The Gospel and Stewardship – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

The Gospel & Stewardship

Nick Esch, 10/8/2017 Cornerstone Baptist Church Terrell, TX

Today I want us to think about Christian stewardship. But I want us to think about it holistically, which is why we are looking at 1 Corinthians 6. In 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 Paul says, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” These verses are at the end of Paul explaining to the Corinthians that what they do in their body matters. They must not live in the desires of the flesh, because God lives in them. And all of this is on the heels of what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 4:7, “What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?” In other words, the Corinthians were given everything they have, including their body, by God. And their body is now a dwelling place for God, because God has so taken up residence in their life that He now lives within them. And now they are to live for Him. They are not their own, they were bought with a price… The Corinthians were redeemed and purchased by Jesus for God, and this is still true of all Christians. So friends, if you are in here today and you consider yourself a Christian, this is extremely relevant for you… Or, if you are in here today and you don’t consider yourself a Christian, there is much here that is relevant for you as well.

Let’s think about this for a moment. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). And as the sovereign Creator He has Creator rights over all of His creation. He made us. We are His. Everything is His. “The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything” (Acts 17:24-25). God created everything… It all belongs to Him—we belong to Him. He created us to live and steward His creation in such a way that we magnify His glory in and through our lives together. But we rebelled against Him. Instead of living for God we chose to live for ourselves. Instead of living for God’s glory, we all sinned and fell short of God’s glory, seeking self-glory instead by living for our own selfish desires.

When we sin, we seek to please ourselves, not God, and in so doing we put ourselves in the place of God, acting as though we were the sovereign Creator who knows best and has a right to use the creation however we please. The root of our sin in these acts of defiance is pride, which is really idolatry, because we are seeking to glorify ourselves instead of God, we are worshipping ourselves instead of God… Our sin may play out in many different ways, but at the heart of it is self…

So God has sovereign rights over all, including us and our lives; but we rebel against Him and seek to serve self instead of God. And that act of rebellion is what is wrong with this world. Sin has fractured everything. All of creation is broken and scarred because of sin. If you want to see how horrible, how evil, how deadly and tragic sin is, just look at what just happened in Vegas. Over fifty killed, and hundreds hurt… Why? Because of the insanity of sin… Sin has affected everything. But above all, it affected our relationship with God. We were created to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever, but through our selfishness, through our sin we were separated from God’s gracious presence and are now deserving of His just wrath.

But God, because of the great love with which He loved us—even when we were in the midst of our rebellion against Him—gave His only Son to save His people. He sent Jesus to live the perfect life for God’s glory that we were created to live, and then to take the punishment that we deserve for our rebellion upon Himself. Jesus lived perfectly and then died sacrificially in our place. He was nailed to our cross for our sin where God’s wrath due us was poured out upon Him until it was fully satisfied. And after, He died and was put in a grave; but on the third day after His death He got up… He rose in victory, showing that the check that He wrote with His life to redeem for God a people had cleared.

God’s wrath has been satisfied for all who will turn from their sin, trust in Jesus and follow Him. Jesus lived, died, rose again and then ascended on high, where He sits at the right hand of God, reigning and ever interceding for His people; waiting for the day that He will return and finish what He has started through the cross—ridding this world of sin and all of it’s effects. But until that day, all who trust and follow the perfect, crucified, risen, reigning, and soon returning King will be saved, and brought back into fellowship with God, where they will live for Him and with Him forever in perfect joy…

Even though God owns all things, in His great love He purchased people from every tribe, tongue, nation, and generation through the blood of Jesus. He purchased us out of His wrath into His grace, all through a loving act of grace… The greatest loving act of grace… He has bought us out of slavery to sin and self and bought us into fellowship with God… He has bought us out of a wasted life of rebellion and into a life lived for the glory of God… He already owned us, but He doubled down and purchased us again… And we would do well to remember how much it cost to make that purchase… It cost the blood of Jesus, the infinitely perfect and glorious Son of God. God gave up what was infinitely lovely and perfect for the infinitely unlovely and rebellious. God spared no expense when He purchased His people… He gave His Son, and the Son gave all… All of grace… All in love… And if you haven’t been brought into this yet, let me just ask you now to repent and believe. Turn from your sin and follow Jesus. He has given up everything for you, and if you will trust in Him He will never give you up. Love, grace, glory, joy, Jesus forevermore… What are you waiting for? Surrender your life to Him…

That’s what we all do when we become Christians… Even though God already owns everything, by His grace, because of the love of God in Christ, we lay down our rebellion and surrender ourselves rightfully to God. And that’s what Paul reminds the Corinthians and us of in our passage. “You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” Now, notice he doesn’t say, “Your body is not your own…” He says you… As in all of you… Yes, your body, but all of you, down to the core of your being, and out to all that you do and all that you have… All that you are belongs to God… Doubly so, because of the gospel… For the gospel is the good news about the person and work of Jesus Christ, the perfect, crucified, risen, reigning, and returning King of kings. It is through the gospel that we have been purchased, therefore we are not our own… We live for God, not for self… But, what exactly does that look like? If we are not our own, and we are to glorify God, how does that play out practically?

This is where the idea of Christian stewardship comes in. Everything we are and everything we have is a stewardship, because everything we are and everything we have belong to the Lord. But more often than not, when we think of Christian stewardship we think of how we manage our finances and our faithfulness in tithing. But the biblical picture of Christian stewardship is so much more than all of that; and I think if we can get a grasp on that, we’ll begin to see what it looks like to live as though we are not our own, but have been bought with a price… But, we’ll start by thinking about it financially, and we’ll spend most of our time there, since that’s probably the most controversial aspect of Christian stewardship…

We often talk about the tithe in the church, and by that we’re referencing giving ten percent of our income back to God by giving it to the church. We base this off the Old Testament practice of tithing. But there are some issues with this. First, the percentage in the Old Testament was closer to twenty percent rather than ten. You’ll have to do some work to get a for sure number; but if you start adding everything together in the Old Testament, you’ll find that it’s closer to twenty percent. Second, we are not under the Old Testament Law. The tithe was a part of the Mosaic Law for ancient Israel. Christians are not under Law, but under grace. “[You] have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God” (Romans 7:4). “So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith” (Galatians 3:24-26). For Jesus fulfilled the law for us…

And let’s not forget that the whole purpose of the law of the tithe was tied to the tabernacle, the temple, and the Levitical Priesthood. But Jesus came down from heaven and tabernacled among us… He came down from heaven and abolished the temple, by being the temple Himself. And that temple was destroyed for us… But He raised it again on the third day… He was the temple because He is the very presence of God incarnate; He is the glory of God in the flesh. His body was the new temple. But now, all those who trust in Him are indwelt by the Spirit of God, and therefore our bodies become a temple of God, and as we are joined together in the church we become the temple of God because we are likewise the body of Christ. Jesus said His body was the new temple, and by faith in Him we become His body, the church… making us the new temple…

All that to say, there is no longer an Old Testament tabernacle or temple to support. And likewise, there is no longer a priesthood to support, for Jesus is our great High Priest… “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:15-16)… Now some of you might be thinking about the fact that Jesus commends tithing in Matthew 23:23; but understand that He commends it to Jews under the Mosaic Law… He also commends making sacrifices on the altar, which we don’t do…

“So what are you saying Nick; that we don’t have to tithe?” Well, yes and no. While I don’t believe the Bible commands Christians to give ten percent, God’s Word does call us to give sacrificially, and to glorify God with every penny. You see, the gospel doesn’t give us a way out of tithing. We don’t get to just write a check for ten percent and then feel like our duty is done… No… No… We are not our own… We are to glorify God with everything we are and everything we have. Now that doesn’t mean that we just begrudgingly give until it hurts because that’s our duty… It means that we are so amazed by grace, so satisfied in Christ, so in love with God that we joyfully give.

This is what the churches in Macedonia did. In 2 Corinthians 8:2-5 Paul says, “for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints—and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us.” In an abundance of joy they gave, even in severe affliction and extreme poverty, to the church; but their giving was a sacrificial act of giving themselves first to God and then to God’s people. By giving to the body of Christ they were giving to Christ. And they did so at great cost to themselves, not begrudgingly, but in joy and love. For they knew, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for their sake, for our sake he became poor, so that they, so that we, by his poverty might become rich (2 Corinthians 8:9). We were bought with a great price. Again, God spared no expense when He purchased us. Christ for our sake became poor… giving all of Himself sacrificially so that we might become rich… Rich in God, rich in grace, rich in eternal joy… The Macedonians understood that, and gave in light of it… And this is how all Christians are called to give.

Throughout the New Testament we see that we are called to give to the church, to give to support our pastors, to give to support the relief of the poor, to give to support the work of the Great Commission… We are to give sacrificially; but we are to give of ourselves… We are not our own, and our money is not our own… it’s all to be used for God’s glory. That so, we are to be good stewards with all of it, being wise with every penny, always paying our debts, seeking to be responsible with every penny, and budgeting in a way that glorifies God. When we give we aren’t just to give ten percent whether we can afford it or not. We must pay our bills; we must do all for the glory of God, seeking to be above reproach in every area, especially financially. So we don’t cut the people or businesses or whoever we owe money short… They aren’t the ones who are called to give sacrificially, we are… So we give until it hurts… But only in such way that it hurts us… We sacrifice… We don’t cut those around us short so that we can give more… That’s not glorifying God… That’s not sacrificing, that’s stealing… And I mean, we aren’t earning anything by giving more, especially if we owe that money out… But we give sacrificially because we have already been given everything in Jesus…

Now, people often quote Malachi 3:10, telling people to put God to the test in their giving, because the more they give the more they will get. But is that really what Malachi says? It says, “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.” Now again, this is in the Old Testament, under the Mosaic Law, so it doesn’t apply to us, at least not exactly as it’s worded here… Jesus fulfilled the Law for all who will repent and believe… And for all who will repent and believe, Jesus pours down a blessing from heaven… Indeed He is the blessing that has come down from heaven so that we have no more need… Our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness… We dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name. On Christ the solid rock we stand, all other ground is sinking sand… He is our blessing, He is all we need! As Martin Luther wrote in his famous hymn, “Let goods and kindred go; this mortal life also. The body they may kill; His truth abideth still… His kingdom is forever…” Beloved, the window of blessing has been opened through the gospel… And the great blessing that God has poured out on His people is Jesus, and all that comes with Him… righteousness, joy, glory, God… pleasures forevermore… His kingdom is forever… As Paul said in 2 Corinthians 1:20, “For all the promises of God find their Yes in him.”

So, we don’t get to buy blessings, as it were… That’s prosperity gospel heresy… Our blessings were purchased on the cross… Now with that said, God certainly blesses faithfulness. And Jesus Himself said, “It is better to give than to receive…” But why is it better? Because our giving is an act of our love for God, our love for Jesus… And we love because He first loved us… God is good, gracious, compassionate, and merciful; and He blesses us with joy in Christ as we live in faithfulness… And in His grace He often blesses our faithfulness with the added blessing of rewarding our faithfulness in many different ways… But as Gary so often says, “If He doesn’t do one more thing for us, He has done more than enough on the cross…” So we don’t give to get… Just as we love because He first loved us, we give because Christ gave all… And our giving is an act of love… Understand, we don’t hold back money that we owe out so that we can give more to God, in hopes of buying a blessing… We pay our debts, and we give sacrificially… We seek to be responsible with our money, so that we will be able to give more, so that we can love God and love people through our finances, and glorify God with every penny…

So as Christians, we are not under the law of the tithe, but we are under grace, and grace is a far greater motivator than the law. Fear and begrudging obedience will only go so far, but love and grace, those motivate for eternity. You see because of God’s grace in Christ we are now and will be eternally satisfied in Christ; so we can joyfully give up anything and everything because we will never have to give Him up, and He will never give us up… That’s the beauty of grace. That’s why we sing, “O to grace how great a debtor, daily I’m constrained to be…” Instead of writing a check and feeling like we have fulfilled our duty, we know that we owed a debt that we could never pay, but Jesus paid it for us; and in light of that and in amazement of that, we then are called to give… So while ten percent isn’t what we are required to give, we should seek to give above and beyond that, because Jesus gave above and beyond what we could ever ask or imagine. And alongside that we must seek to glorify God with every penny He entrusts to us… We are not our own, and neither is our money… What do you have that you did not receive?…

And this same idea applies to everything; it goes way beyond our money… We must be good stewards of all that we are and all that we have. In Ephesians 3:3 Paul spoke of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to him. And what he was getting at, was that since he had been given grace by God, he then was to give that grace to others; since he had been saved through the gospel he then was to share that gospel with everyone he could. And that’s true of us as well. But everything we have is a gift of God’s grace. And God graciously blesses us to make us a blessing. This is what He told Abraham when He said, “I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing” (Genesis 12:2). As Christians we are all children of Abraham, and so this applies just as much to us. God blesses us to be a blessing. And you see that’s how we glorify God.

Paul said, “You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” We glorify God in our body, with everything we are and with everything we have by blessing others. As we have seen, we are called to give sacrificially of our finances, but this is also true of everything that God has given us. We give sacrificially of all that we are and all that we have, because that’s how we love people. And (remember what we saw a few weeks ago in Matthew 22) through sacrificially loving people because of the grace that we have receive, we show that we love God… Our love for people displays our love for God, because as we sacrificially love others, and sacrificially give of all that we are and all that we have, we show that we are truly satisfied in Christ… we show that Jesus is eternally satisfying… So God blesses us that we might be a blessing and glorify God through sacrificially loving others.

Paul says later in Ephesians 5:15-16, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” In other words, the things that come at us through any given day are typically evil (against God), typically trying to pull us away from God; so we must be wise and careful with our time here on earth. God has given us time, time to glorify Him with… Our time is not our own… Nothing is our own… It all belongs to Him. All that you are and all that you have… Your time, your money, your possessions, your gifts and talents; everything that God, in His grace has blessed you with is meant to serve Him—to be used for His glory. And as we sacrifice for the glory of God and the good of others, as we display our love for God through our love for others, what we will find is that it is indeed better to give than to receive, for as we glorify God we will enjoy Him all the more…

Conclusion

Last week we committed ourselves to gospel faithfulness and desperate prayer, in hopes that God might pour out revival on us… And now we’re looking at Christian stewardship, because all Christian stewardship really is, is being a faithful Christian, is gospel faithfulness. And again, it’s Christians who are seeking to be faithful, who are desperate in prayer, and who are broken at the foot of the cross, desperate for God to move… It’s Christians like that, that God tends to pour out revival on…

So what about you? Do you realize that you are not your own… that you were bought with a price, and therefore you are to glorify God in your body… you are to glorify God with all that you are and all that you have? Are you giving sacrificially of your money, of your time, of your gifts? Are you serving in the church? Are you serving the church by making it a point to be at everything you can—Wednesday night Bible study, Sunday school, and Sunday service—so that you can love on and serve your brothers and sisters in Christ? Just our presence there is a ministry… Are you doing everything you do: in your home life, in church life, in work life, as if you were doing it for the Lord? Christians should be the best neighbors, the best spouses, the best parents, and the best employees, because we are empowered by grace, and we are doing everything we do for Jesus. Are you striving, by God’s grace to live that way? Are we a people that have that type of reputation? That’s what we should be helping each other become… people who are faithful to the Lord in all areas of life…

And speaking of helping one another, are you opening up your life to others? For their good and for your good… Are you opening your home and being hospitable, not only to your fellow Christians, but to your neighbors and the lost around you? Are you being a good steward of the grace that you have received in Christ by extending that grace to others? Every Christian on this side of heaven owes the gospel to every unbeliever on this side of hell. We are stewards of it… So how are you using all that you are and all that you have to steward God’s grace?

Are you seeking to glorify God with every penny He entrusts to you? Are you above reproach in your finances and in every area of your life? Are you budgeting in such a way that you can give more and more towards the cause of Christ? Are you giving until it hurts? Beloved, if Christ doesn’t have our wallet, He probably doesn’t have our hearts… So how are you giving, how are you living? This may sound a bit overwhelming, and you may be thinking, “If I do all that my whole life will be different…” Well friends, it’s not your life… You are not your own, for you were bought with a price… Christ lived and died for us; Christ gave all for us… May we follow in His steps…