CONFIDENT IN GOD: The Basis of Real Ministry
You cannot out suffer God’s comfort
2 Corinthians 1:1-11
Jerry A Collins
v Should we try to make a point with others?
v What happens when we suffer in this world?
v Does suffering have a purpose for others and us?
You can never lose your confidence in God. Suffering, difficulty, trials, disappointments, and turnarounds can profoundly impact our confidence in God, in His abilities, in His care of us. So many have gone on a downward spiral because they have lost their confidence in God. And that is not without it’s consequences. Where do you turn now? To what and to whom will you turn? What you decide to do in those moments will bring an avalanche of consequences you may have to live with for a very long time. The message of this book is that none of us need to ever lose our confidence in God. We can be shaken for sure, we can be blindsided, opposed, disillusioned, knocked down and misunderstood but we can still pull through, we can still make our case, we can still persevere when we maintain our confidence in God, in what He is doing, in what He has done, in who He is and the promises He has given. Are you confident in God? Well, this book will determine that for you. The series is titled: Confident in God: the basis of real ministry. There are two main ideas that begin this book and then are fleshed in the argument the book makes. These two ideas enunciated here will be developed and expanded upon in the rest of the book.
WE CAN BE CONFIDENT IN GOD’S SOVEREIGN WILL 1-2
It is interesting that the book begins with the premise of Paul’s’ apostleship in vs 1. It is not unusual for him to refer to himself as an apostle in many of his letters. But in this book it is especially potent because the main body of the letter is a defense of his apostleship, which was being attacked by false apostles from within the church who opposed Paul and his badge of discipleship.
1. Apostleship is associated with being associated with Jesus Christ. The apostles as a whole made a point of authenticating their special status because of their intimate association with Jesus Christ as his specially commissioned disciples. So here Paul says he is an apostle of Christ Jesus. We do know he was specifically sent by Christ in Acts 9:15. But here at the very beginning he makes the point of his true, authentic, apostleship to contrast later with the so-called false apostles in !
2. This apostleship is by God’s will specifically of the New Covenant 3:6 which is ministry primarily to the Gentiles. He connects the dots of his call and ministry to the will of God. Whatever you are, you are by the will of God. And whatever ministry you have, you have by the will of God. And the will of God for your life is determined by what you are and what you have so you can fulfill that will and calling of God in your life. That was true for Paul.
3. Ministry is linked to
people and for people. A loved associate in ministry was Timothy whom he calls
a brother. Timothy was known to this group of believers at
4. Grace and peace is what shepherds long to see in the lives of those they want to serve. This is what God wants for them—that is, our Father and His Son. We do not want to settle for conformity to rules or religious duty-bound ritual but to grace—favor to undeserved—and peace—not at war with God, his will.
WE CAN BE CONFIDENT THAT SUFFERING SERVES A PURPOSE
One of the paradoxes of the xian life is that the grace of God is experienced most when is often our worst of times. This grace is so evident especially when we find ourselves suffering not just generally in life, but suffering associated with our determination to follow God’s directive revealed will. There are at least three things we can say that make this suffering valuable.
1. Suffering allows us to comfort others 3-7. He begins by ‘speaking well’ of God in vs 3. It is the idea of giving thanks to God for who He is and what He has done. This is a good thing to do to begin your prayers. He also calls our God the ‘Father of mercies’. God is the source of mercy—where mercy comes from! And further the ‘God of all comfort’ or encouragement. The God from whom all help comes! Paul will testify of this mercy and comfort personally vs 8. Comfort is not an attribute of God but a work of God that Paul mentions nine times in these verses. I have not had much affliction compared to many. I am not much good at comforting others but in those areas where I have suffered I can comfort others not because I’ve suffered but because God has comforted me vs 4. In vs 5 we can expect sufferings from being associated with Christ in our own age. Jesus suffered in His age and because we are associated with Him we can expect to suffer in our own age. This all precedes the next age where there will be no suffering for those associated with Christ but only for those who are not. This association gives us even more comfort. But vs 6 adds that suffering for the gospel, afflictions, shows you are a believer. God will give you the strength to endure these sufferings just as he has given strength to other suffering believers. Paul’s apostleship was being questioned because he was suffering. But in our age he states that suffering for the gospel is to be expected and that actually proves his apostleship. Then in vs 7 even though these believers did not experience the same exact sufferings Paul did (8-9) both sufferers are linked together because both are overflows of Christ’s sufferings and both experience Gods comfort in them. So there is a divine purpose in human suffering for the sake of the gospel. It proves a ministry is genuine and the person/s are authentic believers. It allows a person to comfort others similar to the comfort they received from God.
2. Suffering forces our focus on heaven and a heavenly perspective 8-10. Here is a vivid recall of intense affliction 8-9. A set of events set in motion with the kind of anguish that drives all hope away! Even to the point of accepting death as inevitable. The result was inability to trust in themselves meaning no longer thinking of or trusting in a way they can deliver selves from the situation. The hope was in resurrection—that physical death is not the end! God will raise us from the dead someday. Our hope is in the eternal not the earthly and so we set our hope there 10. This peril is not specifically identified.
3. Suffering encourages other believers to join in prayer with us 11. The consequence of the one group praying for Paul and God’s deliverance is that now many others will also pray with thanksgiving for what God has done! A mature ministry is a ministry that thanks God for suffering. So here we see prayer at work and a privilege to be in partnership with those who are in need. Hearing about answered prayer and God’s deliverance and provision for others is a stimulus to our own prayer life. Suffering has it’s purposes. So don’t ever assume that if suffering must be out of Gods will. You are never more in it! You can comfort others; you are attentive to heavens vantage point; you pray!