Motive, Method, Mission

By / Aug 26

Do please take a Bible in hand and turn with me to Psalm 51; Psalm 51, page 747 of the church Bible. Psalm 51, as you may know, is the great penitential psalm, a psalm of confession, crying to God for cleansing and pardon. The historical context is provided for us in the superscription at the head of the passage which reads, "To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David when Nathan the prophet went to him after he had gone into Bathsheba." So you remember the situation. David has committed adultery and Nathan has confronted him with the Word of God and David was deeply convicted of his sin. This is his prayer as he turns back to the Lord.

 

And while we're going to read the psalm together in just a moment, it's not my intention to work through it all this evening, rather I want to direct your attention to verse 13 in particular where we're shown how the work of grace for which David cries, the work of grace in his life, relates to the ministry David purposes to exercise. In other words, he understands that if he is to faithfully discharge his duties as Israel's shepherd, he must himself become intimately acquainted with the mercy of God. And we're going to consider the teaching of our passage under three very simple headings. We'll think, as you can see from the title of the message, we'll think about the motive and the method and the mission of faithful ministry. The motive, method, and mission of faithful ministry. Before we read the psalm together, let me invite you to bow your heads with me as we pray. Let us pray.

 

O King Jesus, rule Your Church now, by the royal scepter of Your holy Word. For we ask it in Your name, amen.

 

Psalm 51 at verse 1. This is the Word of God:

 

“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!

For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice. Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.

Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you. Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness. O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

Do good to Zion in your good pleasure; build up the walls of Jerusalem; then will you delight in right sacrifices, in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings; then bulls will be offered on your altar.”

 

Amen, and we bless the Lord that He has spoken in His Word.

 

I wonder if those of you who are involved in any capacity in teaching on any kind of regular basis would agree with the thesis that a teacher who is not a learner is a liability. A teacher who is not a learner is a liability. To try and teach what you don’t know is a recipe for disaster. Isn’t it? Whatever we might say about teaching in general, it’s surely beyond all dispute that what the Church of Jesus Christ needs is not men to teach about a Jesus they’ve never met, but pastors whose preaching is the overflow of deep, personal acquaintance with Him. Psalm 51 verse 13 is a reminder that faithful ministry to others happens when God is at work ministering to us.

 

The Motive

Notice how verse 13 begins. “Then I will teach.” Then I will teach. The word “then” is supplied in the English translation – it’s not there in the original – but that’s what the Hebrew means. What David says in verse 13 follows as a consequence of what he’s been saying in the rest of the psalm. Here’s the motive, first of all, for David’s ministry. “Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your steadfast love,” and then, “I will teach.” “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquities and cleanse me from my sin,” and then, “I will teach.” “Purge me with hyssop and I shall be clean; let me hear joy and gladness. Hide your face from my sin and blot out my iniquity,” and then, “I will teach.” “Cleanse me. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence nor take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and uphold me with a willing spirit.” “Do a fresh and renewed work of grace; forgive and cleanse and renew my heart. Come to me, by the Gospel as it were. Minister to me the pardon You provide for sinners who come to You in faith. And then, I will teach transgressors Your way.”

 

You may have seen the news reports the other week about the man who committed suicide by stealing an empty airplane from the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport where he worked as part of the ground crew and he crashed it into an island nearby. He managed to take off, even perform some impressive aerial acrobatics much to the amazement of air traffic control. It turns out, this man did not have a pilot's license and had never flown a plane before. When they asked, he told air traffic control that he learned to do what he was doing from playing video games. Of course, the one thing he couldn't learn from a video game, the one rather complicated maneuver that he couldn't just intuit his way through, was how to land. I won't repeat the rest of the tragic tale, I'm sure you can guess if you don't know how things ended, but my point is that virtual learning can take you quite far. This man was able to take off and perform loops in the sky without ever having flown a plane before; no firsthand acquaintance with all that's involved in flying a plane. And yet, he managed to do a lot but he didn't know everything he needed to know to be safe. That kind of learning you can't get from books or from video games for that matter. No, for that, you must have personal experience. You have to sit in the cockpit and perform the maneuvers.

 

Personal Experience of Truths

Look, a minister can fake it pretty effectively for a while. We have books, we have learning, we have plenty of head-knowledge. More is required if a minister is going to fulfill his ministry safely in a way that serves others rather than endangers them. For that, he must have deep, personal experience; experience of the truths that he preaches. David, in verse 13, isn't trying to strike a deal with God. This isn't sort of quid pro quo. He's not trying to leverage forgiveness. You know, "If I agree to teach, will You forgive me? How about that?" That's not what this is. This isn't a plea bargain because he finds himself now in a foxhole, in a jam, and he's trying to bargain his way out. That's not what's going on. No, this is David's resolution, his commitment that when the cleansing power of Gospel mercy breaks in upon his heart he will not keep what he's come to know for himself to himself. He will tell others trapped in sin's snare how to find deliverance.

 

In Luke 22:31 and 32, Jesus told Simon, "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded to have you that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers." It's the same point that David is making here. Isn't it? When you have turned back, when you're restored, don't keep it to yourself. Strengthen your brothers. "Then," David says, "when grace has washed my heart and made me clean, when forgiving mercy has restored me," he says, "then I will teach transgressors Your ways." Nothing sustains ministry, nothing will keep you serving and praying and preaching and teaching and loving and giving, Gary, nothing will but the grace and mercy of God toward you personally in the Gospel. Those of us who dare to teach others must work to ensure that our message to others is the fruit, the overflow of our deep, personal acquaintance actually with two great facts principally.

 

Know our Sinful Hearts

First, we must have a very clear and growing acquaintance with the depravity of our own sinful hearts so that we despair of self-reliance. A minister is to be the repenter-in-chief. Without a clear grasp of how proud and vain and deceptive our own hearts are, we will not likely serve our master in a posture of dependence upon Him, but rather we will rely on ourselves. So we need to see the truth about ourselves, our own wicked hearts.

 

Know the Savior’s Love

And we also need a clear and growing acquaintance with another great truth, a greater truth. We must know above all the Savior’s love towards us personally as Gospel servants; the Savior’s love toward us in the Gospel so that as we despair of ourselves we will not fail to preach boldly the unsearchable riches of Christ who is God’s great remedy for our heart trouble as well as for yours. It is, as Paul said, “the love of Christ that constrains us.” “Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all!” It’s because I am so loved that I love. And for the minister of the Gospel that means that we serve others and we preach the Word out of a sense of despairing of self and out of a wonder that we are so beloved in the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. And we want others to come with us to see those twin truths – the wretchedness of a sinner’s heart and the perfect sufficiency of Jesus our Savior. “Then,” he says, “then I will teach transgressors Your ways.” The motive for ministry is personal acquaintance with the grace of God in his own life.

 

The Method

Then secondly, notice what we learn here about the method of a faithful ministry. What is it that David commits himself to? He is the king of Israel and as king, there were doubtless a thousand tasks that he could not safely neglect as he led his people. But his resolution here is to "teach transgressors God's ways." His subject is the ways of God, the life to which God calls us; His law, His character, His will for His people. Transgression is the characteristic mark of people who do not know or do not care to know the ways of God. They make up their own ways. They live according to their own understanding. And when self rules like that, every step we take along the path of our own willful rebellion transgresses; it crosses the line. It's an act of trespass into forbidden territory. The only safe paths are God's ways.

 

The Ways of God

And David says, “Having strayed myself from those paths, having wandered off into disobedience and sin of my own, having taken a wrong turn time and again and having fallen hard,” David says, “I know the emptiness and regret of that mistake. I know that those detours are, every one of them, dead ends. And so when the Lord restores me, I will devote myself to teaching others the ways of God that they might not fall as I once have.” And so David the king commits himself to becoming David the teacher. “Then I will teach transgressors Your ways.” When grace grips a heart and pardon and cleansing and mercy comes in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we find, awakening in our lives, a growing urge to serve one another. It’s a mark, an evidence of grace. Grace always propels us beyond ourselves towards others. For David, the ministry before him was a ministry of teaching the ways of God, teaching the Word of God, the promises of God.

 

Order of Priority

Look, isn’t it easy, those of us who serve in Gospel ministry, isn’t it easy to get our ministerial priorities skewed by the administrative and organizational pressures that inevitably come with pastoral office? Isn’t it easy to justify our business and our neglect of our main task by telling ourselves that all the other details to which we’ve devoted our time and effort, well, they’re ministry too? And when David says here, “I will teach transgressors,” he’s not for a moment suggesting that he will neglect the other tasks of kingship any more than I’m suggesting that a Gospel minister should neglect any of the administrative or organizational duties that fall to him, but there’s an order of priority. There’s a definite focus to David’s rededication to the Lord as mercy and pardon come to him. Yes he will rule, yes he will lead, yes he will defend his people, yes he will administer justice; he will do all that a king must do. Yes to all of it, but above all and at the heart of it all, he will teach transgressors God’s ways.

 

A Gospel minister is to minister the Gospel. That ought not to be surprising or controversial, but it is one, I think, we often neglect. A Gospel minister ought to minister the Gospel. Gary, out of the overflow of God’s gracious dealings with you, preach the Word to others. Teach transgressors God’s ways. Let the exposition and application of the Word of God be the hallmark of your ministry. Make Christ known. Show us what He’s done, how He deals with sinners who turn to Him. Teach transgressors God’s way. The method of faithful ministry.

 

The Mission

Then thirdly, the mission, the mission of faithful ministry. “Then I will teach transgressors your ways and sinners will return to you.” Notice how those two lines parallel one another. That’s a common feature of Hebrew poetry here. The second line restates and amplifies the first line. David’s teaching is mirrored by sinners returning. And that highlights, doesn’t it, the remarkable confidence David has about the goals and the outcomes of his teaching work. Transgressors and sinners are his audience. The ways of God his subject. Teaching his methodology. And when he reaches them with this teaching of God’s ways, His Word, there is an assured result. “Sinners will return to You.” Calvin put it this way. He said, “The sanguine manner in which David expresses his expectation of converting others is not unworthy of our notice.”

 

Our Inability

Listen, we are too apt to conclude that our attempts at reclaiming the ungodly are vain and ineffectual and forget God is able to crown them with success. God is able to crown them with success. This isn’t a boast by David. “You know, when I teach they just won’t be able to resist! Revival will immediately ensue, and sinners will all come flocking to you!” That’s not what he’s saying. It is, rather, a declaration of confidence. “I will teach; they will return, not because my teaching is mighty or eloquent or clever, but because Your Word is able to give life to the dead and sight to the blind.” “He speaks and listening to His voice, new life the dead receive. The mournful, broken hearts rejoice; the humble poor believe.” The Gospel is the power of God. The power is in the Word. Teach transgressors God’s ways. Preach Christ crucified. Say to the dry bones, “Live!” That’s our task. It’s an impossible task. We can’t turn sinners to the Savior. We can’t make dead people live.

 

The Power of the Word

When God told Ezekiel to prophesy to the dry bones, Ezekiel must have felt, “What a ridiculous thing to be asked to do.” These dry, desiccated bones – an image, a graphic image of lifelessness if ever there was one. But the Spirit of God brings life where the Word is proclaimed and as Ezekiel began to speak to prophesy, there came a rattling sound as God moved by His Spirit and brought life to these dead bones. Your job, Gary, is to teach transgressors God’s way. But David had every confidence as he did that when he proclaimed the truth, sinners would return to God. Sinners will return to God. We have an impossible mission, impossible. It appears to us ridiculous. “Say to Lazarus, ‘Come forth!’” He’s dead. Flatline – beeeeep! There’s nothing. And yet at the summons of Christ in the preaching of the Word, dead men live. So what confidence we can have as we proclaim Christ. Sinners will return to God. The dead will hear and all whom the Father has given to Christ will come to Christ. We do have an impossible mission, but it’s a mission that cannot fail. From our vantage point, impossible; from God’s, certain and sure.

 

So Gary, let the motive of your ministry always be the grace of God working in your own heart. Tend to your heart. Keep short accounts with God. Stay, as we were singing earlier, “within the shadow of the cross,” that from the comfort with which you have been comforted you might comfort others also. Let the method of your ministry be the clear, bold, urgent, faithful proclamation of the ways of God. Teach transgressors His ways. Do not shrink back like Paul from declaring to us the whole counsel of God. And finally, cling to the mission, the assured mission, the infallible mission of a faithful ministry. An absurd task, an impossible responsibility. We can’t move a sinner an inch away from hell or an inch toward heaven, and yet when we say to the dry bones, “Live!” listen out for the sound of rattling as bone is connected to bone and God reconstitutes and raises up and brings to life what, to us, is dead and seemingly hopeless cases, return to the Lord. We have an impossible task that cannot fail. Brothers and sisters, be encouraged by the boldness of David and by the confidence he had in the Word of God. The mission cannot fail. Yes, these dry bones can live. “Then I will teach transgressors Your ways and sinners will return to You.” Let’s pray together.

 

O Lord, we bow before You and we praise Your name that Your Word is living and active, that it is bearing fruit and increasing. We pray that through our brother Gary’s ministry, as the Word of Christ, as the ways of God are proclaimed and taught, that indeed we would see sinners returning to You and dry bones living, for the glory of Christ’s name, amen.

 



Him We Proclaim

By / Aug 6

Now as has been said, we have, tonight, the great joy of celebrating with John and Kelley Beth as the presbytery of the Mississippi Valley ordains John into the Gospel ministry and sends him back to India to proclaim the unsearchable riches of Christ. If I can presume to speak for a moment on behalf of your church family here at First Pres, we want you to know, John and Kelley Beth, that we love you both and our hearts are full tonight as the call of God on your lives is confirmed visibly here among us. We rejoice to be partners with you in the Lord’s work and we want to assure you of our prayer and our support as you go about it all in His name.

 

Now as we think about what it means to serve the Lord in Gospel ministry, I want to invite you, if you would, to take a copy of God’s Word in your hands and to turn with me to the book of Colossians, chapter 1; Colossians chapter 1. We’ll be reading verses 24 through 29. If you have a church Bible, you will find that on page 983. Colossians chapter 1 at verse 24. Once you have the text of holy Scripture open before you, let’s bow our heads together as we pray. Let’s pray.

 

Lord, we bow before You and we pray that the Lord Jesus, the King and head of His Church, would rule in us and over us tonight by the royal scepter of His holy Word, for we ask it in Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Colossians chapter 1 at verse 24. This is the Word of God:

 

“Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.”

 

Amen, and we give thanks to God that He has spoken in His holy and inerrant Word.

 

This is a passage that John himself chose for the occasion because God has used it in his life in shaping his sense of call to the work of the ministry. And I'm glad to be preaching on it because it's also one of those texts that God has used in the same way in my own life and ministry. And it gives us a marvelous and balanced view of what it means to go and to serve Jesus as a preacher of His Word. And I want you to notice, unsurprisingly, three things here with me. First of all, I want you to notice the suffering of Gospel ministry. The suffering of Gospel ministry there in verse 24, and then suffering of another kind in verse 28. Then secondly, there’s the stewardship of Gospel ministry, verses 25 through the beginning of 28. The Gospel minister is a steward to whom a task has been entrusted by the Master that he must fulfill with diligence. Suffering, stewardship, then finally, strength for Gospel ministry there in verse 29. The suffering is real, sometimes overwhelming. The stewardship is weighty and will demand every ounce of your intellectual and emotional energy, John. But the good news is, God has the resources of strength to sustain you and to keep you and to hold you up and to make you useful in His service. Okay? So that’s where we’re going. Those are our three points. Suffering in the ministry, the stewardship of the ministry, and then strength for ministry.

 

Suffering of Gospel Ministry

Let's think about the suffering of the ministry first of all. Look at verse 24, please. Verse 24, "Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church." Paul is suffering and it's clear that the sufferings in view in verse 24 are physical. They are "in my flesh" he says. He has endured persecution, imprisonment. He's been beaten. There's pain in his limbs. He has the scars to show for it. For Paul, following Jesus and preaching His Word came sometimes at a terrible cost. And while it may be hard for most of us here in our relative comfort and luxury to conceive of something like that happening among us, John, you know very well don’t you, that it’s not so hard to conceive as you return to minister in your homeland. That ought to be, I think for all of us tonight, a somewhat sobering and weighty thing. What I think your church family here needs to keep in mind as we pray for you and for the team. Here, preaching Christ may earn you the contempt of liberal elites at worst. There, it may cost you very much more.

 

And notice why Paul endures these repeated rounds of suffering. Why does he keep walking into one wave after another of persecution and affliction like this? Well twice he says he does it – do you see this in the text? – he does it for the sake of the Church. “I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake,” he says. He does it for the sake of Christ’s body, that is, the Church. It is love to the people of God that drives him. It is a burden for the lost that animates him. It is the knowledge that he has been commissioned by the King of kings to go into harm’s way to rescue the perishing elect of God by announcing to them the good news about Jesus Christ.

 

And notice, too, the fascinating, difficult phrase there in the middle of verse 24. Did you spot it as we read it together? Here's how Paul thinks of the suffering that he endures. "In my flesh," he says, "I am filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions." That's a challenging phrase, isn't it? Of course, Paul doesn't mean that Jesus' suffering for the Church at the cross was somehow deficient. Here's what I think he means. The world hates the Church. The world is not done afflicting – sorry, the world hates Christ. It's not done afflicting Him. There are more afflictions for Jesus that the world has yet to mete out. But since they cannot get at Christ, what is left over in the afflictions of Christ now fall to His representatives and spokesmen, to His Church and to His servants and in particular to His ministers. So, Paul says, that the hatred of the world, the enmity that exists between Christ and the world is now turned towards him and the sufferings he endures is the suffering that is the response, the visceral response of a world living in rebellion to the claims of King Jesus. Every dart, every wound, every fist that afflicted Paul, he knows really has Jesus' name on it. It's all meant for Him but it lands on Paul. There's physical suffering here. Sometimes there's a cost, a very real cost, a physical cost for those who go in Christ's name. That's a sobering thing.

 

But there’s also suffering of another kind in our passage that belongs especially to the ministry of the Gospel. Look down at the other end of our text for a moment. Verse 29, “For this,” Paul says, “I toil, struggling,” he says. That is the character of faithful Gospel ministry. It’s marked by toil and struggle. There’s no place for coasting; no place for indolence. No way to be casual and offhand about spiritual things and eternal destinies. The Gospel ministry involves suffering. And so as we set apart our dear brother to this sacred task, he has a claim on our prayers in the light of the suffering that waits for him. Doesn’t he? He has a claim on our prayers, on our solidarity, and on our love.

 

Stewardship of Gospel Ministry

But then secondly, I want you to notice that Gospel ministry involves a stewardship. That’s Paul’s language in verse 25. “I became a minister according to the stewardship from God given to me for you.” The word for “minister” is the word for “servant” and the word for “stewardship” would have immediately conjured up images of a great house in which the servant, the minister, was entrusted with the wise management of the household’s resources. He was to ensure there was food and provision for the family. It’s the image of a Gospel minister. He is a servant, a household slave as it were; entrusted with the stewardship for the sake of the family of God. And notice the resources that he is wisely to dispense as a steward. What has he been given stewardship of, precisely? Verse 25, he has stewardship from God, “given to me,” he says, “for you the church to make the Word of God fully known.”

 

Some of you may know the name of Dr. Haddon Robinson who taught preaching for many years. He went to be with the Lord on July 22 of this year. When Dr. Robinson was studying for a doctorate in communication at the University of Illinois, because they had no one to be an advisor in preaching, which is what he wanted to study in particular, he was sent to the library to find a classic scholar by the name of Dr. Dieter instead. Here’s Robinson’s account of his first encounter with Dr. Dieter. “I went in and he said to me, ‘Well, what do you want?’ I said, ‘I want to preach.’ ‘Preach, huh? You believe you need the Holy Spirit to preach?’ ‘Yes, I do.’ ‘Well, you’re out of luck,’ said Dr. Dieter. ‘He hasn’t been on campus for fifty years.’ But on the long library table between them lay a pulpit Bible covered in dust and Dr. Dieter pointed to it and said, ‘You know how that book differs from Aristotle and Quintillion and Plato? I’ll tell you. That book’s alive. I don’t know anybody whose life has been changed by studying these books, but I do know some people whose lives have been changed by studying that book.’”

 

The message of the Word of God is the stewardship entrusted to Paul and to Gospel ministers to make the Word of God fully known, to preach the Word, to open the Book. And the message, Paul says in verse 26, is a once hidden, now revealed "mystery." Verse 27 says he is to preach it among the Gentiles. It is a message laden with the riches of glory, he says. But here's why it's life-altering. Here's what makes it richly glorious. At its heart is the good news about Jesus Christ. “Christ in you,” Paul says, “the hope of glory. Him we proclaim.” That is the heart of a steward’s work. To preach Christ in every place in holy Scripture. To show how these are they, the Scriptures, which speak of Him. Make Him known among the nations, the hope of glory. Proclaim Him. Never be sidetracked, John, from this one straight path. Never grow tired of plucking this one string on your banjo. Let it be said of your ministry in years to come, when somebody asks, “What marked out John Prabhakar’s ministry?” let it be said you preached Christ. You are being entrusted with a sacred stewardship in the household of God and you must give them Christ. Make the Word of God fully known. Explain the Scriptures. And show that these are they that speak of Him.

 

Strength for Gospel Ministry

The sufferings of the ministry. The stewardship of the ministry. Lastly, strength for ministry. How in the world are you going to do this? I have bad news for you, brother. You are not up to the task. Me neither. Neither was Paul, actually. So how is it that he was able to rejoice in the midst of sufferings as he says he does in verse 24? How could he persevere through toiling and struggling so mightily? How did he fulfill his sacred stewardship? How will you? How can any of us? Look at verse 29, please. "For this I toil, struggling, with all his energy which he so powerfully works within me." Your resources are meager and inadequate. You don't have the stamina that you will need. Your mental energy, your emotional intelligence won't get you very far. Neither will it me nor any of us in the service of Jesus. However, will we make it? Paul could toil and struggle; so can you, so can we all, as we serve the Lord together because of Christ's energy powerfully worked within us. There is a deep well from which to draw that will never run dry for you in Jesus Christ. He will keep you. He will sustain you. He is enough.

 

Paul uses three Greek words in verse 29 from which our English words “energy,” “agony,” and “dynamite” come. You need energy. You will endure agony. But Christ has the dynamite power of grace to bear you up and to carry you along and to keep you to the end. Some of us here tonight might find ourselves at the end of our rope wondering if we can carry on. Not in yourself, that’s for sure. You certainly can’t carry on in your own resources or strength. You were never really meant to. But the Lord Jesus Christ has energy to work powerfully in you. He will keep you. He will keep you. So the task of ministry is daunting. The enormity of the task facing you and your colleagues in India is, it is overwhelming. Remember, it was actually John Knox who first said that “One man plus Christ equals a majority.” Remember, dear brother, that the message you have to preach to others, “Christ in you, the hope of glory,” is the same message that will sustain and keep you even as you proclaim Him. So keep close to Christ. However sharply honed your gifts become, however proficient in the daily duties of ministry you may come to be, it’s only by the powerful working of Christ’s energy in you, you will endure it all with joy, fulfilling the stewardship He has entrusted to you to the praise of the glory of His grace.

 

So there’s suffering in ministry and there’s a glorious but demanding stewardship in ministry, but praise God there is also strength for ministry as we cling together to Jesus. Would you pray with me?

 

Our Father, we praise You that You are sufficient for us, that Christ is enough, enough for all of us as we serve You, enough for John as he fulfills the stewardship tonight being entrusted to Him. We pray for him and we pray for one another that You would help all of us to cling to Christ and that His mighty power and energy might strength us as we seek to serve You. For we ask it in Jesus’ name, amen.