It follows from the fact that we have been saved by the wonderful sovereign grace of God that we have now become His servants. We now owe our whole life to the Lord. We are not our own to live unto ourselves. We must live unto Him who has delivered us from death and from judgment. If one therefore confesses that God is his sovereign Lord and God, and on the other hand refuses to serve Him, such a one is no better than a hypocrite. If we love the Lord we will earnestly desire to serve Him. The Psalmist confesses, “O Lord, truly I am thy servant; I am thy servant and the son of thine handmaid: thou hast loosed my bonds” (Psalm 116:16). If we look for the great day of the Lord with eager expectation then we desire in that day to hear of our Lord and God, “Well done thou good and faithful servant; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord” (Matthew 25:21).
Of all the areas in our life where we must serve the Lord the chief one is surely the church of God. Reading through the Psalms we find this mentioned many times. Though the Psalmist surely understood that he had to serve the Lord in every area of his life, it was his urgent desire especially to serve the Lord in His house. In Psalm 66 he says, “I will go into Thy house with burnt offerings: I will pay Thee my vows, which my lips have uttered, and my mouth hath spoken, when I was in trouble. I will offer unto Thee burnt sacrifices of fatlings, with the incense of rams; I will offer bullock with goats. Selah. Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what He hath done for my soul” (Psalm 66:13-16). InPsalm 96 the same truth is expressed: “Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come into his courts. O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness: fear before him, all the earth” (Psalm 96:7-9). We read of this again in Psalm 100. “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his courts with praise; be thankful unto him, and bless his name” (Psalm 100:1-4). Once again this is expressed in Psalm 116. “I will pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence of all his people, in the courts of the Lord’s house, in the midst of thee, O Jerusalem. Praise ye the Lord” (Psalm 116:18, 19).
From the above Psalms we can learn much about what it means to serve the Lord in His house. We serve Him when we come to worship Him, to acknowledge Him as our Lord and our God. We serve Him when we come to offer our sacrifices of thanksgiving and praise unto Him. We serve the Lord when we enter His house to declare among His people His mighty deeds and what wonderful things He has done for our salvation. In the house of the Lord His servants serve Him with gladness and singing. In the house of the Lord we come to pay our vows before the Lord, wherein we resolve to serve Him in all our life. In the versification ofPsalm 66 in the Psalter we sing, “Here in Thy house I give to Thee the life that Thou dost bless.” Each week as we enter into the Lord’s house we come again to dedicate and consecrate our whole life to the Lord as His servants.
Do we know what it means to serve the Lord in His house in this manner? Is one of the principle reasons for our going up to the house of the Lord our great desire to serve Him and to consecrate our whole life to Him in humility as His servants? How sad when the Christian has no desire to go up to the house of the Lord or when he goes there merely out of slavish necessity. When we refuse to go to the house of God or are careless about this we are really rebels against God, we are refusing to serve Him as our Lord and acknowledge Him as our Great God and Savior.
We serve the Lord in His house when we come to hear His Word and submit ourselves unto it. We come ready to speak, in the words of Samuel, “Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth.” We are the Lord’s servants when in His presence we resolve to be doers of His word as well as hearers.
We serve the Lord in His house when we show forth His praises before His people. God is glorified in the sight of His people when they show each other His great goodness in their lives. By doing this we encourage our fellow saints to praise God together with us.
We bring our offerings to the house of the Lord to serve Him. Not of course as though the Lord has need of our offerings. Surely the cattle on a thousand hills are His and He has no need of offerings from our hands. Yet He delights in the offerings of His people and He is pleased to use those offerings for the progress of His kingdom on earth. The servant of the Lord enters His house to give joyfully and liberally unto the Lord.
We serve the Lord when we seek to bring our friends and neighbors and relatives to the house of the Lord with us. This is the calling of all servants of the Lord. There may be many reasons why our church is not growing in numbers. It may be due to the apostasy of our age. It may be due to the natural man’s hatred for the truth that we preach. It may also however be due to our unfaithfulness as the servants of the Lord to bring others to the Lord’s house. We must earnestly and zealously exhort our friends and neighbors to come up to the mountain of the Lord’s house with us that the Lord might teach them of His wonderful ways and in order that we also might tell them what wonderful things the Lord has done for us. We may well all ask ourselves, when was the last time I actually invited someone to come to church with me? If we have not done that for a long time we should be ashamed of ourselves. This type of mission work in our own churches is not just an option, or something nice and wonderful, it is our calling and obligation as servants of the Lord.
We must serve the Lord in His house in the midst of the communion of the saints. This means that we must come to the Lord’s house to give of ourselves to our fellow saints. We must not come to criticize and to cause division in the church and to discourage our fellow saints. We must come to dwell together with our fellow saints in the unity of love and peace. We serve the Lord in the communion of the saints when we make it our business to exhort and encourage one another. Scripture often commands us to do this. “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25). The Lord has given to His church special office bearers to equip all of the members of the church for “the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: till we all come in the unity of faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12, 13).
We must serve the Lord of the communion of the saints also during the week at the weekly meetings of the church. It is tragic when a member of the church of Jesus Christ is convinced that he has done his duty by merely going to the worship service on the Lord’s Day and afterwards quickly hurrying home again. A church that has few attending weekly meetings such as Bible study classes and societies is in a sad condition. One who is not engaged in the Lord’s work in the church during the week can hardly be called a faithful servant. We serve the Lord when we come to such weekly meetings well prepared, ready to contribute to discussions and to teach our fellow saints what God has taught us. Being to busy with our secular occupation that we cannot attend at least one weekly meeting at the church cannot be justified in God’s sight. What a beautiful example we find in the apostolic church at Jerusalem. In Acts 2 we read that the saints there continued daily with one ac cord in the temple in the fellowship of the saints and the praise of God.
We serve the Lord in His church when we consecrate and dedicate our gifts and abilities to the Lord. “As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (I Peter 4:10). God has given manifold grace to the members of His church, giving each of them a gift or gifts. All have received a gift from the Lord. There is no such thing as a member of the church of Jesus Christ without a gift, because then such a one would be a useless servant and there would be no reason for the Lord to have added him to His church. We must all soberly discern the gift that God has given to us and use that gift for the spiritual benefit of the whole church. The parable of the talents speaks of this same matter. Each of the servants received a talent or talents. Though one received five, another two, and another only one, yet all received at least one. All the servants of the Lord had the solemn obligation before the Lord to use that talent. When one of the servants did not use his talent, then the Lord called him a wicked and slothful servant. The Lord will judge in this manner today also concerning any member of the church who does not use his talent. How wonderful it would be if all the members of the church would stir up the gifts that the Lord has given them and as faithful servants before the Lord actively use them. Our churches would prosper and be greatly blessed of the Lord.
We are faithful servants in the church of the Lord when we earnestly love that church, when we love the Lord that dwells in her midst, when we love the Lord’s Word that is declared by her. We are faithful servants when we support and defend that church and her cause in the world to the utmost of our abilities. We are faithful servants when we love the saints in the church, when we seek to help them, pray for them, and seek for their blessing. We are faithful servants of the Lord in His church when we pray for and strive for peace and unity in her midst and the glory of the name of God to shine in her. May God make us all faithful servants in His church.