Preparing to Give a Good Account

Steve Viars November 20, 2016 Matthew 24:-25

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John 11:25-26 - Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?”

Four Factors of Stewardship

1. God owns everything; you own nothing.

2. God entrusts you with everything you have.

3. You can either increase or diminish what God has given you; He wants you to increase it.

4. You can be called into account at any time, and it may be today.

Acts 1:6 - So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?”

3 reasons wise stewards are always prepared

I. Because We Never Know How Much Longer We Have to Serve

A. No one knows when the Master will return

Matthew 24:3 - As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”

Matthew 24:36 - But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.

Matthew 24:42 - Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming.

Matthew 25:13 - Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour.

B. His return will catch some off-guard

Matthew 24:44 - For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.

Hebrews 3:7-8, 12-13 - Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says, “Today if you hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts as when they provoked Me, as in the day of trial in the wilderness…Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

John 9:4 - We must work the works of Him who sent Me as long as it is day; night is coming when no one can work.

II. Because the Day Will Come When the Accounts Will be Settled

Matthew 25:19 - Now after a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them.

A. That’s when faithfulness will truly be determined

B. That’s when the true motivation of our work will be revealed

1 Corinthians 3:12-15 - Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

1 Corinthians 4:5 - Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.

C. That’s when what is hidden shall be revealed

Matthew 10:26 - Therefore do not fear them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known.

Genesis 14:14-20 - When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he led out his trained men, born in his house, three hundred and eighteen, and went in pursuit as far as Dan. He divided his forces against them by night, he and his servants, and defeated them, and pursued them as far as Hobah, which is north of Damascus. He brought back all the goods, and also brought back his relative Lot with his possessions, and also the women, and the people. Then after his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley). And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; now he was a priest of God Most High. He blessed him and said, “Blessed be Abram of God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.” He gave him a tenth of all.

III. Because the Possibility Exists of Hearing the Words Well Done

Matthew 25:21 - His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’

Outlined Manuscript

- [following the testimony from David and Sylvia Anderson]…

- aren’t you glad for David and Sylvia?...

- several times over these past 18 months I received news of one of these deaths in David’s family while traveling…and I can think back to calling he and Sylvia from various airports and what stands out in my memory is the way the Lord gave them grace and strength to trust Him and testify for Him as they sought to minister to their family and friends…

- the reason what you heard this morning seemed so authentic is because that’s really what they believe…and really the way they live…

- [insert pic of Bob and Joan]…

- one of the unexpected events in 2016 was the home-going of Pastor Bob Leffew

- and I realize you might say – wow, this is a lot of talk about death…

- well, we believe in being honest and straightforward here and death is as natural as life…

- plus, because of the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary…we have an answer for death…it’s the hope of eternal life so we can, as the apostle Paul said, sorrow, but not as those who have no hope…

- that’s why Jesus said - John 11:25–26 - Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?”

- so the sting of death is gone for those who placed their faith and trust in Christ…so we can talk about it, and we need to talk about it…

- [back to pic of Bob and Joan]…

- the Leffews were asked to come to our church 21 years ago to help us start Faith Christian School….

- they did a fabulous job with that assignment…and we’re so thankful for the impact the school has had on hundreds of young people and their families…

- but what was also interesting about Bob and Joan was that they could take any ministry and make it better…they were perfect examples of stewards who could increase what God had given…

- so when they were asked to oversee our Caleb’s Kin ministry for senior citizens…they took it and made it far better…

- they were asked to oversee our community sports ministry…and built it in unbelievable ways…

- after they retired from here and moved closer to one of their sons in North Carolina…they began serving as greeters almost immediately and soon after were asked to oversee the entire greeter ministry…that’s just the way they were…

- part of what was surprising about Bob’s cancer was how suddenly it occurred…

- he had always been a strong man…an outstanding athlete…a marine…

- one of my favorite memories of him was one day we were installing this heavy iron basketball pole right after we built our house…

- so I had about 10-12 guys there to help us get that thing stood up and braced properly…

- and something happened where it was partially in the hole and started to fall over…which could have bent the pole or chipped our new driveway…

- most of us younger guys scattered so the pole didn’t hit us…

- we turned around and there was Bob with the pole on his shoulder…the oldest guy on the job stuck around and caught the pole…

- but last fall, Bob began having symptoms that were eventually diagnosed as brain cancer and we held his memorial service here a couple of weeks ago…

- when I was studying for the ministry – there were all sorts of aspects of the position I didn’t really anticipate…

- one of them was that if you stayed in the same place for an extended period of time…you would eventually have the honor and the responsibility to conduct memorial services for long-time co-workers and friends…

- I’m not sure I can put that kind of grief into words this am…but it is certainly a very important aspect of stewardship month…

- with that in mind, let me invite you to open your Bible to Matthew chapter 24…page 20 of the back section of the Bible under the chair in front of you…

- today is the last Sunday of Stewardship Month…but I’m sure there are some folks with us for the very first time…and we’re glad you’re here…

- here’s what this is all about -- every November we take time as individuals and as a church family and consider all that God has entrusted to us and whether we have been faithful and growing in that trust…

- so we enjoy stewardship testimonies together…

- we have a series of Sunday morning messages on some aspect of the topic…which is practically inexhaustible in the Word of God…

- we print a stewardship commitment brochure and encourage all of us to make written commitments about the steps of growth we intend to take in the coming days…

- and then we get together the Sunday night before thanksgiving as a church family and we thank the Lord for what He's done in and through us in the previous year and we commit ourselves to greater stewardship in the coming days in and through His Spirit…

- all of this starts by knowing the Four Factors of Stewardship

1. God owns everything - you own nothing.

2. God entrusts you with everything you have.

3. You can either increase or diminish what God has given - he wants you to increase it.

4. You can be called into account at any time, and it may be today.

- this month, we decided to focus specifically on those four principles…

- so last week we talked about The Delightful Possibility of Increasing What God Has Given

- this morning we’re going to think about the fourth factor – Preparing to Give a Good Account

- now, we’ve looked at various aspects of the key stewardship parable in Matthew 25:14-27 and we’ll be back there eventually…but first let’s think about the larger context in which this parable was given…

- Bible students refer to chapters 24 and 25 of Matthew as the Olivet Discourse…

- we’re just days away from the crucifixion…

- read Matthew 24:1-3…

- the Mount of Olives was directly across from the temple in Jerusalem…

- so the disciples asked Jesus when the end times would occur and what it would be like…

- it’s not our purpose to study each one of these verses this am – time obviously wouldn’t allow for that…

- but it is fascinating how this dovetails with both the book of Daniel which we worked through a few months ago and the book of Revelation which some of our groups have been studying as well…

- let me just point out a couple of themes that make it easier for us to understand the emphases of our stewardship parable…

- read 24:4-14

- we could say a lot about that – but notice the focus on the message of the gospel being shared with all the nations…[connect that to our annual theme]…

- even days before He was going to die on the cross for our sins…Jesus was focused on how His death, burial, and resurrection would comprise good news – the gospel – for all who would repent and believe [just like Dave and Sylvia affirmed in their testimony]…

- now let’s jump ahead to verse 36…

- read 24:36-41…

- that takes us back to the original question – when’s this going to happen?...and what was Jesus’ answer?...no one knows…

- by the way – I don’t want to make this too broad this am – but do you remember after the resurrection, in the book of Acts, what question the disciples had for their resurrected Savior…Acts 1:6 - So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?”

- I don’t know if the Lord ever rolled His eyes, but that would have been a good time…

- now the next verse is what ends up being especially emphasized in our key parable in chapter 25…

- read 24:42-46

- so don’t concern yourself with exactly when it’s going to happen…concern yourself with being prepared…

- then chapter 25 begins with a tragic story of those who weren’t…

- read 25:1-13

- the point is obvious – what separated the foolish virgins from the prudent ones was whether they were prepared…how terrible it would be to hear the words of verse 12 [re-read]…

- now, it’s in that setting that we have the passage we’ve been examining the last several weeks…let’s just read a bit of it…

- read 25:14—19…

- we’re talking this morning about Preparing to Give a Good Account…and with the time we have remaining, let’s think about 3 reasons wise stewards are always prepared.

I. Because We Never Know How Much Longer We Have to Serve.

- that’s the point of the fourth principle of stewardship…you can be called into account at any time, and it may be today…

- ask David and Sylvia Anderson if that’s true…

- ask the family of Pastor Leffew…because, ultimately…

A. No one knows when the Master will return.

- that’s what was so frustrating to the disciples…

  • Matthew 24:3 - As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”

- we saw earlier that they  asked the same question after the resurrection…

- well, why was that so important to them?...well, we can’t read their minds, but it very well could be because that makes it extremely easy to be prepared…tell me now when I have to be ready…

- that’s why pop quizzes are so irritating, because then we always have to be ready…

- you see this emphasis repeatedly in the Olivet Discourse…

  • Matthew 24:36 - But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.
  • Matthew 24:42 - Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming.
  • Matthew 25:13 - Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour.

- you can be called into account at any time, and it may be today….

- now, the sobering corollary to that is…

B. His return will catch some off-guard.

- Matthew 24:44 - For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.

- so for anybody listening to this and thinking – well, I don’t think this is going to happen, at least not today…

- you realize you just increased the likelihood that it will…

- our adversary doesn’t have to get you to say “no” – he just has to get you to say “later.”

- and the principle is – don’t be like these foolish virgins…believing they’d always have more time to be prepared…

- can I ask you to look at your stewardship commitment brochure and think about where you are in each of these key areas…and also the nature of the commitments you’re preparing to make for the upcoming year…and then consider this…

- what if you were called into account today?...

- what if you were called into account before the end of the year?...

- what if you were called into account before our next stewardship month rolls around?

- you know, that’s especially true if you’ve never trusted Christ as Savior and Lord…

- [develop the gospel]…

- Hebrews 3:7–8, 12-13 - Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says, “Today if you hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts as when they provoked Me, as in the day of trial in the wilderness…Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God.             But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

- why such an emphasis on today?...because we have no assurance of tomorrow…

- that’s one of the reasons seeing so many young people embracing the opportunity to serve is so delightful…

- [develop serving in the north end, going to Albania, etc]…

- they seem to understand John 9:4 - We must work the works of Him who sent Me as long as it is day; night is coming when no one can work.

- I appreciate the college students who have this understanding as well…and we have to be balanced about this because you certainly should be focused on doing well in school…but many still find time to serve the Lord in various ways now…

- [if you’ve ever been on my FB page, you may notice a number of posts from folks who live in and around NJ…develop your Christian Service assignment in Trenton…]

- the point is – we want to avoid the “well, I’ll focus on wise stewardship after…” mentality…

- after I finish school…

- after I get married…

- after I land my first job…

- after Johnny learns how to walk…

- [cf. what happened in Nelda Byer’s family this week]…

- so we seek to always be prepared to give account because we never know how much longer we have to serve…

II. Because the Day Will Come When the Accounts Will be Settled

- that is a very powerful statement in verse 19…

- Matthew 25:19 - Now after a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them.

- so what does that tell us?...they’re not settled yet...

A. That’s when faithfulness will truly be determined.

- you can’t look at someone else and know exactly what has been entrusted to them…

- we might be able to have some idea…but we don’t know one another’s pasts….we don’t know what’s happening on the inside…we don’t know what opportunities may have been ignored…

- there’s only one person who has the ability to settle the accounts…

- and for some here – that’s great news…for others, it’s not…

B. That’s when the true motivation of our work will be revealed.

- 1 Corinthians 3:12–15 - Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

- this is a judgement for believers known as the Bema Seat judgment, or the Judgment seat of Christ…

- it was well known in NT times as the place where rewards were distributed after an athletic contest…

- but in this case, our work is tried by fire…that’s how the accounts are settled…

- which is why Paul said in the next chapter…

1 Corinthians 4:5 - Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.

C. That’s when what is hidden shall be revealed.

- Matthew 10:26 - Therefore do not fear them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known.

- so much of our relationship with Christ is unknown to others…it’s done in secret…

- but when we’re called into account – all of that is revealed…

- let me ask you to return to your commitment brochure…and please think about each of these areas that are listed…

- what would happen if one or more of those areas was settled today?...

- now, let me address a question I’m often asked…in fact someone in our Intro Class just asked this a few weeks ago…

- hey, I’ve heard around town that if you become a member of Faith, you have to bring in your tax returns…or they send you a bill each month for how much you’re supposed to give…

- you know, I heard thing like that when we first came here 29 years ago…so some urban legends die hard…

- but did you know that the Bible often speaks about money…it’s not the only issue involved in stewardship – but it is certainly one of them…

- and that has always been true – even long before the OT law was instituted…

- a great example is Genesis 14 – just a few chapters after God called Abraham and began a relationship with him…

- chapter 14 is this fascinating chapter where the Lord allows him to sin an incredible battle – known in Scripture as the battle of the kings…let’s listen in…

- Genesis 14:14–20 - When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he led out his trained men, born in his house, three hundred and eighteen, and went in pursuit as far as Dan. He divided his forces against them by night, he and his servants, and defeated them, and pursued them as far as Hobah, which is north of Damascus. He brought back all the goods, and also brought back his relative Lot with his possessions, and also the women, and the people. Then after his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley). And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; now he was a priest of God Most High. He blessed him and said, “Blessed be Abram of God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.” He gave him a tenth of all.

- it’s amazing that the principle of giving a tenth of what was received back to the Lord was already embedded in people of God this early in biblical history…

- but it’s at least possible that this wasn’t the first mention of the importance of giving in Scripture…

- what was wrong with Cain’s offering?...in Genesis chapter 4?...

- remember Adam and Eve’s sons Cain and Able were told to bring an offering to God and Able brought an offering of meat and Cain brought from the fruit of the ground…

- and God accepted Able’s and rejected Cain’s…

- now we know God had given previous instructions…not because they are recorded in Scripture but because in the book of Hebrews, Able’s offering was is called an offering of faith…[develop]…

- so what was wrong with Cain’s?...we don’t know for sure, but we know what people around the time of Christ believed…

- because the OT was written in Hebrew…and because around the time of Christ so many people spoke some form of Greek – the Hebrew OT was translated into Greek…

- that’s a very important document because it tells us how the people around the time of Christ interpreted the OT…

- that book is called the LXX – Septuagint…

- those translators apparently believed that Cain’s sin had to do with the amount…

- he was told to bring a certain amount…and he chose to bring less…

- so how does that work around here?...

- the concept of giving a tithe of our first-fruits became codified in OT law…

- by the end of the OT we find God’s people ignoring that principle as one of the many evidences that their hearts were far from the Lord…

- which is why Malachi actually calls such persons thieves – they were robbing God…

- we’re living under grace – which we believe empowers us to do far more and far better than the law could ever achieve…

- so if you ever wondered – where does this church get its money – I rarely talk about it, because I don’t have to…

- but the average person around here views tithing as a starting point…and then seeks to grow in that area just like everything else…so there are all sorts of people who give sacrificially week after week—and they do that first, not last…

- now, the Lord has also entrusted us with a number of other ministries – and our church is glad for that – and through our general budget, we support many of them with a  certain amount every month…

- so this is where the “tithes and offerings” piece comes into the equation…

- so we ask folks to consider giving additionally each month to the various ministries listed in your side panel to help us fulfill our budgetary commitments to them…

- now, we don’t have one going right now – but our congregation has on a few occasions actually decided to have special three year capital campaigns – that’s how we built both FE and FW…

- you say – people were essentially giving 3 times…or in three different ways…yes they were…

- and there are plenty of people in our community who can’t understand that…and make up all sorts of conspiracy theories to try to explain it…

- but for us – it’s just a natural result of really believing this fourth principle – God can call us into account at any time – and when the accounts are settled – we want to have been faithful in all areas, including the way we used the money He entrusted to us…

- [if time – could talk about Dave Arthur and the lighting rebate – our attempt as a staff to carefully spend every dollar that is given…]

III. Because the Possibility Exists of Hearing the Words Well Done

- Matthew 25:21 - His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’

- develop how that was true of the Anderson’s relatives…

- develop how that was true with Pastor Leffew…

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video