Ministers of the New Covenant
Every Christian is called to be a minister of the New Covenant.
When a parent takes a child to the grocery store, who leads the way? The parent does, of course. The same principle is true in our Christian lives, and in a much greater way. In Romans 8:14, the Apostle Paul said, “for as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God”. In other words, God always leads His children along in order to accomplish His purposes.
It is good for every Christian to ask, “When you think about ministry, is your focus on God to bless what you are doing, or is it trusting God to lead you to participate with Him in what He is doing?” In 2 Corinthians 2-3, Paul provides an important example of what it means to do the later.
Question: In what ways is your life a reflection of Christ?
1 BEARING THE AROMA OF CHRIST
A. God Leads His Ministers
2 Corinthians 2:
12 Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ’s gospel, and a door was opened unto me of the Lord,
13 I had no rest in my spirit, because I found not Titus my brother: but taking my leave of them, I went from thence into Macedonia.
…….The reason Paul couldn’t be at peace was because Titus had the first letter to the Corinthians. God’s ministers should never be comfortable with a work that is left undone.
14 Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour (aroma) of his knowledge by us in every place.
…….Paul gives God the glory that even though his mind was troubled and distracted by what was left undone, the anointing still caused the vessel to accomplish what needed to be done. The sweet aroma of the Lord is the seal of His accomplishment.
B. Accepted or Rejected
2 Corinthians 2:
15 For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish:
…….Regardless if the ministry is received and salvation is accomplished, God will always be satisfied with his ministers work.
16 To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things?
…….There will be those who will receive the ministry unto salvation, and there will also be those who turn their nose up as a stench, thus bringing spiritual death upon themselves.
He asks the question “who is sufficient?” Who is ample, able, fit, good enough, meet for the work. The answer is no one, not even Paul himself could accomplish what the Lord intends.
He describes it hear in 1 Corinthians 1:27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:
29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.
17 For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.
…….We are not to corrupt the word of God using it as personal gain, nor to build up self in condemning others with it. It is about offering oneself to God, so that Christ’s fragrance spreads through the sincerity of our hearts and our words.
2. LETTERS FROM CHRIST
Written on Human Hearts
2 Corinthians 3:
1 Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or need we, as some others, epistles of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you?
…….Once again he describes the purpose with a rhetorical question, what do you think we are doing this for? Do we need letters of commendation (or praise) from you? The next verse is the answer.
2 Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men:
…….Ye, or the people in which he ministers to are the letter of praise. The result of ministering to them, Christ doing the work, the aroma of God’s anointing is the letter of praise! The glory will be of God and given to God!
3 Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.
…….The ones who receive the Word are to be a progressive letter, or example of Christ, written not with ink nor on the outward. Not on tables of stone which could never change the desires of man, but in the table of the heart, that is, upon hearts that are softened and renewed by divine grace, according to that gracious promise, I will take away the stony heart, and I will give you a heart of flesh, Ezekiel 36:26.
B. Sufficiency From God
2 Corinthians 3:
4 And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward:
5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God;
…….Because self commendation was such a popular problem then and still is now, Paul directly and constantly drives home the fact that His ministers are unable on their own. It will always be from Christ, through Christ and in Christ.
6 Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.
…….The letter shows and proves what we cannot be and what we cannot accomplish. The law shows us how contrary our fleshy hearts and desires are. But the spirit gives life, that is, strength and energy. It enables us to lives for Christ and “as” Christ!
3. THE MINISTRY OF THE SPIRIT
A. The Greater Glory
2 Corinthians 3:
7 But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away:
…….The radiance of Moses’ face was glorious, proving that he had spent time with God and been sent by God. But, the ministration was of death and condemnation, and just as the glory left the face of Moses, it proved that the heart could not be changed by it.
8 How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious?
…….The ministering of the spirit will be even more glorious that the temporary outward radiance. God’s glory through His Spirit would be the change from inside out.
9 For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory.
…….the ministry of righteousness, which is the proof of the pure work of God, will exceed (or be greater, have more abundance, excel) in glory. Righteousness through the work of the Spirit alone will always have more glory than an external fix.
10 For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth.
11 For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious.
……. The glory of Moses reflected did not last because the law was never intended to be the final solution. The glory of God is now revealed in those who have been made righteous and have been empowered by the Spirit to live righteously. This glory lasts because of the Spirit’s presence in the lives of God’s people.
B. Ever-Increasing Glory
2 Corinthians 3:
12 Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech:
13 And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished:
14 But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ.
…….When Moses came down from being with God, His radiance was blinding. It was so bright that it had to be covered. It showed how far away from the people God really was. There was always a great separation between man and God. Now, the vail is taken away by the sacrifice of Christ, and all can gaze at His glory and become changed by it. Not only can we benefit from the external glory, we can also live from the internal benefits of his righteous working glory.
15 But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart.
16 Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away.
17 Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty (freedom).
…….The Spirit of the Lord is freedom to draw closely to Him.
18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
We are all ministers of the new covenant. Such ministry requires a humble dependence on the Holy Spirit to accomplish what cannot be done in human strength. Through the Spirit we can see people being made righteous through faith in Christ and being empowered by the Spirit to reflect Jesus.
It is imperative that we anchor our ministry to a sincere dependence on the Holy Spirit. If we do, we will not be bogged down in the mire of human effort trying to help others change their behavior, nor will we succumb to the frustration of reliance on human effort. We are wise to take an honest assessment of ourselves, then surrender every aspect of our life and ministry to the work of the Spirit.