Concerns of a Faithful Ministry

Pastor Tom Ascol continues his series on 2 Corinthians. In a message entitled “Concerns of a Faithful Ministry,” the pastor opens God’s Word at 2 Corinthians 10:1 – 18. Nehemiah provides an example of a faithful ministry. Called by God from the center of the cultural world, he was sent to rebuild the city of Jerusalem’s walls. Nehemiah faithfully opposed enemies and built up the congregation all for the glory of God. Such should be the ministry of a faithful believer. So it was with Paul.

Our passage today teaches about Paul’s battle against the world, his battle to build the church, boasting only in the Lord and for His glory. There are several keys to Paul’s battles against enemies. First, he acted with great humility. Humility does not mean weakness. Paul had been chosen by the Lord Himself and so possessed apostolic authority, yet he did lord it over the Christians. Instead he imitated Jesus Christ who self-identified as “gentle and lowly in heart” (Matthew 11:29). Nevertheless, Paul ministered with great confidence. Paul willing confronted his, and the church’s, enemies head-on. Paul recognized his own inability and therefore used spiritual weapons in what was a spiritual war. Oftentimes we choose to use the weapons of the world in our spiritual battles forsaking the armament given by God. Yet it is only with spiritual weapons that Christians can defeat strongholds and overcome the arguments of the world. Paul was committed to his war on false thinking for he knew the consequences of failure. Souls living in opposition to God will suffer eternal loss. The good news of Jesus Christ, however, is designed to destroy arguments and opinions counter to God. Living in opposition to God means missing out on all the One who rose from the dead never to die again has provided. In addition to humility and confidence Paul was full of resolve and ministered despite hardship and attacks from others such as the false teachers in Corinth. His concern was that all the brethren be brought into a right way of thinking. That is a challenge to every church even today!

Besides battling enemies Paul sought to build the church. First, Paul remembered the church belonged to Christ and believers, including Paul, belong to Him. As Paul warns the Corinthians so he warns us; beware of people causing disruption under the guise of doing “what Jesus has taught them.” There is a God-ordained authority structure within the church that is violated at the church’s peril. Just as Paul had been given authority by the Lord so elders as church leaders, though not apostolic, have been placed by God for the church’s good.

The false teachers Paul needed to meet head-on were quick to promote themselves. Paul, as the faithful minister, sought God’s glory and boasted only in Him. He acknowledged his stewardship came from God alone. Paul’s desire was for the maturation of the church which would result in missionary efforts which, in turn, would result in the expansion of the church and work to the further glory of God. Verse 7 sums up that thought: “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

Paul’s instruction to battle the world, build the church, and boast in the Lord is as valid today as the day Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote it!

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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