Moving From Slave to Servant to Child: The Soul’s Reckoning of an Immediate Reality of Grace

The soul’s reckoning of God’s work of salvation is a common battle ground for Gospel assurance.  When I say “slave”, I intend that slavery to sin that the unbeliever relishes and continues to live in until they come to Christ.  When I say “servant”, I intend that servitude made explicit in that transference from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of Christ.  And when I say “child”, I intend that sweetest reality that is lavished upon the blood bought sinner.

The Christian, I think, easily understands the transference from slavery to sin as an unbeliever to the reality that any believer finds themselves in at this very moment.  It is, however, with this new relationship to God in Christ in mind, that the relationship of the Christian as servant, and the relationship of the Christian as child, is often unrealized or confused.  This, I have found, is one of the greatest struggles of the Christian life that need not be so.

Do not mistake the title to mean that the Christian is not to be a servant of God – he is indeed!  Paul wrote of himself as the “bondservant of Christ” (Romans 1:1, etc.).  But the Christian is not only a servant in the house of God, no, but a child in the house as well.  He has not only be redeemed and declared innocent on account of the saving person and work of Christ, but in the Beloved Christ, the Christian has also been adopted as God’s true child.  It is the souls understanding of identity in Christ that appears tantalizingly difficult at times, caught between the earthly image of a servant and the biblical reality of the servant-child (and how to reconcile the two).  It is no doubt due to our very nature as human beings living in a fallen existence, living in a culture of merit and demerit on the basis of deeds done or undone.

But this is not how God has redeemed, it is not how He has saved; it is not how He sanctifies or brings home to glory.  No!  The good news of God in Christ is that while we were yet sinners, dead and ungodly, God demonstrated that He loved us in that He gave His Son to die for us then, and not when we had cleaned ourselves up and put on a painting of moral reform.  And God’s love is the love of a Father upon those redeemed.  And while it would have been well enough to be delivered from sin’s mastery and brought into God’s house as a servant only, His love would have none of it; His redemptive purpose intended something much more splendid: in Christ, God adopts the one who was a slave, and so the Christian is made a child of God.  Indeed, the Christian has the place of a child at God’s table.  The Christian is as much of a child of God as God’s only Begotten, the Lord Jesus Christ.  And in Him, our acceptance with God stands on the basis of the perfect Child, Jesus of Nazareth.  Our Father observes and accepts us freely and fully in Him, and thus, legal obstacles removed by the cross, our acceptance is as high, as sure, as unchangeable as Christ’s is – it cannot be any greater, and it will never be any lower, least of all on the basis of what we do or don’t do.

And let not this justification lend itself to licentiousness, for the one who presumes upon such freedom has not understood in the soul the nature of regeneration (that our freedom is a freedom dominated by God’s Spirit, new loves, joys, and desires to follow in Christ’s footsteps and to please our Father) or the joy of childhood (which in Jewish culture implied the imitation of one’s father).  But I will pass on further explanation.

In sum, I submit to you that there should be no anxiety upon these two aspects of relationship – servant and child – for they, while nuanced, are one and the same, or at least complimentary.  For the child loves the Father, and desires to serve Him, even as he has been loved and served.  And the servant relishes his duty, for his duty is rendered unto his perfect Father.  Thus, love and service, that of the child and the servant, are not to be seen as separate, but necessary to one another.

Furthermore, I would bid you to realize, if you are a Christian, that your disobedience will be met not with the lashes of God upon a disobedient servant, but the loving discipline of God upon a disobedient child.  And I would bid you still, if you are struggling with this transition – I say “transition”, but truly, when one is redeemed, he or she is immediately made a child also; but it appears that many battle with the “transition” of this reality from mind to heart such that it enflames the soul with love and wonder, etc. – to consider those sweet passages of Scripture that serve as candles illuminating the soul to the Father and His perfect Fatherhood.  He will not cast you off; He will not leave you or forsake you; no, dear soul, but in Christ, He will love you perfectly, in discipline and compassion, so that you may know your unchangeable place with Him.  You are no longer the slave awaiting auction to the greatest bids of sin; the Father has bought you with the blood of Christ, and you are His child.  And the child loves the Father’s allotted service, knowing that services rendered do not affect his or her status as a true child of God.  Let us rejoice in this, and have our worries dispelled.  The servant is a child, and the child a servant; and the combination of the two implies both our security and the working out of our faith.  And when doubt begins to creep, remember, our Father is good, and He is faithful.  He will deal with you as child, if indeed, that is what you are.  So dear brother or sister, let us take heart in our Divine Father, and His sweetest love.

One Response

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