Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Saved to serve

This is my final post in the three part series on service. In the last post we looked at the fact that God equips us for service and today i will argue from the fact that God will judge us on how we serve him is an indication that we should serve him.

The Lord commands us to serve, He gives the enablement to serve him and He will one day evaluate everyone on how they served him. To put in another way God is going to hold each one of us accountable for how we serve him. The parable of the talent is a good place to start. Each of the stewards was given talents to use, while the master was away. The wise and faithful stewards used their talents for the sake of the company. The one steward who hid the talent was rebuked and judged for how he used the talent. Furthermore the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:10 says; For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. Part of that judgment has to do with how we used the gifts the Lord has rendered to us. That is the whole essence of been a steward, you manage what has been entrusted to your care and responsibility. It is important to equally note that we are created for Him and for His glory and good pleasure. And we are His slaves therefore we do not have our own agenda but carry out the masters and his alone.

It is very clear from the scriptures that we ought to be about our fathers business. While it is still day, while we still have breath. The Lord expects us to serve him faithfully, because he has entrusted us with spiritual gifts as stewards and he will consequently expect us to give an account on how we used his gifts. Having heard these wonderful and yet overwhelming truths the words of the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:58 will be fitting when he says; finally brethren be steadfast, immovable and always abiding on the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. Paul is telling the believers that they should be stable and unmoved by any situation or circumstance and that they should outdo themselves in doing the work of the world.

We must have done with day-dreams, and get to work. I believe in eggs, but we must get chickens out of them. I do not mind how big your egg is; it may be an ostrich’s egg if you like, but if there is nothing in it, pray clear away the shells. If something comes of it, God bless your speculations, and even if you should go a little further than I think it wise to venture, still, if you are more useful, God be praised for it. We want facts — deeds done, souls saved. It is all very well to write essays, but what souls have you saved from going down to hell? Your excellent management of your school interests me, but how many children have been brought into the church by it? We are glad to hear of those special meetings, but how many have really been born to God in them? Are saints edified? Are sinners converted? To swing to and fro on a five-barred gate is not progress, yet some seem to think so. I see them in perpetual Elysium, humming over to themselves and their friends, “We are very comfortable.” God save us from living in comfort while sinners are sinking into hell. In traveling along the mountain roads in Switzerland you will continually see marks of the boring-rod; and in every minister’s life there should be traces of stern labor[1]

The Lord is looking for people to work with and serve him. He expects every believer to serve him; He further equips us for the kind of work he calls us to and will eventually judge us on how we used our gifts and talents to serve him. The Lord saves us in order that we may serve him.

[1] Spurgeon, Charles. Lectures to my students. Pg 114

Saved to Serve

This is my second post in the part series of my final research paper for my school work. In the first post i was trying to show that God expects to serve him. In this post i want to take a step further and show that He also equips us for service.

The paradigm is simple: when God calls you to himself, he also calls you to be a servant, an instrument in his redeeming hands. All of his children are called into ministry and each of them needs daily intervention this ministry provides. This need will remain until our sanctification is complete in glory[1]
In other words we here to be used by God to carry out His purposes and His will for His glory and the edification of others. Failure to carry out this purpose is to reject the purpose of existence as Christians. God expects His children to serve.
            Having said that it is also true that there are misconceptions and wrong teachings concerning serving the Lord, the first is the suggestion that service will earn you salvation. That cannot be far from the truth. The scriptures are very clear that salvation is by grace through faith and not of works (Ephesians 2:8). Therefore we are not talking about salvation of works but rather of salvation that produces fruits. The reformer Martin Luther was right when he said “We are not made righteous by doing righteous deeds; but when we have been made righteous we do righteous deeds.”[2] Service is a fruit of salvation.
            The second issue that has to be mentioned concerns the motive for service. There are several motives of service that are unbiblical and should not be encourage, namely, guilt (serving out of fear), pleasing people (for the sake of people that they may see), and pride (so as to receive praise).  Our service for the Lord should be motivated by obedience and love.
            The Lord not only expects us to serve Him, He further equips each believer with a gift for service. God does not just command us to serve him; however, he also equips to do the work of service. Every Christian has at least one spiritual gift given to them upon salvation. This is given with a purpose and goal, namely service. The Bible says in Ephesians 4:7 "But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift." And in 1 Corinthians 12:7 it says "But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good." Then in verse 11 it states "But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills." So it is very clear that every Christian has at least one spiritual gift. A quick study of Acts 1:7-8 might be helpful at this point. The passage says; He said to them, it is not for you to know times or epochs which the father has fixed by his own authority; but you will receive power when the holy spirit has come upon you and you shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and even to remotest part of the earth. The Lord gives us the enablement through the Holy Spirit by gifting us and he gives us the mission as well. Therefore with the mission comes the enablement, with the command comes the gifting. 

Wayne Grudem is spot on when he says “another aspect of empowering Christians for service is the Holy Spirits activity of giving spiritual gifts to equip Christians for ministry”[3]

[1]               Tripp, Paul. Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands. Pg xi
[2]               Barnes, Stanley. Here I Stand; An Inspirational Treasury of Martin Luther. Pg 29
[3]               Wayne, Grudem. Systematic Theology. Pg 639

Saved To Serve

Part of my school assignment is to share my final paper in a creative format and hence i decide to divide my paper into three blog posts, since it is quite lengthy.
My final paper is dealing with the subject of service and i argue that all believers should serve God and we are actually saved in order that we may serve. I show this by arguing from the bible that 1. God expects us to serve him 2. He has equipped us for service and lastly He will judge us on how we served Him.

Donald Whitney makes a very important point when he says “an 1860 San Francisco newspaper printed this ad for the pony express: “Wanted: Young, skinny, wiry fellows not over 1. Must be expert riders willing to risk daily. Orphans preferred.” [1] And then he later makes this comment “We need to be honest with the facts about the discipline of serving God. Like the Pony Express, serving God is not a job for the casually interested. It’s a costly service. He asks for life.”[2] This is a very good point to start from. If the Lord Jesus gave His life to save us from our sins it is only right that we should be willing to give all, even our very lives. 

 It is also important to note that service for the master is not always glamorous and glorious. It is not always before the eyes of men and it does not always receive the praise of the people. Therefore when we talk about serving God we are not talking about the self-exalting, it is not something we will naturally long to do and enjoy. Richard Foster is spot on when he says:In some ways we would prefer to hear Jesus’ call to deny father and mother, houses and land for the sake of the gospel, than his word to wash feet. Radical self-denial gives the feel of adventure. If we forsake all, we even have the chance of glorious martyrdom. But in service we are banished to the mundane, the ordinary, the trivial.[3]

This is what we are called to! And it is necessary that every believer knows and understands what they are called to, service is hard work, which requires our total surrender but is also a call to humble submission to whatever and wherever the master leads and calls us to.           

Having established what service is and what it entails for our lives, we can now back up and examine each tree in the forest and really see the arguments for service. Why should service be required of the believer? One may ask. The answer is simply because God expects every believer to serve him. This is obvious from the numerous commands given in the scriptures to serve the Lord. The word “serve” or forms of it appear over 380 times in the bible! That says something. In order to drive the point home a sample of the verses will suffice. Paul eagers the believers in Rome when he says in Romans 12:11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Moses warns and exhorts the children of Israel in Deuteronomy 13:4 it is the LORD your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him. Paul challenges the believers at Galatia not to abuse their liberty but instead to use as a means of service when he says in Galatians 5:13 you, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. The apostle Peter urges the saints to faithfully use their gifts to serve others when he says in 1 Peter 4:10 each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms. And lastly Joshua addressing the nation of Israel urges them to keep Gods commands, love Him and serve him when he says in Joshua 22:5 5 But be very careful to keep the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the LORD gave you: to love the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to obey his commands, to hold fast to him and to serve him with all your heart and all your soul.

It is quite clear from these verses that the Lord expects all those who follow Him to serve him with all their hearts, minds, strength and souls. A Christian who is not serving is a contradiction of terms, the essence of following to serve your master nothing more nothing less. We are expected to serve our master and also serve others.

[1]               Whitney Donald. Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, Pg 116
 [2]               Ibid
[3]               Foster, Richard. Celebration of Discipline, Page 110