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Message #9: “Saints as Submissive Servants”

We are talking about sanctification and how it relates to various spheres of Christian life. We saw in verses 11 and 12 of I Peter the saints as sojourning strangers, as those who are passing through this particular land, whether it be here in America or elsewhere here on earth. Then the second was the saints as sensible citizens. We saw something of the exhortation to submit, we saw the explanation that is involved in that, and we saw something of the expectation of the type of the manner of life that we should live, the motivation for that manner of life, the manifestation of it.
Tonight we want to move on to verse 18 in regard in to the saints as submissive servants. “Servants, be subject (or some of the translations have submit or be submissive) to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle but also to the froward (that is to the difficult one). For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? But if, when ye do well and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.” What happened to me this morning was what I deserved and you’re expected to take that patiently; and if in your employment, and that is essentially what we are going to talk about this evening, you get reprimanded for doing something wrong and you did it wrong, then take it. Take it on the chin. Now sometimes you will be reprimanded for doing something they thought was wrong and maybe it wasn’t as wrong as they thought or maybe it wasn’t wrong at all or maybe you weren’t even the one who did it. It indicates here that we should take these things patiently, to accept them as it were even from the Lord so that in and through these difficult times we can show the reality of our Christian life of our faith in Christ. Someone has said that the flavor of a Christian is like that of a tea bag. True flavor only comes out when you are in hot water. There are the hot waters, situations of life that bring forth the truth flavor that’s within you. Often times, these situations occur in the place and in the realm and in the sphere of your employment of the work that you do, whether it be in your home as a mother and housewife, or the servant who works under an employer. There is the exhortation to submit. Actually, virtually all of life involves submission. From the very first a child must submit to his parents and then as he goes to school he must submit to his teachers. Then when he gets married he ends up submitting to his wife and she to him. Then you get a job and you have to submit. You say, Well, I’m going to be President. Then I can do as I please.” You have to be careful. Sometimes there is a false importance assigned to various tasks. The greater your position, the greater responsibility you have when it involves more people. Never forget that. The President of the United States has to answer for and in a sense to more people than anybody else in the United States, and he is not nearly so free to do as he pleases as you think he’s free. Even when you have an important position you are not free to do as you please, and I think the sooner that you realize that in whatever position you are in life, that you have a responsibility to other people, in a sense to those who are over you and in another sense to those who are under you in the position. In disposing and in discharging of your position, you either help or hinder those who are over you, and those who are under you and in that respect you end up not only making it bad for them but ultimately you make it bad for yourself. That’s simply very practical theology as it were. Some people have said that the squeaking wheel gets the grease, so speak up or squeak up. Someone has added that that’s also the first wheel to be replaced. Think about that. Maybe that will change your attitude just a little bit on practical matters of being servants.
Paul, in addressing himself to the similar truth in Ephesians 6, puts a spiritual dimension on it and so does Peter, but we are saving that until just a little bit later. Turn with me to Ephesians 6:5, “Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ.” You see the spiritual dimension that Paul puts on this is that even in your work-a-day relationship you are to remember that you are not just serving men, but you are serving the Lord Jesus Christ; therefore, you perform that service as Ephesians 6:6 indicates, “Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers.” That is doing good work when people see it. When they don’t see it they slop off. No, “Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers, but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart.” One thing we are finding in management is that motivation is a tremendous thing. There are various ways that people can be motivated. They can be motivated by force or by fear or they can be motivated by concern or by love or by even intense devotion which is almost stronger than love, and I think that Paul goes to this. Our devotion to the Lord ought to be demonstrated in the type of work which we do. You have probably heard an expression that I have heard many times through many years of Christians who say, “My job is to witness, but I do such and such a job to pay expenses.” I have an idea what they mean by that, but there is also a peril inherent in that. The peril inherent in that is that some Christians think that they are really spiritual when they are witnessing, that is, passing out tracts, or talking personally to someone about Christ which I think that believers ought to do. When they are working, that’s not nearly so important. It doesn’t matter how you work, I mean just get your work done so that you can earn your money so that you can get out and witness. If that is the attitude you take, I am convinced that that is a Biblically wrong attitude. You are not just to work to pay expenses. You are to work to glorify God. Even your work is to glorify God, and indeed your work then becomes part and parcel of your witness for Jesus Christ.
Some years ago when I was a student at Lancaster, we worked in the summers in a sheet metal factory over in York. There were a number of us Christians there, Christian young fellows the first year that I worked there; and we used to meet at break time and we’d have fellowship together, and we’d distribute tracts and witness to men in the shop. The following summer it ended up that I was there on my own. The other fellows had found work elsewhere and I didn’t. I ended up back there again, and I remember talking to a man that had worked with one of my buddies. I said, “Do you remember so and so?” And I thought and hoped that he would say to me, “Yes, he witnessed to me and gave me a tract or he talked to me about Christ.” You know what he said to me? “Yeah, I remember him. He’s the guy that always fell asleep at his machine.” That was the witness my buddy had for Christ to that man. It just so happened that my buddy was courting a young lady that summer and he had the late night hours, and he then came in during the day and he wasn’t too perky. That was a challenge to me as a young man that even in my work, I was a witness for Christ. Dr. Stoll used to say, “You are a witness. You’re either a blight or a blessing. You’re seldom a blank.” That’s true in your work. People will look and see how you work. Notice verse 7 of Ephesians 6, “With good will doing service as to the Lord, and not to men, Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.” You see, your pay day isn’t really on Friday or whenever you have it at your shop or place of employment. Pay day is yet ahead for the child of God, and we are going to receive according to what we have done in the body whether it be literally worthwhile or worthless. II Corinthians 5:10 and that includes whether we do worthwhile work in our place of employment or worthless work. I believe we are going to have to give an account of that. I remember hearing a speaker one time cite something I think most of us Christians don’t think much about and that is that for most of his life, our Lord Jesus Christ was a worker. He spent His time working in a carpenter’s shop, and He was not only known as the son of a carpenter but He was known as a carpenter. I can’t help but believe that everything He did in that shop was done just right, in a way that would glorify not only His earthly father but His Heavenly Father as well. I think that our work ought to be done in similar fashion. It was out of a context of work that Jesus went into the work of the Lord. One thing that I have found in the Scriptures, and I think that it’s pretty largely true, is that God doesn’t call people who aren’t doing anything. Think of Gideon and others like that. Even Moses when he was on the backside of the desert was doing something. God calls those who are doing something. If you are in manual labor or in work where you use your mind and other areas of talent, do that as unto the Lord and not unto men. Of course, if you are in a type of employment that does not glorify the Lord. (I don’t think that you can be a bartender and glorify God or other such pursuits.), I think that you should get out of that employment and get into one where you can glorify God. Turn to Colossians chapter 3. In a similar vein Paul says again to the Colossians beginning in verse 22, “Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers (almost identical to Ephesians 6), but in singleness in heart, fearing God. And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men, Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance; for ye serve the Lord Christ.” You serve the Lord Christ, even in your employment, you are serving Him. “But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done, and there is no respect of persons.” Then Paul adds a word to masters as he also does in Ephesians, “Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.” I believe that Christian employers have a tremendous responsibility before God also. Frankly, I think that this is one of the things that most held me back from becoming President of our school. I felt the tremendous responsibility for everybody else that they got their income from our work, and if I wasn’t effective they were losing out. I believe that Christian employers have to be concerned about those who are entrusted to their care. Here again, Christian employers as well as Christian employees have a Master in heaven and I tell you, I have been rejoicing; and I shared in the radio broadcast this morning one verse that has meant so much to me as an employer. By the way, there is nobody at Lancaster Bible College that I didn’t have some part in hiring, because I was there before everybody else. That’s one good thing. It’s also bad if they all go wrong, because you had part in all that; but Romans 8:32 has been a very encouraging verse to me as one in place of responsibility. “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.” It is the great God in heaven Who made us to be what we are by His grace that enables us to be on behalf of others what we ought to be in our place of employment. I hope that where you are, you look upon your work as an opportunity to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ and your Father Who is in heaven.
I believe that you women who have the responsibility of the home and children have one of the highest privileges and callings in this life. To affect the lives of those who are entrusted to your care there and in the home to glorify God. I know the impress of my mother’s life upon me and upon my brothers and sisters. By the way, I’m the last of thirteen brothers and sisters. It was a lasting impression and I thank God for a godly mother and for a godly father who loved the Lord and were sincere and consistent in their Christian life. It has made an impact, an impression upon me that will last throughout all eternity. So you ladies as you do the wash and as you do the dishes and all the rest that’s involved in taking care of a home, thank God for that privilege and do it as unto the Lord thanking Him for that opportunity of serving Christ. That is your place of work and witness for Christ, and then out from that you can witness for your Savior.
Going back to the passage in I Peter 2, Peter has not ignored the spiritual dimension. He brings in the practical problem of not serving well in verses 19 and 20 and says that even from a practical perspective you should take it patiently if you are misunderstood in your work. I believe that the section that begins at verse 21 and goes through verse 25 relates back not only to the saint as a servant but indeed to all three of these relationships which we saw, that is the saint as a sojourning stranger, verses 11 and 12; the saint as a sensible citizen, verses 13-17; and the saint as a submissive servant. All of this ought to be overshadowed by the reality of the truth of verse 21 through 25 of a Submissive Savior Who has now become our All-Sufficient Savior. Notice, “For even hereunto were ye called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow His steps.” I am going to pause there because there is so much truth just in this one verse. There are some people who say, “Do as I say, but don’t do as I do.” God does not do that. He tells you to do as He says, because He has demonstrated the reality of doing this in His Son; and God came in human flesh, in the person of Jesus Christ and fulfilled these demands which are expected by us to be demonstrated in our lives and the Lord Jesus came into this world and suffered for us. In doing that He left us an example. There are two primary words in the New Testament that are translated “example.” One is this one and I am going to come back to it. Another is a word that is found in a number of other places in the Scriptures including I Thessalonians 1. The word for “example” in I Thessalonians 1 and also in regard to Timothy to be an example is the Greek word “tupus” from which we get type. It means either that which makes an impression or that upon which the impression is made. You and I are in a sense both. We are the result of the impressions made upon us and in turn we make an impression upon others. Notice verse 6 of I Thessalonians 1, “And ye became followers (and that is, mimics) of us, and of the Lord.” Then verse 7, “So that ye were ensamples (that’s the word tupus or type) to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia.” Then, “For from you sounded out the word of the Lord, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad, so that we need not to speak any thing.” Notice here, the believers at Thessalonica first became mimics. They mimicked, they followed the example of the apostle Paul, and then they themselves became that which was followed. They were mimics, they became models, and then they became messengers. Mimics, models, messengers. That is what is expected of each of us. We are to imitate those who follow the Lord as they follow Christ. Paul said to be followers of me as I also am of Christ. (I Corinthians 11:1). You are to so follow them and follow the Word of God that others can follow you. I have often heard it said that you never follow men. Well you can say that but people are going to do it, and you have done it and will do it. Just be sure that you follow those who are following the Lord. If they are off to the right or to the left, keep looking unto Jesus, and as you are looking unto Him you will find others who are looking unto Him and following Him, follow them and follow Him; but only follow them as they follow the Lord, and it’s this becoming an example, a model for others to follow. The word here in I Peter 2 is not that word.
The word “example” here is literally from the Greek “a copywriting.” Now you say what does that mean. All those of you who were taught as I was taught in a country school, maybe even some of your city schools had this, long about the first grade across the top of the blackboard there was capital A, small a, capital B, small b, you remember that. All those written letters and what were you expected to do? You were to copy from that writing so that you would learn how to write from that copywriting. Now that’s exactly what the word is here. We are to follow the Lord Jesus and copy Him as He lives. You say that we can’t be perfect like He was. No, and you also don’t get saved by following Him. I have sometimes said that imitation with impartation is impossible, but imitation because of impartation is imperative. When you have been imparted the life of Christ, spiritual life, then you ought to seek to emulate Christ and to be like Jesus not that that saves you; but it does progress you in the area of spiritual experience, because His power working in and through you will enable you to live in similar fashion as He lived.
I had the privilege of being to the Holy Land twice. I remember when I was there I guess the second time, I came back and one of my friends said that he had just been over there too. He said, “Maybe not all of you can walk where Jesus walked, but you ought to walk as He walked.” You say, “Is that taught in the Bible?” Yes, I John 2:6, “He that saith he abideth in Him ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked.” Again, let me emphasize that you can’t do that unless you have His life in you. People who have seen my son and have seen him walk, they’ve said that he walks like me. Now there are two things that account for that. One, he has my life in him. Two, he spends some time being around me. Both of those things are imperative in your life. You have the life of God in you. I hope you do. (If you don’t, you can by grace through faith in what God has done for you through Christ in His death on the cross, burial and resurrection. Believing that you can have a transformed life, you can receive divine life and become partakers of divine nature.) Then you have the power to follow His steps. Now you can’t do that absolutely but you can do it relatively. Absolutely, you would fail in the very first step. Verse 22 of I Peter 2, “Who did no sin.” This can be a real problem to you if you try to be sinless. The only way our sin is dealt with is not because of what we do but because of what He has done. It is His finished work, His suffering for us, verse 21, that enables us to have our sin problem dealt with, and we enter into that first step with Him because of what He has done. “Neither was guile found in His mouth; Who, when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not, but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously.” There are times in this life when you are going to be misunderstood, you are going to be maligned, you are going to be criticized falsely, you are going to be accused unjustly. This happens to be a part of this life in which we live, but never forget that it happened also to our Lord. When these things happened to Him, He simply committed Himself to Him Who judgeth righteously and He persevered through to the end, “Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, (that is positionally having been crucified with Christ, we no longer live unto ourselves but unto Him) we should live unto righteousness; by Whose stripes ye were healed.”
The empowerment for your life does not derive from your inner resources in spite of all the books of self-realization that are on the market today and have been for years. They come from the divine resources which were released for you and me at Calvary. When we recognize that and enter in to what God purchased for us when His Son gave His life for us on the cross, it is from that we derive the proper strength and sustenance to be the servants we ought to be: to be the strangers and pilgrims we are, to be the citizens that we ought to be, and to serve in our employment as we ought to serve.
“For ye were as sheep going astray.” They tell me that sheep are among the dumbest animals. I don’t know that much about them. I have studied them, and I have talked to people who take care of sheep, who raise sheep. They tell me the way to load sheep into a truck is to get one of them or you can even get a dog to lead them on and then they’ll follow.. You need to push them, and they don’t go very well but they’ll follow. Then, too, sheep will start grazing away on his own, and he’ll not even know where he went and from whence he has come. Sheep are very interesting animals. There are many things that we could say about them. I heard Earl Tschudy say one time that sheep were among the dirtiest animals because unlike pigs that can clean themselves off; when sheep get dirty they get it so fouled up, someone has to do the cleaning for them. That’s a rather interesting analogy for believers. We can’t clean ourselves, He has to clean us by the sufficiency of His blood. “You were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop (or guardian, or overseer) of your souls.” In our natural state, we are those who went astray, who went our own way. Isaiah 53:6 says, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way, and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” I was speaking to a pastor of an Adventist church, and of course, they worship on the seventh day and they believe among other things that Satan was the sin bearer and bore our sins away from the Day of Atonement concept of the Old Testament. And I said, “What do you do with Isaiah 53:6?” You know what amazed me? He didn’t even know what it was. And I quoted, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way, and the Lord hath laid on Him (that is on the Lord Jesus) the iniquity of us all.” To me one of the most overwhelming truths in all the Word of God is that Christ Himself bore my sins, my sins in the past, my sins in the present, my sins in the future, as well as the sins of all the world were laid upon Him; and He being the holy, infinite God, had that heaped upon Him; and yet, He died because of that sin that was a portion to Him and He did it willingly. The Good Shepherd gave His life for the sheep. Now, as our Great Shepherd in heaven, He is going to return. He’s the overseer and everything that you and I do our Lord Jesus is aware of. By the way, He loves us in spite of our failures and our sins, but He does want us to acknowledge our sins to Him, and as I John 1:9 indicates, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” And I John 1:7, “But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son (God’s Son), cleanseth us (literally “keeps on continually”) cleansing us from all sin.” Yes, we fail as sojourning strangers, we fail as citizens, we fail as servants; but there is cleansing, and there is victory, and we can find it in and through the finished work of Jesus Christ as we apply the reality of that to our lives, and then realize that one day we are going to stand before Him. We are going to see One Who loved us and gave Himself for us.

As it was delivered at
Dr. Stuart E. Lease
August 7, 1976

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