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                                 Sermon Study Notes        

By Lewis C. Lampley

TITLE:          The Ministry of Christ’s Bondservant

TEXT:           2 Cor. 4:1-5

The purpose of this message is to examine the perspective of a Man of Honor and Faith who Glories God; Preaches Christ and not Himself.


   The Scripture is clear on at least four types of ministers:

A.      The Satan called minister (2 Cor.11:12-15)

1.     They are usually popular but spiritually poor (Jude 12, 13).

2.     They are trained in covetous practices (2 Pet. 2:14)

B.       The Self called minister (Acts 8:9)

1.     Pushes his own agenda

2.     Pleases his hearers

C.       The People called minister (Acts 8:9-11)

1.     He is arrogant

2.     He astonishes his audiences

D.       The God called minister (Gal.1:11-16)

1.     He is not anthropocentric – “Man-centered.” He is Theocentric! “God-centered.”

2.     He is not geocentric – “Earth-centered.” He is Uranocentric – “Heaven-centered!”


The passage before us is rich with the convictions, commitments, and conclusions of the God called minister.                        


      Let’s begin with:



      MINISTER (2 Cor.2:1,3 ,4)

      Notice that demonstrative pronoun “Therefore” in verse one. Dia touto, “because of this.” This is

       either a reference to the preceding, that is, because the gospel is good news of the glory of God or

       it looks forward, that is, because of what is said in the next clause (exchontes present active

       participle). Echo “to have, to possess.” In verse one, Paul does three things: he makes… 

A.      A fair declaration (v.1a) “We have this mini-

     stry…” What does that mean? I believe Paul is referring to “the New Covenant gospel of Jesus Christ.” The gospel that declares that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, and for the glory of God alone! That’s a fair declaration – not only that, Paul makes …

B.    A firm affirmation (v.1b) “We have received mercy…” eleo, to show mercy. This is in the passive voice, to be shown mercy, to obtain mercy. Mercy indicates the compassionate removal of misery.

In the third place Paul makes …

C.     A forceful announcement (v.1c) “We do not lose heart.” The King James Version says, “We faint not.” In the Greek that’s one word – it’s a present tense verb, in the indicative mood, in the active voice and asserts something which is occurring while the speaker is making the statement. This emphasis is intensified in 4:16, 17.                                                       

Also this phrase is in the first person plural, “to give into evil, to lose courage. It is the response of a fainthearted coward. The word is also used in the papyri in the sense of treating someone badly, and could cause one to cowardly surrender. That was not how Paul responded to continual attacks he faced. The task of ministering the New Covenant is too noble to lose heart over. Since God had called him to proclaim it, Paul could not abandon his calling

Instead, he trusted God to strengthen him. That’s the attitude of every God-called minister – or it ought to be! We must not preach a gospel, that neither “wounds nor heals!”


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     Three conclusions in (v.1), Paul adds one more:


D.     A faithful acknowledgement (vv.3,4) “But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, shine on them.” Don’t miss this – “if our gospel is veiled…to those who are perishing. What was happening was this- the false teachers accused Paul of preaching an antiquated message. So Paul showed that the problem was not with the message or the messenger, but with the hearers headed to hell – because “the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor.2:14)


In other words, the preacher cannot persuade people to believe; only God can do that. In this day of pragmatism and heresy we need to constantly ask this question:

Who is in charge of salvation, God or man?

As many ministers of our day admonish the sinner to…


         “Jesus has done His part, now you have to do yours!”

         “Jesus loves you and died for everybody!”

         “Making Jesus your Savior is a free will choice!”

         “Walk the aisle and take the gift that God is offering.” What do all these statements have in common? Are you ready for the answer?

They are all FALSE!

 What says the BIBLE?   

      “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who

      believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of

      man, but of God” (John 1:12,13). The divine side of salvation: ultimately it is not a man’s will that

      produces salvation but God’s will. And so Paul makes a fair declaration, a firm affirmation, and a

      forceful announcement, and a faithful acknowlegement.  We move now from the God called

       ministers’ conclusions to:



      MINISTER (2 Cor. 4:2)

A.      His regeneration (v.2a), “we have renounced the hidden things of shame.” RENOUNCE means to “turn away from” or “repent,”and “ shame,” means “disgracefulness.” While the phrase “hidden things of shame” refers to secret sins – immoralities, hy-pocrisies and the sins hidden deep in the darkness of one’s unregenerate life. But at the time of salva-tion every believer repents and turns away from such sin and devotes his life to the pursuit of godli-ness and glorifying God. Verse two appears to be a reply by Paul to a direct accusation against him, that he was a hypocrite, whose mask of piety hid a corrupt and shameful life.

B.       His sanctification (v.2b), “not walking in craftiness.” The word “walk” in the Greek means “to walk,” “to conduct one’s life.” Crafty, readiness to do anything.







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In an unfavorable sense, it has the meaning “cunning, craftiness, trickery.” The man who practices this is ready to do anything, up to every trick. Our sanctification protects our walk. What is sanctification?

             Growing in grace & knowledge (2 Pet.3:18)

           Growing in practical perfection (Heb.10:14)

           Growing in purity and holiness (1 Pet. 1:15)

           Growing in spiritual strength (1 Peter.5:10)

           Growing in intimacy with God (Rom.6:11)

The Baptist Catechism says:


Sanctification is a work of God’s Spirit, whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin and to live unto righteousness.

           Let’s continue by looking at two more commitments of Christ’s Bondservant – consider:

C.       His doctrinal integrity (v.2c), “nor handling the word of God deceitfully.” This Geek word means “to tamper with,” and was used in nonbiblical sources to speak of the dishonest business practice of diluting wine with water. The false teachers accused Paul of being a deceiver (“craftiness”) who was twisting and perverting the teaching of Jesus and the OT Scripture. The God called minister is not guilty of “using deceit, to bait, to ensnare, to corrupt with error, to falsify, and corrupt.

D.       His humble disposition (v.2c-d), “but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.” The idea here is “openness, clearness, manifestation.” The word is selected in opposition to “the hidden things of shame.”  The God called minister’s life is an open book!

A man of honor and faith who glories God, and preaches Christ and not himself – has some conclusions, commitments. Let me draw to a close by saying a word about:



       MINISTER (vv.3, 4, 5, 6, 7-15; 16-18).

A.    The lost man is void of the “light of the glorious gospel of Christ” (vv.3, 4).

B.    The servants of God do not preach themselves but the Christ who changed their hearts (vv. 5, 6).

C.    The servants of God recognize who they and know that all that happy in and around them “redound to the glory of God” (vv.7-15).

D.    The servants of God weight everything in the light of eternity (vv.16-18).


All of this is true because of our so great salvation – elected by God the Father, redeemed by God the Son, and regenerated by God the Holy Spirit!


CONCLUSION: And so the convictions, commitments, and conclusions of the God called minister are well documented in Paul’s testimony recorded in 2 Cor. 4.                        


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