SBTS chapel live blog: A ministry manifesto

Communications Staff — March 19, 2009

Preacher: Dan Dumas, senior vice president for institutional administration at Southern Seminary

Text: 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12

Dumas recounted an experience of looking forward to a day of discussing ministry on the golf course with John MacArthur. Dumas expected the conversation to be robust and dynamic and to encompass the entire time on the links.

On the second hole, Dumas led the conversation off with the question, ‘What is the one thing I can best do to serve my adult Bible fellowship group at Grace Community Church?’

MacArthur responded, ‘Study: your people are starving for the Word of God and they just don’t know it.’ That ended the conversation.

Dumas said that was a ministry-shaping moment for him. It was an opportunity to get in the head of a prominent evangelical leader and see how his mind ticked.

In 1 Thessalonians 2, Paul — under the inspiration of Holy Spirit — lets us into his head as he defines ministry leadership.

Paul addresses his opponents in 1 Thessalonians 2, providing a defense of his ministry to the Thessalonian believers for the sake of the Gospel and the faith of those believers.

  • Four imperatives for Gospel ministry:

1. A tenacity for the advancement of the Gospel in the face of opposition (vs. 1-2)

Paul calls on the Thessalonian believers to remember when he and his companions first came to Thessalonica and brought the Gospel to them.

When Paul came to the Thessalonians, the Gospel limped into town. Paul and his missionary team were physically weak when they entered Thessalonica. Paul notes this to prove that he did not come for selfish gain. Those who pursue selfish gain run in the face of conflict. Paul and his missionary team did not run.

Paul and his team were risk-takers because they were not in the ministry for themselves. The Gospel propels us: it advances no matter what they personal cost is for us. We are called to be tenacious in the face of opposition.

2. A commitment to integrity and authenticity in your proclamation (vs. 3-4)

Paul said he and his team had no agenda other than the conversion of the Thessalonians. Paul’s opponents were probably accusing him of preaching half-truths, and were questioning the motives behind his message.

Paul and his team never hedged on the truth. They told it just way it is. There was no mixture of error: it was pure, Christ-exalting Gospel.

Paul and his team spoke to please God, not men. Paul said his role was to be a steward of the Gospel. Our vindication is the authority of God and the stamp of God, not the approval of men.

The town was transformed as a result of Paul’s ministry. Chapter 1 tells us that many Thessalonians turned from idols to the one true and living God as a result of Paul’s ministry (verse nine).

What God thinks is what really matters.

Paul’s motive was the conversion of the Corinthians.

3. A devotion to the gentile and sacrificial care to others (vs. 5-8)

Paul’s opponents probably called him harsh and greedy. Paul steps up his denial: ‘For we never came with words of flattery’ (v. 5, emphasis by Dumas).

Paul denies that they came with a pretext of greed and did not seek glory from people.

Ministers need both grit and grace. Ministers must be both tenacious and gentle. The gentleness of ministers should be like a nursing mother caring for her children. There is nothing to great for a nursing mother to do for her infant. She cares for him, and does so gently.

4. A zeal for fatiguing and exemplary exhortation (vs. 9-12)

Ministers must do whatever it takes.

Paul and his team worked night and day so that they would not be a financial burden to the Thessalonians. This does not mean that pastors should never accept pay for their ministerial work. But it does mean that ministers must do whatever it takes to advance the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul and his team did not receive pay so that the Thessalonians could not claim that they came with selfish motives, and to present the Gospel in the best possible light

Ministry is fatiguing. It does not stick to 9-5 hours. It is going to be hard work and you must live out what you preach so that you will have maximum impact in your exhortation.

Not only must ministers be like devoted mothers, they must also be like strong fathers. A minister must have strength in ministering to their home and in pastoral ministry. We must have grit and grace. This is the perfect blend, enabling us to advance the Gospel in the midst of opposition.

Why must ministers carry out these imperatives? So that the members of their congregation will walk in a manner worthy of God. We put forth all of this effort in ministry, so that our people will have a worthy walk with Christ and glorify Christ.

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