Endurance Needed: Strength for a Slow Reformation and the Dangerous Allure of Speed

This is the fourth post in a series with my notes from the Together for the Gospel Conference (#T4G2016) that was held from April 12-14 in Louisville, KY. To see my other notes from the sermons at T4G, click here

Speaker: Mark Dever                                      Key text: N/A

Listen to the full sermon: Audio || Video 

There is a difference between the joys of the spotlight and the joys of enduring ministry. God has always worked in a way that makes it clear that He is doing the work. That is the biblical pattern. The fulfillment of the Great Commission has continued for centuries and will continue until the return of Christ. Not only must every tribe and nation be reached; every generation must be reached as well.

A short-term view of ministry limits our view of the abilities and purposes of God. Instead of meeting the needs we think we have, the gospel meets the needs that God knows we have (even if we don’t know we have them). The allure of results today distracts from the joys of plodding, faithful ministry that yields real fruit. Our ability to take the true gospel around the world has been hindered by watered-down versions of the gospel.

Endurance is a key part of joy and joy is a key driver of endurance (Hebrews 12:2; Revelation 21-22). There is great joy in admitting personal inability and acknowledging God’s power when it comes to shepherding. We can give the gospel, but only the Holy Spirit can give faith.

10 Joys of Enduring, Faithful Ministry 

  1. The joy of resting in the sufficiency of Scripture— Look to Scripture for ways to minister in order to grow believers and the church instead of coming up with innovative ways to entertain.
  2. The joy of seeing people converted (1 Timothy 4:16)— Be encouraged by the people who were saved and baptized and not disappointed in the ones who weren’t.
  3. The joy of knowing the congregation well enough to see God’s work in their lives (Isaiah 55:11)— Persevere in prayer. God’s Word is not in danger of not succeeding. The Lord alone will show the faithfulness of our labors.
  4. The joy of watching the church sing God’s praises and live off the hope that God gives
  5. The joy of knowing the spiritual state of church members is more important than their number— Numerical growth is a sad substitute for true spiritual growth.
  6. The joy of hearing others preach better sermons than you— It is a joy to know that the congregation is not dependent on you. Seminaries don’t make pastors, local churches do. Maturation is a slow, but necessary, process.
  7. The joy of being more excited by God’s work than your own— There should be great joy that the gospel is succeeding in your area, even if not in or through your church.
  8. The joy of knowing the weight of the world isn’t on our shoulders, but on God’s— We have a task to do, but it is God who gives the growth. God has responsibilities that we don’t have. We should pray and plan for gospel growth, but realize we can’t control it. We mustn’t strive with God for sovereignty, but work diligently under His sovereignty.
  9. The joy of longing for heaven together— As Christians, we have been given a knowledge of the future that is very good. This truth pulls us forward toward heaven. Waiting isn’t inactive, but very active.
  10. The joy of waiting together on the promises of a faithful God— Looking for immediate results throws biblical theology out the window. Modern Christianity seems to be on a “wait loss” program: wanting results now instead of paitently waiting for God’s promises to be fulfilled in His timing. The Psalms are filled with waiting. Waiting on the Lord vindicates the Lord (Hebrews 2). Our going involves a waiting and our waiting involves a going. The whole posture of the Christian life is one of waiting (2 Timothy 2:12). In the fallen world, the order of events is suffering and then glory.

-Lawson
Learn It. Love It. Live It.

Notable Tweets

More from Mark Dever: My sermon notes from T4G 2012 || Video from past T4Gs

[image credit: @t4gonline on Twitter]

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About Lawson Hembree
Lawson is an entrepreneur, ministry leader, and outdoors enthusiast who also enjoys blogging about business, ideas, and theology. Want to continue the discussion or write a guest post? Let's Connect!

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