Introduction To Book Eleven – Service
Ron Christian, Compiler
Listen to what Jerry Cook says about Christianity. "Christianity that doesn't walk around in shoes isn't worth much. It has to walk in shoes, all kind of shoes – sandals, boots, high heels, and suedes. It has to walk. If we only teach Christians how to think Christianity and how to feel it, but not how to walk it, we are failing." (Love, Acceptance, and Forgiveness; Jerry Cook; pg. 42) "Ask these four questions of any work: Did God initiate it? Is it redemptive? Does it exist for God's glory? Does it exalt Jesus? If you can readily answer 'yes' to all questions, then you may be assured that it is a good work indeed" (God's Miraculous Plan of Economy, Jack Taylor, pg. 82)
The Importance Of Good Works
Without Good Works, life is unbalanced. Sensitive Christians are not "Either – Or" persons, but "Both – And" persons.
EMOTIONS>HEART>UPWARD IN PRAYER>WORSHIP>FAITH
(Spirit gives assurance to heart.)
INTELLECT>HEAD>INWARD IN THINKING>STUDY>INQUIRY
(Spirit gives answers to the mind.)
WILL>HAND>OUTWARD IN SERVICE>WITNESSING>WORKS
(Spirit gives power to the will.)
Notes William Barclay: "In the well proportioned life there must be both prayer and effort. Again it is tempting to divide men into two classes – the saints who spend life secluded on their knees in constant devotion, and the toilers who labor in the dust and the heat of the day. But it will not do. It is said that Martin Luther was close friends with another monk. The other monk was as fully persuaded of the necessity of the Reformation as Luther was. So they made an arrangement. Luther would go down into the world and fight the battle there, the other monk would remain in his cell praying all the time for the success of Luther's labors. But one night the monk had a dream. In it he saw a single reaper engaged on the impossible task of reaping an immense field unaided and alone. The lonely reaper turned his head and the monk saw his face, and it was the face of Martin Luther, and he knew that he must leave his cell and leave his prayers and go to help. It is, of course, true that there are some who, because of age or bodily weakness, can do nothing other than pray, and their prayers are indeed a strength and a support. But if any normal person thinks that prayer can be a substitute for effort, then his prayers are merely a way of escape. Prayer
and effort must go hand in hand." (Daily Study Bible; William Barclay; James: pg. 91)
Good Works are the worthy results of genuine repentance.
"First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and to the Gentiles also, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds." (Acts 26: 20)
Good Works are the result of a genuine saving faith.
"For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance or us to do." (Ephesians 2:10)
"Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain." (1 Corinthians 15:58)
"In the same way, faith by itself, if not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say. 'You have faith; I have deeds.' You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone." (James 2:17, James 2:18, James 2:24.)
The proper results of an emotional and intellectual response to God's love is a strong volitional commitment to God's will. Jesus Christ gave Himself to us "to redeem us from all iniquity and to purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds." (Titus 2:14, RSV)
Said John Wesley: "Works do not give life to faith, but faith begets works, and then is perfected by them." Notes Bishop Leslie Ray Marston concerning Wesley's understanding of the proper relationship between faith and works: "Wesley made much of the social direction of the Christian religion, insisting that good works must be the fruit of a living faith and a condition of one's continuing in saving relationship to God, but he protested forcefully against the teaching that works can yield merit for one's salvation." (From Age To Age A Living Witness; Leslie Ray Marston; pg. 108)
Summarizes William Barclay: "The fact is that no man can be saved by works: but equally no man can be saved without producing works." (Daily Study Bible; William Barclay; pg. 87)
"We are not saved By deeds; we are saved FOR deeds; these are the twin truths of the Christian life." (William Barclay)
"No man will ever be moved to action without faith; and no man's faith is real until it moves him to action." (Ibid; pg. 92)
Good Words do not save us, but good works are pleasing to God for they are expressions of love, loyalty, and obedience to God.
Good Works are a witness to an unbelieving world.
Notes Donald Bastian, "The verbal witness to Jesus Christ, whether spontaneous or carefully organized, goes poorly unless in the congregation there is an overflow of good works. It goes no better where good works have become a substitute for verbal witness. But where good works are supplemental to the spoken witness, the world gets a multidimensional message and the work of the Lord prospers." (Adventures In Belonging; pg. 82)
Works are the result of a response of obedience to the Master.
"What do you think? There was a man who had two SONS. He went to the first and said, 'Son, go and work today in the vineyard.' 'I will not,' he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, 'I will, sir,' but he did not go. Which of the two did what his father wanted? 'The first,' they answered. Jesus said, 'I will tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him." (Matthew 21:28-31)
Good Works is the natural evidence of a life committed to love.
It is possible to serve another without loving the one you are serving (example of slavery), but it is not possible to love one without seeking to serve that one in some way.
If we truly love the Master, we will seek to do those things which bring pleasure to the Master. What brings pleasure to our Master? "There is more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent." (Luke 15:7) Winning sinners to Christ brings great joy to the Master! Jesus said, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field." (Matthew 9:37-38)
Service is the natural outworking of love. A heart that is filled with love results in life that is filled with good deeds. A loving heart is what moves the hands to
action. Service that is motivated by love is service that is done in an uncalculating way, service that is done without watching the clock and without keeping track of the cost.
One's eternal salvation is inseparably connected with Good Works.
One's eternal salvation is inseparably connected with Good Works. Eternal life is gained, not just by believing, but also by doing. Intellectual faith alone is not sufficient for salvation. There must be a heart and life commitment to Christ, evidenced by a life of good works. "You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that – and shudder." (James 2:19, NIV)
A life of compassion is the evidence that one is truly a believer.
"Then he will say to those on his left. 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink. I was a stranger and you did not invite me in. I needed clothes and you did not clothe me. I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.' They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison and did not help you?' He will reply, 'I tell you the truth whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.' Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life." (Matthew 25: 41-46) "The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done." (Revelations 20:13)
The Works of believers, performed in life, will be judged in eternity.
Some people falsely reason that if they are saved by grace alone, then they can relax their own efforts in the Christian life. Such thinking is dangerous, however. 2 Corinthians 5:10 says that "We (Christians) must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad."
"What purpose, then, will the final judgment serve in the case of such believers? In the words of Paul, it will be 'the judgment seat of Christ', and the term indicates something of its purpose for believers. On that occasion, the Savior will measure the quality of the life His followers have lived. Though their salvation is by faith, authentic faith reflects itself in works, and those works must be judged." (The Mature Church Member; Donald Bastian, 99)
The quality of each believer's works will be tested in eternity and rewards for one's works will be given, according to one's faithfulness. (Note 1 Corinthians 3:10-15)
"There is a story of a woman who in this world had been used to every luxury and to all respect. She died, and when she arrived in heaven an angel was sent to conduct her to her house. They passed many a lovely mansion and the woman thought that each one, as they came to it, must be the one allotted to her. When they had passed through the main streets of heaven they came to the suburbs and the outskirts where the houses were much smaller; and on the very fringe they came to a house which was little more than a hut. 'That is your house,' said the conducting angel. 'What,' said the woman, 'that! I cannot live in that.' 'I am sorry' said the angel,' but that is all that we could build for you with the materials you sent up.'" (Daily Study Bible; William Barclay; Luke; pgs. 189, 190)
One's capacity to enjoy heaven will be largely determined by the degree of one's faithfulness in labor for the Lord on earth. Notes Leslie Ray Marston, "Man is called not merely to save his soul and insure an eternal destiny in Heaven, but to devote his energies, his talents, all his resources in laying the foundation of his eternity… We acquire here spiritual wrinkles that eternity itself can never iron out. And thus the Christian's philosophy gives significance to this life, for the work we begin here will be consummated there. This life then becomes important! More than a dressing room for eternity, it is a laboratory of the Eternal." (From Chaos to Character; pg. 164)
Hindrances To Good Works
A Christian should be a man both with a heavenly vision and an earthly concern, a man who is concerned both in personal salvation and in social redemption. Many who are very concerned about heaven seem to be very complacent about earthly suffering. Why is this so? Several reasons may be given for this perversion.
Evangelical Christianity has overly reacted to so-called Liberal Christianity which has preached a social gospel with minimum concern about the hereafter. In reacting against the social utopias which the Liberals have sought to build upon earth through human reformation and human progress, Evangelicals have sought to re-emphasize regeneration and the spiritual Kingdom of God, with a consequent de-emphasis upon social problems.
Evangelicals have emphasized the importance of escaping "the corruption that is in the world through lust," (2 Peter 1:4) and thus, well-meaning Christians have separated themselves from everything that might pollute
their pure and spotless lives. Does not the Scripture say "Come out from among them and be ye separate and I will receive you, saith the Lord"? (2 Corinthians 6:17) Such a Christian has forgotten, that while he is not to be "of" the world he is to be "in" the world. (John 17:15) In other words, a Christian is to separate himself from the world of sinful practices, but he is not to remove himself from the world of sinful men. Jesus was a man of heavenly vision, but he was also a friend of publicans, harlots, and sinners of all kinds. The Christian must be both a man of heavenly vision and a man of earthly concern.
There are well-meaning Christians who have been taught that one of the "signs of the last times" is widespread lawlessness, social disorder, and intensified evil. Such Christians someway feel that this is an inevitability, and that, therefore, Christians can do nothing to bring about peace and order and a semblance of righteousness to society. Thus, any motivation for social reform is undercut, and Christians tend to "run to the hills" to escape "the destruction of Sodom." If society "in the last times" is inevitably going to "go to the dogs", why exert so much effort in trying to redeem society? Why perform "good works" if the world is under God's judgment and will be destroyed anyway?
The Importance Of Team Cooperation
It is important that believers individually perform good works, but it is also important that believers cooperate together in performing good works corporately. Believers are to develop individual ministries, but those ministries are to be a part of the total corporate ministry of the church. The context for the performance of good works is the church which is defined as a 'Force' of God's people working together to realize God's redemptive purposes in His world.
Because the nature of the church (likened unto a 'Body) demands team cooperation.
Wrote the apostle Paul: "Yes, the body has many parts, not just one part. If the foot says, 'I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand', that does not make it any less a part of the body. And what would you think if you heard an ear say 'I am not part of the body because I am only an ear, and not an eye'? Would that make it any less a part of the body? Suppose the whole body were an eye – then how would you hear? Or if your whole body were just one big ear, how could you smell anything? But that isn't the way God has made us. He has made many parts for our bodies and has put each part just where he wants it. What a strange thing a body would be if it had only one part! So he has made many parts, but still there is only one body." (1 Corinthians 12:14-20, Living Bible)
No one body part can do the work of another body part; each needs the other body parts, and all the body parts are under the direction of the 'Head' who is Christ.
Because the 'Great Commission' (Matthew 28:19-20) can only be fulfilled as each believer is doing his part. Jesus gave this command to all believers: "Go and make disciples in all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and then teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you; and be sure of this – that I am with you always, even to the end of the world." (Matthew 28:19-20, Living Bible)
Someone said, "Prayer works; prayer is work; prayer leads to work."
There are no shortcuts for true success in God's Kingdom. Lots of work! God does not do the work FOR us; He does the work WITH us. We are co-laborers with God. If we trust God, He will crown our efforts with success, but there is no success in the Lord's Church without supreme effort.
What is the answer to success within the Church? Every believer working hard as if everything depended upon his faithfulness in labors, and then every believer trusting God as if everything depended alone upon God! There is no magical or mystical 'secret to success' in God's Kingdom. Faith in God and in His power is no substitute for one's own hard work. Unless the Lord builds the church, those who labor, labor in vain – true! But it is also true to say that unless believers labor to build the church, the church will not be built, regardless of the infinite power of God. It is the coupling of the believer's earnest labors and the Holy Spirit mighty power that works 'miracles' of church growth!
There's a clever young gal named Somebody Else. There is nothing this lady can't do. She's busy from morning 'till way late at night, Just substituting for you.
You're asked to do this, or asked to do that, And what is your ready reply? Get Somebody Else, Madam Chairman, She'll do it much better than I.
There's so much to be done in our services. So much, and the workers are few. And Somebody Else is getting tired and worn. Just substituting for you.
'Desire' and 'willingness' – not 'great talent' – is all that is necessary to be greatly used in God's service. It is not a question of 'capability', but a question of 'availability'. Not "Can You?" but "Will You?" As the song says: "Our talents may be few, these may be small, but unto Him is due our best, our all!"
"I am only one but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something I can do."
Work, While It Is Day
Work, for the night is coming, Work through the morning hours; Work, while the dew is sparking, Work 'mid springing flowers; Work, when the day grows brighter, Work in the glowing sun; Work, for the night is coming, When man's work is done.
Work, for the night is coming, Work through the sunny noon; Fill brightest hours with labor, Rest comes sure and soon. Give every flying minute Something to keep in store; Work, for the night is coming, When man works no more.
Work, for the night is coming, Under the sunset skies; While their bright tints are glowing, Work, for the daylight flies, Work till the last beam fadeth, Fadeth to shine no more; Work while the night is darkening, When man's work is o'er.