Saints GO Marching On Series – 1 Corinthians 4:1-21
Intro: The last two sermons from this series that I have preached have drawn special attention to the minister in the church. You would be surprise what the church member thinks the pastor’s role is and what God wants this role to be. I would think we are all somewhat guilty of having our opinion of what we expect from the pastor. Problem still remains it is what God wants that should be important: “That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel, 7 of which I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power.” Ephesians 3:6-7
Text: 1 Corinthians 4:1-21 (NKJV)
To understand what God wants we must recognize His ministers:
1. Minster’s of God: Vs.1-5 “Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2 Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful. 3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by a human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. 4 For I know nothing against myself, yet I am not justified by this; but He who judges me is the Lord. 5 Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one's praise will come from God.
Ministers need to be counted for what they are. Ministers are ministers of Christ. The word "minister" means an under-rower. It refers to the slaves who sat in the belly of the large ships and pulled at the great oars to carry the boat through the sea. Christ is the Master of the ship and the minister is one of the slaves of Christ. No minister is to be elevated above other ministers or servants he is only the under-rower, a slave of the Master of the ship. Believers are not to judge and elevate ministers above each other. Ministers are stewards of God. This means the overseer of an estate, the steward over the mysteries of God. “Of which I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power.” Ephesians 3:7
Ministers are required to be faithful. This is the one essential for the minister. There is no other requirement of him. The minister is not required by God to be an administrator, counselor, visitor, door-greeter, or socializer—as important as these ministries are. The minister is required to be faithful in ministering the mysteries of God. He is held accountable and shall be judged for how well he ministers the mysteries of God: “Of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God.” Colossians 1:25
Believers are not to judge ministers, the servant who has been made a steward for one purpose only: to be faithful to the Master, the Lord Jesus Christ. Criticism and disapproval hurt and cut the heart, but they do not matter at all in the judgment of God. Man's judgment of God's minister has no bearing whatsoever upon what God will do with the minister. The congregation or some clique in the church may cut the minister to shreds, and they may break his heart, but they have absolutely nothing to do with the judgment of the man's faithfulness and unfaithfulness. "Judge not, that ye be not judged" The Lord alone justifies a man and his ministry. No matter how successful men may judge one another to be—no matter how much praise men may heap upon one another—no person will have the praise of God until Christ returns and judges the secret things of a man's heart and life. This is the reason men are not to judge the ministers and servants of God.
"The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; who can know it? 10 I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give every man according to his ways, According to the fruit of his doings.” Jeremiah 17:9-10
To next understand what God wants you must know the minister is different:
2. Makes No Difference to God: Vs.6-13 Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively transferred to myself and Apollos for your sakes, that you may learn in us not to think beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up on behalf of one against the other. 7 For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it? 8 You are already full! You are already rich! You have reigned as kings without us--and indeed I could wish you did reign, that we also might reign with you! 9 For I think that God has displayed us, the apostles, last, as men condemned to death; for we have been made a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men. 10 We are fools for Christ's sake, but you are wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are distinguished, but we are dishonored! 11 To the present hour we both hunger and thirst, and we are poorly clothed, and beaten, and homeless. 12 And we labor, working with our own hands. Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we endure; 13 being defamed, we entreat. We have been made as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things until now.
Believers must stop being "puffed up" against one another. The person or persons who begin to elevate one minister above another are "puffed up." The phrase means to be inflated. It is a picture of puffed up air bags. The judging of ministers and the feelings that one can judge ministers is nothing but hot air in puffed up balloons. It is meaningless. It means absolutely nothing to God. “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Matthew 23:12
Paul asked the question: ‘For who makes you differ from another? Why are you boasting of being super-spiritual? Why are you acting superior to other believers? “For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.” Galatians 6:3
Some believers were acting as though they were perfect and mature, and had the right to pass judgment upon God's people. They were acting as though God had already given them their spiritual reward and exalted them to rule over the believers of the church.
Now in verse nine the minister is "appointed to death". This is a continuation of the picture of the doomed gladiator. He is marched through the city streets and before the screaming mobs of the arena. He is made a spectacle before the world and he has to endure it, for he has no choice. The minister is expected to serve and to be put last. The minister is counted as a fool for Christ's sake because of His strong devotion to Christ. The world and too often believers look at the minister as a radical fool. But not too many believers are considered to be fools. Most believers are accepted by the world and among other believers and considered wise. The believers are thought to be strong, for they receive the fullness of Christ without suffering too much and without having to go on and on hour after hour and day after day. But not ministers. Ministers are too often without honor among the world and, tragically, among believers. “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Galatians 2:20
True ministers are the servants of Christ, and the stewards of God's gospel (mysteries); and they pay any price to share the gospel and to minister to people. Paul says that he and the apostles were bearing these very sufferings "even unto this present hour." How many of us have really sacrificed all we are and have like the apostles did? "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.” Matthew 5:11 (NIV)
To understand what God wants we must Love as God Loves:
3. Must Love God: Vs.14-21 I do not write these things to shame you, but as my beloved children I warn you. 15 For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. 16 Therefore I urge you, imitate me. 17 For this reason I have sent Timothy to you, who is my beloved and faithful son in the Lord, who will remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church. 18 Now some are puffed up, as though I were not coming to you. 19 But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord wills, and I will know, not the word of those who are puffed up, but the power. 20 For the kingdom of God is not in word but in power. 21 What do you want? Shall I come to you with a rod, or in love and a spirit of gentleness?
The spirit of God's minister is that of a fatherly spirit, not that of an instructor's spirit. The spirit of God's minister sets an unmatchable example. "Be ye followers of me." The Greek word for "followers" means imitators: “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” 1 Corinthians 11:1
The believer must be a humble follower of God who loves his minister and who is vitally interested in serving his Lord. Paul had sent Timothy as a good example of what a young minister who loves and is willing to learn just as the son of a father (older pastor) is willing to learn.
When God rules in a life, it is in power. The old life that makes accusations and spreads rumors about people has been put to death. God's rule of love reigns in a life. The point is direct: the accusers were professing to be citizens of God's kingdom, to have surrendered their lives to Christ, but their profession was word only—only a false profession. The power of God's kingdom, of His rule in a life, was not seen in their lives. They were not demonstrating love and peace nor the building up of God's church and its minister, but the very opposite. They were gossiping, causing rumors, making accusations, disturbing people, causing division, and about to destroy the church. God's kingdom and its rule of love must reign in the church and be kept as pure as possible.
Paul loved the Lord, and he loved the people under his care. He existed only to serve the Lord and the Lord's people. Therefore, his heart reached out to help believers no matter their state or circumstances. “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.’ John 15:16
The love of a minister is just like that of a father. True love is not a thing of indulgence and license that allows selfishness and wrong, dirt and ugliness, sin and shame to run loose and rampant at will. True love cares about the consequence of a person's behavior; true love exercises firm correction and discipline that is sure to save and keep the loved person from harming himself.
When Silence Speaks
Being challenged by his eloquent priest, a bright, sensitive young man decided he wanted to become a monk. He discussed it many times during high school days with the pastor of his parish. Seeing he could not discourage the candidate but warning him of the rugged discipline required, the pastor finally recommended the lad to the proper authorities. The superior in charge of the desired order told the candidate he would be allowed to speak but two words for the first ten years. At the end of that exhausting period, he was asked, “Do you have any comment?” “Food cold.”
Another decade of dedication was endured. The monk’s confessor asked, “Do you have anything to say?” “Bed hard.” At last the third decade of silence passed. Again the candidate for the chosen order was asked to comment. “I quit.” “Good,” replied the superior, “you’ve done nothing but complain for the last thirty years.”
A pastor task is difficult; however, it is a calling. Ministers our stewards of God called to be faithful. The spirit of God's minister is that of a fatherly spirit, to help growth in the life of a believer, and to love as He loves; “This is what God wants!”
In : Sermon
Tags: "saints go marching on series" "book of 1 corinthians"
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