When soundly converted the language of the soul is. “Now I am saved I would like to serve the One who has saved me!” “That is right! Only, find out first what is “that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God” (Rom. 12:2); and then serve Him accordingly.
We have been saved to serve truly; but we are also saved daily that we might serve rightly; and we shall be saved finally and fully when the Lord comes again. Then He will “transform our body of humiliation into conformity to His body of glory”; consequently it is said of those who have been saved by grace, and are now being saved by a living Saviour, “Now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.” Then, without weariness, in realms of eternal glory and joy, “His servants shall serve Him, and they shall see His face.” The salvation which is ours in Christ Jesus is an eternal salvation, and covers past, present and future, so we serve from salvation through salvation and to salvation. We serve a Saviour, who is our Lord.
“Let My son go, that he may serve Me!” were the Lord’s words to Pharaoh, who oppressed Israel. The blood of the lamb was shed and sprinkled; the people were brought out of Egyptian bondage; and “thus the Lord saved Israel that day” (Ex. 14:30). Then they began to serve by singing TO HIM who had saved them; and they sang, “The Lord is my Strength and song, and He is become my Salvation!” Like a refrain, these words resounded again and again from psalmist and prophet afterwards (Ps. 118:14; Isa. 12:2), but Jehovah soon had to say concerning the national “son” He had liberated from Egypt, “Thou servedst not the Lord thy God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things” (Deut. 28:47). Their singing gave place to murmuring and backsliding; but they were under the law.
It is said of us today, “Sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace”; and grace reigns now that the One who died for our sins is upon the throne above; and, being blessed in Him according to the riches of God’s grace, we may serve in liberty, as we look unto the day, when the exceeding riches of that grace will be displayed in glory. Israel soon lost their blessing: not one who is blessed in Christ Jesus can lose his; and abundance of grace is given, so that we may serve our living Saviour acceptably in communion, being preserved in the sense of His favour, and of the glory soon to come; for the Holy Spirit given to us is the earnest of our inheritance.
The two epistles, written to the bright young Thessalonians, speak much of their Saviour’s coming again; and are the only two which address the assembly as “in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ.” Grace had set them in that known position and relationship; and at once the apostle desires for them the necessary favours of at grace and peace,” to keep them continually for God’s praise and pleasure. Israel was placed before Jehovah under law; we are set before the Father under grace.
The salvation which is ours in Christ Jesus brings us into this holy freedom, for even the babes in God’s family know the Father. When the Lord rose from the dead, having secured eternal redemption for us, He said, “My Father and your Father, My God and your God.” How glorious it is to serve a living Saviour, who has brought us into such a near relationship along with Himself.
“Through Him we know a Father’s love,
And serve in liberty.”
Doubtless the fervent Thessalonians had much still to learn, which would enrich their valued service for the Lord; but from the start they turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and “to await His Son from the heavens, JESUS, OUR DELIVERER from the coming wrath” (N.Tr.).
Service is varied, it is not just one thing. If you had asked an Israelite in the wilderness what all the order and detail of their life meant, he would have told you they served Jehovah. Romans 12 shows us the beautiful variety of our service for a Saviour-God; and how our bodies as living sacrifices are to be presented to Him, in intelligent service, for the particular thing given to each one to do, which we prove to be “good, perfect and acceptable,” as it says. All are not preachers, or teachers, but all are given their suited place to fill, and grace is given to do so. We are to prove what that is, and do it. True to his post, a solitary sentry serves his king. An officer does no more. The former might be specially honoured, and the latter not.
It is a Saviour-God we serve, made known in Christ. Even the wrath to come upon this world will not touch the saved; for we read, “God has not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,” who is coming soon, and is “our Deliverer from the coming wrath.” The grace of salvation (past, present and future) in Him gives a spring of freshness to our service of love for Him. We cannot go through the great tribulation, but we may serve Him faithfully now, during the present time of His rejection below and His acceptance above.
“Though earth disowns His lowly Name,
God honours it in heaven.”
At any moment His shout may summon us to meet Him in the air. It is as Saviour from the heavens He is coming to give us bodies of glory like His own. He will do this according to the power which He has to subdue all things to Himself. What a mighty Saviour Jesus is!
Those who have fallen asleep will be raised from their graves first. Then, along with the living, all will be caught up together to meet the Lord, and so we shall be for ever with the Lord.
Viewing the sure and certain hope, shining ahead of our path of service, the apostle of the Gentiles exhorted and encouraged with these words, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” And our Saviour Himself said, “If any man serve Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there shall also My servant be: if any man serve Me, HIM WILL MY FATHER HONOUR.”