Bible Study Opportunities
Can God Trust You With His Gospel?
By Jon W. Quinn
Can you be trusted? Now that question is not the same as asking if you are honest. There is a difference, though honesty is a part of being trustworthy. There are honest people that are not trustworthy in certain circumstances. For example, though I am honest, I would not be trustworthy as a brain surgeon, airline pilot or as a center on a pro basketball team. See the difference?
But there are things we can do to make ourselves more trustworthy. In addition to honesty, we can study and prepare ourselves for certain situations. Many people study life saving techniques such as CPR so that they can be depended on in a medical crises.
What does it take to make one trustworthy with the gospel? Honesty is an obvious choice. Love for God and others, knowledge and courage are some attributes that come to mind. This is important, because you see, God has entrusted us with His gospel! This is not just a theory. He has given us the gospel complete, including instructions on how to use it. What does it take to
approve ourselves unto God as trustworthy servants?
It takes the same things as it took for Paul and others to be faithful servants, because most of the same attributes that made Paul a good apostle will make us good disciples, with a few notable exceptions such as direct inspiration, confirming miracles and so forth.
"For you yourselves know, brethren, that our coming to you was not in vain, but after we had already suffered and been mistreated in Philippi, as you know, we had the boldness in our God to speak to you the gospel of God amid much opposition. For our exhortation does not come from error or impurity or by way of deceit; but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men but God, who examines our hearts. For we never came with flattering speech, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed - God is witness - nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, even though as apostles of Christ we might have asserted our authority." (I Thessalonians 2:1-6).
"You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation and the joy of the Holy Spirit." (I Thessalonians 1:6). Paul first took the gospel to Thessalonica during his second missionary journey. It was a busy city, linked to all the important cities of Macedonia by road and located on the Thermatic Gulf.
Paul had first gone to the synagogue, as he often did, and proclaimed the gospel of Christ there on three straight Sabbaths. As a result, a number of Jews and proselytes believed, including a number of prominent women (Acts 17:2-4).
But others of the Jews became jealous of Paul, and went to the marketplace and began to stir up trouble for him. They formed a mob and incited it. The mob came searching for Paul and Silas at the house of Jason, but could not find them. They dragged Jason and other brethren to the city authorities and accused them of welcoming Paul and Silas, "men who have upset the world" and who say that "there is another king, Jesus." The council received a pledge (probably having to do with loyalty to Caesar) from the brethren and released them, while Paul and Silas left Thessalonica for Berea (Acts 17:5-10). Evidently, troubles for the new church continued after Paul's departure.
Some Things We Need To Be Trustworthy Custodians of the Gospel
"For you yourselves know, brethren, that our coming to you was not in vain...we had the boldness in our God...we have been approved by God...so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God...God examines our hearts." (I Thessalonians 2:1-4).
Boldness - Severe treatment, danger and opposition did not bring about a hesitance to proclaim Jesus. If the gospel had been changed, then perhaps others would not have been as opposed to it. But the gospel is not ours to change. We are to speak the truth, as it has been given to us by God, in season and out of season (II Timothy 4:1,2). Our task is too important to allow ourselves to be intimidated into either changing the message or refraining from telling it to others.
Approved by God - Paul and Silas had already been tried and had passed the test. Their approval was from God. This approval comes to us today in much the same way. If we walk in the light of the gospel, being loyal to the Lordship of Jesus in all things, not allowing trying circumstances to dissuade us, then we are approved by God. But if wee deny the Lord or become ashamed of living by His gospel, then we have failed the test (II Corinthians 13:5; Philippians 1:10).
Speak to please God - Our aim ought always be to please God in the things we do or say. He is the one we serve. He determines our standards of conduct and speech, not man. When we take a poll about the right or wrong of a thing, we only seek one Respondent's answers; the Lord's (Luke 6:47; Romans 3:4).
Conscious that God examines our hearts - We are always aware that God sees our motives. Thoughts that are hidden to others are obvious unto God. If we understand this, then we will be more likely to keep motive and conscience clean (I Corinthians 4:4,5).
Some Things We Must Avoid To Be Trustworthy Custodians of the Gospel
"For our exhortation comes not from error or impurity or by way of deceit..never came with flattering speech, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed...nor did we seek glory from men..." (I Thessalonians 2:3-6).
Error - The gospel Paul taught was free from misleading statements and false doctrines. He was not there to seduce them, but to save them. There were false teachers in the world, but Paul was not one of them (II Timothy 3:13). We must be sure that our teaching is true.
Impurity - Paul's preaching did not come from moral or spiritual uncleanliness. His ethics were always the highest, and so must ours be (I Thessalonians 4:1-7).
Deceit - Paul was not a crafty, treacherous sort of person either. Sometimes this Greek word is translated "guile" and if we are to be like Jesus, we will have to do away with this (I Peter 2:22). There are many religious charlatans in the world. These frauds will one day stand before the righteous judge and answer for their wickedness.
Flattery - Flattering words cover up evil motives. Paul spoke plainly and lovingly. He was not involved in teaching the gospel for his own benefit, but for that of others. Beware the flatterer, and do not be one yourself (Romans 16:18).
Greed - There were some who were false teachers seeking material rewards by their work at the expense of others. Offering false hopes may gain something in a material way, but it will cost the teacher his soul because he has made himself "an enemy of the cross of Christ" (Philippians 3:18-19).
Seeking the glory of men - Finally, a trustworthy custodian of the gospel needs to be more interested in being exalted by God at the proper time than in receiving the accolades of men now. A choice has to often be made here. Some of Jesus' day made the wrong one (John 12:42,43).
Can God trust you with His gospel? Have you made yourself a trustworthy custodian of the treasures with which He has blessed us all? If not, isn't it time to seek the approval of the One who examines our hearts?
Reprinted From the Bradley Banner Bradley Church of Christ Bradley, Illinois August 20, 1995