Week 31 – The Lordship of Christ

The Jesus who saves is the Lord. There is no other.

James Montgomery Boice

It is a grievous error, indeed a modern form of the antinomian heresy, to suggest that a person can be justified by embracing Jesus as Savior but not as Lord. True faith accepts Christ as both Savior and Lord…To deny His Lordship is to seek justification with an impenitent faith, which is no faith.

R. C. Sproul

The Lordship of Christ

“For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, and those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11).

The Lordship of Jesus is so central to the Bible’s message that the word Lord is mentioned over 7,700 times. The word Savior is found 37 times.

The central feature of the new kingdom we enter upon our new birth is the King. Jesus alone reigns as the Lord and King of His kingdom: “Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ – this Jesus whom you crucified” (Acts 2:36).

The early Christians called Jesus “Lord” (Greek: Kurios), confessing His sovereignty. “Kyrios” was the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew word “Adonai,” which meant “God Himself.” Our eternal call is to love Jesus above all else. See Luke 14:25-35, where Jesus makes clear that total allegiance to His Lordship demonstrates true conversion.

We preach the Lord Jesus Christ not to enslave people, but to help them gain true freedom. Everyone is a slave to something: “you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness” (Romans 6:16).

Everything not submitted to Christ is ruled by something else, and this bondage will result in fear, oppression, pain.

In contrast, Jesus said that his reign is reasonable: “Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). Jesus wishes to meet all of our needs and give us a fulfilling life:

“Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:31-33).

Today, unfortunately, “cheap grace” is preached, and those who heed this “watered-down gospel” imagine Christ as their Savior and not their Lord. Trusted theologian J.I. Packer calls this the “hot tub religion.” This non-biblical message contradicts the church fathers and godly preachers throughout history. The most basic confession of any new Christian is “Jesus is Lord”:

“But what does it [i.e. the law] say? The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart – that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation” (Romans 10:8-10).

And, in Acts 2:36, we see Peter preaching to a crowd:

“Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ – this Jesus whom you crucified.”

In Matthew 7:13-23, Jesus makes it clear that many who offer Him lip service will be eternally rejected because of their lawlessness and hypocrisy. To avoid this deception, we fully submit our lives to Jesus and His purposes. As Christians, we will always be susceptible to sin, but when we come to Christ our sinful living can stop. The apostle Paul exhorted the Corinthians and us today:

“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicator, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Spirit of our God and you will be saved” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).

Lordship salvation, when properly understood, never allows a works-righteousness (i.e. the belief that we must perform good works to be saved) to substitute for the gospel of the grace of God. On the contrary, the grace (i.e., the unmerited favor) of God delivers the new believer from sin and enables him or her to trust Christ as Lord. Titus 2:11-14 clarifies that grace is not a license to do as we please but rather it is the power of God that accepts us, delivers us and enables us to keep following the Lord. Grace is God’s love and blessings that he freely gives us to live under Christ’s Lordship, that is, in accordance with His will.

James Montgomery Boice writes:

…that faith in a Jesus who is Savior but not Lord is faith in a Jesus of one’s own devising. The Jesus who saves is the Lord. There is no other. It was He who said, “Why do you call me Lord, Lord and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46)…that if one wants to serve Christ, “He must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Him” (Luke 9:23)…that without holiness no one will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14).

Additional Scriptures for Study: Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 9:23-26, 62, 14:25-35, 18:18; Revelation 3:14-16.

Review:

  1. The Roman “pledge of allegiance” confessed “Caesar is Lord.” How did the Christian confession that “Jesus is Lord” sound to Roman citizens?
  2. What is a good demonstration of “true conversion”?
  3. How is everyone a slave to something?
  4. What is “cheap grace”?
  5. Can a true Christian live his life the way he wants to?