Leaning what it means to be a Slave for Christ!
The question that I propose to us all this morning, while many of us are still a bit sleepy, well maybe just me….Are you devoted to Jesus? If so, how so? Are you truly devoted to Jesus as LORD? Have you ever considered that if you are a mature believer or desire to be a mature believer you must be a slave to Jesus too? If not, we will be a slave to our misguided will and to the manipulations of Satan and others?
Hold on, put the stones down and let’s look at this objectively….It comes to a key word and a premise we will see thought Scripture and validated by key scholars and key Bible figures. This premise, a growing and mature Christian will have to realize that we belong exclusively to Christ! The word is “doulos” and it means we are more bonded too and obligated to Christ then our church vernacular and culture and popular preaching is saying! That we realize that Jesus Christ is more than a mere dada or best friend…he not our copilot or spiritual guide…He is not a past religious figure hanging n a cross or around our neck…He is more and we are more in Him……..He is not merely regulated to a catechism or a creed not matter how important it is to us….He…Jesus Christ… has purchased us out of sin and doom into His love, care and grace! He took us from sin and has given us a great reason for being for His glory!
We are a slave to Christ! And I will explain to you that this is good! Look at it this way….at some point in our spiritual development we have to understand beyond simple belief in the magnitude of Who and What Jesus is, and then who we are in Christ. Our simple act of saving faith must grow to a point we can truly trust and say, I am solely and soul; totally belong to Christ as His pupil and His property! Jesus Christ is LORD, He is my LORD and my Master, my Savior, my KING and there is no better place for me to be! So. Is this is so, yes we are a doulos!
Let’s now see why:
Peter, Paul and Mary, not the rock group, and James and many more say it is so!
Jets look at the beginning of two Epistles, Romans 1:1 and James 1:1…
In Romans Paul the magnificent theology and his incredible treatise opens it all up with an astonishing humble statement. Keep in mind this is Paul, God’s chosen leader of the Gentiles, leader of leaders who gives this astounding proclamation. Keep in mind, he the highest of educated people, a coveted Roman citizen and a top dog of his profession as a Pharisee. He then climbed that ladder right up the hill twice, the ladder to the apex as a Jewish leader and then the ladder to be the quintessential church leader. He was a man directly called to and spoke to by Christ Himself Who used him to write of half of the New Testament! He was an Apostle, a real Apostle, not some self proclaimed one like you see on TV…..and….he made this statement, in fact several times in several places, I am a devoted salve of Jesus Christ (Rom. 1:1; Phil. 1:1; Titus 1:1)!
Then, James the half brother of Jesus, the first leader of the Early Church also, also, starts out his book also by massive humbleness, confessing who Jesus is. This is the guy, the guy Jesus appeared to after the resurrection and transformed him a real transformer not mere toy that is more than meets the eye…. And it must took some doing some extra doing to get him to be transformed! After all he was his brother! Jesus took James from a younger brother to see his elder brother as THE Messiah, from lord, to Lord, to LORD. At some point he became so indebted to his brother that He became his Lord and Savior, that he freely calls himself a slave to Jesus as his identity.
If you know anything about sibling relationships, this was a profound impact and greater than a mere spiritual statement. He is not speaking of one who is in forced bondage, rather one who has been freed and still desires to be indebted too and fully and completely serve Jesus with all of his life and strength, to glorify Him. James realized that his life and purpose was all about who God is, and not who he is (Psalm 15; 101; Gal. 1:19; 1 Cor. 15:7; 2 Cor. 5:15-20; 2 Thess. 1:12; Titus 2:13; James 1:1-4; Jude 1:1).
Then, then it continues, then we see Simon Peter, do the same! Claiming his role as the early church leader, leader of the Disciples the foundation of the Church and to feed the sheep ….a Bondservant! Or better said a slave, a slave for Christ~!He, the once impetuous, rash and willful follower whom Jesus changed his name to Cephas, which means, “Rock,” the chosen stone to lead the Church, the first Pope, the guardian of the “pearly gates,” by the way this is legend not Scriptural, but fun to say…. He is the one who sank when he should have walked on water; he was the one who denied Christ, ratted out by a chicken, who finally repented and then became the dedicated true servant (Matt. 15:15; 16:18; 18:21; Mark 1:16-18, 26-37; 5:37; 8:29; 9:2-6; 14:33; Luke 12:41; John 6:68; 21:15-19; Acts 10:18; 15:14; 1 Cor. 1:12; 1 Peter 1:1; 2 Peter 1:1).
In fact we see this pattern a lot in Scripture to those who claim to be real devoted follower of Christ, who sought after God’s heart, whose life is about pursuing and glorifying God and not one’s self or culture. In the Old Testament, we see the king of the Prophets, the Lawgiver and leader, the liberator and lawgiver Moses…then we see the warrior leader and land taker Joshua….then we see shepherd turned warrior, king David…then we see more of God’s mighty Prophets like Isaiah call themselves slaves to God~! These were no riffraff folks, these people were not only great and the top of their game in leadership and excellence, they all clamed God as Lord and they as the devoted slave in bondage to Him.
Keep in mind, this was in a time when over one third of the world’s population was a victim of a slave trade or bought then sold or born in indentured service or captured as war plunder and sold, these were the real suffering servants whom nay were just killed outright because they had no rights. These great mighty men used this term, SLAVE….to describe themselves!!! _____ (heb) that meant in the Hebrew to willingly commit themselves as a slave to a master with no rights, to describe themselves as they committed with reverence, respect and utter devotion to their LORD Master. They, even with their position, praise or harsh circumstances and call, knew Who God was and who they were in Him (Ex. 21:5; Num. 14:24; Deut. 15:12-16; 34:5; Josh 24:29; 2 Sam. 3:18; 7:5, 8; 2 Kings 21:8; Job 1:8; Psalm 78:70; 105:6, 42; 105:26 Isa. 42:1,53:11; Jer. 7:25; Amos 3:7; Zec. 1:6; Mal 4:4).
So what is a Slave to God mean?
It all comes down to one word that appears over one hundred times in the New Testament! You guessed it, the title in the bulletin, Doulos~
What does that word doulos mean in its original nuance, context, historical situation and everyday usage? What did it mean to the people of that day, not so much to us know, but to the man on the street in the first century? When Paul and James called themselves a slave what were they actually saying? Many people, pastors and even Bible translators seem not to know!
You can see this in the pew Bible, our NIV it does not say slave it say’s servant! So does the KJV! So, you are thinking this is what happens when we have the YP teach, he does not know what he is talking about… Did you know this guy who leads your youth and charges you for the pizza is working on a PHD and has thoroughly and humbly examined this to every detail for a paper. And what I found out is not pretty. Either fraud or preciousness or just a fear of conviction, or a trip around the bush…the wrong words is used….and we in the church today do not get this key word. We think it means one thing when in fact it means something quite different!
Some translations like NASB and NKJV state, use the term “bondservant,” or “devoted servant,” but after careful research it clearly meant “slave.” It did not mean just a servant or a follower or even a devoted follower. The word in the Greek is “doulos,” or “sun-doulos. If you have a hard time with this, OK, I did too. But you can do down the street to Fuller and just look up the word in Kettle, the main Greek lexicon and the scholar of scholars makes this radical statement, “…the word doulos means slave, it does not man anything else anywhere in Scripture…”. And he is the guy that lays out every conceivable nuance of every word in the New Testament. Then other Greek Lexicons stat the same…douls means “literally, slave or born bondsman” “a servant, attendant” or “one devoted to another to the disregard of one’s own interests” “one who gives himself up to another’s will those whose service is used by Christ in extending and advancing his cause among men”. And we have bondman, man of servile condition… which as one commenter stated, “It’s a nice way of saying slave!” Now let’s take a breath…So this is not my conjecture….
Further research shows that the real only meaning from “deo” which is “to bind” and with the ending “os” a person to another as a slave, nothing more and nothing less as a word meaning. They who do w have servant in our Bible here? I have no idea, I asked on the main translators, he is one of my profs, he said that was the context but I pointed out to him where is that in the context? He could not answer, then he said this is a “dynamic transition” not a word for word, also slave is too harsh of a word to use for this translation…Servant is the wrong word and he finally fessed up to it!
In addition, there are six other better words that mean “servant.” Keep in mind, any good word study will take in consideration the background and language of that word, how it is used elsewhere in Scripture other ancient texts and then its cultural usage to determine a more specific designation. In regards to “doulos” like in the above examples, the word “savant” meaning, which is rarely translated as such, clearly meant a slave!
What was a “doulos” slave? This was a person who was in Greek times, the lowest form of a slave, totally at the master’s disposal and even expendable. They were bonded to another person and had no rights, land or money. Such people with that designation rowed the boats of war with a whip at their back. So why is this used for a prime follower of Christ?
Because as the word denotes, we are “to bind” to Christ as our LORD Master!
Thus, this term also refers to godly mature followers of Christ as an awareness and practiced attitude of surrendered devotion, because we are bonded to Jesus Christ as our Sovereign Lord and Savior who we owe an un-payable debt too. These great godly people were are at a total surrendered devotion that the slave/disciple of the Lord has a will that has been sacrificed to God’s will and thus is totally at the disposal of our Lord! Paul’s slavery is his freedom and reason. James was his liberation and purpose and Peter it was his act of gratitude too.
This was a profound testimony for Paul, Peter and James and clearly applies to anyone daring to seek a leadership role in God’s fruitful bride, His church! Who are we to ever think we are better and deserve a more pronounced position or title than a Apostle, Disciple or Brother of Jesus who said they were Christ’s slave!
Of course, slavery has some negative conations, perhaps the biggest blight on humanity sowing our darkest sin. The history of slavery and slave traders and its abuses and traffic is heinous, not such a great testimony for Europe and early America. Did you know why I am a bit darker than most Dutch boys? Even though I can’t dance or shoot a hoop, my great grandfather was born a slave, and I knew him as a child and the stories he told. This is why you may see my at Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles and lovin it there! So when slavery is mentioned what comes to my mind is my family heritage and my grandfathers stories. What may come to others is that we may put up our defensive mechanisms and either do not understand or seek to counter the precepts of the key word that Scripture gives and insert our own idea, thinking we know better.
What did Peter Paul and Mary mean by this?
The context of the meaning to “doulos” is that we are bond totally and completely to Christ by His Work and grace! Our close binding to Christ, is our tie to Him, our motivation to realize our obligation to Him, our indentured and indebted willing service to Him. We must with this awareness desperately and passionate and freely and gratefully cling to our Most High God and be glad in Him in so doing.
This is not just servitude; it is our life and responsibility, our purpose to know and peruse and then pursue His perfect plan. Here comes the relief the good news to those of us who gaped at this concept…it is hinged.. hinged to God love and mercy! So we can take heart that this is all good, this is the best…..so we can be focused and consumed to know and follow the heart and will of our Lord God who so loved us, He purchased us out of a slavery of sin and drudgery. We were bound to sin and helplessness, now we are bonded to a loving, caring Shepherd who desires to carefully carry us to His prime pasture lands and graze on His precepts, and feed on His Word and produce His call, the fleece to give Him glory and build His Kingdom. Need some mint sauce on that?
If you still do not like this term slave as our Bible translators, keep in mind either way you will be a salve. Either we will be a “love slave” in Deuteronomy ….exp…and thus bond to Satan or Bond to Christ, who would be your best slave master, the loving Shepherd who deeply loves you who has a great purpose for you or the master of evil and manipulation who desires to destroy and to kill you off and leave you destitute and hopeless? One master has us bond by the chains of sedition, iniquity, gilt and subjection the other Master who gently leads us after paying our incomprehendable pride to His great pasture of love and care. Who will you be a slave too (Deut. 15:12-17; Matt. 25:21; Rom. 3:2; 1 Cor. 7:22; Eph 6: 5-9; Col. 1:7; 2 Tim. 2:24)?
What does this mean?
For us, it is our confession that I belong to Christ, He is my Lord. This is an act of total, surrendered devotion to the Lordship of Christ, we act as He is as LORD, Redeemer Savior, not just a casual friend we can occasionally call dada. To grow in our Christian formation; our will has been sacrificed to God’s will and thus we are totally at the disposal of our Lord. Our daily life, our ministry, our plans and purpose, our thinking and actions must filter through the sieve of Who He is and who we are in Christ. So the crap of our lives, thinking and misguided tends is removed and the purity of His percepts are mixed in us. So we come to a point that we are surrendered and totally devoted to Christ. And if this is a problem, and I am sure it is, it has been with me, this is not easy, do not give up, but give in to Him. It takes time. We must be in prayer, be immersed in His Word and be discipled to it can hit home in our ways and thinking (Jer. 7:25; Dan. 9:6; Amos 7:5; Acts 6:1-6; Rom. 1:1; 9:3; 12:7; 1 Cor. 15:3-8; Gal. 1:15; 2:20; Phil. 1:1; 1 Tim. 2:8-3:13; 4:6)!
Benediction… I am solely and soul; totally belong to Christ as His pupil and His property! Jesus Christ is LORD, He is my LORD and my Master, my Savior, my KING and there is no better place for me to be! So, let us go forth and joyfully be His doulos!
© 1991 Rev. R.J. Krejcir