The Grace Equipment

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 6:6-7

6 We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us, and by our sincere love.
7 We faithfully preach the truth. God’s power is working in us. We use the weapons of righteousness in the right hand for attack and the left hand for defense.

INTRODUCTION

Last week we talked about verses 4-5 where Paul commends his ministry with proofs that he is authentic. He mentions [1] Internal conflicts [troubles, hardships, distresses], things which press upon us, things that must be endured. Then there are the external tribulations or trials [beatings, imprisonments and mobs or riots]. [3] Finally, the strenuous effort required to be a follower of Christ and a minister of the gospel [hard work, sleepless night and deprivation].
Now Paul turns from the trials and tribulations that must be endured to the equipment God graces us with to accomplish our purpose. Once again, we have a trilogy of trilogies.

I. THE GOD GIVEN QUALITIES OF MIND

  1. Purity [hagnotēs]. This purity involves chastity but it speaks more of intention and motive than chastity. It comes from the same word used for Holy Spirit. The word holy is hagios which is holy. The root word is häg-no’s which means clean, pure, chaste. The word hagnotes is a synonoum from integrity, a clear and pure motive. Remember the quote by E.G. Rupp I shared last week, “The Christian church stands or falls on the integrity of its ministers.” Albert Barnes also said, “To succeed in ministry, a man must have integrity.”
  2. Knowledge {gnōsis} {Understanding} Paul was a very educated man and he put no premium on ignorance. Not only must the Gospel Minister be a man of integrity, he must have an understanding of the gospel he preaches. It is hard to communicate what we do not understand. Barnes says, “The idea is, that the ministry should not be ignorant, but that if they wished to commend their office, they should be well informed, and should be people of good sense. Paul had no belief that an ignorant ministry was preferable to one that was characterized by true knowledge.” My Father in the ministry was Calvin Inman and he believed that a call to preach was a call to prepare. I heard him say that so much that I didn’t pray about going to seminary, I just went but I did some praying after I got there. If I had my way, those who boast about their ignorance would not be allowed in the pulpit. Only a fool would boast of his ignorance. I am deeply ashamed of mine.
  3. Patience: As I have often explained, The AV translates two Greek word for patience and one of them is used in verse 3 and translated endurance by the NASB. The second word is here, makrothumia which means slow to get hot. Some translate it long suffering. I can assure you, a Christian minister will have his patience tried. The devil always has advocates and they know how to pull your string. Dr. Landrum Level use to say, “A horse fly cannot not hurt a horse but he can agrivate the horse until the horse hurts himself.” Dr. Level is right, many a preacher was sent packing because he lost his cool. One outburst is all it takes. Again, my father in the ministry caustion me again and again, “More preachers get out of sorts with their church due to building programs than anything else.” I can give you a recent example: a friend of mine has pastored a church for close to 20 years but he got invested in the plans for a new building and would not compromise. The results: the church fired him and got a new pastor. He lost his cool in a business meeting and they would not forgive him. By the time he realized his mistake, it was too late.

II. THE GOD GIVEN QUALITIES OF HEART

  1. Kindness {chrestotes}. I love this word. William Barclay says it is the opposite of severity…“a sympathic kindness or sweetness of temper which puts others at ease.” Have you been around someone who made you uneasy, unable to relax, to be yourself and then there are those who are the opposite, they free you up and make you feel at ease. None of us fear kindness. I am convinced, that next to humility, kindness may be the greatest virtue. Kindness is next to irrisistable.
  2. Holy Spirit: F.F. Bruce makes the point that all Christian virtues imminate from the Holy Spirit. In the OT, the Holy Spirit is the Ruach ha-kodesh, Spirit of Holiness. I think it is this idea that Paul conveys. We ministers need the Spirit of Holiness and the spirit of holiness. An unholy minister is not a model that Paul would pursue. Barclay agrees, the minister need a spirit of holiness. His highest motive must be to please the LORD whom he serves.
  3. Sincere Love. This one needs little commentary; out love needs to be real and without hypocrisy. The word love is agape, which is love from above. It is not a natural love, it is supernatural. It is not an inherent love, it is an imputed love. It is not a conditional love, it is an unconditional love. Naturally, we love those who love us, we love the lovable but agape loves the unlovely. Two OT stories illustrate this love: the story of Joseph and the story of Hosea. Both Joseph and Hosea are types of Christ: Joseph’s brothers and Gomer are types of sinners like you and I. Joseph’s brothers were liars, thugs, murderers and outlaws. They were devoid of character. Their own father couldn’t trust them. Gomer was a whore. She abandoned her husband and children to play the mistress for men of wealth. Over time, she lost her attractiveness and became a slave. She was a dirty, haggard, ugly slave. There was nothing lovely about her and yet Hosea loved her and took her back.

III. THE GOD GIVEN QUALITIES FOR MINISTRY

  1. Truth: All of this equipment that God has given us came via grace and these things enable us to minister to others. Among them is the TRUTH. What a wonderful gift! I love truth and I hate lies. It is because of a lie that we have abortion on demand and millions of innocent children have died since 1973. Roe vs. Wade was based on a case from Texas involving Norma McCorvey who I met personally some years ago. Norma was not raped: she lied. When she confessed, the judgment was already on its way to the not so Supreme Court. Sarah Weddington, the feminazi lawyer, told Norma to keep her mouth shut, it wasn’t about her. At least Weddington told the truth about that but Roe vs. Wade is base on a fabrication. Are you surprized? We know the truth and the truth will set men free. This world needs Jesus. He is the only One who can fill the vacuum.
  2. Power of God: Paul said in his first letter to the Corinthians, “For the message about Christ’s death on the cross is nonesense to those who are being lost; but for us who are being saved, it is the POWER OF GOD.” Again is chapter 2 Paul says, “When I came to you, I was weak and trembled in fear and my teaching and my message were not delivered by skillfu7l words or human wisdom but with convincing truth of the power of the Holy Spirit.” There is worldly power, no doubt about it but like the sun, it has less energy everyday. Worldly power is deminishing. It has no long term future: God’s power is eternal in nature. George Washington refused to take credit for the war of independence, he knew it was God’s doing. He followed the example of Henry V who refused to allow his minstrels to write songs of praise to him, saying instead, “To God be the glory, great things He hath done.”
  3. Weapons: The Roman soldier had weapons for the right hand and the left. He used his right hand to wheel his sword and the left to hold his shield. The rights was the aggressor, the left was the defender. We need the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God but we also need the shield of faith to keep the darts of doubt from getting to our vitals. We must ward off the incoming projectiles or else we will fall to the enemy.

CONCLUSION

It is truly amazing when we see the God who calls us equipping us with every thing we need to preach the gospel of peace. I have people tell me, “There is not enough money in the world to get me to do what you do.” I usually say, “I fill the same way, there isn’t enough to get me to do it either.” I can’t imagine the horror of doing what I do without the call and equipment that God gives by grace when we surrender to His will.

People keep asking me what I am going to do when I retire and I say, the same things I’ve been doing: preaching the gospel and helping people. That is, as God gives me grace because a part from His power and grace, I can’t preach a lick. You don’t know just how much I marvel over what God does in and through my life. Every time I preach an anointed sermon, I sit down amazed.

 

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