Hello everybody and welcome in to episode #215 of the Bible 2021 podcast. We are reading 1 Corinthians 4 today and our focus is on What Is the Business of the Church + How is the Kingdom of God Not About Talk But Power? We are a daily 10 minute podcast, where we will dig in to the truth of the Word of God by reading one Bible chapter a day and discussing it. Welcome to new listeners in . Thanks for listening! Our goal is to encourage DAILY Bible reading, so you can jump in at any time and join with us. We want to invite as many people as possible to join us in daily Bible reading, so help spread the word and share the podcast! Don’t forget about our web-page, Bible2021.com – contact page, show notes, transcript and more– Click here for our Bible 2021 reading plan\
Today we get yet another metaphor for carrying the Kingdom of God forward. When Jesus first called His disciples, He used the metaphor of fishing – “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men,” said Jesus to a group of professional fishermen. Later on, He used the metaphor of farming, with the Word of God being the seed, and people being the ground that the seed was planted in. Paul used that metaphor as well in yesterday’s passage, saying that he was the one who planted the seed of God’s Word into the soil of the Corinthian people, and that Apollos was the one who figuratively watered that word by teaching more and more about Jesus and the Word of God – planting and watering produced growth in the Corinthians. They went from bare soil to maturing plants that were beginning to bear fruit. He then switched metaphors again to something his listeners would understand – comparing his and Apollos’ efforts to building a house. Paul was the one who laid the foundation of the house, metaphorically representing the initial teaching of Jesus and His life, His crucifixion, His resurrection and His offer of salvation by grace through faith. The foundation, as we found out yesterday, will always be the same – Jesus! And Apollos built on that foundation with other teachings from God’s Word.
That gets us our chapter today, where we have a new metaphor, but this metaphor is also borrowed from Jesus. Paul says that he and his team are like managers of a house for an owner, or a business for an owner:
A person should think of us in this way: as servants of Christ and managers of the mysteries of God. 2 In this regard, it is required that managers be found faithful. 1 Corinthians 4:1
So a minister, pastor, leader, or mature follower of Jesus is ALSO like a manager of the mysteries of God. God is the owner of the house, the business – whatever, and we are the managers that are running the business on behalf of the owner. This reminds me of my new favorite parable, the Parable of the Minas in Luke 19 – in which Jesus gives us some details on exactly the kind of business that we, as managers are running – and it is not a money-making business, but a people-multiplying business!
In the Parable of the Minas we see how Jesus is like a businessman who gives His servants money to invest and multiply, and then goes away. When He returns, that businessman expected the servants to have multiplied His money. The ones who do – who go about His business – are greatly rewarded. The ones who don’t – who completely ignore His call to multiply – are put out of His Kingdom. Again, this not about making money, but this story is a parable, so it doesn’t LITERALLY mean that Jesus wants us to be in business to multiply MONEY, but that He is calling us together into the Kingdom Business of multiplying PEOPLE. This echoes a call to fruitfulness and multiplication throughout the Bible.
Genesis 1:28 God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth,
God cares about people – and cares about us reaching people. Not so we can have more people, but so more people can be saved and in His Kingdom for eternity.
Let’s read our chapter, and then discuss how exactly the Kingdom of God is not about talk, but power.
George Muller is one of my heroes. A man of great faith and great prayer, he was the first to begin orphanages in the United Kingdom, despite being an immigrant from Germany, and the orphanages under his leadership cared for thousands of orphans, despite Mueller never personally asking for any donations. Muller meticulously recorded answered prayers in his life – thousands of them. When he was a young man, barely a Christian, he was going through a time of financial struggle and spiritual doubt and struggle. An anonymous German – a person who did not know him at all – sent him some money to help, with an amazing letter attached. This letter has what I consider to be one of the single best explanations of God’s kingdom not being about talk, but power. Most Christians, when hearing that phrase, tend to think of miracles and miraculous moves of God. That may be true, at least to a small degree, but I think our anonymous letter writer has an even better grasp of that truth:
Hold fast the faith which God has given you by his Holy Spirit; it is the most precious treasure in this life, and it contains in itself true happiness. Only seek by watching and prayer more and more to be delivered from all vanity and self-complacency, by which even the true believer may be ensnared when he least expects it. Let it be your chief aim to be more and more humble, faithful, and quiet. May we not belong to those who say and write continually, ‘Lord,’ ‘Lord,’ but who have him not deeply in their hearts. Christianity consists not in words, but in power. There must be life in us. For, therefore, God loved us first that we might love him in return; and that loving we might receive power, to be faithful to him, and to conquer ourselves, the world, distress, and death. May his Spirit strengthen you for this, that you may be an able messenger of his gospel! Amen.
George Müller, A Narrative of Some of the Lord’s Dealings with George Müller, vol. 1 (London: J. Nisbet & Co., 1860), 25.
Bible Memory verses for the month of August: 4 Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not arrogant, 5 is not rude, is not self-seeking, is not irritable, and does not keep a record of wrongs. 6 Love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth. 7 It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:4-6
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