In 2 Corinthians 4:1-6 Paul discussed the glorious shining light of the Gospel, and he then declared,
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the exceeding greatness of the power may be of God, and not of ourselves (2 Cor. 4:7).
The treasure of the gospel was put into inspired men by revelation; these men did not design or invent that gospel. Consequently, the exceeding greatness of its power was from God, not from mere men. The apostles and prophets of the first century were agents or instruments for the revelation of the gospel, and not its source. Those who preach and teach the gospel today are but instruments by which God’s word is disseminated. We are therefore stewards of the Gospel – the good news of Jesus.
Let a man so account of us, as of ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. Here, moreover, it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful (1 Cor. 14:1-2).
“Stewards” comes from oikonomos and is a slave entrusted with the management of the household, but under the authority of the householder. Paul says they were entrusted with the “mysteries of God” – those things which were impossible for man to know without revelation from God. Today the mysteries of God are revealed to us in the New Testament. As “stewards” we are under the authority of Christ.
It is required that stewards of the Gospel be faithful. The word “required” comes from zeteo and means demand or require. Thus, we will be lost if we misuse the Gospel in any way. Notice four reasons why we should be faithful stewards of God’s word: 1) Because of our relationship to Jesus, 2) Because we answer to Jesus for the use of what we have been given, 3) If we are unfaithful we dishonor Jesus and are lost, and 4) If we are unfaithful we may cause others to be lost.
As stewards of the Gospel, how should we handle its use? The first step in handling the Gospel correctly as stewards is to know its contents.
“Give diligence (study – KJV) to present thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, handling aright the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15).
“Till I come, give heed to reading, to exhortation, to teaching” (1 Tim. 4:13). “Oh how love I thy law! It is my meditation all the day” (Psa. 119:97). A steward cannot use God’s word skillfully or truthfully is he does know it’s contents.
Secondly, if we are handling the Gospel correctly as stewards we will believe and obey its teachings.
Know ye not, that to whom ye present yourselves as servants [true also of stewards, TM] unto obedience, his servants ye are whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?
Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven (Matt. 7:21).
It is impossible to be a good steward of that which you will not believe and obey.
Thirdly, if we are handling the Gospel correctly as stewards we will hold on to no doctrine not taught in its glorious pages. A faithful steward of the Gospel will “handling aright the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). Paul warns in Galatians 1:6-10 that those who teach a doctrine different than what the inspired apostles taught they we to be “anathema” – devoted to destruction. A good steward of the Gospel will stand in “the old paths” (Jer. 6:16), and “buy the truth, and sell it not” (Pro. 23:23). Stewards of the good news must speak only as the “oracles of God” declares 1 Peter 4:11. Speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where it is silent. Call Bible things by Bible names and do Bible things in Bible ways.
Finally, if we are handling the Gospel correctly as stewards we will share the good news of the Gospel with all who will hear.
Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world (Matt. 28:19-20).
The chorus of a wonderful hymn still rings true:
Into our hands the gospel is given;
Into our hands is given the light;
Haste, let us carry God’s precious message;
Guiding the erring back to the right.