Characteristics of True Christian Service
Pastor David L. Brown, Ph.D.
Sermon Delivered 7/28/03
Text: 1 Thessalonians 1:3, 9, 10 "Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father; 9 For they themselves show of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; 10 And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come."
The first characteristic of true Christian service is, Christian service must be carried out by one who is a true Christian. Turn to 1 Thessalonians 1:3 – "Remembering without ceasing your work of faith…"
Don’t be confused by the word "work" in conjunction of faith. This is NOT teaching works salvation. I have often told you that works don’t save, but saved men and women work! There is solid Scriptural evidence for this throughout the New Testament. Concerning "works" not saving a person, consider Titus 3:5 "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;" Also, turn to Romans 4:5 "But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness." Concerning saved people working James says, "Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works. 19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. 20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?" James 2:18-20.
Now, back to my point: True Christian service can only be carried out by a person who is a Christian. Turn with me to John 6:28-29. In this passage we have the record of certain asking Jesus "…What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? 29 Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent."
We know that believing on Christ was the first work of the Thessalonians that Paul was writing to because of what we read in 1 Thessalonians 1:9 which says, "For they themselves show of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God."
Take careful note of verse nine. There are two important things you need to see. First, they turned to God. That is, they received Jesus Christ as their Savior. Second, they turned from idols. That means the thing that your flesh or old nature held dear are left behind. A changed life is one of the key indicators that a person has received Christ!
At this point, I want to tell you about an interview that we did in Rome. We went into a Catholic church called Santa Maria Minerva. The church was built on the site of a former pagan temple, the Temple of Minerva. Inside was a monk selling religious baubles and trinkets. One of my companions initiated a conversation with the man. As it turned out, he spoke English to a fair degree. The priest was reading a book, however it was clear to me that it was not the Bible. As it turns out it was the Vedas, which is scripture to the Hindus. Upon talking to the man further we discover that he a Catholic priest and a practicing Hindu too. What a contradiction! But, that’s par for the course for Rome. However, genuine Biblical Christianity does not allow for syncretism (the combination of two or more opposing philosophies into one). Genuine Christians don’t add Christ to their pantheon; they tear down the idols of the flesh and enthrone Christ alone.
The first characteristic of true Christian service is this: It is accomplished by a born again believer and that is affirmed by a changed life.
Let’s consider the second characteristic of true Christian service. It is…
"Remembering without ceasing your…labour of love…" 1 Thessalonians 1:3
Paul commends the Thessalonians for their "labour of love…to serve the living and two God."
When a person trusts Christ as Savior, "the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us." (Romans 5:5). The result is that the believer has the desire to serve Christ out of love and gratitude. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, "For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: 15 And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again." 2 Corinthians 5:14-15
Our Lord commanded believers to teach all Nations His Word and preach the Gospel to every creature. There is no greater motive for Christian service than devotion to the Lamb of God slain on Calvary for us. This devotion motivates believers teach God’s Word and share the Gospel with the lost and serve the Lord.
That brings us to our third and last characteristic of true Christian service…
"Remembering without ceasing your… patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father; 10 And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come."
In this passage, we are urged to serve the Lord patiently until he returns. Further, Paul reminded the Galatian believers, "And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not." Galatians 6:9
The hope of Christ’s return is an incentive for the believer to keep his life clean, keep his sins confessed and keep the love of God filling his heart and controlling his life (1 John 3:2-3).
Serve the Lord faithfully because He is coming again and we must all give account to Him. 1 John 2:28 "And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming."
So, let’s review.