Isaiah 6:1-8 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. 2 Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one cried to another and said: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!" 4 And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke. 5 Then I said: "Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts." 6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. 7 And he touched my mouth with it, and said: "Behold, this has touched your lips; your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged." 8 Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: "Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?" Then I said, "Here am I! Send me."

Several weeks ago, we examined a few aspects of Biblical Worship. Even though we did not have the time to do an exhaustive study, we learned several things about worship.

One thing we learned about worship was that no real worship takes place, unless it produces a change in the life, to be more like the One we are worshiping. There are many areas of our lives in which true worship will produce change, some of those areas are:

Today, I would like to continue our study of another area that proper worship will change.

True worship will produce a proper attitude about Service

Worship and service are vital parts of God’s total program, called redemption. As a matter of fact, there is no way to separate worship and service into two completely individual categories.

You might say, these are two sides of the same coin. Like so many areas of the Christian life, service is difficult to properly describe, using only human and physical models. So for this phase of our study, we want to examine briefly two Biblical personalities, and their attitudes and actions in the realm of Spiritual service.

As we look at these two Biblical personalities, we will incorporate Biblical teachings concerning service. This should help us to get a better handle on the true meaning of this Biblical teaching.

In preparation for today’s lesson, I asked you to look at Hebrews 11 and make yourself a "personal" list of some of the ways you are like those "Faith Greats", and list some way you are not like them. Then after you had a good look at the lists, you were to tear them up, because those lists were only for your eyes and God’s eyes.

If you performed that little exercise, you are well prepared for the next few lessons. If you didn’t get around to the "lists", I trust that you will make a running list in your mind, as we continue the study.

So, what Bible character do you think you identify with more than any other? As I pointed out in the last lesson, many of us would like to resemble people like...

However, if we are to be perfectly honest, we probably are more like the characters found in some of Jesus’ parables or miracles, especially the publican, whose only plea was "God, be merciful to me a sinner." Or we might see ourselves as the centurion, who considered himself "unworthy."

Any one of the personalities named or referred to in Hebrews 11 would make a good study, as they relate to service. However, for our study, I would like to direct our attention towards two personalities who are not mentioned by name, but only referred as a group, along with many others.

Hebrews 11:32-34 And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: 33 who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.

Look at a partial list of "services" preformed by those mentioned in the above verses...

Many of us want to "subdue" "quench" and make armies "run". Yes, 6 out of 9 in that list are really appealing, aren’t they? But if we look carefully at those things, well, just maybe they aren’t as appealing as they seemed at first glance.

I’m not too sure--now that I think of it--that I really want to "STOP" the mouths of lions, or that "bit" about quenching the "violence" of fire… By faith? It might not be so bad, if I had the whole city Fire Department behind me, but out there all by myself with the only piece of firefighting equipment being faith?!?

Then there is that part about escaping the "edge" of the sword… whew! That’s getting up close and personal! It not quite like watching TV. You know, now that I give that list a real good look, I think the services described there might be better assigned to someone else, anyone else, but not me! Maybe, Biblical service is not all it has been "cracked" up to be.

Biblical Service

Biblical service, like almost every other aspect of the Christian life, has been "sugar-coated", to make it acceptable to the majority. Too often we’ve made service so acceptable that it doesn’t even resemble Biblical service.

Sad as it is, 2 in that list of 9 would not even be considered service, by some. Yet, those two are possibly the most potent and of greater importance than all the rest.

One of these two is "active" the other is "passive".

Worked = (Greek) To toil as an occupation (active)

This Greek word is used often in the New Testament, some 35 times. Here are a couple of examples.

Matthew 7:23 "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'
Matthew 21:28 "But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, 'Son, go, work today in my vineyard.'
Obtained = (Greek) To attain because one chanced upon it (passive)

This Greek word is used only 4 times in the New Testament. Here are a couple of examples.

Hebrews 6:13 For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, 14 saying, "Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you." 15 And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.
James 4:2 You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.

Abraham "obtained" the promise after he did something. That something was to patiently endure. Those to whom James was writing could not "obtain", because they did the wrong things.

Two factors involved in Biblical service.

Look at the first part of Hebrew 11 and we will see how the Holy Spirit sets the stage for the "how" of service.

Hebrews 11:1-7 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 2 For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. 3 By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible. 4 By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks. 5 By faith Enoch was translated so that he did not see death, "and was not found because God had translated him"; for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. 6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. 7 By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.

If we are to share in the reality of Biblical service, as these in Hebrews 11, then there are several things that must be true in our lives. We see two of those in verse 6.

We must truly believe that GOD is    

Most of us have no real problem with this command to believe that God is. However, there is much more involved in this statement than just that God exists. We must believe that God is all that He says He is. We are looking at some of the things God says He is in our study of Redemption and the Essence of God.

The next phrase of this command, gives some people a little problem.

We must truly believer that God is a rewarder  
Rewarder = (Greek) A remunerator; One who pays for services; One who pays for work preformed

Remember what is being presented in this passage, by the Holy Spirit. Those who would come to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder.

Obviously by the context, those "coming" are not coming for a Spiritual New Birth. Instead, all those mentioned in the passage are already believers in God and serving Him faithfully. These mentioned in this passage, have served in such a manner as to be pleasing to God.

With that background, the Holy Spirit want us, who are also Believers, to know how we too, can please God.

This is not a insignificant point!!  

The Holy Spirit says without faith it is impossible to please God. Then comes that big word "for". "For" is part of a phrase indicating that what follows is a description of what proceeded, and/or is the cause of what proceeded.

If we want to come to God with a faith that pleases we must believe! This is an imperative! There is no room for any other opinion. That is not just what I think. Look at verse 6 and note again the words of impossible and must.

There are some who say of serving Christ, that it really doesn’t matter much because what we do during this lifetime has consequences for this life only and has no benefit or judgment in the life hereafter. That just flat-out denies a vast portion of the Word of God. However, such a humanist theory is embraced by many today, because it takes some of the "stress" out of living. Such a theory brings stress reduction, by saying that there is no need to have pressure in life to live up to Biblical standards, and there are no real consequences for failing to follow the Biblical admonitions, telling us to avoid certain practices.

Such a theory, is a rejection of the teaching of the Word of God from Genesis to Revelation  

It is not my purpose to countermand such an obvious rejection of overwhelming Scriptural evidence. However, in our study of the two personalities referred to in Hebrews 11, we will see the falsity of such a theory.

If we are to have any understanding of true Biblical service, we must recognize the fact of these two imperatives of Hebrews 11:6. It is impossible to please God without faith. Incorporated within true faith is the belief that...

A Rewarder

In our study of Redemption and the aspect of the Essence of God, we will be looking more closely at the facts of who God is. Therefore, I will not examine that truth further at this time. However, it is very needful to see that God is a Rewarder. Look carefully, again at the Greek definition of the word "rewarder" as given earlier in this lesson. If we are to come to God in pleasing faith and service, we must believe that God is one who…

It is not our purpose, at this time, to examine the fact that God rewards both proper service and improper service, But proper and improper will be justly rewarded by God.

Proverbs 11:18 The wicked man does deceptive work, but to him who sows righteousness will be a sure reward.
Matthew 5:11-12"Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 "Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Just in passing, those who falsely teach, that what we do here on earth has no real consequences for eternity, just might have a problem with this passage and dozens and dozens more. Unless I can’t read or the Holy Spirit had problems communicating what He wanted to get across, I believe this passage clearly states that what happens here on earth has real consequences in the life hereafter. If that is not what the passage says, then I trust someone will show me the true meaning, because I don’t want to be guiltily of being a false teacher. If that is what the passage does say, then those who hold otherwise had better change, because they are presently teaching falsehoods.

Matthew 6:1-5 "Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. 2 "Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 3 "But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 "that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly. 5 "And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.

Notice verse 1. The reward comes from our Father in heaven. Those being addressed, in verse 1, are believers, because it states that God is their Father. It is important to see in verse 2, 3 and 5 that at least part of the reward for improper actions takes place on this earth. Verse 4 also points out that some of the reward for proper actions will be given during this lifetime.

In Matthew 5, we saw that there are rewards for proper actions given in heaven, and in Matthew 6, we see that there are also some rewards given during time for proper actions.

Matthew 10:41-42 "He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward. And he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward. 42 "And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward."

Without taking a lot of time, it is needful see that "position" is not the most important factor in this process of rewards from God. The important factor, in this rewards process, is not the type of action performed, but the quality and condition of the heart attitude when the action takes place. Also note, there is the possibility of losing rewards that could and should have been ours (vs 42b).

However, for this part of our study, the main thing I want us to see is that the "playing field" is level for all participants. Just because a person has a "higher" position (whatever that is) does not mean they will have greater rewards. As a matter of fact, having a "higher" position can be a determent when it come to rewards and punishment.

James 3:1My brethren, let not many of you become teachers (headmaster or instructor), knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.

You see, to those to whom "much" has been entrusted, "much" is required. I have placed on the table a number of seemingly unrelated truths. However, these things play a very important role in the total picture of Biblical service. I trust you will keep them in the back of your minds as we study. Some of these truths will be referred to as we study, others are only for background.

Faithful Servants

Let’s turn our attention to the two Biblical Servants who were faithful in their service and did, and will yet obtain rewards as a result of that proper service. From their lives, we can draw many lesson to help in our service for God through the church. The two lives we want to examine are not mentioned by name in the list of "Faith Greats", but are included in a general title of "Prophets". A fact that goes contrary to the popular thinking of "great" service and "great" rewards. We will need to examine the lives of these two more closely than just a passing glance.

Remember, the criteria for Biblical service and the resulting rewards is the heart attitude, not just the actions. Therefore, we will need to examine the Biblical commentary concerning the attitudes of these two.


When you made your list of which of the "faith greats" you were like, did you happen to pick Elijah? We may not be like Elijah in actions or attitude, but we are all like him in our nature.

James 5:17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months.

Remember, I said that the "playing field" was level for all Believer as we participate in Biblical service. Elijah did "great" things for God. He did those great things for God, not because he was a great person. Elijah, who was like us in nature, became one the "faith greats" because of what God did through him, not because of what he did for God.

1 Kings 17:1 And Elijah the Tishbite, of the inhabitants of Gilead, said to Ahab, "As the LORD God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word."

Elijah pops up on the Biblical scene without fanfare. As a matter of fact, we don’t hear of Elijah until we see him standing before king Ahab with the declaration concerning the coming drought. We are introduced to Elijah through this dramatic appearance. No resume, no work history, no record of his schooling—just "Hi! Here I am, and you, Ahab, are going to be thirsty for a while." Elijah is mentioned several times in the New Testament. Jesus and Paul used Elijah as examples. John the Baptist was said to have the "spirit and power of Elijah". Some in the nation of Israel thought that Jesus might be Elijah, the great prophet. Elijah was one of the two who came back from heaven to be with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration.

As we will see in the first part of this Old Testament account, Elijah seems to be a super human. In the first "scene" of Elijah’s appearance, he seems to have unbounded moral strength. Certainly, no one would question his devotion to God or his ability to be a spokesman for God. With such credentials, you would think that the Holy Spirit would have at least dedicated one book to his life and exploits. However, there are only a few chapters in the Bible devoted to the life of Elijah. Most of the Biblical space, given to this great man, is describing, what we would consider, his weakness and the low valley of his life, not his great exploits for God.

Ah, yes!! Elijah was a man with a nature very much like ours!  

Yet, he served God and was used mightily by God. That should give us courage to a "faith that pleases" God.

If I was going to write a story of such a great man, I would have put in a few more details about his dramatic facial features as he delivered such a message to the king. And of course, I would have described in detail the reactions of Ahab. Those are human interest factors that are needed to keep the ratings up and the viewers coming back, you know.

In God’s "drama", there were none of those extras, just the facts. I think it is interesting to see that when Elijah went to Ahab with this information, he had no plan beyond the delivery of the message. There was no escape plan. He was not escorted by bodyguards. He didn’t have an FBI back-up team.

God told him to go, and he went. That’s faith!! If we believe that God is all He says He is, then we can do what God says without all that human manipulation.

If we believe that God is, then we can trust His message, and we can also trust His "after plan", even if we don’t know what it is. Of course, most of us want the "after plan" to bring fame, riches and full comfort.

However, if we believe the Bible, most of God’s "after plans" do not bring fame, riches and full comfort, at least not in this life. Therefore, we often "water down" God’s message, so there will be greater acceptance by the world and worldly Believers.

Folks, if we "water down" God’s message, it is not God’s message. I don’t care how many riches may come our way because of such a watered down message.

Surely, Elijah had his TV tuned to Fox News or perish the thought CNN, and he knew that Ahab had a nasty habit of killing anyone who was a prophet of God, and especially anyone who would dare bring a message of guilt and punishment.

It is very possible and probable that Elijah obeyed God by bringing the message and was willing and fully expecting to give his life for his effort. That’s not something many would be willing to do for God.

Job 13:15 Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.…

Many are willing to serve, if it is convenient and doesn’t cost them too much. Such an attitude is not service for God! It is instead religious service for our own benefit.

Elijah didn’t have an exit plan, because God hadn’t given him a handbook outlining the next three years of the plan. But God is all He says He is, and He knows the end from the beginning, and yes, God did have a plan, but it would be revealed to Elijah one step at a time.

1 Kings 17:2-6 Then the word of the LORD came to him, saying, 3 "Get away from here and turn eastward, and hide by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan. 4 "And it will be that you shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there." 5 So he went and did according to the word of the LORD, for he went and stayed by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan. 6 The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening; and he drank from the brook.

Or in other words...Then the Word of the Lord came and God said, "Thanks Elijah! Now here is the next stage."

John 7:17 "If anyone wants to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority.

Do you want to hear from God? Then do what He said first. Why would God tell you something more when you haven’t done what He told you in the first place?

The word of the Lord came, so Elijah went and did. That’s the proper attitude. When we Believers hear the Word of the Lord, then we, too, need to "get-to-doing". Too many Christians just keep on hearing the word, and just keep on doing nothing. When the word of the Lord comes, it always demands actions of some kind. So often, what the word of God says to do is, without a doubt, the most unrealistic things you’ve ever heard (from a human perspective).

"Go down to the Brook Cherith and I’ve told the ravens to feed you." "You told raven to feed me. Yea, right!!!" That would be the response of most of us, and maybe that’s why our names are not in the "Hall of the Faithful Ones"

© Clyde White, Austin TX, 2005