without Christ...they will spend an eternity in hell!
B. Our enemy is supernatural.
1. Satan is the great counterfeiter ... the great deceiver.
2. He is the god of this world and he has blinded the minds of those who do not believe.
3. This is Satanís purpose: to keep people from believing the gospel and from becoming followers and worshippers of the Lord Jesus.
a. How does he blind a personís mind?
b. By appealing to his flesh, by enticing him with the lust of the eyes and the lust of the flesh and the pride of life (1 Jn.2:15-16)
c. If Satan can get a person to focus his life upon himself and the world, the person will become enslaved to his flesh and the things of this world.
IV. Humility must be a Reality. (v. 5-6)
A. The one who ministers must be a servant of Christ.
1. That speaks of our attitude and motive in ministry.
2. Jesus is our great example: He came to serve others ... not Himself!
3. Note: Luke 22:27
"For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth."
B. One who ministers much preach Christ.
1. The motive of one who ministers is not to build himself up in the eyes of people.
2. It is not to put forth his own ideas, notions, thoughts, opinions, or philosophy.
3. He is simply to lift up the Lord Jesus Christ before others.
4. As John the Baptist related to his disciples ... "He must increase, but I must decrease." (John 3:30)
C. One who ministers is motivated by what Christ has done for them. (v. 6)
Are we ministering for Christ? We have been given "this ministry" are we faithful? Do we need to re-commit our lives to the ministry of Christ to others? Come tonight and let God have His way!