I am so glad to get back into the office today - I need a break from my weekend! I spent all day Friday, Saturday and Sunday building a fence with my three neighbors. 73 holes, 73 panels, and 4 gates. Thankfully the weather was about as good as you can get.
One of the few 'breaks' I took from building was to be here at ECC on Sunday morning. As you may or may not know, we are experimenting with a 'blended' worship style, and the last three weeks of this experiment have been incredible. Yesterday, not only was the worship great, we also celebrated the Lord's Supper together and Bob preached a message on stewardship (part two of a three part series).
During Bob's message, he made reference and drew some thoughts from the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-29...
Bob made the point that the master gave the servants the talents, whether it was five, two or one, and the master expected the servants to do something that would bring a return on the investment. Typically, when we look at this parable we immediately jump to applications about how we are to use our money for the kingdom (after all, a talent was a large sum of money probably equal to a year's wages). However, Bob did a phenomenal job yesterday pushing our thinking into other areas where God requires us to be good stewards. He quoted the old Anglican bishop JC Ryle on this topic. Ryle said, "Anything whereby we may glorify God is 'a talent.' Our gifts, our influence, our money, our knowledge, our health, our strength, our time, our senses, our reason, our intellect, our memory, our affections, our privileges as members of Christ's Church, our advantages as possessors of the Bible-all, all are talents."
Here is where my mind went during the sermon and where it dwelt most of the day. The Bible tells us we are stewards of God's grace, stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, and this one really gets me, we are entrusted as stewards with the gospel of Jesus Christ: Galatians 2:7-8, "...when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised..." ESV (see also 1 Cor 9:17, 1 Thess 2:4, 2 Timothy 1:14).
Let me draw out two implications. First, based on the passages I just listed, we are called to guard the deposit with which we have been entrusted. The gospel has always had many enemies and has been in constant threat of corruption from within the church and from without. We are called to stand against any corrupting tendencies with courage and tenacity. Men like RC Sproul, Michael Horton, and old timers like Martyn Lloyd Jones and J Greshan Machen did just that. Over the summer I hope to write little articles like this about some of those corrupting trends - guarding the gospel with which we have been entrusted. I'd like to ask for your help. If there is something you have been seeing, reading or hearing that worries you and you'd like to talk about it, let me know.
The second implication is one the Bob teased out a little bit yesterday. Frankly, as important as guarding the what has been entrusted to you is, it's not enough. The wicked lazy servant guarded what he was given, yet he was still called wicked and lazy and cast out. Why? He gave back the master exactly what he had been given, but no more. There was no return, no investment, no fruit. We could keep the gospel pure and safe, guard it by hiding it, but that would be a lazy and wicked thing to do. We must advance the kingdom by sharing the gospel that was entrusted to us. Nothing short of this will please our master.
Certainly we cannot advance the kingdom if we do not keep the gospel of the kingdom safe and pure, but that's not the point. The point is the advance of Christ's rule in the hearts and lives of people! To this end I am again inviting you to help. You can do this in several ways. First, by sharing the gospel with your friends and family at home over the summer. Second, by helping us know how we can better bring the gospel to the lost on IU's campus. We really desire to be an evangelistic as well as a discipling and training ministry. What ideas do you have in this regard. We'd love to hear them so that together, we can be good stewards of the amazing gospel of grace.