Summary: God, through His Holy Spirit, has qualified each one of us to be effective witnesses for the gospel in spite of our apparent disqualifications.
With the beginning of a New Year coming upon on us this week, perhaps you have given some thought about a positive change in your life by making a New Year’s resolution. It’s hard not to get the resolution urge on New Year’s Eve. It seems as though each New Year brings a sense of renewal and rebirth, not to mention the guilty awareness that you really did eat all of those cookies and candy over the holidays. Funny thing about those New Year’s resolutions: No matter how practical and attainable they appear to be on January 1st, they are almost always doomed with the passage of time.
However, there is a resolution that will make a difference for eternity. This resolution is one of the greatest accomplishments a Christian can have, and every Christian is qualified to complete this resolution. There is one important thing you must keep in mind about this resolution: It is not an option; rather, it is a command from the Lord Jesus Christ. The resolution is this: Make a commitment to live your life as an effective witness for the gospel by leading someone to Christ this year. Pray that God will give you the opportunity to present the gospel to an unbeliever, or to someone who has been deceived by errant doctrine. Let’s read chapter two of Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians, beginning with verse 12.
Who is qualified to be an effective witness for Jesus Christ? How can you become a witness of the gospel to an unbelieving world even though you may feel you are not qualified to present the gospel effectively? Many of us may find witnessing to be one of the most difficult aspects of the Christian life. We know that Jesus Christ has commanded us to go out into the world, and to preach the good news to all people. We know that we are to be a witness of the gospel message, that Jesus Christ died and was raised from the dead and that those who put their faith in the death and in the shed blood of Christ will receive the forgiveness of sin and promise of eternal life. But, the thought of presenting the gospel to a stranger, or to someone at work, or to, perhaps, a family member, may leave you feeling at least uneasy if not downright scared out of your wits. Sure, you’ve heard stories about how someone came to accept Jesus Christ as his or her Savior because a believer took the time to present God’s plan of salvation to that person. But you may be here today thinking to yourself: "There is no way I could ever do anything like that. I could never lead someone to Christ because I’m not qualified.” Or you may reason that leading someone to Christ is not your responsibility: “After all, didn’t God arrange the members of the church in a similar fashion to the parts of the body? And if the various parts of the body have their own specific functions, don’t the members of the church have their own specific functions as well? If that’s the case, why should I be expected to lead anyone to Christ if I don’t have the ability to be an evangelist? Besides, I don’t know enough about the Bible to teach anyone anything about Christianity. I’ll let other people lead others to Christ.”
In his Second Letter to the Corinthians, Paul asks the question: "Who is equal to such a task?" In other words Paul is asking: "Who is qualified to be an effective witness for Jesus Christ?” How can you become a witness of the gospel to an unbelieving world even though you may feel you are not adequate to present the gospel effectively?
I. The Corinthians Were Effective Witnesses for Christ as a Result of Their Hearing the Gospel
Paul convinces the Corinthians that they were effective witnesses for the gospel as a result of their hearing the gospel message Paul had preached to them. At this point, Paul is defending his ministry because the Corinthian church had been infiltrated by false teachers who were challenging Paul’s integrity as well as his authority as an apostle. A part of the controversy involved a change in plans Paul made concerning his visitation of the Corinthians. Paul had originally planned to make two short visits to the Corinthians. The first visit was to have taken place while he on his way to Macedonia, and the second visit was to have followed upon his return from there. In order to give you a sense of geography, the country of Macedonia made up the northern portion of what is now Greece, while the city of Corinth was located in southern Greece near the Mediterranean Sea. After visiting the Corinthians for the first time, Paul would have made his way north to Macedonia, then he would have worked his way south back to Corinth for his second visit. That was his original plan. But there was a change in Paul’s plan, and that change in his plan caused Paul to make one long visit to the Corinthians instead of two short visits.