Study on the Book of 2nd Corinthians

by Pastor Frank J. Cuozzo

Division 3 — “The Ministry & It’s Description”

Lesson 1: "The Ministry, An Overview" - II Cor 2:12-17

Pastor Frank Cuozzo

We said that there are five divisions of this book of II Corinthians. We already looked at Division One which dealt with the God of Paul and Division Two which dealt with the personal defense of Paul. We now begin the Third Division of this book entitled The ministry and it’s description.There are eleven parts here. The first part is the The ministry, an overview.”


2 Corinthians 2:12-17, “Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ's gospel, and a door was opened unto me of the Lord, I had no rest in my spirit, because I found not Titus my brother: but taking my leave of them, I went from thence into Macedonia. Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place. For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things? For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.”


-Introduction: This is a clear picture of the minister and the ministry to which God has called him. It is a strong challenge for the minister to be just what God has called him to be and to do just what God has called him to do. We want to look at four things here,

          -1.  The minister is gripped with a passion (v.12-13).

-2.  The minister always triumphs in Christ (v.14).

-3.  The minister is a sweet fragrance to God (v.15-16).

-4.  The minister has stern demands laid upon him (v.16-17).


#1) The minister is gripped with a passion.

Look again with me at 2 Corinthians 2:12-13, “Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ's gospel, and a door was opened unto me of the Lord, I had no rest in my spirit, because I found not Titus my brother: but taking my leave of them, I went from thence into Macedonia.”


The minister is gripped by a burning passion to preach and a deep concern for troubled churches. Paul is still describing his great love and concern for the believers in the Corinthian church. Remember he wrote in 2 Corinthians 2:4, “For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you.”


When he was forced to leave Ephesus, he had planned to go to Corinth, but the personal attacks against him by some members, remember made it unwise. Instead of making a personal visit, he felt it would be much wiser to try to solve the problem by writing a stern letter to them.

He apparently sent Titus to Corinth with the stern letter and with instructions to do what he could to help the church in correcting the controversy. After he had done all he could, Titus was supposed to meet Paul in Troas where Paul would be ministering. The point is twofold here,


-The minister had a burning passion to preach Christ. Paul could not sit still; he had to preach Christ. He wanted to minister in Corinth, but the Corinthian church had allowed a clique to form against him. Therefore, it was impossible to minister there. But Paul could not cease to minister; God had called him and he could not fail God. The passion to preach Christ burned within him. The Corinthians might shut the door to his ministering among them, but they could not stop him from ministering elsewhere. Therefore, he changed his plans; he went to Troas. And because he was faithful in seeking opportunities to preach and minister, the Lord opened a great door of ministry for him at Troas.


-The minister had a deep concern for troubled churches. The Corinthian church was in trouble, serious trouble. As with any faithful minister, Paul's heart reached out to all involved. Week after week passed, apparently stretching into several months, and no word had come from Titus about the welfare of the Corinthian church. Paul was anxious and concerned. As he said, "I had no rest [relief] in my spirit." The situation got to Paul: he could not stand the suspense any longer. Therefore, he struck out for Macedonia looking for Titus along the great highway stretching across the province.


#2) The minister always triumphs in Christ.

Look again with me at 2 Corinthians 2:14, “Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.” 


Paul found Titus, and he covers the meeting in 2 Cor. 2:7. The news was glorious: the church had responded and experienced revival. Just the thought of what had happened in the church caused Paul to break forth in thanksgiving. Paul had every reason to thank God, for he had been heavily criticized and attacked by a clique in the church and the church was about to be destroyed by controversy and divisiveness. He thanked God for the glorious triumph which God always gives to His ministers through Christ. God never fails His ministers, and He had not failed Paul. He had caused Paul to triumph in Christ.


Note several points here,

          -It is God who causes the minister to triumph. God Himself is looking after the minister, never taking His eyes or care off His dear servant. The journey may sometimes get rough, and the minister may even be attacked and abused, but God never forsakes the minister.

-God always causes the minister to triumph over all attacks and all trouble and problems. The true minister of God will never know defeat—not permanently. Even if he falls and fails for a period of time, God will eventually reach him and restore him and continue to use him. God will always cause His dear servant to triumph over all. There is nothing, absolutely nothing that can conquer and gain the final victory and triumph over God's minister—not if he is truly called of God. The glorious triumph over all is assured.

-The triumph of the minister is "in Christ" and in Christ alone. The minister must...

·        Believe in Christ

·        Trust in Christ

·        Be called in Christ.

·        Serve in Christ

·        Minister in Christ

·        Live in Christ

·        Move in Christ

·        Be in Christ

 

 

 

 



The minister is no different from anyone else: his only victory is in Christ. He must trust and live in Christ just as everyone else. He is not acceptable to God apart from Christ. His acceptance before God is based upon the same thing as everyone else's: faith in Christ. Therefore, to triumph "in Christ" the minister must be "in Christ"; that is, he must believe in and live in Christ. The minister triumphs in Christ and in Christ alone.

-Lastly, God uses the minister to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere. This is the reason God causes the minister to triumph: to spread the glorious message of Christ all over the world. God is out to reach every person He can: to see to it that every person knows about the love of Christ. The word "savour" simply means fragrance or aroma, like the fragrance of a flower. God spreads the fragrance of His Word through His ministers.


#3) The minister is a sweet fragrance to God.

Look with me at 2 Corinthians 2:15-16, “For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things?”


The minister spreads the message of Christ among the saved and the perishing. The picture is that of a flower. The flower is a sweet fragrance to men; therefore, the flower is acceptable to men. The minister is a sweet fragrance to God; therefore, the minister is acceptable to God. But it means more than just being acceptable, much more. It means this: to God the minister is...

•  acceptable

•  pleasing

•  enjoyable

•  worthy of attention

•  worthy of care

•  satisfying

•  fulfilling

•  precious

•  worthy of           preservation


Thought 1. This is a most reassuring and comforting truth to the minister, especially the minister who is under attack as Paul had been. The minister is precious, very precious to God; he is under the wing of God's eternal love and care.


Note what it is that makes the minister a sweet fragrance to God. It is the fact that the minister spreads the message ("knowledge") of Christ, and note to whom he spreads it: to both the saved and the perishing. The minister is the fragrance of life to those who are saved and the fragrance of death to those who perish. Wherever the faithful minister is, he spreads the fragrance of life and death, the message that men can have life in Christ or else the message that men shall die without Christ—die and be separated from God eternally.


Picture the faithful minister in a room with a group of people. The minister's presence and words give off a fragrance to everyone present,

          -To the saved, the minister represents the life that is in Christ, the fact that our lives are to be dedicated to God and ministering to the needs of people. The minister spreads the fragrance of "life unto life," that people can live now and live forever.

-To the unsaved (those who perish), the minister represents death, the fact that one does not believe in the life of Christ represented by the minister. Therefore, the minister spreads the fragrance of death unto death, that people are dead to God now and shall be eternally dead to God in the hereafter.


#4) The minister has stringent demands laid upon him. 

Look with me at 2 Corinthians 2:16-17, “To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things? For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.”


The minister has an awesome responsibility. Just imagine being responsible for a message that involves both eternal life and eternal death. Who is sufficient or qualified for such a task? Is any man? Paul says, "Yes," but not many. The only men who are qualified are those who meet five stringent demands. Let’s look at them,


-The qualified man does not "corrupt the word of God." The word "corrupt" is taken from an old word meaning huckster or peddler. It means to peddle, to adulterate, to whittle down, to contaminate, to tamper with the Word of God. It means to mix other things into the gospel, for example, personal ideas, speculations, the latest religious fads or novel ideas.


"But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God" (2 Cor. 4:2).

          -The qualified man is "sincere.” This means that the minister and his motives are pure and unadulterated, that he and his motives have been shaken and rolled through a sieve. The minister is unstained and untainted when inspected. He is in the ministry to serve God and to help people. He is not in the ministry because he respects it as a profession, nor for any other reason. God has called him, and he is gripped by the necessity to serve God.


          -The qualified man is "of God." He is called, commissioned, and sent by God; and he lives by the grace and strength of God and for God. It also means that he is "of God," of God's nature and character, living a godly life.


          -The qualified man lives "in the sight of God." He is conscious and aware of God's presence, knowing that he lives and moves in the sight of God every moment of every day. He knows...

• That God sees him in his every need; therefore, God looks after and cares for him.

• That God sees everything he does; therefore, he walks carefully and righteously so that he can please God.


          -The qualified man "speaks in Christ." He speaks in the communion and fellowship and power of Christ. He does not speak in his own energy and strength, but in the energy and strength of Christ. He lives in fellowship with Christ; therefore, when he witnesses and preaches, he is able to share the fellowship and presence of Christ under the anointing of the Lord's presence.


*Next lesson: “The Ministry- It’s Credentials, II Cor 3:1-5.  



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