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Description: Are You a Slave of Christ?
Are You a Slave of Christ?
Sermon Transcript by Rev. Ernest O’Neill
[late start in audio] … and talks about Jesus’ death, really, even though it was written 600 years
before, I suppose. Isaiah 53:1-12:
“Who has believed what we have heard? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? For he grew
up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or comeliness
that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by
men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their face she was
despised, and we esteemed him not.
“Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by
God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like
sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the
iniquity of us all.
“He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the
slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth. By
oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut
off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? And they made his
grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there
was no deceit in his mouth.
“Yet it was the will of the Lord to bruise him; he has put him to grief; when he makes himself an
offering for sin, he shall see his offspring, he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall
prosper in his hand; he shall see the fruit of the travail of his soul and be satisfied; by his
knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous; and he shall
bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the
spoil with the strong; because he poured out his soul to death, and was numbered with the
transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.”
[Let us pray.]
We possibly could get started in Romans but it is really quite the task. One of the things I do see
is I can’t preach the sermons again that I preached years ago. They are great – maybe at times I
will. The richness of God’s Word just flows in upon me. I can’t say other than that. That sounds
very holy and very learned but I don’t mean it to be. But it’s just that I don’t know – that I know
so much more or maybe I know less? But it certainly seems so rich, the Romans. So, all I can do
today is touch upon part of it.
I was involved in doing some complicated pictures on the computer of the stars and the galaxies so I
hope to bring some of that to you – who knows, maybe this evening or next Sunday or the following
Sunday. But this of course, is so full of truth and richness that I can just touch upon a little of
it in the first verse.
“Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God which he
promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures…” Really, all I’m going to touch
upon is the very first phrase, “a servant of Jesus Christ”.
What did come home to me, with “Jesus Christ” was it’s really important for us to remember who he
is. I can do that quickly in the verse that we all know so well:
“He [Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation; for in him all things
were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or
principalities or authorities – all things were created through him and for him. He is — [it just
sets you back on your heels] — before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the
head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the first-born from the dead, that in everything
he might be pre-eminent. For in him all the fulness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to
reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his
THAT’S the “Jesus Christ”. I said that because it’s so often easy for us to say, “Oh yeah, ‘a
servant of Jesus Christ’ – you know who that is. Jesus is the one who speaks inside me at times and
who lived in the first century…” HE is before all things. In him everything was made that was
made. All things hold together in him.
I have a wonderful picture of the galaxies. All of them hold together in him. So of course it
brings home to you, “a servant of Jesus Christ” — that is a great privilege. Of course, the word
“servant” is “doulos”. It really means, “a slave or a bond servant” – a bond servant who has given
up any right to himself and has given themselves completely over to the owner or his master. A bond
servant is one who just does with no question what his master tells him – but particularly, when his
master is not some little guy who is going around Galilee or some little preacher, but particularly,
when he is a person in whom all the galaxies were made, in whom all the stars hold together, in whom
our own body, with it’s billions and billions of neutrons and protons holds together – HE is the one
of whom we are slaves.
What came home to me in connection with the communion is, “Well, he’s a kind of advisor to me.
He’s a kind of advisor. I’m a kind of advisee. I’m the one that he advises and then, like all
financial advisers, I may obey him. I may not obey him.” I thought, “How often does that describe
us?” How often is this slave unquestioning in his obedience? I don’t know if you saw the movie,
“Twelve Years a Slave”, but immediately – you act immediately. A slave obeys unquestioningly.
I think each of us know, actually, that our own spiritual health does deteriorate when we regard him
as an advisor. It DOES deteriorate when we argue with ourselves, “Well, I need to think about
that.” Or, “I need to work out the consequences of doing that.” Or, of course worse, when we
really don’t want to do it — and far from being a slave who unquestioningly obeys his master, we
try to be the devil’s advocate and work out, “There are better ways to do this.” Or, “Maybe we
don’t really need to do this.”
It seems to me that the cancer gets in in that way. We sense something from Christ’s heart, we
sense something that he is saying we should do, but we wonder, “Did he REALLY say that? Does that
HAVE to be done? Does it need to be done NOW? Maybe it’s just my conscience? Maybe it’s just my
overruling legalism?” It’s so easy it seems to me, to not be a slave at all, and to be so busy
trying to avoid erring on the legalistic side, trying to avoid being silly or just a little machine.
It’s so easy on the basis of those protests to hold off.
I don’t know when it is when you find out that there’s a whole trail of things that have kind of
piled up, that have just piled up behind you so that now, there are rather a burden. Moreover, you
are glad that you don’t hear them so often now. You’ve kind of dealt with them. Then you wonder
why there has seems to have come some fatness into your life or some deadness, or some lack of
aliveness to Jesus’ voice. It seems to me it ties up with this business of “doulos”. Are you a
“doulos Iesous Christos”? Are you a slave of Jesus Christ? Or, are you just – maybe as the English
word here means — “a servant” – a good a servant as you can be, but not a slave? Maybe at times,
you are not even a servant but just an advisee, somebody who has Jesus Christ as kind of advisor
that tells you what would be a good idea to do?
It seemed to me that Paul was very definite about how to have guidance in your life. He said, “be a
slave of Jesus Christ”. Especially of course, when you realize who he is, that he’s of course the
Son of our Maker, and that he’s the one in whom all things were made, then he probably knows best.
He probably knows best. Then where I think it’s easy to go wrong is, you can be assured of course
he knows best, but the TIMING may not be right. So, you hold off because of the timing – but
actually, then you end up holding off permanently.
I think it’s worth thinking of. If you say to me, “Well now, wait a minute! There’s a great danger
of deception, you know. There’s a great danger of being legalistic. There’s a great danger of
doing a thing for the wrong reason.” Yeah, then unless it’s something like murder that is so
plainly what Jesus is not saying, I’d rather err on the right side than on the wrong side. Besides,
it seems to me it’s possible to take a step forward in the direction that you sense Jesus is saying
and then keep your eyes open and your ears open and your mind alive and watch out for any
corrections that he brings to your mind through somebody else saying something or through you
reading something, or reflecting upon it.
It’s possible, it seems to me, and SAFER to err on the side of obeying Jesus when he tells you and
trusting him to bring to your remembrance if it’s not his will. It’s safer to do that than to err
on the other side and say, “Maybe that wasn’t him at all.”
I don’t know about you, I don’t know if they are always so uncertain anyway as that. I don’t know
if those are the ones that do the great harm. I think the ones that do the great harm to our
spiritual life are when we DO think it’s Jesus and as the man in the Bible says, “We put it off to a
more convenient season.” We just step away from the thing and often step off from a whole wealth of
life that he has for us. “Paul, a servant, a slave of Jesus Christ.”
Let us pray.