Bible Lesson 138

Slaves for Christ

“If anyone wishes to come to Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” Luke 9:23

“John MacArthur expertly and lucidly explains that Jesus frees us from bondage, into a royal slavery, that we might be His possession. Those who would be His children must, paradoxically , be willing to be His slaves.” R.C. Sproul

This month we will take up a subject that has almost disappeared from the scene in our churches and our minds. The subject concerns our relationship to Christ, which begins at our birth as His enemies because of our sinful nature. I suppose that we should first, define and identify just what a slave really is, as it is mentioned in the Bible.

Translators have almost universally replaced the title slave because to most people it speaks of an ungodly, enslavement of humans who are treated with much disrespect and punishment. That is of course, true in many instances but we must understand that many who were thought of as slaves were really servants, both captive, purchased, and what was known as indentured slaves.

What, people who would change the Word of God to deny the reality of the times, wanted to do was to sanitize the Word of God to make it more acceptable to sinners. Slaves are a reality, both then and now, because there is always the rich and powerful, those somewhere between poor and rich, and those who for many different reasons are extremely poor.

What we must understand, for the purposes of this lesson, is that Slaves as spoken of in a multitude of verses in the modern Bible, is a dodge or an attempt to make a slave something that we are going to be looking at today.

Has there ever been a time when slaves were mistreated’ Certainly, but there are people who were mistreated who were not slaves, then and now today. What most who rebel at the sight of the word slave will not understand is that slaves have their own world and because of education, place of birth, nation of origin, and sometimes their belief system, if they were not slaves they would perish.

Even the worst of slave owners kept their slaves in good physical health by feeding them, and tending to their medical needs, just as a farmer today takes care of a tractor or harvester, that cost him many thousands of dollars

We must understand that some slaves were happy to have the opportunity to be slaves because it bettered their chances for long life. Some were even paid wages and some when they completed their term of indenture would volunteer to remain a slave because they love their master (bondservant). If you stop to think about it most of us who have ever worked in a job, were more slave than we would like to admit, since we had to devote a major part of every day to the person we worked for.
For the purposes of this lesson, let’s forget that there has ever been slaves in the world. That won’t change the fact that we have all been born into an imperfect world, but it will allow us to examine and understand our position with Christ. Now, this lesson won’t sit well with many people who read it because they live a life of denial and slavery comes too close to identifying their real state in life. That will not keep me from writing and letting everyone know that for Christians (slaves of Christ), we cherish the title slave of Jesus Christ. We as people who follow Jesus Christ, call ourselves Christians; but did you know that the word Christian only appears three times in the Bible’ (Acts 11:26; Acts26:28; 1st Peter 4:16).

Christians was used three time to describe the followers of Jesus Christ; in all other instances the words Disciple, slave/servant was used. How can we be sure that it is important for us to understand the Greek word that was translated in our English Bibles meant slave’ Why isn’t the words servant good enough’ The reason that servant does not fit is that the Greek word that is translated was ‘doulos’ and it always means slave, never does it mean servant, or anything else. Incidentally the Word doulos (slave) was used over 700 times in the Bible and it always means slave. My question to those who resent the term slave when it applied to themselves or even to others, is, how can you claim to be a Christian, when you reject being Christ’s slave’

Let’s just think about what we are told in the Bible, and see if you can still call yourself a Christian and not think of yourself as a slave of Christ’ The slavery that accrues to every born again Christian is a blessed slavery, a rewarding slavery, a slavery that has eternity in heaven as it’s reward. Who would not be willing to serve as a slave to a Master who never gives a command that is not in the slave’s best interest’ Who would not serve a risen Savior who was willing to substitute Himself on the cross to redeem his slaves from eternal suffering’ Who would not be a slave to the King of Glory’

Does the slave to Christ every gain His freedom’ The answer is that the slave of Christ would refuse what we know as freedom, because only the Slaves of Christ are free. Christians, all Christians without exception are in “Christ’s yoke, and that yoke is easy, and His burden is light”

(Matthew 11:28-30). It almost seems to me that many of the people who have been instrumental in translating the Bible would say that they do not mind being in Jesus yoke, but they do not like the word slave. There are only two things that are required to make a slave and one is the person who will submit and the other is the master. Master is a term used often in the Word of God to explain the relationship of the Christian to Jesus Christ. In the gospel of John, after the Lord Jesus Christ had washed the feet of His disciples He said to them’. “You call Me Master and Lord; and you say well for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.” (John 13:13-14 KJV). Most of the people who ever attempt to witness the gospel to a sinner will at one time or another quote Romans 10:9-10, which says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” So many who have used that verse have quoted it without really understanding what it means. We quote the verse but we don’t understand that it is saying that who comes to Jesus must come ready to be His slave. Look again at that verse nine, and see if it does not call Jesus Christ Lord of those who call on His name’ We do not come to Him calling Him pal, or buddy, but Lord and the Lord does what He pleases and the slave does what he is commanded. For those who Jesus saves, He becomes Savior and Lord! Jesus does not become Lord where we will let Him reign but in every part of our lives. Jesus will not be Lord of part of our life, He will be Lord of all or He will not be Lord at all. Can you say without any hesitation that you are a child of God today’ If you can you are a slave. Lord in the Greek (Kyrios) means master, and it appears almost 700 times in the New Testament.

Jesus Christ was the One and Only Son of God, He was God in the flesh, but He functioned as the servant of slave of God, the Father. More than a few times Jesus claimed divinity and equality with the Father, because He was one with Him; however in His role as God in the flesh, He always did what the Father asked Him to do, including becoming sin and a curse for us in order to die and redeem us from sin. We mentioned a moment ago the word Kyrios, and we had mentioned several times the word doulos and they are two side of the same relationship. In order for a person to be a doulos (slave), He required a kyrios, or (Master). The question now becomes’do you, and I have a kyrios or Master’ If the answer is no then we are lost and blind and going to hell; because we are under the wrath of God. (Ephesians 2:1-4).

Probably our most immediate problem in the world today is the fact that we have begun to look at the Bible as we look at any other book, so we feel free to edit it or critique it or even disregard it when we do not agree with some parts of it. That has led us to the place where many churches and probably most church members have begun to feel the wrath of God against their laxity about their relationship (no relationship at all) with Christ. We need to ask ourselves how a Master normally gained the possession of a slave. In most cases slaves were bought and sold in slave markets. Most of these were somewhere around a seaport where sailing ships could dock and disgorge their load of captive slaves, who then went to market like another goods. Now ask yourself how you became a slave to Christ. You are a slave to Jesus Christ, if you were purchased by Him as He died on the cross. (Acts 20:28; Ephesians 1:13-14). Being the slave of Jesus Christ is very different in most ways than being a purchased slave of a human; because the slave of Jesus Christ has been set free from the world and the worldly.

We live in this world but we do not live like the world. We are free; but gladly and freely follow in the footprints of Christ. We who are slaves of Christ are a peculiar people because we have been purchased out of sin and eternal condemnation to serve and glorify our Savior. We read from First Peter 2:9-10… “but you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people, that you should show forth the praises of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light: which in times past were not a people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.” Isn’t that a wonderful thing to contemplate, by becoming the slave of Christ, we have become a peculiar (a purchased possession of the Master), people. We once were in darkness and sin but have been brought into the light in order that we would glorify God, through obedience to His Son Jesus Christ.

God has left us explicit instructions about our situation as slaves to Christ, and in Titus 2:11-14, we read this “For the grace of God that brings salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ; who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” There we have it and from the Word of God, the Bible, about how we as slaves of God are to glorify Him as we live in this world that is so black with sin and evil. All of Christ’s slaves (everyone who is purchased out of sin), knows that God has given them the power and the will to run away from sin. The same grace that saved us becomes our teacher and it teaches us to deny ungodliness, and worldly lust, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world’looking forward to that time that Christ will split the eastern sky and come back for His own; but in wrath to judge those who neglected so great salvation. You may ask ‘who has neglected this great salvation, and the answer is simply ‘. all those who have for many different reasons refused to submit to the Master of Salvation and become His slaves.

The major reason that people neglect true salvation today is that we have become lazy and apathetic and we do not study the Bible, which is the inerrant Word of God. We have been offered some very diverse alternatives by those who are not called of God, but who occupy Pulpits in churches where so many in the congregation have itching ears and will not accept anything other than platitudes and promises. It is my prayer that you do not occupy such a congregation; because we who live today have for the most part attempted to bring down God to our level and we think that He is such a one as we are. What an arrogant and ignorant way to think about the Creator God, who simply spoke and all the worlds that exist around us came into being.

What a cheap way to think about our very own Creator, who has paid the price for the sins of those who will obey Him and now allow them to serve Him as His bond/slaves (because we love Him who first loved us). When have you ever seen a potter make a bowl or jug and then seen that thing that was created, begin to attempt to manipulate the one who made it. Thats where we are today in so much of the visible church, we have become a group of people made up of cheap grace believers who thought that they were able to save themselves.

They profess but do not possess, they talk, what sounds like the talk, but they are never able to walk the walk, required of Christ’s slaves. See Romans 9:20-23).Apparently our problem is that we have in so many situations begun to believe that God must answer to us, that God must explain Himself in a way that is acceptable to man, that God is responsible to man, rather than man responsible to God. How many times have I heard someone who professes to believe and calls themselves Christian say something like’ ” God would not be fair if He elected some and did not elect everyone” or God is too loving to send anyone to hell. That my brothers and sisters is clear evidence that the person who said that knows nothing about God.

Many or most, never really read the Bible to understand it and draw from it what God would have us to do. Normally, we read the Bible with a heart and mind that has been confused by false prophets, and as we read we make the Bible say what our minds already want to believe. You will never be able to find God like that. The hardest part for teachers, preachers and evangelist in our day is to erase all the false knowledge that is stored up in the minds of those who have attended church for the wrong reason, been accepted as members for the wrong reason and who now rest at ease in Zion with no knowledge of the truth. These are normally the people who shout the loudest about not being a slave to sin and refusing to be the slave of Christ.

I believe that one of the worst things that we have done at least in America, in the past few decades is to allow children ( I believe anyone that is under 20 years of age and or live with their parents, are children) and we have allowed the open access to the internet. They along with false professors have established a zone (blogs), that are anti God, anti discipline, anti Bible and anti self control and it offends me to see some of the babblings of these who have no idea where they came from or where they are going. That’s the reason that it gets harder to get the truth out to those who are seeking for God. Don’t worry though, because I have read the entire Bible and I know that the battle is already won, and we slaves of Christ are on the winning team. Christ defeated the devil and all of his minions in His Passion on the Cross, and that din you hear from those who do not have enough sense to realize that they won’t be alive for ever and that there is a judgment day coming is only background noise of the slaves of the world as they resist being slaves of Christ.

Jesus Christ spoke to us in the gospel of John and reminds us over and over that we are not in charge. He says in effect that everyone is a slave to someone or something. In the first chapter of John, in verse 5 we are reminded that not everyone will chose correctly, that verse says “And the light (Jesus Christ) shineth in darkness (sin), and the darkness comprehended it not” Christ came to this sin sick world and offered light to a world in darkness, but because men loved darkness rather than light, they refused to walk in the light (John 3:19). Just five verses later, we find that Jesus was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not.

He came to his own and His own received Him not.” Why do you suppose that men would not want to walk in the light’ It is because they were slaves to self and to Satan and they enjoyed life as they knew it, even when it was the lowest form of life that a person can live. That is the reason, that universally today, there is sin and evil prevailing rather than peace and love and compassion. Men loved darkness rather than light and they refused the light of life in Jesus Christ because it would displace self on the throne of their lives (John 8:12). Jesus put a point for our subject here about why men like darkness and He said “truly, truly, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant (slave) of sin. (John 8:34). In the gospel of John, Jesus lets us know that being His slaves puts us in the hands of the only Master that can save us.

He reminds us that if we submit and commit ourselves to Him, we can say with the psalmist’.”The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me. Thou prepares a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”(Psalms 23). If we study that Psalm and what it offers to those who are willing slaves of Christ, we will find that it is Jesus Christ that is our shepherd and He will lead us as a shepherd leads his sheep, always careful to keep them from harm, always providing green pastures, always ready to defend them and lead them through the valley of the shadow of death’and that is not death but the transition of the slave of Christ from this temporary life on the earth to an eternal life of bless in heaven. What a Savior, What a Master!

Are you a slave to Jesus Christ, with all the benefits that come with that true relationship where we are reconciled to our Creator by the death of his Son Jesus Christ’ So many people, who have been sincere seekers after God, have been short-stopped by well meaning but uninformed and unenlightened preachers, who were after new members instead of after what God is after and that is the salvation of souls. They simply will not allow a supplicant to take the time and ask the questions and submit to God through Christ, and so we end up with people who do not know that they are supposed to be a slave to Christ, and belong exclusively to Him to follow Him wherever He goes or wherever He sends us.

We must and will be sold out to God through Christ if we are truly saved and being a slave to God will be the most blessed position we may hold in this world. Being slaves to the Master Jesus Christ is not some new and novel idea. It is something that the early Disciples and Apostles held up as prized positions and in Romans 1:1, we find the Apostle Paul as he begins his letter to the Romans by saying, “Paul, a slave, doulos, (not servant), of Jesus Christ, and Paul does not begin by saying that he has decided to follow Christ’.instead he tells us that He was called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God. In Philippians 1:1 Paul begins by telling us that he and Timotheus are both slaves of Jesus Christ (your Bible probably says servants but the Greek original said doulos which only means slave and nothing else. When you see the word Apostle it really applies to a slave who is sent forth to do the will of the Master. The word Disciple really means someone who desires to become like the Master and hence they imitate Him in their lives, that certain requires one who would be comfortable with the term slave.

Listen to how the half-brother of Jesus Christ, Jude, speaks of himself after the death of Jesus Christ’. “Jude, the slave of Jesus Christ, and brother of James” Your Bible has the word servant instead of slave, but that is not correct, it is close when it says servant but the inspired word meant something more and it used the word that cannot be confused because it means nothing but slave. I will not go too deeply in some points that we raise, but I would ask you to open you copy of God’s Word and read and study Luke 14:26-35, and ask yourself after careful examination if you can draw any conclusion from that other than what we will become after our lives are interdicted by God and we are born again Christians.

We are slaves, and hallelujah for it! You will find in that scripture there in Luke chapter 14, that Christ’s ownership extends not only to our persons but to our possessions as well. Some of you may remember the account of the death of Jim Eliot (1927-1956). Jim was one of five American missionaries to Ecuador, who were martyred by the Waodani Indians. Jim Elliot was famous for his statement, “he is not fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” Are you ready to give what you cannot keep, Your life and all to Christ, to gain what you cannot lose, Eternal life as a redeemed child of God’ There is a vast difference in our understanding of words and it makes a great difference in the way we serve God. Unless we leave the idea of servant which usually means someone who still has much control of their lives and we come to the correct translation of the word Doulos, which can only mean slaves who have no control of their lives but live to obey the Master.

The word slave, and most peoples distain of it, has created an atmosphere that will not even consider being a slave to anybody; however God has said that slave would be our conditions if we desire eternal life to eternal death, and we find it hard to understand God’s immutable position unless we are willing to search the Word of God to find out the difference between being a slave of God and a slave of sin and man. Those who are slaves of Christ as the live here on the earth, will find that God not only saves them but that He declares them just, fit for heaven, and adopts them as His children and we become His friend as we obey Him. (Ephesians 1:5; Romans 5:1; John 15:14). Are you saved’ Are you serving Christ as His slave’ If you love Him you will tell other about his marvelous love and they may become His slaves also. (John 15:14).

Until next time,

may God bless and keep you

This is Bro. Bob