Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; but have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. But if our gospel be hidden, it is hidden to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should not dawn [upon them]. For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:1-6
Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:18-19
Earlier today, I got a call from a friend who had been reading a post on this blog. After telling me that she had learned much and enjoyed the many posts, she asked: “don’t you like Rick Warren?” whose recent statements and decisions were the topic of a recent post. I replied; Of course, I like Rick Warren very much. He is clearly one of the most Godly committed men I have ever met. But, we are all human, I can be wrong ... and so can Rick Warren. The fact that I don’t agree with him, and that I think he made a wrong turn in his ministry has nothing to do with whether I like or respect him. Just so that there is no confusion here as to where I stand I must say: I do not want to offend Pastor Warren or any of my friends who are his followers. But as a Christian, I hope after reading my posts they will reconsider their plans.
This is a BIG deal! Rick Warren's best seller: Purpose Driven Life introduced his "50 year" global P.E.A.C.E Plan and has been translated into 52 languages. According to his website, more than 500,000 evangelical churches are partnering in what I believe has become an unbiblical ecumenical effort. Warren subsequently expanded that model from an exclusive endeavor of Christianity to one requiring the support of all religions.
The "P" in his P.E.A.C.E. plan originally stood for "Planting Churches" as the key antidote for curing the world's ills. Later, however, before a panel and audience of representatives of the world's religions, Pastor Warren changed the "P" from "Planting Churches" to "Promoting Reconciliation" If his intent was to reconcile the world through the ministry of the gospel of Jesus Christ, I would be in wholehearted agreement. But reconciliation with false religions is not the ministry of reconciliation that each of us have been given as our personal ministry and mission in 2 Corinthians 5. To not challenge this well meaning but false leading, would be for me to not follow my calling and commitment to Christ.
In 2 Corinthians 4 and 5, Paul discusses this ministry of reconciliation we have all been given. When Paul says: “seeing we have this ministry” he is referring to our call as ambassadors for Christ with a ministry of reconciliation “as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” This is not about reconciling the world’s religions with Christianity. It is Christ reaching out to all men and women through Christians by the power of the Holy Spirit; and reconciling unbelievers one by one to the Creator of the universe. The one and ONLY Savior of humankind. Christ is providing eternal life ONLY through His grace and sacrificial death on the cross for our sins. There is only one place in His plan for other Gods, and their religions: eternal hell. The unrepentant followers have two choices: reconciliation; or eternal condemnation. Many would say this is harsh and yes it is, but it is exactly what the Bible teaches ... nothing more, nothing less. Is this legalistic or judgmental? I do not believe so. We all have the exact same spiritual problem, and there is only one solution: Jesus Christ. For me to teach or promote anything other than this truth would be hypocritical, deceitful, and the worst thing I could possibly do. We are all the same, all equal, with the same problem, and same solution.
Christianity is easy for all to understand, treats everyone fairly and equally, and discriminates against no-one. We are not allowed to rewrite God's plan of salvation to fit our own personal needs, desires, beliefs, or religions. I am confident Pastor Rick Warren would agree with me on these points.
“As we have received mercy, we faint not” This phrase makes it clear that we do not deserve the good fortune of eternal life with God in Heaven … it is His free gift by grace; we have been saved and entrusted with this ministry. Paul did not deserve his ministry and neither do you or I … but we each have the same ministry that Paul was given, whether we step up to the challenge or not is another question. We faint not speaks to the courage it takes to stand up to the false teachings of the world and the schemes of the god of this world. His goal and plan is to lead people away form Christ and the truth of the gospel. It is our challenge to stand firm … and to not form alliances with spiritually doomed religions. It is not easy to stand firm when those we love might think we appear foolish. It is much easier to remain silent and to be politically correct. Tolerance and political correctness does not make a false religion true. Silence only encourages those we care about to possibly continue on the wrong path. Only when I challenged the false teachings of Mormonism did my friends turn to the good news of Jesus Christ. No one wants to be viewed as legalistic. But Jesus said; “If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. When we start seeing ourselves as Christ sees us … others will see Christ through us. We are to be ministers of the Spirit of righteousness and the love of Christ.
“But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully” What are the hidden things of dishonesty that are tools that the enemy uses to bring us defeat as ministers of the gospel? Hypocrisy, our daily walk, manipulations of God’s word, contrary teachings of the world, false religions. I could write an entire post on this one sentence. Each of us must do a personal review of what we believe and why we believe it. Is it consistent with what God’s Word and the Holy Spirit lead us to understand as truth? Or is it the plan of a well meaning pastor or teacher? False teachings at the seminary level are leading a generation of pastors away from Biblical inerrancy. Faulty translations and manipulated paraphrases are being used to distort the Bible’s original meaning, and promote popular ideas; and the next thing you know we have a “green bible.” The Bible is not hard to understand if one is being led by the Spirit of Truth. If not, it is impossible to understand or accept … and that is the problem. We are to be ministers of the gospel; ministers of reconciliation. We need to keep our vision focused on Christ and His purpose for us.
“But by manifestation of the truth, commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. To commend is to: represent as worthy, qualified, or desirable; or to recommend the gospel of Christ to those God brings before us. That is our mission. A primary mission of the church should be to make this clear to every believer; and to teach and equip each believer in how to present ourselves as worthy of this lifelong ministry God has given each of us. God wants to move on peoples hearts through our words and our walk by the power of the Spirit of Truth.
But if our gospel be hidden, it is hidden to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should not dawn [upon them]. Certainly clinics that are ministering to the sick in the name of Christ can be used to lead the lost to eternal life in Christ. This is a commendable ministry of living the love of Christ. But not if these clinic caregivers are housed in a mosque or temple and manned by Muslims or Buddhists. This verse is very telling regarding the subject at hand. The enemy of Christ, “the god of this world” Satan has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that the truth of the gospel will be foolishness to them. Only when Christ removed the veil and opened my eyes to the truth was I able to understand the deceptions and false teachings of the evil one. Those who have chosen to fall under the power of lust and pride; are under the control of the enemy. This includes both the caregivers and the recipients of care. They could be sincerely helping people day after day in a clinic but it will be for the wrong reasons … if not for Christ.
They will be giving the sick water but not the "living water" provided by Christ at Calvary.
For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. This verse needs no explanation. Like I said; the gospel is easy to understand when the Spirit of Truth is guiding you.
A special thanks to Ana C. for inspiring this post. God Bless you my friends, Bob
often contradict the wisdom of the world. Since we have been programmed by the world ... we have come to accept these worldly ideas as truth ... but when we consider God’s perspective ... we come to understand ... "the Lord's ways are not our ways"
Don't just read these writings ... meditate and pray over God's Word ... Listen to the Holy Spirit ... and be transformed by renewing your mind. He who died on our behalf wants you to ... allow the love of Christ to control you ... so that you might become ... the righteousness of God in Him.
Be an Ambassador of Christ ... with a ministry of reconciliation. Share God's eternal Truth and Love ... with everyone He brings into your path.