The Responsibility We’ve Accepted In Being God’s People
By: Brian A. Yeager
We often consider how we will be judged for the things we do and the things we fail to do (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14, Matthew 25:1-46, John 5:28-29, and II Corinthians 5:10). Thinking along those lines are right. However, sometimes we are too limited in our thinking. We can consider what God wants and doesn’t want us to do. We can consider what rewards and punishments we could receive. What if we don’t consider though the immediate responsibilities we have and the immediate consequences of failure in those things.
Consider, from the following inspired statements, that God has trusted us with something very important: “But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts… O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with thee. Amen” (I Thessalonians 2:4 and I Timothy 6:20-21).
We are not Apostles. What Paul stated about being trusted with the Gospel doesn’t directly apply to us. Paul, as an Apostle, was an ambassador for Christ with authority to speak on His behalf (II Corinthians 5:20). We are not ambassadors for Christ and have no authority to speak for Him. Yet, one thing we do have in common with the Apostles, as the body of Christ, is that we have been entrusted with the word of God. The church is the pillar and ground of the truth (I Timothy 3:15). Therefore, the things stated by Paul and about Timothy being trusted with the Gospel apply to us in similar ways.
Like Paul, we are earthen vessels that carry the word of God (II Corinthians 4:7). No other group of people on earth currently has that task. Consider that for a moment or two. What pressing, current ramifications, are there if we fail at the task God has entrusted us with? Without a faithful congregation on the earth, where would people look to for a group of people that have the truth (I Thessalonians 1:7-8)?
The work of teaching the Gospel to the lost certainly requires having faithful evangelists (II Timothy 2:2, II Timothy 4:1-5, and Titus 1:1-3). Yet, without faithful congregations, there would be no evangelists at work. The Scriptures teach that local churches sent (Acts 13:1-4 and Acts 15:40-41) and supported evangelists (I Corinthians 9:1-14, II Corinthians 11:8, and Philippians 4:11-17). Faithful preachers need faithful congregations.
In addition to the needs of preachers, consider the needs of Christians physically and spiritually. Without a faithful congregation on the earth, with whom would someone assemble to properly worship the Lord (Hebrews 10:23-25)? The local church edifies and comforts the faithful (Ephesians 4:16 and I Thessalonians 5:11-14). The local church also helps truly needy saints (I Corinthians 16:1-4). If we fail, those immediate needs are not met.
If We Fail With What We Are Entrusted To Do
Since the body of Christ is the pillar and ground of the truth (again; I Timothy 3:15). We are, in a sense, stewards of the word of God. We have been entrusted to uphold and support the truth. As people trusted with a task of management, such as a steward, it is required of us to be faithful (I Corinthians 4:1-2). Now, that goes far beyond just teaching the truth. We can teach the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth; and still be found unfaithful (Revelation 2:1-7).
If we (collectively and individually) are not sound in living the truth, what good is there in teaching the truth? Let’s say we teach a person the unadulterated truth of the Gospel. That person is converted to Christ. Yet, we are hypocrites in that we say the right things but do not do them (Romans 2:1-29). Where is this new convert going to worship? Isn’t he or she expected to assemble with faithful saints (Acts 20:7)? What happens to this new convert when they have fellowship with us if we are erring in the faith (II John 1:9-11)?
If we (collectively and individually) are not properly walking in Christ, how do we even have the right to teach the truth? Doesn’t any time of unfaithfulness among us need to be spent fixing ourselves (Matthew 7:1-5)? If we are busy doing that (James 5:19-20), how are we succeeding in being a faithful group of people to look to for the truth and for fellowship in Christ? Are we succeeding, if we are fixing our sins, in helping others to be right with God? Clearly, the answer is NO!
If we (collectively and individually) are not learning and growing spiritually, how can we be looked to for answers? Our Bible studies often emphasize personal growth (II Peter 3:18), but if we only focus on personal growth we are missing our task as vessels of the truth. People need to be able to look to us for answers. They should not look at us and get more questions because of ignorance on our behalf. They should see people that are fruitful and increasing in knowledge (Colossians 1:10). In addition to that, they should see people who live what they preach. Paul instructed Timothy to be an example of believers (I Timothy 4:12). That point does not only apply to evangelists (Philippians 2:14-16 and I Peter 2:9). If we fail in these things, we do more than just fail ourselves.
If we fail to do what God has trusted us to do as His people we fail everyone. We fail to build on the foundation left to us by the faithful before us (Ephesians 2:19-22). As we’ve already covered, we fail all the lost people of the present. We also fail the next generation. My children, your children, etc. are all depending on us to carefully continue to build (I Corinthians 3:9-11) on the faithful foundation of old. Whether or not this congregation exists in five years, ten years, fifty years, etc. (assuming the world still stands); depends on whether or not we do what God has trusted us to do.
This subject matter is one I have harped on locally. I don’t plan on stopping. Much more can and needs to be said. It is selfish to just think of ourselves when we consider salvation. The faithful are not selfish concerning salvation (Romans 9:1-3). Our unselfish service to God and our fellow man means we have to accept the responsibilities God has given us and we need to fulfill them. Let’s be careful to maintain good works (Titus 3:8 and Titus 3:14).
Volume 16 – Issue 37 - May 29th, 2016