Vol. 4, No. 6
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Jesus said, "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven" (Matthew 7:21). With the shedding of his blood, Jesus purchased the church (Acts 20:28). When we, in obedience to the Gospel of Christ, were immersed into the Gospel of Christ, we became God's children and subject to his will (Galatians 3:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:20).
Now what? Is this the end of our responsibilities toward God? Are there any other requirements expected of us? In the scope of our discussion here, we shall consider: 1) What is service and what is involved, 2) The necessity of our service, and 3) An example of service.
Webster defines the word "serve" as, "to comply with the commands or demands of."1 Christianity is a life of service. Someone once well said, "The gospel has facts to believe, and commandments to obey." There are some who hold to the belief that salvation comes through the grace of God alone. We, however, are not saying that one earns or merits his salvation. Let us notice a few passages concerning the subject of our service.
We must begin by pointing out that our service is on an individual basis (Philippians 3:12). We cannot depend on the works of others for our own salvation. The judgment of our souls will depend on our individual deeds done by each person (Romans 14:12; 2 Corinthians 5:10). Paul, in his first epistle to the Corinthians, stresses the importance of each individual member in the human body, and how one member cannot do the work for another. He also points out that each member's work is important regardless of how small and insignificant we may think it is. The same is also said about the Lord's spiritual body.
What, then, is involved in our service to God? The people came to Jesus on one occasion, asking, "What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent" (John 6:28-29). Paul deals with our obedience to the will of God in the sixth chapter of Romans. In verses seventeen and eighteen Paul states, "But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness." Concerning Righteousness, the Psalmist states, "... all thy commandments are righteousness (Psalms 119:172).
In Paul's first epistle to the Corinthians he declared, "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord" (1 Corinthians 15:58). We enter into a saved relationship with God at the washing of our sins by baptism; however, this does not secure our eternal salvation. Through faithful service to our Lord, we can know that our service has not been done in vain. Peter wrote, "Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls" (1 Peter 1:9).
Our faith is a work (John 6:28-29; James 2:14-26), and comes through the Word of God (Romans 10:17) and without it, we cannot be pleasing to God (Hebrews 11:6). Our work of faith is absolutely necessary for our salvation. Paul told the Ephesians that by the grace of God, he (God) sent his son into the world, that by his death he would establish the Gospel system (faith) by which we are saved through obedience (Ephesians 2:8-10). In the first chapter of James, he said, "be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only ..." (verse 22). There must be an application of the word of God, which contains "the power of God unto salvation" (Romans 1:16-17). Our faith and our works go hand in hand, and works without faith is dead (James 2:18-20).
"For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps" (1 Peter 2:21). Christianity is not a religion in which God has left to us no direction as to how to serve him. There are more examples listed in the Bible than we have room to discuss. In the Old Testament, there are many examples of God's faithful servants. The same can be stated for the New Testament, however, due to lack of space, we shall only look at one example and that from the New Testament.
Paul sites the greatest example of a servant attitude when he wrote:
"Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross" (Philippians 2:3-8).
Have you really considered the attitude that our Lord and Savior exhibited in his life here on this earth? Matthew recorded Jesus as saying, "Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to his life a ransom for many" (Matthew 20:28). Jesus did not come to this earth to be waited on by humans. He came to do the work of his Father, provide redemption for sins (John 6:38; 17:4).
We can see this attitude magnified the night prior to his death. In an upper room, Jesus gathered with twelve men, who were sitting around a table. After the Passover supper, Jesus took a basin of water and a towel, went around the table, and washed the feet of these men. They could not understand what Jesus, their master and Lord, was doing. In this account, Jesus explains that this is for an example of the humble attitude of a servant that we should have. If the Son of God was willing to humble himself to the role of a servant, how ought we to look at ourselves? What a beautiful example we have in Jesus.
1 Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary, 10th ed., Springfield, MA, 1999, p. 1070.