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Free Books » Bonar, Horatius » Light & Truth: Acts and the Larger Epistles

Chapter 69 - 1 Corinthians 7:22 - The Servant and the Freeman of Christ Light & Truth: Acts and the Larger Epistles by Bonar, Horatius


A Christian is one who is "called," not by self or man, but by God. The voice that calls him is almighty, irresistible. He must needs obey. He is born "of the will of God."

He is called "in the Lord." This refers not so much to his being called by the Lord, as to his being called to be "in the Lord." Christ in him and he in Christ, this is his standing. As once he was "in the world," and in himself, so now he is "in the Lord."

He is not of any one nation. According to the flesh, he may be a Jew or a Gentile, a Greek or a Roman, a barbarian, a Scythian, an African, an Indian, or a Briton. According to the Spirit, his nationality is not of earth; his citizenship is in heaven.

He is not of any special condition or rank. He may be a servant or a master, a peasant or a monarch, a merchant or a ploughman, a man of learning or a half-witted beggar.

Yet these two things are common to each,—he is called, and he is in the Lord. The other things connected with him are unessential and unenduring. These two only are important and abiding.

Keeping this in mind, the apostle takes up the two great conditions of society in his day,—master and slave,—in order to bring out the true and high bearing of Christianity on these. If you be a servant, what then? If a master, what then? These are the two questions he answers.

The answers to these two questions are contained in these two statements. A Christian is the Lord's freeman; a Christian is Christ's servant.

I. A Christian is the Lord's freeman. This expression means the following things:—

(1.) He was once a slave. He was not born free. He did not free himself. Like Israel in Egypt, he was "delivered."

(2.) He was set free by the Lord. The name of his liberator is a glorious one; one betokening power and authority. His former masters were sin, the flesh, the devil. From these this mighty Lord hath set him free.

(3.) As a free man he still belongs to Christ. Nay, he belongs more to Him than ever; more to Him than to his former masters. A new tie has been formed between him and the Lord; the tie of liberty; the tie of love; the tie of gratitude.

(4.) His life is one of liberty. There is no return to bondage. All is the joy of freedom, Christ's own freedom; true, heavenly liberty; liberty in every part; perfect throughout; yet not the liberty of self-will.

(5.) His is liberty which earthly service cannot affect. He may be a slave or a prisoner, he is still the Lord's freeman. Hands, and feet, and body may be in chains, he is as free as ever. No earthly bondage can intermeddle with or neutralize this liberty.

But how and when does all this begin? In what way is it carried on?

(1.) Ye are bought with a price. A ransom has been paid for our liberation; and the spring of all our liberty comes from this ransom. Christ hath redeemed us. We are redeemed not with corruptible things, but 'with the precious blood of Christ.

(2.) If the Son make you free, ye shall be free indeed. Our liberty is the direct work of the Son of God. He unbinds us and disimprisons us. He became a bondman for us. He took our chains and prison that we might have his liberty.

(3.) The truth shall make you free. The truth revealed in Christ contains in it all liberating elements and ingredients. It neutralizes and undoes all that made us slaves. And from the moment that we know it we are free! Our belief of this liberating truth sets us at full liberty.

II. A Christian is Christ's servant. Freed from one service which is bondage, he enters another which is liberty. Though free, he is a servant! Free because a servant! A servant because free! Such is the wonderful yet happy contradiction. As Messiah is the Father's servant, come to do His will, so are we Messiah's servants, engaged to do His will.

Thus we are both freemen and servants, truly both. And we begin our liberty and our service at the same time and in the same way. That truth which sets us free, introduces us into service. The two, so far from being incompatible, are harmonious and helpful to each other.

If we are Christ's servants, then we wear His livery; we dwell in His house; we do His work; we fix our eye on Him; we merge our wills in His; we get His wages, His reward,—"Well done good and faithful servant." Let us then realize and act out both our freemanship and our service faithfully and fully; at all times; all places; all conditions. Freemen, yet servants always! Servants, yet freemen always.

Let us close with the apostolic use of this truth. Are we masters? Let us remember we are Christ's servants, and only masters under Him; let this keep us humble and kind. We have a good, kind Master; let us be good and kind. Are we servants? Let not this trouble us or make us fretful. We are the Lord's freemen! That makes up for all. Though we were chained, imprisoned, exiled, like Paul at Rome, or John at Patmos, we are free! Nothing on earth can interfere with this privilege, or rob us of this honour; we are free indeed. Ours is glorious liberty.