Servants AND Friends of God
July 11, 2024 Blogs by: Tim Jennings, M.D.

Have you ever read the amazing book Servants or Friends? by A. Graham Maxwell? If you haven’t, I highly recommend it.

I remember reading it several decades ago, and it made a profound impact on my understanding of God, opening my mind to new ideas and concepts that have helped me to know Him more fully and grow in understanding of His designs and methods.

Those who follow our ministry know that I consistently contrast the difference between human imposed laws, made-up rules that require inflicted punishments—the legal way of seeing things—with God’s design laws, the protocols the Creator built reality to operate upon, like the laws of health, physics, and the moral laws.

What struck me recently is that while Graham never used the specific language of imposed law versus design law, he did contrast the same two laws in his book and teachings when he spoke of the difference between servants and friends. In a presentation entitled Legal Problems Among Friends, Graham stated, “Servants are governed by the law on the wall. Friends are governed by the law in their hearts and in their minds” (minute 28:52).

Graham described the servant as the one who doesn’t understand the master’s business yet who does what the master says—and he obeys merely to not get in trouble. He is the one who not only doesn’t understand the master, he doesn’t even care to. He just wants to be obedient, follow the dos and don’ts, and avoid getting into legal trouble. This is the imposed-law mindset. “What are the rules? What am I required to do? What does the master demand?”

Whereas the friend is the one who enters into understanding cooperation with the master. The friend also obeys, but he does so from a sense of agreement, loyalty, devotion, love, and trust for and in the master. This is design law—understanding how and why things work the way they do and intelligently cooperating because we agree and prefer the methods and ways of the master.

I can’t think of anyone who has contrasted the role of a servant with that of a friend better than Graham. It is an excellent contrast between the human imposed-law way of seeing things and God’s design-law way of seeing things.

But what struck me recently is that the servant’s understanding is the way of the world, how fallen humanity thinks, the way of the imposed law, rule over by power methods of the kingdoms of this world—and it doesn’t represent God’s true servants. One cannot be a true and faithful servant of God, one cannot complete the mission for our heavenly master or fulfill His calling, unless they are actually His friend! In other words, all of God’s trustworthy servants are trustworthy only because they have actually become His friends. These people actually know God (John 17:3) and, therefore, know His character, design-law methods, and principles and have been won into loyal friendship with Him and, thus, can say of Him what is right (Job 42:7). This is only possible when they have rejected the imposed-law lies and embraced the truth of God’s design laws such that they have stopped worshiping a creature and returned to worshiping the Creator.

In Scripture, God’s true servants are also called His prophets:

Surely the Sovereign LORD does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets (Amos 3:7 NIV84, emphasis mine; see also 1 Kings 14:18; 2 Kings 9:7, 17:23, 21:10; Ezra 9:11; Jeremiah 7:25, 25:4, 26:5, 29:19, 35:15; Ezekiel 38:17; Daniel 9:10; Zechariah 1:6).

God’s trustworthy prophets are not limited to those who foretell the future, as Daniel and John did. Rather, they are God’s spokespersons, the ones who are God’s friends, the ones who know God personally and can say of Him what is right; they are the ones who go to the people with a message from God, a message that only a friend could rightly deliver.

Perhaps the most famous and powerful example of such a servant, prophet, and spokesperson for God, one who was actually God’s friend, is Moses:

The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend (Exodus 33:11 NIV84).

And Moses was repeatedly called God’s servant:

When a prophet of the LORD is among you, I reveal myself to him in visions, I speak to him in dreams. But this is not true of my servant Moses; he is faithful in all my house. With him I speak face to face, clearly and not in riddles; he sees the form of the LORD. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses? (Numbers 12:6–8 NIV84, emphasis mine).

Moses was a friend of God yet was called His servant because only a true friend can provide the service God wants—and that is the service of telling the truth about Him! True service is taking the message of God’s character of love to the people. This is the work God calls a special end-time group of His servants to fulfill for Him right before His second coming. (See my blog Who Are the 144,000?)

Some might stumble on this verse because God contrasts a “prophet” with His servant Moses, but this verse contrasts the difference between those who are actually God’s friends and those who are not. There are prophets who are God’s true servants, who tell the truth about Him, and are able to do so only because they are also His friends—prophets like Moses, the apostles, Isaiah, and others. But there are also prophets who are not His true servants, not His friends, who don’t really know Him, and yet God has still spoken through them, such people as Balaam and King Saul (Numbers 22; 1 Samuel 10:9–12). Only the trustworthy friends of God, who receive His seal in their forehead, can provide Him the service He truly desires—to reveal Him in His true glory, light, and character; thus, only His true friends are called His servants.

This is why Jesus will say to His faithful friends at the end of time, “Well done, you good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:21 GNT).

For like Job, they will have said of God what is right!



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Tim Jennings, M.D. Timothy R. Jennings, M.D., is a board-certified psychiatrist, master psychopharmacologist, Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, Fellow of the Southern Psychiatric Association, and an international speaker. He served as president of the Southern and Tennessee Psychiatric Associations and is president and founder of Come and Reason Ministries. Dr. Jennings has authored many books, including The God-Shaped Brain, The God-Shaped Heart, and The Aging Brain.