That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life...
Philippians 2:15-16a

Thursday, June 30, 2011

I am NOT a Slave

What the dictionary says.
a person who is the legal property of another and is forced to obey them.
 a person who works very hard without proper remuneration or appreciation 
 a person who is excessively dependent upon or controlled by something 
Servant: a person who performs duties for others, esp. a person employed in a house on domestic duties or as a personal attendant.a devoted and helpful follower or supporter 
What the Bible says.Paul, servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God. (Romans 1:1)And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great (Rev 19:5).For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: 
As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God (I Pet. 2:15-16).

Have you heard of the "conspiracy" that is in the Bible?  Have you heard of the "distortion of truth?"  

Well, now you have! I've never been a huge John MacArthur fan.  Probably because of his double-speak when it comes to the blood of Christ, his EXTREME adherence to Lordship salvation, which is nothing more than adding works to grace, and because of his staunch Calvinism.  That being said, I don't think John MacArthur is all bad.  I'm sure he's very sincere, and I'm sure people have been led to Christ through his ministry and have grown as followers of Jesus.  However, I'm quite disturbed by the language of this video.  To say that there's a conspiracy in the Bible, and to credit himself with uncovering it is the height of arrogance.  Who are we supposed to trust now when it comes to the Scripture?  Thus saith the Lord, or John MacArthur's "new revelation?"  Essentially John MacArthur has placed his understanding on the same level as God.  Basically he says God messed up when He preserved the translation of His Word into English.  God didn't get it right.  God wasn't capable of guiding the translators to selecting the proper word for doulos.  I'm not talking about "double inspiration" or some other heresy like that, but don't you believe that God is capable of guiding then men that translated His holy Scriptures?  Don't you believe the Holy Spirit had a part in preserving His Word?  People who believe that translation is a human effort need to give their heads a shake.  This is GOD we're talking about here!!!!  Don't you believe the men that translated the Scriptures prayerfully sought God's wisdom and direction in each choice they made?  I believe that.  I seek God's guidance every day in my life.  Why wouldn't these translators have done the same?  And why wouldn't God have answered that prayer?!!!  God did answer that prayer, and He did direct the translators in the words that were preserved in the Bible.  Men like John MacArthur need to stop limiting the power of God to do this, and stop putting themselves on a pedestal of supreme understanding of the mind of God.  Isaiah 55:8-9. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.  Perhaps John MacArthur needs to be reminded of this, and stop trying to explain away, understand, and rationalize what God supposedly did or didn't do.  Every word in God's Word is right, true, perfect, and pure.  Have faith in this truth because it is true.  Please don't let men like John MacArthur take away the faith you have in God's perfect Word.  If doulos is translated wrong, what else has been covered up?  What other conspiracies are in the Bible?  How will we figure them out?  Who's going to tell us?  
I began with some definitions of the word "slave" and "servant."  I did this to show the difference in what these two words mean.  John MacArthur has come to the Scriptures with the preconceived idea that man has no free will, so once we are saved we become slaves to Christ.  He has read this into every text where the word duolos is in the Greek, because not ONE TIME is doulos ever translated "slave."  Is slave a legitimate meaning for duolos?  It could be, but we must approach our understanding of Scripture with what it ACTUALLY says, and not what WE THINK it should say.  If God had wanted duolos to be translated slave in our English Bible, then I believe it would have been translated that way.  It's funny, because as a staunch Calvinist, John MacArthur believes in the sovereignty of God.  That means God is in control and there's no such thing as the free-will of man.  God destines everyone and everything in the world to whatever He wants.  Well, apparently God wasn't sovereign when the Bible translators were translating duolos, because they choose the wrong word!  It's this kind of thing that really bothers me about men like John MacArthur.   He doesn't apply the principle of God's sovereignty consistently, yet he says he believes it!  I say, if you're going to believe something, then believe it and stick by it!  At least be consistent!  
The difference between a servant and a slave is free will. Of course, John MacArthur likes the slave idea because he doesn't believe in free-will anyways. Look at the first definition of slave.  It's a person who is forced to obey another!  God never forces us to obey Him.  Clearly, obedience is a choice, and that is seen all through Scriptures.  I've been reading lately in Jeremiah, All throughout that book God is begging for Israel to come back to Him and obey Him, or else He is going to deliver them to their enemies as punishment.  God NEVER forces anyone to obey Him!  Look at Jeremiah 18:11 Now therefore go to, speak to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I frame evil against you, and devise a device against you: return ye now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good. This is just one example of how over and over again, God is pleading with Israel to return to Him.  Yet, we know what happened.  They refused, they disobeyed, and they were sold into captivity for 70 years, just like God said.  If God had wanted He could have forced Israel to obey Him, but He didn't, because God allows man to choose.  
Look at the second definition of slave.  A person who works hard without proper renumeration or appreciation.  Does this sound like a God who loves His children?  Does this sound like something Jesus demands of us.  Do we ever read anything like this in Scripture?  NO.  Consider these verses.Psalm 19:11 Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them [God's commandments] there is great reward.Matthew 6:18 That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.Luke 6:35 But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.That's just a few verses that speak of our reward our heavenly Father will give us for serving Him.  There are MANY more!  
Look at the last definition of slave.  A person who is excessively dependent on or controlled by something.  Now this one I could see an application with a bit.  It's speaking of an addiction (i.e.  he was a slave to drugs).  We are to be dependent upon and controlled by the Holy Spirit and by God.  I'm not sure I would choose to describe my relationship and dependence on God as slavery, but it could work.  The Bible does speak of being "addicted" to the ministry (I Cor. 16:15).  However, biblically speaking this application is still a stretch because in order to use it, you still have to read the word "slave" into a text where it doesn't appear.  Maybe John MacArthur is OK with changing the words in the Bible, but I'm not. Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar. (Pro. 30:5-6).
Of the definitions for servant, the last one is particularly applicable to the Christian.  We are devoted followers of Christ, and the fact that the word "servant" is actually in the Bible makes the definition relevant.  That's what servanthood is, and I believe that's what God meant when He used the word "servant" (doulos in Greek) in the Scriptures.  Believing this interpretation is not reading into the text, it is simply taking the word that's there at it's meaning.  The connotation of servant in this definition is not negative, while the connotation of slavery is always negative.  John MacArthur advocates a cover-up in the Scriptures because of our aversion to what slavery became.  He says the translators tried to soften the word in order not to offend.  I prefer to look at it from a different aspect.  Perhaps God KNEW slavery held negative connotations, and He didn't want His beloved, redeemed children to become trapped into feeling in bondage to a hard taskmaster.  Thus, He guided the translators of the Bible to use the more appropriate word for our relationship with God as His servant.  
I believe the reason we are called "servants" in the New Testament is because it accurately portrays our relationship with Christ.  I do understand where John MacArthur is coming from on this, but I disagree with how he went about it.  His analogy of us being bought by the death of Christ and now belonging to Him is right, and there is Scripture to back that up.  His belief that as Christians we are to serve our Lord with all we have is right.  I don't agree with his use of the term "slave."  I haven't read his book, and I don't plan on reading it.  I've read several reviews, and I understand that in the book he develops the "slave" relationship and also deals with the "child" relationship we have with our heavenly Father.  This is the relationship that I choose to stand in.  I am adopted in the the family of God at my salvation, and an no longer a servant to sin, but a servant of God.   But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness (Romans 6:17-18).

Am I a servant of Christ? Yes, gladly and willingly I serve Him.  I am devoted to Him.  I love Him.  Am I His slave.  No, I don't believe I am forced to obey Him, and He is not my taskmaster.  I am not compelled to live for Him in order to be saved.  I am saved by HIS work on the cross, not by any work I have done.  I don't work as a slave for my salvation or to keep my salvation.  I serve Christ because of what He did for me, not because I have to do anything for Him.  I am humbled by the honour of serving Christ.  Really, He doesn't need me at all, yet He allows me the position of servant, child, priest, and even royalty because I have put my faith and trust in Him.  He will NEVER force me to do anything, but He ASKS me to do many things.  No one wants to be forced to do something.  That is cruel and unkind.  We don't have that kind of a Saviour.  We have a loving Saviour.   The problem with John MacArthur's concept of "slave" is perspective.  He's looking at our relationship with Christ through the lens of Calvinism and Lordship salvation.  Thus, he interprets the word "doulos" through that lens and arrives at the conclusion we slaves to Christ and have no free will.  When the Scriptures are studied for themselves, his theology around "doulos" simply doesn't add up.

I do thank God for those who read John MacArthur's book and are encouraged to a deeper relationship with Christ, because some will be strengthened.  However, I cannot agree with how he deals with this subject.  I believe that if Christians were taught what the Bible actually says regarding our servant/master relationship with Christ, many more Christians would be freed from the bondage of always having to perform in their own strength as Christians.  You see, living the Christian life is not something I do, it's something that Christ does through me!  Is this not what Philippians 4:13 is all about? I can do all things through Christ, which strengtheneth me.


  1. Wow, Johnny Mac (as we hipsters call him) is really nitpicky. The word servant was used before it was even in the KJV going back years in English Bibles. The word servant meant slave - did he ever consider looking at the etymology of the word? Also the word slave in fact was original 'slav' because many Slavic people were sold into slavery. If it was a derogatory word or word that applied to an Ethnic group you can see why Bibles like the KJV wouldn't use it. Modern versions like the ones MacArthur recommends have no problem using the word because it is no longer derogatory or associated with an ethnic group.

    The word servant is also a generic word that can mean someone who is owned or doesn't have rights like children in parts of Asia and Latin America. Technically they are slaves but they are called servants instead for public reasons - employers don't want to tell the government or in some cases international leaders (especially from free countries) that they have "slaves". Things like this coming from men like John MacArthur (there are others like him - John Piper?) are the reason I often favor listening to female teachers like Joni Eareckson Tada in the world of Evangelicalism. I also like reading what you have to say in your blog. This is the first blog from an Independent Fundamental Baptist that deals with these issues that isn't from a man. Most young women in IFB churches today you have to wonder about - it seems just by their lifestyle choices and the things they like (worldly things) that even though they read the Bible, pray and go to church and witness (they may even dress a certain conservative way) they don't spend a good deal of time really thinking about other things in the Bible - but you do - do you realize that you are an oddity? That's a good thing by the way so please keep blogging about these things. It's not popular but it is encouraging to people like me.

    1. Hi Brian B.
      Thank you for your comment and compliment. My blogging isn't as frequent lately as it has been in the past, but I do plan to continue on. I have a lot of good female IFB friends who also enjoy studying the Bible and speaking about it, so it may not be as rare as you think!

      Personally, I don't like listening to any teachers from evangelicalism much. I just stumbled across the ad for this book, and that's why I blogged about it. I know a lot of IFB's do listen to conservative evangelicals and read their books, but as far as I'm concerned they are all deeply compromised. While they may have many worthwhile things to say, at the end of the day, I'd rather just stick to my Bible and to the teachers I know I can trust (ie. my pastor).

    2. That's good to know. I guess I haven't many of them here in B.C. especially in the last few years. I remember years ago there was a university girl from the Yukon (she doesn't live there anymore) who kind of thought like you, maybe some differences of opinion but at least she was a thinking person. I think this whole dumbing down of the culture and even apathy has made thinking about anything not cool - most people just accept what they hear whether it be right or wrong - and it's affected the church - it's why I see so fewer young people in my church and even people my age (41) and younger. There used to be more but they chose to go to other churches - not all good though. The Pentecostal/Charismatic churches are especially popular but can also be the most dangerous - I've met people who no longer go to church because of them and there are people in my church that came out of that mess. Those churches tend also to be anti-intellectual. Now I appreciate the emphasis on being spirit-filled (though in some cases you can see that they aren't especially during the rest of the week when you see them or talk to them) but being spirit-filled doesn't mean being non-thinking. The Bible says to think on these things and to meditate on the law or the word of God. The Bible is full of references to thinking and using reason so if one is filled with the Spirit they will be thinking (about scriptural spiritual things of course). If Christians were thinking more they would be less likely to accept false teaching.

      By the way I wish Blogger had a PM feature because some times I'd rather just send a message privately and not for every one to see.