Stewardship – Part 1
Speaker: V. P. Black
Date: April 11, 2004, Sunday Morning Bible Class During a Gospel Meeting Hosted by the Strickland church of Christ in Glen, Mississippi
Main Scripture References: Luke 6:38
Today, we’re talking about stewardship, a subject that we in the church of Christ have overlooked for many, many years. But we’re doing much better now. We have increased the contribution, we believe, a very conservative estimate over a hundred million dollars a year just in the last few years. In ten years, that’s a billion dollars, and you think of the good that can be done. And we’ve touched the tip of the ice berg. Many, many congregations throughout the brotherhood have doubled their contribution in the last few years. We’re making great progress. And so, let me state at the very beginning of this lesson, I’m not here to scold you, to whip you or to brow beat you. I’m only here for one purpose and that is to TEACH YOU what the Bible teaches on this very, very vital subject. We’ll be discussing two words today: the word “steward,” and the word “stewardship.”
FIRST: THE WORD “STEWARD”—what does this mean? The word “steward” is one who looks after something that belongs to someone else, which simply means that when we tell people that we are stewards of God, we’re simply saying we don’t own anything. And in reality, we don’t. As we will learn in this lesson today, God is the sole owner of everything.
Now, I want to use some Scriptures where the word “steward” is found, that you may look these verses up and then study them, and it will give you a better understanding of this word: In Matthew, the 20th chapter, and verse 8; in Luke 8, and verse 3; Luke 12, and [verse] 42; Luke 16, [verses] 1 and 2; and 1 Corinthians 4, [verses] 1 and 2 (and underscore this one if you will—this where it says, “Moreover, it is required in a steward that…a…man… be…found…faithful.”); and Titus 1:7; and 1 Peter 4:10.
Now, if you will write these verses down and when you go home this week, if you will just take your Bible, turn to these verses, read them and study them, you’ll have a good, sound Biblical understanding of the word, “steward.” And every time that word is mentioned, you’ll know exactly what it means, and it’ll mean so much to you and your relationship to God, because every…member… of the church…IS A STEWARD! When one hears the Gospel, believes it, repents of his sins, and is baptized upon a confession of his faith in Christ, he becomes a STEWARD of GOD! So, every member of this congregation is a steward of God. Those who have not been here in six weeks, or those who have not been here in six months—they’re still stewards of God, because it’s stated when one is baptized into Christ, he becomes a steward of God.
There are two kinds of stewards. There’s the faithful steward; there’s the unfaithful steward. So everybody in this auditorium will be classified as one of those “stewards.” I don’t know. But God knows whether or not you are a faithful steward or an unfaithful steward. Of course, we know there are consequences. We know that the faithful steward will go to heaven; the unfaithful steward will be lost. We know that. So, that’s one of things we’ll be talking about today.
THE OTHER WORD THAT WE WILL BE DISCUSSING IS THE WORD “STEWARDSHIP.” Sometimes I speak on this subject and an individual will say, “Well, you know, there’s such a thing as ‘stewardship of time,’ ‘stewardship of responsibility,’ stewardship of talent.’” I’m aware of that, but that’s not our subject today. Our subject is, Our Stewardship as it Relates to the Material Things of this World. In other words, “What is my duty as a Christian to the material things of this world? What’s my relationship to the material things of this world?”
And let me give you an illustration. While we live in this life, God has entrusted into our care certain material things. While we live, we use them, and die. Then that trusteeship is transferred to someone else. I no longer have control over it. Everything…everything is transferred to someone else, and then I go to the judgment to give an account to God as to how I used these things when they were in my possession. That would be a Biblical definition of “stewardship.” And just as surely as we are here this morning, we’re going to have to give an account to God as to how we handled these things while they’re in our possession.
I want to read to you a letter or two that are really sad, but that you may have an idea—get a greater idea—why we need to do more teaching on this subject. This is a letter that was written to me several years ago from a lady in Olive Branch, Mississippi—that’s just below Memphis. They had been studying one of my books. Listen to the letter. It says:
Dear Brother Black,
I am a widow who will soon be eighty-nine years old. I’ve read my Bible through many times. E. H. Clark and I (now, E. H. Clark—that’s her husband)…were members of the Union Avenue church in Memphis, Tennessee, for forty-six years, driving twenty-five miles each way.
I’m writing to tell you, Brother Black, that I’ve never learned so much about liberality as I’ve learned since our Sunday School Class began studying your book on Lord, Teach Us How To Give. It has taught me so much that I never knew before. It has taught me so many things I never realized the importance of before. It has taught me to give as God has commanded us.
Again, thank you, Brother Black, for so fully enlightening me on a subject that I never realized the importance of before.
Eighty-nine years old! Been a member of the church for over fifty years! Said that she had never been taught what the Bible teaches on this subject.
Here’s a letter from a lady where I’d spoken in Taft, California. I’ll not read the [whole] letter. It just says:
Dear Brother Black,
Your sermons have taught us so very much on “giving” that we never knew before—things that we never even realized, and we thank you so very, very much.
That’s from California.
Here’s a letter I received from a lady in Birmingham. It says,
It has bothered me for a long time that churches of Christ do not preach enough on “giving.” I know that for many years I did not give liberally for the simple reason [that] I’d never been taught the importance of it.
And on and on we could go reading letters like this, impressing upon our mind… Here’s a letter from Woodstock, Virginia, right out of Washington, D. C. I was speaking there, and this man writes a long letter, but the letter is about this: “After hearing the lecture on ‘Stewardship,’” he said, “I realized this last year…” (he called it [he said it this way]) “…I cheated the Lord out of $4,000.00.” When he considered how the Lord had blessed him, what he’d made and how little he gave, he said, “I’m writing you to tell you that Monday morning, I’m going to the bank to check out $4,000.00 to make up for that I did not give this last year.”
So, I have letters from that all over the country, which indicates that we’ve done a poor, poor job in teaching members of the church of Christ to give as the Bible teaches. And if you’ve been a member of the church very long, you know, of course, our sad history. I’m ashamed of it; I’m sure you are—that there have been churches that would not permit a man to speak on this subject in the church. They were not allowed to teach it in Bible classes.
Some time ago, I was speaking up in Tennessee to a church; it had about 600 members, and they knew more than a year in advance that I was coming. And one of the preachers did an in-depth study of that congregation. He learned where every member of that large congregation worked. Worked on it a whole year. He did not know exactly what that person made, but he knew what a brick layer made; he knew what carpenters made; he knew what different people were paid for certain jobs. So, he had good idea [of] the income of this congregation. And he’d added all that up. Now, I suppose there’s no man in the brotherhood that’s known more about a particular congregation than this man knew about that congregation! He spent a year studying it—all the lives of all the members. And he came to this conclusion, that they were giving about 4% of their income to God.
And I want to tell you, if every person here this morning, if every person living in the church of Christ throughout the world, if all of us shall be as old as Methuselah, we’ll…never…evangelize the world on 4% giving. It’s an impossibility! It can’t be done. And yet, on the other hand, we have the wealth in the church of Christ to evangelize the world; we have ministers to evangelize the world; we have modern communication to evangelize the world, and we’re not doing it. And it becomes a very serious responsibility. It becomes a serious responsibility to every congregation to realize that our responsibility is to evangelize the world. It’s wonderful to have nice buildings, but we must realize that these buildings are just a means to an end to give us a better opportunity to get people to come to the “house of God,” that we may teach them the power that’s in the Gospel, and that it’s our duty to evangelize the world.
I was speaking out in Los Angeles several years ago on this subject. After I spoke, an elderly man came up to me—his hair was white as snow. He said he graduated from Abilene Christian in 19 and 28! . And he said, “Brother Black, I know that these things are true that you are teaching. But,” he said, “I’ve never preached much on this subject.” He said, “I’m an elder and a preacher, but I’ve just never taught much on it. I’ve never said much about it. But,” he said, “let me tell you why.” He said, “The first place I was located, my first job,” he said, “I knew the Bible taught on ‘giving,’ so I got up and preached on it. And in the middle of my sermon, one of the elders stood up and said, ‘Young man, you stop teaching that!’” He said, “I guess that did something to me—just through the years, I’ve never preached on this subject much.” Another elder/preacher was standing there, and he said, “Yes, I know that’s true, because I was fired for preaching on that subject when I was a young man.”
Now, those things are sad. It’s embarrassing to me. I’m ashamed to even stand before an intelligent audience and tell these things. But yet, we need to realize that we’ve got a long way to go! We need to realize it! Here’s a subject—we’ve never talked much about it in the church. And yet, our responsibility is to evangelize the world. I’m not here today to try to get your preachers a raise. I’m here today to try to get you to see the importance of evangelizing the world! And I do not know to what degree, but I’m just as convinced as in your midst I stand, that on the Day of Judgment we’re going to have to give an account for those people who lived during our lifetime who never had an opportunity to hear the Gospel. Now, to what degree, I don’t know, but I thank God [that] it’s an individual matter. God knows my heart; God knows how concerned I am about evangelizing the world; God knows how concerned you are as an individual about evangelizing the world; and God knows how concerned this church is about evangelizing the world. So, we’re here primarily to talk about evangelizing the world!
Now, with these thoughts in mind, if you will, take your Bible and turn with me to Luke, the 6th chapter, and verse 38. Those of you who are taking notes, if you will—if you want to write down these words, I wish you would, because what I say today will be centered around these words: ONE CANNOT LIVE OBEDIENTLY BEFORE GOD…ONE CANNOT LIVE OBEDIENTLY BEFORE GOD AND WALK IN THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST…AND WALK IN THE SPIRIT OF CHIRST…WITHOUT DEALING WITH MONEY…WITHOUT DEALING WITH MONEY…AS A SPIRITUAL ISSUE IN HIS LIFE. [Brother Black is repeating the phrases for the benefit of those who are taking notes.]
So, I’ll repeat those words: ONE CANNOT LIVE OBEDIENTLY BEFORE GOD AND WALK IN THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST WITHOUT DEALING WITH MONEY AS A SPIRITUAL ISSUE IN HIS LIFE.
So today, we’re talking about spiritual things. And so, with those thoughts in mind, let us read Luke 6 and 38. Notice carefully what it says: “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.”
Now, let us notice the first word in this verse: GIVE. Well, I think a person has a right to ask, “Why should I give?” Well, if you were going to talk to an individual about conversion, and you’d mentioned the word, “baptism,” I think that person has a right to ask, “Why should I be baptized?” He doesn’t know what the Bible says, so he wants to know, “Why?” And so, it’s our responsibility to tell him WHY one should be baptized in order to become a child of God. And so, when we, as children of God, read the Bible, we come to the word, “give,” naturally we want to ask the question, “Why should we give? What’s the purpose of giving? Is it just some tradition we have in the church? Why should we give?” So I want to mention some reasons—Scriptural reasons—why we give.
NUMBER ONE: A person may give to correct a wrong in his life. Now, this would not be true of everybody, but it was true of me. When I first started preaching over sixty years ago, I did not give of my means. “Oh,” someone said, “Brother Black, you mean that you preached and didn’t even contribute?” No. I didn’t say that. I said, “I did not give of my means”—that is, as God had prospered me. Naturally, I made that token donation, but I didn’t give as the Bible teaches.
Well, someone says, “How in the world could you go over the country preaching on faith, repentance, confession and baptism, and here you were not saying a thing about giving, and the Bible talks about it from Genesis through Revelation over fifteen hundred times!?!? And you were not giving.” My reason for that was this: I was reared in the church of Christ. My parents were members of the church of Christ, and I was reared like that. And the place where I went to church, they didn’t have preaching on this subject. And Brother Gus Nichols was our preacher when I was just a child in Millport, Alabama, and I can remember very well if he said something about “giving,” the people would accuse him of preaching for money. And naturally, that would scare the preacher to death, and he wouldn’t say anything else about it.
But brethren, don’t [anyone] intimidate me anymore along those lines. After learning the Truth, I not only believe I give today as God has prospered me, but I believe I’ve made up for those days that I did not give because of my ignorance—I didn’t know any better back then. But I know better now. That’s based upon Luke, the 19th chapter, verses 8 and 9, where Jesus Christ was visiting the home of Zacchaeus, and Zacchaeus says, “…if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold!” That is, he’s going to make up for those things he’d done in the past.
Now, there are some things that we’d want to undo from the past that we could not correct. For instance, if somebody should kill a man, he couldn’t restore his life. He could repent of what he did, but it couldn’t restore his life! But there’s some mistakes we make back there that we can correct, and we should correct those that we can. But as I stated, this would not apply to everybody, but it did in my case.
NUMBER TWO: We give to evangelize the world. Now, I’m aware of the fact that you have some collection plates here. And I’m also aware of the fact that it’s not very impressive to take a cold collection plate and pass it under the noses of the people. But let me tell you this, when you pass that collection plate with this thought in mind, that this money is to feed the hungry, is to clothe the naked, is to evangelize the world, is to preach the Gospel to some poor soul who’s never heard it so he can live eternally with God, it becomes a different picture altogether when that collection plate is passed. In other words, my giving depends on what my attitude is. When I think about what I stated, the hungry people of the world, the naked people of the world, the people who’ve never heard the Gospel, and God has called upon me to give….
And how has God called upon me to give? Let me state this, and I may say it a dozen times today—I hope that I do—that God wants us to give as HE HAS PROSPERED US, but let us be sure that we don’t twist that word and pervert that word and take that word out of its context in order to justify our refusal to be liberal givers! But the Bible teaches [that] we’re to give. Under the Old Testament Law, they were to give the tithe. Of course, you know for years we couldn’t say that word in the church, but we can mention it now—the word “tithe.” The Jews observed the “tithe,” that is, the tithing system.
And some time back, an individual called me from Lubbock, Texas, who’d been teaching one of my classes from my books, and he asked, “Brother Black,” he said, “in our class a brother said that Brother Black is teaching tithing.” And of course, he knew that word, “tithe,” would prejudice the minds of the people, and so he’d mention in every Bible class, I guess, to prejudice their minds. So he said, “Brother Black is teaching tithing.” And so he [the Bible class teacher] called me. He said, “I want to know from you, do you teach the cold, legalistic law of tithing?” I wrote back the brother and said, “No, you tell this elderly man in the Bible class that accused me of teaching the legalistic law of tithing that I do not teach the cold, legalistic law of tithing, but I teach where beginners get in, and then we go up, up, UP, UP! And he won’t bother you anymore.” No, don’t accuse me of teaching the tithing system.
You think about in the early days of New Testament Christianity—they were selling their homes! They were selling their land! And they’d bring it and lay it down at the apostles’ feet, and then you think about some man jumping up, saying [to those Christians], “I want to talk to you about tithing.” [They would say,] “Talk to me about tithing?!? I’m selling everything I have. I’ve given my house and my land!” Why tithing back there—that would have driven the contribution DOWN!
No, I don’t teach the legalistic law of tithing. I teach what the New Testament teaches, to give as God has prospered us, and I also teach [that] we’d better not pervert that WORD! A man who perverts the word, “prospers,” is just as guilty as the man who would pervert the word, “baptism.” And so, we don’t need to pervert any words in the Bible. We need to take them just as they are.
So, we give to evangelize the world. In Romans 10:13 beginning, Paul said, “For whosoever shall call upon the Name of the Lord shall be saved.” That’s one of the most beautiful verses in the Bible—that’s one of the mountain peaks of the Bible that, “whosoever shall call upon the Name of the Lord shall be saved.” You think of that—the wise man, the ignorant man, the poor man, the rich man, the unwise man—“whosoever calleth on the Name of the Lord shall be saved.”
Then he [Paul] adds, “How then shall they call on Him in Whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in Him of Whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” Now, just think for a moment. How can they hear without a preacher? “And how shall they preach, except they be sent?”
And then he said, “[…as it is written,] How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the Gospel of peace, and bring Glad Tidings of good things!” And so, we have the responsibility to evangelize the world, and it’s a serious responsibility.
And you think of our prosperity today. You think of the houses where we live, the automobiles that we drive, the clothes that we wear, the mutual funds we have, the CDs [Certificates of Deposit] that we have, and then, what does God want us to do? Give all this? No…no. [God says,] “I just want you to give as I’ve prospered you.” And what’s wrong with that kind of teaching? And if we gave as God prospered us—that is, the entire brotherhood—we could evangelize the world. We have the wealth to evangelize the world. And one congregation can’t do it, but one congregation can do their part. I can’t do it by myself, but I can do what God expects me to do. And this congregation can’t do it, but this congregation can do what God expects you to do, and that’s all we’re teaching.
NUMBER THREE: We give to express our love to God and to the lost. Several years ago, I was in a meeting in Atlanta. I went to a religious bookstore to see what others had said about giving. I knew our brethren had not said much about it, so I wanted to know what other people had said about it. So, I pulled a book off the shelf and it fell open, and it said, “The Most Disbelieved Verse in the Bible.” And I thought, “The most disbelieved verse in the Bible?” Now, I’m aware of the fact that’s just this man’s opinion. But he said that there’s a verse—the most disbelieved verse in the entire Bible, from Genesis through Revelation. What would you guess that he said? And I state, that’s just his opinion. But there’s a lot of truth in what he said, I know that. He said, “The most disbelieved verse in the Bible is Acts 20, and verse 35, that says, “…remember the Words of the Lord Jesus, how He said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.” He said that’s the most disbelieved verse in the Bible. Why? Because of our inverted ego; because of our selfishness; because of our self-centeredness; we just can’t make ourselves believe that there’s a greater joy in giving than there is in receiving! He said, “We can’t do that!” But I deny it! I state that’s one of the most BELIEVED verses in the entire Bible! That every intelligent person knows there’s a greater joy in giving than there is in receiving! That there’s a deep, genuine joy in GIVING! Now, let me prove it to you.
Do you have any children? Do you send them to school? Do you make sacrifices in doing this? “Oh,” you say, “of course I did.” Well, didn’t you grumble and whine and complain about it? “No, no. I was glad to do it.” Why’d you DO it? “Because I love them.”
Well, do you have any grandchildren? Do you ever give anything to your grandchildren? I remember one of these men today talking about going to town yesterday with his grandchild and getting something that she wanted. Why did you do it? “Oh,” you say, “I LOVE my grandchild!”
Well, do you have any great grandchildren? That’s one you really get a joy out of giving. “Well,” you say, “yes.” Well, why do you give to them? “Because I love them.”
Well, do you ever give your husband a gift? “Oh,” you say, “yes.” Well, why do you do it? You say, “Because I love him!”
Well, do you ever give your wife a present? “Yes.” Well, why do you do it? “Because I love her.”
Now, listen to me carefully. I give to my children because I love them; I give to my grandchildren because I love them; I give to my wife because I love her; I give to my husband because I love him—but don’t talk about giving to GOD!I’m going to tell you something my friend. That man [or woman] better not only do some serious thinking, he’d [she’d] better do some serious praying. You…tell…me…that you love God, and you love the church, and you don’t like to hear a man talk about giving? Now, you just think for a moment. And yet, you say you love God?! How in the world can you love GOD when you say, “I despise hearing someone talking about GIVING to God?! Now, I just don’t like to hear a man talk about giving…not to God. If you want to talk about giving to my grandchildren, that’s fine. If you want to talk about how a husband ought to give to his wife, that’s great. Talk about it all day. Or a wife giving to her husband, that’s fine. But don’t talk about giving to GOD!”
Now, I’m going to tell you, my friend, there’s something seriously wrong here. And yet, this man says that’s the most disbelieved verse in the Bible. I DENY IT!! I say it’s the MOST BELIEVED verse in the Bible!! And when we truly love God, one of the highlights of worshiping God is that joy of giving as God has prospered me.
When I sit down during the week and think how good God has been to me and how God has blessed me and how God has called upon me and said, “I want you to give back to My cause, that the hungry may be fed and the naked may be clothed and that the world may hear the Gospel—I just want you to give as I’ve prospered you,” and then tell me that a man would resent hearing an individual talk about that…. And then to think about, in years gone by we’ve fired men for talking like I’m talking about [giving] now! It’s a sad thing. When we truly love God….
But somebody says, “Brother Black, that’s just your preaching…ha, ha.” Oh? Turn with me to 2 Corinthians, the 8th chapter, and let us see what Paul said about it—see if Paul taught like this. 2 Corinthians, the 8th chapter—I want you to read it, because if I quote it, you might not believe it. But surely you will believe if you are reading it. Turn to 2 Corinthians, the 8th chapter, and verse 8, and remember this, that every…word…in chapter 8 is talking about giving. Every word in chapter 9 is talking about giving. Chapter 8 and chapter 9 of 2 Corinthians both—every word is talking about giving. Notice what Paul said in verse 8: “I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love.” Brother, that’s strong preaching, isn’t it? Paul said, “You say you’re sincere in living the Christian life?” He said, “Then prove it!” Prove it how? By giving—that’s what he’s talking about—“Prove the sincerity of your love.” Every verse in that chapter is talking about giving.
And he didn’t stop there. Listen to me again, and I’ll read verse 24 of the same chapter: “Wherefore shew [show] ye to them, and before the churches, the proof of your love….” You say you love God? Paul said, “Prove it!” What’s he talking about? He’s talking about giving—the whole chapter’s about giving.
So, these are some of the things that motivate us to give. These are some of the things that enter into our heart, and when we give of our means on the Lord’s day.
And now, the next thing we want to know about Luke 6:38—What does giving do for ME?Well, Number 1, giving shows where my priorities are. Every man has top priorities in life. And if I should pass a piece of paper down to each [of you in each] pew and ask you—not to put you name on it—but just state what your top priority is in life, and then fold that piece of paper up and turn it in, what would it [your top priority] be? Would it be your home? Would it be your work? Would it be your social life? Would it be pleasure? Or, would it be the Lord’s work? What would be your top priority? The way I give SHOWS where my priority is, and we’ll talk about it in the next lesson, how God demands the first of our LOVE, the first of our LOYALTY, the first of our WORK and the first of ALL—the FIRST!
So, the way I give shows where my priorities are. And when I get my check and get everything that I want and desire, and if there’s something left over, after I’ve taken care of every thing—every worldly thing that I can think of—if there’s a little left over, I’ll give God some of that. Now let me ask you—you’re intelligent people—do you believe that’s giving God top priority, or [is that] giving yourself top priority? These are things we need to think about seriously.
And then, again, the way I give is a good spiritual barometer of my life. You know, we have barometers to tell us about the weather. If you were to come to me and say, “Brother Black, I would like for you to write my biography.” And if I were to agree to it, you know the first thing I’d want have to really know who you are and what you are and the kind of person you are? I’d say, “I’d like to have your bank book. I want to see those stubs. I want to go through those stubs, because I can learn a great deal where your interest was, what you’re really concerned about, where all your money went. That would help me in knowing what kind of a person that you are.” So, the way I give is a good barometer of my life.
Now, in the conclusion of our lesson, why is it some do not give as God has prospered? We’ve talked about, first, why we should give; and we’ve talked about what giving does for us. Now the question: Why is it, then, that some still don’t give as God has prospered them? Well, I want to give you some reasons.
Number One: Some do not give because of fear. In 2 Timothy 1:7, Paul said, “…God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” And the fear of what? Well, there may be a depression next year, and this thing over in Iraq may develop into a World War. Or, my husband may get in the hospital and stay six months, and as a result of that, he loses his job. My wife may get sick, get in the bed for months and months. We could all have a nervous breakdown this morning talking like that. I don’t know what tomorrow holds. I’m living today. Let me be a faithful steward of God today! Then, if I’m [still] living tomorrow, let me be a faithful steward of God tomorrow, but this idea of refusing to give as God has prospered us because we don’t know what the future is, is contrary to every principle taught in the Word of God! We can’t live lives like that. We live today. I don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow. I don’t know what the world leaders are going to do tomorrow. I don’t know what’s going to be the future of this country. But, I’m living today! Let me be a faithful steward of God today!
Number Two: And then, some do not give because of unbelief. They just…don’t…believe what the Bible teaches on the subject. And really, I think in living the Christian life—just generally speaking—that the average person in the Lord’s church…his basic trouble is unbelief. I want you to turn with me, and in conclusion of this lesson, to the book of Hebrews. I want you to turn with me to Hebrews, the 3rd chapter, and I want you to read for yourself…and let me tell you just a little about the context before I read the verses to you.
If you remember, God said to the children of Israel, “I’ve given you the land of Canaan [Leviticus 25:38].” Now, keep in mind that expression—God said, “I’ve given it to you!” Then, after He stated, “I’ve given it to you,” He told Moses to select 12 men to go over and spy out the land [Numbers 13]—not to see if they could take it. They were sent over to see about the fertility of the soil; they were sent over to see about the fruit trees, the prosperity of the land, where the cities were located, how high the walls were. God had said, “I’ve given it to you!” That was a promise from God—“I’ve given it to you!”
And those men came back, and ten of them said, “We can’t do it.” Well, do you hear somebody say, “Well, God said He’d given it to us?”
“Ah, it doesn’t matter what God said. I’m telling you, we’ve been over there; we saw it for ourselves, and it can’t be done!”
“But God said He’d given it to us.”
“I know that, but it can’t be done!”
Now then, I want to read to you what Moses said about those people—why they didn’t take that land—and the same thing applies to many of us today in living the Christian life. Turn to Hebrews, the 3rd chapter, and verses 11 and 12. Notice what it says: “So I swear in My wrath, they shall not enter into My rest. Takeheed, brethren, lest there be in any of you…”—that’s talking about people like you and me—“Take heed…lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.” UNBELIEF is what Paul said their trouble was. Notice verse 19: “So we see that they could not enter in because of UNBELIEF.”
Now, notice Hebrews, the 4th chapter, and verse 6—notice! “Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief….” Notice verse 11: “Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.”
Four times in those few words, Paul said the reason they didn’t go over and take that land—it was unbelief, unbelief, unbelief, unbelief, and then he said, “Let us take heed, brethren…” that we not fall [after the same example] of unbelief ourselves.
This sermon outline was made available via Rick Wood – http://twitter.com/#!/ricklwood – and Dan Williams’ “Preacher Stuff Exchange.”