CJ Mahaney: The Sustaining Power of the Gospel
I am live blogging from the T4G Conference this week. These are notes from session 1.
All pastors, like Paul, are tempted to lose heart (particularly every Monday!). This temptation is common to even the best of pastors. Pastors can begin to even lose their heart for pastoral ministry – losing their joy. God is addressing the hearts of pastors to encourage them.
We gather as needy men, not to impress one another. We need grace to be provided by God in abundance by the preaching of God’s Word. Lean in humbly to listen. Do not waste this conference!
What does a pastor do when he begins to lose heart?
1) Remember the call of Christian ministry (vv 1-6) – to proclaim the gospel of Christ crucified. The glorious nature of this ministry sustained Paul and will sustain you. Do not tamper with the message or proclaim yourself. The message is part of the call. Have you gotten over the mercy you’ve received? Have you gotten over the mercy of God in your call to ministry? You are unworthy for this task! Keep your congregation in view. Don’t become preoccupied with their besetting sin, but keep their conversion in view.
2) The context of Christian ministry (vv 7-15) – The pastor is called to suffer and serve in personal weakness! Too many pastors begin unaware of the context. They understand the call and the gospel, but are not prepared for the suffering. The godly suffer and the wicked prosper. How will you explain it?
Prepare to suffer and be struck down. Trust in the Lord even when the devil has his foot on your neck! Discover that God is wonderfully at work. Your congregation is not just studying your sermons – they are studying you life! They want to see how the gospel impacts your suffering!
“But not” is the accent in the passage. It’s not about Paul’s resolve but God’s grace! Left to himself, he would be crushed, forsaken, and destroyed! But not! Death is at work in us, but we life in those we serve. Look behind a genuinely fruitful church and you will find a dying pastor.
3) Keep an eternal perspective (vv 16-18) – study the unseen and give careful attention to the future. As you waste away, be aware of the future glory. We don’t compare suffering with the suffering of others, but with future glory! Paul’s perspective came from keeping before his eyes the unseen future glory.