Fundamentals of the Faith
By William Dudley Nowlin, D.D., LL.D.
LOVE THE MOTIVE TO CHRISTIAN SERVICE
The Love of Christ the Only and All-Sufficient Motive to Christian Service, with Rewards for Faithfulness.
No act can be better or worse than the motive which gives it birth, since the motive determines the quality of the act.
The great motive power in all Christian service should be the love of Christ. Paul says (2 Cor. 5:14) “The love of Christ constraineth us.” This “us,” of course, means Christians, for he is writing to the “Church of God,” to “them that are sanctified in Christ,” and as John puts it, to those whose “sins are forgiven for his name’s sake.” This shows that the love of Christ is the constraining motive in Christian service. No other motive is needed or is acceptable in Christian service.
SALVATION A GIFT
Many confuse salvation and service, or salvation and rewards.
Salvation is always spoken of as a gift; never as a reward. “Eternal life is the gift of God,” “Salvation is of grace—not of works” (Eph. 2:8). Paul tells us in 1 Cor. (3:12 to 15) that one man receives a reward for faithful service in addition to his salvation, while another man’s works are l)Urfled, yet he himself saved so as by fire. if this man’s works were all burned up then ho was not saved by works. He suffered loss, but not the loss of salvation, for Paul says he was “saved.” The loss he suffered then was the loss of rewards which would have been his had he been faithful in the right kind of service.
REWARDS ARE FOR FAITHFULNESS
The two men mentioned in the above paragraph by the great apostle were both saved and exactly in the same way—by grace through faith, and that salvation was not of works, lest they should boast. But one man in addition to his salvation had rewards for faithfulness. These rewards did not procure nor secure his salvation, but were in addition to his salvation.
The procuring cause in each case was the same, and the securing power in each case was the same, but the faithfulness was different, and so the rewards were different.
That which depends upon God (your salvation) you cannot lose, but that which depends upon your faithfulness (your rewards) you may lose.
FUNDAMENTALS OF THE FAITH
If salvation should be lost by one after receiving it, by a failure to serve, this very loss would prove that salvation was not a gift, but a barter.
LOVE THE CONSTRAINING POWER
There are but three motives to service, so far as this writer knows. And they are the FEAR OF PUNISHMENT, the HOPE OF REWARD, and LOVE. One or more of these three motives is back of all intelligent action. The one who serves from a sense of fear renders a slavish service, and one who serves for rewards, renders a selfish service, but he who serves because he loves is moved by the noblest impulse that ever stirred God, angels or men. Perfect love is with out fear and without selfishness; it is God-like. “There is no service like that of him who serves because he loves.”
With many people the motive for service is either, or both, to escape the punishment of hell, or to gain heaven. With Baptists it is neither. They know that the question of salvation is settled, which means hell escaped and heaven gained, which leaves them free to serve from an entirely different motive—LOVE. Those who serve from a sense of love are far more careful and accurate in their obedience than those who serve from a sense of gain or loss. Those who serve from a sense of gain or loss substitute for strict obedience, where it suits their convenience, saying: “We suffer no loss by it,” but Baptists serving from a sense of love must render perfect obedience, not considering the question of gain or loss; not considering the question of inconvenience, for it is suffering that proves our love. These tests were given by our Lord to prove his people’s love. We are not to be “crowned” because we “strive,” but because we “strive lawfully” (See 2 Tim. 2:5). These tests given to God’s people determine their faithfulness. They show whether we are willing to make our Lord first and our obedience to him complete or not. Love never asks “how little obedience can I get by with,” but “how much can I render” — not “what else can I escape,” but “what more can I do”? My dear reader, is love the great motive power in your Christian life If not you are not rendering a perfect obedience, which means the highest Christian service and the greatest Christian joy.