John Mac Arthur’s books have always been hit or miss for me. I either love them or really don’t get anything out of them. This one, Slave: The Hidden Truth About Your Identity in Christ, falls into the ‘love it!’ category. MacArthur takes great care in uncovering a truth that has been lost in many modern congregations. In his own words, “The current of mainstream evangelicalism is driven by pragmatic concerns, not theological ones. Church growth gurus worry about what draws a crowd, not about what the Bible says… prosperity preachers make man the master, as if Christ were some genie in a bottle… Even within some conservative circles, pragmatic worldly methods… and almost boundless adaptations of the worst of worldly music are aggressively defended as long as they get visible results.” (see p. 74)
What is this lost truth? It is the idea of God as our master and we are his slaves. MacArthur begins with a thorough word study of the Greek words ‘kurios’ (‘master’ or ‘lord’) and ‘doulos’ (‘slave’ or ‘servant’). He rightly teaches that ‘doulos’ always means a slave, but that to avoid confusing first century slavery with British colonial slavery, translators have opted for the less offensive term, ‘servant.’ MacArthur follows this through with practical applications for how Christ is not only master over the Church at large, but also master over us as individuals.
Following Paul’s pattern in Romans 6-8, MacArthur then points out how we are mastered by either sin or by grace. For several chapters he shows the tyranny of being enslaved by sin, and in his concluding chapters he artfully teaches the oxymoron that there is freedom in slavery to God. Throughout the book is a call for all Christ-followers to submit to Jesus as our master. He owns us and uses us at His discretion, and we, if we are true slaves of God, have no choice but to obey Him, and through this obedience discover true liberty.
A great read that I highly recommend to any Christian or anyone thinking about becoming a Christian. MacArthur helps us to count the cost and to choose whom you will serve.