Ambassadors in Chains

“But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing…” Matthew 6:3

When it comes to doctrine, Mark Driscoll defines all issues as either closed-handed or open-handed. The non-negotiable fundamentals are held with a closed hand. In the open hand are issues that can be debated without shafting a church’s faithfulness to the apostles’ doctrine.

The Tabernacle was a metal man. In His left hand were bread and wine: servanthood, or more correctly, slavedom. In His right hand were the seven stars of the Lampstand: kingdom. The process of maturity, from obedience to wisdom, from slave to son, is the process of binding and loosing, from closed-handed issues to the open hand of the king. A priest is a silent servant in God’s house, and the details of his obedience are non-negotiable. His is an ear to be bored with an awl. A king is a vassal-son in God’s house, and he is counted as a friend, a courtly advisor. [1] His is a loosed tongue precisely because it has been bridled.

Of course, it takes a king to decide which issues should be held with a closed hand and which with an open one.

The true king is the son of the freewoman who was willing, like Isaac, to be bound as a sacrifice in order to free the generations of the people of God, the Bride. Likewise, Paul, the greatest apostle, was bound with a chain, held in the iron grip of Rome, for the hope of Israel. And the faithfulness of the apostolic church led to the binding of Satan–with a chain.

There is great wisdom in pastors requiring young Christians to focus on the fundamental doctrines, not simply in word but in practice, before allowing them, as qualified rhetors, to enter the debating arena. Doctrinal debates are a privilege of the New Covenant Church, but our motives must be pure. If we wish to speak in kingly courts, we must enter the arena from the place of the bondslave. Adam didn’t. Jesus did. The speech of a broken heart is not bitter but fragrant.

The vows of Church membership are, in this sense, a submission to chains for the sake of the gospel. So often, when tongues are afire, the Word of God is hindered, and when we are chained, the Word is loosed. The principle of intercession, of substitutionary sacrifice, permeates every area of ministry.

And soon enough, the chains might be real ones.

“…and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.” Philippians 1:14

[1] See God Chooses His Friends.

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