This third chapter is called ‘Affirmed by God.’ Fernando argues that:
“The ministry is so challenging that when we think of it, the primary focus always needs to be on what God does for us. Otherwise when problems come and we are faced with our own inadequacy, we could react in harmful ways.”
I would characterise this chapter as ‘Biblical Common Sense.’ This is a category I sometimes use of preachers who teach truth, but where the truth they are teaching does not necessarily come from the particular Scriptures they are exegeting.
Fernando’s main model is the affirmation Jesus receives from His Father during His ministry. It is wonderful to reflect on this, but to my mind less easy to apply this directly to our own experience. He gives other OT and NT examples of cases where God graciously provides affirmation for one of His servants, but the lingering question as to whether these should be read normatively for us, or whether they are in themselves the means of our encouragement is not addressed in this brief chapter.
Nonetheless, there is much practical wisdom in the chapter. In particular there is a very helpful set of warnings about the dangers of ministering without a sense of our security in Christ – and I am sure every Christian minister can think of occasions where insecurity fuels unhealthy models of ministry.
Ultimately, Fernando’s encouragement to find our identity and encouragement in Christ is extremely timely, and his challenge to wrestle with God – in prayer, in the Scriptures, and in song – is Piper-esque in its Biblical and passionate wisdom.