Serving, serving, serving... is part of making your gospel profession credible.
Alright thank you very much, and hello again radio friends. How in the world are you? Yes, this is your friend Dr. Cook. I’m so glad to be back with you. I trust everything’s okay at your house. I’m feeling fine, glad to be alive, happy in the Lord. I’ve just been praying that God would speak to all of our hearts, including mine, from His blessed, inerrant, infallible Word, the Bible.
We’ve talked about the Gospel, bringing forth fruit “The Word of the Truth of the Gospel brings forth fruit since the day ye heard of it and knew the grace of God in truth”. The Gospel becomes fruitful in you when you apply the grace of God to the specific area of need in your life. Many people know about the story of the Gospel. They know the truth of it, but they haven’t made it real in their own lives and the way to make the Gospel real, is not to have some overall blanket profession of belief. Doctrine is good and a confession of faith is good, but the way to make the Gospel fruitful is to bring the grace of God into contact with the specific area of need in your life. Dare to do that beloved, your life will be completely revolutionized.
Now, not only is it in truth, you learn about God’s grace in His truth, but you also learn from people. During these moments I want to talk with you about the importance of being a person who can demonstrate the truth of the Gospel, and who can bring forth fruitfulness in other people’s lives as a result. “It brings forth fruit since the day ye heard of it and knew the grace of God in truth”. That’s the first element, we talked about that, haven’t we?
Now he says in verse seven of Colossians 1, “You also learned from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is for you, a faithful minister of Christ. He also declared unto us, your love in the Spirit”.
Now, the Gospel becomes fruitful not only when the truth of God is applied to your heart, and His grace is applied to the specific area of need, but the Gospel becomes fruitful when a person who is full of the Holy Spirit demonstrates it, and you see how it works. “You learn”, he said, “from Epaphras”, I don’t know how you pronounce that. Some people call it Ep O Fras, and just have gotten in the habit of saying Epaphras. I learned that from Dr. Maxwell, back in seminary days. He said, “Don’t say Ep O Fras, that sounds too much like Sassafras”, he said, “Say Epaphras”, so that’s why I do it that way. “Our dear fellow servant who is for you a faithful minister of Christ”.
What is the essence of the learning process where another person is involved in teaching you the truth of the Gospel, and making it fruitful in your life? How does another person help you and me to become fruitful, so far as the Gospel is concerned? That is to say, our relationship with the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Interestingly enough, it relates to two things. First of all, he calls Epaphras, “A fellow servant”. Now, as many of you know, the word servant in the New Testament comes from Greek word, doulos, which means slave, and so it would be quite accurate to read this, “Our fellow slave”. It’s interesting, isn’t it? “You’ve been called the liberty”, Paul says to the Galatians, “only use not this liberty as an occasion of the flesh, but by love, serve one another”, and he uses the word, the slave word, doulo, which is the verb form, serve like a slave, to other people because of the love you have for them and Christ.
We demonstrate the truth of the Gospel to other people by the way we serve God and serve people. Interesting, isn’t it? The index, the index of reality, often times, boils down to the answer to this question: What did he or she do, willingly and lovingly, when they didn’t have to?
I took a course many years ago, to which Vic Cory my old boss had sent me. A management course, and one of the key maxims that the teacher referred to, again and again, was, “Go cheerfully out of your way to serve others without being asked”. Helpfulness born of love is part of the demonstration of the Gospel. Isn’t it interesting how spiritual matters, though profound, boiled down to very simple procedures? Well, they do. “Dear, fellow slave, serve, serve”. Paul said to the Corinthians, “We preach not ourselves with Christ Jesus as Lord and ourselves, your servants”, same word slaves, “ourselves your slaves for Jesus’ sake”. Do anything I can to help you, because of Jesus.
Has it dawned on you that the way you make the Gospel believable and credible is to help somebody else for Jesus’ sake? What a concept that is. You see, that rules out the statement, “Well, this isn’t my area of responsibility”, “This isn’t found in my job description”, or, “I’m too busy and I’ve got a million things I have to do already”, or, “He got himself into this mess, let him get himself out”, and so on. You know, we know all of those alibis, don’t we, because we’ve used them again and again, But a truth like this rules out all of those copouts, doesn’t it? You don’t have any more room left to say, “Well, not me, somebody else”. “Fellow slave”, your service gladly given in love demonstrates the Truth of the Gospel that you preach.
Now, you see that happening all over the world. World Vision sends tons of food and medicine and supplies and provides sustenance for thousands of orphans and puts out all sorts of helpful conferences all over the world, and brings food to the starving in Africa, and all that, but what are they doing that for? They’re doing it so they can, as Bob Pierce used to say, “Deserve a hearing for the Gospel”. He said in my hearing many times, “You have to deserve a hearing before people will listen to you”. Yes, that’s why people serve. That’s why folk have gone to the mission field throughout the past many years. That’s why they build hospitals and clinics.
Pastor Burt Reid, he had gathered a number of missionaries, one of them is a worker in prisons, and she goes to these said female prisoners in the various prisons in her area and visits them and talks with them and leads them to Christ, and loves them and weeps with them and helps them, and then tries to follow them up after they are paroled, if, when they get out.
Another of those missionaries gathered for that conference was a surgeon who got his medical training in the United States and practiced medicine and surgery for five years before God spoke to his heart and called him back to his native India, and now he is a surgeon and his wife is a gynecologist, with one or two of the staff members, they have a clinic and they visit regularly with their staff, 85 different villages a week.
Think of that, a monumental program that would wear out an ordinary person, practicing surgery, and he told how under those primitive conditions, they do some of the most delicate operations, cataract removal, all sorts of operations, and how God blesses, and how they have been spared the complications, you may say, that oftentimes arise even in the most sophisticated hospital setups. See, serving, and then they give them the Gospel, then they speak to them of the Lord Jesus Christ.
There was one area where they’d run out of water, and so he decided that, that they would dig a well for these dear people. So they came over and began to dig the well. The villagers, four or five hundred of them, gathered around because in that area you don’t do anything like this, like digging a well or whatever, major building without offering some sacrifices of animals, and so they said, “Aren’t you going to offer a sacrifice”? “No, we’re Christians”.
So, they stood by and scorned and scoffed, and hooted and criticized and said, “You’ll never strike water”, they went on down digging and at a certain level they ran into rocky soil, and it was very hard to dig and the people said, “See, you’re just going to come to, to no good end and it’s because you didn’t offer the sacrifices”, but the reply came back from this dear brother and his people who were digging, “We’re Christians, we’re trusting in the living God”, and they were within stone’s throw of a dry well that had been dug by somebody else, 70 feet deep, it was completely dry, and now they’re down to a depth of 16 feet and they strike water, and it begins to flow, clear, pure water, and they got themselves a motor to pump out the water that was coming in so they could dig deeper, and so they could lay the, the brickwork around the bottom of it and, and up toward the top so that it was a good, solid well opening, wouldn’t cave-in and that well, he said, “In answer to prayer has been just a lifesaver for so many”, incidentally silencing the protests of unbelievers and many of them said he, “Coming to trust the Lord Jesus Christ because they were able to partake of this water, miraculously provided in answer to prayer”.
Serving- serving is part of making your Gospel profession credible. Today beloved, look around you, you’ll find human need everywhere you turn. Within your own family, as well as neighbors, friends, fellow workers, fellow students and folk in the community. Look around you, you’ll find need everywhere. Very quietly, without making a production of it, don’t make a federal case of it, just very quietly and lovingly, help to meet somebody else’s need and do it for Jesus’ sake. Do it with love for Him and for others in your heart.
The truth of the Gospel is demonstrated by people who serve, that is the thing we’re saying today. The truth of the Gospel is demonstrated by people who serve, for Jesus’ sake. Will you put that into action today, beloved? Do remember that Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do”, that’s doing the dishes or diapering the baby or adding a column of figures or managing millions of dollars, whatever it may be whatever you do, he said, “Do it heartily as for the Lord and not for people”. You’re working for Jesus today, do it for Him and it will make your testimony believable in a despairing and hopeless world.
Dear Father today, may what we do in serving make our Gospel real, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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