Serving Acceptably

Serving Acceptably
Robert Wurtz II

“See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.” Now this, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:25–29 NKJV)

In our passage the writer to the Hebrews is bringing his teaching to a close. He reminds us of a time when the earth trembled at Mount Sinai and then turns our attention to the fact that someday God will shake – not just the earth (as He did there), but also Heaven. 

God has not changed since the time of Moses. In fact, He has never changed. The way in which He has dealt with man has changed, but He has not. Therefore, one truth still remains; our God is a consuming fire. The Israelites learned this when Nadab and Abihu presumed to offer strange fire before the Lord. This ought to arrest our undivided attention. However, some would say that that was the Old Testament God and our New Testament God is much nicer. Really? What if we tell that to Ananias and Sapphira? They were smitten dead one by one by God in Acts 5. Then there was Herod in Acts 12 that was smitten dead by the angel because he gave not God the glory. One chapter later Elymas the sorcerer tried to stumble a man in the faith and Paul, being full of the Holy Ghost, smote him with blindness for a season. These and other events led what the book of Acts describes as the fear of God “coming on” or “being upon” the people (Acts 2:43, 5:5, 5:11, 9:31, 13:16, 19:17).  

A Right Attitude Towards God

In Hebrews 12:28, Godly fear is described as follows: The word deos (fear) is the apprehension of danger as in a primitive forest. “When the voice and tread of a wild beast are distinctly heard close at hand the deos becomes phobos” (Vincent quoted in Robertson). Some believe this is too strong, but that is more the result of the enemies success in redefining the characteristics of God in this crisis hour. A cursory read of the Gospels will set our mind aright if we will allow the plain reading of the text to impress us. Consider these verses:

And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him. (Luke 12:4-5 emphasis added)

But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me. (Luke 19:27 emphasis added)
Luke was Paul’s right hand man. In fact, he was the only person still with him near the time of his martyrdom (2 Timothy 4:11). Theologians would call Luke’s approach to the Gospel “Lucan Theology.” Some theologians believe he also wrote Hebrews, but this is debatable. Nevertheless, can two walk together except they be agreed? Luke wrote the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts. The theology is consistent- even unto the writing of Hebrews and elsewhere. 

Paul summarized the wicked in one sentence; There is no fear of God before their eyes. (Romans 3:18) By implication, the righteous have the fear of God before their eyes. How does it get there? It has to be cultivated by reading God’s word and refraining from influences that originate in the wicked. If we entertain ourselves with their drivel, it won’t be long and the fear of God will be gone from our eyes too (see Romans 12:1ff). It’s all part of the enemies strategy to encourage people into defying God. The demons believe and tremble, but they do everything in their power to keep you and eye from doing it.  

 Why Should We Worship Acceptably With Reverence, etc?

We are all headed for a great meeting. John the Baptist asked the question, “who has warned you to flee the wrath that is to come?” Likewise, the hymn writer Augustus Toplady penned the marvelous words… “Rock of ages cleft for me, let me hide myself in Thee.” Flee the wrath? Hide myself in Thee? Flee and hide from what? It is a terrible thing to consider. 

Nevertheless, the Kingdom we have received cannot be shaken. As a consequence to this we are to be gracious (thankful) to God and are to serve Him acceptably with reverence and godly fear. In light of who He is and what He has done, it is the only sensible thing to do. But what does it mean to serve God thankfully in a way that is acceptable?

Acceptable Service 

Our Greek word for acceptable is only used once in the New Testament and it means to serve God in a way that is well pleasing to Him. This is the great truth of the New Testament. We are to live our lives so as to please God. This is Bible based, God-centered service. Worship is not a form of entertainment because entertainment is for our enjoyment- not God’s. So when we think of service being acceptable, we need to employ means and methodology that assist us in pleasing God- not ourselves. What does God accept? What does God want? 

Moreover, we ought not to think of worship and praise as a pastime. The enemy is very sneaky. He has managed to package so-called worship in the most shocking ways. He has twisted the minds of people to think that God desires the same type of glorification as is given celebrities (men and women). This is why some forms of so-called praise are very similar to the high energy workouts of the weight loss videos of the 80s and 90s. Other forms are similar to the dance clubs where the DJ calls the people to the dance floor to get their praise dance on. It is a profanation of holy things and a redefining of a sacred Godly service. We have to be discerning enough to see how these things are man-centered and man-pleasing. If they are done for our enjoyment or to help us feed the need to emulate past worldly activities with a sterilized version of the same, we are in error. That’s not being critical, it is common sense. 

If God and heaven are being shaken until only what cannot be shaken is left, how ought we to approach the service of God? Would you accept advice from the enemy? How about this world that hates God? Why would we ever allow something to influence our service to God that originated in the enemies camp? That would be like trying to please your wife under the advice of your ex-girlfriend. Peter said it more authoritatively; Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? (2 Peter 3:11-12 NKJV)

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