The Cure for Losing Heart
Therefore, having [since we have] this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. (2 Corinthians 4:1)
For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:5-6)
First, Paul doesn't lose heart in evangelism because he has been given ‘this ministry’. Which raises the question, "What in the world is ‘this ministry’?" It is the ministry he began talking about in chapter 3; the ministry of the New Covenant. Central to this ministry is God's promise to change hard rebellious unbelieving hearts into fleshly submissive and obedient ones (see Deuteronomy 30:6; Jeremiah 31:31ff; Ezekiel 36:25ff). In other words, ‘this ministry’ is God’s powerful heart transforming ministry.
Second, Paul is confident in evangelism, not only because he has the promises of God, but because he has experienced their fulfilment in his own life. Look again at verse 6.
For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:6)
We all know the story of Paul: A man utterly opposed to Jesus Christ and any who would dare to profess His name. A man who was breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord. A man who had heard Stephen and had approved of his execution. A man totally blinded by Satan to the glory of Christ in the gospel. And yet a man radically transformed and converted in a moment of sovereign power on the road to Damascus.
Satan is powerful, and we are powerless in ourselves to undo his blinding work. But Satan is a creature. And Paul knows he engages in the ministry of the Creator. And just as in the beginning when God created light in the darkness, so He powerfully flooded Paul’s darkened, blinded heart with light, enabling him to see and embrace the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. Satan’s blinding work was completely done away with in a moment of sovereign saving grace.
Therefore Satan’s blinding work was not a cause of discouragement for Paul. He knew God could overcome Satan any time He chose. He also knew that God does His heart illuminating work through the means of the gospel ministry (see Romans 10:13ff). His task wasn't to try getting around Satan's veil by clever arguments, or impressive rhetoric. It was to faithfully and openly preach the gospel, without distortion and without deception, and watch God do His stuff.
Paul was an Apostle. This was his ministry in a special sense. But as Christians, it is ours too. We have all been commissioned by Jesus Christ with the New Covenant, gospel preaching ministry. Let us remember the ministry we have and persevere in confidence.
The cure for losing heart in evangelism is confidence in the fact that we engage in the new covenant ministry of the all-powerful Creator of the universe. The ministry we have is God’s ministry, and it is the ministry through which He has promised to powerfully act to accomplish salvation. There is no need for us to lose heart.
We began this series with William Carey, and so it is fitting to end with him. What kept Carey going for 40 years? Answer: this same hope. Listen to these words of his.
When I left England, my hope of India's conversion was very strong; but amongst so many obstacles, it would die, unless upheld by God. Well, I have God, and His Word is true. Though the superstitions of the heathen were a thousand times stronger than they are, the example of the Europeans a thousand times worse; though I were deserted by all and persecuted by all, yet my faith, fixed on that sure Word, would rise about all obstacles and overcome every trial. God's cause will triumph.
Losing Heart in Evangelism