Responsible With The Gospel
We are trusted by God to be his messengers. There is a responsibilty, a privilege to be entrusted with the gospel. We must be good stewards.
Alright, thank you very much, and hello again, radio friends! How in the world are you? It’s your friend Bob Cook, and I’m glad to be back with you. I look forward to these times. It blesses, strengthens, and sometimes quiets my own heart just to look at the Word of God with you. Hallelujah for God’s Word. Aren’t you glad we have the Bible? What would you do if you didn’t have the Bible? God’s inerrant, infallible, inspired Word, and it’s such a privilege to share it with you.
Look at 1 Thessalonians, chapter 2. I’m looking especially at the verb forms in this chapter: We had suffered and we were bold. We talked about those two things in verse 2. Then he said, “We were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel. We used no flattering words. We did not seek the glory of men. We were gentle among you; we were affectionately desirous of you. We were willing to have imparted our own souls because you were dear to us. We would not be chargeable unto any of you, but we preached unto you the gospel of God; we exhorted and comforted, we charged every one of you as a father doth his children.”
Verb forms: we’re going to look at them as we go on through the chapter. Good idea? Always look for verbs. You know, you business people, when you do a job description, you start every descriptive paragraph with a dynamic verb form: to plan, to promote, to produce, to supervise, and so on. You’ve got a verb form at the beginning of every paragraph in your job description. Isn’t that true? Look for the verbs when you look at the Bible. You’ll find the dynamic of the truth lies there.
Now, he said, “We were bold to speak unto the gospel of God with much urgency. Our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile. Deceit has to do with downright dishonesty. Uncleanness has to do with unholiness and iniquity. Guile has to do with finagling and manipulative behavior. The three great stumbling blocks in religious work: One is downright dishonesty by what you say. There is a cynical attitude, for instance, to many of the statistics that Christian workers give. People have said, “Oh well, that’s the preacher talking. What’s the truth of it?” I always bristle a little bit on that, because I think we preachers, of all people, ought to tell the truth. But there’s enough dishonesty in the world to go around, to be sure.
And he said, “We didn’t use any deceit; we told the truth.” I used to tell the young fellows in Youth for Christ, “Tell the truth always, because then you don’t have to try to remember what you said last.” When in doubt, tell the truth, and you don’t have to go back and try to cover your tracks. “Not in deceit, nor” said he, “was it of uncleanness,” of unworthy motives, or things that have to do with unconfessed sin in your own life. I suppose that one of the things that happens most obviously when God the Holy Spirit brings renewal and revival to any area is that people who have been active in some kind of religious activities suddenly face up to their own personal need of holiness.
This was certainly true in the case of Isaiah, wasn’t it? “In the year of King Uzziah, I saw also the Lord high and lifted up; His train filled the temple, above it stood the Seraphim and one cried to another, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of Hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory. Then, said I,” (you see, Isaiah got a vision of himself then as well), “I am undone.” For I am a man of unclean lips and I am making carbon copies of myself among my own people around me, I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips. The tragedy of a life that isn’t right is that you rub off your iniquity onto other people, like smudging a piece of paper with a carelessly rubbed piece of carbon paper. Did you ever ruin a letterhead by touching it with a piece of carbon paper? He said, I am making carbon copies of my own uncleanness among the people around me; I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips.
Then, there was that moment of cleansing: “Lo, this hath touched thy mouth and thy iniquity is purged, thy sin is cleansed. Then also, he said, I heard the voice of God saying “Who will go? Whom shall we send? Who will go for us?” And I said, “Lord, send me.” That awareness of Isaiah’s own unworthiness preceded the renewal of God’s power in his life. Now because that happened some thousands of years ago, it seems long ago and far away and it doesn’t really reach us. But you look into your own life as I look into mine, and you’ll find areas there that the Holy Spirit of God needs to operate on. Oh yes. And so, we have to realize that one of the great needs in the lives of those of us who are doing anything at all religiously, is that the Holy Spirit of God cleanses, so that our entrance, he said, unto you our exhortation was not of deceit. We didn’t change the truth, and it was not of uncleanness; we didn’t come pouring the water life out of a dirty vessel.
He said, “then it was not in guile.” This has to do with the attempt to manipulate people. In the years right after World War II was over, a minister who presumably is in Heaven and knows better now, was in Japan. He had a photographer with him, and he wanted something that would really show some effect from his preaching. And so, as the photographer, with a silent moving picture camera, was taking pictures, he said, “How many of you want me to take your greetings back to the President of the United States?” They all lifted their hands. I don’t know what he made of that, but the people who were there were absolutely dismayed, because they feared that there would be some use made of that film other than what it actually was: manipulating behavior. Well, as I say, the brother, in all probability, is in the glory and knows better now.
You wouldn’t do that, would you? But you wouldn’t be above saying something that might manipulate somebody else and get them to do what you want. Have you thought about that angle? You see, the gospel depends upon the sincerity and the unposed, frank, frontal approach to people. Anytime you think somebody is trying to work you for something, you get suspicious and you don’t move very much. Isn’t that true?
I was sitting in a man’s office one day many years ago now, and somebody came up and greeted him cordially, called him by name and greeted him warmly, and then was gone. The man turned to me and he said, “He wants something. I don’t know what he wants, but we’ll find out.” Oh boy. Somebody’s real nice to you, and you say, “I wonder what he wants now.” Right? Human beings are manipulative. Little children learn that in a hurry, don’t they? Of course. Now, if you want the gospel to be effective, he said “Don’t do that.” It was not of guile. Guile is the attempt to get somebody to do something you want done by manipulative processes. Don’t do it that way.
These are the three stumbling blocks: One, downright altering of the facts. Two, pouring the water of life out of a dirty vessel. Three, trying somehow to manipulate people to get what you want. Don’t do it. Just be yourself, tell the truth. It’s a straightforward approach with the gospel. God the Holy Spirit will prosper your efforts, believe me.
But he said in verse 4, “But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so, we speak.” We speak as people who are allowed to do something. And people who are responsible for something. That’s what that verse is saying. We speak as people who are just allowed to do something. Do you realize that it is of God’s mercy that you have any chance at all to be a blessing to anybody? Oh, every time I go before these microphones, I bow and thank God for the privilege of broadcasting the Word of God. It’s of His mercy. As a matter of fact, Jeremiah said it is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed. Because His compassions fail not, we are new every morning. Great is Thy faithfulness. We are allowed to say something.
Do you know that God could silence your voice and mine just by looking away from us? It’s a holy privilege to be a Christian and to have a Christian testimony. It’s a holy, God-given privilege to speak a Word from the Lord Jesus. We are allowed to do it. Have you thought about it that way? Then, it’s a holy, awesome responsibility. We’re put in trust with the gospel. To be put in trust with means you’re a steward. You’re responsible to somebody.
My father got to teach me to be responsible. I was then, I suppose, a sophomore. He and I were living in a rented room. They called it light housekeeping. There was a stove on one side, a table and chairs and cupboard on the other side of the room, a bed on the third side of the room and a sink with cold running water on the fourth side of the room, and a door that led to a stairway that led down to the ground level and so on out to the street. That was in Toledo, on Nevada Street. East Toledo. He and I, a high-school boy, motherless boy, and my father, living there. I was chief cook and bottle-washer. He said to me, “Now boy, I want you to learn to keep records. I want you to keep a record of all the money you spend. I’ll give you so much a week, and you can buy the groceries and you keep records.” I said, “Ok, Pop.”
Some weeks went by and one evening as he finished his evening meal, he said, “Show me your records.” “Oh,” I said, “I have to get them in shape. I can’t show them to you just like that.” And he said, “Alright, I’ll give you a day or so.” Well, I tried to remember what I had done with all of the different dollar bills that he had given me to buy things with. And I came up with a record that was wonderful to behold. There was “Writing paper — 15 cents,” and “Popcorn — 10 cents,” and a few other little miscellaneous things, and then “Miscellaneous,” a whopping 35 dollars and some odd cents. Well, I got a lecture for it and I began to realize that you have to be responsible. You have to put in trust with the gospel. You’re responsible for the effect the gospel has on other people. Responsible to give it out; clearly, you have to be the right kind of transmitter and to honor your blessed Lord. We’ll come back to this the next time we get together.
Holy Father today, grant to us, Lord, to be good stewards of this gospel to which you’ve put us in trust. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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