Thursday, January 19, 2017

Your Reasonable Service to God

A loyal and longtime follower of TETH's blog posted the following comment and question:
Thanks for another insightful commentary, TETH. Can you unpack exactly what you mean when you say, "...our reasonable service to God"? You often say this in reference to our response to the gospel as born-again believers. Would love if you could draw that out a bit. Thanks! 
That is a really important question and given the frequency with which I invoke that phrase it seems profitable to spend a moment providing some biblical thoughts on the matter. Our "reasonable service" to God has a several facets. Let's start by reading the full verse:
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. (Romans 12:1)

Three Observations Regarding Our "Reasonable Service"

Consider the following three observations regarding our "reasonable service" to God.

1. It is invoked in a THEREFORE statement. This tells us that our "reasonable service" is an exhortation founded upon the preceding 11 chapters of the Roman epistle which declare eternal salvation by the sovereign, monergistic grace of God. Included in that preceding declaration was Paul's affirmation that eternal salvation is "not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth." (Romans 9:16) Since serving God involves both our will and our effort, we can be absolutely certain that the "reasonable service" to which we are exhorted has nothing to do with how one OBTAINS eternal life, but rather is the proper motion of the new creature in Christ.

2. It is REASONABLE. This means that our service is the proper, biblical, and logical response that a regenerate child of God should have when they come to a correct understanding of the undeserved grace of God in saving them from their sins. Indeed if God saved us by his grace, and we did nothing to deserve it, is it unreasonable that we should serve him in thanksgiving for his kindness and undeserved mercy?

3. It is SERVICE which takes the form of presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God. In other words, Christ's work on our behalf has made us holy before the throne of divine justice. Our sins have been purged, our redemption has been accomplished, and as a result we stand perfect before God through the work of Christ (Hebrews 1:3, 9:12, 10:14). "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." (II Corinthians 5:21). As a result of this good news, and God's preceding regeneration whereby we have been given faith as a free gift (Ephesians 2:8-9, Philippians 1:29), we are now free to serve God with our lives not to OBTAIN holiness (for that would be impossible) but because we already ARE holy based on Christ's work. That service takes many forms which are cited in many places in the New Testament (Acts 8:37, Ephesians 4-6, James, Romans 12-16, etc) but all fall into the category of obedient discipleship and under the Lord's admonition, "If ye love, me keep my commandments." (John 14:15)

Ephesian Examples of Reasonable Service 

Our reasonable service in discipleship starts with submitting to baptism and joining the Lord's church (Acts 2:41). From there the items that make up our reasonable service are very numerous but Ephesians chapter four provides a helpful sample:
  • Walk worthy of the vocation wherewith we are called (Ephesians 4:1)
  • Forbear one another in love (v2)
  • Endeavour to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (v3)
  • Be no more children (v14)
  • Speak the truth in love (v15)
  • Edify one another in love (v16)
  • Walk not in vanity (v17)
  • Put off the old man (v22)
  • Put on the new man (v23-24)
  • Don't lie (v25)
  • Deal correctly with anger and wrath (v26)
  • Don't give place to the devil (v27)
  • Don't steal (v28)
  • Work (v28)
  • Give to others in need (v28)
  • Don't speak corruptly (v29)
  • Use your speech to edify others (v29)
  • Don't act in a way that is displeasing to God (v30)
  • Put away bitterness, wrath, anger, clamour, and malice (v31)
  • Be kind to one another (v32)
  • Forgive others (v32)


The New Testament is full of specific exhortations to disciples of Christ which altogether define the matter of our reasonable service to God. May we all endeavor to familiarize ourselves with these exhortations and may we find the strength God has promised us to walk in a manner that is worthy of the vocation wherewith we are called. After all, it is our reasonable service.

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