Posted by: rcottrill | November 28, 2011

Ye Servants of God

Words: Charles Wesley (b. Dec. 18, 1707; d. Mar. 29, 1788)
Music: Hanover, by William Croft (b. _____, 1678; d. Aug. 14, 1727)

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: This hymn was written by Wesley to encourage Christians in a time of great persecution. Stanzas CH-2 and 3, omitted now from our hymn books, specifically address that problem. (You can see a fuller explanation on the Wordwise Hymns link.) The tune Hanover was at first thought to have been written by Handel, but it seems likely Croft was the composer.

Believers are referred to as “servants of God” many times in the Scriptures. Both the Old Testament Hebrew (ebed) and New Testament Greek (doulos), identify one who is a willing slave of the Lord. Moses is described as “the servant of God” more than a dozen times (e.g. I Chron. 6:49; Rev. 15:3). The Apostle Paul likewise speaks of himself this way–often at the beginning of his letters (e.g. Rom. 1:1; Phil. 1:1; Tit. 1:1). Other apostles do the same (Jas. 1:1; II Pet. 1:1; Jude 1:1).

The people of Israel are described as “the servants of the Lord” (Isa. 54:17), and a similar expression is used of Christians. We are to be “not lagging in diligence, [but] fervent in spirit, serving the Lord” (Rom. 12:11), “bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart” (Eph. 6:6). Though we have freedom in Christ, we should “not [be] using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God” (I Pet. 2:16). As Paul’s ministry illustrates, we ought to be “serving the Lord with all humility (Acts 20:19), since to do so is a great privilege, granted by His grace.

The Bible teaches (Heb. 13:15-16), and Wesley’s hymn affirms, that as servants of God we have both a manward and Godward responsibility. (The call to love God and love others fits this dual emphasis, Matt. 22:37-39.) To put it another way, we could say that the duties of the church, and of the servants of Christ individually, involve three “E’s.” We are to exalt the Saviour, edify (build up) the saints, and evangelize sinners.

In our ministry to others, we are to share the gospel and other truths of God’s Word, both with our fellow-believers, and with the unsaved (II Tim. 4:2; I Pet. 3:15; cf. Acts 20:20).

CH-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.

CH-4) 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.

In addition to our witness to others, our Godward responsibility (which will continue on through eternity) is to praise and glorify Him (Ps. 103:1-2; 107:1-2; Col. 3:16; Rev. 19:5).

CH-5) “Salvation to God, who sits on the throne”
Let all cry aloud and honour the Son;
The praises of Jesus the angels proclaim,
Fall down on their faces and worship the Lamb.

CH-6) Then let us adore and give Him His right,
All glory and power, all wisdom and might;
All honour and blessing with angels above,
And thanks never ceasing and infinite love.

1) What do you believe is the greatest hindrance in our ministering effectively to others?

2) What would it take for us to praise the Lord more, and be more thankful, day by day?

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal


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