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Three Obvious but Vital Lessons about Gospel Work.

04/11/2011

Before you read this, please read 2nd Corinthians 2:12-17
In this Scripture passage, Paul recounts his final missionary journey in Asia Minor, – he wanted to know how the reforms at Corinth were proceeding, and we see a little snapshot of his movements in this passage, and with this snapshot we learn some very important (if somewhat obvious) lessons about the work of the Gospel:-

1. Church Discord Distracts us from Gospel Work. v12-13
12When I came to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ, even though a door was opened for me in the Lord, 13my spirit was not at rest because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I took leave of them and went on to Macedonia.
Now we see here a record of one of Paul’s visits to a town called Troas, where opportunity had been given to him to preach the word. He could not settle down to the task! He had no rest in his spirit and it was all because of Corinth! Paul had arranged to meet with Titus at Troas, and to hear a report on how the church at Corinth was coping with the reforms that Paul had called for. Titus hadn’t come, and Paul simply couldn’t apply himself to the task of evangelism, because he was so anxious and worried about Corinth. So he left Troas and set off toward Macedonia, a course that would cause him to meet Titus as he journeyed toward Troas.

Trouble in the Church frustrates Gospel Opportunities! Paul’s energies are directed at the wrong thing! Christ had opened a door for Paul to preach, and he couldn’t take advantage of it! Now read the text again and note;-

It was a PERSONAL OPENING! a door was opened unto me This was an opportunity for Paul to preach! God personally commissions individuals to serve him, and he calls and equips them to do so.

It was a TREMENDOUS OPPORTUNITY! a door was opened The ground for that preaching had been supernaturally prepared! The people of Troas had already seen the hand of God at work! Acts 16:8-10 cf Acts 20:10-12. The ground for a great Gospel Crusade had already been prepared! It was a TREMENDOUS OPPORTUNITY!

So, God had chosen Paul for this task, had led him to the right place, where the ground had been prepared to receive the Good Seed of the Gospel! Yet it became a WASTED OPPORTUNITY! God’s people in another church were so hopelessly divided and causing so many problems, that Paul was distracted from the work of the Gospel and the opportunity for witness at Troas was totally squandered!

Trouble in the Church Distracts the Whole Church from its Main Purpose! I say the whole church – because Corinth and Troas were in different continents! Trouble in Corinth prevented the preaching of the Gospel in a far-away place! Do you see how far-reaching church discord can be?
There is a lesson for us all in this sad passage. Before you get involved in any trouble in the local church, think where such trouble always leads! It destroyed the witness of the church at Corinth, and it extended out from that place to Troas, where it wasted a Gospel opportunity.

2. Victorious Christianity is Measured in Terms of Gospel Work. v14
14But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.
Despite what he has just written about the disappointment of missing the opportunity at Troas, Paul asserts that he is a VICTORIOUS CHRISTIAN – in Christ. The victorious Christian is:-

Christian Aromatherapy for the World! Paul says that a victorious Christian is one who, having been already given the victory in Christ, spreads the sweet perfume of the Gospel of grace, wherever he goes!

Gospel Aromatherapy! Now it must be evident, and obvious to all, that to ‘spread the fragrance of Christ, is to be involved in the constant witness for the Lord that is part of our personal evangelism! All of this bears out one of the great truths of Christian work. God never requires his people, his followers to be successful. He does require them to be faithful!

Conversion Aromatherapy! This fragrance is about the KNOWLEDGE of Jesus. It is about really knowing Him. It’s not a kind of ‘nice inoffensive sweetness.’ The fragrance that we spread is the fragrance of God’s Word!

Now, here’s the great challenge in this. Can one be a sweet-smelling savour for the Lord, if one’s life is tainted and contaminated by sin and by the world? Luke 14:34,

3. God is Always Pleased with Faithful Gospel Work. v15-16
15For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, 16to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? 17For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.
The important phrase here is ‘unto God!’ Now, this ‘sweet smelling savour of Christ’ is not just a refreshing breeze to the world around the true Christian, but is pleasing to God!

God is PLEASED with a Christian’s witness! What a comfort for Godly ministers and preachers and missionaries. There have been many who have faithfully proclaimed the Gospel, and seen little earthly response. How soul-destroying that can be! But what comfort to know that all of those faithful gospel efforts are owned and blessed by the Lord and are pleasing to Him!

God is GLORIFIED with a Christian’s witness! The preaching of the Gospel would have different effects on different people. It’s the same savour of Christ and to some that will be the very savour of life, for they will accept the Lord, and take Him as their saviour. To others, the savour of Christ will be the savour of death, for they will reject the Lord, and be angry with the Gospel, and remain in their sins and die in their sins, and be eternally lost in their sins – condemned all the more by their rejection of the Gospel offer! Whichever happens, God is always glorified in the preaching of the Gospel!

In the light of all this teaching on a Christian’s responsibility to promote and not hinder the work of the Gospel, Paul asks the question, And who is sufficient for these things? It is not a rhetorical question, for there is an answer, as to who is able to faithfully preach the Word, proclaim the Gospel in such a way as to spread the aroma of Christ all around, and please God by his witness. 2 Cor. 2:12-17.
It is quite simple, for the only people who are able for this task, are those who do not dilute the Word, do not regard their work as a profession, do not ‘trade’ in preaching, peddling God’s Word. That is why we dare not water down the word for anyone, regardless of who it may offend. The issues are far too important.

From → Editorial

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