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By Quek Keng Khwang

Preached at / Published Life BPC Weekly, 2005-08-21

Text: Hebrews 12:28, 29

"Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire." (Hebrews 12:28, 29)

Someone once described football as, "22 men on the field in desperate need of rest, being cheered on or put down by 60,000 fans in the stands desperately in need of exercise." Unfortunately, we could describe Christians in much the same way. 90 percent of the work in most churches is done by 10 percent of the members. The other 90 percent of church members cheer on those hard workers, or put them down, without doing much work themselves. Thus 10 percent of Christians deserve some rest, while 90 percent of them deserve some exercise!

God never intended salvation to be a spectator sport. Armchair theologians, couch potato Christians and worship observers greatly abuse the precious gift their heavenly Father has given them. 

That is what happened to the Hebrew Christians. Many of them started very well. They had seen many signs and wonders and were excited with their new lives (Heb 2:4). But as time went by, their enthusiasm and confidence waned. As they started to look in the old ways of Judaism, and saw that around them and ahead of them there was persecution and suffering, many began to weaken and waver. They were just contented to be saved and wait to go to heaven. They chose not to rise up to run the race or to win Christ. 

The writer of Hebrews had to encourage them to stand fast in the faith of the New Covenant of Christ. They had to be reminded that they have Christ as their Saviour, their Author and Finisher of their faith, who is the same yesterday, today and forever. (Heb 13:8; Heb 12:2). Therefore, they have to "serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear" (Heb 12:28b). 

The Motivation to Serve

The motivation to serve lies in the very reason that God has chosen us and dwells in our hearts. Besides, we will reign with Him on earth after His second advent (Rev 5:10; 20:4, 6). The King of kings is now our king. This should be our motivation to serve Him and Him only. It is a great privilege to serve the King of all kings, the Creator and our Great Saviour. The word privilege comes from the Latin word lex privata or law or rule for private persons, as opposed to a general law which is for everybody. It benefits a few people and not everyone else. Hence, not everybody can serve the King that is Christ. Only those who are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus are privileged to render good works or service to Him alone (Eph 2:10). 

Frances Havergal, a frail but godly hymn writer visited a museum, in D'sseldorf in Germany and she saw the painting of a vivid portrayal of Christ, wearing His crown of thorns before Pilate and the Jewish mob. Beneath the picture were the words: "This have I done for thee: what hast thou done for Me". She was profoundly moved and in due course wrote this hymn:

I gave my life for thee, 
My precious blood I shed. 
That thou might'st ransomed be, 
And quickened from the dead. 
I gave, I gave My life for thee-
What Hast thou given for Me? 

And I have brought to thee, 
Down from My home above 
Salvation full and free, 
My pardon and my love. 
I bring, I bring rich gifts to thee-
What hast thou brought to Me? 

He has given His all. We are bought with a great price (1 Cor 6:20; 7:23). Have we given our all to our great God, Jesus Christ who saves us from eternal condemnation? 

The Means to Serve 

With this awesome privilege to serve our Redeemer, God has given us this grace. The words, let us have grace means let us hold fast to grace. The grace refers to the favour of God in Christ which we obtain by the gospel. This grace will sanctify and aid us, giving us the perseverance and ability to serve God, without which we can do nothing. Paul acknowledged that the strength to serve the Lord is from God Himself: "and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me (1 Cor 15:9-10).

Serving the Lord is no easy task. There will be difficulties, discouragements and disillusionment. But God's grace is always sufficient for us and His strength is made perfect in weakness (2 Cor 12:9). He does not play hide and seek with us. Whenever we are at our wits' end or in the doldrums of life, He is there for us. God will surely enable us to serve Him, for the ministry that we are involved in belongs to Him and not to us. May we have this assurance in 1 Timothy 1:12 - "And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry."

The Manner of Serving

We serve God because of His grace bestowed upon us. Apart from Him and His grace we are unable to serve at all, not even to serve Him acceptably.

he word acceptably means to please, to gratify entirely. Our service to the Lord must be done in a spirit of worship and reverence to Him. Reverence here means an innate moral repugnance to a dishonourable act done towards God. When we arrange those chairs, clean up the church, sit in that committee or share the gospel, it is to be considered as a privilege that we are given to serve His Majesty, the King of kings, our Lord Jesus Christ. Since we serve a great King, do we give our best? Do we give as much as when we give our best to our bosses? Do we make full use of our talents for the edification of the body of Christ? 

In our service, we are neverkto serve ourselves. If we do, God is not pleased because He is not glorified (Col 3:23, 24; Eph 6:6, 7). Moreover, because service tends to be a visible activity, the temptation of getting people's attention to our service is very great. So when we serve, it is not for self-gratification but to please God. Paul exhorts us in Philippians 2:14-15, "Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world."

In our service, we have to be spiritually right with God. God demands a heart of obedience to Him rather than a mere outward form of sacrifice. "Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams (1 Sam 15:22)." Are we serving him with clean hands and pure heart? Are we serving to gain something from someone? Are we serving to gain man's worship and praise? Do we have the tendency to announce what we did and seek every opportunity to tell people what we have done? Serving God is a great privilege. 

One very important criterion to meet when we serve is to be born again. Some of us may be serving the Lord with all eagerness, but have never believed in the Lord Jesus Christ. We slander God by our very eagerness to work for Him without knowing Him (Oswald Chambers). God cannot accept your service if you do not know Him as your Saviour (Matt 7:23).

Serving God is therefore an awesome privilege. God has given us this grace to serve Him and has taught us how to serve Him, that is, with a regenerated heart and with reverential worship. We must neither serve for self-worship nor please ourselves. The service we offer to God is not idolatrous, not self-gaining, not self-glorifying and not of our own invention. Our God is an awesome God; He will be a consuming fire to those who rob Him of His glory. 

Conclusion

We are most indebted to our awesome God for saving us from everlasting fire and it is our great privilege to give our all to our Saviour. So, will our hands be empty when we appear before Christ? Will we continue to be spectators or will we arise to be committed to Him in serving Him with our whole heart, soul and mind? 

I gave, I gave My life for thee-
What Hast thou given for Me? 
And I have brought to thee, 
Down from My home above 
Salvation full and free, 
My pardon and my love. 
I bring, I bring rich gifts to thee
What hast thou brought to Me?"

Vision & Mission

 

To build a united church family that is committed to making disciples through Salvation, Sanctification and Service, to the glory of God.

Verse for the Week

October 15 & 22 - The Cost of Discipleship

For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. Matthew 16:25