1Cor 4:1 Stewards of the Mysteries of God 3/21/2010 ßà
of Christ (1Cor 4:1, Matt 20:26-28,
#2. Feed My Lambs (John 21:15-17, Matt 19:14)
#3. I Have Nothing to Glory of (1Cor 9:16-19)
Please open your Bibles to the First Epistle to the Corinthians, 1Cor 3:21 (2X). Last week we almost finished chapter 3. Today I would like to finish chapter 4. The response I get from these chapters is that most people do not find a study of 1Cor very interesting. But my response is that all Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable, even if you think that it is not. Today I would like to focus on one subject matter that is brought up in chapter 4, verse 1, and that is, “Stewards of the Mysteries of God”. And thus the title of the sermon for today is, “Stewards of the Mysteries of God”, from 1Cor 4:1. Before we will get to that, let us review the last three verses of chapter 3.
1Co 3:21-23 Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours; Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; And ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.
Please put a sticker here on this page. Why does God begin verse
21 with the word “Therefore”? He does that because God said in verse 19
that “the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God”, and God said in verse
20, “The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.”
Therefore, since man is filled with foolishness and pride, “let no man glory in
men.” And then follow the words, “For all things are yours”, or “Because all
things are yours.” How does that follow? Why should no man glory in men if all
things are ours? Who gave us all things? God did. God said in Rom 8:32,
“He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he
not with him also freely give us all things?” And that refers to all
things pertaining to this life. God is giving us all things that we need in
this life. And then in verse 22 God gave a partial list of all the
things that He has given already to the church at
of Christ (1Cor 4:1, Matt 20:26-28,
When we dig into chapter 4 we find that the same subject matter as in
chapter 3 is still dominating the atmosphere in chapter 4: “Church
Builders”. And one element of church
building that is crucial to the life of the church are the ministers of Christ.
Pastors, elders, deacons, and Bible teachers are ministers of Christ. In our
church the Pastor and the Bible teachers are the stewards of the mysteries of
God. We read in 1Co 4:1, Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers
of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. What does that mean? We
are ministers of Christ, and we are ministers to the
congregation. The word “minister” means “servant”. The Lord Jesus said in Matt
20:26-28, “Whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you,
let him be your servant: Even as the
Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his
life a ransom for many.” In other words: Whoever wants to be great among you, let him serve you, and
whoever wants to be greater than that, let him be your slave. For Christ gave
us the example: He came not to be
served, but to serve, and to serve us to the extent that He gave His life a
ransom for many. You see, that is what it means to be a minister of Christ. Please
turn in your Bibles to the Epistle to the Colossians,
Mt 10:16-25 Behold,
I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as
serpents, and harmless as doves. But
beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will
scourge you in their synagogues; And
ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony
against them and the Gentiles. But
when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it
shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which
speaketh in you. And the brother
shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the
children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put
to death. And ye shall be hated of
all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be
saved. But when they persecute you
in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not
have gone over the cities of
This is not an easy task. This is a thankless job, for we will be working as sheep among wolves. But it is the job that is most honorable in the sight of God, for it is the job whereby we show our love for our unsaved neighbors. In our church at present we do not have the resources that we can send someone to a foreign country. But in this age of technology we do wiser to send the Gospel through the airwaves by radio, and through the internet using the worldwide web of computer cables, and by sending people CD’s of sermons they want to hear, and by organizing live discussion groups through the Internet. This is the mode of evangelizing that is practical by a church of our size. We are only 10 families strong. We are not fleeing persecution, for the churches around us have spread lies about us for many years. We are considered a cult, and we are the outcasts of society, and we are considered a thorn in their side. Nevertheless we continue to exist by the grace of God, and we continue to proclaim the Gospel of grace alone that most of them hate. But God is gracious, who gives us strength to continue. Please return to the Epistle of First Corinthians, 1Cor 4:2 (2X).
1Co 4:1, Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.
1Co 4:2 Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.
What is a steward? A steward is someone who has received authority to manage all the affairs in a family, and usually it is a big family that needs a steward. Here God is telling us that ministers of Christ are also stewards within the church, which is the family of God. We are called stewards of the mysteries of God. What does that mean? The mysteries of God refer to the Bible, especially the deep things of God. The whole family of God needs to know the mysteries of God, for we need to know God, and we need to know Jesus Christ whom He has sent. And so, through fervent Bible studies we get to know who Jesus is, who the Lamb of God is, and we get to know the Son of God who is the Revealer of the secrets of the decree of God, as we learn from the epistle that is called the Revelation of Jesus Christ. And of all this information we have been appointed to be the stewards. God has mentioned this before, in different words, for we read in Rom 3:1-2,
Ro 3:1 What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision?
Ro 3:2 Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.
In the OT time to them were committed the oracles of God, which refers to the Scriptures. Through all their trials and tribulations, even through their Babylonian captivity, they managed to keep possession of the Scriptures. Now we are appointed stewards of the mysteries of God in the same way. We must keep possession in our minds of the mysteries of God for which we have found an explanation, for some day we will need to explain them to a new Christian. Please turn in your Bibles to the Gospel According to Matthew, Matt 13:51 (2X). Here is a parable with an excellent example of the function of the steward of the house. And remember that “it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.” God said this with such redundancy that we clearly understand that the stewards in His house, in His church, are men, not women. We read in Matt 13:51-52,
Mt 13:51-52 Jesus saith unto them, Have ye understood all these things? They say unto him, Yea, Lord. Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.
This is a very brief parable, but right to the point. Let us begin at the end of this parable. The Greek words that have been translated “new” and “old” do not have the meaning of new and old in time. The word “old” does not mean aged, but it means “first”, like it came first. For example, in the parable of Matt 9:17 we read, “Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break”. The application of this parable concerns salvation. The old bottles refer to the old man, who first must die, and then the Gospel can be poured into the new man. And thus, the old bottles are not necessarily old in years, but they were there first. Also the word “new” does not mean brand new, but it means “not used before”. For example, Joseph of Arimathaea “laid Jesus’ body in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock”. This was not a brand new tomb which was made the day before, but it was never used before. Then we read in Matt 13:52, “Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe discipled into the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man, an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure, new and old.”
What we understand from these words can be summarized as follows: The scribe refers to a man who has become saved: he has been discipled into the kingdom of heaven and he has understood all these parables of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven. This scribe is compared to an householder, a teacher or a preacher, who brings forth out of his spiritual treasure words of wisdom pertaining to salvation: words new and old. In other words, the function of the householder is identical to the function of the steward of the mysteries of God in 1Cor 4:1-2. The only puzzles remaining are these words “new” and “old”. Could this new and old refer to the NT and the OT? Definitely NOT! The New Testament did not exist yet, and therefore the Old Testament was not called Old Testament. It was called “The law and the Prophets”. The key to this expression “new and old” has to be found in the preceding seven parables that the Lord Jesus taught His disciples. Have we found anything “new and old” in the preceding seven parables? How could we summarize what all these parables are talking about? What we learn from these parables is this: The kingdom of heaven is given totally by grace through the atoning sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is known as “the covenant of grace”, or “the new covenant”, or “the better covenant”, which is given to us by grace by means of the faith that God gives us. These all refer to the same plan of salvation that God has for all His elect throughout both the OT as well as the NT periods of time. The only difference between the OT period of time and the NT period of time was the existence of the Ceremonial Law in the OT. What have we learned from the previous seven parables? The primary doctrine we have learned is that God is absolutely sovereign in all that He does, and that includes that God is absolutely sovereign in our salvation. When the Bible speaks about God’s plan of salvation, it does so in terms of the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. But these are NOT the Old Testament time period and the New Testament time period. In fact, the old covenant and the new covenant have nothing to do with certain periods of time. The key is in understanding the word “covenant”. It is not an agreement. It cannot be an agreement whereby God says, “If you obey My commandments, then I will take you to heaven. If you disobey My laws I will punish you in Hell”. If this were God’s method of salvation, then nobody would be saved, for nobody would pass this test. Almighty God who created this great universe does not have an agreement, or a covenant with man like I would make an agreement with one of you. If we would make an agreement with one another, it would be an agreement between two equal parties. Almighty God would not make such an agreement between Him and us. We are an insignificant speck of dust in this universe, and God, who made this universe, is greater than this universe. God does NOT have a mutual agreement between God and man. God is not saying: “If you obey My laws then I will take you into heaven”. That is an impossible idea. God says “By the works of the law shall no flesh be justified” (Gal 2:16). We cannot get right with God by obeying His law! When God speaks of His covenant, He speaks of God’s self imposed obligation to save sinners. God obligated Himself to save a certain group of people from their own destructive sin. It means that God’s covenant is a covenant of grace. It is totally FREE! It cannot be other than free, for any test that God would design we fail, for God’s tests are infinitely righteous, and we cannot meet that. That is what these parables in Matt 13 were all about. They are all aspects of God’s grace! The Lord Jesus said in verse 51, “Have you understood all these aspects of grace?” That was an important question, because O.T. Judaism had become totally a works gospel. And why is it so important to understand that salvation is all by the grace of God? It is so because all the credit and the glory must go to God. And thus, when we, as stewards of the mysteries of God, are found to be faithful, the only reason why we are faithful is because the grace of God has been with us to protect us from falsehood. The Lord Jesus said in Luke 12:42-44,
Lu 12:42 And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season?
Lu 12:43 Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing.
Lu 12:44 Of a truth I say unto you, that he will make him ruler over all that he hath.
Please turn in your Bibles to the Gospel According to John, John 21:15 (2X). And so, when the Lord has appointed us as stewards of the mysteries of God, He does not leave us in an honorable position, but He gives us immediately work to do. We find this in the Gospel of John 21, where the Lord says:
#2. Feed My Lambs (John 21:15-17, Matt 19:14)
John 21:15 So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.
Why did Jesus address Peter as "Simon, son of Jonas"? The name Jonas is the same as Jonah, which means "dove". A dove is frequently pointing to God the Holy Spirit. Notice that the word "son" is in italics, which means it is a suggestion from the translators. Jesus could have addressed Peter as Simon Barjona, which means Simon son of Jonah, but Jesus did not use that surname. Jesus said "Simon, of Jonah". Peter was not in actuality a son of the Holy Spirit, but Jesus indicated hereby that Peter was made alive spiritually by God the Holy Spirit. Like any other true believer, Peter was born again; Peter had received a regenerated soul from God the Holy Spirit, which means he was a son of God. And then Jesus asked the crucial question: "Simon, lovest thou Me more than these?" Do you love Me more than these other disciples love Me? Simon, is it really true that you love Me? Jesus knew the heart of Simon Peter better than Peter could know himself. The Lord Jesus was not curious about the answer to this question; He knew the answer before Peter could give it because He knew Peter's heart. Then why did Jesus ask the question? It was not for His benefit, but for our benefit that He asked this question. The Lord Jesus is asking each one of us: "Lovest thou Me? Is it really true that we love Him, or have we lost our first love? Did we examine ourselves how much we love Him? It is very important and necessary that we love Him, for without it there is no salvation. Does it show in our actions? Do not trust our hollow promises that we will lay down our life for Him, like Peter said it the night before his betrayal. Can we show that we love Christ by our desire to keep His commandments day in and day out? Can we show that we love Him by loving your fellow man for Christ’s sake?" This is what the Lord Jesus is asking us. And then Jesus said to Simon Peter: Feed my lambs. The Lord said: “Feed My little ones. They are not your lambs; they are mine. You have them only for a few years and when they have grown up they do their own thing. But now, while they are young, they depend on you completely. They trust that you are feeding them the right stuff. Now, in these early years, they are so pliable and so vulnerable. Feed My little ones the Word of God, and don't feed them garbage. Feed them slowly and systematically so that they do not choke on their food.” The Lord Jesus said in Matt 19:14, “Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” Hereby the Lord did not say that all little children are saved individuals, for this would contradict God’s elective program, and God does not lie. When Jesus said: "for of such is the kingdom of heaven", Jesus indicated thereby that all His elect are spiritually represented by little children; we must come to Him like a little child who is unconditionally trusting His father and mother. Therefore, when Jesus said to Peter: "Feed my lambs", Jesus was not only referring to children under the age of 10, but Jesus referred to new Christians as "lambs". Adults who are new in the faith are also vulnerable like "lambs". Jesus commissioned Peter as the elder of His flock first of all to feed the lambs of Jesus, to feed them gently, to feed them the Word of God, to bind up the broken ones, to care for their hurts and to defend them against wolves. When we project into the future, and when we look at our children, we see that they are going to be worse off than any of us adults. They are stepping into a world that has drifted further and further away from the Lord Jesus Christ. They are stepping into a world that has become much more dangerous for their spiritual well being than when we were young. This world has many worldly enticements. That is nothing new; those have always been around us. But today there are so many more false gospels around. We must train our children well, that they be solidly entrenched in the Word of God. Then Jesus said to Peter:
Joh 21:16 He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed (Lit: Shepherd) my sheep.
John 21:17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.
In verse 16 Jesus said: "Shepherd My sheep". Then in verse 17 Jesus said: "Feed My sheep". "Peter, tend the flock of God". Jesus is clearly commissioning Peter as the elder of His flock, as the undershepherd of His flock, as the overseer of His flock, to take care of the spiritual needs of the flock of Christ. "Peter, if you love Me, shepherd My sheep and feed My sheep at all cost, even if it costs you your life". Jesus changed Peter's profession from fishing to shepherding. Jesus appointed Peter to be a Pastor and teacher. But after a few decades Peter died. What then? Who would then shepherd the flock of Jesus? Well, it is obvious that the Lord Jesus not only commissioned Peter to this task of shepherding His flock, but this assignment was also given to all those elders and Pastors and teachers who have been given this task after Peter. The Lord Jesus was about to leave this world, so now He appoints others to minister to His people. For how long is this assignment to the elders to feed the flock of God? Do we find anywhere in the Scriptures a verse that terminates the task of the elders to give the Word of God? No! On the contrary. When Christ finalized the command to celebrate the Lord's Supper He said in 1Cor 11:26 For as often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come
How long do we continue to celebrate the Lord's Supper? Till He come! And thus the task of the elders to show the congregation the meaning of the Lord's Supper must continue till Christ comes again. Three times did Jesus ask Peter: "Simon, of Jonas, lovest thou Me?" Peter was not grieved because he was insulted that Jesus questioned his love three times. Peter was grieved because he was reminded of that terrible night when he denied his Lord three times in the courtyard of the high priest. But now three times the Lord Jesus reinstated Peter as the undershepherd of His flock. Please turn in your Bibles to the First Epistle of Peter, 1Pet 5:1 (2X). Why did Jesus single out Simon Peter in John 21? It is because Peter was at that time the spokesman for that group of disciples. Peter was the leading elder of that group. Jesus singled out Peter, because Peter would later speak about this same command from Jesus in an address to the elders of the churches. We read in 1Pet 5:1-3,
1Pet 5:1-3 The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.
Peter is not speaking to the elders in age, but to men who have
been elected, and appointed, and ordained to teach and preach the Word of God.
Peter says that he too is such an elder, and that he is a witness of the
sufferings of Christ. He has seen the sufferings of Christ. Not only Peter, but
also all of us who have become saved are witnesses of the sufferings of Christ.
We have seen it, not with our physical eyes, but with the eyes of faith. And if
we too, like Peter, believe the salvation by grace alone for the elect alone,
like Peter does in 1Pet 1:2, then we too are partakers of the glorious
NH&NE. Then Peter recalled the commission that Jesus gave to him and to the
elders: "Feed the flock of God" and be overseers of the congregation.
Make sure that in all spiritual matters the congregation is being fed. Explain
to them what the pure Word of God says about Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
Mingle with them. Get to know them personally. Take time out to help them
wherever you can. And you elders have not been assigned this task by
constraint, but you have accepted it willingly. Serve this congregation, but
not for filthy lucre, not for making money out of it, for "Freely ye have
received, freely give". You are not serving a worldly corporation, but you
are serving the
#3. I Have Nothing to Glory of (1Cor 9:16-19)
Please turn in your Bibles to the First Epistle to the Corinthians, 1Cor 9:16 (2X).
Even though God has appointed me a minister of Christ, and even though God has appointed me a steward of the mysteries of God, and even if I understood all the parables in the Bible, I have nothing to glory of, for all these things have been given to me by God’s grace. And so, even though I preach the Gospel, and even if I would preach it without errors, I have nothing to glory of, for I read in 1Cor 9:16-19,
1Co 9:16-19 For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel! For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me. What is my reward then? Verily that, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel. For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more.
Even though I preach the Gospel, I have nothing to glory of, for
woe is me if I preach not the Gospel. And even though I make the Gospel
available without charge, that is no credit to me, for I have been blessed with
retirement funds through my previous jobs. The Lord confronted me with this
dilemma 16 years ago when I left the previous church where I was a member,
because I was fed up with the preaching I heard there. And then in my mind I
had to answer the question: Who is
going to teach my wife and my family? Who will teach my immediate friends, for
the teachers that they presently have are all going in the direction where the
organized church was going. Since I came out of the Roman Catholic Church I
could see that the organized church was drifting back to
I had to get out of the organized church. But where would I go to worship? And so, the Lord laid it upon my heart that I should preach the Gospel. There was no other way out. Woe is me if I do not preach the Gospel. And then the opportunity came when Pastor Jack Van Dyken suggested for me to be the pastor of this little congregation. And the rest is history. In the last 5 minutes or so I have given a brief overview how God pushed me into this position. 16 years ago I had no idea of becoming a pastor, or becoming one of the stewards of the mysteries of God. Now I have no idea how to get out of it. Woe is me if I do not preach the Gospel.
AMEN. Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.