Feb 16, 2013
I Love to Tell the Story By Alan Jackson
Feb 16, 2013
I Love to Tell the Story By Alan Jackson
Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world —John 18:36
The great enemy of the Lord Jesus Christ today is the idea of practical work that has no basis in the New Testament but comes from the systems of the world. This work insists upon endless energy and activities, but no private life with God. The emphasis is put on the wrong thing. Jesus said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation . . . . For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:20-21). It is a hidden, obscure thing. An active Christian worker too often lives to be seen by others, while it is the innermost, personal area that reveals the power of a person’s life.
We must get rid of the plague of the spirit of this religious age in which we live. In our Lord’s life there was none of the pressure and the rushing of tremendous activity that we regard so highly today, and a disciple is to be like His Master. The central point of the kingdom of Jesus Christ is a personal relationship with Him, not public usefulness to others.
It is not the practical activities that are the strength of this Bible Training College— its entire strength lies in the fact that here you are immersed in the truths of God to soak in them before Him. You have no idea of where or how God is going to engineer your future circumstances, and no knowledge of what stress and strain is going to be placed on you either at home or abroad. And if you waste your time in overactivity, instead of being immersed in the great fundamental truths of God’s redemption, then you will snap when the stress and strain do come. But if this time of soaking before God is being spent in getting rooted and grounded in Him, which may appear to be impractical, then you will remain true to Him whatever happens.
Do business till I come. (Luke 19:13)
The first command given to humanity was the broad responsibility to “subdue” and “have dominion” over Earth (Genesis 1:28; Psalm 8:4-8). Most of us understand that the core of that responsibility was, and is, to manage the resources of Earth as stewards on behalf of the Owner. Humanity has distorted and disobeyed that command from the very beginning.
The First Age after Creation
The great worldwide Flood of Noah’s day was a judgment against the first age of humanity, which had slowly corrupted until God saw that “the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). There were some people, however, who even during that awful time “did business” in the Lord’s name.
By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain (Hebrews 11:4).
By faith Enoch…had this testimony, that he pleased God (Hebrews 11:5).
By faith Noah…prepared an ark for the saving of his household (Hebrews 11:7).
The Old Covenant and Israel
A few centuries after that horrible catastrophe, and with the Flood still fresh in their minds, the whole of humanity rebelled again at the Tower of Babel. God then “confused the language of all the earth; and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth” (Genesis 11:9). It is likely that the dispersed family of Noah’s son Shem were the only people still attempting to maintain the message of God after that point.
Even Abraham required a personal visit from God to get him going in the right direction (Genesis 12:1-3). Several times during his life, Abraham had to be corrected, redirected, encouraged, and reaffirmed. Doing business for the Lord is not easy, popular, or necessarily completely understood during the process of getting it right!
Mankind does not have a good obedience record. Over the next 2,000 years, God initiated, developed, and preserved the nation of Israel. Out of love, He protected and rescued them time and again from a pattern of rebellion and revival, all the while promising the coming of the Messiah and the ultimate fulfillment of His plan and purpose for Earth and humanity. Many times over those centuries, God sent prophets to remind and remonstrate. It almost seems like God left the rest of the world to fend for itself, concentrating His thoughts and messages almost exclusively on Israel.
His chosen nation didn’t listen. But there were a few in every generation who tried to obey and serve—a “remnant,” they were called. Some of them were kings or priests or prophets. Some were ordinary folks with nothing more than a heart of love for their Creator and a desire to be a part, however small, of God’s great eternal plan. Scripture provides a detailed narrative of these key players, but the summary of the faithful in the book of Hebrews succinctly tells of those…
who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.
They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented—of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.
And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us. (Hebrews 11:33-34, 37-40)
God has provided something better for us! We, the ultimate joint heirs of His kingdom, the twice-born, are enabled to see that command in the light of the New Testament last days.1 Much had changed over the millennia since Israel was founded. Not only had Israel failed to capitalize on the role that God had—and still has—in store for them, but when the Lord Jesus entered the world as the incarnate Messiah, He “came to His own, and His own did not receive Him” (John 1:11).
The New Covenant and the Last Days
Knowing He must sacrifice Himself for the sins of the whole world, take His life back from the grave, and return to His Father for a season, the Lord Jesus gave two parables during His earthly ministry that address the concept of “doing business” during the New Testament era and the last days before His return. Both of them stress the responsibility for the Lord’s servants to take care of His estate (the Kingdom) and His business while He is away on a long journey.
Each of us are to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33), with the promise that God will “supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). The promises of care and supply are part of the necessary resources that enable us to subdue and have dominion over the planet while we who are the Lord’s servants occupy until He returns to finalize and implement all that has been planned “before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4).
Luke 19:11-27 records Jesus’ response to those who were expecting Him to immediately establish God’s Kingdom on Earth. No, Jesus insisted, the process would be like a nobleman going away to receive a kingdom. The story begins with the nobleman instructing his servants to do business in his place until he returns. Before he left, he gave each servant a mina. (A Greek mna was equal to 100 Roman denarii. One denarius was given to each laborer for a day’s work. In another well-known story, two denarii were given to the innkeeper by the Good Samaritan.) Essentially, each of the nobleman’s servants was given an equal opportunity to accomplish business on behalf of the owner until he returned to resume his authority.
However, the citizens of the country hated the nobleman, no doubt making it quite difficult for the servants to conduct business on his behalf. Nonetheless, each servant was given the clear responsibility to do his best during the nobleman’s absence. The prominent focus is on individual initiative—the servant’s obedience. When the nobleman did return, he rewarded the servants according to how much investment return each had made with his money.
Two main points are made: The Lord gave rewards of authority in proportion to each servant’s investment effectiveness, and the Lord essentially impoverished the fearful ineffective servant and gave his mina to the most effective servant. One clear principle in this world is that the return on investment is directly proportional to the degree of risk. If we are too fearful to risk our “mina,” we may very well be impoverished in eternity. If we risk for the sake of the Lord’s Kingdom, though, we will be well rewarded.
Matthew 25:14-30 provides a similar illustration with a markedly different emphasis. In this story, the servants are given different amounts of money, “talents,” in recognition of their differing abilities. (One Greek talent was equal to 6,000 Roman denarii—nearly 20 years’ wages!) In contrast to the story of the single mina left to each of the ten servants, the man in Matthew who leaves on a journey to a far country seems to divide all of his great wealth among the key servants “to each according to his own ability” (Matthew 25:15).
Two of the three servants “went and traded” with the funds provided, but the third “went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord’s money.” However one evaluates this story, the emphasis is on individual opportunity and the expectation that “to whom much is given, from him much will be required” (Luke 12:48).
At the heart of the story is the statement that the owner was gone a long time. There is no indication that the servants were to use this money for their personal needs, but instead it was evident that they were to invest it for the benefit of the owner. When the owner finally did return, the reward he issued was based on the use of the money, not the return. Since the initial amounts were granted on the basis of each servant’s known ability, the reckoning was made based on how well the servant used the opportunity available to him. The one unprofitable servant who knew better, but still did not use the Lord’s talent, was called wicked and lazy and was thrown into “outer darkness.” Could a worse judgment befall any person?
The Judgment of the Saints
It is very clear in the Scriptures that earthly wealth is not the criterion for the saints when they are called to account (1 Corinthians 3:11-15). The “gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, [and] straw” mentioned in this passage are merely representative of the quality of deeds done—how they measure up to the eternal values of the Kingdom. The Creator already owns the “cattle on a thousand hills” (Psalm 50:10) and will make a “new heaven and a new earth” from the fiery destruction of the old (Revelation 21:1; 2 Peter 3:13). God certainly does not need our wealth.
But He has made it possible for us to invest with His resources and earn a return on His wealth, with a reward distributed to us based on how well we use the resources He gives us. Those business opportunities are as wide and varied as the personalities and life positions of the millions of His chosen ones throughout all of Earth history.
Sometimes the investment is little more than a cup of cold water given in His name (Matthew 10:42). But more often than not, the “things done in the body” (2 Corinthians 5:10) involve our human talent, time, and treasure. Most of us do not have the privilege of being employed in an organized ministry like a church or other Kingdom mission like ICR, but each of us have a mina and talents that have been provided by the great Creator-Owner of this universe.
We must use them. In obedience we must attempt to invest our God-given treasures for the honor and benefit of the Creator, or we will be judged an “unprofitable” and “lazy” servant only fit for “outer darkness.” This command may have the feel of law to it, but it is surely grace; we have the privilege of freely serving our God as His redeemed remnant, preaching His gospel with all that we have to all who will hear. When we do use God’s gifts for the Kingdom’s benefit—both the spiritual gifts distributed among our churches and the earthly resources and opportunities made available in the Kingdom—then we will be granted eternal responsibilities and authorities in the “new heaven and the new earth.”
Our only opportunity to earn rewards during eternity is while we are alive “down here.” Perhaps it is time for us to consider how well our eternal “business” is doing.
It is a common misconception that the “last days” only apply to the Tribulation period. The last days began with the coming of the Messiah; Christ ushered these days in with the New Covenant.
Incarnation of Christ: “He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you” (1 Peter 1:20).
Day of Pentecost: “And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams” (Acts 2:17).
Contempt for God in the last days: “Knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts” (2 Peter 3:3).
Opposition to the gospel in the last days: “Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour” (1 John 2:18).
* Dr. Henry Morris III is Chief Executive Officer of the Institute for Creation Research.
Cite this article: Henry Morris III, D.Min. 2014. Doing the Lord’s Business. Acts & Facts. 43 (10).
“Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.” (Romans 8:34)
In our text, Paul asks if there is anyone who can issue a guilty sentence against believers. In light of all Christ has done and the fact that the Father “hath committed all judgment unto the Son” (John 5:22), only Christ has the authority to condemn. Will Christ condemn those for whom He died? Obviously not, and Paul gives four reasons why the very suggestion is absurd.
First: “It is Christ that died.” He is the very one who left heaven to die as a substitute for us. True, “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23), but “Christ died for our sins” (1 Corinthians 15:3). Certainly, the one who bore condemnation for us will not turn and condemn us.
Second: He “is risen again.” He did not stay in the grave but rose victorious, proving that God the Father had accepted His sacrifice. Certainly “the firstborn from the dead” (Colossians 1:18) who desires “that he might be the firstborn among many brethren” (Romans 8:29) will not turn and thwart His own work and plan.
Third: He is even now “at the right hand of God,” where He is, among other things, preparing a place for us (John 14:2-3). He intends for us to join Him and will not condemn us. One would think He had done enough for us, but no.
Fourth: He “also maketh intercession for us.” As long as we, His “brethren,” still live, He is interceding to God on our behalf. He asks the Father for our acceptance, not for our condemnation.
If the only one with authority to condemn will not condemn, then we have the assurance that nothing “shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39). JDM
O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me except I drink it, Thy will be done.—Matthew 26:42.
TO do or not to do,—to have,
Or not to have I leave to Thee;
To be or not to be, I leave,
Thy only will be done to me:
All my requests are lost in one,
Father, Thy only will be done!
DEAR Lord, in all our loneliest pains Thou hast the largest share, And that which is unbearable, ‘Tis Thine, not ours, to bear.
FREDERICK W. FABER.
OFFER thyself as a sacrifice to God in peace and quietness of spirit. And the better to proceed in this journey, and support thyself without weariness and disquiet, dispose thy soul at every step, by widening out thy will to meet the Will of God. The more thou dost widen it, the more wilt thou receive, Thy will must be disposed as follows: to will everything and to will nothing, if God wills it or wills it not. LORENZO SCUPOLI.
You must make, at least once every week, a special act of love to God’s will above all else, and that not only in things supportable, but also in things insupportable. ST. FRANCIS DE SALES.
Consolation in Christ, … comfort of love, … fellowship of the Spirit. Philippians 2:1
Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble. He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down; he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not. — My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.
The Father … shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever: the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name. — Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.
If we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. And so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
Job 14:1,2. Psalm 73:26. John 14:16,26. 2 Corinthians 1:3,4. 1 Thessalonians 4:14,17,18.
The Lord shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken. Proverbs 3:26
Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee: the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain. — The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will. — When a man’s ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.
I wait for the LORD, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope. My soul waiteth for the Lord more than they that wait for the morning: I say, more than they that watch for the morning. — I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.
The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms: and he shall thrust out the enemy from before thee; and shall say, Destroy them. — Blessed is the man that trustesth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is.
What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
Psalm 76:10. Proverbs 21:1. Proverbs 16:7. Psalm 130:5,6. Psalm 34:4. Deuteronomy 33:27. Jeremiah 17:7. Romans 8:31.