In 2 Corinthians 3:1-6 it appears that some in the Corinthian church were asking Paul for a letter of recommendation in order to bolster his credentials. Paul told the Corinthians that they were his letter of recommendation since Paul founded the church in Corinth. They were the fruit of his ministry. As Paul defended his ministry in this way we can see 2 things about all ministry that we can apply to how we serve others.
1. The Fruit of Ministry
In verses 1-3 Paul described the Corinthians as a letter of recommendation. Their existence as a church was the fruit/proof of Paul’s ministry. The fruit of Paul’s ministry was people. While our ministries will never look the same as Paul’s, we too are called to minister or serve others in order to help them grow to be more like Jesus Christ. The fruit of our ministry should be people as well. Are we seeking to be used by God to make people more like Jesus?
2. The Foundation of Ministry
In verses 4-6 Paul said that the foundation or source of his ministry was the Lord’s power, not Paul’s. Paul was not sufficient for such things, but the Lord is. We can rob God of glory in ministry in one of two ways: 1) by refusing to be involved in ministry at all; 2) by being involved in ministry and then taking credit for ourselves. We are called to boldly minister to others in reliance upon the Lord. How do we minister to others while relying upon the Lord? We pray! Prayer is the fundamental way in which we rely upon the Lord’s resources and not our own. A ministry that lacks in prayer is a ministry that seeks to be accomplished without the Lord’s resources. May we all minister to one another in the power of the Holy Spirit within us!
Here are the discussion questions from Sunday: 2 Cor. 3.1-6 Notes.
-Pastor Nathan Hogan
In 2 Corinthians 2:12-17 Paul uses 2 metaphors to describe his evangelism: 1) a military metaphor; 2) an olfactory metaphor. As we looked at these metaphors we asked 2 questions of ourselves about our personal evangelism:
1. Are we willing to be humbled?
Evangelism is humbling. It feels awkward, embarrassing, and scary. We often feel this way because we are prideful. Paul compares his evangelistic ministry to a victory parade led by a victorious general. In this parade, however, Paul is not the great victor, but the conquered subject being led through the streets. What a humbling metaphor for evangelism! We should not be surprised that our evangelism will be humbling. We may be mocked or rejected, but this is the humbling nature of evangelism.
2. Are we willing to speak?
Paul also uses the analogy of scent to describe his evangelistic ministry. He is the aroma of Christ to God. This aroma smells like life to some, but death to others. In verse 17 Paul makes it clear that to be an aroma of Christ means we are speaking about Christ. The aroma is the message of the Gospel. Often we want to evangelize without ever speaking, but Paul calls us to be willing to speak about the Gospel to others. This is scary and daunting, but we are to remember that we are not sufficient for this task, but the God we serve, who works through us, is sufficient!
May we be bold, gracious, and humble in sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with others. Here are some discussion questions for your week: 2 Cor. 2.12-17 Notes.
-Pastor Nathan Hogan
On Sunday we looked at 2 Corinthians 2:5-11. In these verses Paul writes how he has forgiven an individual in the church who sinned against him (and the Corinthians). The Corinthian church disciplined this man, but now Paul wants them to forgive him, comfort him, and show him love. Paul both models forgiveness and encourages the Corinthians to follow his lead.
As we studied these verses, we saw that Paul pointed out two dangers of failing to forgive others who sin against us:
1. The Danger of Despair.
In verses 5-10 Paul pleads with the Corinthians to forgive this man so that he is not overwhelmed by his sorrow. Paul is concerned that this man could be driven to despair over his sin if the Corinthians do not forgive him. He could be driven away from God’s grace if the Corinthians do not encourage him. When we forgive others we help to guard their hearts from falling into despair over their sin.
2. The Danger of the Devil.
In verse 11 Paul tells the Corinthians that failing to forgive is a way of being ignorant of the schemes of Satan. Our enemy will use our unwillingness to forgive to stir up disunity in the church, and to undermine the forgiveness that we preach in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As we forgive others, we fight against Satan and his scheming ways for God’s glory!
Here are some discussion questions from Sunday’s sermon: 2 Cor. 2.5-11 Notes.
-Pastor Nathan Hogan
*Please note: as you may have noticed the discussion questions in the bulletin on Sunday were outdated. The link at the end of this post includes the correct discussion questions for Sunday’s text. I apologize for the mistake.
On Sunday we learned about Paul’s travel plans in 2 Cor. 1:12-2:4. Paul had changed his plans regarding his travel to Corinth, and the Corinthian church seemed to believe that Paul was fickle and unreliable. Paul defends his motives as he navigates a very testy relationship with the Corinthians. We too have to navigate difficult and sometimes tense relationships. Paul gives us at least 3 principles to bear in mind as we seek to be godly in the midst of difficult and tense relationships.
1. Pursue a clear conscience.
Paul has confidence in the fact that his conscience is clear regarding his motivations with his travel plans to and from Corinth. Paul is not, however, saying that because he doesn’t feel guilty they cannot question his feelings. Paul has an informed conscience. His conscience is informed by the faithfulness and character of God. In order to have a clear conscience we need to hear people’s criticisms of us, and evaluate them honestly in light of God’s Word and character. In the midst of tense relationships we should always strive to pursue a clear conscience.
2. Beware assuming the worst.
The Corinthians attributed sinful motives to Paul without knowing the whole story. They simply assumed the worst. When relationships are tense we struggle with assuming terrible things about people. We assume all kinds of negative things about people with virtually no evidence. This is an especially strong temptation when relationships are tense. We need to be on guard against this as we seek to believe all things about people (1 Cor. 13).
3. Have the goal of joy together.
Paul did not relish having to correct and discipline the Corinthians. In fact, he cancelled a visit to Corinth so that he wouldn’t have to do this again. Paul only corrected the Corinthians with tears and sorrow. Paul’s ultimate goal was not correction, but to rejoice in the Lord with the Corinthians. Paul only corrected people in order to rejoice in the Lord together. When relationships are tense many sinful motives will compete for our attention. Paul calls us to be guided by the goal of mutual joy in the Lord. May this guide us as we minister to one another in the Christ!
Here are the discussion questions and order of service from Sunday: 2 Cor. 1.12-2.4 Notes.
-Pastor Nathan Hogan
Trials are about trust. That is a key point in 2 Corinthians 1.8-11 which we looked at as a church on Sunday. In this text Paul speaks about his own trials and deliverance in Asia, and teaches us 2 key truths about tribulation in our lives:
1. Tribulation reveals our neediness.
In verses 8-9 Paul does not give us many details about the nature of his tribulation in Asia, or his deliverance. However, Paul does not shy away from telling the Corinthians that these trials were beyond his strength. In fact, Paul says that part of God’s purpose for trials in our life is to show us that we are not strong enough without Him. Sometimes we like to pretend that we are strong, and ignore the obvious weaknesses that trials reveal, but God wants us to see our limitations and our need for Him.
2. Tribulation redirects our trust.
God does not just show us our neediness through trials, but redirects our trust to His vast resources as the God who raised Jesus from the dead! God wants to use trials to show us our weakness, but also to show us His immeasurable strength. When trials come our way, we don’t need to be scared if we feel incapable of handling them. God wants us to feel this way so that we then grow in our faith. May God comfort us in the midst of trials by building our trust in His resurrection power so that even if God does not deliver us from our immediate trials, we can be confident that God will one day raise us up into His kingdom in final deliverance!
Here are some discussion questions and the order of service form our worship together: 2 Cor. 1.8-11 Notes.
-Pastor Nathan Hogan