Stewardship of the Gospel

Faith Church November 7, 2009 2 Corinthians 5:11-21

 

1Introduction:

#1:  DISCUSS the Stewardship Commitment Card – explain how using the INTERNET will save hours of human resources putting the info into Shelby database

- some have already pledged an amount, you may want to consider INCREASING it

- some are NEW to our church, and have not yet made a commitment

NOTE: Our emphasis is NOT equal giving, but equal sacrifice!

- Also, emphasize the willingness to SERVE and produce FRUIT, MORE FRUIT, MUCH FRUIT

#2:  Discuss our Stewardship Banquet [this is one of those “ALL HANDS ON DECK” times of participation!]

- let’s do a quick review and get to our subject of Stewardship this morning!

* Quick Review:

  • Stewardship = God-given responsibility with accountability!

“. . . We do not choose to become stewards, we are stewards! 

The question is, ‘What kind of steward are you?’”

Q: What are the 4 Factors in Stewardship? [Matthew 25]

#1:  God Owns Everything, and I Own Nothing.

#2:  God Entrusts Me with Everything I Have.

#3:  I Am Responsible to Increase What God Has Given to Me. I May Increase It or
Diminish It.

#4:  God Can Call Me into Account at Any Time.

1.  With those thoughts in mind, let me ask you to turn to 2 Corinthians 5

2.  Of all of Paul’s letters to various churches, 2 Corinthians is probably the most personally revealing

- this book gives an honest look at the ‘real Paul’ and how he related to a church that was in a whole lot of trouble

- as is the case with telling the truth in a faithful manner, you can expect a hostile reaction from the world. . . and even at times, God’s people

> he was facing some very serious, harsh, and false accusations against him

> some false teachers, claiming to be apostles sent by the Jerusalem church, went to Corinth and persuaded many Corinthians to turn away from the truth and from Paul

“Second Corinthians also has much to teach regarding the practical aspects of living the Christian life.”
   – MacArthur, 2 Corinthians

- and one of those aspects is faithfulness to the TRUTH [READ  2 Cor. 5:11-21]

NOTE: Context of the goal of life (2 Cor. 5:9) and the reality of the Judgment Seat of Christ!!!

-  Let’s look at *Four principles that will help us to be GOOD STEWARDS of the Gospel:

#1:  EMBRACE the Gospel

- before we can be good stewards of the Gospel, we have to know Jesus as our Lord & Savior!

- you might think that is ‘overly simple’ – and to some degree it is – but it’s TRUE

- this can be (and often is) an issue with those who come to church and claim to be believers

- but as we’ve been emphasizing: Where’s the fruit?

> where is the EVIDENCE that you are connected to the Vine (John 15)

- in fact, some believers were struggling with this to the extent that John was inspired to write an entire epistle (1 John) to address this issue of confidence in knowing that you are a child of God:

  • 1 John 5:13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.

- Paul made his salvation very clear (though some were attacking him)

- Just like Paul, it all starts with…

A.  Understanding you are a sinner!

- Paul referred to this condition in v. 21

  • 2 Corinthians 5:21He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

- knowing that the result of the curse of sin is DEATH, Paul wrote these words in chp. 1:

  • 2 Corinthians 1:9 indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead;10 who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us.

Input: Why is it that people don’t like to think in those terms?

[various answers – pride, the whole ‘Self Esteem’ movement that has captured many church; to admit you are a sinner is to admit God is right and you are wrong]

- But there is another step:

B.  Believing in your heart the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ

- that’s what vs. 14-15 are all about

  • 2 Corinthians 5:14For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died;15 and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.

- this isn’t just an intellectual knowledge – but is an inner man issue (embracing the truth – exercising one’s faith in the truth)

  • James 2:19 You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.

- Paul presented the clarity of the Gospel in his 1st letter to the church at Corinth:

  • 1 Corinthians 15:1 Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand,2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.

- upon understanding one’s sinfulness, and believing in one’s heart, then a person must:

C.  Confess Him as Savior and Lord

- to confess is say the same thing that God would say about you, His Son, and what His Son did!

  • Romans 10:9 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;

- once we’ve EMBRACED the Gospel, and we are part of the God’s family (His Children)

- and God the Father has expectations of us (things to DO as a result of salvation – the ‘fruit’ of our lives in being a good steward of what He has entrusted to us)

- the second principle is this:

#2:  DEMONSTRATE the Gospel

- for all us who know the Lord:

* There should be evidence of a changed life!

> this isn’t WORKS in order to ‘achieve’ salvation, it’s WORKS as a result of salvation

- Paul had done that in his life … and was continuing to model the change

  • 2 Corinthians 5:17Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

- not just positional (where we stand with Christ) but experientially – putting one’s faith into ACTION

- Paul gives us additional instruction on this issue in his letter to the church at Ephesus:

  • Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

 - maybe you’re asking some question:

Q:  Why is this so important?

- the answer is really simple:

Answer:  The power of example!

- this is the ‘salt and light’ principle Jesus spoke of in Matthew 5:16

  •  Matthew 5:16 "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

- Jesus came to this earth and MODELED the very thing He expects from us!

- He left His Father’s throne above, and ‘the Word became flesh and dwelt among us’… and we SAW His glory (John 1:14)

Example: Think about all the things Jesus DID to demonstrate His deity

> yes He preached the Sermon on the Mount (& other teaching) but notice His LIFE!!

[Apply this to our lives – getting others involved in an ABF, serving in the church, everybody give 1 hour per week = 100’s of hours!!, and much accomplished!]

Illustration: One of our church members, Linda Miller, sent Danny Little this email:

From:Linda Miller [mailto:lsm36@hotmail.com]
Sent: Monday, November 02, 2009 6:00 AM
To: Little, Danny

Danny,  NEVER forget what your purpose in life is...because of you connecting me with the Sunday brunch group...I finally felt connected in a church. After years of building walls around myself to survive an abusive relationship, I feel I have found a group of encouraging, loving, honest people who will help me grow and be accountable.  I know you have me figured out..and know that new things are sometimes hard until I get comfortable..but I am going to work on making that a past part of my life..so keep being honest and a friend.. I value that more than you will ever know.  Linda


- Doug Gray responded to Danny with this comment:

Danny: Truly the impact you have made with Linda highlights a strength that you have to edify the body! Keep up the great work.

- This next principle is a very important one (and maybe the most difficult??)

#3:  COMMIT to the Gospel

- Paul mentions “the ministry of reconciliation” twice in the passage – he’s making a point about the importance of this ministry to our lives, to the church, and to those outside the church who need to hear the GOSPEL message

- I want to read a quote from John MacArthur’s commentary on 2 Corinthians: [READ]

The glorious good news of the gospel is that the sin-devastated relationship between lost sinners and the holy God can be restored.  That at first glance seems impossible.  God’s perfect, infinite, righteous justice demands the punishment of all who violate His law.  Standing before the bar of His justice are helpless, guilty sinners, unable either to satisfy God or to change their condition.  But through God’s plan of reconciliation all the hostility, animosity, and alienation separating the Holy One and sinners vanishes, and those who were once His enemies become his friends. The high calling and noble privileges of preaching this message of reconciliation is the most important duty in the world, since it deals with eternal destinations. – MacArthur, 2 Corinthians, p. 198

Q: How can build this high level of commitment to being good stewards of the Gospel?

- of course it all starts with the right view of God, and that leads us to …

A.  See the NEED of the people around us!

- people aren’t going to get the message of the Gospel unless we are good stewards and TELL them … and that will only come if we see the need!

  • Romans 10:14 How then shall they call upon Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, "HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GLAD TIDINGS OF GOOD THINGS!"

- I’m convinced that if we were more preoccupied with PROCLAIMING the power of the Gospel, we would have a lot less time to sit around and be critical and fuss about other people or life situations we don’t like!

- The responsibility and privilege of spreading the “good news” of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ belongs to us

  • You know why some people are so critical – they have too much time on their hands – they look at life through their eyes instead of the eyes of Christ
  • Matthew 9:36 And seeing the multitudes, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and downcast like sheep without a shepherd.

- Notice what Paul said in v. 14 “For the love of Christ controls us…”

Q: Do you view people through YOUR eyes or the eyes of CHRIST?

Q: Do you see the need to spread the Gospel?

- then you haveto consider this: Are you….

B.  Willing to pay the PRICE

- that’s part of what this letter is all about: Paul is facing adversity of some false teachers

- Christianity is NOT a religion of COMFORT – it’s a religion of SACRIFICE

- being a good steward of the Gospel requires that you are willing to sacrifice

Input: What will you need to sacrifice in order to be a good steward of the Gospel?

[various answers – time, money, energy, praise of men, etc.]

Q: Are you willing to ‘pay the price’?

Q: Do you spell sacrifice with a BIG “S” or a little “s”?

C.  Willing to GO

- Christianity is a religion of ACTION – it’s not about ‘comfort zones’ and what’s easy

- remember what Jesus was willing to go through to accomplish our REDEMPTION

  • Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.3 For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.4 You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin.

- there has to be a willingness to GO wherever God wants you to go and DO whatever God wants you to do

Example:  Isaiah 6 – [Note the progression]:

Step #1: He saw the Lord high and lifted up – “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord”

Step #2: He recognized the sinfulness of man “woe is me for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips…”

Step #3: He responded with a willing heart: “Hear am I, send me!”

Q: Are you saying that this morning?

D.  Willing to be FAITHFUL!

- too many times in our Christian life, we are ‘on-again / off again’ in our growth and ministry

- Paul said in v. 11”Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men”

> persuade is actually in the present form, lit. ‘we are persuading men’ (i.e. it’s an on-going process!!)

- in v. 14 “For the love of Christ controls us” – lit. translated = present tense: “is controlling us”

-  Lastly, to be good stewards of the Gospel, we have to ultimately get the job done and ….

#4:  PROCLAIM to the Gospel

- if there is ANY doubt in anyone’s mind about our responsibility to be good stewards of what God has entrusted to us, carefully read v. 18-19:

  • 2 Corinthians 5:18 Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation,
  •  2 Corinthians 5:19 namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.

- THAT’s our MISSION … RESPONSIBILITY … God’s EXPECTATION of us … is to advance the kingdom of Christ with the Gospel

- read the next verse:

  • 2 Corinthians 5:20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were entreating through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

- I want to seriously consider a quote from Warren Wiersbe:

The message of the church today is one of reconciliation: God in Christ on the cross has reconciled the world to himself and is willing to save all who will trust His Son. Ours is not a message of social reform (although the Gospel reforms lives, Titus 2:11–15); ours is a message of spiritual regeneration. We represent Christ as we invite the lost to receive Him. What a privilege—what a responsibility!

All believers are ambassadors, whether we accept the commission or not. “As the Father has sent me, also I send you,” said Christ (John 20:21, NKJV). Let us make sure that our message, methods, and motives are right, so that our work might be lasting and might stand the test of fire when we stand before Him.[1]

                            

 
   

Song: People Need the Lord

Everyday they pass me by; I can see it in their eyes.

Empty people filled with care, Headed who knows where?

On they go through private pain, Living fear to fear.

Laughter hides their silent cries, Only Jesus hears.

 

People need the Lord, people need the Lord.

At the end of broken dreams, He's the open door.

People need the Lord, people need the Lord.

When will we realize, people need the Lord?

 

We are called to take His light, To a world where wrong seems right.

What could be too great a cost For sharing Life with one who's lost?

Through His love our hearts can feel All the grief they bear.

They must hear the Words of Life Only we can share.

 

People need the Lord, people need the Lord

At the end of broken dreams, He's the open door.

People need the Lord, people need the Lord.

When will we realize that we must give our lives,

For people need the Lord.

 

People need the Lord.

 

Conclusion:

Q:  What do you need to ‘put-off’ that is hindering you from being a good steward of the Gospel?

- is it FEAR of Man? Selfish/deceitful thinking (that’s just not for me)



[1]
Wiersbe, Warren W.: Wiersbe's Expository Outlines on the New Testament. Wheaton, IL : Victor Books, 1992, S. 2 Co 5:1

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