Sheperds’ Conference 2017 Session 1 Notes

February 28, 2017

Session 1

John MacArthur


2 Corinthians 4:5

We do not preach ourselves…


2 Timothy 4

Paul anticipated a heavenly reward.

There were no earthly crowds to give Paul praise for his achievements.

Timothy was away.

He was afraid, and perhaps considering bailing out of the ministry.

Everybody has deserted Paul.

There is a loneliness in Paul’s last words.


How do you go through what Paul went through and stay steadfast?

How do you get there?

2 Corinthians 4


V1 and 16

We do not lose heart brackets the section

Weak translation of the phrase.

Paul may be saying that we do not give in to evil.

It is not so much about being cowardly or slipping.

It is about not giving in to evil or acting badly.

We do not sinfully defect.


Paul’s experience at Corinth would drive someone toward defection.

Look at their sin and cruelty, even toward Paul.

Apollos would not stay there.

It was the church nobody wanted to pastor.


Paul wrote them 4 letters.

Somehow, after Letter 1, they opened themselves to false teachers.

Paul visited, felt worse than before, wrote a very strong letter, and went away.

He may not have wanted to return again.

He was attacked and slandered.

Paul was depressed.


Paul was reluctant to write 2 Cor.

He defended his apostleship against the attacks of false teachers.


Chapter 1, Paul talks about comforts

Chapter 2, Paul talks about sorrow.

Paul regularly talks about his pain in this book.


Paul hurt, but he did not give into evil.

He remained faithful right there.

Here, in chapter 4, we see convictions that kept Paul faithful.


Verse 1, An unwavering conviction

Conviction 1: A conviction about the superiority and glory of the New Covenant over the Old one.


The therefore transitions after the last chapter comparing old and new.

Paul did not watch this change from afar.

He was a zealous Jew.


Acts 9 has Paul’s physical conversion.

Philippians 3 has Paul’s spiritual mindset.

All that old zeal became manure.


2 Cor 3:6

New Covenant gives life.

Law kills.

3:7 Old is a ministry of death.

New is a ministry of life.

3:9 New is a ministry of righteousness.

Old was temporary.

New covenant is permanent.

Old had no hope.

3:12 New has hope

New is clear

Old is dark, vailed.

New is Christ-centered v14.

New covenant is empowered by the Holy Spirit.

New moves us from glory to glory.


Paul came out of the Old Covenant.

He came into the New.

He never lost the wonder over the reality of the New Covenant.

We must never forget the privilege of being called into the New Covenant.

If nobody ever believed under Paul’s ministry, if he was mostly an aroma of death to death, it was still the highest of all honors and the greatest of all joys to proclaim salvation in Christ.


Conviction 2: Paul was certain that ministry was a mercy.

Again, v1.


Your ministry is a mercy.

You did not earn it.

You do not keep it because you are qualified.

Paul was amazed to be given this mercy.


You are in ministry, not because you are better than others, but because you demonstrate God’s grace and mercy.

All our ministries are mercy.

You did not earn your ministry.


Conviction 3: The conviction that he needed to have a pure heart


V2 We have renounced the things hidden because of shame.

The enemies in Corinth accused Paul of much corruption: sexual, financial, etc.

Paul does not have a hidden life.

He was not perfect.

But he was open.

Paul renounced hidden things of shame.

This was a continual thing.

Paul’s reputation as a perfect Pharisee showed he was good at hiding his shame.

He renounced that kind of hypocrisy.


In 1:12, Paul declared he had a clear conscience.

He knew he was not perfect.

But he did not cling to his sin and hide it.


We want a clear conscience.

It doesn’t matter what comes at you if your conscience is clear.

How do you keep your conscience clear?

You do so by winning the battle against sin on the inside.

Charles Wesley hymn on the conscience.


Conviction 4: He was certain of the responsibility to accurately preach the word of God.

V2, not walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God

Paul knows not to adulterate the word of God.

His job is to communicate truth, genuine truth.

No sneaky means used.


“It is criminal to take the word of God and manipulate it to achieve your ends.”


If you tamper with the word of God, you may make a friend, but you will not change a heart.


You do not have to defend the word of God.

It has a glory all its own.


Changing the word will not work and will not honor God.


Conviction 5: Paul was certain that the results did not depend on him.

The results did not depend on Paul at all.

Altering the message is a declaration that success depends on you.

If the gospel is vailed, it is not the minister’s fault or failing.

They are blinded, really, totally blinded.

Welcome to the ministry.

If the gospel is vailed, then the people are in the category of those who are perishing.

The perishing cannot respond.

When they do respond, it is because of the wondrous work of God.

Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.


The doctrine of depravity is both discouraging and encouraging.

It encourages me that I can’t do anything to awaken the dead sinner. So, let me just be faithful to the manifestation of the truth in the word of God.


All the results come from God.


V6 God said light shall shine out of darkness.

God showed the light of the knowledge and glory of Christ in our hearts.

When God does a miracle like the miracle of “Let there be light” in Genesis 1, then we see the light.

Only God can say into the darkness of a human soul, “Let there be light.”


I’m happy to give up all of the credit for changing lives so that I can also give up the responsibility.

I preach the word and leave the results to the Creator.


Conviction 6: Paul was certain about his own insignificance.

V7, this treasure is in jars of clay.

What treasure?

The treasure of the gospel.

We have that in clay pots.

They said Paul was unskilled.

That was no problem.

That was not amazing.

What was amazing is that God would put the gospel in a container like Paul.

Clay pots are not special.

They may be chamber pots.


Paul saw himself as the least of the apostles.

1 Cor 4:9

Paul says he and the others are a spectacle.

They are the scum of the earth, the dregs of all things.

We are the bottom of the garbage container.


The power of the glorious gospel has nothing to do with us.

We have that treasure in clay pots. We are fragile and ordinary.

But such has nothing to do with the success of the gospel.


How does Paul sustain his faithfulness in the face of hardship?

The convictions.


Conviction 7: He was convinced of the benefit of suffering. V8

2 cor 12:7-ff

Paul had a messenger from Satan attacking.

A person, angolos, is not an illness.

Some of the persons in our church may be there to humble us.

Power is perfected in weakness.

Was that person possessed?

Paul asks for God to stop this person.

God tells Paul no, because Paul must see that his strength is in weakness.

If you don’t embrace your suffering, you are more likely to defect from ministry.


Paul could never be the explanation for his impact.

They saw that he seemed to be nothing.

They tormented him, attacking every way they could.

The power of God came through his weakness.


Conviction 8: He was certain of the need for courage.. v13.

I believe. I spoke.

If I believe it, I say it.

I only think of one thing: Is this what is true?

What would the church be like today if Pastors did this?

I can’t believe something and not say it.


Aren’t’ you afraid you might die?

No, v14.

So what if they kill you.

You will be resurrected.


V15, I do this for your sake so you will be converted and give God thanks.


Conviction 9: Paul was certain that future glory was better than anything this world could offer.



Even in the midst of being battered by the struggle, Paul had confidence in an eternal weight of glory.

No human on earth gave him a trophy at the end.

But the reward of the Savior is coming.


You will not lose heart, defect, if you live by these convictions.