Summary: Using the testimony of Bill Bright, I looked topically at being a slave, and how that should affect our service to Him and to others.
Romans 12:11 – Being a Slave of Jesus
Last Saturday a good man died. Oh, lots of people died that day, but this man was different. This man left behind him a legacy of faith and Christ-followers. He will be remembered for Campus Crusade for Christ, a Christian evangelism ministry with its 26,000 full-time employees around the world. He will be remembered for the Four Spiritual Laws, a tract that tells the gospel story in 45 words: "God loves you and offers a wonderful plan for your life./Man is sinful and separated from God, thus cannot know and experience God’s love and plan./Jesus Christ is God’s only provision for man’s sin./We must individually receive Jesus as Savior and Lord." This tract has had 2.5 billion copies distributed worldwide. And he will be remembered for the "JESUS" film, which has been seen around the world by more than 4.2 billion people in 660 languages around the world. This man’s name was Bill Bright.
William R. Bright was born in October1921. He grew up in a church where the pastor was a womanizer and an adulterer. So he assumed that Christianity was all a farce, and he lived as what he called a “happy pagan”. He went to Hollywood to start a candy company, and found the Lord at a Presbyterian church in Hollywood through the influence of a good friend there, a Sunday school pioneer named Henrietta Miers. Soon his fiancee Vonette found the Lord too. This was 1945.
By the end of his life, he had developed pulmonary fibrosis, an incurable lung disease. Yet, even though his health was failing, he said that his “spirit was soaring.” He said this about his death: "The most important moment in anyone’s life as a believer is the last breath, because the next breath is in heaven." And he also said this about the death of any Christian: "For a believer, death should be a time of great celebration, not of sorrow. It is sad only for those who have no hope, no God and no Savior. For loved ones left behind, following the death of a believer, Jesus left a special message: ’... If you really love me, you will be very happy for me, for now I can go to the Father.’ (John 14:28, TLB)"
So what made this man different? How did he accomplish such great things for God? How could he live and die with such confidence? And is there anything we can learn from his example?
This is his testimony: “In my early 20’s - through the influence of the First Christian Church of Hollywood and Dr. Henrietta Miers - I received Christ. I fell in love with Him.
I immediately enrolled in seminary at Princeton, later at Fuller. I really loved the Lord from the very beginning. I was overwhelmed with His love. That I - a sinner - while I was yet in my sins, He died for me. My wife and I were growing together and very busy in serving the Lord. One Sunday afternoon (I’ll not go into details why), God led us to sign a contract - literally to write out a contract of total surrender of our lives to the Lord Jesus Christ - to become His slave. We wrote it out one Sunday afternoon. At the time, I was in business, going to seminary, and had great dreams of serving the Lord Jesus - even though I didn’t know for sure where or how.
About 24 hours later - after we had signed the contract – God, in a special way which words can never describe, gave me a vision we call Campus Crusade for Christ. Had there been no contract, in my opinion, there would never have been a vision. The vision followed the total, absolute surrender of our lives to the Lordship of Christ.
And, of course, He is our example, our model - Philippians 2:7 speaks of Him becoming a slave. The creator of a couple hundred billion galaxies became a man, the God-man. Paul refers to himself in Romans 1:1 “a slave of Jesus Christ”. We felt the most important thing we could do was to become as slaves of Jesus - signing a contract to that effect laid everything we owned or ever would own on the altar, and we’ve been slaves now for 50 some years, and I must tell you it is the most liberating thing that’s ever happened to me.”
Today I want to look at that truth: being a slave of Jesus. Serving Him in all we do. Romans 12:11 says: “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.” Paul called himself the Lord’s servant, as did, John, James, Jude and Peter. Paul also called Epaphras, Tychicus, Phoebe and Timothy all servants of the Lord. The early church writers used the concept of slavery, and its nature of service, to describe what being a Christian was. Today, as we continue thru our summer sermon series on why we do what we do in our worship service, we land squarely on serving God and serving others.