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Ministers should serve faithfully in light of judgment to come

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP)–Students at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary recently were reminded to serve in light of the accounting they will one day give before God. In a Sept. 16 chapel service, John Greever, senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Fenton, Mo., called ministers to be faithful stewards of the gospel message.
“I am convinced, whether you are or not, that when I stand before God, and when you stand before God, at the heart of the evaluation of our ministry will be whether or not we were faithful in the keeping and proclamation of the gospel of Christ,” Greever told students. “I will face judgment before God for my ministry — for the sermon I’m going to preach next Sunday.”
Before going to Fenton, Greever served as pastor of Pleasant Heights Baptist Church in Indianapolis. While in Indiana, he served two terms as president of the State Convention of Baptists in Indiana, and also served two terms as chairman of the convention’s executive board. At the national level, Greever has served as trustee on the Sunday School Board and has been a member of the SBC Committee on Nominations.
Drawing from 1 Cor. 3:5-4:5, Greever outlined three reminders to ministers given by the apostle Paul. The first of these, said Greever, is God causes the growth in ministry.
“It is a natural part of ministry to expect growth. There is nothing spiritual about failing,” said Greever.
However, Greever cautioned against ideas of church growth which focus primarily on statistical evidence.
“There’s a whole lot being said about church growth, much of which in my opinion is not scriptural. And there is new statistical evidence coming out now that some of the ‘great works’ of the past did not have enduring and lasting significance,” Greever cautioned.
Greever took the opportunity to issue a challenge to the seminary and its students.
“I am so grateful for Midwestern Seminary. You’ve got the great north central states and the Midwest on your heart, and I say ‘Sic ’em for Christ,'” quipped Greever. “But remember, it is God who gives the growth.”
Greever said Paul also wrote to remind believers they are all team players in ministry, making his second point from 1 Cor. 3:5-9.
“There is no place for pride and competition in ministry,” Greever admonished. “There’s a verse that scares me to death, and if God really means it, we are in trouble. It says, ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ And what the Corinthians struggled with, we struggle with.”
Greever went on to stress the intimate teamwork believers have in ministry with those around them as well as with those who have come before them and those who will follow them. Believers are also teammates with God, Greever said, noting in 1 Cor. 3:9 Paul refers to the Corinthians as fellow workers with God. Greever told students that such a promise should challenge them to reach into new areas with the message of the gospel.
Greever said Paul’s third reminder is that ministers will one day be accountable before God for their ministry. Focusing on 1 Cor. 3:10-15, Greever spoke of the probing fire that will determine the lasting value of each minister’s work.
“I see nothing in here about statistics,” Greever said of that testing to come. “Don’t get me wrong about statistics. Statistics can give us an evaluation. But what Paul is saying in this portion of Scripture is that doesn’t tell the whole story.
“In fact, in chapter four, verses three through five, Paul says ‘I’ve been evaluated by committees. That means nothing to me. I sometimes evaluate myself. That means nothing to me.’ When we come to verses four and five and see where he says ‘I am trusting God to evaluate me,’ we will understand that the judgment seat of Christ is no comfort. God is going to put the fire, the probing fire of his grace upon my ministry, and we’ll see what stands the test of time.”
Greever spoke from I Cor. 4:1-2 of the minister’s stewardship of the mystery of the gospel. He explained this mystery is best understood as the message of salvation which cannot be comprehended by unbelievers until God works in grace to open their eyes and redeem them. On this basis, he challenged ministers to consider what they will do with the message that has been entrusted to them.
“You may think everybody in America knows the gospel. I guarantee you they do not. But God has given us something, and he has said to us, ‘Take this gospel, preach it, teach it, share it, testify of it. And as you preach the gospel, I will work through that preaching, and save human souls.'”

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  • Clinton Wolf