YOUR REASONABLE SERVICE
Lesson 1 - What the Bible teaches
This falls under the category of truth, what the Bible says and what it means by what it says.
Rom.11:32 in speaking of all people, Jews and Gentiles alike, says “God enclosed all in disobedience in order that He may show mercy to all.” God shows us mercy by taking pity on us instead of treating us as we deserve. Rom.12:1 continues “Therefore brothers, I urge you through the compassions of God [the inward feelings that that move Him to show mercy] to present your bodies a living holy sacrifice well-pleasing to God, your reasonable service.” This is speaking of what is the logical offering we bring as part of our worship as Christians. Naturally going along with this, “and stop being conformed to [molded to fit] this age, but instead be transformed1 by the renewal of the mind2 [similar to the idea of repentance] so that you may approve what the good and well-pleasing and perfect will of God is.” We who began as disobedient and unappreciative of God are to undergo change so we come to approve His will as good and well-pleasing and perfect.
1. The same word is used to describe the revelation of Christ’s glory on the mount of transfiguration in Mt.17:2 & Mk.9:2. But in the parallel passage at Lk.9:29 the correct translation is became qualitatively different.
2. The instrument or means by which the action is performed.
Compare this discussion is to that of Rom.6 where Paul is also addressing Christians.
12Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
15What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or [notice the contrast] of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. 19… For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.
20For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom.6:)
What is the result of this molding process in Rom.12:2? Disobedient people who fit right in and are a part of this evil age – the blind and deaf who are ignorant of eternal life
How does the molding process work? Since conforming is to this age [see Correlating The Kingdom with The Church & with the Age http://pop.eradman.com/], something external to us must necessarily be inseminating us with its ideas and ways of thinking to effect hardening toward God from within surreptitiously.
How long has this process been going on? since long before you were born;
How do we resist or stop that continuing pressure to conform us? By embracing the truth with mind and body, we reject the lie.
Lets ask some questions about the transforming process.1
How long has this process been going on? since you were born again by the Spirit of God
List other terms and phrases that refer to being born again. Saved, regeneration3 (Tit.3:5); in Christ, new creation (2 Cor.5:17); heirs, children of God, born [by the will] of God (Jn.1:12-13); alive (Col.2:13); brought us forth [gave birth to us] (Jas.1:18).
What about Old Testament terms? New heart, new spirit (Ez.36:26)
How does the transforming take place? The renewing of your mind is complementary to repentance [change of mind, heart, and attitude] and rebirth, and is knowingly and willingly embraced by learning about God and His ways. The truth works change in us regardless of the degree of molding we have already undergone.
3. Regeneration - rebirth; the work of God that makes us new creatures, alive to God
Lets continue in Rom.12 to see if we can discover what the renewal of our minds is accomplishing and what we are being transformed into.
3For 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. 4For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, 5so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8the 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.
9Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
14Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 17Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." 20To the contrary, "if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head." 21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Rom.12:)
1Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God…8Owe no one anything, except to love each other… (Rom.13:)
What are your observations and conclusions regarding our transformation? We are joined to a community of believers by incorporation into a single body as an integral member. We no longer think of ourselves as autonomous individuals pursuing their own happiness. We belong to one another and our function is to serve one another by taking our place in the body of believers and ministering there by means of the gifts Christ gives us and in our dedication to mutual affection. In serving one another we are serving His body and thereby the Lord. Such is our worship - the offering of lour lives as holy and well-pleasing, our reasonable service to God. This is our new-life CALLING. See Great Commission at Cultural Mandate http://pop.eradman.com/
We are also learning to think about and respond to events and circumstances throughout the world as well as those that affect our lives as being under God’s supervision. We are coming to trust Him and appreciate His wisdom and knowledge in all things rather than our own (Rom.11:33).
YOUR REASONABLE SERVICE
Lesson 2 – My obedience
This falls under the category of authority, the right of God’s word to judge my heart and work.
Rom.12:3ff invite us to ponder another set of questions in the area of wisdom and knowledge that are more personal and practical. As always the first question is “what does the passage mean by _________.” Because the Bible isn’t only concerned with truth, once we have some grasp of teaching of a passage, we are called to follow Christ and obliged to allow the light of the truth to examine us. Am I doing the things described and am I doing them with the right attitude? Since we are not perfect, we will often be in need of repentance. We will also find we need instruction on how to best proceed in these matters. Therefore our method is formulate questions from the passage and seek the Lord’s help as we study His word.
How can I best go about serving in my place; How shall I respond to persecution and worldly authorities; How shall I take heed to the repeated warnings about not becoming proud or high-minded?
What can I do to encourage _________ in the faith; What is the best way to exercise my gift in _________ or with _________; What steps can I take that will help me to be patient in tribulation; etc.
It is here in doing our homework in preparation for seriously ministering that we first give ourselves to the service of others. In both the areas of truth and obedience or submission we enjoy the help of other Christians as they perform their reasonable service in ministering to us. Nevertheless each of us is called individually to walk with the Lord regardless of what others are doing with the real possibility that we will even need to stand against our friends and/or the consensus in order to be true to what we understand and believe.