Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Faithfulness and the Kingdom

On Sunday, we concluded a four-week study on the Kingdom of God. Having already seen that Christ postponed His earthly reign and will be coming again soon, we asked three very important questions:
  1. What will you do in the Kingdom? Not only will believers be citizens of Christ's kingdom (John 3:3), but you will actually reign together with Christ! (2 Tim. 2:12; Rev. 20:6; Dan. 7:27) The Bible indicates you will rule over people, over towns, over nations. There will be learning and building and law-making and innovation. As Randy Alcorn says, "All of us will have some responsibility in which we serve God...We think that faithful work should be rewarded by a vacation for the rest of our lives. But God offers something very different: more work, more responsibilities, increased opportunities, along with greater abilities, resources, wisdom, and empowerment. We will have sharp minds, strong bodies, clear purpose, and unabated joy." (see Alcorn, Heaven, chs. 20-22)
  2. How should you prepare for the Kingdom? In the Parable of Talents (Matt. 25:14-30), Jesus says your faithfulness in this life will directly affect your role in Christ's Kingdom. To go one step further, your faithfulness in the church will directly affect your role in Christ's Kingdom. Yes, the church is that important. The church is the beautiful Bride of Christ, the Body of Christ, the temple of God, the protector of the Gospel, the steward of the Great Commission, and the only institution Christ said He would build. To neglect Christ's church is to fall short of His wonderful plan for your life. It is to abandon your post and go AWOL. In short, it is burying your talent. Perhaps you were involved at one time, but have slowly drifted away from the people of God. Please realize you can never outgrow your need for and stewardship in the church.
  3. What has Christ entrusted to you now? First, His Gospel. You must turn from sin and trust in Christ. Once you have done that, then your whole life has been bought and is owned by Him. There are now three areas in the church where He is specifically testing and developing your faithfulness: time, talent, and treasure.
This week, ask the Lord how you are doing in these three areas. Take an honest assessment. Where are you living up to God's standard? Where do you need to improve? Where do you need to humbly repent, find forgiveness at the cross, and begin to live for Christ's kingdom instead of your own pleasures?
  • Time (Eph. 5:16; 2 Tim. 2:4). Worship is not a spectator sport. Everyone must be an active player. You are called by God to attend and be engaged in worship on the Lord's Day. Pursue membership if you are not already a member, so that you can achieve God's fullest for your life. Attend our Sunday School and evening Bible Study. Be on guard against excuses that Satan will use to draw you away from God's house and His people, and cut off your circulation from the Body of Christ. We all have weeks when we don't feel like getting up and going to church, when time with friends or projects around the house compete for our attention. But once you arrived at church and enjoyed the rich study, worship, and fellowship, have you ever regretted it?
  • Talent (Eph. 4:7; 1 Pet. 4:10). Every single person in the Body of Christ has a spiritual gift, and God calls you to be a good steward for the benefit of others. No one can afford to be idle. Your gift is needed, whether it be serving, mercy, faith, teaching, administration, etc. Only when everyone is actively using their gifts can the Body reach optimum health and maturity. There are many opportunities right now where more members are desperately needed: children's teachers, nursery helper, choir member, missions, audio/visual team, etc. Are you using your gifts to their fullest?
  • Treasure (Phil. 4:18-19; 2 Cor. 9:7). God has blessed you and calls you to give cheerfully and sacrificially to His work. Such an offering is a well-pleasing and acceptable sacrifice to Him. As Donald Whitney says, "The use of your money and how you give it is one of the best ways of evaluating your relationship with Christ and your spiritual trustworthiness. If you love Christ with all your heart, your giving will reflect that" (Spiritual Disciplines, p. 140).
Faithfulness in these three areas will require sacrifice, but they will directly affect your role in Christ's future Kingdom. Will He be able to entrust you with much in His kingdom?

May each of us hear those words, "Well done, good and faithful slave! You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master" (Matt. 25:21).

(Sunday’s sermon has been uploaded to our podcast site and is available for free download or to listen online.)

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