Main Idea: Regard gospel ministers the way God wants us to regard them, leaving judgment and praise for Him.
God’s standard for servants and stewards
Man’s insufficient standard
God’s final and sufficient judgment
0:13 Well, good morning faith Bible Church. It's a joy to be with you guys here to just worship with my church family once again, this week is a slightly different perspective for me and new perspective for sure. As Mark introduced at the beginning, my name is Josh Gilchrist and my wife and I serve in the college ministry. And I'm also a first semester seminary student. And it's just a joy to be here a little story of how I got to be up here. It's really kind of interesting. I was supposed to be doing the message for doxa, the college ministry today but a couple of weeks ago, the college pastor came up and said, There's we're needing to do some shifting, how about I do college and you do the main services, and I'm like, main services, big church really okay. But I just felt like this is something that great opportunity, very thankful to have the opportunity to open God's word with you guys. Please turn in your Bibles to First Corinthians chapter four. And let's stand for the reading of God's word. This is how one should regard us as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it's required as stewards that they be found faithful. But with me, it's a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I'm not aware of anything against myself, but I'm not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness, and will disclose the purposes of the heart, then each one will receive his commendation from God. This is the Word of God. Lord God, we come before you eager to be transformed by your powerful word, Lord, I pray that You would help me to teach it clearly. And that your power would would show up, Lord, I am insufficient and weak, even inexperienced, slower, but I thank You that You've given me the opportunity to dig into your word. I thank you for the opportunity we have week in and week out at this church to hear faithful preaching of your word, Lord. And I know that I'm standing here today because of that. And we thank you for your faithfulness. So we pray that You would help us as a church to stay unified, Lord, that You would help us to weed out anything within us that creates disunity and favoritism of one group over the other or one personality over the other Lord, help us to judge rightly Lord, and to refrain from Judge judgment and allowing you to be the judge in that, Lord, we just thank you in Jesus name, Amen. Go ahead and be seated. I do want to tell you a little bit about myself a little bit more. I am one of the original part of the very beginning of faith Bible Church. Some of you were here back in September, when we celebrated our 30th anniversary at Franklin Park. I was there entering my freshman year of high school. My dad was a deacon and elder at different times. And I was not a Christian at that point. But it's because of the faithful preaching of God's word and my parents investment and the youth ministry. They're just powerful seeds. Anyway, I did a Google search in preparing for this message. And I just typed in top five preachers to see what Google would come up with and knowing Google you're going to get some interesting things. Sadly, the the most hits the most websites that I saw all had the commonality of richest pasture wealthiest pastures, though that were the standard of being one of the best. There were some other interesting hits that came up. There was the most famous pastor, the most effective in the English language, the greatest preacher of all time, the the goat, the most powerful. There was one five pastors who are changing the face of faith in America. And I know that this passage is about not judging but when I looked at one of the names on the list, I thought they're not changing faith for the better. And then yeah, Most Powerful there were some interesting ones as well. That came up Texas pastors on TV. No know what that's all about. And then this one was not my favorite isn't I wanted to follow these pastors, but five Christian pastors leading the way on tick tock. I guess if you want one minute to two minutes sermons, that's the place to go. I wonder if those pastors are really leading anybody. I don't know what leading the way means there. But there was one list in particular that I thought had some really good names in it. And the person who created the list, his criteria were top 10. pastors, preachers, who have influenced the Church throughout history, it was a top 10 list to count down and number 10 on the list coming in at number 10. The apostle Paul.
5:52 So for me, it's hard for me to think of nine other people that are more influential than the Apostle Paul. And that could just be me showing favoritism. But he had some good pastors on there he had Charles Spurgeon, who's a wonderful was a wonderful pastor and a number of good reformers. But I just I disagree like Paul's gonna be higher on the list. Maybe you would disagree with me, maybe you could name nine people. What do we make of it when we disagree? How much does it matter how we rank pastors and preachers, we all have our lists of favorites. Whether they're conscious or subconscious, we pick our favorites. That could be musicians, authors, podcasters, and pastors. Some of us may even have a good list of criteria, even involving like scripture and Bible verses. But often what happens when I know when I pick my favorites, a lot of times it has to do with style. I like the substance don't get me wrong, but style is where it's, this is gonna sound really judgy. And I hope that my voice isn't like this for anybody. There's some people like I just the way that person talks, it's hard to listen to for our and I really hope that that's not the case with me, okay, but we have our style and aesthetics and things like that. One person might prefer a pastor who preaches in fiery fashion and aggressively against controversial topics and hot button issues. Others would prefer the pastor with the right vocal inflections and tone throughout who speak passionately and have really unique pronunciation of certain words, to make them sound special, I guess. Others like the pastor who's super knowledgeable and academic, and matches their own perceived level of education, intelligence, and sophistication. Now, like I said, there's nothing wrong with appreciating a specific style, or method of delivery. But these preferences can end up leading to a puffed up perspective, we can have a hard time biting our tongue when we don't think so highly of someone that someone else likes. And when we don't really have the best reasons for doing that. And we can take pride in whom we attach ourselves to. And this is what was going on with the saints at Corinth. And I was actually thankful to look at this and know that I don't really have to preach anything, because then and Ian and other guys have already preached about this, but no, I do. I do need to preach on it. But it is it's another reprise this, the first three chapters are so heavily devoted to the the factions and favoritism that were going on. And Paul, throughout the first three chapters, like a faithful mother of willful toddlers, reminds them of what they really need to do need to know and what they need to do and they need to stop elevating one gospel Minister above the others, Paul Apollo's and Seavus were being evaluated and assessed by the Corinthian churches to who was the top dog. And Paul said it so many different ways we've been well taught about this. The as we've gone through this series, he starts out by saying, why are there quarrels among you over which one that you attach yourself to which one you follow? I can't believe you're quarreling over this. Then he says, We preach Christ crucified, we, the three of us are all preaching the same message, we're on the same team. Then he says, You're acting human, and unspiritual, and even infant alike, and you're favoring of one over the other. We're nothing but Servants through whom you've believed, as the Lord has assigned us. And then Dan's message last week's raise raises the question, Why settle for one person when it's all yours in Christ? Today, the passage that we're looking at is going to show us the ultimate criteria upon which gospel ministers are to be evaluated. And it's not our own man made checklists and style preferences that matter. It's what's in here, and that ministers faithfulness to what's in here. Sadly, the saints at Corinth thought If it was their own preferences and checklists, Paul is going to turn that thinking upside down. He already has turned it, we're just gonna look at how he does that. And these verses are packed with meaning for all of us. The criteria for assessing gospel ministers is not just for the Corinthian church, Paul Apollo since surface is for us. And we need to learn to distrust our own judgment, or at least our limitations in doing so. And we also need to be challenged on our perspective of greatness. And I would just encourage us to change that word greatness to faithfulness, their standards that we hold ourselves and others to not just our pastors and leaders. And those standards are often they often have the possibility of being about worldly success than they do about being biblical and faithful. They're often more about trying to look like others, and they are about trying to be conformed to the image of Christ. You will be regarded, regardless of whether it's positive or negative, and you will regard others I guarantee people are regarding me right now. And no, that's happening. But we must take seriously God's standards when we do that. And also in the way that we evaluate ourselves. So our big idea today is regard gospel ministers the way God wants us to regard them leaving judgment and praise for him. We're gonna look first at God's standard, God's standard for servants and stewards. Paul begins verse one by saying this is how one should regard us, after telling them many times and making a systematic case for not becoming a part of some puffed up fanboy faction, he finally comes to a point about how they're supposed to actually regard Paul Apollo Scifest and any spiritual leaders, and that to regard all these ministers as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Let's talk about servants of Christ. First, the term for servant means under rower one who pulls the oars in the lower decks of a war galley or warship, how many of you have seen the Charlton Heston version of Ben Hur. And that's a that gives you a wonderful picture. If you've seen that before. They're all doing the same thing. They're all pulling their oars, and no one is special. No one really stands out other than the people who are passing out because it was very strenuous and difficult work. When you look at the underwriters, you wouldn't see somebody with a red or that says today you're special, you get the red or okay, you wouldn't see that they're all doing the same thing. And they're all under the master the ship both literally as he's above on the deck giving orders and positionally in rank. And one commentator says that the term came to me in an assistant or one who receives orders or directions. But regardless, Christ is the captain above all of his servants, whom the ministers serve. Paul's warning the Corinthians to see that they're wrong for placing one above the other or to under the other based on the fact that they're all servants under the authority of a master. He wanted them to see Christ instead. All of them were subservient to him. Back in chapter three, verse five, Paul says, What then is Apollos? What is Paul, Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each their their their their designated to be there, the Lord has given them the orders to go, and they're there. They're serving Christ first and then serving the Corinthians as a result. Those men weren't coming to be served by the flattering opinions and feedback of the Corinthian church. They were serving Christ and they weren't only serving him they were seeking to follow in his footsteps who came as Mark 1045 says, not to be served, but to serve and give his life is a ransom for many. And that was countercultural to the way that the Corinthians were saying things. There were servants of Christ and that was how they were to be regarded. As a congregation member, it's important to ask ourselves if we're actually we subconsciously would probably never say this out loud, hopefully. But are you subconsciously desiring your pastor to serve you more than they serve Christ? For the current or aspiring pastor, it's important to evaluate whom you're serving. It's easy to get up here and think I hope that everybody likes me. I hope that people want to listen to me, it's an easy thing to do. But it's important to ask who it is you're serving. Are you serving Christ? Are you serving people? Are you serving yourself? One of the ways this becomes obvious is that a pastor but comes so busy caring for people's wants and desires that he neglects what's most important the prayer and the Word and being able to give people what they really need. When that happens, even though people might be happy for a while the sheep become malnourished and improperly served when the pastor's are not serving Christ, foremost, and doing the things that he calls them to do.
15:26 Not only do we need to know that their servants not only did the Corinthians need to know that, but they needed to know where that service should be prioritized. They weren't just servants, they were also stewards of the mysteries of God. A steward is someone who is entrusted with something valuable, that doesn't belong to the steward, the master and trusts that to them, to protect it, treasure it, guard it, take care of it and present it to him. Again, we may think of stewardesses on a flight, who are obviously under the mandates of the airline, they don't own the plane or the things on the plane, they simply carry out the directives given by the airline to make the flight run smoothly and serve the customers. Maybe that would be providing a meal or a beverage, I usually just fly southwest. I don't know if you could call what they give you a meal, but I appreciate it nonetheless. Okay. Appreciate it. They are also stewards of the safety instructions and emergency procedures which some of us guilty may have to admit remain a mystery because we just don't pay attention like we should. Now there weren't any flight attendants during Bible times. So steward but we get the idea what stewardship is. You represent somebody or someone else. In biblical times it most often referred to estate managers, people who manage property and households, and animals and different things like that, making sure that everybody in every animal was fed paying bills, taking care of chores. So what are God's stewards managing when it refers to the mysteries of God? Well, it refers to the gospel that was once hidden and promised in the Old Testament is finally been fulfilled and revealed in Jesus Christ. It's the full counsel of God and how scripture tells this big picture story of his plan for redemption, his glory, our sinfulness and rejection, and his plan to restore and forgive. One commentator named Mark Taylor says Paul is saying that apostles and gifted teachers have been entrusted with nothing less than the secret things of God. That is God's plan of salvation revealed in Christ. Back in First Corinthians chapter two verses seven and eight, Paul says we are most likely referring to those three that whom the Corinthians were fighting over, we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this to mystery, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory. So much of what makes the gospel a mystery is how unlikely of a story it would be for any of us to come up with on our own. In fact, Paul his made the case that the gospel remains mysterious and foolish, to those who are perishing to those whom the Lord has not revealed it yet. And just some of the highlights of what we've covered already. Paul says, We preach Christ crucified, that's part of the mystery, the hero and main character is someone who was killed and endured public shame. And also another thing that's mysterious, your your symbol of power, and victory is the cross instrument of public execution, capital punishment. That's a symbol of victory and power. Every week in church, we structure our services. If you're paying attention to remind people of three gospel points, I'm going to give you a little test. They all begin with Gee, there's the glory of God, I'll give you that one. The second one, the I can't hear you, I guess you know, you're probably getting it right. The gravity of sin, thank you the gravity of sin, and the grantor of grace. And I feel like I would be remiss if I didn't take a moment to explain each of those to you. And for those of you who have believed the gospel, and you treasure it inside, rejoice in these words, reflect on it we still even though we're saved, we take the glory of God and the gravity of sin and the grandeur of His grace very seriously. If you're here and you don't know the Lord, I hope that you would listen this is the greatest news and the most important news you could ever know. I want to just give a brief description of each one the glory of God. God is eternal, self existent and glorious. He had has no beginning and end. He exists in and of himself. He depends on nobody or nothing to make him exist. He created us and sustains us every breath, that you breathe as a gift from him. As our creator, He's worthy of our allegiance and worship, and He alone has a right to this, this is not narcissistic, of him to do. It's actually for our good and preservation when we submit to him and give him the honor in the worship that he deserves. That's the glory of God. He's separate from all of us, none of us have the right to demand allegiance and worship. Even though some of us might think that we do at times the gravity of sin, each of us turns aside to his own way. We don't want to worship Him, we want to worship something else. Each of us doubts God's goodness in his commands and chooses to believe that God didn't really say that, or I don't care what God said, we worship created things instead of the one who created them. And we claim to be wiser than God, we attempt to hijack his throne and control things and run our lives our own way. And what a pathetic throne that ends up being all you have to do is pay attention to the news for about five minutes. So you can see that that we do not do a good job on our own, of ruling our own world. That's the gravity of sin. But in the grand jury of God's grace, He sent His Son to come to dwell among those He created. And he lived a perfect life that none of us could live. He was rejected by the majority of his creation. But he still laid down his life for those sinners who rejected him and he died the death that each of us deserve to die. He resurrected and ascended to heaven and sat down at the Father's right hand showing that his righteous life and His sacrifice were fully sufficient to save sinners. And all we have to do is turn to him we turn from the gravity of our sin, we acknowledge that and we turn to Him as Lord, we acknowledge him as glorious, glorious, we see how we've fallen short of that we turn to him in repentance. And we believe that Jesus is the only way to him. That's a little picture of the mysteries of God that Paul Apollo's and Seavus were all about and what they were stewarding. Paul goes on in verse two, to add to the requirement of being a servant and a steward. He says, Moreover, it's required of stewards that they be found faithful. And it goes along with the idea of what they're left in charge of. The Master Trusts his servants to do what He requires while he's away. Jesus will come back one day and his servants and ministers will give an account for how they've stewarded things, the one who does not follow through with his directions prove untrustworthy and unfaithful. Go ahead and turn in your Bibles back to Matthew 24, or 45, through 46, please, Matthew 2445, through 46.
23:10 As I said, the stewards are faithful. And the biggest thing that they're faithful to is the whole counsel of God, the mysteries, the big picture. They're not to shrink away from giving people what they really need and God's word. Matthew 24, Jesus is talking about His Second Coming and the day of the Lord that will come into our when no one knows. And we know that as we live by faith, and we look forward to the day that he returns, hopefully, hopefully, we're living in light of that being a possibility, or of us standing before him and giving an account. Matthew 2445 through 46, Jesus says, Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master is set over his household, to give them the people in the house their food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. The faithful and wise servant has been entrusted to care for God's household. He's been entrusted to feed those in the house as well. And we know what it means to come to church and be fed. I hope and I'm not talking about donut holes, or goldfish. But we know what it's like to come to faith Bible Church, especially when other guys are preaching especially, and be fed. Wonderful meals of God's word wonderful feasts. And that is what God desires. And that's what God is going to look for when he returns is gospel ministers who have been faithful to do that. Some pastors labor for the whole week to prepare a wholesome feast full of the whole counsel of God other pastors go through the checkout stand and buy a bunch of chips, candy and soda because It's easy. And because little children love it and prefer it. I hope that you get that analogy right there. Gas Station 711 even going into the store, you don't have to be very purposeful just go through the front and you can find some junk to snack on. And if you have little kids and you go and you buy your kid, a candy bar and some chips, and a mountain dew or their favorite soda, they're going to love you for that they're going to be pretty happy. But what happens if you only feed your kid that you know what's going to happen? They're going to have some some issues health wise, hyperactivity wise. And some pastors choose to water down God's word and to give people spiritual junk food and just the things that they want to hear. And they leave out the things that are important for them to hear so that they can win approval and applause. But that leads to the spiritual malnourishment and starvation, and even condemnation of those in their care. Faithful gospel ministers are to give the people under their care the whole truth and nothing but the truth. No, God has entrusted everyone who believes with his word. And while this passage is relating to gospel ministers, all Christians are called to the work of ministry are we not? That's what I love about faith Bible Church. It's not just the person who gets up and gives the message. There's so many ways that we can serve and use our gifts to make just what happens on a Sunday, possibly I think of the greeters who say hello to everybody, I think of the ushers who help people find their seats, I think of Charlie Kopp setting up and distributing communion faithfully each week. I think of those who do the sound and lights, I think of those who set up for the doughnuts and coffee each day, those who make the fancier drinks in the tribe coffee room. I think of those who do the videos so that our services can be live streamed. I think of the people who make the weekly each week we can the publication and the people that do the translation. I think of those who faithfully serve in children's ministry. And I think of those, and I'm not trying to be selfish here. And I'm not the only one that does it. Usually bathrooms, clean the bathrooms, making the facilities presentable so that it's not a distraction. That's all part of gospel ministry. And you all play a part in that if you know Christ has given you a gift, if you believe the gospel and treasure it, it's going to lead to some kind of growth in it. It could mean a lot of different things. And you may feel like well, evangelism and sharing the gospel with people really isn't my gift. But we still are called to make disciples, we're still called to proclaim the hope that is within us if we truly treasure it. And we should, if it's if it's real, it could mean just being a faithful parent and making discipline and instruction of your children gospel centered, never miss an opportunity and never feel like it's too early to start. It could mean starting a Bible study on your campus, or in your neighborhood or with a family member, it could be with Christians and non Christians alike. There's a wonderful book in the tribe room, one to one Bible reading, I highly recommend it. I personally, really enjoyed it. It just talks about different ways that you can just learn how to read Scripture with people. He had reading with unbelievers in mind, but that's something that you can do. And the worst that someone will probably do is just say, I'm not interested in that, that he just asked somebody else. There's so many different ways you can get involved. You could help in children's ministry, college ministry, little extra emphasis there youth ministry, there's so many opportunities for us to use our gifts. Let me tell you what, being a good steward doesn't mean, it means doing nothing with it and being like, well, I'm going to just let the pastors and elders and the Evangelists take care of that the missionaries, and I'm going to just, you know, be I'm going to just attend and I'm just going to be a consumer basically, it's that it could also mean if a pastor decided, You know what, I am going to dumb scripture down because what Scripture says about this controversial topic will make people really upset with me, and I'm going to shy away from that, okay, that that is not being a faithful steward. But like I said, if the gospel is precious to you, it's going to do a work and you will want to serve in the work of ministry, you'll see your your part in that and you'll participate in it. And there'll be some kind of fruit because of that and being faithful with the gospel doesn't guarantee guarantee any specific return as far as numbers are concerned. We can't judge success by how many people come to our Bible study that we create. Numbers can be a blessing that God gave but it can also be a curse that the devil uses. One famous controversial pastor once told an older, respectable and well known pastor that that older pastor was unqualified to disciple him because the older faithful pastors church had a smaller congregation than his. That is truly a Corinthian approach right there. Regardless of the size of the congregation, the number of people that are converted, or the success in ministry, there will be something to show if you're faithful to Christ. The Corinthians had the criteria of wisdom eloquence and personal presence in mind as they assess gospel ministers, not faithfulness and service to the gospel. Paul, Apollo Cincy fists were all godly men who were teaching the same message, like I said, and they were doing it in sincerity. And they were proven to be examples. That should be what's most important that should have been important to Corinth. Our lives should be inclusive of any gospel minister, who is faithful to serve and steward what God has given them. Those are God's standards. And that's how we're to evaluate with God's standards. This brings us to point number two, man's insufficient standard.
31:22 Now, I don't trust you. To judge me perfectly. I was tempted to just call this message Don't judge me for my own sake, you know, but I thought, you know, this is for all of us, not just me. But I don't trust your ability to judge me perfectly. And I don't trust my own judgment. myself either. And I want to make sure that you understand what I'm not saying that I'm not saying that people in this church can't help me and point out things in my life and helped me grow and, and help help me in the battles, especially if they are being faithful to God's word. But what I'm saying is your ability to judge you know, my value and how good I'm going to do you know, in the long run, or what I'm going to prove to be when I faced God one day, okay. None of us have the ability to do that. None of us know that for sure. And this is what Paul is saying, in verses three and four, he says, with me, it's a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court very small. With the Corinthians, or any group of humans thought didn't carry a lot of weight. He didn't care how they evaluated him, as they scrutinized him and examined him, and there will be scrutiny and evaluation. I'm glad that people are scrutinizing me and evaluating me, I want to know what I can do better. I want to know, know those things. But ultimately, it's what God thinks of me that that carries the most weight. And he cared about pleasing God and serving His Son, Jesus Christ, in Scripture has revealed plenty of things that we know are pleasing to Him and we can speak up is people who are walking in the truth. When we see a brother or sister deviating from that path, we can speak up in love and humility, and we're actually called to do so. So Paul is talking more about just determining like value. And who's the top the phrase by any human court refers most likely to having to stand trial in court where you're tried and cross examined. And that also carried very little weight with Paul. And another small thing was his own judgment. He says, in fact, I do not even judge myself. But in verse four, he suggests that there certainly is some reflection and self assessment that goes on when he says he's not aware of anything against himself or his ministry. There was no unconfessed sin in his life or ministry that he was hiding least that he was aware of. But that wasn't enough for him to trust his own judgment. He says, I'm not thereby acquitted. It's the Lord who judges me. Paul knew that his judgment was equally insufficient to that of the Corinthians. Now, if you are a part of a family, and I know many of you are if you have a spouse, or if you have kids or parents, your parents are very wonderful at seeing things and your spouse's to seeing things that I'm not really aware that I act that way. Well ask your spouse, ask your parent and they'll let you know they see those things. God puts people in our lives to see those things. But even then, there are things that we just we don't have omniscience and the ability to know all things. Paul, in other ministers were being judged by the Corinthians. Some of it was strong praise, and some of it involve criticism, and Paul considered both to be a very small thing. And it all depended where they ranked on these lists at the Corinthians regenerating, and just the fact that the lists were different amongst the Corinthian believers should be a strong enough reason Not to worry about what people think people are going to see things differently and assess you differently. And it's impossible to make everybody perfectly happy, new impress everybody. Paul knew that the Lord is judge and that the Lord had a standard. And he wanted to meet that day in the court of Corinthian public opinion was minimal, almost miniscule, compared to the Lord's judgment. And we'll get to that in a bit. Now, the idea of judgment is so powerful for all of us. The fear of man is a reality that we all face. We all make 1000s of judgments each day, whether we pass those on to other people or not. Yeah, we can also get consumed with the fear that people are judging us now or will be judging us. Sometimes we may even get defensive and say, Who are you to judge me? This one's one of my personal favorites. Only God can judge me. Only God can judge me. A lot of people like to say that, and I wonder how seriously they take that. If only God can judge you. And that's true. People are the least of your worries. And that's something that you should take seriously. God sees all and knows all. And we'll all give an account to him. Pastors end up hearing a lot of judgments from people really, really harsh sometimes, but even even positive. It can be related to their preaching the way that they lead their families. People are watching and have opinions, sometimes even the motives like you said that this is what I think you mean by it. And you know, they didn't say that. But you just assume and you attach this motive to what they said. And I'm not saying that it's wrong to express opinions and give feedback. It's not and it's often very helpful and appreciated. But I think that we should be prayerful and consider it in the way that we do that. Whether it's positive feedback or constructive criticism. When it comes to positive feedback, wouldn't we be wise to make sure that we're praising Christ as much as we praise the person? Charles Spurgeon once told a story about John Bunyan, and after giving a sermon, someone came up to Bunyan and said that he had preached a delightful sermon. Bunyan replied, you're too late. The devil told me that after I left the pulpit before I left, left the pulpit. The devil told me that, hey, I wonder if anyone dared to compliment him again? I sure wouldn't. I'm just trying to say something nice. Thank you, you know. The point may be a bit extreme. But maybe what he was getting after was the idea that pastors don't need to hear how wonderful, wonderful they were, with no other criteria. Besides How delightful you're my favorite Pastor, I always look forward to hearing you preach. Remember that a faithful pastor is seeking to prepare a meal and give people the spiritual food that they need that comes from Christ. And I would encourage us all and this is me included, find a way to make your compliments reflect how you've been brought closer to Christ through the preaching of God's word, or challenge in your relationship with Christ. If nothing else, thank them for faithfully teaching God's word. And that's that's what matters most. This focus on judgment consumes us sometimes, some of us may worry too much about what other people think of us and it becomes crippling. We may fear judgment that's not even there. We can look up to someone and start to think that we have to pattern their lives. Around everything that they do that we have to follow every example for instance, that couple homeschools their kids. I guess I have to do it does that mean I have to homeschool my kids or I have to homeschool my kids. That couple's house is immaculate and intricately decorated. I have to do the same. So many of the pastor's here play golf, do I have to do the same? I don't even know if I could do that. We have to ask ourselves, where are those I have two statements coming from. And oftentimes we we blame the people that we look up to and think that they're telling us that we have to do it, when in fact, it's just our own insecurity telling us that we have to be like everybody else. Instead of worrying about all the things we're doing or should be doing or what we think others think we should be doing, we should ask, Am I being faithful to Christ? Am I stewarding what he's given to me? And instead of worrying about what others are doing, and what we think that they should be doing, we should ask, are they being faithful to Christ? So they stewarding what God has entrusted to them and that should be enough for us. And like I said, it doesn't mean that we Don't analyze fruit in people's lives, we will see fruit or a lack of fruit. And it doesn't mean that we ignore it if a minister is clearly violating God's standards for leadership or teaching false gospels, that's not what was going on. in Corinth. Like I said, Paul polos and sofas were men of integrity in sound doctrine, and they were teaching the same message. We are unable to render a judgment. And Paul was not able to render a judgment. Neither were the Corinthians because man's standard is insufficient. And this brings us to our last point, God's final insufficient judgment. Verse five begins with therefore and Paul is drawing attention to the previous points that he made that it's God who sets the criteria of stewardship, service and faithfulness and that our judgment is fallible and limited. In light of those things Paul gives the final imperative did not pronounce judgment before the time before the Lord comes. Man's judgments are always premature and limited. There will be a day where believers are judged we're all human beings are judged, but this passage is focusing on judgment for believers.
41:17 Paul first mentioned it in chapter one, verse eight, which this always encourages me whenever I read through First Corinthians Paul is expressing confidence that God would sustain these Corinthian believers who had so many problems, they would be found guiltless on the day of the Lord Jesus Christ. That's a promise for everyone who's trusted in Christ, whom God has begun to work in, he will carry that to completion, and we will be found blameless before him. And also preached a sermon about a month ago in chapter three about the judging the judgment that will take place before God of a ministers work. This is the only judgment that's final and authoritative, and it comes from God, not from mankind. Paul describes two things that will take place when the Lord comes in verse five. First, he says that the Lord will reveal what is inside, says he will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Like I said, we all have 1000 thoughts, ambitions and motivations that are invisible to everyone else. God sees those and will reveal those on that day. We'll deal with those, when commentators suggest that the bringing to light and disclosure refer to two different things, one being unconscious forces, hidden faults, impulses with in US of which we aren't even aware. And he says that the second refers to sins that the person knows about personally, but hides from others. And hopefully, a minister would not do that. But we know from from history that that happens. But I think that it could mean it could simply mean, you know, you, you present yourself really well. When you're out in the foyer when you're up on stage. The minute you get home, you're maybe a little harsh with your wife, and kids. And you hide that I confess, you know, many drive with little kids. You know, you're you're not really in a good frame of mind. And then you walk in the foyer and you see a pastor like, Hey, how's it going, and you put on a big smile, easy thing to to hide? What's really there? And I think that regardless of what those those hidden things are, we we have the ability to to conceal things that God will reveal everything. I do like the idea of unconscious force forces. I think that that is consistent with Paul saying, I don't even judge myself. I'm not aware of anything against myself, but I'm not acquitted. He knows that God's understanding goes way deeper than his. God will make all this clear. When he comes in here all of our secrets and motives will be revealed. And then the quality and value of each person's ministry will be clear turn back into the Old Testament, Psalm 139. Just read a few verses from there. Really a wonderful chapter psalm about God's omniscience, his knowledge of everything, move, just read a few verses from there. Psalm 139, verses one and two, the Psalmist says, oh, Lord, you have searched me and known me. You know, when I sit down and when I rise up, You discern my thoughts from afar. God knows everything about us or happenings and our thoughts. Jump down to verses 11 and 12. David says, if I say sure that the darkness shall cover me and the light about me the night, even the darkness is not dark to you. The night is bright as the day for darkness is light with you. We're so foolish to think that we can hide anything from God or that we are good because people can't see what we do. A day is coming when what God is always seen and already knows will be revealed. A day is coming when He judges us for how faithful we were. And his knowledge of his ministers and all of us is comprehensive and fully sufficient, and his judgment will surely come. And so we have to ask ourselves like, well, there's going to be things that I'm not aware of that God is going to reveal. I guess there's not much I can do. That's, that's not true. That's not true. We can actively allow scripture to penetrate our hearts and reveal things that are there, we can pray to God to ask him to reveal what's there, go ahead and jot down Hebrews 412. For the sake of time, just jot that down. What that passage is basically saying is that God's Word is living and active. And it's a surgical tool that does surgery on our hearts, and it exposes the thoughts and intentions of our heart. God's Word does that. When I come to faith bible church every week, I'm blessed. I feel like that happens every week. I feel like my thoughts and intentions very clearly exposed in a way of dealing with that, and a prescription is exposed as well. And I don't want to just wait once a week and do this only on Sundays, we can dig into God's word. And challenge all of us, myself included, we need to look at God's word is the surgical tool that it is to expose our hearts and what's really there. We can pray like David prays at the very end of Psalm 139, Search me, O God, and know my heart, try me and know my thoughts and see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the ever last in the way everlasting. God is faithful to show us things and to help us deal with that. The second thing that Paul says will take place when the Lord comes and exposes all these things is that each one will receive his commendation from God. And again, Paul is driving home the point that ultimate praise comes from God and not from man. And that's why the Corinthians praise or judgment was a very small thing. That's why his own positive assessment was a small thing. There's commendation and praise and reward coming from God that we don't deserve. But nonetheless, he is going to give it to us. For for the person who's trusted in Christ in His perfect life and his perfect sacrifice, the worthless things that we spend our time on will be destroyed, and what remains in darkness will be brought to light and the purposes of our heart will be exposed. I know if I were to face God, today, I'm pretty confident that God would say, you know, my word is faithful and you are growing, you're better off than you were before you started studying this passage to go out and preach it. But you still spend a little too much time worrying what people think about you. You're consumed by that instead of worrying but about what I think of you. That's, that's a motive that I know that God would would reveal. And I know that if we're realistic with ourselves, we're going to struggle with pride and different motivations to the day that we die. And then God will faithfully strip all that away, and we'll see Him as He is. And there'll be a reward, they'll be praise God's commendation, which, simply by having faith in Him and trusting in Him, and reward for our level of faithfulness, and you may be thinking, well, are people going to have bigger crowns? Yes, that's kind of what Scripture take, says. But what's going to happen is we're not I'm not going to get to heaven and see Dan Jarms, with a crown eight times bigger than me are 800 times bigger than me, it'd be like, I want to go to the other place. This isn't fair. Okay, that's not going to happen. What's gonna happen regardless of the size of my crown is I'm going to realize that it's all because of Jesus, and His work and me and I'm going to take it off my head and lay it gladly at his feet, giving him the praise that he deserves. Look at the people around you in this room. Think of the people who are maybe down the hall. Think of your families. You can be rewarded one day by discipling. Someone here teaching someone here, imitating and following the example of someone here, working in Gospel partnership, here with someone serving someone here. Think of the people outside of this building who don't know the Lord yet. Think of the joy on that day of being told, Well done, good and faithful servant, no matter the numbers, because you were faithful with what God has entrusted you, trusted to you. God calls his ministers to be faithful with this service and stewardship he's entrusted to them, and I'm encouraged and we should be encouraged by the simplicity of just being faithful to Christ. Some in our society, like the push for the idea of participation, trophies, everyone wins and gets a reward. Many in our society and probably a lot of you in this room probably don't like that idea very much, I would say say that I don't really like it. There has to be a winner and a loser doesn't there, there has to be a bronze, a silver and a gold. Well, we can certainly debate the merits of granting equal outcomes and rewards on Earth. We cannot debate what this passage is saying about the church's ranking system that they were using of these ministers. And that can infect our thinking as well. It was wrong to exalt one against the other, they were all on equal footing because of who they represented. And the message that they carried all the medals and accolades, all the praise belongs to Christ, and He will willingly share those with us, if we faithfully serve Him as King, and who faithfully steward what he's given. And I just want to briefly say if you don't know the Lord, today, this this reward is
50:52 not what you can expect. Commendation is not what you can expect if you reject the Lord and just continue walking your own way, and falling short of His glory, and acting like you know better and worshiping the creation, instead of the Creator. You do have to fear, condemnation, eternal separation from the Lord, I would plead with you to consider those mysteries that I explained to you earlier, and believe and repent, and I'd be happy to talk to you afterward if that's something that you would like to talk about. On the day of the Lord each will receive his do so may we as believers be slow to judge and quick to add faithful servants to our list of favorites? May we seek to be faithful ourselves? Let's pray. Lord, we adore you for your infinite knowledge of all things, of all people, of all souls. That knowledge is perfect and unlimited. We confess at times that we act like we know better in the way that we judge your ministers and each other. We also confess that we live in a way as though you do not see everything. We do not fear the way that we should. We do not trust that knowledge that you have of other people. Thank you that for those of us who have repented and believed the gospel, there is no fear of condemnation, but a hope of reward. Thank you that you desire all to come to know you, including those who have not yet believed I pray that you cause people to acknowledge your glory to see the gravity of their sin and trust in the grand jury of your grace. I pray that You would help us distrust our so called discernment of what lies in the hearts of people and even what lies in our own hearts. Help us not to elevate one servant, Steward or person over the other and to leave the rewarding to You. Lord, help us now to be faithful looking to your return. When those who have believed in you will finally be conformed to your image when we see you as you really are. Amen.