Elijah Ministries

Free to Serve or Service Through Guilt - Part 2

A Reason for Concern


Michael A. Kovach

A summary of the previous article:

"Many churches today preach service to God far beyond requirements set by God. As a result, many believers have decided that they are not capable of service and maybe, not saved as a result of their lack of service. How absurd this is if accepted by the local church. If you have been truly saved, you are saved for ever. No man can take that gift away from you, and if your service is being a joy to others, or an inspiration to co-workers and friends, God bless you because you are doing the will of the Father. You are being a service of His and a satisfaction to Him."

In part 2, I wish to explain my concern for this practice. Above all, my belief as to why people fail to serve at all. What I wish to do first is refer to three Epistles, Acts 20, 1 Corinthians 2: 1-7 and Revelations 2. Acts 20:17-38 centers around Paul's farewell to Ephesus, 1 Corinthians 2 centers around Paul's reliance upon the Holy Spirit and Revelation 2: 1-7 focuses on Christ visitation to the Ephesian church.

Service is what Christianity is all about; it's about love, honor, obedience, commitment and single mindedness that is focused solely upon the mission of our Lord Christ Jesus. We are never commanded to take up arms, force people into wining souls, (which we can not do to begin with), coerce people into a service of works + faith - love. We are told that as a result of our new born character that fruit would be produced as a result of the indwelling of the Holy Ghost. As a result, a natural desire is produced to be ready to serve at a moments notice. No matter where you are at any given moment, the Holy Spirit may prompt you into action. If you are obedient and alert, you become a satisfaction to God and a service to Him. Now I'm not going to explore every facet of this at the moment: what I wish to do is lay the ground work for my first article.

My utmost concern is the methods employed to maneuver people into service. These actions have a very serious consequence to them; a consequence that I believe many assemblies do not see. In short, what I see taking place in many assemblies is a work ethic established on a book of accomplishments. This type of activity, even though it seems right by producing many ministries, mission fields, youth activities, countless soul savings, music ministries and much more are in error. Now don't read between the lines, they are not in error of losing their salvation, that cannot happen; they are however, in danger of losing their favor with God, and it is here that I begin my journey.

First, it is important to understand how we should view secular knowledge (that taught in assemblies as service). Taking a look a 1 Cor 2:1-8 (KJV) we can see the value Paul placed on such wisdom in proclaiming the gospel. In fact, you can see where such wisdom (education) originates in verse 8. This passage opens up the understanding that current practices of service through knowledge and dedication comes from the father of lies. In Ephesians 6 we are given a picture of how we are to defend against such assaults. We are never told to cover the battle fields with wounded believers-believer wounded by their commanders zealous desires to look great in the eyes of God. You can here their proclamations: "Look at what we are doing God, how great you have made us. Look at all we are doing for you Jesus, you have blessed us with a mighty army of servants. Look at our plans for the future, will you bless them, so we can show the world how wonderful we are in your sight. Look at all the wonderful ministries we have for the youth Lord, can you expand them so we can look favored and more knowledgeable then other congregations? I will almost guarantee that these things are in the heart of the leaders and people of those assemblies.

Paul on the other hand has this to say about wisdom:

Paul's preaching is of Christ crucified

1 And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. 4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: 5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.

Only to those of mature faith can he impart God's wisdom

6 Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought: 7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: 8 Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

Verses 4-5 sum up the opening argument. Now I wish to look at Paul's farewell to Ephesus. Here we begin to see what Paul is trying to tell the people. Here we begin to see that the Church in Ephesus was a might church, one full of service and devotion; and it is here that we first understand what they lost. They lost what every church based on work and service has lost.

Paul's Final Warning - Acts 20:17-38 (RSV)

17 And from Mile'tus he sent to Ephesus and called to him the elders of the church. 18 And when they came to him, he said to them: "You yourselves know how I lived among you all the time from the first day that I set foot in Asia, 19 serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials which befell me through the plots of the Jews; 20 how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, 21 testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance to God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. 22 And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, bound in the Spirit, not knowing what shall befall me there; 23 except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me. 24 But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may accomplish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. 25 And now, behold, I know that all you among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom will see my face no more. 26 Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all of you, 27 for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. 28 Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God which he obtained with the blood of his own Son. 29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. 31 Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears. 32 And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. 33 I coveted no one's silver or gold or apparel. 34 You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities, and to those who were with me. 35 In all things I have shown you that by so toiling one must help the weak, remembering the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'" 36 And when he had spoken thus, he knelt down and prayed with them all. 37 And they all wept and embraced Paul and kissed him, 38 sorrowing most of all because of the word he had spoken, that they should see his face no more. And they brought him to the ship.

In this rich passage we see several things that Paul is warning the elders about. I have underlined them for connivance so you are better equipped to follow along. I will cut to the chase on this one because there is so much here. For the point I'm trying to make you need to see that the elders wept, embraced, kissed and was sorrowful. These emotions are from respect admiration and love. Here we get the feeling that these people were lovers of the word. That they loved the Lord deeply and that they were all united in a common purpose. There was no division there, these elders were from many congregations, none of them were from a divided body as we are today. They were united in love and purpose. However, Paul saw something that they did not. He saw how there zealous efforts were beginning to erode there focus on Christ and their love for Him. He saw that work and service was quickly becoming their idols. After all this church was strong as we will see in Revelation 2.

The things Christ tells John to write to the angel (minister) of the church in Ephesus

1 Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; 2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: 3 And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. 4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. 5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. 6 But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God. Rev 2:1-7 (KJV)

Here is the summation of the article. Here is what I believe has happened to many assemblies around the world today. Through their zealousness, they have left their first love. All the activity, all the missions, all the ministries seem to fall into this pattern. They appear right; they lack love and forgiveness and as a result, place great demands of their members to work for their salvation. They tell their members that if they are not in church every Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday they are making the pastor sick, or they should gather backbone and get out and win souls for Jesus. Ladies and gentlemen, this is not love, this is earthly fear and a headless assembly. Their candlestick has been removed because they have forgotten where they came from, and they have forgotten their first works which were: Charity, long suffering, kindness, not full of envy; not wanting for self, is not puffed up, Doth not behave unseemly, seeks not their own, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil; Rejoicing not in iniquity, but in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Charity never fails.

Plainly, Free to Serve means "Available to Christ at any given moment," and Service Through Guilt means, "An assembly must work hard for Christ so they can show their good works, and prove their righteousness before men. A zealous attitude that forgets their beginnings by leaving their first love."

There is much more to say concerning this issue and I hope to bring more to light in the months a head. Until then, The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.

For more on this subject, see Part III!

Copyright ©February 1997
Michael A. Kovach
The Christian Underground Journal

Michael Kovach is editor and publisher of the Christian Underground Journal. He can be reached at "gehrig-kovach@worldnet.att.net".

Return to Articles

If you have any comments or questions, let us know by sending an email message to "comments@elijah.ministries.com".

 Copyright © - 1997, All Rights Reserved. Elijah Ministries, Charlotte, NC