As Paul’s pen scurried across parchment and papyrus, repeated glimpses of an amazing story have emerged. No, I am not writing about God’s love toward us in sending his Son to forgive our guilt. We have much more than mere glimpses into that astounding story. I am referring to the simple fact that God has entrusted people with his message.
Consider humanity’s record. Even with the simplest of instructions, such as “don’t eat of that tree,” humanity has messed it up. In that case, it seems as though at the first opportunity bad information was allowed to distort the perception of truth. And then, the trust was abandoned simply because someone said, “eat this.” In view of our track record, is it not astounding that God has entrusted the most important message ever into human hands?
Across the pages of his writings, the ink from Paul’s pen has flowed into words and sentences forming a picture. “I make known to you, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. … it came to me by revelation of Jesus Christ.”1 Regarding this message, Paul described it as “the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I was entrusted.”2
In writing to Timothy about how this message should be handled, “Keep as the pattern of wholesome teaching what you heard from me in the faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the precious deposit that was entrusted to you through the Holy Spirit … the things you have heard from me, through the presence of many witnesses, entrust to reliable men who will be qualified to teach others.”3 But Paul still had more to say. “People ought to regard us as Christ’s servants and as those entrusted with the secret things of God. It is required that those who have been given a trust be found faithful. …. the one who judges me is the Lord.”4
Several contours of his verbal picture stand out. The whole idea of a message being entrusted points to an author-centered understanding of the message, not a reader-centered one. In other words, what matters is the content of the original message, not what I might think it means.
A second observation is that the message we have received is not our message. We are not free to fundamentally reshape the message according to our tastes and preferences. What needs to be valued is working within the parameters and holding to the teachings it establishes.
Third, while people might still do whatever they desire with God’s word, in the end the Lord will judge our faithfulness and trustworthiness. Pursuing the commendation and approval of our Lord is what counts.
1\ Galatians 1:11,12
2\ 1 Timothy 1:11
3\ 2 Timothy 1:13,14; 2:2
4\ 1 Corinthians 4:1-2, 4