Covenant Words
Covenant Words

Episode · 3 months ago

How God Uses Ministers

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Rev. Christopher Chelpka

First Corinthians Chapter: Four: If youhappen to have one of these, I happen to have a large print version. Hopefrom the back heart on my page is one hundredand three three Paul has been talking to us about a lotof misunderstandings that were in the church and Corinth and remain among ustoday. Misunderstandings particularly about who the ministers of the word arewhat their job is, what they do, and he begins now to give us a positivedescription of what that is of the Ministry of Christ among us through thethrough these men. Let's attend to that now and asked thatGod would bless us, as we understand First Corinthians chapter four. This ishow one should regard us as servants of Christ and stewards ofthe mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be foundfaithful, but with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged byyou or any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself, for I am notaware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is theLord who judges me. Therefore, do not pronounce judgment before the timebefore the Lord comes. Who will bring to light the things now hidden indarkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart? Then each one willreceive his commendation from God. I have applied all these things to myselfand a pollise for your benefit brothers. The you may learn by us not to gobeyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favour of oneagainst another. PRUSY is anything different in you? What do you have thatyou did not receive? If then, you received it, why do you boast as if youdid not receive it already? You have all you want already. You have becomerich without us, you have become kings and will ed, and would that you didreign that we might share the rule with you, for I think that God has exhibitedus. Apostles is last of all, like men sentenced to death, because we havebecome a spectacle to the world to angels and Tamen. We have fools for Christ's sake, butyou are wise in Christ we are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor,but we in disrepute to the present hour. We hunger and first we are poorlydressed and buffeted and homeless, and we labour working with our own hills.When reviled we brass when persecuted we endure when slandered, we entreat wehave become and are still like, the...

...scum of the world, the refuse of allthings. I do not write these things to make you ashamed, but to admonish youas my beloved children, for though You have countless guides in Christ, you donot have many fathers, for I became your father in Christ. Jesus throughthe Gospel. I urged you, then be imitators of me. That is why I sent Isent you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child, and the Lord, to remindyou of my ways in Christ, as I teach them everywhere in every church. Someare arrogant as though I were not coming to you, but I will come to yousoon if the Lord Wills and I will find out not the talk of these arrogantpeople, but their power for the Kingdom of God does not consist in talk but inpower. What do you wish? Shall I come to you with a rod with Lo in a spiritof gentleness in then maybe season? So I'm going to give you three a littlescenarios to make a point and see if you can guess what the point is a number one. Have you ever bought something that youthought was nice but then fell apart much more quickly than you desired?Maybe it was a toy or a house car by US number one imagine you are a Bookman's and you seean old banner of truth commentary. It looks really cool, but you'll get it some other day onlyto find out the next time. You go back, it's not there and it also turns outit's out of print and super expensive and you lost the opportunity while itwath on the shelf number three: Have you ever picked up aglass of water and swallowed it really fast only to find out it was clear,soda and been really surprised and maybe spit it out. What's similar in all of these examples, a similar thing is that you'reexpecting one thing and you get another whether positive or negative. The point is that it's important andvery helpful to know how things really are to know what things really are and in Clarence the problem wasn't thatthey misunderstood soda, but they misunderstood stewards and servants.They had misunderstood what the Ministry of the word was and becausethey misunderstood that, because they thought of it wrong. The conception ofit was wrong. It was causing problems, it was causing missed opportunities, itwas causing boastfulness divisions, all...

...kinds of other things, and so Paulspeaks to them very cast all very strong, sometimeswords, sometimes with deep and dark irony, sometimes with strongadmonishment, sometimes with pleading sometimes with teaching, and he tellsthem this what he says in verse one. This is how one should regard us asservants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God through the Apostle Paul Jesus isinstructing us. Jesus is teaching us how we are supposed to think about hisministers. He wants us to understand that ministry so that we might benefitfrom the gifts of Christ's to Christ, to us and so that we might not neglectthem or or pass them by what do we learn when, as Jesus teach us through thisapostle about the Apostolic Ministry and the Ministry that is founded uponthat and through men like Timothy and Sospan es in the pause? We Paul begins with this, and I thinkit's perhaps the most important thing that he says the ministers of Christ are not menunto themselves, they're, not little islands of celebrity of status, oflearning of power of influence charm of doctrine, whatever true ministers of Christ are alwaysconnected with Christ. Their work is his work. When we receive gifts from them, we arereceiving gifts from Christ. That is their job. That's what happens? That'show it works. It's not because they control the Lord, as though, if a manwho has called a minister does something than the war is sort offorced, you know with his hands tied behind his back to now act. No, he, theminister, does not control the Lord, but the word controls him. He, theminister, is the Lord's servant. The Lord is a master over them. A Paul Talks about this in the book ofEphesians. If you would turn with me there Ephesians chapter four, the fusions chapter, four verse eleven.It talks about Christ's. First, it talks about Christ's ascension and thenit's pouring out gifts on the church and here's. What Paul says there hesays, and he that is, Christ gave the apostles the prophets, theevangelists, the shepherds and teachers to equip the saints for the work ofMinistry for the building up of the body of Christ until we all attain tothe unity of the faith and of the...

...knowledge of the son of God, to maturemanhood to the measure of the stature of the firmness of Christ, so that wemay no longer be children tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about byevery wind of doctrine, a human cunning by crackiness and deceitful schemes,rather speaking the truth and love. We are to grow up in every way and to himwho is the head into Christ, from whom the whole body joined and held togetherby every joint with which it is equipped when each part is workingproperly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. So you see what he says. He says that when the war Jesus Christascended, he poured out these gifts. These offices and people who fill thoseoffices apoth that postles apostles profits, Vangelis, shepherds andteachers and through this Ministry that Christ exercises the body is built up.It even builds up itself in a sense, because those who belong to the bodyare part of that work. But, of course, as the body builds up itself, it'sbeing built up in its connection to the head that it's not this Hebress bodysort of assembling itself out there in the wilderness somewhere. It is a bodythat is connected to Christ, ministered to Christ being built up in him, as heworks in us, so Lizabet Paul says in effusions forand the some of the particular people that he has in mind come out in FirstCorinthians for SAPHIES, who has mentioned at thebeginning of the book Paul and Timothy and Apollos these men, in other words, that alljust pop up out of nowhere and start teaching the things of God. Now theyare called by God to be servants of God, as ministers of grace now, when a Paul helps us to understandthat are through these two words to a servants and stewards right, that's howhe wants us to understand. The WORD SERVANT EMPHASIZES HALLS BEINGUNDER AUTHORITY calls not the master of the House. He is a servant of the House.A servant is one who receives orders, one who is told what to do a servantmay be very great me be very important, but he is always always a servant to doas the master calls him. The word steward emphasized theemphasizes the particular kind of service that the servant gives. Whatdoes a steward do? A steward is one who distributes theresources of the master of the House according to the master's will here.ASTEAD is called to be stewards of the...

...mysteries, an amazing thing that hesays of the mysteries of God. These mysteries as Paul talks about itthroughout the New Testament are things that were once hidden but now have beenrevealed. So what are we talking about we're talking about God's plan foruniting Jews and gentiles together for God's plan of showering His gracethroughout all the world of God's plan, of sending his own son to die on across, to forgive us our sins and unite us all under him. These are the things that Paul is goingto reveal and has been revealing. These are the things that Paul has beentalking about this Gospel, this good news that is preached to us. These are the resources that Paul is incharge of distributing that's what a steward does. The resources of Christare sometimes material, a cup of water, a pair of clothes of roof over the head,given in Christ's name. This is part of Christ's ministry. In the world to us, but of course the he also gives to US spiritual gifts,the forgiveness of sins hope in the Resurrection in Heaven, faith that canmove mountains and many other things. These are the resources. This is thetreasury that God has and the resources and things thatare stewarded to us by his servants. Now you might ask: How can a mere man asinful man? Nevertheless, do things like that to distribute the gifts ofgrace of God answer? Is that it's not in the poweror in the righteousness of the individual by which he is used, but bythe grace of God, which is an amazing thing to think about? Not only do wereceive the gifts of grace, but even the means by which we receive thosethings are gracious means that God takes sinners like us, people that arebroken, struggling jars of Char as Paul calls himself, and God uses that kindof vessel to distribute his gifts. It only emphasizes the point that thisministry, that they are bringing this Ministry of these gifts, that God ispouring out to us, our gifts that we've not earned but their gifts of his love.His Loving Grace Paul, is not the one in charge. Paul is a sinful man like you and me, he gives these things because he isunder the control and the calling of our most gracious God. It is because hehas been given God's power and authority and resources to do e thesethings.

So this is what Paul is after. This is how we must frame our minds andthinking about the Apostolic Ministry and the Ministry of the word thatcontinues on. After that. What is the minister, a minister is aservant. A minister is a steward, so if you want to understand what aminister does you don't start with his work? But you start with his relationship tohis master and I'll say to myself and to those ofyou here who they want to be ministers. You must also start with yourrelationship to Christ. It is from there that you can rightly think aboutand rightly apply and do the work that he has called you to do. You mustreceive from him so that you may give to others. So what are the implications of this?There are many and Paul brings out many in this chapter and we'll just touch ona few, and I trust that you will continue to thinkabout these things and consider other ways in which this applies to our life. One way that this applies. It remindsus that, because the work of the minister is from the ward, ultimatelyPaul looks to the Lord first and last as his judge, a not a people pleaser, and we get thatvery strongly from versus three through five. We read this again. He says that with me, it is a verysmall thing that I should be judged by you or in a human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself will come back to that inwoman I'llfinish reading, for I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am notthereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me therefore do not pronouncejudgment, but for the time before the Lord comes, who will bring to light thething is now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart.Then each one will receive this commendation for his commendation fromGod. So pause doing a couple things in theseverses one. He is testifying to the Corinthians that he is essentiallyblameless or basically blameless in his activity toward them. He's saying: Lookat my life there's nothing that I'm doing that has been wrong. I have beenfaithful in my service to you, he's defending himself against fastaccusations of other people, saying Oh Paul's in it, for this or palls in it.For that he's saying, I'm not I'm not so that's one thing that he is doing ishe's encouraging and remindingly Corinthians of his character and of hisintegrity. But he also does a couple other things.Then it confesses that there are things...

...that are hidden and deep, maybe thingseven in himself that he is not aware of when Paul says that he is, he isblameless or, as he says in verse, for I am not aware of anything againstmyself. It doesn't mean that he says I'm completely perfect in everything Ido. He says I'm not aware of anything thatI'm doing wrong, but it's the Lord who discloses things. The word knows myheart even better than I know it is what he says, and in that he's teachingus about his ministry. He's teaching us that he doesn't go around waiting foreverybody else to tell him that he's okay before he's at before he acts, andeven though he wants and does live a life of integrity before the people insuch a way that he even says imitate me at the same time. He does not trust hisown judgment to justify him before the Lord, and some of US need the re. Thisreminder in our own lives. Some of you, a wrongly try to judge yourself to take the Lord's work on the Day ofjudgment out of his hands and put it in yours. You decide whether or not youhave done well enough to stand before the Lord Youth and you may you may release yourself or you mayaccuse yourself either way. That's not your job. The Lord doesn't say, Judge Yourselves, as I will judge youon the Day of Judgment and on that basis, decide how you will act now. The Lord says put your faith in meand I will save you and judge your life based on that on what I have done foryou on my justification for you. We are called to Co Trust God's judgment overus more than our judgment, even over ourselves and Paul. Does that andexemplifies that here it reminds us that, before all things he sees himselfas walking in the eyes of the Lord, and this helps us remember also what theseministers, what ministers to day, are called to do. They're not called to run around andcheck the wind on everything check the temperature on everything before theyact. The call to walk before the Lord faithfully truthfully with integrityand let the Lords will be done whatever the Lords will is: here's a second implication of Paul's,servantship and stewardship. He is called to take that and applythat through the word and to teach both by word and deed. He receives what he receives is not abig old pile of money right. The Lord...

...does use money to supply and care forhis people, but ultimately, ministers are received the spiritual gifts, spiritual gifts that come through theword. The Ministry of the Church that is ledby the apostles we remember in the Great Commission is one of goaling ofbaptizing of teaching they were to teach and we are to learn and that teaching was done in words anddeeds. That's how these things are distributed. In other words, we don't come toreceive the Ministry of Grace simply by knowing about it, but by learning it a hearing it bybeing in the presence of the word by see hearing the word and seeing itapplied and poor and acted out in a way in the lives of the people. Paul talks about this self. He talksabout the things that he has learned. He says an he has applied these thingsto himself that we may learn not to go beyond whatis written, that is in verse, six later in verse, Fourteen or fifteen he says, for, though youhave a countless guides in Christ. You do not have many fathers, for I becamea father in Christ. Jesus for I became your father in Christ, Jesus throughthe Gospel. I urge you, then the imitators of me notice at how he continues this, whathe adds to this in verse, Seventeen. That is why I sent you, Timothy, mybeloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ, asI teach them everywhere in the church. You see how Paul Paul is talking about these variousaspects and various ways in which this teaching ministry comes number three. Another thing we learn about ministersthat they sometimes suffer lack. They want things material things the Corinthians were doing well in manyways they were had attained, the things that many of them were after Paul talksabout this and verse. Eight and following he saysyou have all you want and remember what were the Corinthians wanting. They werewanting safety. They were wanting wealth. They were wanting influence. Hesays in some ways: You've got it. You have become rich without us or Witwoudus you have become kings. A Paul could mean here that, like without our help,you've become kings, but I think it's more likely that he means not with uslike. This is something that they have attained. While the apostles weresuffering, you have become kings, you become rich.Would you that reign so that we may rule share the rule with you?...

And then he talks about his work andthe work of other apostles. He says that they are like men. Sentenced todeath have become a spectacle to the world to angels and the Men Fools forChrist's sake, and he goes on. Is this something, though, that Paul was tryingto get out of? Was this something that Paul was afraid of was trying to avoid?Of course, Paul didn't want to be beaten in some ways. Paul didn't wantto suffer in some ways. He asked the Lord in at least one case. We have inscriptures I'm to remove his suffering and struggles, but at the same time we know that Paulunderstands his calling is above the things in this world. Paul will later say that ministersdeserve to be paid, but the minister's hope is not in wealth. It's not inpower. It's not in riches becausee. He is a servant. He must bewilling to do whatever, whatever, even if people think differently. Even ifthat means suffering- and this is of course true for all of US- Isn't it-The Lord doesn't just call his ministers to give up everything for thesake of the Kingdom of God. He calls all of us to do that to be willing tosacrifice anything in this world if it's for the sake of receiving thekingdom. Jesus even goes so far as to talk about families. Mother is brothers,fathers, sisters and wealth as well and job security andreputations and friends. Why? Because there's nothing morevaluable than the Kingdom of God that we receive in Christ Jesus our Lord, that's why Paul says imitate me,because it's a good thing to imitate. If somebody came to you and said I just found this really amazing deal onthis, this land, if you buy it now, it's going to be worth tons of money inthe future. Imitate me buy it and you would do well to do so if they wereright. Paul is, of course right when he tellsus the Gospel when he says cling to Christ. Hold fast to Christ, know himabove all things and you will be saved and, lastly, number four. The fourth implication about theministry. In light of the stewardship and service ministers ought to be people who are full of lovefor the people they serve. Why? Because Christ loves the people, hecalls them to serve they're his sheep they're, his lands. You are God's precious lambs. He lovesyou. He cares for you, he guards you. He protects you and he desires to dothat through his ministers,...

...ministers are called to watch over thesheep to love them, as Peter is told by Christ and love means knowing themmeans knowing their needs applying the word. This is why I myself and the elders, and even youamong each other in a way we spend time with each other. We get to know eachother so that we can, minister to each other, help and support and walktogether with one another in Christ, so that we can apply the word of God atthe right time in the right ways. This love that comes the love that we have for Christ onfall, low flows forth in the feeding of Christ, sheep with the word. So these are different implicationsthat come to us, I'm through this passage,as we think about, as we think about this service ship andthe stewardship that is tied up with the ministry, and we see that love thatPaul has for these people he's not afraid to say hard things to them inlove right. We get this, especially at the end he saying I'm your spiritualfather, you're, my children. I love you, he says some of you are arrogant, and Isay this to you as your dad. You need to stop being this way. This is notright. He says I will come to you soon again,if the Lord Wills, always in light of what God wills- and he says, what do you want? Do youwant me to come with a rod or with the spirit of gentleness? He talks to them and sometimes hardways and sometimes soft ways not because he's trying to manipulatethem or twist their arms, but because he loves them and he's doing thatfaithful, work that that shepherds do well. How does all of this perhapsapply to US very quickly? Here are a few things one we certain certainly shouldn't beelevating this or that servant of God to the status of God. We follow Christ, we receive thingsfrom his servants bravely, but ultimately our relationship was withhim. They were doing this in Corinth. Theywere pit pitting one against another and in that they were being puffed upand boasting, as Paul says pauses. Why do you boast everything that you have given beengiven? You have received? You have nothing to boast him. A second thing we learned from theApostolic Ministry, This word and deed ministry- is to not pull beyond what iswritten. A third thing we learn is that we arenot to depend on ourselves, but on the Lord, for all things.

A fourth thing we learn is about theways and the work of the ministers of Christ in in some ways. This is a dutylist for those who are called to the ministry. There is an expression here,a reminder of who of who ministers are supposed to be what their jobdescription is. What my job description is, which also means that it is a petitionlist or a prayer list, for you to pray for me to pray for your elders,your deacons for other ministers of Christ and to ask the Lord to build them up inthese things, to remind them of these things to givethem his gifts, that they might give it to others to give them time to understand andreflect and spend time in the word, to give them insight and knowledge oftheir people to give them strength and fortitude andcourage against the things of this world and even the accusations of theirown heart that they might boldly, minister, in Christ's name in Christ'sname alone, to fill them up with love and zeal andpassion for the lost and for the sheep that are being brought into the Churchof Christ. This is your prayer list. Even it is, as it is mine and theduties that God has called me, and others too, and I'll finish with this. It's also aprayer list of thanks, as I mentioned earlier, this is God's Ministry of ofgrace to us. This is these: are his gifts to us? Isn't it amazing that eachand every one of us here who are have been brought into the body of Christare just weak vessels, jars of clay and yet filled with the very holy spirit ofGod, for the building up of the body to be participants in the Ministry ofGod to the world and and to us as well, when we consider the Ministry of Godand His grace these gifts that he pours out on us through the Work Accomplishedfor us in Christ, we ought to raise our hands and raise our voices and givethanks to God for all that he is doing in us andcontinues to do if we were left to ourselves. We'd constantly be hittingthat auto destruct button. Wouldn't we week after week, over and over againfive four three two, but the Lord preserves us even from the gates ofhell. He preserves us against the devil. Hepreserves US against ourselves in our own flesh. The Lord keeps us and holdsus together, leads us to streams of living water walks us through theValley of the shadow of death, and we can trust him for all that. We ought tothank him for all that and praise him...

...for all that as hard as things were in Corinth andwe'll consider more things in the coming chapters. I hope you'll you'llbe here with me for that. Go back to the beginning, to chapterone and we're reminded of the work of the Ministry of the word. That hasalready happened among them. I'll finish with this just a few verses inchapter one versus four through nine, this is Paul's hard, and let this beour heart as well Paul says I give thanks to my God,always for you, because of the grace of God. That was given you in Christ.Jesus that in every way you were enriched in him and all speech andknowledge, even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you, so thatyou are not lacking in any gift. As you wait for the revealing of our LordJesus Christ, who will sustain you to the endguiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ, God is faithful by whom youwere called into the fellowship of a son Jesus Christ. Our Lord, let's pray. I.

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