The Competent Servant Part 1

Pastor Mike will be speaking on The Competent Servant Part 1. He will be reading out of 2nd Corinthians 3:1-7.

When we are competent servants, we serve one audience. It is God Himself and there are going to be many who criticize and many who think they could do it better. But friends, you do it as unto God because if you live your life as a servant of God trying to keep everybody happy, you will be the most miserable among us.

Hello, this is Pastor Mike Sanders and today is the Hope Worth Having program. I don’t know if you’ve ever been like me and sometimes you feel so incompetent. That’s exactly how the Apostle Paul felt in 2 Corinthians chapter 3 and he proposes the question, who is sufficient for these things?

And of course we know that our sufficiency is in God. And that’s what we’re going to learn about. How is it that we can be competent servants for the Lord Jesus Christ? Let’s get into 2 Corinthians chapter 3 verses 1 through 7 and we’ll learn more about that.

If you have your Bible this morning, I want you to turn to 2 Corinthians chapter 3. And this chapter is a unique chapter because it shows the relationship between the Old Testament message of the law and the New Testament ministry of the gospel of God’s grace.

If you have been studying with us in 2 Corinthians, you know that there was a faction that existed in the Corinthian church. They were very critical of the Apostle Paul. They accused him of not being a true Apostle and they claimed that he did not have the right letters of recommendation or commendation.

They accused him of not having the right credentials and therefore they did everything they could to discredit Paul before God’s people. The Apostle uses this accusation as an opportunity to contrast the gospel of grace and the law of Moses.

And he does this by taking the misplaced focus of the Bible. Corinthians on external standards of the law and contrasting them with the internal principles of the ministry of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

And in 2 Corinthians the apostle is answering his critics. He is telling them that his message and his savior is so glorious and so magnificent and so transformational that he cannot help but to be bold and to be outspoken for Jesus Christ.

So in our text chapter 3 of 2 Corinthians verses 1 through 7 the apostle reveals to us the four marks of a competent servant and the theme verse of this chapter and our message today is found in 6 the bible says who also referring to God has made us able ministers of the New Testament.

Now let’s look at that phrase again. God has made us able or he has made us competent, sufficient servants, ministers of the New Testament. So what Paul is saying to the Corinthians, the credibility of his ministry is rooted in God.

And it is God who has made him a competent servant. And so as you and I are striving to serve in the 21st century, what is it that makes us able? What is it that makes us competent? What is it that makes us sufficient for the ministry, the servanthood of being able to be effective for God?

Paul reveals four of these marks. Today we’re gonna focus on two of them. The first mark of a competent servant is that they have a commitment to be used to transform the lives of other people. Go back to verse one of chapter three and note what the scripture says.

Do we begin again to commend ourselves or need we as some others epistles of commendation of you or letters of commendation or recommendation from you? You are our epistle. You are our letters written in our hearts, known and read of all men.

For as much as you are manifestly declared to be the epistle or the letter of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the spirit of the living God, not in the tables of stone, but in the fleshly tables of the heart.

Now Paul starts out this chapter with two rhetorical questions. And there’s simply this. Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? And do we not only commend ourselves, do we have to have letters of recommendations from you and for you?

This is the questions and the obvious answer is no. So Paul says, are we beginning to commend ourselves again? The word commend here is the idea of boasting, bragging. Paul is saying, do we have to stand before you and brag about ourselves?

Do we have to once again, brag about the credibility of our ministry? And the answer is no. Paul does not have to commend himself. Paul was totally against self promotion. He is totally against lifting up self.

But Paul is saying, there is no need for us to commend ourselves. There is no need for us to brag about ourselves. The second question is about a letter of recommendation. Is there a need for a letter of recommendation?

He is not saying that somehow that that is wrong. But Paul is trying to put it all into perspective and he is responding to their insistence upon these letters of recommendation, and he uses the occasion to draw out some spiritual truths that will help us to understand.

Paul felt like there’s no need for me to give you a recommendation. And why would he say that? Well, for over a year and a half, Paul was in the city of Corinth. When Paul arrived in the city of Corinth, there was no church.

It was the apostle Paul who reached these people with the gospel of Jesus Christ. And he is teaching them, from the beginning I’ve been with you. From the beginning, you have seen how I’ve conducted my life.

From the beginning, I am the one who brought you the message of Jesus Christ. He said in his first letter to the Corinthians, are you not my work in the Lord? It is God’s people, Paul is saying that are the credentials.

He was the founder in the sense of this local congregation. He was the one who brought the gospel to them and brought and taught them how they can grow in their faith. And so that’s why he says in verse two, you are our epistles.

You are our letters that are written in our hearts, known and read of all men. And so Paul is saying that, listen, you are the literal letter. Paul does not need that letter. Why? Because he has a spiritual letter.

And the spiritual letter is in the lives of each and every person in that local assembly. Paul is saying that my credibility is that how God changed your life. And that really is important because Jesus put out the standard for us to understand what is the difference between someone who is illegitimate and someone who is a real servant of God.

And Jesus said this in Matthew chapter. verse 20, wherefore by their fruits you shall know them. So the best evidence of Paul’s ministry, the best evidence of his credentials are the Corinthians themselves.

And so it is that when people saw the lives of the Corinthians, they knew something was different. They knew that there had been a change and that that change had come over these people because of the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

And so that’s why Paul says, you are my letters of recommendation. You are the epistle of Christ. Look at that in verse 3, for as much as you are manifestly declared to be the epistle or the letter of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God.

It is the living God that wrote their story, God’s story, on their hearts. It is the Spirit of God that has brought the redemptive story into the hearts and the lives, not on tables of stone, but in fleshly tables of the heart.

How beautiful that is, that Paul could say, look at the lives that have been changed, and that’s what brings validation to my ministry. And I want every one of us to remember that every Christian is a written letter.

Every one of us that believes in the Lord Jesus Christ, we are a written letter that Christ has written upon our hearts. It is not a letter with ink and pens and paper, but it is a letter of the Spirit of God.

It is a letter of the Word of God that is written upon your heart, and it is a transformational letter. It is a redemptive letter. It is a letter that has resulted in the change of your life forever and ever.

And so every Christian is a letter. We, in a sense, are a track, if you will. We are a gospel track that is circulating throughout our homes. It is circulating throughout our communities for the glory of God and for the advancement of the gospel, that we are a letter that preaches and teaches the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Would you look at verse 2 again of chapter 3? You are an epistle or a letter written in our hearts known and read of all men. You are a letter. Your life is a letter. The transformation of your life is a letter that is being read by your family.

It is being read by your co -workers. It is a letter that is being read by those who are watching your life. And so we recognize what the Apostle Peter said when he gave us the instruction. that we are to keep our conduct among the Gentiles honorable so that when they speak against you as evildoers they may see your good deeds and glorify God in the day of visitation.

What is the one thing that discredits all of our accusers? It is our good conduct. It is this letter of redemption that has been written on our hearts. It is this epistle of Christ that we are that is being read that is being known to all men.

It is this letter that is before every watching person whether it is our children, our grandchildren, they are looking at our life and they can see the difference in our life and the transformation in our life that all the accusations are false and the truth is that we are a true wonderful story of how God can change a life.

This is what Paul was committed to. This is what Paul reminded the Corinthians. Don’t listen to the critics. Don’t listen to the naysayers. Don’t listen to those who try to discredit this authentic ministry of life -changing business that is taking place in your life and in the life of the ministry of this local church.

Our lives are testifying to the glory of God. Our lives are testifying to the advancement of the gospel. Our lives are testifying to the life -changing power of the grace of God in a person’s life. Again, Peter would say to the believers, sanctify the Lord God in your hearts and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.

Here it is, my friends, that when people are watching our lives, when people are looking at us and they see the transformation and they see the hope that we have in these uncertain times, when they see that we have peace in our heart, that we have hope in our heart, that it is that life, it is that redemptive life that is being written on our hearts by the power of the Spirit of God and the power of the Word of God.

It is that life that causes unbelievers to be thirsty and causes them to want to know more about this great gospel, this great grace that has been given to us through Jesus Christ. And therefore we strive to be ready to give an answer to a world that is hopeless, that they have put their hope in an economy, they have put their hope in a government, but our hope comes from the Lord Jesus Christ and he is the one who brings true salvation and he brings true joy and true forgiveness and true grace to all who believe in him.

So please understand, we are the letters of Christ. that are written by the power of the Spirit. The only letter from God that many will read and receive is the letter of your life, the letter of your words, how you live your life.

And so we must be committed to the transformation of the gospel. We must be a people who say I wanna serve so lives will be changed. So the direction of someone’s life will be changed. No longer a direction towards self, no longer a direction towards living for the world, but a direction towards the cross, a direction towards Jesus, a direction towards heaven, a direction and an affection for all that would bring glory to God almighty.

This is our passion. A true servant is not in it for himself, but a true servant wants to see lives change. Listen, you will not be able to stay faithful for God. and you will not be able to be a able, competent, sufficient servant for God, unless you are committed to the transformation of lives.

How is it that you will be able to stay faithful for God and to be that competent servant? It is that you are passionate, that every day you get up and you wanna see one more life changed for Jesus Christ, that you want one more person to read the letter of Christ that is written on your heart through the life that you live.

My friends, you are competent because of your passion for souls to be saved. The second mark that Paul reveals to us about a competent servant is that it is a servant who has a confidence in their calling.

Now we go back to our text and we again look at verse six. He reminds us that God has made us able. God has made us competent. God has made us sufficient. He has made us sufficient servants of the New Testament.

Remember that Paul already said in verse 16 of chapter two, who is sufficient for these things? Who is able to do such a great task that is before us? Who is it that is able to accomplish all that God wants us to do for him in these days?

Well, it is God who makes us sufficient. We are sufficient friends. We are competent to do what God has called us to do, but it is not because of our abilities. It is not because of our giftedness. It is not because of our personalities, but we are made able and competent and we are made sufficient for these things to minister, to serve the gospel of Jesus Christ.

We are able to do that because of God, because of Christ. And so the second mark that Paul reveals to us in verse four, is that we have a confidence in our calling. And you’ll notice it says, and such.

trust we have through Christ towards God. We have such trust through Christ towards God. Now Paul didn’t need any additional proof to add to the authenticity of his calling, but Paul wanted the Corinthians to know that he’s very confident in what God has called him to do.

Now there is a calling upon all of our lives, and we must recognize that this morning, that for some of us God is calling us to salvation. Some of us have already responded to that calling. Praise God.

That when God called you out of darkness into light, that you receive Christ as your Lord and Savior. You repented of your sins. You turned away from your selfish desires, and you turned towards Christ, and you put your faith and trust in what he did on the cross and through the resurrection to bring you eternal life and forgiveness in your life.

Praise God. But some of you have not and you have never trusted Jesus Christ. I commend unto you my friends this solid rock Whom Jesus Christ is I commend unto you the Savior who will wash away all of your sins I commend unto you the Savior who will take away your guilt and he will bring new life into your heart And he will write a new story if you’re tired of the old story and you’re tired of the direction of your life And you’re tired of the setbacks in your life and the foolishness of your life in living in sin then my friends I recommend unto you Jesus Christ who will save your soul and the Bible says he’ll save it to the uttermost and many might say to me well pastor You don’t know what I’ve done and you don’t know where I’ve been and you don’t know who I’ve heard listen to me My friends the Bible says that God will take all of our sins and he’ll cast it as far as the east is from the west to be remembered no more If any man be in Christ He is a new creation all things pass away and behold all things become new when you come to Jesus my friends He gives you a new start.

He gives you a new beginning He gives you a brand new life and it is a fresh start in Jesus Christ And the old things are passing away and behold all things are new in your life And there is a new story being written on your heart there is not only the calling of salvation, but there is the calling of sanctification and It is simply this that God is setting us apart that we might grow and be more like Jesus That God is calling us to be unique and different in this world He is not calling us to go the way of the world and to be like the world but he’s calling us to be unique and to be special and that we are a people that have a special mission and We are sanctified.

We are set apart unto God and that we are committed to being more like Jesus every day, that we are committed to being that light in darkness. We are committed to being that distinction that stands out in a world that is on a broad journey and way towards hell.

But you and I, we stand out to bring hope and to tell people that God has something different for them. That they don’t have to go to hell, but by faith in Jesus Christ, they can have a new life in Christ and their sins to be forgiven.

And so we are called to be sanctified. Many of you need to respond to that call and say, Lord, here is my life. I surrender it, shape me, and sharpen me for you. Lord, I set my life apart. I want to be different for you.

I want to be that servant. We have a calling of salvation and a calling of sanctification, but we have a calling. of service. God is calling us to serve Him. He has saved you my friend to serve. He has not saved you that you might just sit and soak, but rather He has called you my friends to grow and learn and to get out there and do something for Jesus Christ.

More than ever we got to do something for Christ. More than ever we need to get busy. God has a plan for my life. He has a purpose and He is calling me to serve Him. He is calling me not only to be saved and to be sanctified and to serve, but to share.

He is calling me to share Him with others, to tell others about Him. Friends, the only hope is Jesus Christ. The only answer is Jesus Christ. And listen, life in its circumstances can vacillate from here to there and there can be mountaintop experiences and valley experiences, but the one certainty that we have is that Jesus will never change and He promised that He’ll never leave us nor forsake us and that He is the same yesterday, today and forevermore can God’s people say Amen.

And so we have this calling and Paul is letting the Corinthians know that he has a confidence in this calling. And you’ll note two phrases in the verse. In verse four he says that we have a confidence.

We have a trust. The King James says trust. It can be translated confidence. We have this confidence, this trust through Christ towards God. Those are the two phrase towards God through Christ that I want you to note this morning when he says that we have a confidence in our calling of the ministry that God has entrusted to us, that it is towards God.

And what he is simply saying is that we are accountable to God, that we are very conscious, that all that we do is in the presence of God and it is under the scrutiny of God, and that all we do in serving God is for Him.

It is about him it is that his name would be glorified and that the one who is more than qualified to critique us and the one who is more than qualified to deal with us is God and he is saying our confidence is through God it is towards God it is towards God and so it is friends that when we are competent servants that we serve one audience it is God himself and that there are going to be many who criticize and many who find fault and many who complain and many who want a nitpick and many who think they could do it better but friends you do it as unto God you do it towards God because if you live your life as a servant of God trying to keep everybody happy you will be the most miserable among us but if you live your life to please God and to serve towards God that it be about him and His exaltation and the advancement of His cause and His glory, then, friends, you will be unstoppable as a competent servant for God.

He says it’s towards God, but He says it’s through Christ, through Christ. The confidence, the trust that Paul had was through Christ. It was not in himself. Jesus put it this way and said, I am the vine, you are the branches, he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit, for without me you could do nothing.

Paul was not serving in the city of Corinth through his own power, but through the power of Jesus Christ. Paul was reminding the Corinthians that his confidence, his boldness, his outspokenness, his willingness to do whatever it takes for the cause of Christ was not a reflection of pride or arrogance, but it was a confidence in the calling that God had upon his life, and this confidence was through Christ, that the work which Christ had done in the lives of the Corinthians was the direct result of Jesus Christ.

That’s why he says in verse 3 that you are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us. God used Paul, but Christ wrote the letter on their hearts. God used the apostle Paul, but Christ changed the life.

God used the apostle Paul, but Christ saved the soul. Sometimes people will say to me, Pastor Mike, will you save me? Well, friends, I can’t save you, but Jesus can, amen. But I’m glad to show you how to be saved.

I’m glad to show you how Christ saved soul. I’m glad to show you that he gave his life for you and I so that we can have eternal life. Paul’s confidence was in the supreme work of God. one heart after the other.

His confidence in his calling was that he knew that God had called him to change lives. And even though there was pushback, and even there were those that didn’t like him, he stayed at the task because of this great calling.

And so it is that every believer in Christ, as we are serving Jesus Christ, remember that we confidently serve him because of his great work in us, through us, and around us. Our competence only comes from God.

Look at verse 5. Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God. You see, friends, the Apostle Paul, he was a hard worker, but everything that was accomplished was through Christ.

Again, the Apostle says in 1 Corinthians 15, but by the grace of God, I am what I am. and His grace towards me was not in vain, but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God, which was with me.

Paul was a hard worker, rose up early, worked late, gave it everything he got, all in for Jesus, a hundred percent, never backing down, never retreating, never, ever, ever giving in, but totally committed to the work of Christ.

And this confidence sometimes was misunderstood, but he always gives credit to God. He gives credit to Jesus, because he knows that anything that he is, and anything that has been accomplished is because of the grace of God.

He knows that even if he has the health to labor so long and strong, that it is because God has blessed him with that health, that if he has the means to reach more, that it is God who blessed him with those means, and that resource, and that wealth, that he might do more for Christ, everything was given credit to God.

And so it is in my life and your life that whenever we speak about the achievements that have been accomplished in the ministry, that we should always give God the praise, that we should deflect it from ourselves and point it straight to God, for Paul says in verse four, we trust, we have this confidence through Christ towards God.

How am I gonna fulfill the calling that God has on my life through Christ? And I know that sometimes you and I feel like, man, I don’t know if I can do this anymore. I don’t know if I can handle this anymore.

Listen to me, friends. I can do all things, Paul said, through Christ, which strengthens me. I don’t like this season any more than you do, but God calls us sometimes to different seasons, doesn’t he?

He calls us to get out of our comfort zone. He calls us to change. He calls us to become more purified. more holy. He puts us in the fire to bring about all that we need to address and change in our life to the surface.

Whatever God’s calling is, whatever his ministry is for you, whatever he has put upon your heart to do, and wherever he has called you to serve, you can do it, and you can do it towards God and through Christ.

Well, the competent servant, what a challenge to our hearts because we all feel inadequate. The Lord likes to choose the weak among us so that he can not only confound the wise, but he can accomplish great things through us and receive all the glory.

Don’t forget to check out our website, HopeWorthHaving .com. We have our book available for a gift of ten dollars or more. You can have a copy of that book. And so make sure you check us out. This is Pastor Mike Sanders reminding you that in Christ there is hope worth having.

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