Trusted With The Gospel
We are put in trust with the gospel. What is involved in the stewardship of this message? Know the gospel, live it, share it. Follow up with people.
Alright, thank you very much, and hello again, my dear radio friend. How in the world are you? Are you doing alright? Well, it’s my joy to be back with you. I’m just so grateful for the privilege of sharing the Word of God with you dear ones day after day. That’s the best thing I know, to open the Word of God and share it with somebody else. We’re looking at 1 Thessalonians 2, verse 4, “We were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel,” and I was thinking with you on that matter of your stewardship and being in trust with the gospel. What is involved in my stewardship of the gospel message? The last time we got together, we were dwelling on the fact that I need to know it. I need to know what the gospel is, and I gave you some verses that helped along that line.
Now what else? Second, I have to live it. A life that doesn’t measure up to the truth of the gospel makes the proclamation of the gospel not credible. That’s a frightening thing; to think that my faults and foibles or any kind of slippage in my life or character could make the message that I preach or share something that people just simply don’t believe. Do you want to think about that in connection with your own life? It is so very important to live the gospel. Number one, to live the fact that I know I’m a sinner and can’t help myself. Number two, to live the fact that Jesus died for all my sins and the price has been paid. Number three, to live the fact that His precious blood shed on Calvary is enough to cleanse me from the stain of sin and again, to live the fact that His power is enough to keep me day by day under the stresses of daily life and tests and temptations and trials. Jesus has to be real in my life if what I say about Him is to have any credibility whatever.
Paul said that to Timothy. He knows my doctrine and my manner of life. Do you remember that passage? I think that’s in 2 Timothy, isn’t it? You know my doctrine, my manner of life, and the persecutions that I endured. Did you know all about that? What is it that people use in evaluating you? What they use in evaluating you is what you say you believe. Number two, how you live that belief, Number three, how you act when you’re under stress in relationship to that belief.
It’s the lady who just found out that she had terminal cancer and was inoperable who sat in my office years ago and told me about it. I spoke with her, I prayed with her, and when I finished my prayer and looked up at her, she smiled and she said, “It’s alright.” And I think I must have looked a little incredulous at that point and she repeated it with a little more emphasis. She said, “Dr. Cook.” I said, “It’s alright.” That’s living the gospel, isn’t it? Oh yes.
To be put in trust with the gospel means I have to live it. Where do I start? Well, I start, I think, on my knees, talking to the Lord Jesus and letting Him by His indwelling Holy Spirit talk with me through the Word, and work on those things in my life that need fixing. It’s amazing how many things there are that God will show you if you just be still and wait before Him. He’ll talk to you. He’ll tell you what He wants in your life. And then, as God begins to work in various areas of your life, that shows up, then, in your daily walk, your daily living, in your actions and reactions to the circumstances of life. And people begin to see, then, that there’s something more than just Joe Q. Citizen. There has to be something more there that explains how He is acting, and that, then, turns attention to the blessed Savior, whom you serve. Put in trust: I have to know it, I have to live it.
And then, of course, quite obviously, I have to be willing to share the gospel as God sets it up for me. The Lord Jesus, faced with a hungry crowd, said to the disciples, “Make the men sit down,” and they sat down in companies of fifties and hundreds, and then he took this little boy’s lunch, little black, flat pancakes, barley loaves. They weren’t ‘loaves’ as we think of them. They were little black pancakes and little dead fish. What was it? A few small fishes? And He broke them up and gave them and as He broke them and distributed to the disciples the supply increased, and there was enough to feed them with a lot left over. But the disciples were those who gave to the crowd; Jesus to the disciples and the disciples to the crowd. Be willing to share what Christ is to you.
Actually, witnessing is not so much lecturing people about the gospel as it is sharing the presence and the blessing of the Lord Jesus Christ from your own life. You argue religion with a person and he’ll argue back. But you share the Lord Jesus with a person and there isn’t any answer, really, that can counter the power and the beauty of a life that’s full of the presence of Christ. So be willing to share as God sets it up for you. You don’t have to barge into people’s lives, you don’t have to be discourteous or overbearing, like a human bulldozer going through life, riding roughshod over people…you don’t do that. The Bible doesn’t tell us we have to do that. God will set it up for you, and the contacts of everyday living will provide, by His wonderful grace, opportunity for you to say to somebody, “I wish you knew the Lord Jesus. He’s so wonderful.” Let Him set it up for you, but be willing to walk through the door when He opens it. Alright?
I have to know the gospel, I have to live the gospel, and I have to be willing to share the gospel, the person of the Lord Jesus, when my Lord, by His Holy Spirit, sets it up for me. “Put in trust with the gospel.” I’d like to suggest, and I got this concept, as I said in an earlier broadcast, from the Navigators. My work as a Christian is not done until I have helped somebody else become capable of sharing the gospel with others.
Suppose you pray with someone about salvation and you think that you go away joyfully, “Ah, there, that’s another soul saved for eternity.” And so it is. But your work isn’t done, because you need to come back and check on that person and help him or her start to grow in the Word. Ben Weiss was my good friend for many years; he’s with the Lord now. He was principal of a large high school in Los Angeles for many years and then founded the Christian Teachers’ Fellowship and was a great help to me in many ways. I asked him one day, because I knew that he was the head counselor in the original Billy Graham crusade in Los Angeles in 1949. I said, “Ben, what is the whole philosophy of follow-up that you use after you deal with a person about salvation?” He said, “Oh, that’s very important.” He said, “Before you say goodbye to a person with whom you have been dealing about salvation, set up a time when you can next contact him or her, when you’ll either telephone or call upon them, or else pick them up and take them to church, whatever it is. But it’s that personal contact afterward that you need to set up. And then, regularly, find out what’s going on in the life. How is your prayer life? How are you being helped in facing temptation? How are you getting along in the Word and in your study of it? Are you feeding upon the Word of God? Have you had any answers to prayer? Have you been able to speak to anybody else about the Lord Jesus? Have you been to a Bible-believing, Christ-honoring church? Are you going to church? All of these things need to be followed up. And help the person, then, to begin to store the Word of God in his or her heart.” All of this Ben Weiss said to me.
Here’s what we’re driving at. To be put in trust with the gospel means “know it, live it, share it, and then stay with the person with whom you share it, until he or she has become capable of sharing it with others.” It’s a very important thing. Do you follow that? So I ask people sometimes, “Who is your Timothy? With whom are you spending any time in helping, in encouraging, in praying with the person, in looking at the Word of God?” Find a Timothy with whom you can spend some time around the Word of God. Good idea?
Some of you are very lonely. I venture to think that if you would find somebody with whom you could spend the occasional half-hour just thinking about God and His Word and helping the person grow in the things of the Lord, you yourself would be enriched immeasurably in your own soul. Think about it and see what God might say to you in following that concept through.
“Put in trust with the gospel.” Well, he said, even so we speak. Now, he puts a little caveat in here in the second part of verse 4, 1 Thessalonians chapter 2. He said, “So we speak, not as pleasing men, but God, who tries our hearts. See, the gospel must never become a performance. It must never become a performance. I ask a man who as a boy had been a boy preacher. His father wrote his sermons, and he memorized them and then would give them. As a matter of fact, when I was in high school, I had gone to meetings where this twelve-year old with his little high voice (his voice hadn’t changed yet) and dressed up in his special little suit would give this sermon.
And I asked him later on as the years had passed, I said, “Did you write those sermons?” And he said, “Oh no, my father did.” “Well, how much did you understand about them?” “Well,” he said, “I don’t know how much I understood; I just gave them.” Well, I’ll give him credit and give his dad credit for doing something worthy in giving out the Word of God, however it was done. But I have to tell you, your presentation and mine has to be something more than just spieling out the gospel so that people may be impressed. He said, “What we said was not to please people but to please God.” Beloved, let that be the rule of our lives. What we say is not to please people, but to please God, because He knows what’s in our hearts. Well, we’ll come back to this the next time we get together.
Father God, today make us responsible people with the gospel. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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