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Lesson 10: The Role of Stewardship *

Introduction: This week I listened to a TED talk about capitalism. The speaker said capitalism was not a political theory or merely a philosophy of economics, it was an "operating system." Just like your cell phone (or computer) has an operating system, the speaker argued that capitalism was the way that successful economic life operated. His example was that the two biggest economic systems in the world, the United States and China, have completely different political systems, but have capitalist economic systems. Our lesson this week considers whether stewardship is the "operating system" of the Christian life. Whatever may be your specific doctrinal views, stewardship is the common denominator for successful Christians. Let's plunge into the Scriptures and see if you agree!

  1. Creation Operating System

    1. Read Genesis 1:26. What is God's original operational principle for humans? (Created like God, they would be rulers over creation.)

    2. Read Genesis 1:27-28. Did God command humans to exercise His authority to rule? (Yes. God told us to rule over all the animals and to subdue the earth.)

    3. Read Genesis 1:29-30. If God's revelation to humans stopped here, what would you think God had in mind for your life? (We were created to rule. That means we are stewards of the earth and of our delegated authority from God.)

    4. Read Colossians 1:16-18. In this creation mandate, what position does God take? (He is overall. We are rulers under God's authority. "All things were created for Him." That is our operational directive for our stewardship.)

      1. What does the odd title, "firstborn from among the dead" tell us about this description of God? (This describes Jesus. He is the Creator and He is the ruler to Whom we look for our authority.)

    5. Read Colossians 1:19-23. What problem arose in our rulership that Jesus has fixed? (We sinned. That alienated us from God and made us His enemies. But, Jesus reconciled us to God by His life and death.)

      1. What does that suggest about our current situation? (Two things. First, that we are restored to our same "sub-ruler" role. Second, we have Jesus to thank for our reinstatement.)

      2. Logically, where does that place Jesus in our life? (He is the center. Not only is Jesus the Creator who made us like Him and gave us a rulership role, but He restored us to that role at a very great cost to Himself. This makes Jesus central to all that we do.)

      3. How important to understanding our role in the world is accepting the Genesis Creation account?

  2. Doctrinal Operating System

    1. Read John 14:6. What is the universal principle for coming to God? (You must come through Jesus.)

      1. We are sub-rulers under Jesus, and beholden to Jesus for our position. What expanded idea does John 14:6 add to our rulership role? (Jesus is our only source of salvation. Not only did He provide for our position (ruler), but He provided for our salvation and our understanding of God.)

      2. A common argument is that there are "many ways" to God. Based on the other religions I know about, they all have some truth. Psalms 19:1 tells us that the heavens declare God's glory. Romans 1:19-20 says that God's qualities are clear from the creation. How is this consistent with Jesus being the only "way" to God? (Jesus created the heavens! Jesus created nature! Jesus reconciled humans to God! From any angle that you contemplate this, Jesus is truly "the way and the truth and the light" when it comes to approaching God.)

    2. Read Revelation 14:6. What message does this angel carry? (The eternal gospel.)

    3. Read Revelation 14:7. Who are we to worship? (We just discussed that Jesus is the Creator, thus this is a call to worship Jesus.)

      1. Notice again, the reference to the Genesis creation account. What is the basis for Jesus' claim to worship? (That He is the Creator. Accepting evolution destroys the single most important argument for worshiping God. Christians who accept evolution, do not understand Satan's strategy in this false theory.)

      2. As sub-rulers over the earth, what is our stewardship obligation regarding this message? (The angel tells us that "the hour of His judgment has come." That means that if we are to preserve the creation, we need to share the urgent message of fearing and glorifying our Creator God.)

    4. Read Revelation 14:8. Why is this revelation important? ("Babylon," which pushes to alienate us from Jesus by worshiping other gods, has been defeated. It is "fallen.")

      1. What does that mean about your rulership? (It is safe! You get to keep being a ruler and a steward as long as you are on the side of God.)

        1. Is that something that you should share?

    5. Read Revelation 14:9-10. If Babylon is defeated, are humans still joining the losing side?(One message we need to promote is that Jesus has won! Apparently people don't realize this and keep joining the losing side.)

      1. What is the choice that faces humans? (Worship Jesus, and enter the path to the only way to God. Or, worship the beast.)

      2. What is the final outcome for those who reject Jesus and choose to worship the beast? (You will receive the full wrath of God and will burn.)

    6. Read Revelation 14:11. Are these two statements linked? Are the wicked without rest "day or night" because they are being tormented with "burning sulfur?"

      1. When a fire is burning well, does it produce smoke? (In my limited experience, the smoke is greatest when I'm trying to start a fire or when I'm putting it out.)

      2. Read Genesis 3:2-5. What lie did the serpent make about sin and death? (He said that sin did not result in death.)

      3. If Satan's statement about sin not ending in death is a lie, then how can the wicked have an eternal life of torture by burning sulfur? (I think Genesis precludes the two concepts in Revelation 14:11 being linked. The smoke rises forever because the fire is out - it just keeps rising. During life, those who worship the beast and reject Jesus have no rest. They are tormented.)

      4. Recall two weeks ago we studied 1 Corinthians 9:7-9 where Paul used common sense and an Old Testament text about cattle to argue that Christians should support gospel workers? Should we use common sense to understand God's statements about the fate of the wicked? (Yes, if two alternative meanings are possible.)

        1. If you agree that "yes" is the correct answer, think of the most horrendous crime that has come to your attention. In your opinion, would it be a just penalty to burn that criminal with sulfur forever?

    7. Read Revelation 14:12. What kind of attitude do we need in the last days? (Patience! "Patient endurance.")

      1. What actions and attitudes should be reflected in our stewardship? (First and foremost, we remain faithful to Jesus. We are rulers under Him, and we are stewards of His gospel and His creation. Second, we obey God. We understand that God gave His commandments to us to make our lives better.)

    8. Friend, do you agree that understanding our relationship with Jesus, understanding that He is our Creator and Redeemer, and that He gave us authority to rule, directs our stewardship for Him? If you agree, why not decide today to accept your role as ruler, and serve and worship Jesus?

  3. Next week: Debt- A Daily Decision
* Copr. 2018, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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