Characteristics of a Faithful Ministry Part 2

Pastor Tom Ascol continues in his series in 2 Corinthians with a message entitled “Gospel Power in Human Weakness” centering on 2 Corinthians 4:1-6. How, in our weakness, are we to discern faithful ministry? Remarkably, some sources have identified over 2400 allegedly Christian radio stations. Christians need to be able to differentiate between trustworthy ministries and those teaching error. Luke (8:18) tells his readers to “Take care, then, how you hear.” In today’s message we will pick up from last week and look at the final two of the four characteristics Paul branded as indicative of a faithful gospel ministry.

In addition to ministering with perseverance and with integrity, as seen last week, a faithful gospel minister understands, and is not deterred by, spiritual warfare. The gospel is veiled to some; it is the sad condition of non-believers. Sin results in a natural inability to believe. Further, the devil seeks to blind humankind disabling them from believing. The blindness of the people does not diminish the gospel but rather impairs the ability to understand and receive. So it is that ministry is warfare. The presentation of the gospel to the lost is at war with Satan and the demonic forces’ attempt to continue blinding. The terrible consequences of such veiling and blindness is spiritual death, a perishing for eternity. Ever has it been.

Warfare can be discouraging however. Not everyone responds to the truth. Yet the faithful gospel minister resists and rejects any compromise with the truth of the Word of God. A large part of the minister’s efforts require prayer. Without prayer the spiritual warrior is unarmed. With prayer he may rely on the enabling of the Holy Spirit and the truth of the Word.

Thus the fourth and final characteristic of faithful gospel ministry is a minister preaching Christ not himself. As v. 6 makes plain it is “the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” from which light shines out of darkness. The Spirit-enabled proclamation of the biblical message alone that only Christ overcomes the veiling, cures blindness, and rescues from eternal death is the truth. The message is simple; Jesus Christ is Lord. Jesus is the name of the incarnated Son of God; Messiah is the anointed One, the One long ago promised who would sacrificially take away the sins of His people; Lord, God Himself, the One who humbled Himself according to Philippians 2:8-11 yet conquered death by His resurrection from the dead. The faithful gospel minister proclaims this and points only to Jesus Christ. The minister recognizes himself as a servant, even a slave, of the One who gave Himself for His people. The faithful gospel minister serves others for the sake of Jesus and His message of salvation. This servant can faithfully and confidently serve his Master because he knows it is only through the power of that Master rather than the power of the servant, that the message can reach the hearts of men and convict them of their need for the loving Savior who provides a way out of darkness.

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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