Biographical Sketch of Dr. Stuart E. Lease / Bible Messages by Dr. Stuart E. Lease
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Seldom does one find a balance between Christian zeal and the activity of the Holy Spirit, either in exhortations from the pulpit or in Christian literature. I believe these studies on Christian Service present that right balance. I first heard this series, prior to publication, when Dr. Stuart Lease delivered the messages at a well-known summer Bible Conference. They struck fire in my soul and I urged his preparing them for publication. The clear, concise biblical authority coupled with personal application will make these a valuable contribution to Christian life and labor. To the vast audience that has not had the opportunity to benefit from the spoken ministry of this choice servant of the Lord, I commend these excellent studies on this vital theme of Christian Service.
Paul R. Van Gorder
Former Associate Teacher,
Radio Bible Class
1 SERVICE SPECIFIED
FATHER We do ask Thee by Thy Spirit, that Thou wilt speak through Thy Word and from Thy Word to our hearts. Lord, if there be anything in anyone of us, beginning with me, anything in my heart or in their hearts that would hinder the free working of Thy Holy Spirit, do Thou by Thy grace and power remove it from us so that we might receive all that You have for us. We pray in Jesus precious Name. Amen.
In seeking the will of the Lord for a series of messages, Im bringing a series now that I never brought before; in fact, Im looking forward to hearing it myself. Ever since I came to know Christ as my Savior, Ive had an interest in Christian service. Now, I didnt get into Christian service as soon as I was saved because I was only nine years of age when I came to know Christ as my Savior; and there was a period of wandering in the wilderness in my experience from about the age of twelve till eighteen. But, Im deeply grateful that in my senior year of high school that the Lord did get hold of me and call me to His service. So, in these five messages which I have to share with you here at Sandy Cove, I want to speak about the matter of service CHRISTIAN SERVICE, a series on Service. I like to use some kinds of alliteration, and maybe this will help you to remember them. Tonight I want to talk about Service Specified, that is as it is set forth in the Word of God. Tomorrow morning, on Service Sanctified; on Thursday evening, Service Clarified, dealing with motivation in regard to Christian Service; on Friday morning, I want to talk about Service Rectified those who either began poorly and didnt finish or those who dropped out of the work and got back into it; and then to finish everything off on Sunday night, from the last chapter of the Bible from Revelation chapter 22 verses 3 and 4, Service Glorified. Service: Specified, Sanctified, Clarified, Rectified, and Glorified. Theyll each be a message in themselves, and I trust will be helpful to you in your service for the Lord.
As a background portion for our study in Service, I would like you to turn with me to Psalm 116; and as especially appropriate to turn to this portion tonight, I want to center our background thought and as a sort of a springboard for the rest of our series from verses 15 and 16. You know, time is three-dimensional. We usually say its past, present, and future; but in reality, it doesnt come to us that way. Time comes to us future, present, and past. Its future, and then it becomes present, and then it becomes past. Now I want you to see in these two verses the future, the present, and the past of the believer, Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints. Now it is appointed unto men once to die and after this, judgment.
The Old Testament saint did not have the hope of the Lords return, such as we have to look forward to. And, so what they had to look forward to was this one appointment of death. For many of us, if the Lord does not return in our lifetime, this will also be our expectation. Now, I am frankly looking for the uppertaker and not the undertaker; but if the undertaker gets me before the uppertaker does, Im thankful that death holds no fear for me.
I became very much aware of death, because my dad was caretaker of a local cemetery; and as a boy, I helped to work on the cemetery mowing and trimming and helping to bury as well. (I used to say that when I worked alone there, that was my first executive position because I had a couple hundred people under me. Well....as they say, If you dont like grass, it will grow on you; but....you have to think about that too.) But, I came to be aware early in life of the reality of death; and I remember as a little boy, when I was alone, Id cross my hands on my chest and Id look down on me and say to myself, Stuart, if it happens to you, like its happened to people....youll end up in a casket. Now, thats pretty dismal thinking, but I tell you one thing, its reality thinking; because we all face that appointment. At the age of nine in a childrens meeting I came to know Christ as my Savior. Another little boy received Christ the same day and had a rather strange reaction. Right after he received Christ and the meeting was over, he said, Now I want to die. Someone said, Well, Billy, why do you want to die? He said, I want to go right to heaven and be with Jesus. Well, I wasnt quite that anxious....but, I do want to say that I lost the fear of death when I received Jesus Christ as my Savior; and I came to realize that for the future, even if its the undertaker....Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints! So, the future holds no terror for me. I hope that it will be the return of the Lord, but if it is the undertaker, we need have no fear....because Jesus Christ through His death (as Hebrews chapter 2 indicates) took away for us the power of the One who had the power of death, and thus removed the fear of death for us. Now, thats not what Im centering on....thats just that the future need not be dismal for you. But, the present, notice the present, and thats what I want to focus on, O Lord, truly I am Thy servant [You see that?] For the future, death holds no terror. For the present, we have the privilege of service, O Lord, truly I am Thy servant; I am Thy servant, and the son of Thine handmaid...
When our son, Tim, was about three years old, he was very much impressed with working men. We had plumbers and so forth working around the neighborhood and they were installing sewer systems, houses were being built all around us; and he just became utterly fascinated with working men to such an extent, that he insisted that we call him, working man. That literally happened. And instead of responding to Timmy, which was his name then (He likes to be called Tim now.)....but then it was Timmy....no response! But, you call him working man....right away, hed respond. And it became embarrassing, in the supermarket and places like that. Youd say, Timmy. hed say nothing. Hed just totally ignore you. Working man? Hes right on the button! Well, that went on for, I suppose, about two months; and we just had to accept that nomenclature, because thats what he insisted on being called. So, one day my wifes brother-in-law came by and he saw Tim, and he said, Hi, working man! Tim stood bold upright and said, Im not working man. He said, Im the big boss! But, he had learned something....that if youre the big boss, you didnt have to work....you could get other people to work! You know folks, thats unfortunately what happens with many Christians. When they first get saved, theyre just delighted to be called a working man for Jesus, a servant of His. But after a while, they wise up, and they say, O, dont ask me to do that or this. Ill get so and so to do it. And they become the big boss! From the very time I got saved, I had a certain fascination with service. (My son had a passing fancy with it.) I hope that mine will be a continuing one until He comes! Remember the Thessalonian believers? They turned to God from idols to [What?] to serve the living and true God and to wait for His Son from heaven.
Now Ive got to bring in here, the past, ...Thou hast loosed my bonds. Thats the past. I bring that in because you cant be a servant in the present, and you cant have removed from you the fear of death for the future unless you can also say, I know that He hast loosed my bonds that is, that He has set me free from sin. I like what it says over in Revelation chapter one and verse five. Theres a benediction there at the beginning of the book....Some people sometimes wish that there was a benediction at the beginning of a service, and then they could leave early; but here at the end of verse five, Unto Him that loved us [One of the preferred readings of the original there isUnto Him that loveth us and loosed us] from our sins in His own blood. I like what Dr. Newell said, The loosing took place once at Calvary, but the loving goes on for ever. Unto Him that [loveth] us, and [loosed] us from our sins in His own blood... And, at the very outset of this study I want to say that unless, until you know that God, through the blood of His Son, has loosed your bonds, you can never be a servant of His. When you know that, then you can say, Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints. O Lord, I am Thy servant; Thou hast loosed my bonds. Future, present, and past!
Now were going to zero in on that present aspect. Three points, and Ill keep them brief. First, Service in the Word of God is Expected. Im going to confine my study to the New Testament. I could expand it into the Old Testament, but since it is a New Testament concept of service for believers, Im going to confine myself to New Testament portions. Each of the four gospels refer to service; and they are referred to by our Lord Jesus. In Matthew chapter ten, verses twenty four and twenty five, is the first occurrence of the word servant in relation to a spiritual sense in the New Testament, The disciple is not above his master [The Greek word for master there, didocolus, is teacher], nor the servant above his lord. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. So that service, is a concept introduced by the Lord Jesus to His own disciples when they served with Him. I discovered something as I was studying for this matter of service, that the servants gospel, Mark, has fewer references to service than any of the other three gospels. Im not sure exactly how or why to explain that, except that maybe if you are a servant, you dont talk too much about that. The gospel of Mark is the servants gospel, but the term for service and serving is referred less in Marks gospel than in any of the other three of the gospels. But in Mark 10:44 and 45 its a very appropriate passage, And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister [and by the way, the Greek word for minister is diakonus from which we get deacon and that really means to serve.Many of the translations of verse forty five have, ...for even the Son of man came not to be served, but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many. In Lukes gospel [and Im just picking random verses to establish the fact that the Lord Jesus relates this and is related in each of the gospels] Luke 16:13, No servant [Now heres a Greek word for a household slave or servant] can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon -- so, that there are references in the three synoptic gospels and then, there are references in Johns gospel, John 13, after the Lord Jesus had washed the disciples feet John 13:16, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. Then there is a passage in John 15 that some people have used to try to get out of service, John 15:15, Jesus said, Henceforth I call you not servants [Now you say, See, that blows your whole series....because He doesnt even call us servants. Now let me just put this in context for you. Because He doesnt call us servants, doesnt mean that we shouldnt call ourselves servants; and it doesnt mean that we arent servants. It just means He doesnt call us that.
Shortly after I became president of the School I had an assistant in public relations that used to write some of my letters for me, especially the form letters; and Ill never forget on one occasion, he wrote a letter in which he used the term, as if I were saying it, concerning my subordinates. Now I told him, Listen, thats a word we will never use. I said, You can call them colleagues. You can call them fellow laborers; but you never call them subordinates. Yet, if you look on the organizational chart, thats where they all end up; and I dont say that boastingly. Its just a fact of organization. Now, do you get the point? I dont call them subordinates, but they are. And the Lord Jesus doesnt call us servants, but we are. Indeed, we ought to delight to call ourselves, servants. If you study the writings of the apostles, youll find that Paul, Peter, James, John, and Jude all refer to themselves as servants either servants of God or of Jesus Christ; and so service is that which is expected of every believer.
I remember when I was a student in my first year of Bible school, when they wanted us to attend something, they used to always say, Youre cordially expected to be there. Now, may I say, You are cordially expected to be a servant of Jesus Christ.
Now, very quickly to examine whats involved in being a servant. Im not going into each and every word in the New Testament use for servant. There are about seven of them. Im going to zero in on three that are primary and one that is secondary. The first is the one that is most often occurring in the New Testament, its the Greek word doulos, and that means literally, a bond slave one who is bound to his master. This is the verse that occurs here in John 15:15, Henceforth I call you not [bond slaves]; for the servant [or the bond slave] knoweth not what his lord doeth...
When I was in college I did a study on slavery. (Those who have heard me before, probably know that I majored in History in college and at the university. We had a good saying among History majors. We said that it was always good to major in History; because if you failed, you could always say that you went down in history! Well, I dont know whether I went up or down in history, but I did a study in slavery. I dont have that treatise with me now, but in essence I discovered something very interesting that in slavery, whether it was back among the Greeks or the Romans or among the Americans prior to our American Civil War I discovered that the lot of the slave varied in direct proportion to his closeness to the master. Now there is a tremendous spiritual truth there, folks. The lot of the slave varied in direct proportion to his closeness to the master! This was true in the southern plantation, prior to the Civil War. The slaves who were field slaves lived out on the edge of things; and theirs was a frankly rather miserable existence. As you came in closer to the outbuildings of the plantation, the lot of the slave improved. But, the slave that fared best of all was the slave who lived in the great house, in the manor house, the mansion, with the master. Oftentimes, that slave wore clothes almost identical to those of his master. He ate the food that his master ate. He had all the benefits and conveniences that the master had because he was close. You know, theres a tremendous truth there for us. You see the Northerners looked at the field slaves, and they said, Oh miserable existence! The Southerners defended slavery on the basis of the colored mammy, because her lot was wonderful, because she was in the manor house. But folks, those who lived right next to the master were always those who had it best!
I had this experience happen to me. I didnt end up being a slave, but my father-in-law some years ago, in fact twenty years ago right now, asked me if I would drive him down to Ashville, North Carolina. He had just gotten a brand new Lincoln Continental, and so I didnt mind chauffeuring him; and he said that he would pay me so much a day so it was really great! They had a dinner in his honor...he was President of Printing Industries of America at that time, and they had a great dinner out on the lawn at the Grove Park Inn there; and he told the people [They were talking about what they liked for dessert.] ....He said, You know, theres nothing that I like better than cantaloupe with vanilla ice cream. And, they no sooner heard that, than they sent a footman out into the town to buy a cantaloupe, and they brought it back, they cut it in half, they brought it out on two plates each had a half of a cantaloupe, filled to overflowing with vanilla ice cream. Now my father-in-law got one half of that dessert. Guess who got the other half? His servant! You know, I learned on that occasion, its not bad to be a servant to the right person. And thats true in relation to Jesus Christ. When youre a servant of His, He doesnt even call you a servant. (My father-in-law didnt call me a servant. He called me, son.) Thats what God calls us, His son. But we ought to delight to be His servant.
The fact of being a servant is probably best demonstrated in the life of our Lord. Im going to say something about that later on, but the Lord Jesus, in coming into the world as recorded in Hebrews 10:5 quotes from Psalm 40, Wherefore when He cometh into the world, He saith, Sacrifice and offering Thou wouldest not, but a body hast Thou prepared me... You see, when a slave was purchased, what they needed was a body to do the work; and what Jesus needed to do the work of His Father was a body and a body was prepared for Him. Then He goes on to say, Lo, I come in the volume of the book, it is written of me, to do Thy will, O God. One thing about a servant, to remember, was that He had nothing of His own. In fact, He didnt have a name of His own, He didnt have possessions of His own, He didnt have a will of His own, He didnt have ambition of His own. All these things centered in His Master, Who provided these things for Him.
Now if you go back to the passage in Psalm 40, youll find that the passage from which the Lord Jesus quotes has within it a concept of service. Psalm 40, verse 6, Sacrifice and offering Thou didst not desire [Notice the next expression.]; mine ears hast Thou opened [Now the Hebrew word for open there is pierced.] and this was the practice done when a slave could have been set free, but he chose to remain with his master. This is set forth in Deuteronomy 15:12 and verses 16 and 17 where they would take this servant to the doorpost of the house, and with an awl, they would bore through the ear; and that servant would bear this evidence, the pierced ears, of being a voluntary bond slave belonging to his master. He could have been set free, but instead he chose to remain and continue to serve his master.
Now, this is what Jesus was when He came; and this is the concept in this doulos idea. In Luke 17:7-10, referring to a servant who having been out plowing, when he comes in from the field, he is not free to sit down and feed himself. He must first feed his master. Then if he has any time left, and doesnt have anything else to do, he can eat. But, if he doesnt have any time, he doesnt get to eat. Now, Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? No. because thats exactly what a servant is to do....his masters will. And thats what Jesus came into the world to do.
Now the second word is diakonos from which we get the word deacon, and thats an attendant (more often translated in the New Testament, a minister) one who executes the commands of another. (Now, I sort of feel like an Egyptian mummy tonight Im pressed for time!) But, Matthew 23:11 has this word in it, But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. The word for servant there is diakonos. Its also in John 12:26 and in I Corinthians 3:5, II Corinthians 3:6 and 6:4. Each of these references refers to one who ministers on behalf of another. Now all the terms that Im using for service tonight are terms that can be used of every believer; and a minister in this sense is any believer who executes the commands of his master. I think, maybe, in reacting against modernism we lost a term by default, and that is the term master; and I think if theres any term we ought to resurrect, it is the fact that He is Master and ought to be Master of our lives; and we ought to be willing to follow His commands.
Now Im quickly going to give you the last one and then an auxiliary one. In I Corinthians 4, verses 1 and 2. Now this is Service Examined by the way, if you want my second X. Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. Now this word ministers here is also in other passages translated servant. It occurs twenty times in the New Testament, four times translated servants, five times ministers, eleven times officers. Its an interesting Greek word. It means an underoarsman, one who is rowing and at the command of another. (Maybe some of you heard the good news, bad news jokes that have been going around. They tell about the captain on one of these boats where the slaves have to row, and he told them, Now slaves, Ive good news and bad news. The good news is that youre going to get a rest, youre going to get a good meal and plenty to drink. The bad news is that I want to go water skiing this afternoon. Well, you have to think about that. Now, those people were underoarsmen, and it meant that they had a terrific job ahead of them.) Well, this is used here, as underoarsmen of Christ doing in rhythm with Him what He wants you to do.
And then, Im going to take the second word, although its not translated servant, it has the servant concept within it and thats the word, stewards. The other word is hooperatus from which I think we probably get operator. This is oikonomos, and if youre a dispensationalist, youll recognize that word, but it is a steward or a trustee one who is entrusted with the goods or services of another which He dispenses on behalf of that person. Now I guess one reason I like that concept is because my first name originally goes back to that. When my mother named me, she named me Stuart. I later found out that the Stuart kings of England were the worst kings that England ever had, and so I like to get back beyond them to the Steward concept which is right here. Its one of a servant who carries out the will of another and does it in a way that will benefit his Master. Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful. And, we only give out what He has given to us. Notice verse seven, For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive?... So, that anything that we have to give out is only what He has already given to us. So, stewards of the manifest grace of God, we give this out to others. Service Expected, Service Examined, and Im just going to remark on the last point Service Exemplified.
Service was probably best Exemplified in the life of our Lord Jesus Christ. In Philippians chapter two, Paul indicates that He took upon Him (the Lord Jesus), the form of a servant; and He came (as He said), not to do His own will, but the will of His Father in heaven. If you want to know how to be the right kind of a servant, study the way the Lord Jesus lived His life and the way He was obedient to the Father. So obedient was He that He could say as He did in John 8, I do always those things that please the Father. Now its that concept that I want to get on to tomorrow night the idea that theres something better than obedience. Theres something better than obedience! Now obedience is the basic mark of a servant, but theres something better than that. Thats what we want to share tomorrow night, Lord willing. Shall we look to the Lord in prayer.
OUR FATHER As we have shared these matters concerning Service, we trust that we not only have minds that have been enlightened, but hopefully that some hearts have been stirred to serve Thee the Living and True God while we wait for Your Son from heaven. Father, were grateful for the privilege to serve. We trust that we shall utilize this privilege and opportunity to be used of Thee. If theres anyone here who has never received Christ as Savior, we know Lord they cannot serve until they are sons, and so we trust that by Your Spirit, You enable such to turn to Thee and find life in the Son of God; and for us who have named the Name of the Son of God, may we delight in serving Him we pray in His precious Name. Amen.