Who Is Sufficient?

Last Sunday, Pastor Ken preached the sermon “Gospel Love at Work” from 2 Corinthians 2:5-11. We saw Paul’s gospel love in further action as he extended forgiveness to a wayward Corinthian church member and exhorted the Corinthians to do the same. Through Paul’s example and exhortation, we learned that gospel love disciplines, forgives, and restores others who have sinned against us.

Read: 2 Corinthians 2:12-17

This Sunday, Pastor Jeremy Chasteen will preach from 2 Corinthians 2:12-17, and we will consider anew the glorious truth that God has reconciled us to himself and now sovereignly leads us out into the world to accomplish his mission of salvation. As you prepare your heart for our corporate gathering, let these words from John Piper encourage you with fresh zeal and confidence to enter the unique mission fields that God has prepared for you. Piper’s words were originally directed toward those who felt called to long-term missions in a foreign context; however, his words can serve all of us. Whether we have been called to a foreign mission context or we have been called to serve right here in Clemson, we all have been called to make disciples of all people for God’s glory.

Reflect: “Sufficiency from God”

[Paul provides] two pictures of his life as a missionary. (1) God conquered him when he was his enemy. He is now leading Paul both in triumph and in suffering. There is reason to exult in this procession. And there is reason to groan in this procession. Paul’s calling is to show the sufferings of Christ to the world in his own suffering. (2) The other picture is of Christ as a sweet smelling sacrifice or incense to God, and Paul sharing in Christ’s mission and sufferings so that he becomes this very fragrance in the world — which some smell as life and live, but others smell as death and die.

Now Paul asks at the end of verse 16 . . . “Who is sufficient for these things?” Who can bear the weight of knowing that the aroma of your Christ-exalting life will lead some to eternal life and others to eternal death? It’s as serious as if you walked [through downtown] at lunch hour and some would smile and come in behind you and be saved, and everyone else would drop dead. Who could bear it? That’s what Paul asks.

In one sense, the answer is no one. But that’s not Paul’s main point. He said in 2 Corinthians 1:12 and Romans 1:5 that he carries out this very ministry by the grace of God. He is not sufficient — you and I are not sufficient — in ourselves. No missionary feels sufficient. But 2 Corinthians 3:5 says, “Our sufficiency is from God.”

So the utterly crucial question for many of you, as you have prayed and thought about giving your life, or a substantial part of it, to missions, is: Can I do this? Can I bear this weight of being the aroma of Christ in some new place? By God’s grace, you can.

Excerpt from the sermon “The Aroma of Christ Among the Nations,” October 29, 2006, by John Piper

Sing: Song List for Sunday

1. “Yes I Will,” by Vertical Worship
2. “Oceans (Where Feet May Fail),” by Hillsong Worship
3. “My Worth Is Not in What I Own,” Arr. Shane & Shane
4. “Lord, I Need You,” Arr. Shane & Shane
5. “Psalm 34 (Taste and See),” by Shane & Shane

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