Slave John MacArthur

 

Discovering the True Meaning and Benefits of Being a Christ Slave: A Comprehensive Study

John MacArthur's book, Slave: The Hidden Truth About Your Identity in Christ, delves into a profound and often misunderstood aspect of Christian theology: the concept of believers as slaves of Christ. This understanding is crucial for a deeper, more authentic relationship with God. The exploration of this theme can be further enriched by insights from other esteemed theologians and their publications.

The True Meaning of Being a Christ Slave

The term "slave" carries a heavy connotation, especially in modern times. However, MacArthur explains that in the context of the New Testament, the Greek word "doulos," often translated as "servant," more accurately means "slave." This distinction changes the nature of the relationship between the believer and Christ. While a servant might work for pay and retain a degree of autonomy, a slave is owned by a master and is entirely at his disposal.

MacArthur explores several key aspects of this slave-master relationship:

Total Ownership and Control

As slaves of Christ, believers are wholly owned by Him. Every aspect of their lives should be under His control. This total submission is not oppressive but liberating, as it frees believers from the bondage of sin.

"Or do you not know that your body is a sanctuary of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you were bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body." (1 Corinthians 6:19-20, LSB)

Exclusive Loyalty

A slave's loyalty is to their master alone. For Christians, this means their primary allegiance must be to Christ, above all other commitments and desires.

"No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth." (Matthew 6:24, LSB)

Unconditional Obedience

Slaves obey their masters without question. Similarly, Christians are called to obey Christ unconditionally, trusting in His wisdom and sovereignty.

"If you love Me, you will keep My commandments." (John 14:15, LSB)

The Benefits of Being a Christ Slave

While the idea of slavery might seem negative at first, MacArthur highlights numerous benefits that come from being a slave to Christ:

Freedom from Sin

One of the greatest paradoxes in Christianity is that true freedom is found in being a slave to Christ. By surrendering to Him, believers are set free from the power and penalty of sin. This freedom brings peace and joy that the world cannot offer.

"But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were given over, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness." (Romans 6:17-18, LSB)

Assurance of Salvation

Understanding oneself as a slave of Christ reinforces the assurance of salvation. Slaves of Christ are under His protection and care, and their eternal destiny is secure in Him.

"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish—ever; and no one will snatch them out of My hand." (John 10:27-28, LSB)

Purpose and Fulfillment

Serving Christ gives life a clear purpose and direction. Believers are not left to wander aimlessly but are given a mission to fulfill – to glorify God and spread the gospel.

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to keep all that I commanded you; and behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:19-20, LSB)

Intimacy with God

The master-slave relationship in the Christian context is unique because it is also deeply personal. Christ loves His slaves and desires a close, intimate relationship with them. This intimacy is fostered through prayer, worship, and obedience.

"Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me." (Revelation 3:20, LSB)

Inheritance and Reward

Unlike earthly slaves who might receive little for their labor, slaves of Christ are promised an eternal inheritance. This includes eternal life, rewards in heaven, and the privilege of reigning with Christ in His kingdom.

"And if children, also heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him." (Romans 8:17, LSB)

The Intersection with Christian Hedonism

Incorporating a perspective from John Piper's concept of Christian Hedonism provides additional depth to understanding the benefits of being a slave of Christ. Piper asserts that "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him." This satisfaction comes from delighting in God above all else, which can only be fully realized through total humility and submission to Him.

Without relishing and accepting total humility, as emphasized by MacArthur, one cannot truly discover the joy and fulfillment that Christian Hedonism promises. Being a slave to Christ means recognizing that our ultimate joy and satisfaction are found not in our autonomy but in our complete dependence on and obedience to Him. This humility allows believers to experience the profound joy of being in a right relationship with their Creator, which is the essence of Christian Hedonism.

"Delight yourself in Yahweh; and He will give you the desires of your heart." (Psalm 37:4, LSB)

"You will make known to me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forever." (Psalm 16:11, LSB)

Insights from Other Esteemed Theologians

R.C. Sproul

"The Holiness of God": Sproul delves into the character of God and the appropriate response of believers, which includes total submission and reverence. Understanding God's holiness deepens the understanding of why Christians should see themselves as His slaves.

"But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, 'Be holy, for I am holy.'" (1 Peter 1:15-16, LSB)

"Chosen by God": This book explores the doctrine of predestination and God's sovereignty, reinforcing the idea of believers being chosen and owned by God, thus further emphasizing the master-slave relationship.

Jonathan Edwards

"The End for Which God Created the World": Edwards discusses the ultimate purpose of creation, which is to glorify God. This work aligns with the notion that as slaves of Christ, believers exist to glorify their Master.

"For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen." (Romans 11:36, LSB)

"Religious Affections": Edwards examines the nature of true religion and the affections it produces. The emphasis on genuine spiritual transformation and devotion underpins the concept of believers being wholly committed to Christ as their Master.

John Calvin

"Institutes of the Christian Religion": Calvin's comprehensive theology includes the sovereignty of God and the total depravity of man, concepts that underscore the necessity of being wholly dependent on and obedient to God.

"You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body." (1 Corinthians 6:19-20, LSB)

"A Little Book on the Christian Life": This work distills Calvin's thoughts on how Christians should live, focusing on humility, self-denial, and service to God, which resonate with the idea of being a slave to Christ.

Martin Luther

"The Bondage of the Will": Luther's exposition on the will of man being in bondage to sin until liberated by Christ aligns with the concept of true freedom being found in servitude to Christ.

"So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed." (John 8:36, LSB)

"Freedom of a Christian": This treatise paradoxically explores how Christians are both bound and free in Christ, emphasizing that true Christian freedom is found in joyful servitude to God.

Highly Respected Southern Baptists

John Piper - "Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist": Piper's Christian Hedonism dovetails with MacArthur's thesis by showing that true joy and satisfaction are found in God, reinforcing that complete submission and delight in God are the paths to ultimate joy.

"Delight yourself in Yahweh; and He will give you the desires of your heart." (Psalm 37:4, LSB)

Al Mohler - "The Conviction to Lead": While focused on leadership, Mohler's emphasis on convictional leadership rooted in biblical truth and servanthood supports the idea that leaders, too, are first and foremost servants (or slaves) of Christ.

"But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant." (Mark 10:43, LSB)

David Platt - "Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream": Platt challenges Christians to a radical obedience to Christ, akin to the total commitment of a slave to their master.

"If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me." (Matthew 16:24, LSB)

Conclusion

John MacArthur's Slave provides a profound exploration of what it means to be a follower of Christ by reclaiming the true meaning of being a "doulos" of Jesus. This understanding can be further enriched by the writings of other theologians such as R.C. Sproul, Jonathan Edwards, John Calvin, Martin Luther, and contemporary Southern Baptist leaders like John Piper, Al Mohler, and David Platt. These works collectively reinforce the biblical foundation that true Christian identity involves total submission, servitude, and ultimately, finding freedom and joy in being a slave to Christ.

References

  • MacArthur, John. Slave: The Hidden Truth About Your Identity in Christ. Thomas Nelson, 2010.
  • Sproul, R.C. The Holiness of God. Tyndale House, 1985.
  • Sproul, R.C. Chosen by God. Tyndale House, 1986.
  • Edwards, Jonathan. The End for Which God Created the World. Yale University Press, 1989.
  • Edwards, Jonathan. Religious Affections. Yale University Press, 1959.
  • Calvin, John. Institutes of the Christian Religion. Translated by Henry Beveridge, Hendrickson Publishers, 2008.
  • Calvin, John. A Little Book on the Christian Life. Reformation Trust Publishing, 2017.
  • Luther, Martin. The Bondage of the Will. Translated by J.I. Packer and O.R. Johnston, Revell, 1957.
  • Luther, Martin. Freedom of a Christian. Fortress Press, 2008.
  • Piper, John. Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist. Multnomah Books, 2003.
  • Mohler, Albert. The Conviction to Lead: 25 Principles for Leadership that Matters. Bethany House Publishers, 2012.
  • Platt, David. Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream. Multnomah Books, 2010.
  • Legacy Standard Bible.

 

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