I want to walk through 2nd Corinthians chapters 3-5 as Paul describes New Covenant ministry and share a few thoughts. This won’t be a full exposition of the passage, but rather a set of thoughts provoked by looking at the text.
1. We are called to minister Christ, not to defend ourselves in ministry. (2Cor.3:1-6) Ministry tends to create situations where we will be critiqued. Sometimes, believe it or not, we deserve the critique. Sometimes we don’t. Either way, our ministry is to preach Christ, not to proclaim ourselves or defend ourselves. Are you in a situation where you are tempted to defend yourself? We are not sufficient in ourselves, our sufficiency is entirely of God.
2. We are given New Covenant ministry by God, who gives His Spirit. (2.Cor.3:1-6) It is so easy to feel insecure in ourselves and therefore to seek to prove ourselves sufficient in life. We are not. Our sufficiency comes only from God, who himself has given us this ministry. More than a mere past calling, He gives of His Spirit – the “key ingredient” of New Covenant ministry and so infinitely better than the old ministry “of the letter.” Ours is not a ministry primarily defined by instruction and external pressure, but proclamation and internal transformation of the heart. One way is death, but the Spirit gives life.
3. We must stop celebrating a glory now faded. (2.Cor.3:7-11) There is no question that Moses’ ministry was glorious. After all, he glowed! But that ministry of death, of letters, of stones, has no glory in comparison to what has replaced it. A candle is wonderful in the dark, but walk out into the sunlight and the new glory far exceeds the old. So it is with the ministry of righteousness rather than condemnation, and the ministry of the Spirit rather than that which is now passed.