Biographical Sketch of Dr. Stuart E. Lease / Bible Messages by Dr. Stuart E. Lease
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A VIGILANT SERVICE
This afternoon I want to speak on The Believers Vigilant Service. In John 15:15 and 16, Henceforth I call you not servants [Now right away, people read that, they say, O great, I dont have to be one., because Im not calling you a servant]; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, He may give it you. These things I command you, that ye love one another. Now I want you to go on to verse 20, Remember the Word that I said unto you [What?], The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you. [Well the inference from that then is that you are (What?) a servant. Now right away, you say, Well, how do you reconcile that? Well, the emphasis is that He wont call you a servant, but you ought to delight to call yourself a servant of Jesus Christ. Paul delighted to call himself a servant of Jesus Christ. Peter, James, Jude all referred to themselves, at the opening of their epistles, as servants of Jesus Christ. Now that word servant is an interesting one. Now there are a number of words for servants in the New Testament. Im just going to emphasize one, and thats the Greek word dulas which is translated servant, and it can also be translated slave. Now a slave was one who did not have a name of his own, he had no possessions of his own, he had no rights of his own, he had no privileges of his own. He simply and solely had to do exactly what his master wanted him to do. Now I want you to turn just for a moment to Luke chapter 17 [and then were going to come back to the John 15 passage] beginning at verse 7, But which of you, having a [What?] servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat? [Is that what theyd say?] Not at all. You see, we have no real concept of what a slave is because where we live most people worked either on a time clock and got paid so much an hour or you get paid salary or you work on a farm for certain length of time; and then you may come in and maybe rest a bit; but we no longer have slaves as such in America. But a slave could work all day long, come in almost exhausted and then his master would not say, Now you go and sit down and rest. No, thats not what he would say. He ...will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup... make my meal ready ...and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink? [ if there is anything left]. Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not [or really, absolutely not]. So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do. Now we are servants, even though Jesus Christ will not call us servants. Actually, we are more than servants. We are friendly servants. You see in John 15:15 he says, The servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. He doesnt keep you at a distance. He draws you in close and has fellowship with you. In fact, the reality is that youre more than a friend, you are a brother in Christ; because when you are born into the family of God, you become a son of God and a servant of Jesus Christ. So, you are a friendly servant. You are a son and a servant, and you ought to want to serve Him, not just because you have to, like the slave in Luke 17 but because you want to. Now in Revelation chapter 2 [to the Ephesian church] there is only one criticism made of that grand and glorious church at Ephesis. The criticism made of them is this, verse 4, Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Someone pointed out that it doesnt say that you lost it. You just left it. And, the first love is the motivation for serving, that is higher than duty. You know, when people get married, usually if they love each other, at least they say that they do and usually they do hopefully. Whatever they do is because they love each other. She loves him so much [I heard a fellow say, My wife even worshipped me. For the first year that we were married, all I got were burnt offerings. Im sure, however, she did because she loved him, and she did her best. After a while, however, if you arent careful, the necessity of doing things (Ladies the washing and ironing, the cleaning and cooking, all the other things become works of [What?] duty. You do them because you have to do them, not because of love. In the same thing for men, if youre not careful the responsibilities of your life become such that you do things just because you have to do, rather than because you really want to.
Through the years having been in management and administration, Ive been rather fascinated with what motivates people; and you can motivate people with force, with a whip [not the best kind of motivation]. You can motivate them with the sense of duty saying, You have to do it. [You know like the fellow that didnt want to go to church on Sunday morning. And his mother was trying to get him up to go to church. He said, Mom, they dont like me over there, they make fun of me over there, I have no friends over there. She said, Son, youve got to get up, and youve got to go to church. She said, Youre 45 years old, youre a seminary graduate, and youre the pastor of the church! So, he had to go! whether he wanted to or not! But, I like what Dr. Scroggie says in his commentary on the book of Romans [in the passage there where he talks about obedience, he says, Theres something better than obedience. He said that if my mother sent me to pick a quart of berries and I knew she really wanted two, if I picked one I would be obedient. If I picked two, I would be pleasing. You know, thats something to think about, isnt it? You know, thats a servant that serves because of love, not just duty; and as I study this thing further in the New Testament, I found that our Lord Jesus went beyond that and the testimony that His Father born of Him was this: This is my Beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased! Not just pleased, but well pleased! And as I thought about that in relation to Dr. Scroggies argument, I thought, you know, he would have picked two or three quarts and brought them home and washed them. Thats being well-pleasing! How much better if we went even beyond being obedient to being pleasing You know thats the kind of servant Id like to be for the Lord Jesus. Id like to be a servant who sees beyond just the bear obedience of scripture, and gets in touch with His heart of hearts and knows what He wants, and then wants to do it. Now thats the kind of service I think we ought to render to the Lord. You know?
Throughout eternity, were going to have the joy and privilege of serving the Lord. You know that? Theres a false concept of heaven, that is abroad, in which people think that were just going to sit there on a cloud and strum on a harp that thats going to be the extent of heaven. Well, thats the farthest from the truth. Now maybe we will strum a harp, I dont know. But I do know what it says in the Bible. Turn to Revelation 22, the last chapter in the Bible, in which Im just going to ennounciate some principles from this service in eternity that I believe applies to us right now, not just the future but right now. We going to deal with two verses, verses 3 and 4, And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; [Notice the next expression. [What is it?] and His servants shall [What?] serve Him. This is in the future. This is in the Eternal State. His servants shall serve Him! And they shall see His face; and His Name shall be in their foreheads.
Now out of that passage, there are five principles that I think shall apply to us today: First, we have to have a transformation of attitude, a transformation of attitude about service. [I meet so many people who are discouraged about serving the Lord and they can tell you all the things that are going wrong, And this isnt going right, and that isnt right; everything else is wrong, and its no use to serve the Lord, because it doesnt pay. Well, I think that they need to realize that while in the future, this is going to be absolutely true that there shall be no more curse. Its true right now, for the child of God. No more curse for you or for me who are in Christ Jesus. You see, weve been changed. II Corinthians 5:17, Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature [literally, a new creation]: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. A transformation has taken place in the child of God that makes us difference from what we were before.
Second, There is no condemnation to the child of God, no curse to us. You know that passage in Romans chapter 8, and you might turn with me to that for a moment, There is therefore [What?] now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.
Thirdly, There is no depreciation to them that are in Christ Jesus [or deprecation, in putting somebody down]. Verse 31 in Romans 8, What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? I dont know why when I talk about service, I think about my son and I come to this. He was singing one day, in the back yard, one of the Sunday School songs, a little girl came to Him and she said, I dont like the way you sing. And its only the way kids can do and come up with one of the greatest little putdowns in the world, he said, Jesus loves me! And you know, maybe your service might be a little off key to some other people, but Jesus loves you! And He is concerned, If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay anything to the charge of Gods elect? It is God that justifieth [It is God Who has made us righteous.] Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, Who is even at the right hand of God, Who also maketh intercession for us. Our God is concerned about us. The curse has been removed for us. A transformation has taken place. Theres no condemnation. Theres no depreciation or deprecation. And, I like whats at the end of Romans 8, there is no separation. No separation! Beginning at verse 35, Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are [What?] more than conquerors . Whats a more than a conqueror? Well, someone thats more than a conqueror is one who can still stand up and enjoy the victory when the battles over; and thats our lot as the children of God. What verse of scripture can we give those who have experiences difficulties in their lives, those who need encouragement? Its here in verse 38 that the Lord gives the answer, For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creation, shall be able to [What?] separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. You know folks, I believe that! There is nothing you can do to save yourself, nothing you can do to unsaved yourself. It is the Lord Who has paid in full the price of your redemption. That doesnt mean that you are free to do as you please, but it does mean that if youre in Christ Jesus, there is no separation no separation to them that are in Christ Jesus.
Now fifthly, Exaltation. In Ephesians 2:6, He has already seated us in heavenly places; and then in Revelation 12 in verse 11, the overcoming power in the transformation of our attitude will be like those saints of the Tribulation Period, They overcame him [that is, the Adversary] by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony, and they loved not their lives unto the death. They had power over the Adversary by the word of their testimony, and their lives were not important to them. It was His life that was important to them. A transformation of attitude. Second, there is in this passage [back in Revelation 22:3, the exaltation of authority, But the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it... But you know folks, Ive found that in the last ten or fifteen years, theres been a tremendous erosion in authority in the concept and belief of authority. In fact, I heard, even evangelical pastors speak and say that authority comes from the people. I dont believe that. I believe authority comes from above. Jesus said, All power [or authority] is given unto me; and you will never serve effectively unless you believe in authority. I believe in authority, all my life, Ive believed in authority. It was taught in our home with a quite good emphasis. My dad and my mother were both authoritarian in figures, now not in the wrong sense, though Mom had a more gracious approach than Dad. She only spoke once and we knew what she meant. Then the second time, we got some application. If it went to Dad, that was the supreme court. I tried to avoid that. Being down the line (the last of thirteen children), I had enough sense and could see what had happened ahead. I dont ever remember Dad having to lay a hand on me, and I knew who was in charge. I tell you folks, weve got to know whos in charge, and the one whos in charge in the church is the Lord Jesus. God has made Him Head over all things to the church. Having been humiliated, as is set forth in Philippians 2:5 following to the very death of the cross [and by the way, that was the result of His absolute obedience] God [What?] hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a Name which is above every name: That at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow [and I think that we should do that every day. In fact constantly we ought to be bowing before the exaltation of His authority].
He also says in Matthew 28, He gives us an exalted commission to us is, All authority is given unto me. By the way, the next word GO is not an imperative, although its often been presented that way. Its a participle and it has the idea, As you go. The go is in John 20:21, As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you [therefore go]. The second one is DO, ...make disciples of all nations; and the third commission in Acts 1:8 is Ye shall BE witnesses. GO, DO, BE! I spoke this at a missionary conference a couple of years ago and I emphasized that if you dont obey those commissions, youre going to end up out of commission! Now GO, DO, and BE, because all authority is given unto Him!
Now we also have been lifted with Him, as Ephesians 2 indicates and Colossians 2, were raised with Him, and in light of this, we ought to bow before Him and rejoice that He is the authority over us. In Isaiah chapter 6:5 [when Isaiah is in the presence of the Lord, this is his response], Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips [Why?]; for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts. I believe when we recognize, as the authority, that our God is, and has committed to His Son, and that His Son is over us the Lamb, the throne of God, Sovereignty, and of the Lamb sacrificed the giving of Himself for us Then, with broken hearts, we will serve Him. Isaiah 57:15, For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, Whose Name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones. We recognize Gods authority, and then He will impart to us of His ability to occupy our ability. Thus, there needs to be a transformation of attitude, no more curse; the exaltation of authority, the throne of God and of the Lamb is in it; and third, the occupation of our ability and thats in this expression His servants shall serve Him.
First, present your body (Romans 12:1-2) as a living sacrifice; second, participate in His body [We are part of His body] I Corinthians 12:12 and in that body we have to realize that there are differing parts to the body, For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized [that is placed permanently] into one body [of Christ], whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye [Just imagine, one big eye rolling around here], where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing [one big ear], where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath please Hin. [And I might add, that when youre in the place that pleases Him, it will please you too. It will please you too. Notice verse 27, Now ye are the body of Christ, and member in particular. We need each other, but I think we need to be where God wants us to be, and be grateful to serve Him there with the occupation of our ability where He has placed us; and presenting our bodies, participating in His body, and then practice in serving in every body. Practice serving every body. In I Corinthians 9:19, For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more.
Then not only the transformation of our attitude, the exaltation of authority, the occupation of ability, but the concentration of attention. They shall see His face. You know, its wonderful to realize that were going to see our Lord face to face. We are going to see Him. There is a tremendous spiritual principle, the closer you are to the Master, the better your lot as a servant. And when youre right up there where you can see Him, face to face, its a wonderful, wonderful thing! Its wonderful serving the Lord and see His face. We will then and we can and should every day see the Lord Jesus: see Him in your work, in the Word, serve Him in the world, show Him in His worth.
Now finally, the identification of our association with Him. His Name shall be in their foreheads. We are His prized possession. I like what it says in I Peter 2:9 when it describes us in our relationship to the Lord, But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, and holy nation, [and I want to zero in on this next expression] a peculiar people because most people, when they read that, get the wrong idea. They think it means that were to be odd, strange or curious. The actual reading in the Greek is a people surrounded. They say, What does that mean? Im grateful to my Greek professor who explained it to us this way. He said, Did you ever see a child in a room with some toys that hes playing with? And, another child comes into the room. What does the first child do, who almost instinctively without thinking do? They put out their hands and put their arms around their toys, and what are they saying by that surrounding? These belong exclusively to me! Thats why you have in the Revision, a people for His own possession. We are Gods prized possession. Do you know why? Because He paid a precious price for us. I Peter 1:18, Forasmuch as ye know that ye were redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold..., [But with what?] ...the precious blood of the Lord Jesus. Thats the price that was paid for us. Dont ever say that youre not worth anything apart from Christ, maybe thats true; but in Christ, a supreme, sacred, sacrifice was paid for you; and youre worth something to God. He gave His Son for you, and He wants you, He loves you, and He desires for you to serve Him. But, He wont call you a servant. You have the privilege of doing that yourself.
Now just in closing, John 12:26 and I like this, because it kind of puts the capstone on things. Its what the Lord Jesus says about servants [His particular promise to us], If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour. Im sure you heard this story: A missionary who was serving out in Africa during the time that Teddy Roosevelt had gone out on a safari and he came back, and Teddy Roosevelt was on the same ship. And, as they came into the harbor in New York, there were banners flying and a band was playing; and he thought, Well, maybe thats for me. Ive been out there serving the Lord all these years, and maybe somebody realizes how faithfully Ive served the Lord. [Somehow he didnt realize that Teddy Roosevelt was on board, but it was all for the former president. The missionary went and checked into a little room, and he threw himself across the bed and he sort of cried out to the Lord, Lord, here Ive been faithful serving You all these years, and he said, Teddy Roosevelt went out there for a good time and comes back and hes honored and bands are playing and banners waving, but he said, Nobodys here for me. And the story goes, that he heard just these words, You arent home yet!....You arent home yet! And you know folks, things may go pretty rough down here. Maybe we wont be honored by men down here. Maybe people wont know what youve done for the Lord. Maybe they wont know how you suffered. But, when you get home, Him will my Father honor Who, a servant? Delight to call yourself a servant! Occupy until He comes! Shall we pray?
FATHER Were thankful for the opportunity of sharing this burden of our heart for these dear people. But, oh how I desire that they might be motivated to serve You, because they love You. May it not just be the motivation of force or responsibility or duty, but may it be the supreme motivation of love. Such was the motivation of Your well-Beloved Son. For the privilege even of that motivation, we give You thanks in Jesus Name. Amen.