Characteristics of a Faithful Ministry Part 1

Pastor Tom Ascol resumes his series on 2 Corinthians. In a message entitled “Characteristics of a Faithful Ministry, Part 1,” the pastor examines 2 Corinthians 4:1-6. We have seen in the series so far that false teachers had attacked Paul’s ministry, yet like to Corinthians we also may have trouble detecting false ministers. Sometimes they are not all easily detected. In this passage, Paul assesses some of the characteristics of a faithful ministry which should be evident in the work of faithful ministers.

The overriding concern of a faithful minister is to tenaciously continue preaching Christ with full submission to God’s Word. Paul points to four characteristics of such a ministry. Today pastor considers the first two and next week will consider the remaining two. The first characteristic which should be plain to the observer is that the minister perseveres by God’s mercy. Ministry is hard work often beset by discouragement or depression. This condition should not be surprising given that the eternal destiny of humans are at stake. Yet Paul proclaims “We do not lose heart.” The reason for this perseverance is: 1) as we saw last week, a New Covenant ministry is far superior to an Old Covenant ministry, and 2) God’s mercy. Paul never forgot he was a child of mercy. His life in Christ was the result of nothing but God’s mercy. That is a lesson for all believers. We have not found solace in Christ because of any effort on our own; it is only because of God’s mercy toward us sinners. Paul even recognized his apostleship as a result of God’s mercy toward him. He did nothing to deserve this mercy, in fact, he had purposely persecuted the church he now served. Remembering whatever ministry we may have, remembering it is God’s mercy toward us in the church should eliminate whatever divisiveness may arise. Indeed, it was this apostleship, an apostleship given by God’s mercy, Paul sought to justify earlier.

The second characteristic to which Paul points is that ministers act with integrity. Ministers must refuse to practice trickery, craftiness or cunning. They must refuse to tamper with God’s Word, presently the claims of Christ forthrightly and without personal prejudice. Finally, they must openly commend themselves and their ministry to everyone’s conscience being unashamed of the Gospel, living their lives coram Deo, before God.

There are many opportunities to be led astray today, often by those whose words and message sound enticing and whose manner of life seems attractive. Rather than follow one whose life and message are not directly tied to a proper understanding of God’s Word, Christians must be discerning and commit themselves to a church that makes much of the mercy of God and whose minister draws attention not to himself but to his Master, the Lord Jesus Christ. It is through hearing the Word of God properly expounded that one comes to know the way to salvation, that is through the sacrificially shed blood of Jesus Christ which alone can cover our sins before a holy, just, and loving God. Come to Him today.

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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