What is a Bondservant?

“I’ve lost all my rights. I don’t have rights but it’s Jesus who takes care of me and he is my master.”

Joy- Welcome to Asked and Answered,” the podcast series that answers all your questions about missions today. In the studio with me are Ron and Charis Pearce. Welcome back, guys! Are you ready? Our question of the day is what exactly is a bondservant?

Ron- Probably we should tie this together with missions somehow right at the start because people are wondering why are you talking about this? It’s a biblical principle that is smattered throughout, shall we say, the New Testament especially, but it’s an attitude that is permeating and has permeated the national churches of the world. It talks about what is the attitude of a Christian towards hard times, problems, persecution, surveillance, all of these things that are coming up in society today, how does the national church handle these things? And every time I go into these areas or I talk to a leader or they describe what the church is experiencing, it all relates to this one term, which is the term bondservant. And that is why we are going to talk about it today. It’s something that’s in the Bible but it’s not talked about all that much.

Joy- It’s really not but you often bring it up. It’s kind of your trademark.

Ron-It is and the reason for that is that years ago I searched around for what this meant. It popped out of the Bible at me in so many places and then I started to do a study on it. Then I was talking to a leader from the United States, I’m not going to do name dropping but he was a leader in the United States, a spiritual leader, and he always signed off by his bondservant” and I talked to him about it one time as to what the reason for this was. He told me that this really impacted his life that this was the signature shall we say, the thing that he wants to be known as, that he is a bondservant of Jesus, therefore, he says, I’ve lost all my rights. I don’t have rights but it’s Jesus who takes care of me and he is my master.” And I thought to myself, that makes a lot of sense. Then I started to look through the Bible and I looked at all the writers in the New Testament and others as well who referred to themselves as bondservants when they started their letters. It was their identification. I’m just going to quickly go through this and sort of give you an idea. In Philippians, the apostle Paul starts in Philippians this way, Paul and Timothy, bondservants of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus, he goes on that way. I’m just going to go over here, if you go to Jude, Jude says, a bondservant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James. Okay, that’s good. If you go over to 2 Peter, Peter says, Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ. That’s the first words that come out of his mouth. And then there is another one as well, and that is in the book of Revelation and this is John speaking and writing this and he says this, The revelation of Jesus Christ which God gave him to show his bondservants the things which must shortly take place. And I thought to myself, my goodness, this is everywhere! So we did a study and all the writers in the New Testament, at some point in time, called themselves bondservants. Not only that, but there was someone else, we are recording this folks at Christmas time so this will fit right in if you listen to it in the next little while, because it’s talking about Mary. Mary referred to herself as a bondservant as well. The portion that I’m referring to right now is in Luke 1 and this is where the angel appears to Mary and it says this, the angel says, And behold you will conceive in your womb and bear a son and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and he will be called the son of the Most High and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David. And it goes on this way and Mary is sort of astounded that this was happening this way. Then the angel goes on and talks about Elizabeth etcetera, and then at the very end here in verse 38 it says this: And Mary said, behold the bondservant of the Lord, be it done to me according to your word. And the angel departed from her. In other words, she was saying at that point in time, Lord do whatever you want, I am willing because I am your bondservant. This is the big thing that people are unwilling to look at today and to remember, is the fact that we really, once we become Christians and believers in Jesus, we place ourselves into his hands and his care and therefore, he is the one that dictates what happens in our lives, what we go through, all the footsteps to follow. Mary did this and this was before Jesus was born, this was just an angel but she referred to herself as God’s bondservant. He was in charge.

And Mary said, behold the bondservant of the Lord, be it done to me according to your word. And the angel departed from her.

Joy- Was she the first person to refer to herself that way?

Ron- Yes, actually it’s done. Maybe there were other people in other words but this was the first time it came out in this way with these exact words. Now this takes us to another portion of scripture, this is where we are really going to stop today and sort of think of this. This is found in Philippians 2. In Philippians 2, we have a section here that talks about, Paul was talking about what a bondservant is, and it says this; Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, Philippians 2:5 for those who are following along, who although existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but he emptied himself, taking the form of a bondservant and be made found in the likeness of man and being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore also God highly exalted him, and it goes on after that. This is the portion of scripture that I think Paul was underlining. Remember at the beginning of this book he calls himself a bondservant and now he comes and sort of explains what it’s all about. Remember that a bondservant was very common in the time of the Romans and what it was is that a slave, after he finished his time of serving the master, he had a choice of either walking away or he had a choice of really taking the next step of commitment to his master and saying I want to follow you forever, I don’t want to go away, you can treat me any way you want , you can do whatever you want to me, you can feed me anything you want, I am yours. I am your bondservant, I am selling myself into your care. Therefore, the master would say, are you sure you want to do this? Sort of like, I can do anything I want and you can’t say anything back to me, you can’t fight back, you can’t do anything to resist this and the bondservant would say yes. I have seen what you are like, the quality of your leadership, the quality of your life, who you are, and I am giving myself because I trust you. Then all of a sudden he puts an awl, a metal tool for making leather, up to the bondservant’s ear next to a door and makes a great big hole in there, observable to everyone.

Joy- In the door?

Ron- No, in the ear. It’s like you girls get your ears pierced right, well that is only a small hole, think of something that you can see through that is probably 316th to ¼ of an inch, it’s this great big hole in there. And everybody after this moment would know that they are a bondservant.

Charis- So is the difference between a servant, and a slave, and a bondservant the choice of the person to follow the master?

Ron- Yes, it is exactly that, and it’s a matter that they have a new level of commitment to the trust factor and they are trusting the master to take care of them. So it’s sort of like relaxing and just throwing yourselves into the arms of the master and saying whatever you want. The same way Mary did, and Mary said Lord whatever you want. This is what a bondservant does.

A bondservant was very common in the time of the Romans and what it was is that a slave, after he finished his time of serving the master, he had a choice of either walking away or he had a choice of really taking the next step of commitment to his master and saying I want to follow you forever.

Joy- It seems to me the only reason a servant, after being a slave would choose to become a bondservant is love. There is no other reason why. I mean there is an element of security in being taken care of but it had to be an underlying love.

Ron-There is something Joy, that happens after you walk with the Lord for a little while, whereby you taste and you see that He is good. And you just come to a deeper level of that love and trust. And it’s something that grows in a believer. Years ago I thought, I’m going all around the world now and I’m going to be meeting all of these people, I’m going to be in all these dangerous situations, man, I better start trusting the Lord that he’s going to take care of me and that he’s going to lead me into the right place at the right time to protect me. And he did. And this is the thing, I’ve had lots of adventures as you probably realize where I should have probably died but no, the Lord was there and so you relax in these things. Now there is another scripture and I’m not going to turn to it and read it to you right now but it’s basically this; on the night in which Jesus was betrayed, in the Garden of Gethsemane, and I have, I don’t know how many times now, stood up on a high ridge you might say, just at the Mount of Olives and looked down into the Garden of Gethsemane, and I see the trees and all the fig trees and all the other stuff that’s there, and I thought, those were probably originally here when Jesus was around. Somewhere right in this area this event happened. So the mob walks up, all the soldiers etcetera, led by Judas and they are walking up to Jesus and the disciples who had been in prayer, and all of a sudden they are arresting Jesus and Peter takes his sword, pulls out his sword and chops off the ear of a slave. Now get this, a slave. The slaves name is Malchus and its written right in the Gospel of John that the slaves name was Malchus, and I thought why Lord are you giving me the name of a slave back 2000 years ago for myself today? Is that important? That’s the way God underlines something. Sometimes there’s an odd detail or something that’s a little different and it’s this whole thing of that slave event of cutting the ear off and then Jesus putting his hand, remember and it healed etcetera, and it goes on. But what Jesus said after that to Peter was super significant. He said this is not our way, put the sword up, that’s enough of this, we don’t do it in this way. Not by might, not by power but by his Spirit is what is quoted in the Bible and that is the way we will behave as believers going forward. So Jesus, at that point in time, inspired the writers to put that incident into the Bible so that we could know how to conduct ourselves under pressure. And I can tell you this, now let’s pop over here to personal experiences today, I’ve talked to leaders in China and people who have been in prison for their faith and it is a bondservant attitude that I hear coming back at me. For instance, one time I was sitting with this brother and he had been in prison up in the northern part of China, his code name is Snowman actually, he’s a good friend and I still remember him telling me a story about how they tortured him in a snowstorm, they strung him up from the beams and brought in this special army officer to torture him. They put him out in this blizzard outside on a concrete bench to die. He didn’t die, God protected him, took care of him. They brought him in and they were so amazed they called him the God man’ and they released him. But you know what he told me? He said to me, It was really cold Ron, it was really cold, I thought I was going to die, but I made it, got through, God took care of me they released me,” and then he said, and you know the next day I went back. They released me, I went home that night but the next day I went back.” And I said, Why did you go back?” He says, When they arrested me they took my bicycle and I wanted my bicycle back.” This is the place where he was tortured! But he went back and so I said, So what did you do?” He says, I went in and said I need my bicycle back.” He said, I didn’t lose my cool.” He didn’t go nuts on the guys, he didn’t yell at them, he didn’t forcefully attack them. He says, I just said under the law you arrested me and took my possession and it says in the law of China that I should be getting my bicycle back.” So he stood there completely calm, not frothing at the mouth angry, but he was under control and he started to talk to them about that and from what I remember he got his bicycle back. Now, why is this important? Because many people today, when we are challenged by forces from outside who want to restrict us or anything like that, they come at us and we start to lose it, we really lose it in anger and the things we’re saying and doing and our actions and everything like that. Remember one of the fruits of the Spirit, love, joy, peace, gentleness, and all that, all of this fruit of the Spirit, the last one: self-control. In other words, the Spirit of God gives us the ability to control ourselves and we have to start acting like bondservants. Not cutting off ears of people, not attacking, we’ve got to be able to walk through life as a bondservant displaying people who are totally under the control of the Holy Spirit. This is important. This is where we see the difference between us and the world. Another instance overseas, this brother, and you probably heard of him, his name is brother Yuen, heavenly man. So we were talking one time and he was telling me bout when he escaped prison and the prison doors all opened in front of him and he walked out etcetera. Everybody was watching him, there was another brother that I know that was watching him from up on top, he was in prison with him and he was watching down on the gates, as these gates were opening up and he was invisible to the guards and he walked right out. And I said, So is this common?” Oh, no it’s not common, it was something that happened to me,” and he says we’ve also run! We do that, but if we’re captured, we don’t take clubs and weapons and fight back” because he says, we know very well that the Lord had that in store for us and we are going to have to undergo this torture.’

Joy- The way of the Cross.

Ron- The way of the Cross etcetera. But doesn’t mean to say we can’t run! And I thought, that’s true and, therefore, there is some sort of balance involved in being a Christian and following this principle which is clearly outlined in the Bible. Not ignoring it, not trying to add water to it to minimize what’s in there so we can behave any way we want. The Bible says we have a behavior pattern that is based upon the work of the Holy Spirit, our trust in Jesus the master, and we are bondservants, whether we like it or not. We have made that commitment out of love as you pointed out, but that is ongoing and therefore today, if I can put it this way, if there was ever a day that we need to display what a bondservant is, it’s in this current era that we live in. We will be different than the world and we will show people that we trust in Jesus. We trust God.

Joy- You know I once tried looking up what a bondservant was and interestingly enough there’s not many answers about it. There’s a few and I know you wrote on it and it pops up in Google and I know a lot of people go to it but, after listening to you today I see why it’s a little more complicated because it is a noun and an adverb. It’s both. It’s an action and it is something that we are. So it’s not so cut and dry but it’s life-changing.

Ron- It’s not so cut and dry, no, no, and it’s something that you have really got to believe in to practice. Like, I wouldn’t necessarily walk up to a new believer who is three days old in the Lord and try to describe this, alright? Because, they are just getting their feet wet and they are just starting to learn and they’re starting to walk. But after a while, older Christians, believers who have been around for a while and have tasted as I say of the things of the Lord, those are the ones that need to model what a bondservant is. Not the other way, where we model out of control behavior and language that is offensive, not defensive but offensive to people and, therefore, I think this is something we have got to grow into. The church of Jesus Christ around the world has learned to practice bondservant attitudes and actions. The church in North America right now needs to grow in this area and that is something I’m hoping people will hear and not rebel against and not get angry over because it’s right in the Bible. This is something that jumps out at you and, therefore, that is why I say this today. I say this with a little bit of fear and trepidation because some people are going to attack and say, that’s not for us no, no. No, it is. There is something here we’ve got to display, a peace that passes all understanding and the world is looking for peace today.

Joy- Okay, well thank you, another great episode of Asked and Answered.” A bondservant is a slave for Christ but also it’s so much more than that.

<p>Garden of Gethsemane</p>
I don’t know how many times now, I stood up on a high ridge you might say, just at the Mount of Olives and looked down into the Garden of Gethsemane, and I see the trees and all the fig trees and all the other stuff that’s there, and I thought, those were probably originally here when Jesus was around.

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