Yesterday’s sermon is below:
Clip from the Bible movie of the Apostle Paul’s conversion
“Valentinus was the name of a young man who lived in Rome during the reign of Claudius II when Christians were being persecuted. Although he was not a Christian, he helped them, but he was caught and put into prison. In prison he became a believer in Jesus. Because of this, Valentinus was condemned to death. He was beaten with clubs, stoned and finally beheaded outside the Flaminian Gate on February 14, 269. After his death, this gate was known as Porta Valentini. While he was in prison he sent messages to his friends saying, “Remember your Valentine!” and “I love you.”
Even Valentine’s Day, like Halloween, has Christian beginnings, but the world has taken them over and removed any trace, like it is trying to do with Easter and Christmas, as well.
I share that with you because today I wish to talk about the apostle Paul. We will introduce Paul today and then after Easter we will come back to Acts. Paul was introduced at the stoning of Stephen, and not in the best light.
Saul was in hearty agreement with putting him to death.
Now, in Acts chapter 9 Paul becomes a Christian. He now commits his life to the Lord. We will look at that in a few weeks. Today, I wish to look at Paul’s philosophy of ministry which can be found in Colossians 1:24-29.
As we talk about Paul’s philosophy of ministry, let me say that we are all called to ministry, it is important that we all think about what our philosophy of ministry is. (A philosophy is a way of thinking.)
Let’s read that passage:
Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions. 25 Of this church I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, so that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God, 26 that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, 27 to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ. 29 For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.
As we talk about this passage I want you to notice Paul’s passion for Jesus centered, Gospel driven ministry, and his humility.
Now, what is the take home today? I want to teach you about the apostle Paul. But, what do you take home? God has placed all of you and all of us in a position of ministry. You are all in places in your life where you can serve the Lord. These are not full time paid positions. The follower of Christ is to serve the Lord everywhere and all the time. We are on the clock 24/7. Today, I am not teaching you about Paul’s life, I am teaching you about Paul’s philosophy of ministry. A philosophy is a way of thinking. This is Paul’s way of thinking about ministry.
So, your take home application: I ask that we all compare and contrast our philosophy, or thinking about ministry with the Apostle Paul’s. Maybe you will be encouraged because things line up. Maybe you will need encouraged because you are putting too much on yourself and not trusting God. That is honestly something I always need reminded of. Maybe you will need to refocus. Remember, when I say ministry today, I am talking about your connections in life which God has placed you in for His purposes.
My thanks to John MacArthur for this nice breakdown: http://www.gty.org/resources/sermons/80-366/pauls-philosophy-of-ministry
- First notice Verse 25: The source of the ministry is God.
- Paul says that he was made a minister. Paul did not choose to be a minister. God gives ministry gifts out. You can read about these gifts in 1 Cor. 12 and Romans 12. We are in ministry for God’s Kingdom. I better be in ministry for God’s Kingdom.
- I personally must apply this to my life. There was a McDonalds manager that I worked with and became friends with. We even went to Starbase Columbus together. That was a store that sells all things science fiction. One can even buy communicators and Star Trek uniforms. While I did not buy anything, we became close friends. After I went into full time ministry he would call me and say, “Steve, I want you to talk to your boss, He keeps sending us this snow.” He is likely not a Christian. But the point is that I work for God. Now, the local church can try to control the pastor and even dismiss a pastor, and hopefully the local church is seeking God in doing so. We must remember that in the Old Testament the nation of Israel killed most all of the prophets!
- There have been too many times where I have had concerns and even worries over my job and I must remember that I work for God. You must remember that the pastor works for God. We all must remember that whether we are in professional ministry or not, if you are a Christian, you have a ministry and you work for God.
- Notice Paul writes: stewardship: This is still in verse 25. God gives us a stewardship of a ministry which He calls us to. Do you know what that word means? It means “House ruler.” That is what it means. It means “overseer.” The pastor is the house ruler of the church he serves. Now, the pastor does this under God. Paul is stating that God has given Him a ministry as a house ruler. Now, Paul planted and built up several churches. You are also house rulers, stewards, of ministries that God has given you, if you are a Christian.
Before we move on, I want to emphasize again, in addition to learning about Paul, I hope that your take home is to analyze what and how your philosophy of ministry compares to Paul’s.
- Notice in Verse 24: The spirit of the ministry is joy.
- This is a tough one. This is tough because Paul is writing this from a prison. This is one of the letters called, “The Prison Epistles.” Paul writes about joy in persecution.
- There are currently Christians in jail all over the world because of persecution. There is currently at least one American Christian in prison for the faith in Iran. He has been tortured.
Paul found joy from the Lord, even in suffering, do you? I wonder if I can? If the source of ministry is the Lord, He is the one responsible for the ministry, I serve Him and He is responsible for the fruit. I am called by God to serve Him as a pastor, but you are all called to serve the Lord in various ways. How does your philosophy of ministry compare to what you see Paul’s as?
- In verse 25, the scope of ministry is that I might fully carry out the Word of God.
- We will see in a minute that this goes together with preaching. But notice that in Paul’s philosophy of ministry we see that he uses the word, “fully.” This is complete.
- John MacArthur points out how Paul went back to the same place repeatedly to fully carry out the ministry. He writes: The economy of effort in the life of our Lord is staggering compared to the megalomania of people today. When I was in Charleston, South Carolina, I was talking to Bishop Wilson. I said, “What’s your vision for ministry?” He said, “My vision for ministry, what I want God to do, seven square miles the Lord has placed me here, seven square miles on the east side of Charleston, an African/American community, that’s the seven square miles that I want to penetrate with the gospel of Christ.” That is completion, just keep focusing.
What is your thinking about what God is calling you to do, how does it compare to Paul’s thinking here? I believe this is a Biblical view, where does your view need to change. I must ask myself the same thing.
- Verse 25b-26: The subject is the mystery that’s been hidden: incarnation; N.T. Truth.
- All throughout the Old Testament we do not see God’s complete work, we do not see what God is going to do. Now we do. This is what is called apocalyptic language. In Ephesians 3 Paul will write about this much more. Revelation writes similarly. The mystery is the New Testament. The subject of Paul’s ministry is the Gospel!
- Verse 28: The style of the ministry is preaching. (verse 28)
- Paul will proclaim the Gospel. This is like a herald crying it out.
- We must proclaim the Gospel as Paul did.
- Verse 28: Sum of the ministry, what are we after? What’s the goal? “So that we may present every man complete in Christ.”
- Paul’s goal was completion that every one of those he served would be complete in Christ.
- Verse 29: The strength of the ministry. Who can do this? Who can fulfill all this? Verse 29 tells us the strength of it. “For this purpose also I labor striving.”
- Paul would work diligently.
- We see this idea reflected in the rest of the New Testament.
- By the way, this is Olympic language. The language here is comparable to an athlete striving for a crown. It is the language of a runner laboring toward the end.
Some of you know that I run. I enjoy running, I really do, but not when it is this cold outside. I have been missing the mileage that I used to be able to log. There were days last summer, especially late in the evening when I could run so fast. There were many days when I could take Mercedes and we could run together. But July was a struggle. There were times in July when it was so very hot and humid I labored for the ending. Then I wanted winter. Likewise, a few weeks ago it was really cold, but I went out running, which would have been fine, except for Homeworth Road. I started running down that road and the wind just whipped across the fields and it came across my face like a cold dull razor. But I kept running. I can be obsessive. I finished the run, but barely. It was labor, but it was a joy to walk in the back door.
In so much of a greater manner, we labor the Christian life for a great prize in the end.
This was Paul’s philosophy of ministry. We should aim to minister in similar ways.
This is Paul’s philosophy of ministry; we are all called to serve the Lord in the church, in the family and everywhere, where does your philosophy of ministry, where does your thinking of ministry need to change?
1 Corinthians 9:24-27:
Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. 25 Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; 27 but I [l]discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.