Calvary Road Baptist Church

“SERVICE TO THE FATHER”

Malachi 3.17

 

“C. H. Spurgeon had a well-stocked library of around 12,000 volumes. However, one rare book was not to be found amongst that valuable collection: Thomas Watson on Malachi 3:16-18. With a note of sadness in his voice he said to his College students: ‘This [volume] would be a great find if we could come at it, for Watson is one of the clearest and liveliest of Puritan authors. We fear we shall never see this commentary, for we have tried to obtain it, and tried in vain.”[1]

First published in London in 1682 under the title, Religion Our True Interest, the book Spurgeon spoke of was discovered and reprinted in 2006 under the title The Great Gain Of Godliness. David Guerrero gave me a copy of the book shortly after its publication by The Banner of Truth Trust, and I have profited immensely from reading it. I commend it to you without reservation.

Of wonderful benefit to me, and I hope to you, is a portion of the book that deals with the last phrase of Malachi 3.17. Please turn there, and stand as we read the entire verse: “And they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.” The last phrase reads, “as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.”

Of course, we are all familiar with Galatians 4.1: “Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all.” Thus, it is well established in God’s Word, Old Testament and New, that every father’s son is reckoned to be very much the servant. As well, we saw very clearly from God’s Word this morning that a father and son relationship very definitely exists from the moment a sinner comes to Christ, is adopted into God’s family, and is born again into God’s family, with the First Person of the Trinity thereafter being the new Christian’s heavenly Father.

Knowing that salvation from sins and a new life in Christ is not an end in itself, but is the means to a great end, we learn from Ephesians 2.10 that every child of God is brought into the family of God, at least partly to serve God: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” However, the service rendered to God is not that of a galley slave rowing to the beat of the drum. It is rather the service given by the son to his beloved father. Back to our text, then, Malachi 3.17, and the words “his own son that serveth him.”

Christian, how should you be expected to serve God? Lost person, as you consider the claims of Jesus Christ, and as you ponder your eternity under the condemnation of your undying soul for sins, be sure you understand what will be expected of you and from you should you ever turn to Jesus Christ for pardon full and free.

Three aspects of the Christian’s service to his heavenly Father:

 

First, YOU SHOULD SERVE YOUR HEAVENLY FATHER WILLINGLY

 

In Acts 7.22, Stephen declares that God described King David as “a man after my own heart, which shall fulfill all my will.” How important it is, then, that we learn from David’s own mouth the instructions he gave to his son, Solomon, concerning the way in which he should serve God.

First Chronicles 28.9 tells us what King David said to his son, Solomon, his heir, in front of all the princes of Israel concerning Solomon’s service to God. May we take his words to heart.

 

“And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the LORD searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever.”

 

Notice the key directive to “serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind.” Thus, you, too, should serve your heavenly Father willingly.

In First Kings 8.18, we learn from Solomon that it had been in his father’s heart to build the Temple that God allowed only Solomon to erect. Though God did not allow David to build the Temple, God did compliment him in that the desire to serve God in this way was in his heart.

In the Old Testament and in the New, the Bible way for God’s children is “the just shall live by faith.” However, Hebrews 11.6 shows very clearly what faith’s goal is with respect to God: “But without faith it is impossible to please him.”

There is, then, an inseparable link that ties faith together with willingness. In addition, since God’s children are saved by faith and then live by faith, which presumes an inclination to please God, it is an unarguable certainty that the child of God should serve His heavenly Father willingly. That is, you want to serve God, you are willing to serve God, and you do not need to be drafted for service because you are a volunteer.

 

Next, YOU SHOULD SERVE YOUR HEAVENLY FATHER UNIVERSALLY

 

What is meant by serving our heavenly Father universally? Consider that there are things you like to do, as well as things you do not like to do. There are things you are willing to do, and things you are not willing to do. There are commands, duties, and obligations you are willing to discharge, just as there are those you are not so willing to discharge. Serving the Father universally means you do not pick and choose your obedience, your compliance to the divine will, but seek to obey God in all things.

Consider Zacharias and Elizabeth, the priest and his wife who were chosen by God to be the parents of the greatest of all the prophets, John the Baptist. Note how they are described in Luke 1.6: “And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.” That phrase, “walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless” is an incredible endorsement.

Notice, on the other hand, the comment by the Syrian general, Naaman, after the prophet of the one true God, Elisha, in Second Kings 5.18, cleansed his leprosy:

 

“In this thing the LORD pardon thy servant, that when my master goeth into the house of Rimmon to worship there, and he leaneth on my hand, and I bow myself in the house of Rimmon: when I bow down myself in the house of Rimmon, the LORD pardon thy servant in this thing.”

 

What the ‘grateful’ Naaman is saying is that because he is such an important man to his king, though he knows that God is the one true and living God, he will nevertheless find it necessary to participate in the worship of a false god when his master worships, so he will go to the house of the false god, Rimmon, and he will bow himself down there. He just hopes the LORD will pardon in plans to sin in this way. Elisha’s response in the next verse can be paraphrased as, “Fine. Go.”

Contrary to the example set by Naaman, the Apostle Paul exhorts us in First Corinthians 15.58, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”

Excuse me, but intentionally incomplete obedience is wrong. To be sure, we do not know everything, and our obedience will always be incomplete for that reason. However, when we knowingly and intentionally choose to disregard duties, obligations, and responsibilities, we are doing precisely what Psalm 66.18 warns against: “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.”

Roman Catholicism is very much a smorgasbord religion, where there will always be those winks and nods to picking and choosing what parts of the faith you will and will not comply with. Former Roman Catholic priest, Bart Brewer, once described Catholicism to me as a loophole religion. However, that is not God’s way for His children, and that is not the way of Christians whose service to their heavenly Father is intended to be meaningful and worshipful. That is why you should not only serve your heavenly Father willingly, but also universally.

 

Finally, YOU SHOULD SERVE YOUR HEAVENLY FATHER SWIFTLY

 

Do you know those who seem to never be willing? They never volunteer. You will typically see them standing around while everyone else is stacking chairs and cleaning up. As well, they are frequently fussy about what they will and will not do, closing in on the clean tasks and scrupulously avoiding the dirty jobs. Those same people also seem to move so very slowly when they do anything, instead of moving swiftly.

When I was a kid, I was a willing servant to my parents. I also served them universally. I was not a perfect kid, by any means. However, I was conscientious. And I did what I was told swiftly. Do you remember Abraham’s reaction when God directed him to take Isaac to a place where He would show Him and there to sacrifice his son, his only son?

Genesis 22.3 shows Abraham’s response to God’s command: “And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him.”

Turn now to Zechariah 5.9: “Then lifted I up mine eyes, and looked, and, behold, there came out two women, and the wind was in their wings; for they had wings like the wings of a stork: and they lifted up the ephah between the earth and the heaven.” Though this is a prophecy, it does illustrate a swift response. “The wind was in their wings.”

This type of response is strongly encouraged in the New Testament in James 1.19: “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.” To be sure, hearing does mean listening, with some commentators pointing out that this particularly applies to being eager to hear the preaching of God’s Word.[2]

However, I am also of the opinion that there is a cultural reality in which the hearing of instructions also involves complying with those same instructions. Thus, to be swift to hear is not restricted to hearing instructions eagerly, but also suggests a swift response to those instructions, a rapid obedience to the Father’s wishes.

 

Think about this for just a moment, especially those of you who have undergone specialized training in the military, in law enforcement, in licensed health care occupations, and in any team sports environment. Willing service. Universal service. Swift service. These are not only characteristics of anyone’s involvement in serving God, but are characteristics of any activity human beings engage in where teamwork is crucial to success.

One of our deacons and his wife ran an extremely professional corps of dedicated workers in his dental practice. I had a chance to observe the goings on in his office on many occasions. I can assure you that if someone was not willing, universal, and swift in complying with his wishes, that employee did not last very long. I would suspect that the same is true when working in many other occupations.

How, then, does it come to be that God the Father is given short shrift by people who claim to be Christians? Instead of God getting the leftovers when it comes to willing, universal, and swift service, you would think God should get the best from His children.

A well-known vascular surgeon, who performed many delicate operations for the City of Hope, once operated me on. He was a first class, but demanding, physician. He had little patience in his operating room for anyone who dawdled, for anyone who goofed off, for anyone who was not sharp, professional, and competent. Most of the time, that was exactly the level of service he received from the professionals surrounding him.

Why does God not get that from His children? Children are supposed to serve their heavenly Father. We see that in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. So, why is it such service as we have discussed this evening is so rare in Christendom? Why are there so much foot-dragging, so many who are unwilling, so many who are not universal but who pick and choose what they will and will not do, and so many whose service to God is not swift but oh so slow?

I suppose that it could be ignorance. However, that excuse is gone, effective immediately. From this point forward, the only excuse will be one’s spiritual condition. Remember, God spares His own son who serves Him, and does not spare His own son who does not serve Him, because the son who does not serve God is really not son of His at all.



[1] Back cover of Thomas Watson, The Great Gain Of Godliness, (Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2006)

[2] D. Edmond Hiebert, The Epistle Of James: Tests of a Living Faith, (Chicago: Moody Press, 1979), page 125.



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