The Deacon and His Deacons

By / Nov 10

As we prepare for the ordination and installation of our brothers to the office of deacon in Christ’s Church tonight, I thought it might be helpful for us to reflect for a little while on the One whose diaconal life and ministry stands as both the foundation and the template for the service of deacons and indeed for the diaconal ministry of the church as a whole. So let me invite you please to take a copy of the Scriptures in hand and to turn in them with me to the prophecy of Isaiah chapter 42; Isaiah 42 on page 602 in the church Bibles. 

This is the first of the four so-called “Servant songs” of Isaiah that predict so clearly for us the person and the work of the Lord Jesus. It begins, you will notice, in verse 1 with familiar words – “Behold my servant.” So God the Father is proclaiming to us the characteristic mark of the ministry of Messiah. He will be His servant. Interestingly, the apostle Paul in Romans 15:8, likely reflecting the language of this text, Isaiah 42:1 where God’s servant brings forth justice to the nations, Paul calls Jesus a “diaconos.” He is God’s deacon; His servant, He says, to the nations. Christ is the Deacon of whom our deacons are always to put us in mind. 

And as we consider that, it’s important I think that we really take the summons expressed in the very first word of our passage this evening seriously. God the Father, notice, calls us to “Behold my servant.” Is there anything more important for any of us to do than this, than to behold God’s servant, the Lord Jesus Christ. There is a summons to contemplate Christ, to “fix our eyes upon Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.” Think about, you know, those posters we sometimes see – they look at first like a random pattern of dots and blots and squiggles. But then as you stare and stare at it, eventually an image begins to emerge. Sometimes, let’s be honest, the message about Jesus can get a little lost. Can’t it? It is familiar, after all; commonplace at least to us. But here in our text, God Himself calls us to take a longer, harder look; to really stare, as it were, into the mystery of His person and work in this passage and to begin to see as we behold His servant in the Scriptures, details, glories, that perhaps we often overlook, emerging more and more clearly into view. That is our task for this evening. 

If you look at the passage, you’ll notice it has two major sections – verses 1 through 4 and then 5 through 9. The second half, verses 5 through 9, really go back over the same ground as verses 1 through 4, adds some color and detail, but the second half essentially recapitulates the message of the first with this important difference – in verses 1 through 4, God the Father is speaking to us about His servant. Do you see that? Whereas in 5 through 9, He is speaking to His servant about His person and His work. In 1 through 4, the Father is preaching to us about Jesus. “Behold my servant,” He says to us. And that’s wonderful enough. But then in 5 through 9, the addressee changes. Now it’s as though we’re eavesdropping, listening in on this secret counsel of the blessed Trinity as the Father commissions the Son for His saving work. And that’s a thrilling idea to contemplate. 

And I wish we had the time this passage really deserves to dwell on those details, but we simply don’t. All we can really do is pick out a few of the prominent details and meditate on them. Let me mention three for your consideration this evening. First, I want you to see that the Father delights in His servant. The Father delights in His servant. Secondly, the Father ordains His servant. The Father ordains His servant. And thirdly, the Father empowers His servant. The Father empowers His servant. The Father delights in, ordains, and empowers His servant. Now before we consider those themes, let’s pause and pray together.

Holy Spirit, we pray now that You would come upon this gathering of Your people. You have given to us life in union with Christ, having been sent to us from our Father. And we remember how Jesus taught us, promised us, that the Father will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask. And so now we pray for Your presence and ministry anew in our midst. Open our eyes to behold marvelous things out of Your law, for we ask it in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Isaiah 42 at the first verse. This is the Word of God:

“Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice. He will not grow faint or be discouraged till he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his law. Thus says God, the Lord, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people on it and spirit to those who walk in it:  ‘I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness. I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols. Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them.”

Amen, and we praise God for His holy Word.

The Father Delights in His Servant

Well first of all, we said that the Father delights in the servant. The Father delights in the servant. Verse 1, “Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights.” It’s almost as though God the Father were boasting to us about His servant here. Isn’t it? We certainly see that in earthly fathers often enough. You see it on Facebook constantly. We’re always going on about our little darling’s achievements and their successes and how cute they are and how funny. And while that may be tiresome for the rest of us, we keep at it, because we’re proud of them! Right? We delight in them. We can’t help trumpeting their triumphs to the world. Now listen, whatever delight earthly fathers have in their sons, that is but a dim shadow of the way God the Father delights in His servant, His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. God the Father loves His Son. That’s why, you remember, when Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan River and the Father spoke about His love for His Son, He did so echoing the language of the Greek version of our text here this morning. “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” “Behold my servant, in whom my soul delights.” The Father delights in His servant. 

And that’s why He tells us to “Behold, to look here, and give attention to My servant. Look at My Son. I love Him. I am well pleased with Him. I want you to listen to Him. I want you to fix your gaze upon Him. I want your heart to find the same delight in Him that I find in Him. Behold my servant.” And look, if God the Father finds in Jesus His Son a deep mine of joy for His heart, His soul, don’t you think we can too? We don’t know better than God, after all. God’s soul delights in Christ. What do you delight in? What do you delight in? Aren’t we busy, truth be told, quenching our appetite for joy with the fleeting pleasures of the world, numbing our capacity for joy with the downloadable anesthetic of 24/7 entertainment? C.S. Lewis’ great rebuke to us in his book, The Weight of Glory, was right on point. He famously said it this way. “It would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition, when infinite joy is offered to us. Like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because we cannot imagine what is meant by an offer of a holiday at the beach. We are far too easily pleased.” 

We fill our eyes with visions of shiny new things we can acquire at the store – with internet pornography, with the admiration of others and countless other empty, worldly treasures, and they are temporary, and yet they are temporary delights. We have forgotten that “Fleeting is the worldlings pleasure, all his boasted pomp and show. Solid joys and lasting treasure, none but Zion’s children know.” “Behold my servant, in whom my soul delights,” God says to us. Jesus is endlessly fascinating, even to God the Father. So make obedience to the command of God in this text the great preoccupation of your life and behold His servant. Fix your eyes on Jesus. Make Jesus the chief study of your life. There are endless delights, solid joys and lasting treasure, to be found only in Him. The Father delights in the servant.

The Father Ordains His Servant 

Then secondly, notice that the Father ordains the servant. The Father ordains the servant. Because He loves the servant, He calls Him, verse 1, His chosen, His elect one. He is ordained, as it were, set apart by God for the work of saving sinners. We might even say that verses 6 and 7 describe His ordination engagement. Do you see them in verses 6 and 7? Look with me there for a moment. Here is the work for which the servant is chosen and set apart. “I have called you,” the Father says to Him, “I have called you in righteousness. I will take you by the hand and keep you. I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeons, from the prison those who sit in darkness.”

Now to be sure, this ordination service here tonight is a very poor shadow of the ordination of the divine Son to be Savior of the world. He is the Servant of the Father, the Diaconos of the Father, sent to the nations to bring deliverance to them. But I do think we can still hear, if you listen carefully for it in the vows these brothers will take in just a few moments, an echo, an echo of our Savior’s willingness to embrace the cost laid upon Him for us and for our salvation. “Will You go?,” we imagine the Father asking the Son. “I will,” He says. “Will You bear all the weakness of human nature, joining Yourself to humanity in the womb of the virgin?” “I will,” He says. “Will You endure the reproach of the world and the rejection of Your people and will You obey in the crucible of temptation?” “I will,” He says. “And will You suffer and serve and lay down Your life for the sheep?” “I will,” says the Servant.

And now brothers, if I can address you directly, you are being set apart for the service of diaconal ministry yourselves tonight. Know that you are following in your Savior’s steps. The Father elected Him and appointed Him and sent Him to serve. And now He has chosen and appointed and sends you. And your service is to follow the template, the footprint of His. He is your paradigm. He came, remember, “not to be served, but to serve, and give His life a ransom for many.” And now Christ, the Servant, calls you, His servants, to imitate Him in pouring yourself out for the flock of God amongst whom you have been called as deacons. Your standard in doing so is not the best example of any earthly mentor. It is Christ Himself who, you remember, washed the disciples’ feet. Who, having loved His own, loved them to the end. That is your calling as you follow in your Master’s steps – deacons, servants, following the Servant of the Lord. 

The Father Empowers His Servant 

The Father delights in the servant. The Father ordains the servant. And finally, the Father empowers the servant. Having been sent into the world, you’ll notice the Servant is upheld. Do you see that word in verse 1? He’s upheld by God. He is endowed with the Holy Spirit for His ministry, verse 1. God will take Him by the hand, verse 6. He will keep Him. How is it that the servant of the Lord brings forth justice to the nations? Why doesn’t He cry aloud or lift up His voice amidst all the accusations that were hurled against Him? By what means is He enabled to care for the weak and the wounded, not breaking the bruised reed nor quenching the smoldering wick? How does He bring light to those who are in darkness and set the prisoners free? How does He do it? He does it all by depending on the supply of the Spirit of the Father to empower His obedience in our nature. The Servant, you see, is the Spirit-filled man. Christ is the Spirit-filled man. At every stage of His life and ministry He did all that He did in our human nature by dependence upon the strengthening and enabling of the Spirit. His body, remember, was formed in the womb of the virgin “by the mysterious work of the Spirit of the Most High who overshadowed her,” Luke 1:35. It was by the Spirit that He “grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and men,” Luke 2:40 and verse 50. By the Spirit, He confronted Satan and triumphed – Matthew 4:1. By the Spirit, He cast out demons – Matthew 12:24. By the Spirit, He obeyed and by the eternal Spirit offered Himself unblemished to God the Father at the cross – Hebrews 9:14. He was declared Son of God in power through the Spirit of holiness who raised Him from the dead – Romans 1:4. And then ascending to the right hand of the Father, He received the promised Holy Spirit that He may pour Him out in turn upon the Church. The Servant did all His work for us and for our salvation by the enabling help of the Holy Spirit. 

And this same Spirit that rested upon Him and empowered His obedience and His saving ministry, He now gives to you and to me. He pours out upon the Church to equip us for works of service. The work to which you are called, brothers, in the diaconal office, will often be demanding and costly and challenging and hard. How will you persevere and be faithful in it? Not by your own strength, but by looking to Christ, the Spirit-filled man, to give you a fresh supply and the strength of His Spirit. He taught us to pray, reminding us the Father gives the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him. I would think it would be the ordinary cry of a faithful deacon at every moment of every day and in every task that your office requires of you, to say, “Father, fulfill the Savior’s promise. I want to honor You in this, but I am weak. Give me the Holy Spirit that I may put the people of God in mind of the Spirit-filled Savior in the way that I love them and serve them and pour myself out for them.” 

How will you faithfully fulfill the office entrusted to you? You will do it delighting, like the Father Himself delights, in God’s Servant, the Lord Jesus Christ. Fix your eyes on Him. He is all the treasure your heart needs. You’ll do it following the Servant’s example, who was ordained by the Father, to give His life for the flock. Give your lives in your Savior’s service. And you will do it depending on the strength of the Holy Spirit whom Jesus promises the Father will give to His children who ask Him. May the Lord bless you, brothers, as you obey His call, and may He make you a blessing to all of us as you serve among us. Let us pray.

Our Father, we praise You for these dear brothers and for Your call in their lives. Continue with them, equipping them for Your service, and use them among all of us. Put us in mind of Jesus by the way in which they serve. Strengthen them by Your Spirit. Strengthen us all by Your Spirit that we, like Christ, may point to Your redeeming love and grace that there may be a great harvest of sinners, men and women and boys and girls, brought to know Him. For we ask it in Jesus’ holy name, amen.



A Ministry of Power

By / Aug 7

 

Well good evening! I bring you greeting from Central Carolina Presbytery and I am honored and grateful to be here tonight and to fill this pulpit. It is a great privilege to be here for Tree and Jeri Lyn. And I will refer to him as Tree which I think you do as well, is that correct? So there’s no Andrew tonight; it’s Tree, right? Well, this evening it is a great privilege to be a part of this service and to open the Word of God to you. It is no small thing for a man to speak on behalf of God and to speak His words to God’s people and I don’t take that lightly. And so I want to pray and ask God’s help because what we’re going to do here in a minute is to break into God’s Word that is spiritually understood, because it is spiritual, and we need the Spirit’s help, do we not, to understand spiritual things? Andrew is undertaking the incredible task of preaching God’s Word to whoever would listen and I am going to ask God’s help not only for us tonight to understand His Word but to preach and then to pray for Andrew at the end that God would bless his ministry among us. So would you join me in prayer as we go to God’s Word?
 

Father, we come to You now in the name of Jesus and by the power of the Holy Spirit. And we ask You to help us tonight to understand spiritual truth for we cannot do that, we cannot understand this truth apart from the Spirit’s help. And so we implore You, we invite You, we invoke You, Holy Spirit, to come and to attend to our thoughts and meditations of our hearts and to the words of my mouth. And we pray in Jesus’ name, amen.

 

If you would take a pew Bible and turn to 1 Corinthians chapter 2, verses 1 through 5. It is on page 952 and 953 in your pew Bible if you don’t have one with you. And in this passage, this is Paul’s first letter to the church in Corinth. We believe that Paul spent about eighteen months establishing that church and it had a lot of different troubles – many diversities. It was known for its sexual immorality and its religious diversity. And so Paul writes this letter to try to help the church understand exactly what they are to be doing as the church of God. And in chapter 1 he lays out very clearly that the church must depend upon the wisdom of God and the power of God, not on men’s wisdom. So would you join me now and let’s read God’s Word?

 

1 Corinthians chapter 2, verses 1 through 5:

 

“When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear and with much trembling, my message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with the demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom but on God’s power.”

May God bless the reading of His Word.

 

Now in this beautiful passage, we can hear the heart of the Apostle Paul as he speaks about his ministry among the Corinthians in Corinth. And Paul mentions four characteristics which he attempted to practice himself of a ministry that fosters faith not in men’s wisdom, but on a demonstration of God’s power. And here are those four characteristics that I’ll be talking to you about tonight. There’s an approach to people that comes with humility. There’s an attitude of resolve. There’s an admission of weakness. And then there’s an aim, a specific aim, at a demonstration of God’s power, not men’s wisdom.

 

Now before I begin, Andrew I want to remind you of a couple of things. Number one, your dad would be very proud of you. I love you! Your mom, your sister, and your brother are proud of you. And as proud as we are of you, the Lord Jesus approves you, loves you, and has equipped you my friend, my brother, for this. And to be a part of it, I’m humbled and I’m honored that you would ask me to bring a message to you and to your people here and to the people that you will pastor. Now with that out of the way, which I would save my tears maybe for later, a ministry of power is what every pastor hopes for. And by the way, every believer, as a believer in Christ, is a minister of the Gospel. We are part of the priesthood of believers so this is not just for Andrew Triolo or the pastors at this church. This is a message for all of us because we are a royal priesthood, a holy nation, and we are to proclaim God’s glory and His majesty and His Gospel to the whole world. So this is directed at Tree but it’s for all of us.

 

  1. An Approach to People That Comes With Humility

 

So let me just remind you firstly of this first characteristic of a ministry of power and that’s that you would approach people with humility. C. S. Lewis says, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it’s thinking of yourself less.” And if there’s anything that will help you think less of yourself it’s ministering to youth. I’ve done it for twenty-five years and they will make sure you know where you stand. Ministering to middle school kids I often say is like walking into a room full of puppies. They’re oblivious to almost all of what you say and if you get close to them they’ll wet the floor and leave you to clean up the mess! Ministering to high school kids is much like walking into a room full of German Shepherds. They’re looking for every weakness, they can smell it a mile away, and they will eat you alive.

 

Tree’s Experience at Christ Covenant

It reminds me of Tree’s first event with us at Christ Covenant as an intern. You know where I’m going with this! So Tree was so excited. He worked so hard to raise his support to get all the necessary paperwork out of the way to be an intern and we were having a middle school even which he was assigned to our middle school pastor, Matt Smith, and the first thing they did was go outside and play a game of squirrel tag. Now squirrel tag is basically like duck-duck-goose on steroids. So you have kids laying in a circle and they chase each other around. If you’ve ever seen two squirrels chasing each other around the bottom of a tree or up a tree, that’s basically what it is. And so they’re outside, it’s cool, I believe it’s in the middle of winter, and they’re chasing each other around. They’re laying on the ground, grass flying everywhere, and Tree is just chasing kids. It’s his first night, he’s so full of energy, he can’t wait to be here and he’s finally got his opportunity. And he gets in there and he starts chasing all the kids. And we go back inside and it’s much warmer inside and he’s sitting there and he starts to get lightheaded and he’s sweating and one of the young middle school boys says, “Tree, are you okay?” He said, “No.” He gets up, runs to the bathroom, and Tree’s lunch left his body! And you could say Tree gave it all that night! He came right back in and jumped back in! But the point I want you to know is, in all the years that I’ve known Tree, which I saw him come to Christ as a sophomore in high school on a fall retreat, I’ve seen him grow up as a man, as a Christian, I’ve seen him meet his lovely wife. I got the privilege of doing their premarital counseling and marrying them and now I’m here; just another beautiful step along the way. Tree has given it all and will give it all. He’s been approved and is ready for this task with the Lord’s help.

 

Paul’s Great Humility

But I want you to notice, back to our text here, that Paul approached the Corinthians with great humility. Notice what he says there again in verse 1. “When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquent speech or wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. I came to you in weakness and fear and with much trembling.” Now, remember, Paul was very well educated, well spoken. He was no slouch. He was a good leader and he was a good pastor. Yet he humbled himself as he came to speak to the Corinthians. He didn’t come in going, “I’m here. Can everybody line up and hear me now?” He came with great humility as he approached the Corinthians and as he came to them. I’m reminded of what Paul says in 2 Corinthians chapter 3 verse 5. “Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our confidence comes from God.”

 

You see, the truth that every good pastor knows is this. Good preaching, good ministry is not successful because a pastor is eloquent, wise, or fearless. Powerful ministry is built on the foundation of humility that seeks the Lord for a daily demonstration of His power so that people’s faith would not rest on the minister but on the power of God. Andrew, this is the approach I’ve seen you take many times with students. You come humbly. It’s part of who you are. It’s why I love you so much. Remember, you as a pastor in this church need the same grace and demonstration of God’s power in your life as they need in theirs. Humility, when approaching people, starts with a humility as you approach God. So as you come before Him and pray and seek His leading, come humbly before God.

 

The Humility of Abraham

I’m reminded of Abraham when he speaks to God about the destruction of Sodom. And he says in Genesis chapter 18 verse 27, “Then Abraham spoke up again, ‘Now that I have been so bold to speak to the Lord, though I am nothing but dust and ashes.’” And if you remember the story, Abraham continues to talk to God – fifty, forty-five, forty, thirty, twenty, ten – and in each one of those conversations, Abraham says something like this. “Please Lord, don’t be angry with me now. Now that I have been so bold, I am nothing but dust and ashes, let me speak to you once more.” Do you hear the humility as Abraham approached the Lord? And it translated into his humility as he approached people.

 

You remember in Exodus chapter 3 when God speaks to Moses and calls him to go to Egypt to set the people free? Moses says in Exodus chapter 3:11, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and that I should bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt?” And one of my favorite stories is about King Hezekiah. He and the people of Jerusalem were saved from Sennacherib, King of Assyria, and the people grew wealthy and prosperous to the point of pride. And Hezekiah became sick but he did not humble himself before the Lord and God’s anger burned against the people. And in 2 Chronicles chapter 32 verse 26 it says, “However, Hezekiah humbled the spirit of his heart and the pride of his heart, both he and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the wrath of the Lord did not come on them in the days of Hezekiah.”

 

And then you know the Lord Jesus humbled Himself, became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross, so we have a great example that we humble our self before the people and there is great power in humbling yourself when you come to be a pastor. So first of all, we have the approach to people with humility.

 

  1. An Attitude of Resolve

 

And this leads to our second point of a characteristic when there’s a powerful ministry and that is, there is an attitude of resolve. Notice what Paul says. He resolved to “know nothing but Jesus Christ and him crucified.” John Piper says that “Christ died to save us from hell but not to save us from the cross. He died so that we could be glorified, but not to keep us from being crucified. ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily.’ For the Christian, the cross of Christ is not merely a place of substitution; it is also a present place of daily execution.” So as you proclaim the Gospel of Christ and as you think about resolving to know nothing but Christ Jesus and Him crucified, I want to remind you, Andrew, that a pastor’s life is one of daily dying. John 12:24 says, “Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains alone. But if it dies it bears much fruit.”

 

So why would Paul make this his single resolve in his ministry to the Corinthians? I think it’s pretty clear. It’s because Paul knew that only Jesus Christ could be the answer for the problems that the people have because Jesus when He is lifted up, the Bible says He will draw all men to Himself. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up that anyone who believes in Him may have eternal life. And then in John 12:32 Jesus says, “And I when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people to myself.” Richard Pratt, in his commentary on 1 and 2 Corinthians, says this. “The crucifixion, the way of salvation, was the most offensive dimension of the Gospel and it opposed the human arrogance of Jews and Gentiles. But, it was nevertheless the power of God for salvation.” And if you notice, if you turn in your Bible just a little bit, one page before, you will notice what Paul says in 1 Corinthians chapter 1 verse 18. “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.’” So Paul knew, as he came to the Corinthians, the thing that he must focus on, the attitude of resolve that he must have is, “I will lift up Christ and Him crucified because there is no other solution to a broken and sinful world.”

So the first two parts of a ministry of power are this approach to people with humility; then there’s the attitude of resolve that Paul had to know nothing but Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

 

  1. An Admission of Weakness

 

And then thirdly, there’s an admission of weakness. Notice what he said in verses 3 and 4. “I came to you in weakness and fear and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power.” Every spiritual leader must be willing to admit his weakness because every Spirit-filled leader knows that they are weak and frail. Anything less is a sham. We are all broken because of the fall and we will not be made whole until Jesus Christ comes back. In Dan Allender’s book, Leading With A Limp, he says this. “The leader’s character is what makes the difference between advancing or decentering the moral, confidence, and commitment of an organization. The truth about confession is that it doesn’t lead to people’s weakness and disrespect. Instead, it transformed the leader’s character and earns greater respect and power. This is the paradox of leading.” And here he mentions the core assumption of the book. “To the degree you attempt to hide or disassemble your weakness, the more you will need to control those you lead, the more insecure you will become, and the more rigidly you will impose, prompting the ultimate departure of your best people. The dark spiral of spin control inevitably leads to people’s cynicism and mistrust so do yourself a favor and your organization a favor and don’t go there. Prepare now to admit to you and to your staff that you are the organization’s chief sinner.”

 

Paul Admits His Weaknesses

That’s powerful! And Paul wasn’t afraid to admit his weakness. He came with weakness, fear, trembling, inability, stumbling, and unpersuasive words because he knew that within himself there was this gaping void of what was necessary to build the faith of God’s people. Paul knew he needed a demonstration of the Spirit’s power. And every pastor, if they’re worth their salt, will beg God for that demonstration of power because we don’t have it in ourselves. You know Paul had detractors in his ministry. If you look at 2 Corinthians chapter 10 verse 10 it says, “Some say his letters are weighty and forceful but in person, he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing.” That’s in the Scriptures. We don’t think of the Apostle Paul often as being described in that way, right? We think of him as being powerful and persuasive and having eloquence. I happen to believe that was because the Spirit demonstrated His power through Paul’s writing and his weakness and through his words.

 

So with that in mind, let me jump to the fourth characteristic of a powerful ministry. First of all, we have the approach to people with humility, then the attitude of resolve to know nothing but Christ and Him crucified, the admission of weakness that every pastor should be willing to do. If the apostle Paul wrote down for all of eternity in the Word of God that is eternal his weakness, then Tree, admit your weakness. I know you; you have a few! But they’re not overcome-able because in our weakness God’s power is perfected.

 

  1. An Aim at the Demonstration of God’s Power Not Men’s Wisdom

 

So lastly, the fourth characteristic of this ministry of power is an aim at the demonstration of God’s power not men’s wisdom. As I thought about what I would say this evening, this passage came to mind. The sermon title took a while, but I came up with the idea of this ministry of power because that’s what I think every Gospel ministry, Gospel pastor wants – is a ministry of power. And in our day of celebrity pastors, what we need is a fresh demonstration of the power of God so that people’s faith do not rest on the pastor and are not built on the pastor alone, but on a demonstration of God’s power.

 

 

The Power of God in the Preaching of John Bunyan

And as I thought about that, I thought of who may have exemplified a ministry of power. And right away the man who came to mind, he’s been dead a long time, was John Bunyan. Remember, he wrote Pilgrim’s Progress. He wrote over sixty other books. Bunyan was an uneducated metal worker, or a tinker as they called them. He was in prison for twelve years because he would not stop preaching. He would not say, “I will stop preaching the Gospel.” So twelve years he spent in prison which he could have been released. All he had to do was say, “I’ll stop preaching.” And he said, “No, I won’t.” And God used him in a powerful way.

 

The amazing thing about Bunyan was that he was not educated but yet his preaching and his ministry had tremendous power. He was converted in 1655 and at his conversion, he was asked shortly after that to go and exhort the church, which he did. And in the midst of that exhortation, a preacher was born, a pastor was born. So much so that his biographer, John Brown, says this. “When the country understood that the tinker turned preacher was preaching, they came to hear his words by the hundred and that from all parts.” It also is recorded that when a day’s notice was given that John Bunyan would be preaching, twelve hundred people would show up at 7 o’clock in the morning before people would go to work to hear him preach. That’s an amazing thought, it is not?

 

When the King of England, King Charles, asked probably the greatest Puritan theologian, John Owen, “Why do you go hear the uneducated tinker preach?” this is what John Owen said. “I would willingly exchange my learning for the tinker’s power of touching men’s hearts.” So Andrew, my prayer for you is this. Is that your message and your preaching would not be with just persuasive words and with wisdom but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power so that the people you pastor might not have their faith rest on you and your wisdom but on a demonstration of the Spirit’s power.

 

Would you join me in prayer?

 

Father, we do commit Andrew and Jeri Lyn to You and to Your grace. Lord, we so want to see a man on fire. We so want to see a movement of revival in our country. We want to see a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, that men would be converted, that the nations would be reached, that disciples would be made, that God’s people would be equipped to do the work of ministry, and that the Gospel would cover the face of the earth, the knowledge of God would cover the face of the earth as the waters cover the sea. Lord, it has been a privilege and I’m grateful to You that I have known Andrew all these years. Thank You for his conversion. Thank You for his sanctification. Thank You for his persistence and diligence through many difficulties that we can’t even mention now, and obstacles to come to this point. He has persevered, and God I am so thankful that You have not let him go. Lord, bless him in this ministry, bless him in this church. We commit him to you now, in Jesus’ name. And all God’s people said, amen.