Ye Servants of God (Charles Wesley, 1707-1788)
1. Ye servants of God, your Master proclaim,
and publish abroad his wonderful name;
the name all-victorious of Jesus extol,
his kingdom is glorious and rules over all.
2. God ruleth on high, almighty to save,
and still he is nigh, his presence we have;
the great congregation his triumph shall sing,
ascribing salvation to Jesus, our King.
3. “Salvation to God, who sits on the throne!”
Let all cry aloud and honor the Son;
the praises of Jesus the angels proclaim,
fall down on their faces and worship the Lamb.
4. Then let us adore and give him his right,
all glory and power, all wisdom and might;
all honor and blessing with angels above,
and thanks never ceasing and infinite love.
Hebrews 10:19-25Disciples’ Literal New Testament
Therefore, Let Us Approach God in Full Assurance of Faith and Hold on Without Wavering
19 Therefore, brothers, having confidence for the entering of the Holies by the blood of Jesus— 20 which fresh[a] and living way He inaugurated for us through [b] the curtain, that is[c], His flesh— 21 and having a great Priest over the house of God, 22 let us be approaching God with a true heart in full-assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled[d] from an evil conscience, and having our body washed[e] with clean water. 23 Let us be holding-on- to the confession of our hope without-wavering, for the One having promised is faithful. 24 And let us be considering[f] one another for the provoking love and good works, 25 not forsaking the gathering-together of ourselves as is a habit with some, but exhorting[h] one another, and so-much more by-as-much-as you see the day drawing-near.
The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.
When you get up in the morning and you face a day, what do you say to yourself about your hopes for the day? What do you do to motivate yourself? When you look from the beginning of the day to the end of the day, what do you want to happen because you have lived? What difference do you want your life to make?
If you say, I don’t even think like that, I just get up and do what I’ve got to do, then you are cutting yourself off from a basic means of grace and a source of guidance and strength and fruitfulness and joy.
It is crystal clear throughout the Bible, including this text from Hebrews, that God means for us to aim consciously at something significant in our days.
Gods revealed will for us is that when we get up in the morning, we don’t drift aimlessly through the day letting mere circumstances alone dictate what we do, but that we aim at something — that we focus on a certain kind of purpose.
I’m talking about children here, and teenagers, and adults — single, married, widowed, moms, every age, every season of life and every walk, every trade.
Aimlessness is akin to lifelessness. Dead leaves in the back yard may move around more than anything else — more than the dog, more than the children.
The wind blows this way, they go this way. The wind blows that way, they go that way. They tumble, they bounce, they skip, they press against a fence, but they have no aim whatsoever. They are full of motion and empty of real life.
God did not create humans in his image to be aimless, purposeless wanderers, like a mound of lifeless leaves blown around in the backyard of life. He created us to be motivated, purposeful — to have a focus and an aim for all our days.
And this is not the least bit oppressive. It’s not slavery. It’s not depleting.
To find what we were made for and to do it with all God’s might (Colossians 1:29), is freeing (Galatians 5:13) and energizing. Jesus said, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me” (John 4:34). Food! Aiming day by day to do what we were meant to do is like eating: it gives and nourishes life and energy, rather than taking it away. You will eventually die if you do what you were meant to do.
You and I may be young, or we may be old. That is God’s choice, not ours. But when live and die doing what we were meant to do, we live, die well and full.
Would you please consider with me what these verses from Hebrew teach us about the aim and focus of our lives as Christians?
I fervently pray God may use them to bring crystal-clear focus to your life. He may use them to blow away all the confusion and fog, the excuses and fear, and shall give a lucid, bright, crisp, spring-morning clarity to the aim of your days.
First, verse 23 says, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.”
Now that is not something you do with your hands or your feet. You don’t go to the kitchen to do this, or to the den or across the street or to the office or to school. This is not done where anyone can see. This is an affair of the heart.
Embrace your living hope.
Hold fast to your living hope.
Be a hopeful, hope-filled person. Hope in God.
Because God has made promises to you, and he is faithful.
He has promised to remember your sins no more (Hebrews 10:17);
He has promised that we will be perfected for all time by a single sacrifice (Hebrews 10:14);
He has promised never to leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:59);
He has promised to bring good from all our pain (Hebrews 12:10).
And so, Ye Servants of God, believe with all your heart God keeps his word.
But that does not provide you with a sufficient focus for the day?
God did not create you to curl up under the covers and hope in God all day in bed. Without some effect on your life, hope in God would be invisible and bring no public glory to God’s power and wisdom and goodness and trustworthiness.
If the act of hoping in God were all that he created you to aim at, then verse 24 would be wasted words.
But they are not.
God created you first to hope in him, and then to make that hope visible by the effect that it has on your life. And that effect is given in verse 24, and it is to be the aim of your daily life. This is why God wakes everyone up in the morning.
2. Ye Servants of God, Motivate yourself to Motivate others – Stir Up Each Other to Love and Good Deeds
Let’s read it. Verse 24: “Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds.”
Here is the focus for our life. Here is what we aim at from morning till night as a Christian. Notice carefully: it is not what you might expect. It is not: consider how to love each other and do good deeds. That would be Biblical and right.
But it’s different: “Consider how to stimulate each other to love and good deeds.” Focus on helping others become loving people. Aim at stirring up others to do good deeds.
And of course, the implication would then also be that if others need help and stirring, we do too, and so we would be aiming at what diverse sorts of ways we can think and feel and talk and act that will likewise stir each other up to love and to do good deeds. The true aim of our lives is not just loving and doing good deeds but likewise helping to stir up others to love and to good deeds.
But let’s be more precise. There is something in this text that is very hard to bring over into English.
The word “consider,” (“Let us consider how to . . .”) is used one other time in the book, namely, Hebrews 3:1, where the writer says, “Consider Jesus.”
That is, look at him; think about him, focus on him, study him, let your mind be occupied with him.
“Jesus” is the direct object of the verb “consider.” “Consider Jesus.”
Consider what? Consider Jesus. Well, in Hebrews 10:24 the grammar is the same: the direct object of the word “consider” is “one another.” Literally, it says, “Consider the Savior Jesus Christ in one another.”
Consider one another. But this is almost impossible to bring over into English with the rest of the sentence, because it would be so awkward.
It would have to go something like this: “Consider one another toward the stimulating of love and good works.” Now that is terrible English — good Greek word order but terrible English. The best we can do, it seems, is to say, “Consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds.”
But I want you to get this nuance of the original so you can feel the force of this as a daily aim and focus for your life.
Literally, this is God’s call on each of us to consider one another, that is, to look at one another, think about one another, focus on one another, to study one another, to let your mind be occupied with one another. And the goal of this focus on others is to think of ways of stimulating them to love and good deeds.
I ever so strongly urge you to hear God’s word in Hebrews 10:24. When you get up in the morning, Consider — think about, ponder, deliberate, meditate, mull over — other people, with this conscious goal: what can I do today so that they will be stirred up to radical, random, Christian acts love and to good deeds?
Now there is a reason to live and a focus for every day that will never be boring.
Every day is new and different. People change. Their circumstances change. You change. But the call remains the same: consider, consider, consider these people you will be around today.
What are they like? What am I like? What will the situation be like?
What helps a person become more loving?
What is the origin of genuine good deeds?
This is a reason for living that is focused enough to be practical and big enough to last a lifetime.
So, let’s look at the text to find the answer to how we go about this. Verse 24 gives the focus and aim: “Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds.” Then verse 25 gives us instructions how. It says, “not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but also encouraging one another.” Two things. First, don’t neglect to get together.
Second, encourage one another.
When I was growing up, I heard this text referred to most often as an argument for regular attendance at worship services. “Do not forsake the assembling of yourselves together — come to church regularly.”
And that is not a wrong application of the text since one of the most important kinds of encouragements and exhortations we get is from our preaching and our sharing, fellowship and talking of God’s word in the power of God’s Spirit.
(Hebrews 13:22 calls the book of Hebrews a “word of encouragement.”)
But in the context, the kind of coming together in view seems to be one where the members “encourage one another.” Verse 25 is explicit: come together and encourage one another. The “one another” implies that there is something mutual going on. One is encouraging another, and another is encouraging one. Each is doing or saying something that encourages.
If you ask what that corresponds to in our church, I would say the closest thing is the small groups — which is why I regard this ministry as so utterly crucial.
I am a great believer in preaching. There is something about the word of God that begs to be heralded and trumpeted and exulted over — as well as discussed and taught. But I have no illusions preaching is enough in the life of a believer.
The New Testament — and especially this book of Hebrews — calls us again and again to a specific kind of mutual ministry that involves all the believers in encouraging others.
So, I ask you to take stock of your life: Where are you in verse 25?
There are two groups: those who gather to encourage each other, and those who have formed the habit of not gathering.
See that little phrase in verse 25: “Not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some.” Non-participation in a fellowship group can be habit-forming and rather nonproductive to God’s Kingdom aims.
How are we doing?
Which leaves one last question remaining for us to ask ourselves:
What kind of encouragement stimulates others to love and good deeds? It’s not obvious to some that this question has anything to do with God.
Lots of people think that love and good deeds are a good thing to seek after, and many would say that encouraging others is the way to do it — and they might not even be Christians. Or they might be Christians who put little focus on God.
For example, I have repeatedly read where one church was described like this:
“While [the pastor] spoke of sending out missionaries, the feeling was that his congregation existed to heighten only to edify the self-esteem of its members.”
Whether or not that’s an accurate description of that church, the point is this: a lot of churches would try to stimulate love and good deeds that way.
But it’s not even close to being the biblical way.
The key to encouraging love biblically is given in verse 23: “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.”
The key to love, in the New Testament — the kind of love that magnifies God and not man — is hope rooted in the faithfulness of God. Embrace your hope! Cherish your hope! Because I know God is faithful. He keeps all his promises.
Without this kind of faith and hope, sustaining us day by day through all the disheartening frustrations and crushing disappointments, we would not have any strength or energy or joy to stir anybody up to love and good deeds.
But if we bank on God, not on ourselves, we always have that extra something encouraging and hope-giving to say, namely, “God can be absolutely trusted, God can be utterly trusted. I have no strength, but God can be 100% trusted.”
- Make the aim of your life to consider others — study them, know them, figure them out — to the end that you stimulate them to love and good deeds.
- Be sure that you do this by getting together often with other believers for the specific purpose of encouraging each other.
- And let the heart of that encouragement be reminders of how great our hope is in Christ and that God can be trusted.
And as you see the end of the age drawing near, verse 25 says, do this all the more, not less.
As Jesus said, “Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he shall be saved” (Matthew 24:12).
In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,
Let us Pray,
Heavenly Father, thank You for loving me so much that while I was still dead in my trespasses and sins, Christ completed His finished work on the cross… so that by grace through faith in Him, I might have forgiveness of sin and life everlasting.
Thank You, my Savior, for those who taught me about the Lord Jesus and who demonstrated the love of Christ in their own lives – provoking me to love and good works in my own life. Help me to be so in tune with You that others may be provoked unto love and good works through my witness, as Christ lives in me and I in Him. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! AMEN.