THE COMMENDATION FOR EFFECTIVE MINISTRY IS CHANGED LIVES
I. UNNECESSARY TYPES OF COMMENDATION
A. (:1a) Personal Boasting
“Are we beginning to commend ourselves again?”
Prov. 27:2 “Let another praise you, and not your own mouth”
How did Christ demonstrate His authority and His power to change lives?
B. (:1b) Lifeless Words on a piece of paper (cf. academic degrees)
“Or do we need, as some, letters of commendation to you or from you?”
The Apostles were not polished graduates from some academic institution.
Not saying that sending churches should not provide letters of commendation.
Harris: Paul is not here disparaging the use of letters of introduction. Their use had already become established within the Christian world (see Acts 18:27) and Paul himself had sought epistolary credentials from the high priest at Jerusalem before setting out for the synagogues of Damascus (Acts 9:2; 22:5). Also he himself gave what amounted to commendatory letters (Rom 16:1, 2; 1 Cor 16:3, 10, 11; 2 Cor 8:16-24).
II. THE ONLY VALID COMMENDATION FOR EFFECTIVE MINISTRY = CHANGED LIVES
A. Impressive Disciples – Changed lives evident to all
“You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men”
B. Imitators of Christ – Nurtured by Good Role Models
1. Producing Christlikeness
“being manifested that you are a letter of Christ”
2. Using us as Spiritual Caretakers
“cared for by us”
C. Supernaturally Changed – by the Holy Spirit
“written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God”
D. Internally Transformed — a Matter of the Heart (not external reform)
“not on tablets of stone, but on tablets of human hearts.”
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1) Jesus Christ came to change the heart of man … to transform him from the inside out … not to reform the externals. Initial conversion plays itself out in ongoing sanctification by the Spirit so that increasing Christlikeness is evident to all.
2) We don’t have to worry about how others evaluate our ministry; the only one whose opinion counts is our Lord and Master. It is the Holy Spirit who commends men to positions of ministry leadership in the church.
3) Jesus Christ makes His disciples a “letter of Christ” by transforming them by His grace and writing His law on their hearts and enabling them to fulfill His righteousness. He took a bunch of fishermen and outcasts from society who had no formal training or academic degrees and transformed them into the pillars of His church.
4) Our shepherding work in caring for the flock is patterned after the Chief Shepherd who gave His life for the flock.