Presentation on theme: "A Puritan View THE OFFICE-BEARER AS STEWARD. Challenges Office-Bearers Face In Gods Church Today Time: So much to do - so little time. Ministry: So many."— Presentation transcript:
Challenges Office-Bearers Face In Gods Church Today Time: So much to do - so little time. Ministry: So many possibilities - so few resources.
3 More Challenges Problems: So much trouble- so little strength. Disappointments: So much energy - so few results. Self: So much unbelief and sin - so little faith and holiness.
Results HopelessnessIndifference DisorientationLoss of Focus StrainStress
Experience You begin with High Hopes These are dashed on the Rocks of Reality
Survivor – Mode Feeling like youve been through a Storm Feeling Worn Out / Beleaguered /Embattled Feeling Alone Only Reactive In Maintenance Mode Doing Bare Minimum Having Lost Vision Desire to Escape Alive = The Biblical Saul
Survivor … ? or Steward … WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY?
Titus 1:7: For a bishop must be blameless, as the STEWARD of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre …
1 Corinthians 4:1-2: Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and STEWARDS OF THE MYSTERIES OF GOD. Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithfuL (1 Cor. 4:1-2).
1 Peter 4:10: As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good STEWARDS of the manifold grace of God.
The Office-bearer … is to be neither a speculator who invents new doctrines which please him, nor an editor who excises old doctrines which displease him, BUT A STEWARD, G OD S STEWARD, dispensing faithful to Gods household the truths committed to him in the Scriptures, nothing more, nothing less and nothing else.
The Steward The biblical word steward translates the Greek word oikonomos (literally, the polity of the house, from which we get our English word economy). Examples: Eliezer, Joseph, Shebna, Daniel, Christ, Paul
DEFINITION T HE BIBLICAL VIEW OF OUR IDENTITY, COMMISSION, AND LIFE UNDER THE AUTHORITY OF G OD – H IS W ORD, H IS S ON, AND H IS GRACE – USING THOSE THINGS WE DON T OWN, BUT H E HAS ENTRUSTED TO US, FAITHFULLY FOR H IS GLORY AND HONOR.
RICHARD BAXTER [God] hath made us his stewards, and trusted us with all his goods.
Central Questions Who is the Owner? God What is mine? Nothing What has value? What God Accords Value What must I be? Faithful What must I aim at? Honor of God
What All Do I Steward? -Mental capabilities of understanding, reason, memory, conscience. -The ability to speak, feel, live, breath, sing … -Spheres of responsibility: Personal, Domestic, Vocational, Congregational, Societal -Material blessings … -Spiritual Blessings …
RICHARD BAXTER Every one must give an account of his stewardship. Every talent of time, health, wit, mercies, afflictions, means, warnings, must be reckoned for.
Specifically in the Office Stewards of God (Titus 1:7) –on behalf of God, with a demeanor that fits that charge Stewards of the manifold grace of God (1 Pet. 4:10) – the many and varied gifts that God has given to his church need to used Stewards of the mysteries of God (1 Cor. 4:1-2) – the revealed Word of God
The Rich Theological Background In eternity past the Triune God in love decreed to bring a people to the saving knowledge of Himself, and on the basis of the work of the Son applied by the Spirit to give Himself away. These are the treasures that the church inherits by faith through the gospel ministry. -Ephesians 1:3-23 -1 Corinthians 1:21-23, etc.
STEWARDS LIKE ELIEZER (GEN 24) OFFICERS ARE MEN: -who have sworn an oath of exact obedience (vv. 3-9); -who endure as long a journey as necessary (vv. 10); -who pray for direction, help, and mercy (vv. 11-14);
AND … -who stand back in wonder at Gods gracious work (vv. 15-21); -who observe and worship the Lord for his mercy (vv. 22-28); -who are more concerned about their errand than ease (vv. 29-48); -who mean business (v. 49);
AND … - who trace back to the Lord any success of mission (vv. 50-52); -who delight to exhibit the riches of their Master (v. 53); -who are anxious to return to their Master (vv. 54-60);
AND … -who do not stop short of presenting the Master to the bride, and the bride to their Master (vv. 61-65); -who give account of what they have done, to acquit themselves of the oath they have made and move out of sight (vv. 66-67).
The Puritans as Models: 1. They were God-centered in their understanding of the gospel as well as life – both in theology as well as in their practice.
JOHNATHAN EDWARDS I have this day been before God and have given myself, all that I have an am, to God; so that I am in no respect my own. I can no longer challenge any right in myself, in this understanding, this will, these affections. Neither have I the right to this body, or any of its members. No right to this tongue, these hands, these feet, these eyes, these ears. I have given myself clean away.
PHILIP HENRY I take God the Father to be my God; I take God the Son to be my Saviour; I take the Holy Spirit to be my Sanctifier; I take the Word of God to be my rule; I take the people of God to be my people; And I do hereby dedicate and yield my whole self to the Lord: And I do this deliberately, freely, and forever.
SAMUEL RUTHERFORD I know Christ and I shall never be even; I shall die in his debt.
The Puritans as Models: 2. They were meticulous in living out their stewardship. Someone said: The Puritans were serious – life is dedicated, not to be wasted on trivialities; earnest – for a man living before God must mind his own spiritual business; and above all things, careful.
THOMAS MANTON There is not only a little time between you and judgment, but a little time between you and execution, nothing but the slender thread of a frail life, which is soon fretted asunder; and will you, can you sleep in sin so near eternity, and laugh and dance over the brink of hell? You cannot soon enough flee from the wrath to come.
RICHARD BAXTER It is a dreaming and distracted world, that spend their days and cares for nothing; and are as serious in following a feather, and in the pursuit of that which they confess is vanity, and dying in their hands, as if, indeed, they knew it to be true felicity. They are like children busy in hunting butterflies; or like boys at football – as eager in the pursuit, and in overturning one another, as if it were for their lives or for some great, desirable prize; or more like a heap of ants that gad about as busily and make as much ado for sticks and dust as if they were about some magnificent work.
WILLIAM GUTHRIE We ought to take account of one's life in the like manner of the general practice of men of business who year by year [take] stock, examining their books and striking a balance to know how they stand.
Expositing Meticulousness Richard Baxter's Reformed Pastor or Practical Divinity Richard Bernard's The Faithful Shepherd Thomas Gouge's Christian Direction
Puritans as Models: 3. The Puritans appreciated divine gifts and rightly estimated them.
RICHARD SIBBES If money and property are gifts from God … worldly things are good in themselves and given to sweeten our passage to heaven.
RICHARD BAXTER If God show you a way in which you may lawfully get more than in another way, (without wrong to your soul, or to any other,) if you refuse this, and choose the less gainful way, you cross one of the ends of your calling, and you refuse to be God's steward, and to accept his gifts, and use them for him when he requireth it; you may labour to be rich for God, though not for the flesh and sin.
WILLIAM PEMBERTON Oh how many and great are the dangers and difficulties which attend this gain of the world in getting, and in keeping, and in spending the same.
THOMAS ADAMS Let us do good with our goods while we live, that when we die, by a blessed bill of exchange, we may receive them again in the Kingdom of heaven.
SAMUEL WILLARD As riches are not evidence of God's love, so neither is poverty of His anger or hatred.
RICHARD BAXTER You desire not the biggest shoes or clothes, but the most suitable. … When a man is to travel into a far country … one staff in his hand may comfortably support him, but a bundle of staves would be troublesome. Thus a competency of these outward things may happily help us in the way to heaven, whereas abundance may be hurtful.
THOMAS ADAMS To part with what we cannot keep, that we may get that we cannot lose, is a good bargain. Wealth can do us no good, unless it help us toward heaven.
THOMAS GATAKER So may our affections walk on while God's hand goes before them: but look where God stay His hand and ceases to give, there should our heart stay likewise, and we cease to desire.
THOMAS GOUGE How may I know that these outward mercies which I do enjoy are bestowed upon me in love and favor? … If they inflame thy heart with a love to God, causing thee to love him the more, because he hath been so bountiful unto thee. For this is a sure Rule, Whatsoever causes love comes from love.
The Puritans as Models: 4. The Puritans lived firmly fixed on eternity.
JEREMY TAYLOR God hath given to man a short time here upon earth and yet upon this short time eternity depends. No man is a better merchant than he that lays out his time upon God.
SAMUEL HIERON Oh, let not mine eyes be dazzled, nor my heart bewitched with the glory and sweetness of these worldly treasures … Draw my affection to the love of that durable riches, and to that fruit of heavenly wisdom which is better than gold, and the revenues whereof do surpass the silver, that my chief care may be to have a soul enriched and furnished with Thy grace.
JONATHAN EDWARDS O God, stamp eternity on my eye-balls.
WILLIAM GURNALL Christ hath told us he will come, but not when, that we might never put off our clothes, or put out the candle.
SAMUEL RUTHERFORD Build your nest upon no tree here; for ye see God hath sold the forest to death; and every tree whereupon we would rest is ready to be cut down, to the end we may fly and mount up, and build upon the Rock … There is less sand in your glass now than there was yester night. This span- length of ever-posting time will soon be ended.
Summary: The Puritans as Models 1. They were God-centered in their understanding of the gospel as well as life – both in theology as well as in their practice. 2. They were meticulous in living out their stewardship. 3. The Puritans appreciated divine gifts and rightly estimated them. 4. The Puritans lived firmly fixed on eternity.
CHALLENGE AREA I: TIME MANAGEMENT 1. Time is a gift to be used to steward all the responsibilities God had legitimately given to you, consistently and optimally. 2. Do not consider time with your Master a negotiable but a primary expenditure of time. 3. Evaluate how you are using time and diagnose how you are misusing time.
Furthermore … 4. Prioritize and proportionalize your time according to the weight of the responsibility it has in your stewardship. 5. Do not consider physical and mental rest as the abuse of time. Only make the most use of these and all other expenditures of time. 6. Leave some margin in each unit expenditure of time to allow for prayerful reevaluation.
Finally … 7. Beware of time thieves – anything that does not help you acquit yourself of your charge. Examples: Meetings / House visitation / Sermon Preparation 8. Guard your time more zealously than your money. Delegate, deny, and delay as necessary to finish your charge well.
JONATHAN EDWARDS That upon time we should set a high value, and be exceeding careful that it be not lost; and we are therefore exhorted to exercise and circumspection, in order that we may redeem it … Resolved: Never lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can. They that improve time only for their benefit in time, lose it; because time was not given for itself, but for that everlasting duration which succeeds it.
Bishop Leighton We trifle out our time, and instead of the commerce of grace to our mutual enriching, we trade in vanity, and are, as it were, children exchanging shells and toys together. This surely will lie heavy upon the conscience when we reflect on it, and shall come near the utter brink of time, looking forwards on eternity, and then looking back to our days, so vainly wasted, and worn out to so little purpose. Oh, let us awake, awake ourselves and one another, to more fruitfulness and faithfulness, whatsoever be our received measure, less or more.
Challenge Area II: Ministry Management 1. Spend you first, best, and most energies on what most honors Christ. 2. Focus on what Christ has explicitly called you to. Do not try to do everyones work, especially the Spirits work. 3. Know that Christ most highly values the ministry of his Word, worship, sacraments, fellowship, relief of poor and evangelism.
Furthermore … 4. Resist the temptation to displace a focus on the main things with marginal things. 5. Invest significantly in the rising generation; seek to instill in them a respect for the biblical order s. 6. Respect the mutuality of the office, the variety of gifts among officers, and earnest prayer for the leading of the Holy Spirit.
RICHARD BAXTER The ministerial work must be carried on diligently and laboriously, as being of such unspeakable consequence to ourselves and others. We are seeking to uphold the world, to save it from the curse of God, to perfect the creation, to attain the ends of Christ's death, to save ourselves and others from damnation, to overcome the devil, and demolish his kingdom, to se set up the kingdom of Christ, and to attain and help others to the kingdom of glory!
ANDREW ELIOT A faithful minister will not examine what will please the vitiated taste of mankind, but what has a more direct tendency to awaken, rouse, and quicken them; and whether they will hear or forbear, he warns, reproves and exhorts them. As for the consequences he leaves them with God, but he has such a charity for the souls of men, that he cant bear to see them going down to Hell without warning them of their danger. He has such an affecting sense upon his mind, of the inestimable value of precious and immortal souls that he is in earnest to free them from that condemned state, in which we all naturally are, and to bring them into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
THOMAS GATAKER Keeping of Sabbaths maketh a rich Christian…. As frequenting the markets maketh a rich man, so keeping of Sabbaths maketh a rich Christian.
CHALLENGE AREA III: PROBLEMS Among some of the more prevalent problems are: -disregard for authority; -superficiality of spiritual interests; -treating sermons as opinions; -distractedness / overload -lack of confessional identity. (This is not to say there are also a number of positives, such as openness and practicality)
Help from the Puritans Perhaps more than most – the Puritans dealt with problems. Their view of the Christian life was one of a pilgrim making his slow, painful, and holy way, beset with many troubles and temptations and a soldier fighting God's battles and overcoming all adversaries in order to establish the true church.
Pointers on Problems 1. Remember that you neither planned, nor paid for the church. Your God did, and thus you should also leave the perseverance of the church to Him. 2. Know that problems are part of what the Christian must steward.
Moreover … 3. Problems are not interruptions in stewardship, but incentives to endure in it. 4. Do not let problems deflect you from the main work to which you have been called. 5. Do what is your calling to do, but let God slay his Sennacharibs and vindicate his servants.
SAMUEL RUTHERFORD At the beginning of my sufferings I had mine own fears like other sinful men, lest I should faint and not be carried creditably through, and I laid this before the Lord, and as sure as ever he spoke to me in his word, as sure as his Spirit witnesseth to my heart, he hath accepted my sufferings. He said to me, Fear not, the outgate shall not be simply a matter of prayer, but matter of praise.
WILLIAM SECKER As waters are purest when they are in motion, so saints are generally holiest when in affliction.
CHALLENGE AREA IV: DISAPPOINTMENTS In our quick-fix generation, bearing the office is bound to bring many disappointments: -coldness and lack of response -complaints and conflicts -(young) people leaving
JEAN DAILLE We are not cooks, but physicians and therefore should not study to delight the palate, but to recover the patient.
JOHN COTTON The Gaining of one Soul to GOD by your Ministry, will be of more Account with you than any Gain of this World; than all the Wealth in the World.
THOMAS ADAMS Patience to the soul is as bread to the body … we eat bread with all our meats, both for health and relish; bread with fish, bread with broths and fruits. Such is patience to every virtue; we must hope with patience, and pray in patience, and love with patience, and whatsoever good thing we do, let it be done in patience.
JOHN FLAVEL The labors of the ministry are fitly compared to the toil of men in harvest, to the labors of a woman in travail and to the agonies of soldiers in the extremity of battle.
GEORGE SWINNOCK To lengthen my patience is the best way to shorten my troubles.
CHALLENGE AREA V: SELF AND SIN 1. Thank God if you are troubled by it. 2. Do not be content with the sense of it. Seek God for the salvation from it. 3. Be watchful against and fight coldness and sin. Satan will delight to bring dishonor to God. 4. Rest in the finished work of Christ for justification, as well as for sanctification and glorification.
ROBERT LEIGHTON Merchants can feel in their trading a dead time, and complain seriously of it; but Christians, in theirs, either can suffer it and not see it, or see it and not complain, or, possibly complain, and yet not be deeply sensible of it.
RICHARD BAXTER The eclipses of the sun are seldom without witnesses. If you take yourselves to be the light of the church, you may well expect that men's eyes should be upon you. If other men may sin without observation, so cannot you.
WILLIAM GURNALL Our own unholiness will either stop [our] mouth[s] from reproving, or the people's ears from receiving.
WILLIAM BEVERIDGE Not only the worst of my sins, but the best of my duties speak me a child of Adam.
SAMUEL RUTHERFORD Your heart is not the compass Christ saileth by. He will give you leave to sing as you please, but he will not dance to your daft spring. It is not referred to you and your thoughts, what Christ will do with the charters betwixt you and him. Your own misbelief hath torn them, but he hath the principle in heaven with himself. Your thoughts are no parts of the New Covenant; dreams change not Christ.
SAMUEL RUTHERFORD (on his deathbed) I renounce all that ever made me will and do, as defiled and imperfect, as coming from me; I betake myself to Christ for sanctification as well as justification … I close with it, let him be so, he is my all in all.
1. THE PURITANS–AN ALTERNATIVE SURVIVOR Mentality NO VISION INDIFFERENT BITTER REACTIVE SELF-FOCUSED COMPROMISING STEWARD Mentality ETERNAL VISION PRAYERFUL BELIEVING ENTERPRISING GOD-CENTERED FAITHFUL
2. CHRIST - OUR STEWARD 1. The Ultimate Steward Faithful Over the Whole House of God (Heb. 3:1-4). 2. The Oath of God Personified 3. The Treasures of the Godhead Indwell Him 4. The Perfect Steward of the Sufferings /Sacrifice 5. The Enabler of all His Stewards by His Holy Spirit
3. MERCY – OUR HOPE A friend tried to comfort Thomas Hooker while the latter was on his deathbed. You are going to receive the reward of all your labors. Hooker responded, Brother, I am going to receive mercy.