2 Corinthians 1:18-22
Imagine a preacher who preached an estimated sixty thousand sermons. He also wrote many books, two of which sold over a million copies. His ministry took him around the world many times. Yet even with those credentials and accomplishments, when he faced the possibility of dying he struggled against death in order to accomplish one more task – writing a book based on today’s text.
That preacher was the well-known Methodist evangelist E. Stanley Jones. At age 87 he had a stroke that crippled him and severely affected his eye sight. Even so, when his daughter reached his bedside following the stroke, Jones had these words for her: “Daughter, I cannot die now. I have to live to complete another book – The Divine Yes!” He lived another fourteen months and battled the impairments that affected him – sight, hearing, speech, use of one arm, and walking. And though the task seemed impossible, he gained enough speech to dictate his last book into a tape recorder. His daughter called it his “last will and testament.”
Nearly all his life Jones felt moved by the affirmation in 2 Corinthians 1: 19-20, the affirmation that God says “Yes” to humanity. The book begins with these words: “Jesus is the Yes – the divine Yes. A great many people today would like to choose Christianity, but they think it is a No to living.”
1. The Divine Yes Comes With a Guarantee (v. 21)
Many of us rarely buy expensive items without a money-back guarantee. If we fork over thirty grand for a car, for example, we want to make certain it works well and lasts for years. We wish life came with the same sort of guarantee but it doesn’t. Think of the devastation that the Gulf coast has suffered. Many hundreds of lives were lost and property damage is still being calculated. People’s lives were turned upside down in ways we can hardly imagine. Many are wondering what they can count on.
The answer to that question is that we can count on the guarantee of God to give us all we need to sustain us. Even in times of crisis, in fact, especially in times of crisis, God is with us saying “Yes” to life.
2. The Divine Yes Gives Us Anointing for Ministry
Since we have God’s guarantee to be with us and give us what we need, we might wonder what our greatest needs are. One thing the Lord wants from His people is for them to reach out to other people in God’s name. Ministry takes many forms and varieties but one common factor in all of them is this – God anoints us for ministry.
So what exactly is anointing for ministry? Consider the story of the man who cut pulp wood for a living. One day, many years ago, he went to a hardware store where the owner showed him a new invention – a chainsaw. The owner promised the woodcutter that he could cut ten times more wood with that saw than before. The fellow decided he would give it a try. He came back the next day and complained that he couldn’t cut any more with that one than his old saw. The store owner was puzzled so he said, “Well, let’s see how she runs.” He cranked it up and saw that the chain seemed to work perfectly. The woodcutter looked on in amazement and said, “Hey, what’s that noise?”
Trying to serve God without anointing is like cutting wood without cranking the saw.
3. This Divine Yes Seals Us With God’s Promises (v. 22)
The “yes” that God offers to humanity shows his ownership. Just as when we seal a document or transaction today, so God seals the truth of his relationship to us.
When people marry they seal the relationship with a kiss. That kiss is the outward symbol of the commitment. In the same way, God is sealing his promise to save us. It shows his trustworthiness and allows us to serve him.
4. The Divine Yes Makes a Pledge for the Future (v. 22)
When making business transactions people often put up “earnest” money as a sign that the deal is genuine and both parties agree to the terms of the deal. Today’s text says that God offers such a pledge – a “down payment” of sorts – to show that his intentions are right.
All this comes as part of God’s saying “yes” to us: his guarantee, his anointing, his seal, and his pledge. What the Lord asks in return is that we say “yes” in reply.
Sermon brief provided by: Don M. Aycock, Pastor of Liberty Baptist Church in Palatka, FL.