Well Done, Good and Faithful Slave

Posted on July 28, 2010


By Justin Edwards

“…Well done, good and faithful servant…” (Matthew 25:21)

Servant = doulos

Strong’s G1401

1) a slave, bondman, man of servile condition
a) a slave
b) metaph., one who gives himself up to another’s will those whose service is used by Christ in extending and advancing his cause among men
c) devoted to another to the disregard of one’s own interests
2) a servant, attendant

Please see the following excerpts from Chapter 1 of The Gospel According to Jesus by John MacArthur.

[Jesus] was not the least bit encouraging toward people who wanted to follow Him around just for the food and the miracles. In fact, He did everything possible to discourage people like that (John 6). He called only broken people who were sick of their sin, who understood their hopeless condition, and who were therefore willing to forsake everything else to be His disciples (Luke 5:32; 14:33). He never muted His His description of what it would cost to follow Him. And (contrary to what some church leaders advocate today) He didn’t reserve the hard words for people who were already believers. He said the same things whether He was speaking to unconverted crowds (Luke 14:25-35) or to individual would-be followers who claimed they were ready to follow Him anywhere (Luke (:57-58). Sometimes He sounded almost as if He were trying to turn away as many inquirers as possible – and indeed, He did turn away multitudes of merely curious and halfhearted admirers (John 6:66-67).

He demanded that people deny themselves completely. He required their implicit obedience. He instructed them to be ready to die for Him. He called for them to relinquish all their normal priorities – including family, friends, personal plans, ambitions, and everything else in the world. Their whole lives were explicitly and irrevocably placed under His authority. His lordship was total and nonnegotiable. Those were His terms, and would-be disciples who tried to dictate different terms were always turned away (Luke 9:59-62). (31-32)

…Obedience is a singular proof that someone is His friend [in reference to John 15:14-15]. Implicit obedience to His commandments is the necessary, expected, and natural fruit of genuine love for Him. It is also therefore the telltale mark of authentic saving faith. Again, necessary inference is that someone who does not do what Jesus says is not a friend of His at all. He was describing as clearly as possible a master-slave relationship. (32)

…The love is mutual, of course, but the status is not. He was still their Lord and they were still His [slaves]. In other words, as friends, they were not His “buddies” in the sense of being casual chums or peers with Him in the relationship. He remained their Lord and Master, and they belonged completely to Him…So disciples – while friends, totally devoted to their Master in love – are still slaves, marked by their obedience. (33)

…So understood correctly, the gospel is an invitation to slavery. When we call people to faith in Christ, we need to stress that fact in the same way Jesus did. On the one hand, the gospel is a proclamation of freedom to sin’s captives and liberty to people who are broken by the bondage of sin’s power over them. On the other hand, it is a summons to a whole different kind of slavery: “Having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness” (Romans 6:18)…There is glorious freedom in being the slaves of Christ, because “if the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed” (John 8:36). On the other hand, being a true follower of Christ means the end of human autonomy…If we want true liberty from sin and all its fruits, it is not autonomy that we need, but a different kind of bondage: complete surrender to the lordship of Christ. (34)

…The gospel according to Jesus calls sinners to give up their independence, deny themselves, submit to an alien will, and abandon all rights in order to be owned and controlled by the Lord. By confessing Jesus as Lord (Kurios), we automatically confess that we are His slaves (douloi). (35)

…There is also no legitimate way to adjust that message to make is sound appealing to people who admire Jesus but are not prepared to serve Him. Jesus Himself never catered to that perspective. He was not seeking admirers; He was calling followers – not casual followers, but slaves. That explains why He demanded His disciples’ implicit obedience, and when He encountered people who were unwilling to obey unconditionally, He discouraged them from following Him at all.

Thus He declared His lordship without hesitation or apology, and He made it clear that true faith in Him begins with an unconditional surrender of the sinner’s heart. And therefore the very spirit of saving faith is comparable to the demeanor of slave. It is glorious surrender, and it is the supreme joy of every true believer’s heart to be Christ’s slave. But remove that spirit of submission, and the most profound kind of “admiration” for Christ is not even true faith at all. Yielding completely to Christ’s lordship is that vital an element of true saving faith, and therefore the proclamation of His lordship is an absolutely necessary component of the gospel. (36)

that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:10-11)

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