Dr. John Hartmann

Proclaiming the Whole Counsel of God

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Our Stewardship in the Ministry of Reconciliation

November 22nd, 2009 · No Comments

In today’s study we build on last week’s theme of the ministry of reconciliation by exposition of some key passages which emphasize the thought that every person in Christ has been given a gift for service and hence a “stewardship” in relation to the work of God, which includes the building up of the Body of Christ to be the dwelling of God in the Spirit and the proclamation of the gospel to those whom God would call out of darkness into His marvelous light.

Dr. Hartmann begins with the parable of the stewards in Matthew 25:14-30, emphasizing the need for both wisdom and faithfulness. The parable speaks of two possible outcomes: for those who are wise and faithful in their use of God’s gifts, the Lord at the end will bring commendation, “well done, good and faithful slave”, and then entrust those slaves with more responsibility in His house. For the foolish and unfaithful there will be reproof, “you wicked, lazy slave”.

Ephesians 4:7-16 is a key passage with respect to this matter of stewardship in our gifts. Dr. Hartmann offers a brief summary of the “calling” we have as the church: to be a dwelling of God in the Spirit (Ephesians 2:20-22) and to be filled up to all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:18-19). If we think that this boggles the mind and stretches what we can imagine, then good … God is able to bring this to pass, “exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20). Ephesians 4 then speaks of how we may “walk worthy” of this calling with which we have been called. Verses 1-3 emphasize character, qualities such as humility, meekness, forbearance, long-suffering, forgiveness, and the maintaining of the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Verse 7 states in no uncertain terms that each member of Christ’s body has been apportioned a measure of grace as a gift for service in the work of God. The participation of each then causes the growth of the Body into the measure of the stature belonging to “the fullness of Christ”.

A brief overview of 1 Corinthians 12-14 follows, in order to underline the point that each member of the Body is to serve others out of a motivation of love.

Romans 12 provides a vision for how the church functions as a community. Verses 1-2 are foundational: in response to the mercies of God, we must give our bodies to God, to be used in His service, reject conformity to the values and pursuits of this age, and be transformed into Christ’s image through renewing of the mind, so that we can examine and approve those things that are “the will of God”, things that are “good”, “acceptable”, and “perfect” to Him. Verses 3-8 implore us to exercise sound judgment in soberly assessing the measure of God’s grace apportioned to us for service. We will have joy when we know who we are as God’s workmanship and serve in accordance with the way we have been anointed by God. Verses 9-21 give a picture of the way we relate to each other in the Body: a community marked by a hatred for evil and love of good, by love, by brotherly kindness and affection, and by forgiveness and forbearance.

This message is designed to provoke Christ’s people unto “love and good deeds”, and to inspire each to be a good steward of the grace of God given to each for service.

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