Stewardship: entrusted with the gospel

Stewardship: entrusted with the gospel February 19, 2006

Here are my notes from this mornings sermon.

The audio is now available for download from the Jubilee Sermons website.

Bible verses
1 Cor 4:1-5; 2 Cor 5:9 6:4; Ro 1:15-17;1 Peter 3:15-16; 1Th 2:4; Col 1:25; 1 tim 1:11-12; Luke 12:48

Now that we have been entrusted with the gospel what should we do?


There are few depictions of stewards in our modern culture an expception is the film the Lord of the Rings in some ways it is all about stewardship every character is entrusted with a task to do some of them do it well, some of them don’t! I intend to watch the trilogy (extended edition!) again as part of my sermon prep you can join me if you like!

There is a scene in The Return of the King. The Hobbit who is aware of the debt he owes, and gives himself to serve an unreliable master as a result. Compare and contrast the Steward of Gondor who imagines himself to be the king and has set himself on the throne of Gondor instead of guarding it for its rightful owner.

Too often we forget that as Tope said last week we have been entrusted with everything and owe God our very existence not to mention our salvation. How can we do anything else but offer him our service such as it is ..

A Steward sounds like a strange word these days but the concept permeates throughout our culture we just call it different things..

A steward is someone who has been given a task to do by someone else or who has been given something by someone else to use for the purposes of the owner. A steward acts an agent of the owner they are not the owner! They are not free to do whatever they like with what is given to them!

Or as one dictionary puts it

someone who manages property or other affairs for someone else

The key is that when something is entrusted to you, it isnt yours, but belongs to another. The one who entrusted it to you has the right to dictate what you do with it whilst it is on loan to you You may well be expected to use the entrusted thing for his purposes rather than yours.

The person who has been entrusted -eg an employee cannot merely do whatever he likes, but instead has a job to do, with accountability. If the work is not done, then the trust has been violated. If a big task has been entrusted, then we sure better be intentional about how we live our lives in order to get to the end and hear God say “well done, you have acheived the task entrusted to you” This line of thought has been very convicting to me. I pray it will be convicting to you also!

I think there is a wealth of beneficial meditation to be done on that one word entrusted

Start where Tope finished last week

1 Cor 4:1-5 This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2 Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy. 3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. 4 I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. 5 Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.

Judgement day really is coming. It is coming for all of us for the non Christian can you really expect to hear the commendation from God. For the Christian, the question will not be will God commend me but instead how much? will I have made the most of what he has done for me?

A steward is required to be found trustworthy

What does this mean for us who have been made stewards of the gospel (not gospel music but Gods message for the world?). Lets look at some examples of stewardship at work in our culture-

An employee acts as an agent for his employer in return for pay he gives himself as a temporary slave to his employer to do their bidding. Imagine if the employer said Clean that table or Answer that email and the employee said Well, lets not get too overzealous about this shall we I mean I don’t want to be over-committed here I need to be free to make my own decisions. The answer sure you are free to make decisions : my way or the highway! is the answer!!

WE DO EXACTLY THIS WHEN WE THINK THAT GOD ISNT INTERESTED IN THE DETAILS OF MY LIFE The non-christian thinks they can live their own way. The professing Christian says I can have Jesus as my saviour, but not my Lord and do whatever I want. Lets not get superspiritual. God says I bought you! You belong to me!!

Investment in a bank imagine if you money instead of being locked up in a safe was taken to a boot fair and laid out on a table to be given away in lovely crisp new 5 notes all your money being given away to whoever wants to grab it! Well sir, I knew you were a generous fellow!

We do this when we make out God is only a God of love we forget he is a God of wrath and so we give people the impression that everything will be fine God will accept them into heaven irrespective of what they do they don’t have to do anything, not even ask for forgiveness. God is kind we say. BUT like the man whos money was given away God might well say Yes, but not THAT kind. The offer of heaven does come with some strings attached! We are fools if we think it is wise to change the message to make it more attractive to the world around us! The gospel message is an old one it doesn’t need to change!

Imagine a builder who built a conservatory at the bottom of your garden instead of attached to the house as you asked him to! Well I thought I could improve on your plan!

We do this to God whenever we ignore parts of the bible that don’t fit with the way we want to live our life or build our churches. I am amazed at the blind spots so many of us have Surely God didn’t really mean it that way surely it will look better this way build your life and your church on the plan of God or expect him to say What did you do with the life I gave you how come you didn’t build it according to my plan?

Imagine a commissioned artist who refused to paint what asked but painted something totally different!

If we crash a borrowed car and fail to even apologise to its owner! We do this when we take forgiveness for granted and forget to keep short accounts with God!

If an ambassador or secret agent of a country goes native and is so deep in cover that when the call comes for the sleeper to wake up he is sound asleep! We do that when we ignore the call of our master to carry out taks for him perhaps someone comes our way who is interested in God and we fluff it and are too scared to act we think of ourselves as citizens of this world rather than the next.

We often deny God not so much by our words but by our lack of words!

Imagine how long a pizza delivery boy would keep his job if whenever he went to the pizza shop to collect customers pizzas he instead took them back to his house to enjoy them with his friends!

We do this whenever we think that God has saved us simply so we can have a good time, and we fail to share the wonder of being a Christian with others. We use what he has given us for our own pleasure only, and we forget that he has contracted us to be the delivery boy for OTHERS blessings to share the good news!

Imagine a lawyer who spent your deposit money on his own pleasures rather than passing it up the chain so you can buy your house! On completion day you ring up and his secretary says O didn’t he tell you, hes gone to Spain and said to thank you for
the money- hes enjoying spending it in the bar Meanwhile you have no house to move into!

Or worst of all, imagine a careless brain surgeon who dropped a scapel in someones brain- just because he couldn’t be bothered to put the practice in to make sure that he was equipped to carry out the trust put in him we do this when we fail to study and pray hard to prepare ourselves for those moments when we are called upon to pass on this life-saving message!

The Amazing thing is God has put his trust in us. He has trusted us with much, but the greatest thing that he has entrusted to us is his message not just any message but the only message that can save the world.

God will ask us at the end of time So, how did you do? He wont need us to answer because he will already know!

How amazing that he should rely on us to carry out his work on his behalf. How can God do that with us, unreliable people? Only of course by his sovereignty overruling our feeble fickle wills – hallelujah! We have to cry out to him to help us have the determination to act in such a way that he will be able to say to us well done

God doesn’t entrust tasks to people unless he is committed to making them worthy of that trust!

2 Cor 5:9-6:4
.. we make it our aim to please him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.
11 Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others…
. For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised .
.Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. [2] The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling [3] the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
6:1 Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. 2 For he says,
In a favorable time I listened to you,
and in a day of salvation I have helped you.
Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. 3 We put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, 4 but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way

TREASURE PICTURE GOD has GIVEN A PILE OF TREASURE here don’t lets just admire that but take it cherish it, then give it away!

We have a lot to be thankful to God for therefore we have a lot to be responsible for what he has given us he expects us not to just enjoy but to do something with it!

What has struck me is that God has been giving us incredible grace over these last months as a church. Surely we will be accountable for how we respond to that. If we are faithful with the little we have then God will give us more!

Luk 12:48 Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more

Other verses that speak of us being entrusted with the gospel

1Th 2:4 ..just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts.

.for the sake of his body, that is, the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known..warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me. Col 1:25-

Titus 1 through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior

SO, Now that we are clear that we have been entrusted with the gospel what are we to do with it?

Love it, live it, Give it!

What to do with the Gospel we have been entrusted with?

love it preserve and protect

We live in a disposable world! The gospel must be treasured not disposed
Even this talk of being entrusted should send us back to our knees who is worthy of such a task?
Where is the worthy steward?
Who here can say that they have always been faithful to God in living their life consistently with the gospel or in sharing it with others?

The truth is we CANNOT deserve the grace of God
We CANNOT repay the debt we owe God
We CAN only SERVE as GOD enables us.
Realising we have not been faithful as stewards should drive us back to God for more mercy and grace.

1 Cor 5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Jesus is the centre of the gospel. There really is a core to it which is found in this verse, but of course the gospel comprises the whole message of God What is the gospel? Well it begins in the beginning God. And ends The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen. It includes the law, it includes Gods story, it includes the church. No one method for sharing it.. any bit of it has power, but there is a core message.that is if you like more crucial- because it is closer to the crux, closer to the cross!

When we realise how much God has given us it should make us fall in love with the Gospel that takes wretches like us and makes us sons, and that love should compel us to love others enough to want them to share in the gospel.

What a wonderful Gospel that not only saves us but makes us in a sense as Spurgeon put it saviours in that we bring that message of salvation to others

How can we but treasure it?

-live it
We only truly believe what we live!
Behind every sin is a lie that we have not corrected with the truth of the gospel
Eg I desevrve better treatment than that so we get angry who said we deserved better treatment? I thought we believed that we deserved Hell beforfe God gave us grace?

This is why we need to study the gospel because a small misunderstanding of the Gospel can give rise to a MASSIVE problem in our lives. Behind every sin is a lie we believe in place of the truth.

If we live in a manner that is NOT worthy of the gospel how foolish we are, and how poorly we reflect on our master. What a sad figure that steward made not leading as he ought!
Lets not be the tail but the head! Lets be the one at work people turn to because their life is sorted out

Imagine how one slip up by a member of the church can reflect badly on all of us! We cannot afford not to live it we must live in a manner that means others will want to listen to what we have to say we earn the right to speak!

-give it!

Don’t be ashamed of it and try and hide it , instead GIVE it

RO 1 :14- I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. 15 So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.

Sharing the gospel: Its costly, its urgent, but its worth it! Mark Dever

You want to live trust GOD!
How can we not tell them the truth
they don’t trust God they wont live for ever in heaven, if they do they will!
Its that simple it is Gods righteousness that clothes us how difficult is it to say it?

We are obligued or under a debt!

We must tell them they are powerless but that there is a power that has worked on their behalf!

The gospel is POWERFUL let it out of its cage! A power to unleash!

Not just about arguments, but requires a change of heart. Power of the Spirit. Have to pray.

cannot coerce anyone to become a Christian any more than you can coerce a corpse into dancing! Mark Dever

God didn’t call us to argue. He called us to tell Mark Dever

Its far more powerful than we realise!

SOULWINNER- You must also believe in the power of that message to save people. You may have heard the story of one of our first students, who came to me, and said, ‘I have been preaching now for some months, and I do not think I have had a single conversion.’ I said to him, ‘And do you expect that the Lord is going to bless you and save souls every time you open your mouth?’ ‘No, sir,’ he replied. ‘Well, then,’ I said, ‘that is why you do not get souls saved. If you had believed, the Lord would have given the blessing.’ I had caught him very nicely; but many others would have answered me in just the same way as he did. They tremblingly believe that it is possible, by some strange mysterious method, that once in a hundred sermons God might win a quarter of a soul. They have hardly enough faith to keep them standing upright in their boots; how can they expect God to bless them? I like to go to the pulpit feeling, ‘This is God’s Word that I am going to deliver in His name; it cannot return to Him void; I have asked His blessing upon it, and He is bound to give it, and His purposes will be answered'”

If we share just a fragment of the gospel with just one person in much fear and trepidation, we should expect it to be just as powerful for it is the message not the messenger that is important

Imagine if a trembling motocycle courier delivered a batch of blood to the scene of a terrible accident where a single motorist was trapped and bleeding to death, would it be any less a life saving act than if a truckload of blood was rushed to the site of a major disaster?

the gospel is all about rescue from the judgement of God it is therefore more important than life and death situations!

So WHY do we want to GIVE the gospel?
Why do we want to do this?
Desire to be obedient
Love for the lost
Love for God

God is slandered in the world!
God is calling us to turn our lives outwards from focussing on us and our needs to God and his purposes!
He has a way for others to come to him how wonderful is that!

Friends, if I believed that, or even a tenth of that, I would drop my job, sell my house, throw away my possessions, and set out into the world burning with the desire to tell others. Matthew Paris (The Times)

I am not going to ask you to sell your house but I am going to ask you to take some small steps towards loving the gospel more, living the gospel more and giving the gospel more!

Imagine that we found ourselves at the scene of a Disaster perhaps a massive hole had opened up in the ground. Someone in authority said stand here and don’t let anyone past or they may die. If we failed in that trust and instead went and had a coffee how terrible would that be!

If we fail to warn our friends, if I fail to warn any non-christians here of the disaster that is coming towards them how much worse would that be?

3 Groups
– Unsaved sorry if we haven’t always been clear with you please as that passage said we IMPLORE you get right with God TODAY
-Those who are not living as a Christian now, though they once did the only way to be sure you are on the way to heaven is to live as a Christian get right TODAY
-The rest of us to make a commitment to sharing this message.

The Following Quotes inspired me as I prepared this sermon they all came from Soulwinner by Spurgeon AVAILABLE for SEVEN POUNDS

You must also believe in the power of that message to save people. You may have heard the story of one of our first students, who came to me, and said, ‘I have been preaching now for some months, and I do not think I have had a single conversion.’ I said to him, ‘And do you expect that the Lord is going to bless you and save souls every time you open your mouth?’ ‘No, sir,’ he replied. ‘Well, then,’ I said, ‘that is why you do not get souls saved. If you had believed, the Lord would have given the blessing.’ I had caught him very nicely; but many others would have answered me in just the same way as he did. They tremblingly believe that it is possible, by some strange mysterious method, that once in a hundred sermons God might win a quarter of a soul. They have hardly enough faith to keep them standing upright in their boots; how can they expect God to bless them? I like to go to the pulpit feeling, ‘This is God’s Word that I am going to deliver in His name; it cannot return to Him void; I have asked His blessing upon it, and He is bound to give it, and His purposes will be answered'”

we are not made all that we shall be, nor all that we ought to desire to be, when we are ourselves fished for and caught. This is what the grace of God does for us at first; but it is not all. We are like the fishes, making sin to be our element; and the good Lord comes, and with the gospel net he takes us, and he delivers us from the life and love of sin. But he has not wrought for us all that he can do, nor all that we should wish him to do, when he has done this; for it is another and a higher miracle to make us who were fish to become fishers to make the saved ones saviours to make the convert into a converter the receiver of the gospel into an imparter of that same gospel to other people. I think I may say to every person whom I am addressing If you are saved yourself, the work is but half done until you are employed to bring others to Christ. You are as yet but half formed in the image of your Lord. You have not attained to the full development of the Christ-life in you unless you have commenced in some feeble way to tell to others of the grace of God: and I trust that you will find no rest to the sole of your foot till you have been the means of leading many to that blessed Savior who is your confidence and your hope.

His word is Follow me, not merely that you may be saved, nor even that you may be sanctified; but, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Be following Christ with that intent and aim; and fear that you are not perfectly following him unless in some degree he is making use of you to be fishers of men. The fact is, that every one of us must take to the business of a mancatcher. If Christ has caught us, we must catch others. If we have been apprehended of him, we must be his constables, to apprehend rebels for him. Let us ask him to give us grace to go a-fishing, and so to cast our nets that we may take a great multitude of fishes. Oh that the Holy Ghost may raise up from among us some master-fishers, who shall sail their boats in many a sea, and surround great shoals of fish!

You may depend upon it that you may make men understand the truth if you really want to do so; but if you are not in earnest, it is not likely that they will be. If a man were to knock at my door in the middle of the night, and when I put my head out of the window to see what was the matter, he should say, in a very quiet, unconcerned way, “There is a fire at the back part of your house,” I should have very little thought of any fire, and should feel inclined to empty a jug of water over him. If I am walking along, and a man comes up to me, and says, in a cheerful tone of voice, “Good afternoon, sir, do you know that I am starving? I have not tasted
food for ever so long, indeed, I have not;” I should reply, “My good fellow, you seem to take it very easy; I do not believe you want for much, or you would not be so unconcerned about it.” Some men seem to preach in this fashion: “My dear friends, this is Sunday, so here I am; I have been spending my time in my study all the week, and now I hope you will listen to what I have to say to you. I do not know that there is anything in it that particularly concerns you, it might have some connection with the man in the moon; but I understand that some of you are in danger of going to a certain place which I do not wish to mention, only I hear that it is not a nice place for even a temporary residence. I have especially to preach to you that Jesus Christ did something or other, which, in some way or other, has something to do with salvation, and if you mind what you do” and so on “it is possible that you will” and so on, and so on. That is, in a nutshell, the full report of many a discourse. There is nothing in that kind of talk that can do anybody any good; and after the man has kept on in that style for three-quarters of an hour, he closes by saying, “Now it is time to go home,” and he hopes that the deacons will give him a couple of guineas for his services. Now, brethren, that sort of thing will not do. We did not come into the world to waste our own time, and other people’s, in that fashion.

“We ought so to preach as to make every sinner tremble in his seat; and if he will not come to the Saviour, he ought at least to have a hard time of it while he stops away from Him. I am afraid that we sometimes preach smooth things, too soothing and agreeable, and that we do not set before men their real danger as we should. If we shun in this respect to declare all the counsel of God, part at least of the responsibility of their ruin will lie at our door.”

“It is fatalism, not predestination, that makes men talk as if there is nothing whatever for them to do, or that there is nothing they can do. There is no likelihood of anyone being saved while he gives you this as his only hope, “If salvation is for me, it will come to me in due time.”

“That is the real difficulty in many, many cases; the man does not come to Christ because he is not conscious that he is lost, he does not ask to be lifted up because he does not know that he is a fallen creature, he does not feel that he has any need of divine mercy or forgiveness, and therefore he does not seek it.”

“The people will not be converted while they are asleep; and if they go to sleep, they had better have been at home in bed, where they would sleep much more comfortably.”

“Preach, for instance, as you would plead if you were standing before a judge, and begging for the life of a friend, or as if you were appealing to the Queen herself on behalf of someone very dear to you. Use such a tone in pleading with sinners as you would use if a gibbet were erected in this room, and you were to be hanged on it unless you could persuade the person in authority to release you….for they see that then you communicate to them not only the gospel, but yourself also. The kind of sermon which is likely to break the hearer’s heart is that which has first broken the preacher’s heart, and the sermon which is likely to reach the heart of the hearer is the one which has come straight from the heart of the preacher”

“Let your sermons be full of Christ, from beginning to end crammed full of the gospel. As for myself, brethren, I cannot preach anything else but Christ and His cross, for I know nothing else, and long ago, like the apostle Paul, I determined not to know anything else save Jesus Christ and Him crucified. People have often asked me, “What is the secret of your success?” I always answer that I have no other secret but this, that I have preached the gospel, not about the gospel, but the gospel, the full, free, glorious gospel of the living Christ who is the incarnation of the good news. Preach Jesus Christ, brethren, always and everywhere; and every time you preach be sure to have much of Jesus Christ in the sermon. You remember the story of the old minister who heard a sermon by a young man, and when he was asked by the preacher what he thought of it he was rather slow to answer, but at last he said, “If I must tell you, I did not like it at all; there was no Christ in your sermon.” “No,” answered the young man, “because I did not see that Christ was in the text.” “Oh!” said the old minister, “but do you not know that from every little town and village and tiny hamlet in England there is a road leading to London? Whenever I get hold of a text, I say to myself, ‘There is a road from here to Jesus Christ, and I mean to keep on His track till I get to Him.'” “Well,” said the young man, “but suppose you are preaching from a text that says nothing about Christ?” “Then I will go over hedge and ditch but what I will get at Him.” So must we do, brethren; we must have Christ in all our discourses, whatever else is in or not in them. There ought to be enough of the gospel in every sermon to save a soul. “

“I mean those discourses that have had much real prayer offered over them, both in the preparation and the delivery, for there is much so-called prayer that is only playing at praying…. the way to make sermons is to work vital electricity into them, putting your own life and the very life of God into them by earnest prayer……You must anoint your sermons, brethren, and you cannot do it except by much private communion with God. May the Holy Spirit anoint every one of you, and richly bless you in winning souls, for our Lord Jesus Christ’s sake! Amen.

From the Soulwinner: “The best attraction is the gospel in its purity. The weapon with which the Lord conquers men is the truth as it is in Jesus. The gospel will be found equal to every emergency; an arrow which can pierce the hardest heart, a balm which will heal the deadliest wound. Preach it, and preach nothing else.”

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