Saturday, March 9, 2013

Three Characteristics Christ Expects
In Ministers and All Christians
Characteristic #1 Faithfulness
By Pastor David L. Brown, Ph.D.
First Baptist Church of Oak Creek Wisconsin
Text: 1 Corinthians 4:1-6 “Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2 Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful. 3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self. 4 For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord. 5 Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God. 6  And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another.”

Cheap Crosses

I have a two volume commentary of the New Testament, by Warren Wiersbe, in my office titled The Bible Exposition Commentary: An Exposition of the New Testament Comprising the Entire “Be” Series. In the section on Philippians the author tells the story of a missionary attending a religious festival in Brazil. As he went from booth to booth checking out the wares he, observed a sign above one booth: "Cheap Crosses." The missionary thought, that’s what many Christian are looking for today…cheap crosses.

I rather think that many who profess to know Christ do want a cheap cross and discount discipleship. We claim the name “Christian” but we do not want to pay the price required for living for Christ. I am reminded of what our Lord said in Luke 9:23 “…If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” Willing sacrifice is a part of being a follower of Christ!


In 1 Corinthians 4, the Apostle Paul points out - Three Characteristics That Are To Be Present In Ministers of Christ & All Christians. He explains each point by using a different picture for each -  

        The Characteristic – The Picture

·        Faithfulness – The Steward (vs. 1-6)

·        Humbleness – The Spetacle (vs. 7-13)

·        Tenderness – The Father (vs. 14-21)

Today’s Focus

·        Faithfulness – The Steward (vs. 1-6)

“Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.

ü Ministers of Christ (v.1a)

I want to begin by looking at two words that we find in verse 1. The first is ministers. What comes into your mind when you hear that word? I dare say, unless you already know what the underlying Greek word is, your thoughts will not even be close to what the word really means. The word ministers is a translation of the Greek word υπηρετας (huperetas). It literally means “an under-rower.” That is a slave who rowed on the lower level the huge Roman galleys (ships).

So what I Paul saying? As the preacher, I am not the captain of the ship (my life or this church)! As a Christian, you are NOT the captain of the ship (your life for this church)! We are ALL under-rowers of the Captain of our Salvation [Hebrews 2:10], Jesus Christ! He is the Head of the Church (Colossians 1:18) and is to be the King of our lives (Romans 12:1-2).

That is exactly what Paul is saying in verse 1 – “Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers (under-rowers) of Christ….” Christ is the one who calls out the orders and we are the ones who put forth the effort to carry out those orders as we have received them in the Old & New Testament.

To serve Christ is to serve His Word, which is the revelation of His will. A servant of Christ then is a servant or galley slave of the Scripture. His function is to obey the commands of God that are revealed in His Word!

This is equally true for all believers, NOT just the pastor! We are not captains of our ship (our life), but galley slaves who are under orders of our Master, Jesus Christ who bought us! (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 & 1 Corinthians 7:23).

A Pastor must first, above all else, be a servant of Christ. Christ sets the agenda. In everything he is to be subject to the Chief Shepherd. While pastors are called to serve men, they are NOT called to be servants of men or men-pleasers but serve men according to Christ’s directives. Galatians 1:10 says, “For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.”

All believers are called to serve others but they do that through the grid of the Scriptures.

Let’s move on to the second word -

ü Stewards Of The Mysteries of God (v.1b)

The word stewards is a translation of the Greek word οἰκονόμος oikonómos which literally means “house manager.” A steward is a servant who manages everything for his master, but who himself owns nothing.

The best illustration of what a steward does is Joseph of old. He  was a chief steward in Potiphar’s household (Genesis 39:1-23 – key vs. 4-6).

Let’s zero in on how this stewardship applies today. The church is the “household of faith” (Galatians 6:10), and the ministers are stewards who share God’s wealth with the family. Paul called this spiritual wealth “the mysteries of God.” The “mysteries of God” refer to those things that were hidden from the understanding of those who lived in the Old Testament, that is the Gospel message and the teaching of the New Testament (see 1 Corinthians 2:7-10). As ministers we are entrusted with the Gospel and it is our duty to –

1) Expound It –Preach it and teach it (2 Timothy 4:2).

2) Apply It – Make know the pardon and forgiveness available to those who will repent and be saved (Acts 20:20-21) .

3) Defend It – Expose the false gospels and false teaching (Jude 1:3)

That brings us to the FIRST characteristic that God expects will be present in each Pastor and also each Christisan - FAITHFULNESS! 1 Corinthians 4:2 “Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.”

A steward is expected to act in the interest of the master, not his own interest. A steward is not always closely supervised, but he is always expected to work diligently. The key responsibility of the steward is to be faithful to his master. A steward may not please the members of the household; he may not even please some of the other servants; but if he pleases his own master, he is a good steward. This same idea is expressed in Romans 14:4 “Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.”

Faithfulness is to be the characteristic of not only the Pastor but also the people, believers. How does your life stack up in that area? Are you looking for a “cheap cross” and “discount discipleship?” Or are you taking up your cross daily and following Christ?