I was raised in a Southern Baptist church about 45 minutes east of Atlanta, GA. At the age of 25 I came to faith in Jesus Christ and a year later, sensing a call into the ministry I left home to attend Florida Baptist Theological College in Graceville, FL. Upon my graduation from their my wife and I left to attend seminary at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY. Three years later we moved to Gainesville where I served as the Student Minister at Northwest Baptist Church.
For the past 10 years I have felt deep within me a call to be a minister of the gospel; both through preaching and teaching. It is my greatest desire and I feel deeply that it is who I am and who I am to be.
But there is a strangeness to being a minister of the gospel. Because on one hand we have a picture of what The Bible portrays a minister to be and on the other hand we find ourselves in a completely different culture from biblical times.
Repeatedly throughout the New Testament the Christian is called to a life of suffering- a thing to which I know very little. In my own life the gospel of Jesus Christ has cost me a few things, but never to the point of physical suffering in my flesh.
Now there is a suffering that is not suffering for the gospel, of which we all know or will know at some point in time. But the bible paints a picture to give us a guide as to what a faithful minister should be like and how suffering can be, and may possibly be, a very real part of the minister’s life.
3 Actions of a Faithful Minister I) Suffers For The Expansion of Christ’s Church (24-25a)· Connection between Christ’s suffering and ours
a) Suffers in his own flesh
Acts 5:40-42: After Peter’s Second Arrest
and after calling the apostles in, they flogged them and ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and then released them. 41So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name. 42And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.
b) Suffers on behalf of the church
i) For any other reason would be pointless: Christ died for His church
c) Suffers in order to extend Christ’s suffering
i) “in filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions“
ii) Not that Christ’s left anything unfulfilled at the cross
iii) What is lacking?
(1) Philippians 2:25-30 : “complete what was deficient in your service to me“
(2) John Piper: What is lacking is that the infinite value of Christ’s afflictions are not known to the world.
iv) Story by Michael Card, “Wounded in the House of Friends,” Virtue, March/April 1991, pp-28-29, 69.
One day Joseph, who was walking along one of these hot, dirty African roads, met someone who shared the gospel of Jesus Christ with him. Then and there he accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior. The power of the Spirit began transforming his life; he was filled with such excitement and joy that the first thing he wanted to do was return to his own village and share that same Good News with the members of his local tribe. Joseph began going from door-to-door, telling everyone he met about the Cross [suffering!] of Jesus and the salvation it offered, expecting to see their faces light up the way his had. To his amazement the villagers not only didn’t care, they became violent. The men of the village seized him and held him to the ground while the women beat him with strands of barbed wire. He was dragged from the village and left to die alone in the bush. Joseph somehow managed to crawl to a water hole, and there, after days of passing in and out of consciousness, found the strength to get up. He wondered about the hostile reception he had received from people he had known all his life. He decided he must have left something out or told the story of Jesus incorrectly. After rehearsing the message he had first heard, he decided to go back and share his faith once more. Joseph limped into the circle of huts and began to proclaim Jesus. “He died for you, so that you might find forgiveness and come to know the living God” he pleaded. Again he was grabbed by the men of the village and held while the women beat him reopening wounds that had just begun to heal. Once more they dragged him unconscious from the village and left him to die. To have survived the first beating was truly remarkable. To live through the second was a miracle. Again, days later, Joseph awoke in the wilderness, bruised, scarred—and determined to go back. He returned to the small village and this time, they attacked him before he had a chance to open his mouth. As they flogged him for the third and probably the last time, he again spoke to them of Jesus Christ, the Lord. Before he passed out, the last thing he saw was that the women who were beating him began to weep. This time he awoke in his own bed. The ones who had so severely beaten him were now trying to save his life and nurse him back to health. The entire village had come to Christ. II) Preaches For The Revelation of God’s Mystery (25b-27)
a) The stewardship of preaching (25)
2 Timothy 2:1515 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.
b) The Mystery (2x)
i) Equates mystery with God’s Word [the story builds and becomes more clear: NT]
ii) Hidden in past generations
(1) Glimpses throughout the OT
(2) Ezekiel 36:22-27
iii) Manifested to the saints
iv) Extended to the Gentiles [The Book of Acts]
v) Mystery: Christ in you
III) Labors For The Salvation of Every Man (28-29)
a) Labor in proclamation
b) Labor in admonition: gentle correction, speaking the truth in love
(1) And concerning you, my brethren, I myself also am convinced that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able also to admonish one another. (Romans 15:14)
c) Labor in teaching with all wisdom
d) Labor in God’s strength, not ours
· Purpose: “so that we may present every man complete in Christ“
1 Timothy 4:11-16
11 Prescribe and teach these things.12 Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.13 Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching.14 Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you, which was bestowed on you through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the presbytery.15 Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, so that your progress will be evident to all.16 Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.
I) We should never be surprised when suffering comes our way because of our relationship to Jesus Christ.
II) God is glorified in the sufferings that His saints endure for the sake of the gospel.
III) We need to pray that when our times comes to suffer for the sake of the gospel, that we will be bold and ready to make a good testimony for the cause of Jesus Christ.