Elements of Gospel Stewardship

God has revealed something from heaven, and He has entrusted the revelation to Holy Spirit-filled men to proclaim this revelation to every man. When God entrusts what belongs to Him to men, it is called, “stewardship” and every faithful steward must give an account for what He did with what was given to him to share with others (1 Cor 4:1–2; Tit 1:7). Therefore, it is wise for us to consider the elements of this stewardship from the apostle Paul, as he explained them to the church at Colossae. Paul’s objective was for the Colossians to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord (Col 1:10), but they needed to understand what grace had actually given to them. He offered himself as an example for them in Colossians 1:24–29.

First, stewardship is marked by joy in the midst of suffering and affliction (Col 1:24). The world was hostile toward Jesus Christ (Jn 7:7), and because He is enthroned in heaven (Rev 7:17), the world exercises its hostility toward His ambassadors (Jn 15:18–19; 2 Cor 5:20). Christ’s embassy in this fallen, foreign world is the church (Eph 2:20–22). Just as the world inflicted wounds upon Christ’s physical body, so it unleashes its fury on His spiritual body (Mt 5:10–12).

Christ is the head of the church (Is 49:3; Eph 1:22; 5:23; Col 1:18), and we are the body of Christ (Is 49:6). When one member suffers, we all suffer, being members one of another. Still, James concurred, “Count it all joy in the midst of your tribulations (Jas 1:2).” It is the indwelling Holy Spirit who produces the spiritual fruit of joy in the saints (Rom 8:9, 11; Gal 5:22–23). This peculiar anomaly, joy in suffering, is part of our Christian witness to the world (Col 1:24).

Second, stewardship is given by God, who calls and employs men to preach the Word of God (Col 1:25). Paul claimed to have been “made” a minister. He was a minister of the Gospel (Col 1:23), and a minister from the church. Some members are gifted to preach and teach (Eph 4:11; 2 Tim 2:22), which is a high calling (1 Cor 14). The Word of God incarnated with Christ’s appearing (Jn 1:14), and it is written as the Scriptures (2 Tim 3:16; 2 Pet 1:20–21), which are to be preached (2 Tim 4:2).

The Scriptures reveal Christ Jesus (Jn 5:39), who revealed the right interpretation of the Scriptures (Mt 5:22, 28, 32, 34, 39, 44). Understanding the Scriptures is no mean task, and right interpretation of the Scriptures, today, requires the indwelling Holy Spirit (Rom 8:9, 11), who gave us the Scriptures (2 Tim 3:16; 2 Pet 1:20–21). To whom much is given, much is required (Lk 12:48). God has entrusted us with His Word, which is to be faithfully passed along (ministered/proclaimed) to others.

Third, the content of Gospel stewardship is the special revelation of Scripture given to His saints, as a mystery now revealed (Col 1:26). Christ is the hidden mystery (Eph 3:4; 5:32; Col 1:27; 2:2). He Himself is the good news (Mk 1:1). In the past God revealed Himself as Creator and Redeemer through types, shadows, and prophets; but in these last days He has spoken to us through His Son (Heb 1:2). At the fullness of time Christ was born of a woman (Gal 4:4); and since His ascension, He is known through the witness of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8).

Christ Jesus is a person, but He is also our message to the world (1 Cor 2:2). Knowing Christ is knowing God, and knowing God is knowing one’s salvation. Stewards carry the treasure of Gospel knowledge with them, and they dispense it to all creation (Mt 24:14; Mk 16:15). It is the power of God unto salvation for those who believe (Rom 1:16). It is not part of our stewardship to make men believe, but it is our burden for them to hear the news (Rom 10:15). Their faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Rom 10:17).

Fourth, stewardship is God’s will, for God willed to make Christ known to His saints (Col 1:27) through the stewardship of ministers of the Gospel. God, who orders all things according to the counsel of His will (Eph 1:1), has willed for us to know Christ. Grace causes humility. If God did not will for us to know Christ, then we would not know the joy of our salvation. It is a veiled mystery to those who are perishing (2 Cor 4:3), but light has come to our darkness. In times past, God gave more light to the Jews; but He has shone His light into the heart of Gentiles (Acts 15; 2 Cor 4:6). The wall separating us from Him and from the Jews has been torn down (Eph 2:14). There is neither Jew nor Greek (Gal 3:28), but only Spirit-filled Christians, as members of Christ’s body.

Fifth, stewardship is empowered from within the saint, with “Christ in you” (Col 1:26, 27, 29). Christians, both Jew and Gentile, are indwelt by the Holy Spirit of Christ (Rom 8:9, 11), who becomes our Teacher (Jn 14:26). The subject is Christ, the wisdom of God (1 Cor 1:24). The hope of glory results from the Spirit engraving the Gospel things of God upon our hearts (Jer 31:33).

We believe, and therefore, we hope for things unseen, yet promised by God. Sanctification, being made holy, is God’s will for every believer (1 Cor 1:30; 1 Thess 4:3; 2 Thess 2:13; 1 Pet 1:16). Christians know the Lord through the ministry of the Spirit and the Word (Jn 17:17), brought forth by the proclamation of ministers (2 Tim 4:2).

Sixth, stewardship is proclaiming Christ (Col 1:28), the Gospel mystery revealed to us, as treasure in earthen vessels. Paul called it, “riches of the glory (Col 1:27).” They needed to know and value what had been given to them. Paul admonished the Gentile Colossian believers, even as He taught them Christ.

They should devote themselves to prayer (Col 4:2) because Jesus was a man of prayer. They should not be deceived by the many false teachers (Col 2; 2 Pet 2) because Jesus is the truth and wisdom of God (Jn 14:6; 1 Cor 1:24). They should walk in a manner worthy of the Lord (Col 1:10) because He always did what was pleasing to the Father.

In summary, we have learned some elements of stewardship of the Gospel, given by God, to ministers of His choosing, who are gifted in preaching the Word of God, who is Christ and the Scriptures, revealed to every man in general and saints, effectually, according to God’s will, and empowered by His indwelling Spirit, who bears witness to Jesus Christ, whom we preach, as the riches of His glory, a mystery now manifested to us who believe.

In conclusion, we are to follow Paul, as He followed Christ, following in His steps (1 Pet 2:21). Are you burdened to preach Christ and Him crucified (1 Cor 2:2)? Have you suffered loss for the sake of His name? Does joy strangely abound in your sufferings for the sake of the elect (2 Tim 2:10)?

The power of God is in you, and the wisdom of God is in you, as the precious, priceless treasure of God, who has entrusted a ministry of proclamation to you. A steward must be found faithful, and faithfulness is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal 5:22). Empowered by the Spirit of Christ, may you learn Christ, know Christ, and preach Christ all your days of suffering, according to God’s will, and in the joy of His strength.

David Norczyk

Spokane Valley, Washington

February 7, 2021

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Some random theologian out West somewhere, Christian writer, preacher

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David Norczyk

Some random theologian out West somewhere, Christian writer, preacher