A Great Help in the Ministry (1 Corinthians #59)

Text: 1 Corinthians 16:14-18

Stephanas and his family is a great help to Paul in the ministry.  And that’s what I’d like us to see tonight are the characteristics that make people a help in the ministry.  Paul makes mention of Stephanas and his family as an example to the Corinthian church.  The people that help the minister are as important as the minister.  The people that help the missionary are as important as the missionary.  An entire church of Stephanas types would be an incredible thing.  Can you imagine if every member of the church was addicted to the ministry as Stephanas and his family are described?

Paul remembered baptizing Stephanas and his family in 1 Corinthians 1:16, but couldn’t remember very many other baptisms in Corinth besides that.  Stephanas and his family had been among the first folks saved in Achaia – firstfruits.

He and his family did more than they thought they could do (vs 15)

  • addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints
  • They weren’t addicted to drugs, alcohol, TV, music, relationships, pornography, but instead had a very healthy addiction to the ministry of the saints.
    • Addiction is generally used in a bad sense.  It’s usually used of a vice that has gone further than you wanted it to go with your life.  That vice is now making demands on your life that you never thought could be made.
    • Now flip that thought upside down.  Instead of being bound by a vice, you were bound by good works and ministry?  How about an addiction to ministry where it takes you further than you thought it could ever take you?  Put you in places you only dreamed of and gave you opportunities you never thought were possible.
    • If you were addicted to drugs, you may miss a meal to get a hit.  This extraordinary family might miss a meal to help a pastor in the ministry.
    • If you were addicted to drugs, your mind would be occupied with how I can score the next dope.  This extraordinary family was occupied with how can we be a blessing to our brothers and sisters in Christ.
    • If you were addicted to drugs, you would probably sacrifice some friendships that tried to keep you away from drugs.  This extraordinary family probably sacrificed some friendships that would keep them away from the ministry.
    • Feeling that you have to use the drug regularly — this can be daily or even several times a day
  • Mayo Clinic signs of addiction:
    • Having intense urges for the drug
    • Over time, needing more of the drug to get the same effect
    • Making certain that you maintain a supply of the drug
    • Spending money on the drug, even though you can’t afford it
    • Cutting back on social or recreational activities because of drug use
    • Doing things to get the drug that you normally wouldn’t do, such as stealing
    • Driving or doing other risky activities when you’re under the influence of the drug
    • Focusing more and more time and energy on getting and using the drug
  • Stephanas and his family devoted themselves to the service of Christians by aiding the ministry, showing hospitality, providing for their wants, and aiding Paul and other pastors in their journeys.
  • No special calling for them
    • I notice that neither Stephanas nor anyone in his family held any particular office in the congregation.
    • No laying on of hands.  Not called to an office in the ministry, but were as vital as those with ministerial office.

He and his family had earned respect from the congregation (vs 16)

  • submit yourselves unto such
  • Earned the respect of the congregation because of their hard work in the ministry
    • They understand the needs of the ministry because they were immersed in the ministry.
    • It wasn’t tenure, it was faithful labour that Paul said gave them a voice.
    • It wasn’t their wealth that gave them a voice.
    • It wasn’t their business savvy that gave them a voice.
    • It wasn’t their organizational ideas.
    • None of those things are bad, but if none of those things are used toward the ministry then they don’t help the ministry.  The house of Stephanas had proven themselves to be a help in the ministry and that’s what counted for the ministry.
  • Congregation wouldn’t have a ministry if it weren’t for the one’s doing the work of the ministry
    • If you start tearing down the support structure of a building it won’t take very long before that building is a pile of rubble.  So you support the ones that support the ministry if you want to see the thing continue to stand.
    • Your children and grandchildren have a Bible believing church to attend because the Holy Spirit is allowed to use some people.  
    • If Paul sends help to the Corinthian church and they throw that help out or ignore the help, what are the Corinthians left with?  They will have a social club that calls itself a church, who argues about who is right, and never allows the Holy Spirit to do anything.

Stephanas made up the difference in the ministry (vs 17)

  • He, along with the others mentioned, provided supply, not demand or need.
  • Stephanas looks like he carries the letter to the Corinthians.  But there may be more to it than that.
  • How God supplies needs.  Look at Philippians 4:15-19
    • Through Savior
      • According to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
      • Colossians 1:21-23 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled 22 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: 23 If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;
    • Through scriptures
      • 2 Timothy 3:16-17 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
    • Through saints
      • Ephesians 4:11-12 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
      • Generosity of the saints here in Philippians.  Paul’s missionary journey after he left Philippi, the only church that helped him was the Philippian church for a while.  Paul says in verse 4:17, not because I was greedy of your money, but because I wanted fruit to be born in the ministry and have that put on your account.  Which made sense because they supplied the need for that fruit.

Stephanas was someone Paul could count on (vs 18)

  • Cold water to a hot and thirsty soul.
  • Paul had on his mind the care of the churches.  The ones doing well did not weigh heavy on his mind, but the ones that struggled he worried about.  The Corinthian church was one that he worried about.
  • People can be the problem, but people can also be a real blessing.