INTRODUCTION: The title, as it stands, is a powerful statement; and is capable of many different interpretations. Consider that Paul makes a plea: "I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the first fruits of Achaia, and that THEY HAVE ADDICTED THEMSELVES to the ministry of the saints) (1 Corinthians 16:15). The A.S.V. of 1909 renders it thus: "They have set themselves to minister unto the saints." The N.K.J.V. renders it: "They have devoted themselves to the ministry of the saints."
The one who is an "addict" is addicted to a practice or habit: a drug addict. The word is generally understood in either a good, or a bad sense. There are many different types of addicts. People are slaves of habit or practice, which means the problems that are involved are very far-reaching in their consequences! However, the good addict suffers no consequences! There are "addicts" of abuse, cursing, cheating, gossip, lying, pride, stealing, sex, work, and many others. It is, rather strange, that the good addicts' works aren’t much appreciated by the worldly-minded people!! Beloved, it is encouraging to know that Stephanas, and his house, accepted the challenge of Christ, with a large measure of enthusiasm!! Christianity is the GREATEST, and MOST REWARDING challenge that a man can encounter!!
I. THE BIBLE HAS MUCH TO SAY ABOUT GOOD ADDICTS: ACCORDINGLY, LET'S REVIEW SOME BIBLE HISTORY.
Let's be a bit presumptuous, and take a walk with a few of the GREAT SPIRITUAL GIANTS of the previous dispensation. Immediately, two great Bible characters come to mind, (a) Joshua, and (b) Caleb. These two men lived under the law of Moses, and have a BETTER THAN AVERAGE TRACK RECORD, than many others of their generation. I would to God we had more men, and women, and young people, like them, in the Lord's church today, we would be able to see the church grow beyond our imagination! Character studies of these men will reveal some enlightening facts; and should cause some Christians to sit up, and pay attention. One gets the impression that they were sort of supermen! Paul said, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me" (Philippians 4:13).
Incidentially, Joshua's name means: "Jehovah is salvation." His first appearance in history, is (Exodus 17:9;) and, as a warrior, he receives instructions from Moses. "And Moses said unto Joshua, choose us out men, and go out, fight with Amalek: tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in mine hand" (Exodus 17:9).
II. PERHAPS, THE MOST SIGNIFICIENT CHARACTERISTIC OF THESE MEN, IS, THAT, "WHEREVER THEY WENT, SOMETHING GOOD WAS GOING TO HAPPEN AND IT WOULD GLORIFY GOD!" Joshua was the successor of Moses, and, if nothing else could be said, that is a great tribute to this righteous man! "…As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord" (Joshua 24:15e). One form of his name was Grecianized and appears as Jesus in (Acts 7:45). In the A.S.V., Milligan says, "Our translators have here very greatly and unnecessarily perplexed the English reader by using the name Jesus instead of Joshua: though it should be observed that these names are identical in Greek." (Hebrews 4:8). See Commentary on Hebrews, Gospel Advocate Company, Nashville, Tenn. Joshua was one of twelve men, one man from each of the twelve tribes, thus, comprising an advanced party, "to spy out the land of Canaan" (Numbers 13:8,16)
The people murmured because the spies brought back a good report. "They said one to another, Let us make a captain, and let us return into Egypt. And Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, which were of them which searched the land, rent their clothes: And they spake unto all the company of the children of Israel, saying, The land, which we passed through to search it is an exceeding good land. If the Lord delight in us, then He will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey" (Numbers 14:2,4,6-8). Since Joshua and Caleb gave to the people a truthful report, they were the only two men of that generation which entered into Canaan! (Numbers 14:30). "And the Lord said unto Moses, take thee Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit, and lay thine hand upon him" (Numbers 27:18).
These two men were singled out from all the other Israelites, thus: "Caleb the son of Jephnunneh the Kenezite, and Joshua the son of Nun: for they have WHOLLY FOLLOWED the Lord" (Numbers 32:12). My friends, hear me, are you listening? These two men WERE ADDICTED TO THE SERVICE OF GOD!!! Brethren, we need to REALIZE that when we have STRONG, BOLD, COURAGEOUS, FAITH in God, and our LOVE for Him TRANSCENDS to the ZENITH of His PLEASURE towards us, we then become CONSCREATED TO GOD, or WE BECOME SPITITUALLY ADDICTED TO HIS SERVICE! Accordingly, John says, "And this is the CONFIDENCE THAT WE HAVE IN HIM, that, if we ASK ANYTHING ACCORDING TO HIS WILL, HE HEARETH US: And if we know that He HEARETH us, WHATSOEVER WE ASK, WE KNOW THAT WE HAVE THE PETITIONS that we DESIRED OF HIM" (1 John 5:14,15).
"But Joshua the son of Nun, which standeth before thee, he shall go in thither: encourage him: for he shall cause Israel to inherit it" (Deuteronomy 1:38). "And Joshua the son of Nun was FULL OF THE SPIRIT OF WISDOM; for MOSES HAD LAID HIS HANDS UPON HIM: and the children of Israel hearkened unto him, and did as the Lord commanded Moses" (Deuteronomy 34:9). Special Characteristics Of Joshua: Faith, See section I, 2, (b), [Numbers 14:2,4,6-8]. 1. Entire Consecration, See section I, 2, [Numbers 32:12]. 2. Spiritual Mindedness, "And Joshua said unto the people, Sanctify yourselves: for tomorrow the Lord will DO WONDERS AMONG YOU. Then Joshua BUILT AN ALTAR unto the Lord in mount Ebal" (Joshua 3:5; 8:30). 3. Godly Reverence, "And he said, nay; but as captain of the host of the Lord am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did WORSHIP, and said unto him, what saith my Lord unto His servant?" (Joshua 5:14). 4. Courage, "And Joshua said unto them, Fear not, nor be dismayed, be strong and of GOOD COURAGE: FOR THUS SHALL THE Lord do to all your enemies against whom ye fight" (Joshua 10:25). 5. Obedience, "As the Lortd commanded Moses His servant, so did MOSES COMMAND JOSHUA, AND SO DID JOSHUA; HE LEFT NOTHING UNDONE OF ALL THAT THE LORD COMMANDED MOSES" (Joshua 11:15). 6. Decision, See section I, 2, (Joshua 24:15e). My friends, hear me, are you listening? I tell you this day, Joshua was a MAN WHO ADDICTED HIMSELF TO THE SERVICE OF GOD!!!
III. CALEB THE SON OF JEPHUNNEH:
. He represents the tribe of Judah as its prince (ruler), "Of the tribe of Judah, Caleb the son of Jephunneh" (Numbers 13:6). Caleb, like Joshua, was an "optimist!" "And Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, let us go up at once, and possess it (Canaan); [emphasis, mine, MLH], FOR WE ARE WELL ABLE TO OVERCOME IT" (Numbers 13:30). Caleb was a "faithful servant of God!" "But my servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him, and HATH FOLLOWED ME FULLY, HIM WILL I BRING INTO THE LAND whereinto he went; and HIS SEED SHALL POSSESS IT" (Numbers 14:24).
"For the Lord has said of them, They shall surely die in the wilderness. And there was not left a man of them, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua the son of Nun" (Numbers 26:65). Caleb's Entire Consecration! "Hebron therefore became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenezite unto this day, BECAUSE THAT HE WHOLLY FOLLOWED THE LORD GOD OF ISRAEL" (Joshua 14:14). My friends, hear me, are you listening? I tell you this day, Caleb was a MAN WHO ADDICTED HIMSELF TO THE SERVICE OF GOD!!!
Special Characteristics Of Caleb: One of the twelve spies. "Of the tribe of Judah, Caleb the son of Jehunneh" (Numbers 13:6). Courageous. "And Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it. Only rebel not ye against the Lord, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defence is departed from them, and the Lord is with us: fear them not" (Numbers 13:30; 14:9). Caleb was preserved when others perished. "Even those men that did bring up the evil report upon the land, died by the plague before the Lord. But Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, which were of the men that went to search the land, lived still" (Numbers 14:37,38). Entire Consecration To God. "…And to him will I give the land…" "…because he hath WHOLLY FOLLOWED THE LORD" (Deuteronomy 1:36c,f,).
Caleb was vigorous and faithful in old age. "…I am as STRONG this day as I was in the day that Moses sent me…" "…Now therefore GIVE ME THIS MOUNTAIN, whereof the Lord spake in that day…" "…The Anakims were there, the cities were great and fenced: if so be the LORD WILL BE WITH ME, THEN I SHALL BE ABLE TO DRIVE THEM OUT, as the Lord said…" "…HEBRON therefore became the INHERITANCE OF CALEB THE SON OF JEPHUNNEH the Kenezite unto this day, because that HE WHOLLY FOLLOWED THE LORD GOD OF ISRAEL" (Joshua 14:11a, 12, 14).
Caleb was invincible, HE DROVE OUT THE GIANTS FROM HIS INHERITANCE. "And now, behold, the Lord hath kept me alive, as He said, these forty and five years, even since the Lord spake this word unto Moses, while the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness: and now, lo, I am this day fourscore and five years old. And Caleb DROVE THENCE THE THREE SONS OF ANAK, SHESHAI, and AHIMAN, and TALMAI, the children of Anak" (Joshua 14:10; 15:14). My friends, hear me, are you listening? Brother Caleb was SUBDUING GIANTS AT 85 YEARS OF AGE!!! Caleb was a "SPIRITUAL ADDICT!!!" ARE YOU A "SPIRITUAL ADDICT??"
My Christian friends---Do you contemplate "sitting down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven? And it is proper to say, "with Joshua, and Caleb!!" "And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 8:11). ARE YOU A "SPIRITUAL ADDICT?"
IV. WE SHALL NOW RETURN TO THE HOUSE OF STEPHANAS: Paul said, "I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the first fruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints.") (1 Corinthians 16:15). In early days imprisoned saints were specially cared for by those at liberty. Paul said, "Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body" (Hebrews 13:3). In modern forms of persecution aid is equally needful. Many need to be "taken by the hand." "As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith" ( Galatians 6:10).1
A VERY HONORABLE AND BEAUTIFUL WORK. Angel-like: they are a type of "…ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation" (Hebrews 1:14). Christ-like: "The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many" (Matthew 20:28). At last, the Lord will say, "…Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me" (Matthew 25:40). Many do not rightly estimate this "high calling." True love for the brethren (a sign of salvation: "We know we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren…" (1 John 3:14a), will make us diligent in this service.2 Are you "ADDICTED TO THE MINISTRY OF THE SAINTS?"
A WORK WHICH CAN BE EXERCISED IN MANY WAYS. Thus suited to the abilities and opportunities of a large number. Many are idle in the Lord's church because they can find nothing to do(?) LET THEM LOOK IN THIS DIRECTION. Visiting the sick: convalescent, nursing, and residential homes, hospitals, and other special institutions of healing! Condoling with the bereaved, relieving the destitute, cheering the depressed, securing rest for the over-worked, guiding the perplexed, encouraging despondent workers, e.g., (ministers, Bible school teachers, care givers, and social workers, etc)---how many might find a suitable sphere in such noble ministries as these!!3 Consider this, The apostle Paul said, "But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children" (1 Thessalonians 2:7).
A WORK WHICH MERITS RECOGNITION ON THE PART OF THE CHURCH. Those who engage actively in such service as this should be: 1. Highly esteemed. It is no slight service which they render. THEY DO MUCH TO ELEVATE THE TONE AND CHARACTER OF THE CHURCH; much to PRESERVE it in PEACE and CONTENT; MUCH to STIMULATE its ZEAL!! 2. Encouraged. The work is trying. Those who seek to ENCOURAGE OTHERS often NEED VERY MUCH ENCOURAGEMENT THEMSELVES. 3. Aided. This is probably what the apostle meant by "Submit yourselves unto such." "That ye SUBMIT YOURSELVES UNTO SUCH, AND TO EVERY ONE THAT HELPETH WITH US, AND LABORETH" (1 Corinthians 16:16). "As they serve you, do you serve them?" 4 ARE YOU "ADDICTED TO THE MINISTRY OF THE SAINTS?"
A WORK VERY BENEFICIAL TO THOSE WHO ENGAGE IN IT. "They who water others shall themselves be watered." Here when we give we take. We GROW RICH BY BESTOWING. Christians STAGNATE BECAUSE THEY THINK OF THEMSELVES!! Saints CAN TAKE SO MUCH CARE OF THEMSELVES THAT THEY BECOME SPIRITUAL INVALIDS! We may "sit under" our own ministry with great profit. A SURE WAY of GETTING TO HEAVEN is RESOLVING THAT SOME ONE ELSE WILL GET THERE. LABORS FOR OTHERS MAKE US BLIND TO OUR OWN TROUBLES.
If our ears are filled with the cries of the needy, WE SHALL NOT BE ABLE TO HEAR the CROAKINGS of SKEPTICS or the evil prognostications of Satan. True MINISTERING TO THE SAINTS IS TRUEST MINISTERING TO OURSELVES!5 "They addicted themselves!" Which is to say, "They truly, genuinely, Spiritually committed themselves to Christ and His ministry!! The SPIRITUAL ADDICTS say, NO MISSION TOO DIFFICULT! NO SACRIFICE TOO GREAT---"IN ADDICTING THEMSELVE TO THE MINISTRY OF THE SAINTS!!!
Are there those present in this assembly, who are not members of the Lord's church? Beloved, you CAN NOT be SAVED OUTSIDE THE BODY OF CHRIST!! You MUST BE IN CHRIST, AND IN HIS CHURCH TO ENJOY HIS SALVATION! Thus, if you have NEVER OBEYED CHRIST, then, you have NEVER "…TASTED THE GOOD WORD OF GOD, and the POWERS OF THE WORLD TO COME" (Hebrews 6:5). Accordingly, you have never experienced the answer to a PRAYER; you have NEVER DRANK OF THE FOUNTAIN OF THE WATERS OF LIFE; you can't honestly say, that Jesus is REALLY AND TRULY YOUR SAVIOR; and, if YOU SHOULD DIE AT THIS MOMENT---YOU WOULD NOT GO TO HEAVEN, OR BE SAVED!! Beloved, IT IS YOUR MOVE! WHAT WILL YOU DECIDE?
V. CONCLUSION: In order to BECOME A CHRISTIAN, YOU MUST OBEY THE GOSPEL: That is, you must CAREFULLY FOLLOW CHRIST'S INSTRUCTIONS, AND DO ALL THAT HE SAYS. Do you really want to become a Christian? If so, you MUST DO THE FOLLOWING:
1. "…How shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?" (Romans10:14b).
2. "For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness" (Romans 10:10).
3. Jesus said, "Except ye repent ye shall all likewise perish" (Luke 13:3, 5).
4. "Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven" (Matthew 10:32).
5. "He that BELIEVETH and is BAPTIZED shall be SAVED" (Mark 16:16a).
6. "…Be thou FAITHFUL unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life" (Revelation 2:10).
1.King James Version, Thompson's Chain-Reference Bible, 5th Improved Ed.
2.The American College Dictionary
3.The American Heritage Dictionary
4.Theological Dictionary of The New Testament
5. The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology
E-Mail Address: (firstname.lastname@example.org) Dear reader, in the event you find errors or mistakes in this sermon, spelling, scripture references, etc., please inform me of the same!! Thank you! (MLH)
The Pulpit Commentary, (1 Corinthians 16:15,) Homilies by Various Authors, pages 568 and 569.
1 H. Bremner
2 H. Bremner
3 H. Bremner
4 H. Bremner
5 H. Bremner
Marlin L. Harless