Stewarts Of God’s Grace
Luke 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?”
A steward is a person who has been entrusted with administering someone else’s wealth or affairs. The possessions a steward controls are not his own and he does not have the freedom to do with them as he wishes. He is supposed to carry out the desires of the one who made him steward.
A banker is a steward. He has been entrusted with other people’s money. He is free to invest that money wisely in a way that will benefit his depositors and stockholders, but would be sent to jail if he took all that money and simply consumed it upon himself. A steward is accountable, Luke 16:2, to someone else for the use of that person’s money. The money does not belong to him even though it is in his possession.
This parable, and other scriptures, 1 Corinthians 4:1; 1 Peter 4:10, describes every believer as a steward of God’s grace. The wealth, talents, and abilities we possess, as well as the revelation of God’s love that we’ve been given, are not our own to do with as we please. We have received these things from God and are therefore accountable to Him for the use or misuse of these gifts. Keeping this in mind is essential for fulfilling our obligation to God as stewards of His “manifold grace.”
The Goodness Of God
Luke 12:5 “But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.”
Second Timothy 1:7 says, “God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” First John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.” These scriptures may look like they are contradictions to Jesus’ statement here; however, they are not.
There are two kinds of fear. The American Heritage Dictionary defines fear as “a feeling of alarm or disquiet caused by the expectation of danger, pain, disaster, or the like; terror; dread; apprehension.” It also defines fear as “extreme reverence or awe, as toward a supreme power.”
It is this reverence or awe that God’s Word teaches saints to have towards God. Hebrews 12:28 says that there is a godly fear with which we are supposed to serve God and thereby implies that there is an ungodly fear that is not acceptable in serving God.
Satan has always used this ungodly dread or terror to torment godly people. Those who have been born again should have no dread or terror of God unless they are planning to renounce their faith in Jesus as their Savior. We have a covenant that guarantees us acceptance with God, Ephesians 1:6, as long as we hold fast to our profession of faith in the atoning blood of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
For an unbeliever, the fear of the Lord is a great deterrent from sin. However, for those of us who have received the grace of God, it is His goodness that causes us to fear him and depart from sin. His goodness is awesome!
Our Loving Father
Luke 11:11 “If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?”
The most loving Father in the world cannot compare to our heavenly Father and the love He has for us. And yet, many times, we find it easier to believe in the willingness of a father or mother or mate to help us than in the willingness of God to use His power on our behalf. Relatively few people really doubt God’s ability, but rather, it is our doubt of His willingness to use His ability on our behalf that causes most people to do without. Jesus is assuring us that God’s love, and His willingness to demonstrate that love, is far greater than we can ever experience in any human relationship.
The Lord didn’t just save us out of pity or a sense of obligation as our Creator. He saved us because He loved us, John 3:16. It was the “good pleasure of his will” for us to become adopted sons, Ephesians 1:5. We are wanted and accepted by our Father! What a wonderful thing this is! It would have been more than any of us deserve to be forgiven by God. Then to be given certain rights and privileges would have been more than we could have expected. But the Lord went further than that. He has actually accepted us.
The dictionary defines “accept” as “1. to receive gladly; 2. to receive into a place or a group” (New American Heritage Dictionary). The Lord does not just tolerate us; He actually loves us. He even likes us. He rejoices over us with joy, Zephaniah 3:17.
Luke 11:1 “And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples’.”
When you consider that Jesus was the greatest miracle worker who ever walked the earth and the greatest preacher who ever lived, it is amazing that His disciples asked Him to teach them to pray. Why didn’t they ask Him to teach them how to work these miracles or how to preach and amaze the people with their doctrine?
It’s because Jesus’ prayer life was even more powerful than His miracles or His doctrine. Indeed, it was His union with the Father that gave Him His power to work miracles and His authority to speak as no man had ever spoken before. Jesus said repeatedly that it was His Father who was doing the miracles through Him and that His doctrine was not His own but the Father’s.
The same holds true today. Jesus said in John 15:5 that without Him, we can do nothing. There are many things that we should do in addition to prayer, but there is nothing that we can effectively do without prayer. Prayer is one of the main ways of abiding in Him, John 15:7. Therefore, our request should be like these disciples’ — “Lord, teach us to pray.”
We should come expecting to receive answers to prayer. The Father is ready and willing to answer our prayers. Just ask and you shall receive.
Power In The Name Of Jesus
Luke 10:17 “And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.”
It was the power in the name of Jesus plus the disciples’ faith in that power that made the demons subject unto them. This can clearly be seen in Acts 19:13-17 where certain Jews called on the name of Jesus in an effort to cast demons out of a man. They used the name of Jesus, but it didn’t work because they had not put faith in that name.
These Jews were itinerants who used incantations to effect deliverance for people who were demon possessed. The first-century historian, Josephus, wrote of an exorcism that he witnessed in the presence of Vespasian and many of his soldiers. The exorcist supposedly followed a ritual passed down from King Solomon to effect the deliverance. There is no doubt that men throughout all history have tried to resist demonic spirits, but as this example proves, only Jesus and those who have received His life are successful.
Those who relegate demonic spirits to the realm of superstition do not believe in the entire Word of God. The Gospels alone contain over 90 references to the devil or devils (demons). The Apostle Paul said when writing to these people in Ephesus, “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places”, Ephesians 6:12. The devil and demons do exist, but all believers in Jesus share in His total victory over them.
The name of Jesus is not magic. It does not work like a charm. As Peter said, “His name, through faith in his name”, Acts 3:16, is what brings results.
Sharing God’s Love
Luke 10:2 “Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.”
It is commonly thought that an evangelist is someone who has a passion to lead people to the Lord. But every believer should have a passion for souls. When presenting the Gospel, we are not just presenting a theory about God but the factual account of God’s dealings with man as revealed through His Word, with the ultimate witness being the bodily resurrection of Jesus. Our personal witness of the reality of Jesus being alive in our lives brings Christ from theory to reality.
The early Christians had experienced the love of Christ in an intimate and life-transforming way. This motivated them to reach their known world with the Gospel of Christ more than any generation of Christians has done since. They didn’t have the benefits of our modern technology, but they did have the benefit of being full of the love of Christ. Experiencing the love of Christ causes us to be filled with the fullness of God, Ephesians 3:19, and makes us a witness that the world cannot resist John 13:35.
Today, much of the emphasis of the church is placed on techniques of evangelism or spiritual warfare. We motivate people to witness through feelings of guilt or punishment if they don’t. Much of our evangelism has become as dead and non-productive as that of the cults who knock on doors and argue people into their way of thinking. The early Christians had a much greater impact on their world because they were full of, and motivated by, the love of God. The church today needs a revival of our personal relationship with the Lord. When we can say with Paul that the love of Christ constrains us, then we will impact our world for the Lord too. You can’t give away what you don’t possess. We need to personally know the love of Christ in an experiential way before we try to share it with others.
Build Faith, Destroy Doubt
Matthew 17:20 “And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.”
The disciples’ unbelief in this instance was not a disbelief in God’s power to produce deliverance, but rather a “natural” kind of unbelief that came from a hardened heart that was more sensitive to what it saw than to what it believed. Jesus said that a very small amount of faith (a “mustard seed”) is sufficient to remove a mountain, if no unbelief is present to hinder it.
Jesus was disappointed that His disciples had not been able to cast this devil out. Most people would have had no criticism of these disciples. After all, it wasn’t normal to have power over evil spirits. However, Jesus had already given these disciples power and authority over all devils. These disciples had also already used this power and authority successfully on previous occasions, making them more accountable than others. They weren’t just normal men any longer. They had a supernatural ability and calling.
We also receive power from on high when the Holy Ghost comes upon us, and it becomes our normal Christian service to use this power to witness to others.
We can always look around and find plenty of Christians who are not using this power, but 2 Corinthians 10:12 says that comparing ourselves among ourselves is not wise. Most Christians are living so far below what God intended for them that when someone begins to live a normal Christian life (according to God’s standard), then everyone thinks he’s abnormal. We will be successful when we not only build our faith but destroy our doubts.
His Purpose Revealed
Matthew 16:21 “From that time forth began Jesus to show unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.”
Despite the abundant and clear prophecies about His death and resurrection, Jesus’ disciples didn’t understand or remember Jesus’ words until after His resurrection, Luke 24:5-9. Luke records twice that Jesus’ sayings about His resurrection were hidden from the disciples. It is interesting to note, however, that the chief priests and Pharisees remembered Jesus’ prophecies about His resurrection, Matthew 27:63, when His disciples didn’t.
One of the great truths of the Bible is that Jesus died for our sins, not for His own. Jesus was totally sinless. This is one of the major differences between Christianity and the religions of the world. No other religious leader has ever claimed to be sinless, therefore no other religious leader is even in the same class with Jesus. Also, no other religious leader has ever given his life in sacrifice to atone for the sins of others. It wouldn’t have done any good if one had. Since the religious leaders were sinners themselves, their lives weren’t worth any more than any other sinner. But, since Jesus was the sinless Son of God, His life was worth more than all of humanity throughout the ages.
Every detail of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection was already prophesied in scripture before it happened. All the events of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection had fulfilled scripture. God’s Word is the ultimate authority and only through His Word can we receive faith to be born again. We must preach the Word, not experiences. Experiences are only useful to illustrate that God’s Word is true. Jesus is alive from the dead. His tomb is empty. Jesus provided us with the ultimate verification of His authority. He arose from the dead.