Biographical Sketch of Dr. Stuart E. Lease / Bible Messages by Dr. Stuart E. Lease
[include file=/StatCounter-AllPages.txt] [include file=/StatCounter-SCM.txt]
OUR FATHER We are grateful for the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ because all that we have and are has been made possible for us through what the Lord Jesus has done for us. And, so this morning we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God because of all that we have and are in the Lord Jesus. Bless our study in Thy Word, not only that it might stimulate our minds but also stir our hearts to be obedient to Thy will. We pray in Jesus Name. Amen.
Will you open your Bible with me to II Corinthians chapter six. Were going to be dealing with this passage of the Word of God this morning; and I trust that it will be profitable to us. During this week in the messages that are available to me to present, were speaking on the matter of service, Christian Service, or the Saints Service; and we began last night with Service Specified in the Word of God. Today, we want to talk about Service Sanctified; tomorrow night on the subject, Service Clarified; and Friday morning on the subject, Service Rectified; and then Sunday night on the subject, Service Glorified. We trust that by combining these and considering each one separately as well as together, well get something of a picture of what the Word of God presents in regard to service.
Now we saw last night that one of the words used for a servant is the Greek word diakonis, from which we get the word deacon. Theres also a word from that same root which we get the word ministry. It is here in this passage in verse three of II Corinthians six, Giving no offense in anything, that the ministry be not blamed... If we were transliterating the Greek word over into the English, it would be the diakonis be not blamed. Were not going to get that professional with that word. Were going to use it in the very general sense of that word that means that every believer is to be involved in the work of the ministry. I try to impress this upon people where I go, because America has become a nation of spectators. Its like they say, The problem with the football game, is that they have forty thousand people in the stands, desperately needing exercise and twenty two out there in the field that desperately need rest. If you just sort of switch things around, you have almost the similar proportion in the church. You have the pastor and a few that are associated with him that are desperately in need of rest, and theyre doing the work of the ministry, while all the rest are standing by and watching them do it. Weve become a nation of spectators; and unfortunately, this has drifted into the church. So, at the very outset, I want to emphasize that the work of the ministry is the work of every believer; and the work of those who are gifted as individuals to lead other people, their work is to involve believers in the work of the ministry. I think probably some confusion has come from a misreading of Ephesians 4:2 [Now keep your hand in II Corinthians 6, because we are coming back to that.], but in Ephesians 4 there is set forth that God, when His Son ascended on high gave gifts unto men and then also uniquely gifted certain particular type of men, namely in this age, I believe evangelists and pastor-teachers. Now verse 12 says, For the perfecting [or the Greek word there is the completing or maturing] of the saints, for the work of the ministry [and the way it reads in the King James, it almost sounds as if these gifted people, uniquely gifted are supposed to do the work of the ministry] but thats not what the Greek says. The Greek sense there is that these gifted individuals are to mature or round out the saints, develop them literally, to involve them in the work of the ministry. So that through this the Body of Jesus Christ will be built up for the edifying [the upbuilding] of the body of Christ.
To emphasize this, I usually give a little illustration, which I dont think could be true that chickens can talk, but for purposes of illustration I think that most of you know that common fare to feed pastors or teachers is chicken, you know, just sort of standard fare, Preachers coming. Were going to make chicken and feed it to him. Well, I dont mind. I like chicken, most any way, shape, or form; except as I tell people, I dont like Isaiah chicken. How many of you know what Isaiah chicken is? Woe is me, for it is undone! I dont like chicken if it is not well done. I like it -- Well done, .....good and faithful servant! But this one hen, because of the preacher who had eaten all of her sons, she said to the other, You know, all of my sons have entered the ministry. And the other retorted, Well, they were never any good lay members anyway. Now the problem here is that we made a separation between the clergy and the laity; and the clergy are to do the work of the ministry, and the laity are to lay around and watch them do it. But the emphasis, I want to make this week, is that the work of the ministry, the work of service is the work of every believer. Every born again individual is to be involved in the work of the ministry; and it is the work that has not just a horizontal dimension it is a work that first and foremost has a vertical dimension.
Now notice here in the first verse of II Corinthians 6, We then, as workers together with Him... This indicates that we are workers together with God. This same truth is set forth in I Corinthians 3:9 where it indicates that we are laborers together with God. So there is this vertical dimension. In John 15:15 [We touched on this last evening, and I want to return to it just briefly this morning.] Jesus said, Henceforth I call you not servants... Now we emphasized last night that while the Lord Jesus does not call us servants, we still are servants and indeed ought to delight to call ourselves, servants. But He wont call us slaves or subordinates but will call us His fellow-laborers: we who labor together with Him ...for the servant [and in the typical situation, the servant in those days] knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends [You see, on the same level as Him]; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. I had one of my professors use this, and I think maybe legitimately so, as the reason why when Jesus was here on earth, He did not know the day or the hour of His return; because if He had known it, He would have shared it with His disciples; because all things were made known unto Him Who shared with them. So that He willingly and voluntarily limited that knowledge from Himself while He was here because He shared with His disciples, as His friends, all things that He had heard of His Father.
Now I want to move into verse 16. [By the way, if you think that youre not a servant, go over to verse twenty, where it says, The servant is not greater than his lord. So while He doesnt call you a servant, you still are.] And, the terms of service are set forth in verse 16 of John 15, Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you... Did you know that every believer has been ordained? Now not in the formal, public sense that the clergy are ordained, but you have been ordained, that is set apart by God for the work of the ministry, that you should go. [Now whether you know it or not, over in Matthew 28:19 and 20 that is not an imperative, where it says, Go ye into all the world... Thats a participle. It means, having gone, or while you are going, you preach the Word. So while we have often used it as a command, the command there is to disciple all nations. But here, is a very expressed intension of the Lord Jesus that we should go. Now it might mean that we should go across the street, across the fence, or it may mean across the other side of the world. But number one, as His servants, He sends us; and what He intends us to do is that we should go and bring forth fruit... Not we dont have time this week, and I wish we did, to deal with whats involved in fruit. Fruit does involve soul-winning, but its not just that. Its more than that. Its developing yourself and developing the evidence of the fruit of the Spirit in your own life and also cultivating that in the lives of other believers; for we do have a ministry not only to the unsaved, but to ourselves and to the saints. It says in John 15:16, ...and that your fruit should remain; Now that means that we have to work with people, to disciple them. So that, its not a passing thing. Unfortunately some of our churches are simply large maternity wards, where all that you have are babes in Christ. But, what God desires for His church is that we be a growing family. Sure, there will be babies there, but there will be those of almost all age and levels of maturity, seeking to develop all to maturity to conform to the image of the Son of God that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my Name... [Thats the upward dimension, keeping in contact with Him], [and then the horizontal dimension] These things I command you, that ye love one another. Vertically in touch with the Father in prayer; horizontally in touch with one another with love! Now right in the heart of this, you should bring forth fruit.
While I was attending Bible School as a student, I used to work in the summer in York, Pennsylvania in what is now the Cole Steel Company where they make office equipment, and the man who was in charge of the whole operation there was a man by the name of Mr. Lewin; and Ill never forget hed go around saying (with a Jewish accent), Ve must have production. Ve must have production. And his whole emphasis was having production! Now the Lord Jesus wants us to produce, and He and the Father labor with us to bring this production to pass.
One day I was feeding the machine with little pieces of metal that had been processed with oil, so that the pieces of metal stuck together; and I had an awful time separating them before I could ever get them into the machine. Mr. Lewin came by and noticed my difficulty. He said, Youre having a problem? I said, Yes, I think I am. He said, Let me help you. And he tried to separate them, and he had difficulty. So, he went and got a paring knife, and he stood there and separated these pieces of metal and handed them to me, and said that I could put them into the machine and the process could continue. We were laborers together! The other guys made fun, O, you got the boss working for you! You know folks, weve got the Boss working for us! We are laborers together with God! And everything that we produce is what He has first given to us, in order that we can produce. You know one of the things that never ceases to amaze me, in regard to serving the Lord, is that any service that we render is simply because He enables us to do it. It is little like when my children were smaller, they would come to me, when it was getting nearer to Fathers Day or my birthday, and theyd say, Dad, we need some money. Id say, What do you want money for? Weve got to get you a gift. So, Id give them the money for the gift. Theyd go out and buy the gift and give it to me, for Fathers Day or birthday; and Id make the greatest fuss over that gift. You know, thats exactly whats going to happen when we stand before the Lord Jesus? Actually, everything we ever do in the service of the Lord is what He has given us the resources and enablement to do. And, yet the Word of God teaches that were going to get rewards for what weve done. Now you talk about the grace of God, theres more than just the initial grace of God when we believe; and even the continuing grace of God that sustains us, but the grace of God that is going to be revealed at His appearing. If that isnt grace, that He rewards and commends us for everything that He has already enables us to do, I dont know what the grace of God is, if it isnt that! And so, we are laborers together with God!
Now here in II Corinthians 6, there are two principles set forth. In the first part of the chapter, verses 1-10, this is the theme Cooperation with God by Believers in the Ministry; and the second part of the chapter, verses 11-18 and I want you to get this clearly, because there is a principle here Separation to God from Unbelievers in the Ministry.
Now notice verses 1 and 2 The Provision for Our Ministry, We then, as workers together with Him, [Theres a Personal Provision.]; and then theres The Provision of His Grace, ...beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain. Now, Ive already referred to three tenses as it were of the functioning of the grace of God. Were saved by grace (Ephesians 2:8-9), For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. Thats the grace of God in salvation. But, theres also the continuing grace of God in sustaining us. Paul came to know something of this in deep reality in II Corinthians 12 where when he had besought the Lord three times, that his thorn in the flesh might be removed [The Lord What did He do? Did He say, Im going to remove it? No.] He said, My grace is sufficient for thee: (II Corinthians 12:9) for my strength is made perfect in weakness. And then Paul said, Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Now what we are going to find later on in this chapter in the first part is that Paul had plenty of infirmities, but he also had plenty of the grace of God. And I want to set forth a principle here this morning that I hope that you will write down and that is this There is no situation in which you can find yourself for which the grace of God is not sufficient! And I might add, as long as youre living. After you die, the grace of God is no longer effective for you. But, so long as you live, the grace of God will be sufficient. And I also want to emphasize, that Gods grace can do for you quickly what if left to natural resources might take many years!
I heard a friend of mine talk about a servant of the Lord who had had a violent temper; and as he grew in years he came to this fellow servant and he said, You know, Ive mellowed in years. This servant said, humbly yet sincerely, Isnt it a shame that you waited for years to do what the grace of God would have done long ago? Think about that, folks. Isnt it a shame he waited years to do what the grace of God would have done long ago?
Then, there is that grace that is going to be ours when we see our Savior. So, Paul says, in II Corinthians 6:2, I beseech you that you receive not the grace of God in vain [whether initially or continuously or ultimately]. (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee. Now most people use this verse to refer to the initial aspect of the grace of God in salvation, initially. I personally believe that this is not the interpretation of the verse. They say, What is the interpretation? I believe that the interpretation here is the deliverance for the child of God in the sustaining grace of God. I think by application well allow you to use it for the others. Some of you wouldnt know what to do without that verse, if you didnt have it for the initial aspect of salvation. But if you take it back even into the Old Testament context from which it is drawn, that was salvation of sustenance for the people of God. And, I believe thats what it is here. God says, I have heard thee in a time accepted, in the day of salvation, [in the day of deliverance] have I succoured [or sustained] thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of [deliverance]. And today is the day of deliverance for you even as a child of God. Now thats true. Its a day of salvation for the unbeliever if he will believe; but I think too many believers think that theres only one day of salvation-- the day that they got saved. But, I want to say to you because the grace of God is continuously a functioning thing, that every day can be a day of salvation, a day of deliverance for you. I meet some believers that say, Oh, Ive had this habit for so many years, and I just cant seem to get rid of it, you know. Ive heard people say no matter what you do with that word habit, you always have it. You take off the h, its still a bit; take off the a, its still bit; and you take off the b, you still have it, and you take off the i, and it suits you to a t. So that no matter what you do with it, youre left with a habit. But, friends, the grace of God can enable you to break bad habits. And today can be a day of salvation, a day of deliverance for you as a child of God. This is a day in which God will hear you, in a day of deliverance because His provision is sufficient for that!
Now, the Purpose of this Cooperation, verse 3, Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed. I want to zero in on that expression, the ministry. Someone said to me this morning, are you going to define the ministry? Well, I did give something of a definition last night, in using the term for servants; but I suppose if we clearly define what is involved in the ministry, is probably not better stated anywhere than in Acts 20:24 when Paul in speaking to the Ephesian elders says this, But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself [You see, its that servant concept. You see he doesnt count his life dear unto himself], so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus [Now here it comes. This is the ministry.], to testify the gospel of the grace of God. And thats a ministry that every believer can have and should be performing. What is it? Testifying the gospel of the grace of God.
This morning I was looking into this word testify, and I found out [of course Ive known this before].... it was from the word martyr. A martyr, a witness. But, its a strong word for martyr. It has a prefix on it. It means to witness thoroughly, to witness solemnly, witness deeply of the gospel of the grace of God.
Now we are to witness by our life, as well as by our lips. Our life is to back up the testimony of our lips; but it is not enough just to live the gospel. It is essential also that we give the gospel. Now I have some friends, in the so-called new evangelical camp that feel that all you do is live your witness, you dont tell anybody specifically what the gospel is, but you just live the good life and youre kind to people and all this. Now dont laugh at that. We need to be kind to people, and I think that there is one thing that some fundamentalists have forgotten is that if you have been saved by grace, you ought to be gracious. But, it is not enough to live the life, you have to give the gospel. You know, its not enough just to say, Receive Christ. Thats not giving the gospel, thats asking the people to act upon the gospel which you havent given. What is the gospel? The gospel is the good news, not of what you can do for God, but of what He has done for you in and through His Son that Christ has died for our sins according to the scriptures, that He was buried and rose again the third day according to the scriptures. Thats the gospel. I Corinthians 15:3-4. And, its this that God wants every believer to communicate. Now the Roman church has taught for centuries that it is the work of their priests to communicate the Word, and it is exclusive from the people to do this work. It is the apostles and their successors only who are to give out the Word. Theres a passage in the Word of God that knocks all of that into a cocked hat. Its found in Acts chapter 8. Its following the martyrdom of Stephen, and it indicates here that the believers were all scattered abroad. Acts 8:1, At that time there was a great persecution against the church which was in Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad. Now if you underline in your Bible, like I do, Ive underlined, They were all scattered abroad. Then I passed over,throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, I underlined again, except the apostles. Then I skipped over 2 and 3, so that you get the sense of verse 4, Therefore they that were scattered abroad [did what?] went every where [doing what the Roman church says that they dont do and what some churches say you dont do but these who were not apostles or their successors or anything like that. They were simple, ordinary, every day believers. Did what?] They that were scattered abroad, went every where preaching the Word. You say, Im just a business man, Im just a workman, or Im just something else. Im not so sure that you should say that. I wish more and more people would say it like my father-in-law used to say, Im a printer by the grace of God! Thats right; and he went up and down across the United States and people would ask him, Jim, whats your work? Im a printer, by the grace of God! And you know? One of his favorite verses was Acts 20:24, and Ill never forget the Lord took him home in 1958 at the age of 58. But in 1957, he had fought with cancer for over a year, and we admitted him in the hospital in Lancaster; and I went in after they had settled him down and had tubes down his throat. I said, Pop, it looks like your cancer is acting up again. And with those tubes inside him, he looked up at me and said, But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus to testify of the gospel of the grace of God. And when the surgeon came, he said the same thing. As I said, the Lord saw fit to take him home. Not too long before he died, he said to me, Stuart, I think the Lord is going to take me home. I said, Why is that, Pop? He said, Well, here in the front of my Bible, Ive been writing the names of the people Ive led to Christ. He said, Im running out of space. Was he a minister? In the finest sense of the word...in the finest sense of the word! Oh, he was a printer, by the grace of God, but he was a witness; and he witnessed thoroughly. He didnt just say, Well, you know, live a good life, try to do the best you can and all that. I remember people came up to us one time, when he and I attended a cocktail party. [You say, Boy, you have no business going to a cocktail party. Well, this preceded the dinner that I told you about last night, where they served us the cantaloupe.] This was on the patio, and the other was on the lawn, and to get out on the lawn, you went through this cocktail party; and Pop asked me if I would come and I said, Yes, Ill come, if you go. He said, Well, Im going. I knew he didnt drink, and he knew I didnt. So, we went there, and the bartender looked up at us, and Pop said, What do you have for the preacher? [And I was ordained then already.] This fellow grinned broadly. He said, Ginger ale. So, thats what I had. And thats what my father-in-law had. But, Ill never forget....across the patio a man saw us and came over, and he knew my father-in-law and he said, Jim, what do you and your son-in-law have in your glasses? And Pop said, We just have ginger ale. He said, You know, Ive been watching you two, and theres something different about you from all the other people that are here. Pop held up his glass, he said, Tom, its not what we have in this glass. Its Who we have in our hearts. He said, Stuart and I know Jesus Christ is our personal Savior. We know that He died for our sins and paid in full the penalty for our sins on the cross; and its because we believed on Him and received Him that Hes made us different from the other fellows that you see here. You know? I still wonder why the Lord took him home so early in life, because he was such a tremendous witness. But this verse was a motivating verse in his life and ought to be a motivating verse in your life, as well as mine. The ministry, what is it? To testify the gospel of the grace of God telling other people what God has done for them, in and through His Son.
Now, Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed. You know, there is an offence to the cross, but unfortunately sometimes its not the offence of the cross that turns people off. Its the offensiveness of people; and I do believe that we ought to be kind and considerate. I dont believe we need to turn people off, as it were. I believe a word in due season how good it is. And God will give opportunity to witness, tactfully and carefully as we seek it from Him.
Now in verses 4-10, there The Process of This Cooperation. Now I see that I dont have time to go through this in detail, so Im just going to give you the outline of it. If you notice, there are in the English, [and by the way you Greek scholars could come up to me afterwards and tell me that its not the same in the Greek and I know that, and Im going to use now The English Bible, because I think that The English Bible here gives a good sense of the Greek in spite of the fact that its not an exact translation of the preposition], but in verses 4 and 5 you have ten ins [Im not going into the ins] but if you call those trials, you have the sense that they are ten ins that set forth trials. Then you have eleven bys. You can call those tools that God uses; and then in 8b, the latter part of verse 8-10, you have ass as prepositions and these denote triumphs. Trials, tools, triumphs. Study that through this afternoon, and see how they relate to that. I just want to say this one thing about trials......that even our Lord Jesus, (in Hebrews 5:8)Though He was a Son, yet learned He obedience by [through] the things which He suffered...
My pastor, Dr. Stoll, has a saying that Its hard to be optimistic, when you have a misty optic. Got that? That means, that when you have tears in your eye.....but friends, theres sometimes you never see more clearly....then through tears, because its then you enter into the fellowship of His suffering. These are the trials!
Then the tools. God will use various things in your life to shape you up to do His service. These are set forth in 6 through the first part of verse 8. And then, the triumphs. II Corinthians deal with this matter of the ministry, all the way back to chapter 2 that begins in verse 14; and I like the positive note on which this begins, Now thanks be unto God, which always causes us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of His knowledge by us in every place.
I had a woman come up to me, after a Bible conference, and she said, Dr. Lease, my son doesnt want to become a Christian. He said, Every Christian I know is a looser. You know, I was sorry to hear that. I think that he met the wrong kind of Christian, because we are winners. Were not victims. Were the victors. But to look at some Christians, you could hardly tell the difference. And, I hastened to tell her that he had met the wrong kind. But I wonder when people meet you....do they sense that youre a victor or a victim? Are you aware that He is leading us forth, in the train of His triumph? He is, in spite of and through all the difficulties that face us.
Well, Ive got to say this word about the latter part of this chapter II Corinthians 6 beginning at verse 11, Separation to God from Unbelievers in the Ministry. Theres an emphasis in our day upon cooperation. Now friends, number one cooperation should be with God, and lets never forget that. But when it comes to the unsaved, we dont separate from them in regards to bearing a witness to them but we do separate from them in regard to involving them in the work of the ministry; because a point I didnt have time to make last night, was the fact that you cant be a servant of God until youre first a son of God. God only uses His sons in His service. Its a family corporation. And, thus to use unbelievers in the work of the ministry is in violation of the family contract. We see this in II Corinthians 6:11, O ye Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you, our heart is enlarged [stretched, really is stressed here]. Ye are not straitened in us,but ye are straitened in your own bowels [In other words, within yourselves]. Now for a recompence in the same. (I speak as unto my children,) be ye also enlarged [Here Paul expressed his Concern verses 1-13]. And then, the Conflict in verses 14-16 of trying to work with unbelievers, Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers [Back in the invitation, the Lord Jesus in Matthew 11 where He says, Come...ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest, He says, Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.] Do you know that there are two kinds of rest, there? Theres the rest of salvation, which is found [in verse 28] which He gives us; and there is rest of service Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me. The first is given, and the second is found. Thats what I wanted to emphasize I will give you rest in salvation; but theres a rest that comes from service, in verses 29 and 30 of Matthew 11, Take my yoke upon you and learn of me. Yoke speaks of service; and there is a rest, a blessed rest that comes from serving the Lord! Thats a whole subject in itself. Be not ye unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.