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1697. The Stewardship of an Image-Bearer

The Daily Platform / Bob Jones University
The Truth Network Radio
January 30, 2024 9:23 pm

1697. The Stewardship of an Image-Bearer

The Daily Platform / Bob Jones University

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January 30, 2024 9:23 pm

Theology professor Dr. Kevin Oberlin continues a series about the doctrine of man called “Fearfully and Wonderfully Made” from Matthew 25:14-30.

The post 1697. The Stewardship of an Image-Bearer appeared first on THE DAILY PLATFORM.

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Welcome to The Daily Platform. Our program features sermons from chapel services at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina. Every day, students are blessed by the preaching and teaching of the Bible from the University Chapel Platform. Today, we're continuing a study of the doctrine of man called, Fearfully and Wonderfully Made. Today's message will be preached by Dr. Kevin Oberlin. Dean of the School of Theology and Global Leadership at Bob Jones University. These last few messages with Dr. Moore, who's talked through man's responsibility in regards to beauty and the image of God, and really looking at the applicational section. Now, the stewardship of the image bearer. Today, we're going to look at how are we created to work and have dominion for our master. Our work is actually part of our worship to God. So who was the first person to work in scripture?

Well, if you were to say Adam, that's a pretty good guess. But can we go back even further? How about to the very first lines of our Bible, where it says, in the beginning, God created. God worked. In fact, Jesus tells us in John's Gospel in chapter 5 verse 17, that my Father is working until now and I am working. So what does this immediately tell us about work? Well, that work is good and it's right. And the type of attitude and spirit we have should have to work should be, if it's aligned according to our Creator, just be something we should anticipate and enjoy.

It's important to do it well. And that there are cycles of work and rest in our life. So we've already assumed something by starting with God. And that is that work is not a result of what?

It's not a result of the fall. And all of God's image bearers were created to work, to steward God's creation through exercising dominion over it. And you're probably familiar with, if you've had doctrines class, you've had to memorize this in TH 350, Genesis 1 26. And God said, let us make man in our image after our likeness, and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him. And God blessed them and said to them, be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the fowl and really everything on the earth. And so God puts man into this garden. The next chapter, chapter 2, in Genesis chapter 2 verse 15 it reads, and the Lord God took man and put him in the garden to dress it and to keep it.

But work, however, became much harder, much more toilsome due to the fall. That's the next chapter, chapter 3 of Genesis, which describes the curse that expected greater toil and sweat in the context of work. And of course, this is not forever. If you would jump all the way then to Revelation in chapter 22, it says, no longer will it be anything accursed, but the throne of God and the lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. In other words, we will be productive and we will work even in eternity and the curse will be lifted.

And that's what we have to look forward to. And so in the broadest sense, work includes worshiping God by reflecting his character and glorifying him in stewarding well what God has given us to do for him as image bearers. You know the verse 1 Corinthians 10 31, which encourages us whether we eat or drink or whatever we do, that we would do all to the glory of who?

The glory of God. In Colossians chapter 3 verse 23 it encourages us to work heartily as to the Lord and not to man. So Paul addresses work in these chapters and other chapters because there's a distinct way that we as Christians should work. Even smaller and mundane tasks can be done in a way that glorify God. So if God treated us to work for him as image bearers, but the fall distorted work in numerous ways, including laziness and workaholism. What does it look like as an image bearer to steward my life well for God in regards to my work? We're all here at a university.

You're here to learn things and a lot of people have a target in mind, a target major, a target career in mind. Well we're going to look in the Bible today at a passage that helps answer the specific question of stewardship. We're going to turn to Matthew chapter 25.

Will you do that with me? Matthew chapter 25. In Matthew 25, or actually 24 and 25, Jesus talks about timing and waiting and what it looks like when he returns. And so the first part of chapter 24, the first 36 verses describe what will happen at the end. And the second half of chapter 24 and through chapter 25 include a series of parables about readiness, which teach us how we should wait for what will happen at the end.

In other words, what kind of waiting is it that we're waiting or talking about when we speak of the waiting for Jesus? Well today we're going to look at the parable of the talents, specifically verses 14 through 30 which teaches that believers ought to wait as bond servants commissioned to improve their master's assets. So it's not just a matter of waiting because the Lord could come back at any time or you need to give an account of your faithfulness or that the Lord might delay might be really long or extensive as the preceding parables might teach. But this final parable of readiness focuses on the theology of working for the kingdom as part of that readiness. So let's take a look at the text starting in verse 14.

It reads, For the kingdom of heaven is as a man traveling into a far country, who called his servants and delivered unto them his goods. Unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to every man according to his ability, and straightway took his journey. Then he who had received five talents went and traded with the same, and made five talents more. And likewise he who had received two also gained two more. But he that hath received one went and dug it in the ground and hid his Lord's money.

After a long time the Lord of those servants came and settled accounts with him. And so he that had received five talents came and brought five more other talents, saying, Lord, thou delivered unto me five talents. Behold, I have gained beside them five more talents. Verse 21, His Lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things. Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord. He also who had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou delivered unto me two talents.

Behold, I have gained two other talents besides. His Lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant. Thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things. Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord. Verse 24, Then he which had received one talent came and said, Lord, I knew that thou art a hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown and gathering where thou hast not strawed. And I was afraid and went and hid thy talent in the ground. And lo, there thou hast what is thine. And his Lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not and gathers where I have not strawed. Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers.

And that am I coming, I should have received my own with interest. Well, if you look at the word in verse 15, it uses the word talents. And it's actually a transliteration of the word talaton.

You might actually have a marginal note in your Bible. Perhaps it says something like, it's a talent was worth about 15 years wages of a laborer. So the word is not used in the sense of skill or ability.

That is like to play an instrument that we heard even this morning or to score a goal for the Bruins. The term talent was a unit of money. And the master was issuing an enormous amount of money to his bond servants and requiring that they invest it. And the parable's emphasis though concerns serving the master with all of one's worldly resources and abilities. Money simply symbolizes every aspect of life.

So one person put it this way. It's not about the abilities God gives, but about the stewardship every believer has to use every opportunity for the benefit of the kingdom. And so the master distributed the money to each according to the worker's abilities. In verse 15 you can see it. He gave five talents to one, two talents and then one talents respectively. And then in verse 19 it says after a long delay the master returns and he settles accounts with his bond servants. And the man given five talents had gone and traded. You can look at verse 16 and he produced five additional talents.

And of course this is work. Perhaps he had bought several businesses to produce double. And after all there wasn't a stock exchange at least as we know it today. And so this man had to go buy, he had to work, he had to produce. And so maybe he bought a farm. Maybe he bought certain products.

Maybe he bought boats for a fishing enterprise. And then you got the second guy and he does something similar. But then you have the third one who just went and he buried his money. And the master says to the first two, verses 21 and verses 23. You have been faithful over a few things.

I will make you ruler over more. Enter into the joy of your master. So both of the first two servants improved their master's assets. The last bond servant did not improve his master's assets. He did not live for his master but was rebellious and lazy. You can see that in verse 26. And in verse 27 it mentions that he didn't even care to put his master's money in the bank where he could at least get some interest.

Rather he selfishly and carelessly dug a hole in the ground and he hid the money. So what's the application? The stewardship of an image bearer.

What does that look like? What does this parable actually teach us? Well it teaches us a couple things in particular. It teaches us that as believers our task while waiting for the master Jesus is to improve the master's assets. And of course Matthew's gospel is quickly moving us toward Christ's death. So even the assets that have been entrusted to us have been secured by Christ. So it's only Christ's atonement that allows us to have any standing before God.

This is not work salvation. But once these assets have been given to us, secured by Christ, our job and our work, as long as the master is away, is to improve our master's assets. We are responsible to steward well our God-given opportunities in this life. Because we belong to Jesus. And so our job is to use what God has given us to work for Him. To make disciples, to build up the body of Christ, to pray for one another, to offer up all our work to the Lord. So whether you're just studying for a class, you're caring for someone on your hall, you're working for a job here locally, or serving in your local church.

Because you want to work to improve the master's assets. And secondly, this parable teaches us that Jesus' followers recognize their roles. And how God has actually created them, how He's made them. And they joyfully serve their master. The first two slaves were actually very passionate. They loved their master, they were thankful they could serve him. They said, master, you entrusted unto me such and such, verses 20 and verses 22. And if you're a believer, you have a Spirit-filled joy and desire to multiply for the master what your master has entrusted to you. You want to steward well your God-given and trusted opportunities. This is important to you. You're passionate about it. You want to serve the master. This is how God has created us. This is the alignment of actually what work looks like.

So the question you could ask yourself from this text is, how can I best steward the assets entrusted to me? Or am I in stewarding well my opportunities? Well, no matter what your major is, you can use whatever you're studying for work in God's kingdom. In reality, your major is actually only one ingredient.

Although, a very important ingredient. But one major ingredient in an entire recipe of what God is doing in your life for his glory. So you could ask yourself, am I really using my spiritual gift effectively? Am I using my education, my opportunities here this semester? I mean, what kind of abilities am I developing?

Well, some of you will be incredible with math that will go over the rest of our heads. And some of you are developing into creative writers or playwrights. And some of you are developing yourselves to persuade others, whether that's in business or law or in communications. We are all developing relationally with new friends, as well as friends who are not like us. And some of us need to figure out what languages we need to learn. I mean, where would God might place us?

Or how could we hone our ability to communicate well through speech and writing to support a lifelong career? So the question is, are you leveraging well your experiences, your background? Even before you came to university, I mean, like, who are your parents? Who was your pastor? Did you have a pastor growing up?

All of these are part of the larger ingredients that God is using in your life. I kind of think of it as like a cooking show. How many enjoy watching cooking shows? I was on vacation one time with my kids and we kind of binged out on watching these cooking shows. I didn't think I'd ever get hooked on them, but they were so interesting.

We were watching one after another, and I was loving it. And sometimes these cooking shows have these little bowls of ingredients, and they'll have a bunch of them set up. And I don't know how they always keep everything really clean, because if I ever try to cook, it's like a mess everywhere on the counter. But they have all these really cool-looking bowls of ingredients, various ingredients, and then sometimes there's like a bigger recipe bowl in the middle. And so what the cook will do is they'll take a little bit of this, and then they'll take a little bit of this, and they'll take just a pinch of that, and then they'll take like, oh, they really want all of that.

Actually, they just dump that in. And then they go over here and they get a little bowl of this and a little bowl of this, and they have all these little ingredients. And our lives are much like that, where we actually have this recipe, what God is actually doing and how He's actually making us. And a lot of us have similar little ingredient bowls around us that are very same in this room, but some of us actually have distinctive ones, right?

Ones that other people don't have, or some of us might not have certain ones. And what it's like is it's actually like going through those bowls and picking out, getting a pinch of this or a lot of this or whatever it is, and all of that goes into this ingredient bowl for a recipe for a sweet savor unto the Lord of actually an offering. And what's amazing in these cooking shows is you have a commercial, right?

They put it in the oven, they have a commercial, and then it outcomes like a beautiful whatever it is. And of course, that's not how life works. It's a much more patient process. But all these components and more become the specific ingredients that in God's providence makes you, you. And in various proportions, the Spirit can use all of these opportunities that you are stewarding within your lifetime. And He's going to do that.

He's going to use all these experiences at a university like this, or what you did over spring break, or what you're going to do over the summer, or through these years. I mean, who are you going to put yourself under? Or their counsel? Or their guidance? Or their mentoring?

Or who are you going to mentor? All these things are going into this recipe bowl to actually make this sweet offering before the Lord. Well, in his book, Who Is My Neighbor?, Steve Moore talks about passion as a key ingredient in our God-given identity. We all have interest-based passions. And we have issue-based passions. Interest-based passions typically form when ability and opportunity converge. We tend to like what we're good at.

Is that true? And we are typically good at what we like. And issue-based passions, though, give us a sense of great purpose, which often harnesses our God-given talents and skills. In fact, the Scripture says that a person's gifts make room for them. And many times, the role that we find ourselves in actually forms the context of utilizing our passion and gifts for the Lord. So, as believers, where do we actually want to live? In this diagram, if you will.

Where do you want to spend your life? Well, you want to spend your life as much as possible in the convergence of these three areas. So, in the parable of the talents, going back to Matthew chapter 25, the first two men had a passion to improve their master's assets monetarily. They used their gifts and skills and roles to accomplish the will of the master.

And actually, this is what godly men and women have had to figure out throughout all of church history. For example, there's a man named William Carey. William Carey was born in the 1760s. And his biographers say that he had natural curiosity about the world. He was curious, for example, about Christopher Columbus.

There are actually stories about Carey standing on a stump, answering questions from his school friends about Columbus's exploration of the New World. And Carey once found a book in his uncle's library, which was written in Greek. And he found it interesting that these symbols, which meant nothing to him, were actually meaningful to other people and they could actually speak this language. So he taught himself Greek, and then Hebrew, and then Latin, and then French, and then Dutch.

Apparently he had a gift of that language. So he grew so interested and motivated regarding geography in middle school and beyond that he researched and made his own maps out of leather in the shoe shop where he worked. And eventually he made his own globe and then he taught a side course in geography. So he would take his self-made globe, he had his little friends come around him, and he would explain about lands and nations where people had no access to the Gospel. And while teaching, he would point to these areas and he would weep over his intense burden for people around the world who were without Christ. Now notice, it wasn't that he had this intense burden for the lost, and so therefore he developed a passion for Christopher Columbus. And then he developed a passion for geography, and then he really liked linguistics because he thought that would really go for that, kind of connect with that. Actually, Carey had a God-given ability and passion for language, culture, geography that came on early in his life. It was very noticeable. And then it intersected with his growing awareness that there was actually an entire world out there without Christ.

And this is exactly what we pray as faculty would happen in this student body. That you would figure out, how has God actually made me? Like, okay, I really like this. And some would say, wow, you're really weird. But no, that's how God made you. You can really do math like that. Or you can really do, you know, this type of creative thing.

Or whatever it is, God has made you that way. And so take those things and allow those things then to intersect with your growing awareness of what actually God would have you do through the local church and through the world for His glory. So in his study of the Bible and his understanding of the Christian stewardship for mission overlapping with his ability and passion for geography and language, formed a really powerful convergence that ultimately enabled William Carey to be called the father of Protestant mission.

And Carey would later serve in a strategic role and translate the Bible into six languages and portions into 29 other languages. Another example is a girl named Amy Carmichael who lived from 1867 to 1951. In a tea shop, enjoying time with her mom, Amy saw a young girl's face pushed up against the glass. And she thought the girl was really cute. Well Amy later saw this girl's condition and realized that this little girl was looking into the tea shop probably imagining what it would be like to have a mom who would take you to a beautiful tea shop like that. And Amy was filled with compassion at that moment for that girl. And that evening Amy wrote in her diary that when she grows up, she wants to make a place for young girls like that.

And she wrote that as of now, I do nothing for young girls like that. So she started a Bible study in her neighborhood to girls and to teenage girls who were marginalized. And God put within Amy the ability to connect and work with those needy areas of Belfast. And many, many years later, this brown-eyed Irish girl who at one time so badly wanted blue eyes finds herself a missionary in South India. And her colleagues bring a little girl who had escaped after the Indian girl's parents had given her over to Brahmin temple priests for prostitution.

And Amy looks down at this girl, just standing there trembling, so frightened. And she recalls at that moment her journal entry many, many years ago. As a little girl, she wrote something and realized that God had actually been preparing her all along for this very thing. And Amy worked in India over 50 years and helped make change happen for good. And as many heard the message of the Gospel and many were saved. So Amy's passion, her ability and her role converged as she worked tirelessly for the Lord with joy. Because this is what God had made her for.

See, it all made sense when she understood her Creator. And as you discover more and more what God has entrusted to you, that is how He's made you with your gifts and talents and passions and opportunities, will you pray that God will specifically show you how you can use all these things to converge in your own life. So that like William Carey and Amy Carmichael and such a great number of believers through the centuries, you too can steward your life in such a way that increases your master's assets for mutual joy and the master's glory. So what does your life of work and worship look like today?

What does it look like in the past few weeks, this past year? The question is, are you increasing the master's assets by being responsible with what God has entrusted to you? Do you see how work is not something we're commanded to do simply? But it's actually a way that we imitate God. Even as God worked, God has put His image in us. So we must work and do so with joy. And we're under the curse. So you know what, it's not always fun.

It doesn't always feel good. And we don't always see the results from our work right away. Yet be encouraged that God has uniquely designed you for the specific task He wants to accomplish for His glory. Let's pray. Lord, I pray that you would do that work in our own lives. You would help us recognize these truths. And may our student body and individual believers be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord. Knowing that in the Lord our labor is not in vain. And so we pray it in Jesus' name. Amen. You've been listening to a sermon preached at Bob Jones University by Dr. Kevin Oberlin, Dean of the School of Theology and Global Leadership. Listen again tomorrow as we continue the series fearfully and wonderfully made on The Daily Platform.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-10 04:53:36 / 2024-02-10 05:03:35 / 10

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