Biographical Sketch of Dr. Stuart E. Lease / Bible Messages by Dr. Stuart E. Lease
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If you have your Bible with you, turn to Romans chapter 6. Were talking in the series this week on the matter of the saints service. In our first message we talked about Service Specified, and I suppose if we were to summarize that in a sentence Everyone is cordially expected to be a servant of Jesus Christ if he is a son, that is, if you are born into the family of God, youre expected to report for duty. Now our second message was Service Sanctified. To sanctify means to set apart; and God has set us apart: first, unto Himself for service and then, from unbelievers for service. Our study in that centered in II Corinthians, chapter 6.
Now this evening we want to consider the subject Service Clarified. If youre with us tomorrow morning, Service Rectified those who had problems in service and then got straightened out; and Lord willing on Sunday evening, Service Glorified. So, this evening, Service Clarified.
Now I have five (5) points tonight, and to help you I always try to give an illiteration that may help you a bit. Were not going to have the three Rs tonight, but the 5 Rs of Service in regard to Service Clarified.
Here in Romans 6, I would like you to see The Realignment of Service. Thats a big word. [If youre taking notes and I notice that some of your are, and I wish that many of you would. I try to take notes. I have a photographic memory. Its just that I have trouble developing it afterwards....and I think that its probably the problem that most of us, so its good to take notes.] I met a gentleman here who heard me speak two years ago, and he had the notes right there everything that I said. I had forgotten what I had said, but he didnt.] Im going to begin in verse 11 of Romans chapter 6 although verse 11 does not speak about service, but it does indeed direct us to reckon upon that which is positionally true of us, mainly that as the earlier part of the chapter indicates, we have been crucified, buried, and raised together with Christ.
Im tempted here to say something about burial because of my affiliation with the cemetery as a boy, but I will say that you hear a little about burial, dont you? You hear a lot about death and resurrection, but not much about burial, even of Christ. I mentioned to you that I helped bury a number of people. They were all dead, of course. We only had one that we had to dig up. There was a little child that was buried in our cemetery; and the parents bought a lot somewhere else, and they had us exhume the body so that it could be relocated. You know folks, I came to realize the tremendous need for burial, because in a little pine, rough box, the thing had broken open; and my dad had to finish the job; because I have a strange connection between my nose and my stomach. And, I came to realize the value of burial.
Do you know folks, one of the problems with believers is that they resurrect that old stinking, old nature and parade it around; and its a stench in the nostrils of God and men. Burial is essential; and we ought to reckon on it. Crucified with Christ, buried with Him, raised together with Him to walk in newness of life.
Now verse 11, Likewise reckon [that is, mark it down and act upon it] reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. You see, we dont give our Lord a dead service. We give Him a living service, as Romans 12:1-2 states, I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice... In emphasizing this to our students, I emphasized to them, thats like reporting for military service. The word present there for that in the Greek is in the aorist tense. It means that you do it in a point of time and it remains so. Technically, there is no such thing as rededication. If you have really dedicated once, thats it. Now, you can go AWOL after dedication. You have to come back. You dont necessarily get sworn in again. You end up in the Brig for a while, or something like that. But, eventually you get back into service, or we hope you do. Well say something about that tomorrow. But, we are to live for the Lord, and not just to live in the oldness of the old life, but in the newness of the new life. Romans 6:12, Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness under God. Were talking about this matter of being a servant, of being a slave; and the one thing that a slave had to present was his body; and his body had to be yielded to the will of his master. My pastor has a good expression [He has many of them.].... and I quote him freely. He says, The yielded life is the wielded life. The life that is yielded to the Lord, is the one that will be wielded by Him as a sword. By the way, that came out poetic, didnt it? I didnt intend that, but thats original or at least it was at that moment. The life that is yield to the Lord is used by Him as a sword. Now, For sin shall not have dominion [or rulership] over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. There are some people who think that because we are not under the law, that therefore we can do as we please. The early part of this chapter, the very first verse deals with that problem; but friends, when you come to know Christ as your Savior, youre not free to do as you please. Youre free to do only as He pleases; and I want to assure you that eventually that will also please you too. But you do not get saved to do as you please.
I heard this illustration, Ive shared it maybe a hundred times, that when you come to Christ, theres a transformation that takes place. He changes you. He gives you a whole new perspective on life. They tell the story of a young lady who was standing at the back of a church, just about to come down the aisle for her grand and glorious wedding. And, as she stood back there, there were three things that became predominate in her thinking. She looked down the aisle, she saw the altar, and she saw him her bridegroom. And those three words just went through her mind and became an obsession with her: Aisle, altar, him. Ill, alter, him! And she did! Didnt she do that men?....You married men, dont look so smug! My wife altered me, and Im glad for it. Im a better man, because Im a married man. I dont say that just boastingly or anything, but my wife has made a better person out of me! And I want to say this folks, that when I came to the Savior, He altered me; and He made me a different person from what I was before I was saved. He gave me the desire ....to..please..Him! To live my life in a way that would suit Him, please Him, and that He would appreciate and approve of. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? Absolutely not! Thats really what the Greek means. The word God is not there, the word forbid is not there. Its just the strongest way in Greek to say, No. Absolutely not! What then?......Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? You will be either the servant of sin or the servant of the Son, the Righteous One. Righteousness here is personified in the Lord Jesus; and obedience issues in a relationship to Him. He Who is the Righteous One, Who gave Himself for the unrighteous, that He might bring us to God. But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine [or teaching] which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. A whole Realignment here, if you please. You got a whole new Commander-in-Chief! No longer Satan and the power of sin, but the Son and the power of righteousness. We will more than likely have a transition of Commander-in-Chief tonight. We will never have a transition of this Commander-in-Chief. He continueth ever! and our allegiance ought to be unswervingly to Him for He gave His life for us and now He lives on our behalf, Being then made free from sin, ye became.......servants of righteousness. Now he says, I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded ye your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. I cant help from time to time comparing salvation to marriage, because there is a very striking analogy here in fact, it is biblical from Ephesians chapter 5. When we commit ourselves to the Lord, He commits Himself to us; and there is a beautiful relationship there.
Now, did any of you fellows ever forget that you were married? Did you? There might be a few of you who did. My father-in-law did that one night. He had worked with his father in a printing business in York; and they had worked all day together; and as they left the shop, they walked out together and Pop just kept on walking along with his dad walked home with him, sat down.....and his mother wondered why he was there? But she didnt say anything. She thought that Mary was away and so Ill just set another plate....and Jim sat down and ate with the rest of us. And after he was finished eating, his mother said, Jim, hows Mary? Is she sick ...or is she away? Oh, he said, I forgot! This literally happened. It really did; and he is never allowed to forget that either! Now, he had sort of returned to his old commander-in-chief, you see. He had taken on a new one, but he went back to the old one. Now, its a poor analogy, because his mother wasnt like the Devil or anything like that. So dont press the analogy too far. But you know, there are Christians who sometimes do that? They go back to the old ways, go back to the pre-Christian allegiance, and put their feet under the previous table rather than on the new table?....and there is an analogy there.
So, Paul is exhorting believers here, Now that you have aligned yourself with the Savior, you have a whole realignment of service, and ye yield yourselves [servants] to righteousness, unto holiness. For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness [Literally, you were not able to do righteousness. The scriptures indicate that even the plowing of the wicked is sin.]. What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. A holy life now an eternal life forever! For the wages of sin is death; [My father-in-law when he was driving many times from York to Lancaster used to see on the side of a barn, this statement: The wages of sin is death poor pay! Poor pay!] And I tell you folks, it is poor pay! And if there is anyone here tonight whos never received Jesus Christ, never made that allegiance to Him The wages of sin is poor pay! Its death! And death in the Word of God means separation. It means eternal separation from God! But the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ, our Lord. And that eternal life which He provides is a perfect life; and friends...if you add anything to that perfect eternal life that He gives you, you ruin it. If you take anything away from it, you ruin it. The only thing that you can do with that eternal life which He has provided for you is What? Receive it. And so I say to you, receive that eternal life from the Lord Jesus that He has purchased with His own blood on the cross of Calvary; and out of allegiance to Him, give yourself as a slave to serve Him no longer to serve Satan and sin but now to serve the Son and righteousness. Now, dont ever get the cart before the horse. You dont work to get saved. You dont serve to get saved. You serve because you are saved, because youve received the Son of God and His salvation.
Dr. Frank Torry used to quote this poem and Ive quoted it many times too. It goes like this:
I would not work my soul to save, That work my Lord has done.
But I would work like any slave, For love to Gods dear Son.
You see? Thats the difference. That puts it into perspective. We dont work to save our souls. We work because we love the Savior! Have you realigned yourself from sin to the Son? From unrighteousness to righteousness? Its a matter of obedience obeying from the heart that teaching that is given unto you!
Now secondly, and I just want to outline this The Realms of Service. Wherein do we serve? I find that there is considerable confusion among the saints in this regard. I have many dear friends who think that serving God is some specific form of service such as passing out tracts, doing street meeting work, or this or that. [I dont have time to go into all the formal types of Christian service, per se.] But, I want to emphasize folks, that that is not the totality of the realm of Christian service. Your life is your Christian service! not the things that you do that are called Christian service. So that the number one realm of your Christian service is yourself. What are you really like as a person? And I have frankly met some so-called soul-winners that are obnoxious as people; and they have not grown in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ; and theyre hard to live with, and theyre hard to get along with. Friends, dont tell me anything about their Christian service. They dont have it, because Christian service begins with the evidence of the fruit of the Spirit in your own life, with number one with you. And then immediately, right out of that is your home; and I know some pastors and others who say, Well, Im committed to the Lords work; and if I take care of the Lords work, the Lord will take care of my family. Folks, I want to say this firmly. If youre a pastor or whatever you are, your family is part of the work. Should I repeat that? Your family is part of the Lords work, and you have a ministry to them!
I hear some people say about Noah that Noah preached for a hundred and twenty years and had no converts. Thats not true, folks. He had his family, and he took them with him into the ark. Thats more than some so-called Christian workers do. One thing I liked about Enoch he walked with God and begat sons and daughters; and I cant help believe a reason Methuselah lived so long was that he respected his dad. You see, he fulfilled that promise, Honour thy father and mother;....That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. He had one of the greatest Dads that ever lived. He lived longer than anyone else. Well, I could preach ten sermons on this, but Ill let it just rest right there for now.
Third, I believe the church (and by that, I mean a local assembly of believers) is the place where primarily you ought to exercise your Christian service as a person and as a family; and I believe increasingly, our local assemblies ought to get back to realizing that the structure of the local church ought to be structured around homes, not just individuals. Now, thats another whole series of messages, but Im talking about spheres of Christian service. I believe that God has ordained that there be local churches, and I believe that we ought to be working in and through the local churches. If you dont have a Bible believing, teaching church, then start one; and get aligned with one because that ought to be a central part of your involvement in Christian service.
Now, out of that then should come your ministry to the world. After self, home, and the local church, then your ministry to the world at large, which includes your employment, your social life, and your various responsibilities. Now if you want to study this, study Ephesians 5 beginning at verse 15 and going through Ephesians 6:9. If you study that from the original or from the Greek, youll find that that is all one great big section that all hangs together in one part. It begins with being filled with the Spirit and then the demonstration of it in your own life by being submissive to one another; and then husbands and wives and the home; and then the employment relationship and social responsibility. Im just sketching that in for you.
Now I want to move to the third thing, because this is something that I frankly have never heard anyone present, at least not quite the way the Lord has laid it upon my heart. I dont claim separate revelation on this; but Reasons for Service. Weve had Realignment for Service, the Realms of Service; now Reasons for Service. You know, you can serve because youre forced to, because you have to. Now that kind of service will profit you nothing. In fact, forced service leads to contempt. In Matthew 25:24 there was one servant, there the third one, who said that his master was harsh and austere and all the rest of that; and so he said, I took what you gave me and I buried it. Remember that? Well, he had a bad attitude toward his master. He said, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. He really didnt do anything with it. He kept it, thats it. You know, there are some people who think that thats all they have to do just keep the faith, just hang on to it. Well, you ought to multiply it. Do something with it. He had a bad attitude toward his master; and his master said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed. Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. And those who say, Well, Ill do this because God makes me do it, God made me do that I dont believe that they were born again in the first place, and theyll end up on the outside, in outer darkness. Now I hope theres nobody here like that tonight. But among Christians, theres such a thing as serving the Lord out of a sense of duty, because youre convinced it is the thing to do because you are a servant. In Luke chapter 17 there is an account of this type of a servant. The Lord Jesus says beginning at verse 7, Which of you, having a 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? And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink? Now, doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? You see, heres a servant who does just whats expected of him and thats it. He does that, but hes just expected to do that; and he doesnt get any credit for that. And so, the Lord Jesus says, 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 [What?] our duty to do. Now unfortunately, its even hard to get some Christians to do their duty; but I want to emphasize this folks Doing your duty isnt even enough. You say, What do you want from us? I want more than that, and I believe that the Word of God teaches that God expects more than that. Now you say, What do you have in mind here? Well, I think that here in the passage that we studied this evening in Romans 6, that our allegiance will involved obedience, not just to the precepts, but to the Person Himself, and it will involve a relationship to Him in which well want to do, not only what He specifically says, Do this, do this, do this. but will say, You know, he didnt tell me to do this, but I know hed like me to do this.
What sort of sparked my thinking on this, was reading a commentary on Romans by Dr. Scroggie in which he said, There is something better than obedience. And he said this, If my mother had sent me out to pick some berries, and she had said, Pick one quart;....but I knew she really wanted two. He said, If I picked one quart, Id be obedient. If I picked two quarts, I would be pleasing. I would be pleasing! You know folks, thats what God wants from His servants not just doing what is barely and specifically specified, but what you do because you want to please Him!
Each year since 1966 Ive been giving our students and our school family a verse and a slogan for the year, and I sought for what the Lord would have me give this year, and I looked in vain to find something which I felt was pleasing well Ill do more in 1974, but I couldnt find any good verses that said, Do more. So, I was over in I Thessalonians chapter 4 and I saw something there that gave me my slogan for 1974. Its in verse l, Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more. Can you guess my slogan for 1974? I will please God more in 1974. Weve had that printed, and we make that available. I will please God more in 1974! Now folks, pleasing God is not just being obedient. May I take a personal illustration? I would like to speak of my son Im on the go, as Ive often done; and we have a two car garage at home that increasingly gathers all sorts of things beyond the automobile. Some of you know how that is: Newspapers, boxes, wood, you know. Things just kept accumulating, worse and worse. I see some of you smiling. Youre very....some of you sort of have a guilty look. And my wife kept saying, Stuart, youve got to clean that garage. I said, Yes honey, as soon as I get time, Ill clean the garage. Days went by, weeks went by. I had an arrangement with my son to mow the lawn, and I paid him a certain amount each hour to work on the lawn. So I came back, after a weekend retreat, and I pulled into the garage. I saw that the lawn had been mowed, and lo and behold when I got into the garage, the whole thing had been cleaned. I must confess, I was afraid that my wife had done it-and that I was really in for it; and I deserved it too, folks. But, I got into the house and my wife was there and I greeted her and she didnt say anything. But, there was my son and he said, Dad, did you notice anything? I said, Yeah, I noticed the lawn has been mowed. Yeah, he said, You can pay me for that. He said, Did you notice anything else? I said, Yes, somebody cleaned up the garage. He said, Dad, I did that for you!.....Thats pleasing, folks! The other was obedience. This which he didnt have to do.....He was doing...for me! I tell you. My father-heart was pleased ! And, I want to say to you folks, I have an intense desire to please my Heavenly Father! As long as my earthly father lived, I had one desire, even to the day he died, ...to please him! Dad was a little man. He only came up to my shoulders. He only had a fifth grade education. Ive had twenty years of formal training, but I always looked up to my dad, always respected him, and always wanted to please him. Now that Dads home with the Lord, I want to please my Heavenly Father; and that means that I just wont do just what Im told to do. Oh, Ill do that; but Ill give Him so much more! Thats pleasing!
You know, Ive studied this in the Word of God, and I found out that the Lord Jesus was not only pleasing. (Theres a prefix on the Greek word there for pleasing, thats translated, This is My Beloved Son, in Whom Im well-pleased. Boy, thats tremendous! The Lord Jesus was not just pleasing. He did say, I do always those things that please the Father. But, the Father said, This is My Beloved Son, in Whom I am well-pleased!
What does He say about your service? Are you obedient? Weve tried to teach our two children, obedience. Our daughter, from the time she was seven or eight or even six years old, was taught how to set the table, how to clear the table, and things like that....and you know, she knows how to do things like that without being told. Its become second nature. You say, Boy, she must be a slave. No, its second nature to her. She enjoys it. She talks to us and jokes and all that....while shes doing this. You see, shes gotten beyond the obedient stage to the place where she might be pleasing! And the tragedy with many Christians is that they dont even get to the obedience stage. Ah, I wish that we could get a number of Christians that would want to be pleasing to the Lord! Thats a great motivation for service!
You see, it is love that inspires the desire to be pleasing. It is devotion that inspires the desire to be well-pleasing. If you study I Corinthians 10 verses 5 through 14, it indicates that with many of those back in the Old Testament, God was not well-pleased. Why? Because they turned their allegiance to a false god. They turned to idolatry. And with many Christians, God is not well-pleased, because weve turned away our allegiance from Him.
Now very quickly the fourth thing, Resources for Service. I want to sketch three things here. Number one, the Person of God. In Hebrews 13 verse 5, Let your conversation be without covetousness [that is the intense desire for things you dont need]; and be content with such things as ye have: for He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. The greatest resource that the servant of God has is the Person of God in Jesus Christ by the Spirit of God Who indwells us. Jesus said, Lo, I am with you always even unto the end of the age. So the number one resource is our God.
Second, is His Power. In Matthew 28:18, Jesus said, All power [literally, authority] is given unto me in heaven and in earth....therefore go ye [or as you go, literally] disciple all nations. And we have the precious privilege of drawing upon the power of God; and out of that, The Provision of God. In Ephesians 1:3 it indicates that we have already been blessed with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. We simply have not appropriated them. In II Peter 1:3 and 4, Peter indicates that God has provided for us all things that are necessary for life and godliness; and then its through the promises. Its laying hold of the Word of God that we find the Resources to do what God wants us to do.
We recently had a counseling seminar on Campus that really stirred my own thinking; because this Christian counselor indicated that what we need is to counsel people from the Word of God. But I tell you friends, weve become far more fascinated with the words of men than we have with the Word of God. Our School verse at Lancaster Bible College is from I Peter 1:25, The Word of the Lord endureth for ever. And, that is our great and glorious Resource as a servant of God to dispense the Word of God. A number of years ago, God impressed upon me a truth that has stirred me every day of my life and that is: Apart from God Himself, there are only two things on the face of this earth that are eternal only two things other than God. You see, Jesus said, Heaven and earth shall pass away. Peter said in II Peter 3:11, Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be. What are the two things that are eternal? I referred to one The Word of the Lord that endureth for ever. Whats the other? Your eternal soul. Your eternal soul and mine is going to exist eternally, either apart from Gods presence or in His presence! What makes it possible for someone to live in the presence of God? Being born again. How? By the Word of God which liveth and abideth for ever. The greatest work that you can do in all the world is to impart the eternal Word of God to the eternal souls of men! Thats the only really eternal work that there is, because everything else is going to pass away! And as a servant of God, that is the greatest service that you can perform imparting the eternal Word of God to the eternal souls of men!
I shared this so often with people: When my brother George and I were led to go to Bible School, Dad called us aside and he said, Now boys, I want to give you some advice. He said, When you go to Bible School, get all you can and can all you get! Get that? Get all you can, and can all you get. Now, what do you mean by that? Just put it away so you never use it? Aw, no. You see, Im the last of a family of thirteen children; and I was born and raised in the days when you didnt have refrigerators, freezers, and anything like that. What did my mother do, from early Spring until late Fall? She did her canning. She stored up food, and it was good food; and she was never caught short when the winter came. She always had something to give out. The tragedy, of our day folks, is that too few Christians are doing their canning. Psalm 119:11 not only refers to overt sin we often and only sometimes apply to that, Thy Word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee. and we say that means that it will keep me from doing the wrong thing. Well, that includes that; but friends, there is a sin against God in not laying up His Word so that you can later give it out to others; because thats the great Resource of the servant of God. Well, you say that Im not called to the work of the ministry. Listen! Remember, were all called to the work of the ministry. Remember the chicken? Yes! Youre not laymen. Your His men, and you ought to be serving Him, and using these Resources, primarily the Word of God and drawing upon the power of God to impart the eternal Word of God.....to the eternal souls of men!