To Whom Much Is Given - Part 1
To Whom Much Is Given
"And that slave who knew his master’s will and did not get ready or act in accord with his will, shall receive many lashes, but the one who did not know it, and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but few. And from everyone who has been given much shall much be required; and to whom they entrust much, of him they will ask all the more" (Luke 12:47-48).
"For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?" (Hebrews 2:1-3).
"For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain terrifying expectation of judgment, and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?" (Hebrews 10:26-29).
"For if after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment delivered to them. It has happened to them according to the true proverb, ‘A dog returns to its own vomit’, and, ‘A sow, after washing, returns to wallowing in the mire’"(2 Peter 2:20-22).
To Our Children
It is a great privilege to be born into a family where mom and dad are Christians. In our society, the percentage of children born into such a relationship is extremely small. It is easy sometimes for children in such homes to complain that too much is being expected of them, but remember that much has been given to you. Every child in this congregation hears about 92 sermons a year, attends over 100 bible classes, is constantly observing Christianity being practiced, lives in a home surrounded by bibles, sermon outlines, religious magazines, handouts, tracts and so on. God has a lot invested in you and expects you to act on the knowledge that you possess. At an early age you know the plan of salvation, in your daily activities at school you encounter countless lost friends, peers and teachers. God expected both Joseph (Genesis 39), and Daniel and his friends (Daniel 1,3,6), to remain pure, avoid temptation, and put Him first in spite of the difficult circumstances in which they found themselves.
- Your parents have put a lot on the line in raising you. They have placed everything on raising you according to God’s standards and not those of the world. In doing this your parents have made some enemies. There are people in the neighborhood, community, family, and so on who would just love to see you rebel and thus imply that your parents were wrong about everything and that the Bible is wrong about everything. When David sinned, God told him, "Because by this deed you have given occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme" (2 Samuel 12:14). See yourself as being obligated to show the wisdom and validity of what your Christian parents have taught you. Answer their critics by living a godly life (Psalm 127:5). If you become unfaithful, unbelievers will claim that your parents were too strict, inconsistent, unloving, and so on. In addition, if you become unfaithful, parents who go too far in their rules or discipline will argue that your parents were not strict enough, hence your lack of faithfulness will only endorse their own errors. Do not become a stumbling-block to the unbelieving world (Matthew 18:6-7).
- Realize what you have been given! From an early age you can serve God and thus you can avoid the pitfalls that many other people fall into. You know the type of person you should marry, you know how men and women are supposed to act in a marriage, you know how fathers and mothers are to raise their children, you already know much of what is true and what is false in our society.
The Conscience of the World
Being a Christian brings tremendous blessings, including the knowledge of the truth (John 8:32). This blessing also has an obligation, that is, God expects us to share the truth with others (Acts 8:4). This will involve warning people who are persisting in thing that will cause them to end up lost.
"When I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die’; and you do not warn him or speak out to warn the wicked from his wicked way that he may live, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand" (Ezekiel 3:18). "Therefore I testify to you this day, that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God" (Acts 20:26-27). "And do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them" (Ephesians 5:11). "As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus, in order that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines" (1 Timothy 1:3). "Reprove them severely that they may be sound in the faith" (Titus 1:13). "My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth, and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death, and will cover a multitude of sins" (James 5:19-20).
The World We Live In
In our world, if you take the Bible seriously as we claim to do, if one tries to live by the Word of God and allow it to be the final authority in all matters of faith and practice, then we need to realize that various accusations will come our way (1 Peter 2:12). Denominational religious groups which are viewed as more conservative or Bible-oriented are accused of being legalistic and unloving, hence, we shouldn’t be shocked that the same accusation is leveled against the true church. Righteous people have often been accused of being judgmental, strict, or hard in what they taught. These accusations were made against Lot, Genesis 19:9 "he is acting like a judge"; Jesus,John 6:60-61 "This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it?" But Jesus, conscious that His disciples grumbled at this"; Matthew 15:12 "Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this statement?"; and Paul, 2 Corinthians 11:10 "For they say, ‘His letters are weighty and strong’".
- What this means is that we simply have to realize that one of the world’s favorite arguments against taking the Bible seriously is the claim of legalism. Which means that we have to work harder in demonstrating that such a claim isn’t true. First, following Scripture isn’t being legalistic (Matthew 4:4; Matthew 7:21; John 14:15). Secondly, we have demonstrated that we don’t think man is saved by works of human merit, seeing that we simply follow God’s conditions for salvation (faith, repentance, confession, baptism). Legalism is where we start adding human traditions to the word of God. In this sense, every time we preach against instrumental music, Premillennialism, Calvinism, organizational structure beyond the local congregation, and so on, we are preaching against legalism. Legalism is also the mindset in which we think that obedience earns salvation, or human works gain salvation, or in which obedience in one area makes up for willful sin in other area.
- It is popular to claim that one cannot strictly adhere to Scripture and remain a loving and compassionate person. But Jesus both had compassion (Matthew 9:11-12), and taught that obedience to the Word of God was absolutely necessary for salvation (Matthew 7:21-27; John 12:48). What this demands of us is that we must do our best to become the most loving and compassionate people we can be. We must manifest a strong love for the souls of those who we are trying to teach or correct, "but speaking the truth in love" (Ephesians 4:15); "restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness" (Galatians 6:1); "And the Lord’s bondservant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth" (2 Timothy 2:24-25); "preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction" (4:2).
- When teaching or correcting people, allow their response to determine how soft or hard you push. If they are humble and receptive, you can simply let the passages sink into their heart, but if they are resistant, then you have to push a little harder.
- Have them into your home, show them hospitality. Demonstrate that your allegiance to God and His Word has made you a very nice, content and happy person. Make yourself available, be willing to met with them, talk on the phone, hear all their complaints or objections and then patiently seek to guide them back to the truth. Be willing to go the extra mile. Continue to remain civil, loving, nice, despite some of their unkind and cutting remarks (Romans 12:17-21).
- Remind them that love demands that we tell people the truth (1 Corinthians 13:6). It isn’t very loving to allow a friend to practice or believe something that will result in their condemnation.
- Continue to study as long as they are willing. Demonstrate that if the friendship ends, that they are the one who is acting intolerant.
- Remind them that a true love includes a love for our eternal comfort and not just our temporary comfort. People need to realize that when they are trying to justify a sinful practice or teaching and they are also trying to undermine the salvation of the person who is teaching them. If people are really interested in real love, then don’t try to lead a Christian astray, don’t try to get us to accept a false doctrine, don’t try to undermine our confidence in Scripture or our ability to understand it alike. Remember, the Christian who is teaching you also has a soul and must stand before God in judgment.
Mark Dunagan/Beaverton Church Of Christ/(503)644-9017