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1 Corinthians 4:2 by Robert Dean
Series:1st Corinthians (2002)
Duration:1 hr 5 mins

Faithful Stewards: The Training of Pastor-Teachers; 1 Corinthians 4:2

 

The only two communication gifts that are left for the church age are evangelists and pastor-teachers. According to Ephesians 4:11, 12 the primary purpose for the gift of evangelist and pastor-teacher is to train the equip the saints for the work of ministry. It is the believers in the body of Christ who perform the work of ministry, not the pastor-teacher or the evangelist. Notice in that passage that the evangelist is not to be primarily concerned with evangelism, although that is his spiritual gift, it is to train people in the congregation to do evangelism, to train other believers to witness.

1 Corinthians 4:1 NASB "Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God."

Ephesians 1:9-11 NASB "He made known to us the mystery of His will." That which is communicated today that is unrevealed truth for the church age, and it has a focal point, and that focal point is not just today, it is the future, the Millennium. "…according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times [the Millennial kingdom], {that is,} the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will."

Paul is writing this in a context where up to this point in human history God's plan for the Millennial kingdom has primarily focused on the Jews. The Jews thought of the Millennial kingdom as their kingdom. They were the ones who were going to rule and reign. There are passages such as Isaiah 2 which talks about how all of the nations will come to the holy mountain of God to worship. So Israel looks at the messianic age and the Millennial kingdom as primarily a Jewish age and that the emphasis there would be on the Jews ruling with Christ. But what Paul is saying here in terms of the mystery is that God has revealed new information in the church age that the future Millennium is not a time that is going to be restricted to Jewish rule but is there going to be now a new group of people that are going to be brought in that are going to have co-responsibilities in the dispensation of the fullness of time, and they will be brought together in one household. So the future Millennium will be shared. The use of the term "one household" doesn't mean the distinction between the church and Israel breaks down but that there is a new element brought in that was not revealed before, and that is the church age. The key word in Ephesians 1:11 is "inheritance," and so the mystery doctrines primarily relate to how Gentiles are now included with Jews in a unique body, the church, and how that is being prepared to rule and reign with Jesus Christ in the dispensation of the Millennial kingdom. So it takes us back to doctrines in terms of inheritance, the judgment seat of Christ, and roles and responsibilities that we will have in the coming kingdom, and this is the responsibility of the pastor-teacher. He is to teach these things and to teach the unique spiritual life of the church age so that believers in this age are prepared to assume their responsibilities as those who will co-reign with Jesus Christ during the Millennial kingdom.

Going back to our passage in 1 Corinthians 4, we are stewards, managers; we have a responsibility for communicating the mysteries of God, i.e. the revelation of God. The emphasis is not on building the church, it is not on church growth, it is not on managing programs, it is not on counselling; it is on communicating to believers what God has revealed in the New Testament with primary emphasis on the unique spiritual life of the church age. That is its focal point. We have to teach the whole counsel of God, and it doesn't exclude teaching the Old Testament because Paul says in 1 Corinthians chapter 10 that "These things were written as an example for us." So this includes teaching the entire Scripture from Genesis to Revelation, but it ultimately feeds into that purpose of communicating to believers how to live that unique spiritual life of the church age for the purpose of preparing us to rule and reign with Jesus Christ in the future Millennial kingdom and to glorify Him.

In order to do this we have to recognize what God's evaluative framework is for pastor-teachers, and that is 1 Corinthians 4:2 NASB "In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy." The word "stewards" takes us back to verse 1, so we know exactly what Paul is talking about. He is talking about those who have this responsibility to communicate the gospel. What is required of them is that they be found faithful, and this is the Greek noun PISTOS [pistoj] which means to be faithful, to be trustworthy, and to be responsibility in terms of one's mission. So the mission given the pastor-teacher is to communicate the mystery doctrines of the church age. He is not the man who is there to visit, he is not to emphasize church growth, he is not there to conduct a social plan for the church, to promote some social agenda for the society at large, he is not there to be the hospital visitor, to be the friend and buddy of the people in the congregation, he is there for the primary purpose of teaching the Word of God and equipping the saints to do the work of the ministry in relationship to the mystery doctrine of the church age.

So how is the pastor to be faithful?

1)  He is to be faithful in his preparation. As he begins to grow and mature in his spiritual life it will become evident to the man who has this gift that he has it, and he needs to begin to prepare and utilize that gift, just as any other believer in the body of Christ is to utilize their spiritual gift.

2)  He is to be faithful to continue his education (not only his preparation). All you get in seminary are the seeds of your education and you spend the rest of your life as a pastor learning more and more.

3)  Pastors need to be faithful in time management. One of the greatest challenges of a pastor is to manage his time and his priorities. While his primary responsibility is to study and teach he also has responsibilities to lead the congregation. The smaller the congregation the more he has other responsibilities in terms of administration, and things of that nature. He has his own personal responsibilities, in his own spiritual growth and spiritual life. Then he has responsibilities in terms of his family.

4)  He is not to try and reinvent the wheel. The pastor doesn't have to try and reinvent everything, he can build on what others have done.

5)  He is not to simply warm up someone else's leftovers.

6)  The danger to the pastor-teacher is arrogance. There is antinomian arrogance in many pastors, they don't want to be accountable to anyone in any area. There is authority arrogance where some pastors seek to extend their authority beyond the pulpit and to actually get in the face of people in their daily lives. There is financial arrogance where pastors seek to fleece the sheep and are motivated by money. There is academic arrogance where those who have seminary training look down on those who don't. There is success arrogance. It is always wrong for the pastor to get his eyes on someone else's ministry, on its size, on its expansion, the lifestyle of some other pastor.

7)  Pastors are not expected by the Lord to do anything beyond feeding the sheep. They shouldn't get involved in politics, hospital visitation, or administration. All of these things distract the pastor.

8)  A good pastor-teacher is going to think outside of the box of traditional church implementation. By this is not meant that he is going to come up with new ideas such as the new idea of church growth or innovative culturally-relevant programs, or that he going to use music that isn't traditional. He is going to think in terms of the job of the pastor-teacher which is to equip believers to do the work of the ministry. The job of the pastor is to teach people in the pew how to think about life biblically. That's it; everything else is secondary. If he is not accomplishing that it doesn't matter what else is being accomplished, he is failing to be faithful, a faithful steward of the ministry of God.