- Preaching the Living WORD through the Written WORD - 2 Tim 4:2 -
FIVE KEYS TO SPIRITUAL GROWTH
I. THE IMPORTANCE OF SERVICE TO SPIRITUAL GROWTH
A. Service Is Equivalent To Worship
1. In A General Sense
a) One of the words used for “serve” is latreúō. Latreúō in its original meaning meant work or labor; usually hired work or work that receives wages.
b) At some point, the word began to be used for religious service or duty. That emphasis remained into the New Testament.
c) The word also came to be a synonym for worship or following the Lord. This was the general sense of the word.
d) Some examples of latreúō being a synonym of worship would be:
(1) From the LXX, Joshua’s decision to follow the Lord (Jos 24:15).
(2) From the NT, Jesus’ explanation of Deu 6:13 (Mat 4:10) and worship in heaven (Rev 7:15; 22:3).
(3) It was also used for conduct (Luk 1:74; Heb 9:14) and other forms of worship (Luk 2:37).
2. In A Specific Sense
a) There was also a specific sense in which latreúō was used for specific service or labor and not just worship in general.
b) The word was specifically used with the religious duty of the priests when doing the work of sacrificing (Rom 9:4; Heb 9:9; 10:2, 11).
c) The word was used for specific service and labor for the Lord such as preaching the Gospel (Rom 1:9).
d) One could make the conclusion that service is a very vital and reasonable “service (latreúō) of worship” (Rom 12:1 NASB). Without service, there really is no true worship or following the Lord. Without worship or service, there is little or no spiritual growth.
B. Service Is Exemplifying Christ
1. If we were to look at the life of Christ and try to find several overriding themes, servanthood would have to be at the top of the list.
2. Christ, though He is God, took the form of a servant in order to accomplish man’s redemption (Phil 2:6-8). In this context, the word is doúlos, which means a servant or bond-slave. It has reference to unquestioning obedience.
3. In a similar thought, Jesus stated in Mat 20:28 that concerning His earthly ministry, He did not come to be served but to serve. Here, diakonéō is used for the word serve. The basic meaning of diakonéō is a servant who runs errands. It also is the root for the position of “Deacon,” in the local church (diákonos, i.e. Deacon).
4. Therefore, if the believer is being conformed to the image of Christ, then he is being conformed to that of a servant engaged in service. A believer then is growing spiritually when he is increasingly becoming a servant engaged in service.
C. Service Is Exhibiting Spiritual Gifts
1. When a believer is engaged in service for the Lord, he is inevitably using his spiritual gifts. The very purpose for spiritual gifts is to bring about spiritual growth in the life of believers.
2. This spiritual growth is called edification (oikōdomên from oikos-house & domê-build, literally “build a house.”) which means to build up the body of Christ (1Co 14:3-5, 12, 26).
3. In fact, one of the spiritual gifts is the gift of “service” (NASB). McRae defines “service or helps” as the special ability to serve faithfully behind the scenes, in practical ways, to assist in the work of the Lord, encourage, and strengthen others spiritually.
4. Serving the Lord in any capacity brings spiritual growth to the server because he is being used by the Lord. The purpose for service is to bring spiritual growth and maturity to the body of Christ (Eph 4:11-12).
II. THE APPLICATION OF SERVICE TO SPIRITUAL GROWTH
A. Service Is Co-Laboring With God
1. One of the most exciting considerations about the christian’s service is that he is a co-laborer (sunergói - fellow & workers) with God.
2. God does not need the believer’s help to save or sanctify anyone. What is amazing is that He chooses to do those things with the cooperation of saved sinners (1Co 3:9; 1Th 3:2).
3. Furthermore, we are co-laborers in Christ with other believers (Rom 16:3, 9; Phil 2:25; 4:3).
B. Service Is Accomplished In Various Ways
1. There are many ways to serve the Lord in general ministries. For instance, we can serve the Lord in what could be called very mundane ways; helping on projects, helping organize, helping clean, helping cook, opening up your home for fellowships or for accommodations for other servants of God. The list goes on and on. The key is in the motivation for doing what we do. If it is done to glorify the Lord, then it is a service for the Lord.
2. There are also many ways to serve the Lord in specific ministries. For instance, we can serve the Lord in what could be called very specific ways.
a) Teaching in your home, church (devotionals or classes).
b) Evangelizing co-workers, neighbors, or strangers on the street.
c) Initiating or participating in ministries in the local church.
d) Giving to the church and individuals.
e) Praying which is a vital ministry for any church or believer.
C. Service Is Not In Vain
1. No one is too old, too inferior, too poor, too far gone in failure and sin, or too useless to serve the Lord and be in His service.
2. All believers are by default in full-time Christian service.
3. Ultimately, all service and labor for the Lord is never in vain (1Co 15:58).
D. 5 Keys To Spiritual Growth
1. These five keys will unlock the way to spiritual growth.
2. Neglect one or all and there will be some decline in one’s spiritual life. Work on all five and the believer will flourish in his spiritual life.
3. The five keys are: