Only Slaves of Christ Are Free

Part VI of our series on Ransoming the Captive

As we progress through this series on Ransoming the Captive, it is important to remember one thing, lest we forget: captives can’t pay ransom for others.

But freed men? That’s another story!

God is replacing our futile ways of captivity with his righteous ways of ransoming unlovable human beings. And he’s teaching us those righteous ways. Not because our blood saves anybody—it doesn’t—but because when we let God use us to ransom unlovable others in his name, it points unmistakably back to him.

So if you follow Jesus, you have to be ready to lay down your life in his name as a ransom for the captives he loves.

At a moment’s notice.  That’s what the mother of James and John found out in Matthew 20:20-28:

“Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him.

‘What is it you want?’ he asked.

She said,  ‘Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.’

‘You don’t know what you are asking,’ Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?’

‘We can,’ they answered.

Jesus said to them, ‘You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.’

When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers. Jesus called them together and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’

(Matthew 20:20–28)

This is the Scriptural “twist” to ransoming the captives that many modern Christians fail to see (or just don’t want to):

Jesus does not set us “free” from captivity so that we no longer have a master.  Instead, we are ransomed from captivity by Christ in order to become his own possession, which, as it turns out, is true freedom.

Hear—and heed—the Word of the Lord from the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 7:20–23:

“Each one should remain in the situation which he was in when God called him. Were you a slave when you were called? Don’t let it trouble you—although if you can gain your freedom, do so. For he who was a slave when he was called by the Lord is the Lord’s freedman; similarly, he who was a free man when he was called is Christ’s slave. You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.”

Only when we remain forever his captives – only when we leave behind our role of being captives and join him in his role of freeing captives – is it possible for us unlovable human beings to be finally, fully, ecstatically free.


About Pastor Foley

The Reverend Dr. Eric Foley is CEO and Co-Founder, with his wife Dr. Hyun Sook Foley, of Voice of the Martyrs Korea, supporting the work of persecuted Christians in North Korea and around the world and spreading their discipleship practices worldwide. He is the former International Ambassador for the International Christian Association, the global fellowship of Voice of the Martyrs sister ministries. Pastor Foley is a much sought after speaker, analyst, and project consultant on the North Korean underground church, North Korean defectors, and underground church discipleship. He and Dr. Foley oversee a far-flung staff across Asia that is working to help North Koreans and Christians everywhere grow to fullness in Christ. He earned the Doctor of Management at Case Western Reserve University's Weatherhead School of Management in Cleveland, Ohio.
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2 Responses to Only Slaves of Christ Are Free

  1. james alexander says:

    many passages of Scripture make new (and much better) sense with this “ransoming the captive” insight. i was stunned yesterday when i read this familiar passage with new eyes, Isaiah 43:1-7 (

    thanks for the illumination, pastor foley. may God’s Spirit always give you Wisdom and Power.

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