Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Truthfulness in Ministry (part 2): The Reason to Continue In The Face Of Opposition

Struggling with what God has called you to do? Sometimes we find ourselves asking, “why did I start this in the first place?” That’s really not a bad question by the way, because our “why” is an excellent resource to help us keep going. If we can’t answer “why,” then perhaps we need a better “why.”

Paul tells us why he continued in ministry, even in the face of opposition. “And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.” [2Co 1:21-22 ESV].

Paul’s “why” is rooted in Jesus, the God-given foundation of ministry, “it is God who establishes us with you in Christ.” This is the second time Paul fell back on his “why.” The first time was recorded in his first letter when he reminded his opponents of their position in Christ as “confirmed, blameless in the day of the Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful through whom you were called into one fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” (1 Cor 1:8-9). God in Christ Jesus is the faithful founder of our fellowship: not music, food, physical address, but His Son, Jesus Christ our LORD!

Paul goes further, stating that “it is God who . . . anointed us.” When God sets us apart by the Spirit of Truth our stability is found in Jesus, not in the circumstance. Circumstance challenges our “why.” Paul explains here that God gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge, a truth repeated from the first letter--and he will bring it up yet again, so here is a vital doctrine we should not miss.

Corinth was a trading crossroads, so Paul borrows the language of a good businessman to make his point: by “seal” Paul underscores the authenticity, validity of that which is marked. An example of this is found at Jesus’ baptism when we hear the voice of approval from heaven; the Spirit descended like a dove and the set apart for service to God. What the Father did for the Son, so He does for Paul. [1:21-22] “Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and anointed us is God, who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge.”  God authenticates Paul to the world and the Corinthians by filling him with His Spirit and setting him apart for service to the Gentiles.

Here’s what this means for us: what the Father did for the Son and Paul, He does for us: authentic Christianity is God-authenticated, making us His beloved children. We respond to the conviction of the Holy Spirit and repent, The Spirit makes us alive in Christ, fills us to “be” followers of Christ. He in turn sets apart from the world for the purpose of serving Him in the world.

Now, there are conditions to the sealing, authentication:

  • Jesus did the will of His Father, which was obedience to death [Hbr 12:2] “who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
  • Paul not only met our resurrected Lord, but had to die to self by faith in Christ. God could not authenticate Him until he died by faith and was made alive by faith in Christ.  
  • God gives His seal of approval when we die to our sins in Christ. Only then can we be useful to Him.
The Spirit descended on Jesus like a dove. He was filled with the Spirit and returned to Galilee with power. Acts 9 records Paul receiving both his sight and the Holy Spirit. Test of the strength of your "why": 

  • Have you received the Holy Spirit, the seal of God’s authentic work in your life? 
  • Do you bear the marks of his promises, stamped with Jesus’ image?
  •  Have you experienced His grace? 
  • Do you hear His voice? 
  • Does your spirit witness with His Spirit that you are God’s child? 
  • Can anyone look at you and see His name? How do you bear it to the world? 

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