Summary: Living Life with a Purpose
1. John Piper noted:
Pastors have the job of equipping the saints for the work of the ministry. But ordinary Christians do the ministry. What ministry looks like is as varied as Christians are varied. It’s not an office; it’s a lifestyle devoted to advancing other people’s faith and holiness. In this sense, the only life that counts for anything is a life of ministry whether you’re a banker or a bricklayer. Fulfilling your ministry is more important than staying alive…You may think you need to save your life in order to do your ministry…On the contrary, how you lose your life may be the capstone of your ministry. It certainly was for Jesus, at the age of 33. We need not fret about keeping ourselves alive in order to finish our ministry. God alone knows the appointed time of our service.
24 "But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God. Acts 20:24
2. Everyone has a God-given ministry because every believer has a spiritual gift. Many Christians today are joyless and full of complaint because they are more concerned about being ministered unto than ministering to others.
3. Living Life with Purpose – fulfilling our God-appointed ministry.
Trans: 1 Cor. 1:1
I. FIRST, PAUL’S IDENTITY. 1:1
A. The Method.
Today when we write a letter we write our name at the bottom of the letter, but in that day people always began a letter by identifying themselves.
B. The Meaning.
Paul – means “little” and indicates that when he was born, he was somewhat puny and apparently remained so all of his life (1 Cor. 2:1-5/ 2 Cor. 10:10; 11:6).
A presbyter in the province of Asia during the second century described Paul as “a man of small stature, with a bald head and crooked legs, in a good state of body, with eyebrows meeting and nose somewhat hooked
Trans: The impression you get is that Paul was not very impressive to look at or hear and yet God called him to a ministry, which involved public speaking! Why?
9 And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; 2 Corinthians 4:7
It is God in us that is important not us!
Some places in Arkansas when it is very dry, and they have to issue a fire band. Imagine someone watering his dry lawn in hopes of preserving it. The ground gladly takes in the water. Now imagine a little girl taking a toy sprinkling can and going out and watering the lawn. The truth is it doesn’t matter to that thirsty grass whether the water comes from a brand new expensive hose or a cheap little water can. It is not the vessel but the water that is vital. It is God’s Spirit working in and through our frail often-ugly vessels that minister.
II. NEXT, WE HAVE PAUL’S LEGITIMACY. 1:1
A. Determined by God.
called – a verbal adjective, in the passive vice meaning the subject received the action.
1. The Source.
Paul did not wake up one day and decide to be an apostle but was called to be one by God’s own sovereign choice. Like all spiritual gifts, they are given by God’s Sovereign choice (1 Cor. 12:4-7, 11).
2. The Service.
as an apostle of Jesus Christ – from apo meaning “from or away from” and stello meaning “to send forth.” Paul, like the Twelve, was sent forth by Jesus Christ to establish churches with great authority and power.
Chuck Swindoll writes:
The skeletal system provides the body’s basic support, making mobility and activity possible. The work of the apostles corresponds closely to the skeleton’s function of providing a sturdy framework for the body. The apostle's ministry was foundational to the establishment of the Church and appears to have been given only during those early groundbreaking days.
Trans: The point is that Paul had a ministry; there was something, that God wanted him to do. It is the same with all of God’s people (Eph. 2:10).
We need to be able to say, “Sam called to evangelize by Jesus Christ; Johnny called to teach God’s word by Jesus Christ; David called to be a financial planner by Jesus Christ; Dennis called by the will of God to be an attorney for the glory of God; Cindy called to be a homemaker by Jesus Christ; Ruth called to be a Doctor by Jesus Christ; etc.