We have this ministry (2 Cor 4:1-7)

I. Opening Story
-STAND-UP incident when I was in my sophomore years
-Question: What is your main purpose for existence? What are you fighting for?
-Answer: we believe in the Biblical diagnosis of humanity’s problem—Sin
               : what you labor against—poverty, corruption, injustice etc.—are but byproducts of sin
 : we labor for the root cause, because as the Bible emphatically declared, unless God gives us a heart of flesh in exchange for our wicked hearts of stone, there can be no genuine transformation
: Humanity’s Sinful Nature is the problem
: we labor earnestly to resolve this issue through the Message of the Gospel
·      Jesus came as a man, sinless (John 1:14, Hebrews 4:15)
·      Jesus took upon Himself the sins of humanity past, present and future (1 Pt 3:18)
·      Jesus’ death on the cross paid for the penalty of the world’s sins (Mark 10:45)
·      He is the perfect Lamb sacrifice that we may be freed of sin and its penalty—eternal spiritual death in hell (John 1:29)
·      We can partake of this gift of reconciliation, forgiveness and eternal life the moment we put our faith in Jesus, commit our lives to Him as our personal Savior and Lord, and from a life of sin, surrendering our all at His cross through repentance (Eph 2: 8-10  Mark 1:15).
·      We are able to do this only by the sheer grace of God
: when we commit our lives to Jesus:
- He promised to make us God’s sons and daughters, co-heirs of the kingdom
-He gives us eternal life, we shall never perish
-we now belong to His Kingdom for eternity
: notice that this Gospel never promises health, wealth or prosperity in this world but promises spiritual health, wealth and prosperity—because this is undoubtedly the key issue

-Ate Tine’s reaction: I’m not sure if she understood me completely
:my joy is in the fact that a seed is planted in her heart and I pray that God will make it grow
: she now works with Bayan Muna in Congress

: this is our ministry, one of our main purposes as Christians, the message that we go out and proclaim everyday to everyone
:Summary in 2 Corinthians 5:20—“We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God.”

II. Context of the Passage
-our ministry and purpose for being align with Paul’s own understanding of his ministry
-our reasons are his reasons that is why he wrote Chapter 4 of 2 Corinthians
-Paul and all believer have a ministry—the ministry of the New Covenant (2 Corinthians 3:6)

The New Covenant
“He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant--not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” (2 Corinthians 3:6)

-this ministry is of the Spirit (v.6)
-this ministry brings life (v.6)
-this ministry is glorious (v.8)
-this ministry brings righteousness (v.9)
-this ministry of the Spirit lasts (v.11)

How did such view of the Christian ministry affect Paul?
-such view of ministry gave him hope
-this hope made them bold in proclaiming the message of Christ
-Dear friends, may we also view our ministry in the same way. It is not ours but the Spirit’s, it brings life and righteousness, is glorious and it lasts.
-I believe, a great majority of Christians fail to shine ever brightly for the Lord because one way or another they do not believe that their ministry is such
-Woe for those people! Woe even for us! If we call ourselves followers of Christ but doubt the very heart of our message, we have a compelling reason to go back to the Cross and wrestle with God.
- Struggle with Him until He shows you what it means to be His disciple
-When you get struck by a truck in KNL, your life will change forever. Now imagine if you get struck by God! Your life has to change! Every aspect of it. Because it is impossible not to be moved when the Living God Himself begins His work in your life.
-Unless this is true to you, you will find that the ministry of reconciling the World to God is impossible, because you yourself may not yet be reconciled with the Lord in the first place.

III. Exposition

Is this ministry as Christ’s Ambassadors worthwhile?
I cannot overemphasize how rewarding it is. But to illustrate my point, let me tell you about Albania.

-in 1967, Albania declared itself as the first atheistic country in the world under the leadership of the dictator Enver Hoxha
-Hoxha closed down all of Albania’s churches, exiled, imprisoned or killed all the priests and pastors
-He even ordered the crosses in tombstones cut off so as to erase every bit of memory about Jesus
-what was
-in 1989-1990, a group of Christians under the Jesus Film project went to Albania to screen the world-renowned film, “Jesus”
-in this country, they met a generation of godless men, women and children who did not know how to pray, had never been in a church, had never heard the life and work of Jesus and whose moral compass is greatly damaged
-but around this period, the Lord has started His work in the Communist Blocs of Europe
-what was previously unimaginable became a reality in 1990. Albania has started to move towards democracy and has opened up to the world, including to Christian missionaries and evangelists, The Jesus Film Project was among the first ones came proclaiming Jesus.
-In its opening screening at the Palace of Congress in Tirana, Albania, the director of the Film studio that partnered with the team had this t say, “We are gathered together tonight for the first film showing ever to be held in this building. We are showing the film, ‘Jesus.’ And tonight, Jesus will be speaking Albanian. This temple was erected the temple of communism, but for the next two hours, I declare it to be the temple of Jesus.”
-After the film showing, they received over five hundred decisions for Christ, Albanian showing interest for the Lord Jesus.
-They announced an open meeting next afternoon to which more than 400 came. With the help of three reestablished Bible-believing Churches, those who made a decision for Christ were followed up in Bible Studies and fellowship.
-one man’s impression of the film summed up the entire ministry of the Jesus Film Project, “You can see what has happened to this country as a result of living without God. You have brought us Jesus, and a new beginning!”

Paul’s attitude towards God’s ministry (2 Corinthians 4:1)
What was Paul’s encouragement for us?
-we do not lose heart
-even when people mock us, persecute us or are just plain apathetic to the Gospel message, we do not lose heart
-because this ministry of reconciliation is not ours to begin with
-it was given to us by God through His mercy, so it is His
-what joy to remind ourselves that this is not our ministry but God’s because as long as He deems it a ministry glorifying His name it will exist and continue its work of calling out to people to turn to God
-but this is not a license to be idle and quiet, because equally, if God deems this ministry no longer glorifying His name, He will take its lamp and snuff it out and there is nothing we can do to stop Him

How did we receive this ministry in the first place?
-technically, every true believer has received the ministry of reconciliation
-every true believer was commissioned, so to speak, to “go and make disciples of all nations”
-this happened the moment we put our faith in Jesus
-this is Christ’s command because the message that we have heard and received is so important that we need to never stop preaching and sharing it

Paul’s ministry methodology (v.2)
How do we do it? How do we share the message that we have received?
-not through secret and shameful ways
-not through deception nor distortion of God’s Word
-but through plain, clear and truthful presentation of the Gospel

Is this how we do it today?
-sadly, no. Modern Christians have resorted to all kinds of “gimmicks” to get the attention of the world. They say they do what they do so that the world will have the chance to hear the message of Christ.
-I agree that we have to go the extra mile to be able to reach the people of the world with the saving message, but not through carnal means. When I say carnal means, I mean activities, philosophies, presentations, music and techniques that tickle the ears, eyes and flesh and make the person the central figure, instead of God. This is what we call the seeker-sensitive approach.
-we no longer preach sin and hell, we do not talk about repentance and the cost of following Christ, we don’t even talk about Christ all we talk about are the blessings of being a Christian and how cool it is to be a Jesus freak. And we are bent on just having them pray the “sinner’s prayer” with the belief that the ritual prayer will save them.
-how many people have been deceived by these methodologies? I have talked to so many professing Christians in UP who cannot even tell me how they got saved! All they know is that they joined one Bible study one day and there are this and this activity and some emotional frenzy and then they’re Christians!
-what ever happened to reason and understanding? Paul said of the Jews, “They have zeal but not based on understanding (Romans 10:2).” That is true to us too. Many claim to be Christians, but don’t even know how they became one.
-Faith from God, repentance from God and grace that gave you faith and repentance. God saved you when He came as a man to die on the cross! And when he had mercy and grace on you He gave you faith and repentance that’s why you are able to respond to Him and surrender to His cross! God moved in your heart that’s why you responded!

What do we do then?
-there are two things people will look out about you the moment you profess allegiance with God
1. Your life: many will rate Christianity by the way its followers live, so if you are truly a believer, live like one. You will be able to if you have the Spirit in you. But if He is not there, you’ll fnd this one difficult to do (Eg. Mahatma Gandhi)
2. Your words: you cannot stop giving away hints, preach the whole Gospel, Romans 10:17 says, “Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.”
“Walk your talk. Talk your walk.”
-lastly, pray. Pray that these people will see and understand the Good News

A truth about people’s reaction to the Christian ministry (vv. 3-4)
Will many come to the Lord through a truthful presentation of the Gospel?
-those whose eyes have been opened will respond to Spiritual things
-the truth is very few people really understand the Gospel: one, because of or faulty Gospel-sharing and second, because “the god of this age (Satan) has blinded the eyes of unbelievers.” And very few will find it…
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (Matt 7:13-14)
-this is a spiritual battle and our constant prayer must be that God will remove the spiritual veil that covers the faces of people that they may understand and respond to the Gospel
-but as early as now, we have to understand that there are people destined to destruction because they refuse salvation

How can we help those who are spiritually blind?
-continue to point them to Jesus who is the image of God and who is the true light (Jn 1:19) who will give them sight

Paul’s ministry preaching (v.5, 7)
-we will be able to help them when we know that what we preach is Jesus
-let us not rely on our methods
-let us not work for the glory of our fellowship or of ourselves even
-because in ourselves we are powerless
-the best we can do is to preach Christ and leave the Spiritual work to the Holy Spirit, because God is the one who changes people
-this is also a reminder that we should never boast about any achievement in ministry, because  by virtue of our being Ambassadors for Christ, we are now slaves for people. It is our duty to do what we do so we must not boast about the number of people or the size of our ministry. This is not ours. It is God’s.
-we do what we do for His fame, glory and honor alone
(v.7) we may as well remember verse 7 that says: “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”

Paul’s ministry motivation (v.6)
What should motivate us to continue?
-may we be motivated by the fact that we were once in darkness until the moment someone spoke to us about Jesus
-may we be motivated that God “made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.”
-let us not keep this light for ourselves, let us share it to people
-may we, through this ministry, find Joy in God, and in the ministry of reconciliation of calling people from darkness to light and helping them take the step of faith to Christ
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