The Servants of God

Donald L. Norbie, Greeley, Colorado, USA [SEE PROFILE BELOW]

Precious Seed

In most of Christendom there is a clergy system firmly entrenched. The clergy are a special class in the church, men or women who go to seminary for special training, are ordained and then become leaders in the churches. They preach, baptize, officiate at various services and perform marriages. Because of their training and position they are viewed as professionals and are given special titles such as ‘Bishop’, ‘Reverend’, or ‘Pastor’. They are viewed as the spiritual leaders of their congregations.


Those who attempt to get back to a more scriptural position deny a clergy-laity division of God’s people. The Lord warned against a similar mentality amongst the Pharisees, Matt. 23. 6-12. He levelled all Christians to the status of being brothers and sisters, a family relationship. In the first century those who were called of God to this ministry delighted to call themselves ‘servants of God’, emphasizing their relationship to God and to His people. Today, those who seek a simpler, scriptural pathway of service prefer to be called ‘the Lord’s servants’ or ‘servants of God’.


The word doulos actually means a slave. Many translations do not like to use that term but translate ‘servant’ or, perhaps, ‘bondservant’, Rom. 1. 1 NKJV. Perhaps this is because the word ‘slave’ seems so degrading, reminding one of taskmasters wielding the whip. In the ancient world slavery was very common. It is said that half of Rome’s population was made up of slaves. The word diakonos also translated ‘servant’ or ‘deacon’ emphasizes the work, rather than the relationship to the master. 


The slave was always reminded that he was owned by another. Israel was redeemed from the slavery of Egypt and became God’s people, His own special possession. They entered into a covenant relationship with God and promised to obey Him, Exod. 24. 6-8. The church today has been redeemed from the slavery of sin and entered into a covenant relationship with the Lord. Believers are redeemed ‘with the precious blood of Christ’, 1 Pet. 1. 19, and are His special people, 1 Pet. 2. 9. All of the saints are ‘slaves’ of Christ by redemption. Paul pleads, ‘For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s’, 1 Cor. 6. 20.


The one who is called by God to the work of teaching and preaching His word can say with the apostles, ‘We will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word’, Acts 6. 4. He delights to be a slave of God. As such his master is obligated to defend him and to provide for his needs. There was real security in being a slave. The Lord’s slave can claim His protection and provision. Elijah, the prophet, was fed by the brook by ravens and then later cared for by a widow, 1 Kgs. 17.  

Slaves were never for hire. They served at the bidding of their owner, no one else. The clergy system, with its hired preachers, is a curse in the churches today. New Testament preachers were supported by the gifts of God’s people; they were never hired. Paul was fearless in confronting the Galatian churches with their legalism in going back to Judaism. ‘For do I now persuade men or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I should not be the bondservant (doulos) of Christ’, Gal. 1. 10. 
It is a great privilege to serve the Lord in proclaiming His word. In old age Paul could say, ‘And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry’, 1 Tim. 1. 12. But it must be the call of God; He calls and equips His servants. Such men will be keenly conscious of God’s call and that they are the slaves of God. They will be fearless with ministry that probes the conscience and exalts Jesus Christ as Lord of all. They will not be men pleasers but will be focused on pleasing the Lord. Oh God, raise up such men today!

AUTHOR PROFILE: Donald Norbie is in fellowship with the assembly in Greeley, Colorado, and is a commended full-time worker. A regular contributor to Precious Seed and other assembly magazines his ministry is widely appeciated throughout N. America and the UK.

There are 28 articles in
ISSUE (2012, Volume 67 Issue 1)

A Word for Today - Bikkûr

Ahaziah

Angolan Literature Fund

Bible Bytes - Christian Biographies on the Web

Bits & Bobs - Why Don’t Animals Need a Barber?

The Challenges and Blessings of Foster Care

Christ our Life

Church Gatherings - Part 1

Editorial - ‘For if ye do these things ye shall never fall’

Exemplary Spiritual Leadership J. Wragg

The First Epistle of John - Part 2

God’s Care for the Widow Austin Walker

History Today - James Montgomery Paul S. Taylor

Israel in the interval between the Rapture and the Tribulation

The King James Version and Principles of Translation - Part 2

Personalities in the Pastoral Epistles (7) - Those who were a delight to Paul (continued)

Philippians: The Joy and Suffering of the Furtherance of the Gospel - Part Nine

Question TIme - Should there be a minimum age set for those requesting baptism?

Reports

The Reward Side of Christianity

Riverside Gospel Hall, Bandon, Co.Cork, N.Ireland

The School of Pain

The Servants of God

The Sovereignty of God - Introduction - Part 1

Teaching and Guiding a Rising Generation - Part 1: THE SPIRITUAL BALANCE

True Love - Understanding the real meaning of Christian love

Views from the News

You Shall Go Out With Joy Robert Muir

This article is not part of a series

There are 40 articles by this author

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Job’s Concern...A Timely Word For Christian Parents

A Perverted Gospel?

What Is Your Motivation For Serving God?

Will You Die Well

What isLove?

Has life always been good to you or do you live in quiet desperation?

Is ThereTruth?

The Passion of the Christ

Blurring the Distinctives

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Buy the Truth

The Early Church

Is there Forgiveness?

What is this business about Deacons

The Attire of an Harlot

Harmony in God’s Family

Faith for the Work

Do You Love God?

Why Does an Assembly Die?

The Problem of The Problem of Obesity

The Devotion of Youth

Decidiing with peace

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The Character of worship

Is The Lord Enough?

Spiritual Compromise

So What is Wrong?

A Time to Weep

Sensual Religion

Should Christians observe the Sabbath?

The Healing of the family

How important is the Assembly?

Flee Lust

So, You want to be Contemporary?

The Servants of God

A Holy Man of God

The Son of Man

The Power of Choice