Thursday, September 13, 2007

This is Part 16 of a continuing series of articles examining the Baptist Faith and Message 2000. This statement of faith was adopted by the Southern Baptist Convention, meeting on June 14, 2000 “to set forth certain teachings which we believe.”

God is the source of all blessings, temporal and spiritual; all that we have and are we owe to Him. Christians have a spiritual debtorship to the whole world, a holy trusteeship in the gospel, and a binding stewardship in their possessions. They are therefore under obligation to serve Him with their time, talents, and material possessions; and should recognize all these as entrusted to them to use for the glory of God and for helping others. According to the Scriptures, Christians should contribute of their means cheerfully, regularly, systematically, proportionately, and liberally for the advancement of the Redeemer's cause on earth.*

Everything we have—absolutely everything—belongs to God. He has made it, thus He owns it. The Sovereign God of the universe has the right to direct the use of all He has entrusted into our hands to be used for His glory in fulfilling His infinitely wise and loving designs. This recognition that we have no “rights” when it comes to the use of time, talent and treasure is crucial to Biblical understanding. These blessings have come from the gracious hand of the Almighty, and we will one day give an account of how we have invested God’s wealth—pursuing that of eternal value or squandering His wealth in earthly and trivial pursuits. This acknowledgement of God’s ownership is the foundation of stewardship.

Each breath we take, every beat of our heart, the strength to put one foot in front of another, our moments and our days, the gifts, skills and capacities we possess, along with our material blessings—all are ours because of the goodness of God. Wise use of these blessings is the essence of stewardship.

We have all heard, “You can’t take it with you!” That’s true, but you can send it on ahead! We have the privilege of exchanging the capital of earth for the currency of eternity—to invest in the Kingdom of God with our material dollars in order to receive spiritual dividends. Imagine—we have a limited allotment of days on this planet, but if we use our brief stay here for our Lord, we will have His commendation hereafter. The talents God gifts us with, when employed for His purposes today, will be acknowledged in that eternal Day. This is the reward of stewardship.

A stewardship principle to remember in giving is this: God demands the tithe and He deserves the offering. Ten percent is His, right off the top—the first fruits of our labors—that’s the tithe. Then, since God is so generous with us, as we are able, we can give generously beyond that in special offerings. God has promised to meet all our needs. He does—and then some! Can we content ourselves with just meeting the minimum requirements when giving back a portion to such a beneficent Being who lavishes us with such bounty?

Now, for a personal challenge: The last Sunday of this month, we will receive a special offering to retire the debt on the Gayle Brown Ministry Center of Buncombe Baptist Association. This is a vital building for staging missions outreach throughout our county and the world! Our Director of Missions, Dr. Craig Bailey (also a member of Pole Creek along with his wife and mother-in-law) has called on Buncombe Baptists to eliminate the debt and help us free up dollars paid to the bank in interest to be utilized for mission work. Pray about what God would have you to do. Let’s all do what we can!

I will be preaching at the fall meeting of Buncombe Baptist Association, only a few days after we receive that offering. It would be a thrill to be able to say that Pole Creek has helped push us over the top in eradicating that indebtedness.

* Genesis 14:20; Leviticus 27:30-32; Deuteronomy 8:18; Malachi 3:8-12; Matthew 6:1-4,19-21; 19:21; 23:23; 25:14-29; Luke 12:16-21,42; 16:1-13; Acts 2:44-47; 5:1-11; 17:24-25; 20:35; Romans 6:6-22; 12:1-2; 1 Corinthians 4:1-2; 6:19-20; 12; 16:1-4; 2 Corinthians 8-9; 12:15; Philippians 4:10-19; 1 Peter 1:18-19. (Baptist Faith and Message, 2000)

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