A Commended Ministry

Pastor Tom Ascol continues his series on 2 Corinthians in a message entitled “A Commended Ministry” 2 Corinthians 3:1-6. The apostle Paul’s purpose in writing today’s passage is to continue countering the attack toward his ministry by false prophets troubling the Corinthian church. Rather than a letter of recommendation, common in that age, the passage serves as a word of commendation and justification.

Paul reminds the Corinthians of their long and spiritually profitable relationship. It is God Who produces faithful gospel ministries and, as with Paul’s ministry, these ministries are commended by their fruit. Paul points out he does not need an external recommendation; they know him and his manner of teaching and life. The Corinthian believers, having come to Christ through Paul’s ministry are themselves his commendation. They are his letter of recommendation, written, as it were, by Christ Himself.

Furthermore, a faithful ministry is empowered by God. Paul is not boasting or being arrogant. Rather he is confident as a result of having seen God work through the gospel; his confidence is in Christ. The message of Christ is a radical, life-changing message. What we owe, Christ paid. Moreover, Paul’s recognition of the source of his confidence kept Paul from acting boastfully self-sufficient. Verse 5 is plain; “Not that we are sufficient ourselves.” No one is sufficient in themselves. If they were there would be no need for a Savior. A faithful minister’s sufficiency and confidence both come from the Lord. Paul can be confident for he knows Jesus wins. He knows Jesus, even now, is on the throne in heaven ruling and reigning over the universe and all creation.

So it is with believers today. They too can be self-sufficient and confident through Christ but only through Christ. The Lord has written on our very hearts not merely on old tablets of stone. The Law, written on the stone, was designed to show man’s need of God. Jesus Christ was the complete fulfilling of that need, the truth of which is written in the hearts of believers. It is the death of Christ that secured the saving work of God by which He transforms our lives from the inside out. He writes His laws of our hearts. His power changes our spiritual appetites and desires. He gives us love for Christ and the power to obey Hm. Thus Paul can justify his ministry and confirm we are sufficient for the task of ministry.

God has effected an internal work within believers changing them and bringing them from darkness to light. His call to sinful man for repentance is open to all who will turn to Him. It is not too late, nor are anyone’s sins to great. There is soon coming, however, a time when it will be too late and the opportunity to come in repentance will have past. The Bible tells us “today is the day of salvation.” Wait no longer, call out to the Christ who saves!

Tom Ascol has served as a Pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, FL since 1986. Prior to moving to Florida he served as pastor and associate pastor of churches in Texas. He has a BS degree in sociology from Texas A&M University (1979) and has also earned the MDiv and PhD degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth, Texas. He has served as an adjunct professor of theology for various colleges and seminaries, including Reformed Theological Seminary, the Covenant Baptist Theological Seminary, African Christian University, Copperbelt Ministerial College, and Reformed Baptist Seminary. He has also served as Visiting Professor at the Nicole Institute for Baptist Studies at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida. Tom serves as the President of Founders Ministries and The Institute of Public Theology. He has edited the Founders Journal, a quarterly theological publication of Founders Ministries, and has written hundreds of articles for various journals and magazines. He has been a regular contributor to TableTalk, the monthly magazine of Ligonier Ministries. He has also edited and contributed to several books, including Dear Timothy: Letters on Pastoral Ministry, The Truth and Grace Memory Books for children and  Recovering the Gospel and Reformation of Churches. He is also the author of From the Protestant Reformation to the Southern Baptist ConventionTraditional Theology and the SBC and Strong and Courageous. Tom regularly preaches and lectures at various conferences throughout the United States and other countries. In addition he regularly contributes articles to the Founders website and hosts a weekly podcast called The Sword & The Trowel. He and his wife Donna have six children along with four sons-in-law and a daughter-in-law. They have sixteen grandchildren.
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