Introduction –At the heart of the mission of the prophet was a clear recognition of what God was giving to him that others did not have. He was to be a repository of truth in behalf of God’s people. What an enormous responsibility to be entrusted with the truth. ”
- 1 Thess 2:1-4 – For you yourselves know, brethren, that our coming to you was not in vain. 2 But even* after we had suffered before and were spitefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we were bold in our God to speak to you the gospel of God in much conflict. 3 For our exhortation did not come from error or uncleanness, nor was it in deceit. 4 But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts.
I. Entrusted with the Truth: Although the context clearly points out that Paul is speaking as an apostle who was given a special commission, the principle of stewardship is applicable to you and I as well. We have been entrusted with the word of God. Paul willingly made this charge to the young Timothy.
1 Timothy 3:15 – 15 but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. NKJV
- – This verse teaches that the church is to be the support and bulwark of the truth. As God’s people we are to hold it up and provide a defense for its obedience among men. This is an enormous responsibility or custodianship.
- 2 Tim. 2:2. “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. “(NKJ)
– In a world where the Bible is twisted and bent to fit every imaginable religious idea, we must determine to be those who reverently and accurately handle the saving truth of the gospel –
- 2 Tim 2:15 – 5 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.
– It is our duty to maintain and inculcate genuine respect for the truth and authority of the Scriptures.
II. The Jews were given a special stewardship of God’s law. Paul declared the advantage of their “custodianship” of the oracles of God.
- Rom. 3:1,2 – “What advantage then has the Jew, or what is the profit of circumcision? Much in every way! Chiefly because to them were committed the oracles of God”.
This is recognized as a high privilege- Albert Barnes writes… To possess these was of course an eminent privilege, and included all others, as they instructed them in their duty, and were their guide in everything that pertained to them in this life and the life to come. They contained, besides, many precious promises respecting the future dignity of the nation in reference to the Messiah. No higher favor can be conferred on a people than to be put in possession of the sacred Scriptures.
- Deut. 4:8. “And what great nation is there that has such statutes and righteous judgments as are in all this law which I set before you this day?
- Rom. 9:4,5 – “Who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen”
- Although they faithfully protected the word from loss or sabotage, the Jews did not do with the word of God what they should have. They failed to be good stewards of God’s Word.
- Is there a responsibility to live by that which we have been entrusted? Is this not an integral element of “guarding the truth”?
- They used it to place burdens on others that they were unwilling to bear themselves. Matt 23:1-4– Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, 2 saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3 Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do. 4 For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.
- They developed a self-righteousness that set others at naught and left them unresponsive and unrepentant toward God. Matt 23:25-33 – 25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also. 27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. 29 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, 30 and say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.’ 31 “Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers’ guilt. 33 Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell?
- Rom 2:5-6 – But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, 6 who “will render to each one according to his deeds”:
III. Guarding the truth without doing the truth – Rom 2:17-24 Indeed you are called a Jew, and rest on the law, and make your boast in God, and know His will, and approve the things that are excellent, being instructed out of the law, and are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, having the form of knowledge and truth in the law. You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal? You who say, “Do not commit adultery,” do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who make your boast in the law, do you dishonor God through breaking the law? For “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you,” as it is written.
Paul holds the Jews responsible for their rejection of the words of the law with which they were entrusted. Earlier God depicted the preaching of the message as that which desensitized the hearts of his own people and left them unresponsive and unrepentant.
- Isa 6:8-10 – 8 Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: “Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.” 9 And He said, “Go, and tell this people: ‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; Keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’ 10 “Make the heart of this people dull, And their ears heavy, And shut their eyes; Lest they see with their eyes, And hear with their ears, And understand with their heart, And return and be healed.”
- These words are quoted twice in the NT as a depiction of the Jews in their rejection of the God’s message. Jesus in Matt.13 (why he taught in parables; and Paul at the end of Acts, (Why the gospel was taken to the Gentiles). Their familiarity with the truth became their own judgment against them. Is it ours?
Consider 4 things that this custodianship demands of us:
A. We must be doers, as well as hearers, of God’s word. “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (Jas. 1:22). “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin” (Jas. 4:17).
B. We must not “guard” the truth without using it. Truth is not a museum relic to be preserved. It is a tool — a useful utensil — meant to be used. (Bob Coleman’s living room) We are to use “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph. 6:17) to conquer the enemies and defend ourselves against Satan. How well can you use the Bible to help others? To answer the skeptic? Is it the true guide of our decisions? Do we consult it everyday?
C. We must not keep the truth to ourselves and not teach it to others. Paul commended the church at Thessalonica because the word has “sounded forth” (as a trumpet or thunder – Vines) from them into all of Macedonia, Achaia, and every place (1 Thess. 1:8)
D. We Must Not be convinced that having the truth is the same as living by it. We must accept the inherent responsibilities in what we know (or claim to know). Items of Application:
1. Item: We believe we possess the truth about the work of the church and the proper method of doing benevolent work. – But how much do we actually help others?
“Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Gal. 6:10).
2. Item: We believe we have correct notions about the subject of morality, Christian living, true spirituality, etc. – But what do we personally do to encourage and strengthen the spiritually weak?
“Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all” (1 Thess. 5:14).
3. Item: We believe we have right concepts about how to worship God correctly – But how often do we worship God as we know to do? And when we worship, do we truly worship from the heart?
4. Item: We believe we understand the truth about God’s plan of salvation – But how much personal evangelism are we engaging in? Are we withholding the true plan of salvation from our neighbors?
“And how I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house” (Ac. 20:20).
a. And when we do share the gospel, are we doing so with an arrogant, condescending spirit? Do we have the attitude of the Jewish leaders? “But this crowd that does not know the law is accursed” (Jn. 7:49). “They answered and said to him, ‘You were completely born in sins, and are you teaching us?’ And they cast him out” (Jn. 9:34).
Conclusion: John 9:39-41– 39 And Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind.” 40 Then some of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these words, and said to Him, “Are we blind also?” 41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, ‘We see.’ Therefore your sin remains. These verses make me shudder. Jesus is not excusing ignorance or putting a premium on not knowing. But am I included in those who say they can see? If so, then I cannot ignore the responsibility this places on me to hear and obey (not be blind), because I will held accountable.
- On the positive side, there is a wonderful “blessedness” in doing the Lord’s will: “But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does” (Jas. 1:25).
- May we have the disposition of Ezra to “seek the Law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach statutes and ordinances in Israel” (Ezra 7:10).