Four Foundations for Ministry – II Corinthians 2:17

“For we are not like many, peddling the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God.” This verse contains four pillars for gospel ministry, upon which we must build as we serve King Jesus. Paul is contrasting his (true) ministry with that of the hucksters, the peddlers-for-profit, those who view the word of God as a commodity to be traded in the market, those who seek to gain financially from their teaching (cf. I Thess. 2:5); as opposed to these corrupters of the word, Paul states that he speaks God’s word in this manner:

1. “As from sincerity” – his motives are pure: the glory of God and the good of men, not the gain of filthy lucre. He teaches and preaches to please God, not man (Gal. 1:10; I Thess. 2:4, 6); and to please men and not himself (I Cor. 10:33). Why do I do what I do? What motivates me? From whence comes my desire to speak the word of God? Is it the adulation and glory of men, or the money, or a competitive “I want to be famous/more famous”? Is it the relative ease of a life of study? Is it a desire for acceptance from God? None of these motives are pure.

2. “As from God” – Paul knew himself to be one sent from God, an apostle and ambassador of reconciliation, “as though God were making an appeal through us” (II Cor. 5:20). He wasn’t self-sent, or merely sent by men. His commission was divine, and thus his speech was bold. Though our commission as gospel ministers is not directly from the Lord Jesus Christ as that of the apostles, yet we too are sent by God into the world to speak forth the glorious riches of Christ Jesus. Our call from God has been made known through His people and the attestation of His court, and thus we speak with the same confidence as the apostles. Our message is theirs; our commission is theirs.

3. “In Christ” – ministry, like salvation, flows out of our union with the risen Lord. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, and thus we speak with freedom, for we care little what others think of us. Our justification and acceptance in the Beloved allows us to minister fearlessly, even as we fall and fall again – for we know that our sins are covered by Christ’s righteousness, our failures are forgiven by His blood, our folly is wrapped up in His wisdom.

4. “In the sight of God” – we minister coram Deo, in the presence and before the face of God. He is our witness, He is the all-seeing one, He is our judge. This sobers us (“But each man must be careful how he builds on [the foundation of Jesus Christ],” I Cor. 3:10; cf. II Cor. 5:9-10); and it strengthens us (I Cor. 4:3-5, “But to me it is a very small thing that I may be examined by you, or by any human court; in fact, I do not even examine myself…the one who examines me is the Lord…”)

May the Lord give us grace to minister out of and from and upon this firm foundation day in and day out.

SDG,
Ezra

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