Pilgrim's Path Daily

Saturday, July 15, 2006

LOVE (BOND) SLAVE FOR CHRIST

Bondslaves of Christ

There is a word the Bible uses to describe the true character of
one who serves God in the proper attitude of surrender. That
Greek words is "doulos."

Paul, a servant (doulos) of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle,
separated unto the gospel of God, (Rom. 1:1)

The word translated "servant" in this verse is more properly
rendered "bondslave." This Greek word, "doulos," is the most
servile term in the New Testament. It speaks of one whose will is
swallowed up in the will of another. It is a slave who is bound to
his master unto death. He is one who has only the will of his
master in mind. A bondslave does not belong to himself. He has
no rights.

Paul, A Bondslave of Jesus Christ

"Doulos" is the term which Paul used to describe himself. So if
we take the word he used seriously, it means that Paul had no will
of his own. He served Christ unto death. In effect, Paul did not even
belong to himself. A "doulos" never belongs to himself. He
belongs only to his Master.
This was Paul, the great apostle. God used him to write fourteen
books of the New Testament. He had a revelation of Truth which
perhaps surpassed even some of the original apostles. He lived
for Christ, suffered for Christ, and died for Christ. Yet rather than
exalt himself, he referred to himself as a "bondslave of Christ."
This leaves us with a tremendous example of what it means to
be a bondslave of Christ. Presently, however, let us consider only
one aspect of what it means to be a bondslave: What it means with
regard to spiritual authority.

Authority to Edify

A "doulos" has NO authority. In fact, if there is one thing a
"doulos" does NOT have, it's any authority of his own. If you lined
all the social positions of that day, in rank of authority, the "doulos"
would be at the end of the line. In fact, we might say that the
"doulos" might not even be allowed to stand in the line in the first
place.
Now, this is especially interesting since Paul actually said he
HAD authority. Yep. Paul, the bondslave, claimed to have been
given authority from God. The question, therefore, is not WHETHER
Paul had authority. It is: WHAT authority did he have?
We begin to see the answer in three scriptures from II Corinthians:

For though I should boast somewhat more of our authority, which
the Lord has given us for EDIFICATION, and not for your
destruction. (II Cor. 10:8)

According to the power which the Lord has given me to
EDIFICATION, and not to destruction. (II Cor. 13:10)

Not that we have dominion over YOUR faith, but are helpers of
your joy, for by faith you stand. (II Cor. 1:24)

This is the authority Paul had: Authority to edify. But what is that?
What does it mean to edify?
"To edify" means to "build up." All God-given spiritual authority
will BUILD UP others in Jesus Christ. It will build up their faith in
Him. It will cause them to be "built out of" the "spiritual materials"
which are OF Christ: His faith, His character, and His vision.
But how does one do this? How does one actually edify others
in Jesus Christ?
Never by getting people's attention on the bondslave. You
edify others in Christ by getting them into business with Christ for
themselves. Then they will grow in Him.
The way in which a bondslave gets people into business with
Christ is by speaking the Truth in love. This always builds up. Truth
strengthens and stabilizes because it is eternal. It centers the
individual in Jesus Christ.
What is something else that "builds up faith?" Living the Truth.
Now, THAT really builds people in Christ. Why? Because it is
REAL. It is a witness unto Christ which people cannot escape.
Now it is here that we begin to touch on something quite deep.
The only way in which I can LIVE the Truth is if I give myself to
Christ. Right? Absolutely. I certainly can't live the Truth it if I refuse
to give myself to Him! But giving myself to Christ -- in the truest
sense of the word -- is what makes me a bondslave. So in effect,
a bondslave's authority to edify is a direct result of his relationship
with Christ. A bondslave has authority to edify BECAUSE he has
fully given himself to Jesus Christ.

Exousia

The fact that "to edify" requires authority given of God is also
verified if we examine the Greek Paul uses in the above passages.
The Greek word translated "authority" in II Cor. 10:8 and II Cor. 13:10
is EXOUSIA. This word means "right." So when Paul talks about his
authority to edify, he is saying that he has the "right" or "license from
God" to edify.
That is not, however, all that Paul says in the verses. He not only
tells us what he has authority to do, but he tells us what he has NO
authority to do: Tear down the faith of others. This, Paul says, is
NOT a right given him of God.
Now it seems strange that Paul would tell us that he has no right
to tear down the faith of others. Why would he need to assure us of
that?
Paul is telling us something about leadership in the church which
has been distorted for two-thousand years. He is telling us that
even though he is an apostle, his rights are limited. Being a man of
God does NOT entitle him to submission without question from
those he teaches. No. It entitles him only to the right to tell people
the Truth about God. Outside of that, Paul has no rights. He has
no authority. And if he goes outside of that right, no one has to listen
to him.
So what Paul is doing in these two verses is saying, "I have the
right from God to edify you. I have the right to speak the Truth and therefore build up your faith in Christ. But the minute I stray
outside of that, and tear down your faith, I no longer have any
jurisdiction. In that case, don't listen to me."
Now notice: It is Paul's job to speak the Truth. But it is his
listener's job to take what he says before God. Only then can
those who hear Paul be edified. For taking what I hear before the
Lord, and allowing God to deal with me over it, is the real purpose
for edifying to begin with. Any bondslave of God who edifies
others in Christ will seek to get others into business with Christ for
themselves.
Now, some people in the Body of Christ today would reject this
as the Truth. But then we should ask, "Why would a leader
want people to submit to them if they were NOTspeaking the
Truth?" Paul certainly didn't want people submitting to him unless
what he spoke was the Truth. And he was an apostle.

Dominion Over Your Faith?

There is more. Not only did Paul talk about his "exousia" from
God in the two passages from II Corinthians, but he also said in
II Cor. 1:24 that he did not have "dominion over" the faith of the
Corinthians. What does that mean?
The word translated "dominion" means "to rule, to be lord of."
It is the Greek word KURIEUO, the root from which we get the word,
"Lord." It is used in the phrase "Jesus Christ is Lord." So here we
have Paul saying that he does not occupy the place of "lord" over
anyone's faith. He does not possess that "dominion." Or, to say
it another way, another person's faith is NOT his property.
This verse, II Cor. 1:24, is in the context of Paul explaining to the
Corinthians why he did not come to them to correct them for the
many sins and problems they had permitted in that church. He had
simply written them in his first letter about those things. Then he
says, "Not that WE have dominion over YOUR faith, but are helpers
of your joy, for by faith you stand. (II Cor. 1:24) In other words, Paul
wrote them the Truth, but not to control their personal faith. He wrote
them the Truth so that they, by personal choice, could see and
believe. He knew he could not force them to believe and obey!
Paul had authority to tell them the Truth. Indeed, he had a great
responsibility to do so. But he could not force them to obey. No.
That was THEIR responsibility. They were responsible for taking
what Paul wrote before the Lord with an open heart. THAT was not
Paul's dominion. No one can do that for another person.
This is verified in Romans. Pauls writes, "

Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that
condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth. And he that
doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for
whatsoever is not of faith is sin. (Rom. 14:22-23)

Note the key phrases, "Have you faith? Have it to thyself before
God.....for whatsoever is not of faith is sin." Here we see that no
one can have dominion over the faith of another. Faith is a
PERSONAL responsibility. I can't believe for someone else. As
Paul says in II Cor. 1:24, "for by (your) faith YOU stand."
Now, this doesn't mean that people can be allowed to live in sin,
and there is nothing spiritual leadership can do about it. No. If I
personally choose to reject the Truth in a way that damages and
hurts others in the Body of Christ, then leadership does have the
right and responsibility to disfellowship me. Why? Because they
have authority to edify. And removing me will edify me -- even if I
don't like it. And it will edify others in the Body. Allowing me to
continue on in sin is destruction, not edification, and is the antithesis
of agape love.
A bondslave of Christ does not minister to others with his own
interests in mind. He has the interests of His Master in mind, unto
the good of those whom he edifies. This is a product of nothing short
of the bondslave's own surrender and a bondslave's own
personal faith in Jesus Christ.


Thanks to THE GOOD NEWS website for this fine article!