Worshipping God by Serving His Church
Truth Taught- Believers are to worship God through renewed thinking, which leads to simple acts of humble service within the local church
Last time we looked together at what the outflow of proper theology looks like. In other words, to believe correct things about God, ourselves, and His church will cause us to live differently. If theology stops with head knowledge there is something deficient somewhere. It must move from renewing our mind to renewing and changing our actions.
We learned that we are called to present ourselves as a living sacrifice, which is proper worship. Proper worship begins with renewed minds are not conformed to the world’s way of thinking. Renewed minds can think, discern and believe properly. Renewed minds can know God’s will and discern right from wrong. As we believe correct things concerning God this will cause our minds to be renewed and slowly by slowly we will begin to have the mind of Christ.
Connected to these things are verses 3ff.
Lord willing we’ll answer the question, How does a renewed mind think? Or what does a renewed mind think about? Then, when we possess renewed minds where do they take us in service to others?
Father, this is Your holy, inspired and inerrant Word, You have sent it to us today with a wonderful purpose in mind. I pray that it would not return to You void but would change us into the image of You Son, Jesus Christ. I pray we would all know You, serve You, and bring You glory through obedience to what we learn today.
Romans 12:1–8 (ESV)
12 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 4 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.
3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.
When translated into English we loose a little of the repetitive nature and the point Paul makes here…Believers are not to think of themselves more highly than he ought to think but instead think with sober thinking. Four times think is used in this verse.
What has changed our thinking of ourselves is the grace God has given to us as believers. God has saved us and now He is working to change us. The way this change is made evident is that we now start to think appropriately about ourselves and our brothers and sisters in the church.
We used to think very highly of ourselves. We were our greatest and longest thought. We had a prideful preoccupation with ourselves. We were selfish and lived for ourselves and for our pleasure and fame. We wanted to be noticed and praised. Then the flip side is that we never thought that our sin was nearly as bad as others. We thought we were in right standing with God because after all we’re talking about me, right?
Then God takes self-centered sinners and gives them new life. We must now begin to think and behave differently than before.
A renewed mind will begin to consider others in a new way. Before you can serve someone in the church you have to think about him or her. That means for however long you’ve stopped thinking about yourself and began considering others. So, the new mind that was formerly shaped by selfishness and pride is now being transformed by considering others and humility.
Theologians are unsure exactly what Paul means by his phrase, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.
Sometimes people can think too hard about simple truths. As believers we have all received the same measure of grace and faith. The word measure means that for simplicity sake, Paul tells us that we have all received a measure of faith. It means there is an exact amount of faith we have received from God and we all get the same amount. When this faith is put to action we begin to think of ourselves in the proper light. Faith is the God given virtue that is at the helm of our mind. It drives our thinking and then our actions. We can live with a lot of faith or with little faith. Those who are driven by faith will think less of themselves and more of others because they trust God and have found security in Him. When we live in faith we then serve others accordingly because we have an accurate view of ourselves. When we live with little faith we think incorrectly about ourselves and think more highly than we should.
A person living in faith says, I didn’t supply my needs God did. I’m not to be praised, God is. I’m not great, God is. When we live with little faith then we think we are responsible for our success and we are prideful and think more highly of ourselves than we should. Here’s the catch…a person that’s not living by faith is a person who thinks he is the one who does it all and quickly discovers he can’t so he lives in fear and insecurity because the reality is still the same, God is in control not us regardless what we think.
Living by faith will cause us to be bold Christians and not fearful Christians. Humility and faith gives boldness. Self-centered pride gives fear.
Two times in the NT Jesus tells His disciples they were living in the realm of little faith. In both cases fear and anxiety were evident.
Little faith manifested itself in thinking of themselves more highly than they should have…we are the ones who supply our needs, our lives depend on us…
Matthew 6:30 (ESV)
30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
We are in control of our own destinies…
Matthew 8:26 (ESV)
26 And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.
A sober assessment of oneself based on the measure of faith God has given will say, God’s in control of everything, therefore, I didn’t have to hoard in fear of lack or my needs not being met I can love and serve others in the church because Im walking by faith not by sight.
Matthew 20:25–28 (ESV)
25 But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 26 It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, 28 even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
4 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.
Paul uses the human body and its different parts to illustrate the local church body. Just as the human body is in need of its many and varied parts so to the local church is in need of many and varied people. The human body cannot be healthy without everything working properly so it is with the local church. The church cannot be all it could be without everyone pitching in and doing their part.
When we are growing as believers and our thinking is more and more in line with the mind of Christ we will see how important the local church is and why I must do my part so that it will be healthy.
There is no better place to see unity in diversity than in the local church.
Why is the local church important?
The local church is the way God intends to accomplish his mission in the world. “It is primarily though the local church that God wants to make himself known.” Of all the evangelism strategies in the world, of all the ministries in the world, none is more central than the local church. It’s interesting to note that Paul considered his ministry in an area fulfilled not when every person was reached, but when churches had been planted (see Romans 15:19-20). “Paul knew that the churches there were how the gospel would spread into all of the individual neighborhoods. Local churches do local evangelism.” The church is God’s plan, it is God’s mission.
The local church should matter to us because it matters to God. The church is Jesus’ body on earth (see Ephesians 1:22-23) and it is made up of all kinds of people from all walks of life. “Together we represent Christ here on earth through our local body of believers. Therefore, the church is central to the purposes of God and is of benefit to the world around us—even today in our increasingly hostile culture.” The church exists for God’s glory and showcases it in a unique way. “The church is built for Jesus, by Jesus, and on Jesus. It is simply unthinkable then to separate Jesus from the local church. If the gospel is the diamond in the great salvific plan of God, then the church is the clasp that supports it, holds it up, and shows it in its greatest light for the world to see.” If it matters so much to God, it needs to matter to us just as much.
The local church is where the believer grows. It is primarily in the local church that Christians learn doctrine, receive reproof, and train in righteousness (see Ephesians 4:11-13). The local church provides opportunities for growth that are available nowhere else. For someone not a part of a local church, there are almost always large gaps in their biblical knowledge and Christian behavior. Without a local church committed to patiently teaching and training them, these people will flounder indefinitely.” We all need a local church if we are to become like Christ.
The local church is the place where believers must submit themselves to spiritual authority. Many people from many walks of life struggle with issues of authority, though this problem is especially prevalent in the schemes of Scotland. Mez says, “they will not accept criticism or input from anybody they regard as an authority figure.” This attitude needs to be dealt with immediately. God calls Christians to submit to spiritual authority within the local church (see Hebrews 13:17). All believers are called by God to put themselves under the care and oversight of elders. “A culture that despises any kind of authority needs to see healthy models of leadership and submission. And the place for people to see this modeled is in the local church.”
The local church is the best place for spiritual accountability. We have probably all encountered people who believed they were called to ministry or who even carried out some kind of ministry even though their lives were a mess. This happens where people do not have proper spiritual accountability. “All Christians need the spiritual accountability and discipline that being a member of the local church brings. It stops us from drifting. It offers a context for encouragement and rebuke. It provides a community to stir one another on to love and good deeds.”
The local church is the place from which discipline is biblically administered. The task of disciplining disobedient or unruly Christians belongs to the local church. This is a difficult task but one given specifically to the church as a means to show the deepest love and concern for the spiritual care of believers (Matthew 18:15-17). Discipline belongs to the church as one of its important functions.
How do we serve the local body of believers? It all starts with renewed thinking…
6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.
Here Paul gives us some examples of how God has gifted individuals who make up the church. This is not an exhaustive list but a few examples. The point to this section is that with renewed thinking comes the exercise of grace gifts without a view of whose gift is more important, more visible, or more praised. Now service to the body of Christ in the local church setting is done without self serving.
The governing principle here and one we should keep in mind is this: when we use a gift, we ought to use it simply in order to achieve what that gift is given for and not in the service of some hidden self-serving agenda. This is especially important for publicly visible gifts.
If our gift is preaching, we preach
If our gift is teaching, we teach
If our gift is serving, we serve
If our gift is giving, we give
If our gift is leadership, we lead
We serve for the good of others and not for the praise of man or to somehow get ahead or make a name for ourselves.
Our goal in serving others is the glory of Christ and the good of His church. So we serve with love, zeal, compassion etc. In other words, because we are serving those Christ died for in the local church we go over and above, we serve extravagantly. That’s why Paul says things like if your gift is giving then give generously, if it’s leading then lead with zeal, if it’s mercy then show mercy with cheerfulness. Beloved, it’s time for us to see how far we can go in serving here at Grace. Jesus doesn’t want us to serve with a bad attitude or in a reluctant or minimalistic way but serve with great love.