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The Attitude And Assurance Of The Preacher 2

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The Attitude And Assurance Of The Preacher 2

2 Corinthians 2:12-17

Safe In God’s Keeping

        “The Christian Herald” carried a testimony of assurance given by the Scottish preacher McLeod Campbell.  One day a friend who was filled with doubt and spiritual perplexity inquired, “Pastor, you always seem to have peace of soul.  Tell me, how can you feel that you’ve got such a tight hold on God?”  For a moment the minister was silent.  Then with a smile he exclaimed, “I don’t always feel that I have hold of Him, but praise the Lord, I know that He always has hold of me!”

        This truth also brings comfort in trial as the poet said:

Able to keep!  Yes, able to keep,

Though rough the path, all rugged and steep;

Tender the heart that’s caring for me,

Mighty the grace, “sufficient for thee.”

Able to keep - my weakness He knows,

Strong the temptation, crafty the foes;

God is my refuge, He is my shield,

Power almighty that never shall yield.

        Thank God that He has left us, in His Word, an assuring testimony of His protection.  We are here today to celebrate the anniversary of Pastor Robert and Sister Valoree Lee, and I want to preach something that I pray will encourage their hearts.  So, forgive me for preaching to them more than to you.  In addition, I want you to forgive me for preaching to myself at times, because of the calling of God upon my own life.

Pastor Lee, when God has called you to proclaim His Word there ought to be a peaceful attitude and an assurance that God will keep you in His protective love and grace.  But the beloved Apostle Paul exhibits, as a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ, an even greater attitude and assurance in 2 Corinthians 2:12-17.  Would you notice that with me please?

(Let’s Consider First:)

I.      The Circumstances Of Paul’s Ministry.

(The circumstances of Paul’s present ministry entailed:)

A.     The door at Troas.

Paul tells of the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ had opened a door for him to preach the gospel of Christ in Troas.  The Lord had opened up for him an extended opportunity to preach the good news of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ to procure eternal salvation for those who trust in Him.

        I believe, Pastor Lee, that God has done the same thing for you.  We talked about this, before you accepted the call of this church.  It is God who opens a door of ministry, not Mankind!!!

(Paul begins this portion of Scripture with this tremendous blessing:  but ministry is no picnic.  He turns his attention from the door at Troas to:)

B.     The distress at Troas.

There is some confusion over the exact circumstances to which Paul was referring.  But the simplest explanation is that while on this journey, Paul had hoped to meet Titus at Troas.  When Titus did not show up, He was very worried and was troubled in his spirit.  So, he left Troas and went on to Macedonia.

        Every minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ knows that with every open door there is distress.  When God works¾Satan works!!!  New levels—new devils!!!  But, thank God that although Satan is powerful, God is all-powerful; that Satan is potent, but Jehovah God is omnipotent.

(Now we have the circumstances surrounding Paul’s next statement.  In his next statement, we can see that there is something more important in Paul’s life than the circumstances of his ministry and that is:)

II.     The Character Of Paul’s Ministry.

(The character of his ministry can be seen first of all in an attitude.  That attitude is:)

A.     The thankfulness of Paul.

One of the main words in this passage, in the Greek, is the word ‘thanks’.

thanks 5485 charis “4) thanks, (for benefits, services, favors)” (Thayer’s Greek/English Lexicon).

Paul’s ministry was characterized by thankfulness!  If you would search your concordance, you would find out that Paul talked a great deal about thankfulness.  As a matter of fact, this is one of six times that He exclaims, “Thanks be to God!”  He makes this exclamation five other times:

Romans 6:17-18, “But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.”

Romans 7:24-8:1, “Wretched man that I am!  Who will set me free from the body of this death?  Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!  So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other hand, with my flesh the law of sin.  There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

1 Corinthians 15:56-57, “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

2 Corinthians 8:16, “But thanks be to God, who puts the same earnestness on your behalf in the heart of Titus.”

2 Corinthians 9:15, “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!”

        The life of a minister ought to be a life characterized by thanksgiving.  So, co-laborers in the Gospel, let’s cultivate the attitude of gratitude!!!

(But why was Paul thankful?  He was thankful because of the confidence he had.  Let’s explore:)

III.    The Confidence Of Paul’s Ministry.

(Paul was confident of:)

A.     God’s victory.

(He was confident of God’s victory because:)

1.      God always leads us in the triumph that is in Christ.

Paul was a participant in the triumphal procession of God.  “The picture is the triumphal entry of a military hero into the city of Rome (Lamar Williamson, Jr., “Led in Triumph:  Paul’s Use of Thriambeuo,” Interpretation, 22 [July, 1968], 322).  The victorious Roman general marched into the city in a long procession preceded by the city magistrates.  They were followed by trumpeters, then the spoils taken from the enemy followed by white oxen intended for sacrifice, then the captives headed by the king of the conquered country, then officials of the victorious army and musicians dancing and playing, and at last the general himself in whose honor the whole wonderful pageant was taking place.  Paul represents himself as one of the ‘victorious general’s soldiers sharing in the glory of his triumph (Barrett).’”[1]

        Pastor Lee, we’re gonna win!!!  Church, we’re gonna win!

(Paul was confident of God’s victory, and he was also confident of:)

B.     God’s vocation.

(What was that vocation?)

1.      God used Paul as an instrument to manifest the knowledge of Jesus Christ.

God used Paul as a holy instrument or vessel to make known, to the world, the knowledge of Jesus Christ.

·        This is more than the knowledge of the Christian religion.

·        This is the more advanced knowledge of the Christian religion.

·        This is the knowledge of the lawful and unlawful.

·        This is the knowledge of moral wisdom.

·        This is the knowledge of right living.

In short, this is the knowledge of Christ!!!

        And likewise, God uses us as instruments to manifest the knowledge of Jesus Christ.


Paul metaphorizes this knowledge of Jesus Christ as a sweet aroma that permeates every place that we, ministers of Christ, go.  “It was customary for the triumphal processions to be accompanied by the release of sweet odors from the burning of spices in the streets.”[2]

The “Perfume” Of His Presence

        Dr. Charles Weigle composed many lovely hymns and gospel songs, among them the favorite “No One Ever Cared for Me Like Jesus.”  One day he visited Pasadena, California.  Early that morning he had an opportunity to walk through some of the famous rose gardens when the full fragrance of the flowers filled the air.  Later in the day he arrived at the hotel where a Bible conference was being held.  As he took his seat a man turned to him and said, “Dr. Weigle, I know where you’ve been.  You toured one of our lovely gardens, for I can smell the pleasing aroma on your clothing.”  Weigle replied, “Yes, that’s right.  Several others have told me the same thing.  My prayer is that I may walk so closely with the Lord that the fragrance of His grace will pervade my being.  I want them to know by my words, actions, and songs that I have been with Jesus.”

        That’s what we want Sister Valoree.  We want the world to know that we have been with Jesus, from the smell of the sweet aroma of our knowledge of Him!!!


2.      We, ministers of Christ, can be thankful because of:

a.      Our victory in Christ.


b.      Our vocation for Christ.

(Now Paul turns from considering the ministry to considering the minister.  We see here:)

IV.    The Character Of Paul As A Minister.

(Paul’s character is seen in the fact that:)

A.     He is a fragrance or perfume of Christ to God.

Paul now changes metaphors, or figures, as he so often does in his writings.  He goes from considering the knowledge of Christ being a perfume to considering himself being a perfume.  The preacher’s life is a sweet odor or perfume of a total burnt offering unto God, which He smells and is satisfied.

Dwelling With The Rose

        The power of a godly life reaches out to influence others.  When we choose to walk the paths of righteousness, we will make an impact on those with whom we live and work and do business.  “The spirit of a person’s life,” wrote T. Starr King, “is ever shedding some power, just as a flower is steadily bestowing fragrance on the air.”  The following poem illustrates that principle:

A Persian fable says:  One day

A wanderer found a piece of clay

So redolent of perfume,

Its odor scented all the room.

“What art thou?” was the quick demand.

“Art thou some gem of Samarkand?

Or spikenard rare in rich disguise,

Or most costly merchandise?”

“Nay, I am but a piece of clay.”

“From whence this wondrous sweetness, pray?”

“Friend, if the secret I disclose,

I have been dwelling with the rose.”

Pastor, preachers, there should be a perfume that arises not only from our knowledge, but also from our lives; not just from our information about Christ, but from our intimacy with Christ!!!

(Paul then identifies the spheres of his pungent power.  The first sphere is:)

1.      Among those who are being saved.

He further describes this aroma in verse 16 as an aroma from life to life.  Life in this context exceeds mere existence.

life 2222 zoe “2b) life real and genuine, a life active and vigorous, devoted to God, blessed, in the portion even in this world of those who put their trust in Christ, but after the resurrection to be consummated by new accessions (among them a more perfect body), and to last forever” (Thayer’s Greek/English Lexicon).

(The sphere of this pungent power is also manifest:)

2.      Among those who are perishing.

He further describes this aroma in verse 16 as an aroma from death to death.  As life in this context means more than existence, so death in this context means something different and more than ceasing to exist.

death 2288 thanatos “2) metaphorically, the loss of that life which alone is worthy of the name, i.e. the misery of the soul arising from sin, which begins on earth but lasts and increases after the death of the body” (Thayer’s Greek/English Lexicon).

A Fragrance Of Life And Death

        When the Roman triumphal march took place, the high political officials would lead the procession, followed by men blowing their trumpets.  Then would come wagons carrying some of the spoils taken from the conquered territory, and just behind them a number of defeated army officers in chains.  The priests, carrying burning censers from which a fragrance pervaded the air, were next in line.  The smell of the incense symbolized joy, triumph, and life to the victorious general and his followers; but to the wretched captives who were on their way to execution, it savored of death.

(Then Paul turns from considering his character to considering his competency.  Let’s explore:)

V.     The Competency Of Paul’s Ministry.

After discussing such deep things, Paul probably senses his own inadequacy for such an outstanding task.  So He asks a very poignant question.

“And who is adequate for these things?  Who is sufficient or competent to manifest and be the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Jesus Christ which leads to life and death?”

What a question!

(But Paul goes on to point out His own adequacy, sufficiency or competency, which was being constantly attacked by the Judaizers and other sects, by contrasting himself and his co-laborers with others.  We can see before us:)

A.     The contrast between sincere and insincere ministers.

(The contrast can be seen in peddling the Word of God versus proclaiming the Word of God.  Those who were insincere were:)

1.      Peddling the Word of God.

The Greek word means “To peddle, to pawn off a product for gain.  The word is used in the Greek Translation of Isaiah 1:22 for those who mix wine with water in order to cheat the buyers.  It is used by Plato to condemn the pseudo-philosophers.  It was used in the papyri for a wine dealer and for running a junk store.  The word refers to those who would peddle or merchandise the Word of God for profit.”[3]

        Paul says that those who work hard are worthy of double honor, i.e. respect and remuneration, i.e. honor and money, but we do not preach for profit or to make money.  We preach, because we have a dispensation of the Gospel assigned to our hands.

(Then Paul contrasts those who were insincere ministers with those who were sincere; those who were peddling the Word of God with those who were:)

2.      Proclaiming the Word of God.

I used the word ‘proclaiming’ because it is the interpretation of the Greek word kerusso.  Preachers are called to proclaim, herald or kerusso the Gospel.  The very word for proclaiming the Gospel, kerusso, connotes sincerity.

“1) to be a herald, to officiate as a herald; to proclaim after the manner of a herald; always with the suggestion of formality, gravity and an authority which must be listened to and obeyed” (Thayer’s Greek/English Lexicon).

Thank you Pastor Lee for proclaiming the Word of God and not peddling the Word of God.

(As Paul contrasts those who are competent with those who are incompetent, he lists:)

B.     The Characteristics Of Competency.

Those who were peddling the Word of God were incompetent for such things, namely:  manifesting and being the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Christ in every place.

        But Paul and His co-workers were sufficient because:

1.      They spoke from sincerity.

As we have already mentioned.  We, preachers of the gospel of Jesus Christ, must be sincere.  We must have integrity.

        As the apostle Paul begins to proclaim the basis of the competency of himself and his co-workers, he repeats the Greek word alla, which means ‘but’.  Thayer says that

“The repetition of the Word, alla, gives emphasis in an ascending scale.”[4]

So, each one of this statements is more important than the one that precedes it.

(Their competency is further highlighted by the fact that:)

2.      They spoke as from God.

They spoke with power and authority.  They said concerning Jesus,

“No man ever spoke like this!”

They spoke with the seal and approval of Jehovah God!

        We must do the same!

(Their competency further lies in the fact that:)

3.      They spoke in Christ.

The sphere of their lives and hence the sphere of their preaching was Jesus Christ.  Paul said,

1 Corinthians 2:2, “For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.”

This does not mean that Paul only talked about Jesus Christ.  When we survey the epistles that He wrote, we see that He discussed a wide variety of subjects related to salvation and the Christian life.  He talked about marriage, singleness, sex, money, life, death, ministry, burdens, sorrow, repentance, etc., etc., etc.  But this does mean, that all of His preaching always proceeded from and led back to Jesus Christ!  All preaching roads must lead to and away from Calvary.  One preacher used to say, “Whatever else you do make your way, as quick as you can, cross-country to Calvary!”

(The fourth characteristic of their competency is seen in the fact that:)

4.      They spoke in the sight of God.

They spoke with a sense of gravity and sincerity knowing that they would one day stand before the bema judgment seat of Christ and give an account of the deeds that they had done in this body.  They behaved in the light of the fact that one day the Good Shepherd, the Great Shepherd, the Chief Shepherd, Jesus Christ, would judge their stewardship of the flock over which they were undershepherds.  They preached as if God, Himself, were standing to the side of the pulpit watching their every movement and weighing their every word:  because He was!

        Thank you Pastor Lee for speaking, during your tenure, with sincerity, from God, from Christ, and in the sight of God.

        Therefore, the attitude of a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ ought to be characterized by thankfulness.  And that attitude should flow from the assurance of the fact that He always leads us in the victory of Jesus Christ and uses us as sovereign instruments in spreading the perfume of the knowledge of Jesus Christ.  Thank you Lord for this unspeakable gift!

(Now is the day of salvation.  Come to Jesus, now!)


Call to Discipleship


[1] Linguistic Key To The Greek New Testament, Fritz Rienecker, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1976, pp. 457-458.

[2] Linguistic Key To The Greek New Testament, Fritz Rienecker, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1976, pp. 457-458.

[3] Linguistic Key To The Greek New Testament, Fritz Rienecker, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1976, pp. 457-458.

[4] Linguistic Key To The Greek New Testament, Fritz Rienecker, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1976, pp. 457-458.

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