Study on the Book of 2nd Corinthians

by Pastor Frank J. Cuozzo

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

Lesson 7: "The Ministry: It’s Compelling Motives" - II Cor 5:11-16

Pastor Frank Cuozzo

II Corinthians 5:11-16, “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences. For we commend not ourselves again unto you, but give you occasion to glory on our behalf, that ye may have somewhat to answer them which glory in appearance, and not in heart. For whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God: or whether we be sober, it is for your cause. For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.”


-Introduction: What is it that drives and compels a person to minister? What is it that constrains a person to enter the ministry? When ministers are attacked and criticized and opposed so much, what is it that makes them continue on in the ministry? When ministers have to deal with so many problems and are so troubled and pressured, what is it that forces them to stay in the ministry? This passage discusses the compelling motives of the ministry or the minister. Four things here to look at:


          -1.  The fear of the Lord compels the minister (v.11).

-2.  The testimony of a genuine heart compels the minister (v.12).

-3.  The glory of God and the needs of people compel the minister (v.13).

-4.  The love of Christ compels the minister (v.14-16).


#1) The fear of the Lord compels the minister.

Look with me again at 2 Corinthians 5:11, “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.”


The word "terror" means fear, reverence, standing in awe of the Lord. It does not mean the kind of terror or fear that trembles and shrinks back from God. Paul knows he is to face the judgment seat of Christ; therefore he fears the Lord: holds Him in the highest regard and respect, reverences Him, stands in awe of His high and exalted position.


-The judgment of Christ compels Paul—compels him to persuade men of several things:

          A- Of the truth of the gospel.


"And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks" (Acts 18:4).

"And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening" (Acts 28:23).


-Compelled him to persuade men,

B- Of the judgment of God.


"For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad" (2 Cor. 5:10).


"In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel" (Romans 2:16).


"I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine" (2 Tim. 4:1-2).


-Compelled him to persuade men,

C- Of the death of Christ for all men.


"For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: and that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again" (2 Cor. 5:14-15).


"But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).


-Compelled him to persuade men,

D- Of the desperate need for reconciliation to God.


"Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God" (2 Cor. 5:20).


-Compelled him to persuade men,

E- Of his own sincerity and integrity in the ministry.


"For we commend not ourselves again unto you, but give you occasion to glory on our behalf, that ye may have somewhat to answer them which glory in appearance, and not in heart" (2 Cor. 5:12).

*Note a crucial point here:

Paul hopes that the Corinthians are convinced of his faithfulness and have no question about it. Others may oppose, question, criticize, and defame him; but he trusted that they knew his sincerity and commitment to Christ and the ministry.


Thought 1. Every minister should fear the judgment of Christ—fear it to such a degree that he is stirred to walk faithfully before God: persuading men and living a life of integrity and commitment to the ministry.


"And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry" (1 Tim. 1:12).


"Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day" (2 Tim. 1:11-12).


We said that the fear of the Lord compels the minister,

#2) The testimony of a genuine heart compels the minister.

Look again with me at 2 Corinthians 5:12, “For we commend not ourselves again unto you, but give you occasion to glory on our behalf, that ye may have somewhat to answer them which glory in appearance, and not in heart.”


Paul was under heavy attack; a barrage of charges were being launched against him by some in the church. Paul, just as every minister, had given his credentials and commended himself when he first began to minister at the church. Note two points here,

          -Just about everything Paul has said to the Corinthians up to this point has concerned the ministry, in particular his own personal ministry. He has been explaining the ministry and showing how he had labored ever so diligently in carrying out the ministry. By talking about himself, there was a possibility that some would again jump on his case and charge him with boasting in himself.


True, he had been sharing his part in the ministry, but his purpose was not to commend himself. As stated, he trusted his credentials were well known by now. His purpose had been to give the faithful believers more ammunition to answer his critics. The only way to solve the controversy surrounding him was to deal with it. They needed to confront and take the offensive in answering his critics. They needed to get the matter settled, for the church needed to get back to the ministry of reaching and growing people for Christ and not defending Paul.


          -Secondly, those who opposed Paul (the minister) were those who gloried in their appearance and not in heart. Their hearts were not upon Christ. Their hearts were upon themselves. They were not glorying in Christ and what He had done for them, but in self and what they were doing. They felt as though they were above others: more privileged, more gifted, more acceptable, more intelligent, more blessed, more spiritual.


#3) The glory of God and the needs of the people compel the minister.

Look with me at 2 Corinthians 5:13, “For whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God: or whether we be sober, it is for your cause.”


One of the charges against Paul was that he was beside himself, that he was mad, insane, out of his mind. It means to act in the extreme, abnormally, unlike what others act. Paul was charged with being a "fool" for Christ. Note that he accepts the charge as true. But he says it is true for two reasons:

1.  Paul was a fool for God's glory.


"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven" (Matthew 5:16).


"Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples" (John 15:8).


"For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's" (1 Cor. 6:20).


2.  Paul was a fool for the sake of people—to meet their needs.

 

"For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh" (Romans 9:3).


"Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved" (Romans 10:1).


#4) The love of Christ compels the minister.

Look again with me at 2 Corinthians 5:14-16, “For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.”


The word "constrain” means to press, to hold together, to hold fast. The love of Christ presses, compels, and stirs Paul to hold fast to the ministry. The love of Christ is the great thing that constrains Paul to minister. The foundation of the believer's life is the love of Christ. The love of Christ is seen in three acts.

-1.  Christ died that all persons might die in Him.

In the Greek this verse says:

-"One died for all, therefore, all died."


What Paul is trying to say is,

• That Jesus Christ died for all men; therefore all men died when He died.

• That since Christ died for all, then it follows that all men died in Him.

• That all men were represented in Christ when He died.

• That all men are counted as having died when Christ died.

• That Jesus Christ died the ideal death, the death that stands for all men.

Of course, this is simply saying the same thing in different ways so that we can more easily grasp exactly what Paul is saying. But note: the word "all" is not teaching universal salvation, that is, that every human being is saved by the death of Christ. This passage has to be kept in context with the rest of Scripture; therefore "all" means all who are redeemed by faith in the death of Christ. Very simply stated, when a person believes that Jesus Christ died for him, God takes that person's faith and counts it as his death in Christ. God credits the death of Christ to him so that he never has to die.


Another way to say the same thing is this: God takes the person's faith...

• And identifies the person with the death of Christ.

• And accepts the death of Christ as the death of the person.


Although these statements may help some to more clearly understand what Paul is saying, there is no clearer statement than the one stated in Scripture: "Christ died for all; therefore, all died [in Him]." The death of Jesus Christ was the representative death for all. His death stands as the death for all men. No person has to ever die. All he or she has to do is believe that Jesus Christ died for him, and God will take his belief and count it as his having already died in Christ.


The point is this. It is the glorious love of Christ that constrains Paul to stick to the ministry and to serve the Lord so faithfully.


We said that the love of Christ is seen in three acts.

-1. Christ died that all persons might die in Him.

-2. Christ died that all men might live for Him.

-3. Christ died to create a new man.


Two significant facts are stressed,

          -Christ died that men might not live for themselves. Most persons are self-centered, focusing most of their thoughts and efforts upon meeting their own needs, upon satisfying themselves through...

•  pleasure

•  acceptance

•  recognition

•  position

•  recreation

•  family

•  money

•  possessions

•  fame

•  power

•  benevolence

•  service


A person must take care of himself, but he is not to live for himself. Christ died so that we would not live for ourselves.


-Christ died that we might live for Him. This is made abundantly clear in Scripture in several ways,

-Christ died to bring us near to God.


"For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit" (1 Peter 3:18).


-Christ died that we might live unto righteousness.


"Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed" (1 Peter 2:24).


-Christ died to purify us so that we would be zealous to do good works.


"Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works" (Titus 2:14).


-Christ died so that we would serve Him as Lord.


"For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living" (Romans 14:9).


*Note: Christ not only died, He also arose from the dead. The minister does not serve a dead Savior, but a risen Lord!


*Next Lesson: “The Ministry: Its Message” II Cor 5:17-6:2.



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