B F & M – Stewardship

Many people, and even some Baptists flinch at the word “Stewardship”.  A pastor stands behind the pulpit, and proclaims his subject as “Stewardship”, and the first thing that goes through many minds is, “Here comes a sermon on giving our money”.

Stewardship involves much more than money.  It entails the care of what has been given us for use.  I have lived in a rented house.  I am a steward of this house.  We now live in a house of our own [and the mortgage companies], along with a few acres of land.  It is the place God has provided my wife and I to live.  We have a 2000 and 2001 model Mercury Grand Marquis automobiles.  They too, were given us by God, to care for and maintain, and to keep in as good of care as we possibly can.  We are stewards of these things.

We are also all stewards of this planet called earth which we live on.  We are to give of our tithes and offerings.  Our Statement of Faith does not mention “Titheing” per se, but rather, “…binding stewardship in their possessions”.  We should count titheing as a privilege.  One hundred percent of our income is God’s, and all we are asked to return to acknowledge God’s ownership is 10% of it.  Gifts and offerings come above this.

Here is our Statement of Faith on the matter of Stewardship:

“XIII. Stewardship

God is the source of all blessings, temporal and spiritual; all that we have and are we owe to Him. Christians have a spiritual debtorship to the whole world, a holy trusteeship in the gospel, and a binding stewardship in their possessions. They are therefore under obligation to serve Him with their time, talents, and material possessions; and should recognize all these as entrusted to them to use for the glory of God and for helping others. According to the Scriptures, Christians should contribute of their means cheerfully, regularly, systematically, proportionately, and liberally for the advancement of the Redeemer’s cause on earth.

Genesis 14:20; Leviticus 27:30-32; Deuteronomy 8:18; Malachi 3:8-12; Matthew 6:1-4,19-21; 19:21; 23:23; 25:14-29; Luke 12:16-21,42; 16:1-13; Acts 2:44-47; 5:1-11; 17:24-25; 20:35; Romans 6:6-22; 12:1-2; 1 Corinthians 4:1-2; 6:19-20; 12; 16:1-4; 2 Corinthians 8-9; 12:15; Philippians 4:10-19; 1 Peter 1:18-19.”

The tithe shows our recognition of God’s ownership.  There are many who want to tell us that the tithe is an Old Testament principle.  Jesus has taught it in the New.  Jesus tells us:

“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.”  Matthew 23:23 (KJV).

If you noticed He commends the tithe, but is condemning them for not practicing other matters of the law.  If Christians, and Baptists in particular would tithe to their local congregation, there is no church in the USA which would be hurting financially with the wise use of their resources, and missions and evangelism would be supported more effectively as well.

Be careful to take good care of the resources God has blessed you with.  Practice judgment, mercy, and faith, and take care of what God has blessed you with materially; and recognize God’s ownership of your income.

-T.A.

Being A Disciple of Jesus

Being A Disciple of Jesus

Matthew 8:18-23

Disciple making is the business of the local church. It is the call of God for every Christian to be a faithful, follower of Jesus, and to make disciples of Jesus Christ. The Great Commission says just that, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations…” and that word “teach” is for making disciples. Disciples are made by teaching them. The disciplemaking of Christ is teaching people to follow Him.

Let no one think that following Jesus is a life of ease, comfort, popularity, or praise. Jesus gives us ample warning of the trials and tribulations that come into the Christian disciple’s life in the following portion of Scripture we see some of those things which come, or are part of the Christian disciple’s life. I am saying “Christian disciple” because there are “Disciples” of other causes, of religions, and men; and need to differentiate between the follower of Jesus Christ and the riff raff of the world.

“Now when Jesus saw great multitudes about him, he gave commandment to depart unto the other side. And a certain scribe came, and said unto him, Master, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. And another of his disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead.” Matthew 8:18-22 (KJV).

One of the things we can see about Jesus and His ministry is that He had no desire for popularity. His sole desire was to be pleasing to the Father and fulfill His will and Word. The reason we can know this is because when many had already been to Him for healing of their sicknesses and diseases, and deliverance from demons He called to His disciples to “depart to the other side”.

On the other side was a place of rest. It was a place where Gentiles dominated the lands. That is evident because of the herd of swine mentioned in verse 30. No law abiding Jew would be raising pork. The reason for Jesus’s departure to the other side was partially rest, and to get away from the crowds. There are many false teachers who love the crowds, at least love their accolades and praises. They also love the huge offerings a large crowd can provide them for their lush homes, fancy cars and clothing. You will never hear a false teacher revealing the sins of the people’s hearts and lives. The crowds will not come to hear the truth.

Every where Jesus went His presence drew a crowd. He saw people hurting, and ministered health to them, and that is why many sought Him out; and when He started preaching on the hard things, they departed (John 6:1-59ff.). “Will you also go away?” Jesus asked His disciples.

A scribe breaks ranks with the other scribes and does seek Jesus out asking to be His disciple; at least he is looking into the possibility. This scribe must have been fairly well off. Jesus knows all men’s hearts, and surely this man’s heart was set on his security in having a home, a secure place to live, sleep, eat, entertain, and to be comfortable. This scribe soon learned that the life of a disciple was a life of sacrifice. Jesus said, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay His head”, as saying if you are going to follow me you can have no ties to this world that will keep you from doing My will. It is a life with no house, no comforts, no securities. In Matthew 10:16 we read, “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” Matthew 10:16; saying to us that all we have is what Jesus and the Father gives us. Sheep have no protection except the Shepherd. Sheep have no sustenance except by the wisdom of the Shepherd. Sheep have no shelter, but by the Shepherd.

Jesus also said, “He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it” Matthew 10:39. The scribe evidently did not approve of the cost of being a follower of Jesus. We never hear of this man again. We are not even given his name, just, “A certain scribe” as though he were only a parable; an illustration so as not to pattern one’s life in the same fashion. What is the cost of discipleship? Let’s hear what Jesus says, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it” Matthew 16:24-25.

There was another disciple who came to Jesus seeming to be willing to follow Jesus. We see that he was wanting, though, to wait for a more convenient time. He says, “Let me first bury my father”, but his father was not dead. What he was asking was for the ability to wait until dear old Dad was gone, and then, he would inherit the inheritance. He was still tied to his family; basically the family inheritance. He is evidently the elder son of the family who was the one whose responsibility it was to care for the father’s estate.

When the call comes to follow Jesus, that is the time to go, and follow Jesus. Family, and/or family inheritance is no excuse for putting it off. Are we being told to neglect our wives, children, elderly parents, etc.? Definitely not. Jesus is telling us that following Him is of the highest priority. We can be faithful disciples of Jesus, and as a matter of fact are the most faithful; when we disciple our families into Christ, as well as others. The disciple’s seeing to it that his/her family follows Jesus is the disciple’s greatest achievement. If we were to win the world and lose our own children what have we achieved?

I know of faithful disciples of Jesus Christ who have served as pastors, loved and cherished their children, and those children depart from the faith. I mean to place no guilt on any faithful follower of Jesus, only to stress that we must begin at our homes.

As disciples of Jesus we must value the eternal over the temporal – that which is only temporary. The first man [the scribe] must have decided that the cost was too high. He could not give up the life of comfort and ease that he had been living. He had a nice home, a place to lay his head, and it was his. He could not part with the security of a walled home, and the protection he thought he had in it. The second man, giving him the benefit of the doubt, shows that he has concern for his family. It would be more beneficial for him to follow Jesus, for in following Jesus his whole family could and might also come to Jesus.

Remember Jesus’s words, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it” Matthew 16:24-25 (KJV). The life of the follower of Jesus is a crucified life as Paul the apostle described it, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” Gal 2:20 (KJV).