When I came to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ, even though a door was opened for me in the Lord, my spirit was not at rest because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I took leave of them and went on to Macedonia.
But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.
2 Corinthians 2:12-17
Mr. Lacy built many points of his message to us this week on the foundation of 2 Cor. 2:12-17. Because I don’t have time to write it all in one post I’ll do this in short installments. Also, I can’t go through every single point Mr. Lacy makes in his sessions, so I’ll just point out the ones that really struck me. I’ve highlighted Mr. Lacy’s words, so don’t blame him for my opinions.
Mr. Lacy pointed out that we have strayed from the great commission by focusing on getting decisions rather than making disciples. I don’t know how sharing the gospel works in other denominations, but Southern Baptists are all about getting decisions over making disciples. It’s not that we don’t care about making disciples. It’s just that we may never see the person again after they’ve been led to make a decision. A profession of faith, reciting a prayer, signing a card, walking an aisle, etc. do not save anyone. But we say that those who have done those things are Christians.
Christianity is abiding in Jesus. Eternal life is knowing God and Jesus Christ (not a place). If a person does not continue in Christ, then he is not a Christian. Of course, true converts won’t continue perfectly, but they do continue in the faith. The scriptures give ample evidences of faith that we can look for in a person’s life in order to gauge whether or not one’s conversion is genuine. 1 John, for instance.
I didn’t sit down to write all that. I intended to share the points from 2 Corinthians that hit me between the eyes.
First, Paul did not focus on his circumstances. He focused on his position before God in Christ. In all times, in all ways, in all circumstances, Paul knew that he was led by God in triumphant procession. Mr. Lacy made several excellent points regarding the absolute sovereignty of God over our lives. He also explained the history behind Paul’s use of “triumphant procession.” Think Caesar and ancient Rome.
Second, everywhere we go we are the aroma of Christ TO GOD. The word “aroma” hearkens back to the OT references to sacrifices and the aromas that rose up to God and pleased him. Paul lived a life of sacrifice unto God and it pleased Him. We focus so much on the response when we share the gospel. Will you accept Christ? We fret over what to say and whether or not our presentation will be good enough to “get a decision.” But Mr. Lacy pointed out that God is the one we witness unto. God is the one we must seek to please. The focus needs to be on whether or not God is pleased with the aroma of our lives, not whether or not our message will be accepted.
I thought of one particular man of God who feels like a failure if his sermon does not bring anyone to Christ, yield a decision for Christ, etc. He bases his worth as a minister on the numbers each week. He has confessed in several sermons I’ve heard that he gets down on Sunday afternoons and feels like he has failed when no one responds to his sermons.
I don’t think God ever intended for his ministers to feel that way about sharing the gospel. No one was converted when Stephen preached, but would anyone say that he failed? No way! God was very pleased with Stephen. His life (his sacrifice!) was a pleasing aroma to God. How the people responded to his message was irrelevant.
I want to get into the significance of how our lives are the aroma of death to some and the aroma of life to some, but I have to start school with the kids.
Other points to ponder: sacrifice and suffering and the gospel.
If you have it to spare, take about 45 minutes to listen to Mr. Lacy’s first session. By the way, he lives in Mobile, AL, and (I think) attends Christ Fellowship Baptist Church, where Dr. Steve Lawson is pastor. He has shared the gospel all over the world on nearly 100 missions. Also, he serves on a love-offering basis only. No pricey speaker fees.