God Gives the Increase!
“For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus ‘sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So death is at work in us, but life in you. 13 Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, I believed, and so I spoke, we also believe, and so we also speak, 14 knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. 15 For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.” – 2 Corinthians 4:13 ESV
It’s a fact that is evident whenever we witness – people are not naturally receptive to the gospel. God has not sent us into the world to convince them of things they already believe. God has not sent us into the world with a message it will find palatable. God has sent us into the world to preach a message the world finds absurd. The world lies in wickedness, and it does not have a taste for the things of God.
In 2 Corinthians 4 the apostle Paul gives us a glimpse of what it cost him to serve Christ, and it is not a very attractive job description. He said that his gospel ministry has led to beatings, abandonments, and persecutions of virtually every kind. The death of Christ is evident, he says, in his own body. Gospel work cost him dearly.
Indeed, it cost him his life.
So then, what is it in all this that drove the apostle Paul to continue preaching the gospel so faithfully? He tells us in 2 Corinthians 4:13. “I believed; therefore, I have spoken.”
Interesting, isn’t it. Paul says, simply, that he continued to witness for Christ because what he had to say was something he believed. He believed the gospel, and that, simply, is why he spoke up.
Do you see the point?
It is our lack of confidence in the gospel that causes us to remain silent about it. When we really believe the gospel of the saving grace of God in Jesus Christ, it is a relatively easy thing to speak of it. The world may scoff at it, but precisely because we believe it we talk about it anyway.
The gospel is not just a message from God.
It is the message from God that actually accomplishes things – amazing things. By this gospel men and women are actually saved. It is by this gospel that you and I have been saved. We know first hand that this message really works! We believe, in other words, that the gospel is “the power of God unto salvation” (Rom. 1:16), and it is precisely because we believe in this gospel that we witness.
When we witness for Christ, then, we witness expectantly.
We know that in the hands of the Spirit of God – “the Spirit of faith” as he is called in this verse – the gospel is the power of God to salvation, and so we declare it unhesitatingly with anticipation, eager to see the Spirit of God take it and make it effective in the lives of others. If success in evangelism were left to us, then we would have cause indeed to remain quiet.
But we know that it is ours but to plant and water – it is God’s to give the increase.
And we know that he works through the gospel to save sinners. This is the point. Believing this amazing gospel message, and believing in its abilities, we speak and keep on speaking. In the words of the apostle, “We believe; therefore, we speak.”
Pastor Zaspel holds a Ph.D. in historical theology from the Free University of Amsterdam. He is currently a pastor at the Reformed Baptist Church of Franconia, PA. He is also Adjunct Professor of Systematic Theology at Calvary Baptist Seminary in Lansdale, PA. He is the author of The Theology of B.B. Warfield: A Systematic Summary (Crossway, 2010) and Warfield on the Christian Life: Living in Light of the Gospel (Crossway, 2012).
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