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About Doctrines


There is a segment of good Christian believers who miss a major portion of the immediate description of Jesus. Back in Romans 1:3 Paul calls Jesus "Christ Jesus our Lord." Again, later on in Romans 10, Paul quotes from Joel to tell us "whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Rom 10:13). This is in line with his conversion prayer of 10:9-10, where he speaks of the Lord Jesus.

What does it mean to be Lord? This is the issue. Strange as it may sound to many, this has been a "hot topic" among some Christian scholars and leaders. The debate is over what is required for salvation. Does a person merely need to accept Jesus as Savior, or must he accept Jesus as Savior and Lord? Is there a difference? How important is this difference, if there is one?

Or to put the issue another way, what happens when you get saved? Are your just given eternal life? Or, are you also liberated from the bondage of sin?

We have seen that Paul speaks of being slaves to sin and having been freed from that bondage, becoming slaves to God or slaves to righteousness. As clear as this language might appear at first blush, a large segment of the Christian community over the past 75 years or so have argued that sin we are obviously still slaves to sin in our daily lives, the direction to "follow me" is a direction to eternal life, not a freeing of the chains of sin. At the extreme, the attitude is call "antinomianism," a view that even with salvation, there is no need to follow the moral teachings of the law. There is no yielding to the Lordship of Jesus being taught as a part of the salvation experience.

Antinomianism is the holding that disregards moral issues in the context of justification and sanctification. It is not to precisely say that one spurns holiness, only that holiness is not a requirement of practical life since we are "saved solely by faith." At issue in the lordship debate is the degree to which obedience and faith are related. Many modern "antinomians" belief in the concept of a person walking worthy of the Christian calling, they just do not see obedience as related to the salvation call. Obedience becomes elective. This makes justification by faith the end of salvation.

Such groups use the mini-Gospel presentations, such as 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 as the basis of their entire salvation message. They teach man is a sinner, Jesus is the Christ, Jesus died a substitute death on the Cross, and Jesus rose again providing eternal life. If your Gospel is these four doctrines and nothing more, do you become a Christian – or a cultist?

While it is true that the question of lordship is partly an exercise in correct biblical interpretation, the Bible makes it clear that having "head knowledge" of Jesus is not the same as having a saving "heart knowledge." You can teach theology to a pagan, but that does not make the pagan saved. As we have stated elsewhere, it is only after one has determined what it means to be a sinner, that one comes to salvation. Understanding sin is surely understanding the proper place of God in our lives.

To truly understand the idea of lordship, one must look beyond the letter to the Romans. We noted earlier in discussing the names of Jesus used by Paul that Lord is the equivalent of God, more particularly, Yahweh. The obvious conclusion is that Jesus is God.

When Scripture names Jesus "Lord" (kyrios) it makes an ultimate statement. In the Septuagint (LXX) kyrios appears over nine-thousand times. In over six-thousand of these appearance kyrios replaces Yahweh. Yahweh is the name revealed by God to his covenant people through Moses affirmation (Exod 3:14). Paul tell us in Philippians that God has bestowed upon Jesus a new name of Lord. How does all of this fit? What does it mean?

Philippians 2:9-11
9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

These verses are well known to most solid Christians. The entire sequence of chapter 2 is built around the humility of Jesus in taking on human form and voluntarily going to the Cross. This part of the letter to the Philippians is premised upon Paul's statements earlier in the letter concerning both salvation and the need of the believer to express this salvation in their lives. They are to be filled with the fruit of righteousness (Phil 1:11), an expression that strongly reminds one of parts of Paul's discussion in Romans. The whole point of Paul's exhortation to the Philippians is that they are to have the same attitude as Jesus.

In ready the Philippians passages, however, one is struck by the difference between the early part of chapter 2 and vv9-11. Jesus' humiliation is turned to glory. God has exalted Jesus above all others and given Him a name above every name. What is this name? We should deduce from v11, the name is Lord.

The verb translated as exalt (v9) means to super exalt or to lift up to the highest place. If Jesus is lifted to the highest place, He is in the place of God. The exaltation that Jesus receives from God is to be placed back on equal footing with God the Father. Jesus is lifted to reign over all of creation. Jesus will commence performing the full functions of God once again following His humiliation.

The Philippians passage states, effectively, that the universal Lordship is the statement of God's glory (v11). This is foreshadowed in the Old Testament. The Old Testament had predicted that a deliverer would come in the name of Lord, but would somehow be the Lord. "The Lord (Heb. YHWH; LXX kyrios ) says to my Lord (same Greek, kyrios) …" (Psalm 110:1). Jesus and the Apostles seem to recognize this interpretation. Reflect upon Thomas' outcry. "My Lord (kyrios) and my God!" (John 20:28). Both of these quotes fit into the general Jewish outlook that the Lord was more than a mere human (Exod 20:3; Deut 6:4; Isa 43:10-11). Even if it is not clear in the Old Testament that the Lord is God, the door for this understanding is certainly open.

When Paul then writes in Philippians that every knee shall bow, he pictures every knee bowing to the Lord. And, the Lord is King of all creation. Many Old Testament passages (i.e. Psalm 96:9; Dan 3:52, 54, 57-58) support the contention that God is king of all creation. If God is King of creation and the Lord is the one to whom every knee bows, the Lord is King. Indeed, this is the description of the conquering Jesus at the end of time, "King of Kings and Lord of Lords" (Rev 19:16).

The picture of every knee bowing and every tongue confessing Jesus Christ as Lord is taken from Isaiah.

Isaiah 45:20-25
20 "Assemble yourselves and come; Draw near together, You who have escaped from the nations. They have no knowledge, Who carry the wood of their carved image, And pray to a god that cannot save. 21 Tell and bring forth your case; Yes, let them take counsel together. Who has declared this from ancient time? Who has told it from that time? Have not I, the Lord? And there is no other God besides Me, A just God and a Savior; There is none besides Me. 22 "Look to Me, and be saved, All you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. 23 I have sworn by Myself; The word has gone out of My mouth in righteousness, And shall not return, That to Me every knee shall bow, Every tongue shall take an oath. 24 He shall say, 'Surely in the Lord I have righteousness and strength. To Him men shall come, And all shall be ashamed Who are incensed against Him. 25 In the Lord all the descendants of Israel Shall be justified, and shall glory.' "

Here is the entire Gospel message Paul has been preaching. God is Savior. God is the only God. God is righteous. Every knee shall bow to God. Every tongue shall confess God. All shall be justified in the God, the Lord. God's glory shall shine. The new name given to Jesus, the real name everyone will confess, the Person to whom every knee shall bow is Lord. And the Lord is God. And, God is the ruler of all creation.

So, what about the concept of Lordship? When you "confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus" you are fulfilling what Paul writes about in Philippians. You are acknowledging that Jesus is the Lord. He is not just the Savior (the Christ), but He is God and as such has proper claim upon your life. This includes how you live. It is possible to be saved without understanding this concept of Lordship, but when you are saved, you have, by faith, accepted Jesus as He is described in Scripture. That description makes it clear that Jesus is Lord. Jesus is God. And, as such, Jesus may properly make a demand upon your very life. He can dictate how His subjects are to live.

Yet a no-lordship doctrine points to a lack of need for sanctification. Some point to Romans 8:29-30 and note that the order is "foreknowledge - predestination - calling - justification - glorification." There is no "sanctification" in the list, thus, the conclusion that progressive sanctification is optional. But, is it?

Most who preach a "no-lordship" doctrine strongly belief in positional sanctification or being set aside to God at conversion and in final or ultimate sanctification, that is, glorification. It is the in-between efforts of what we have been calling experiential sanctification that is lacking, and for this group, not needed.

Salvation is the transformation of a person, a complete transformation, from sinner to saved. Genuine faith includes a change in spiritual condition and a change in behavior brought about by the new spiritual condition. A person has a new heart.

2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

This demand is best seen as the process of sanctification. The demand is that we become holy and Christlike. The demand is that we learn what Paul talks about in chapters 5-8 and again in chapters 12-15 and apply these doctrinal teachings to our daily walk. The demand is that we learn to walk in the Spirit.

Ephesians 2:10
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

The good works are the good deeds of salvation showing through us, our fruits. These must be good fruits because of the position of God in our lives and sin not in our lives. Jesus tells us you shall "know them by their fruits" (Matt 7:16). There is also, of course, the parable of the barren fig tree (Luke 13:6ff). Remember? The tree produced no figs after three years and the owner wanted to tear it down to replace it with a more productive tree. But, do you remember the gardener's plea?

"The gardener answered, ‘Give it one more chance. Leave it another year, and I'll give it special attention and plenty of fertilizer. If we get figs next year, fine. If not, you can cut it down.'" (Luke 13:8-9, NLT)

The point is that not all Christians produce good fruit immediately. They, we, all go through various growing seasons. We cannot judge if one is a Christian by his short term actions, so those critics who look at people so continue to sin and exclaim, "see, no lordship," receive little help from the Bible for their position.

Isaiah writes "Sanctify the LORD of hosts himself" (Isa 8:13 KJV).
Peter writes "sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts" (1 Peter 3:15).

Scripture does not tell us to make Jesus Lord. God has already accomplished this appointment. Jesus was appointed Lord long before the earth was created.

Acts 2:36
"Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ."

As we have seen from the Philippians passages, the command is not to make Jesus Lord. The command is to bow to the Lord.

Jesus is Lord. We should learn to treat Him as Lord in our lives. This is what sanctification is all about.

Unless noted, Scripture is taken from the NKJV




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