You have heard me say many times that I view the word “Lord” in the New Testament as being equivalent to “LORD” in the Old Testament. When Christ is said to be “Lord” – depending on the context, the Spirit is saying that He is “Jehovah.” This evening I would like to take that thought back one step and then forward two steps. Once again, my mental juices have been stirred by another book sent to me by Brother Ron Crisp. He and Daniel Chamberlin collaborated on a book they called “Jesus is Lord.” Much of this message, and perhaps one or two to follow, come from my consideration of their thoughts.
When the Old Testament word “LORD” is found in all capital letters, it is the Hebrew “Jehovah” or “Yawheh.” But in the Greek, “Lord” is “kurios” which could speak of either God or some powerful man. As a title, it was used of those who had authority or ownership. Sometimes it was the same as our word “sir.” But Bible students must remember that the doctrinal meaning of a word, especially when applied to Christ, does not come from a dictionary or a lexicon but from its unique context in the Scriptures. The Bible declares that Jesus Christ is God. BUT He is also more and less than that – He is our Master – our King. And when the saints of the New Testament spoke of the Lord Jesus Christ, it was in both contexts. What I would like us to do this evening is try to appreciate that more fully.
Is this important? Without a doubt it is. Christ’s lordship is a major, but under appreciated, theme in God’s Word. And it has become a topic of debate in Baptist ranks – between Arminians and Biblicists. There are evangelists who will, for the sake of “saving souls” DENY the Lordship of Christ. They won’t deny that Christ is God the Son, but some will tell their prospective victims that it is not necessary that Christ be the Lord of their lives. Is that kind of evangelism blessed by the Spirit? Does that kind of believer become a saint of God? Brother Crisp’s little book begins by saying –
Jesus Christ, God’s Son, possess Ontological Lordship.
There is a two dollar word which is hardly useable outside a classroom, but he used it, and so will I. “Ontological” means “according to the natural state of things.” So by application in this context – Christ is by nature Lord of all things. Since Christ is the Son of God, He is Jehovah – He is God. And God, because He is God, is Lord of all.
The ontological Lordship of Christ is based upon His deity. It is innate –eternal – an essential part of His being which was in no way affected by His incarnation. Lordship has always been His – the Second Person of the Godhead has always been the Lord. But THIS Lordship is shared equally with the Father and the Spirit. And it has never been limited, hindered, shadowed, subjected or corrupted. Peter in Acts 10 declared that God sent His word to the children of Israel, “preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:).” And in Revelation 17 we learn that the wicked “shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.” Someone who creates, owns and rules what He has created must be “Lord” over what He has created. The average Baptist evangelist will not deny this obvious Biblical truth.
But Christ Jesus also possesses Mediatorial Lordship – or Lordship based upon His office as Saviour.
Without disrespect to the other divine Persons in the Godhead, this Lordship is Christ’s alone. It is to this kind of Lordship to which Paul refers in Romans 10. And again, it is mediatorial Lordship in Philippians 2 – “that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” If this was speaking of Jesus’ ontological or native Lordship, it would also apply to the Father. But Philippians 2 is speaking of something which belongs only to Christ. Obviously, Christ could not possess this mediatorial lordship if He didn’t already possess ontological Lordship, but they are not the same.
In the covenant made within the Trinity in regard to our salvation, God the Father appointed God the Son to be the Saviour – and the Mediator – between Himself and His chosen people. In that covenant, the Father gave a people to the Son to redeem. And He gave the Son to that people as Redeemer. Throughout the Lord’s Prayer in John 17, Christ speaks about those “whom thou hast given me.” The Holy Spirit, in time, applies the benefits of Christ’s redemption to the hearts of the individuals for whom He died and rose again. In this grand scheme of redemption, the Son of God became the SON OF MAN. He became incarnate, so as to be the Saviour and a fit Mediator. His incarnation involved a great humbling of Himself. He became the obedient Servant of Yahweh, made of a woman, made under the law, subject to the death penalty that the law required for the lawbreakers for whom He intercedes. The honor which the Father gave to the Son because of His work of redemption is this Mediatorial Lordship. Because Christ Jesus humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, but rose again, He is Lord in a way which is unlike the Lordship which He has always possessed. This is not an unimportant doctrine – it is related to salvation and also His future reign and glory. This is not an obscure doctrine – pulled with great difficulty from just a couple of verses.
Daniel 7:13-14 – “I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought Him near before Him. And there was GIVEN Him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve Him: His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom that which shall not be destroyed. “ This of course was prophecy – future to Daniel, but partially fulfilled in us, and to be more completely fulfilled in our future.
Philippians 2:5-11 – “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man) He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death) even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and GIVEN Him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven) and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord) to the glory of God the Father.” As Creator, Christ Jesus has always been Lord, but with redemption He has been given Lordship in another way.
Hebrews 1:3 – “Who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.” When the Son of Man, sat at the right hand of the Majesty on high, He was being crowned with His new Lordship. Hebrews 12:2 – “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” John 5:26-27 – “For as the Father hath life in Himself; so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself; And hath GIVEN Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of man.” John 13:31-32 – “Therefore, when (Judas) was gone out, Jesus said, Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in Him. If God be glorified in Him, God shall also glorify Him in Himself, and shall straightway glory Him.”
Again, this Lordship is not ontological (essential to His being and nature) but mediatorial (derived from His work of redemption). The first relates to Christ’s divine being, but the second flows from His work of salvation. If a corrupt evangelist – or the man he is trying to lead to Heaven – denies the Lordship which is a part of salvation, can that man be saved? Acts 2:36 – “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath MADE that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.” Acts 5:29-31 – “Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree, Him hath God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.”
Why is all this important?
First, without a clear understanding of Christ’s Mediatorial Lordship, we have an incomplete grasp of God’s eternal plan. God’s will reaches its consummation in the subjugation of all things to Christ. Before the eternal state is ushered in, all things must be put under the feet of Christ; and the last enemy, death, must be destroyed. This subjugation of all things to Christ has already begun in the salvation of a few wretched sinners. The Mediatorial Lordship of Christ is the great unifying purpose of God revealed in Scripture. 1 Corinthians 15:25 – “For He (Christ) must reign, till He hath put all enemies under His feet.” Ephesians 1:9-10 – “Having made known unto us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure which He hath purposed in Himself; that in the dispensation of the fullness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in Him.” Colossians 1:18-20 – “And He is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things He might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him should all fulness dwell. And, having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself; by Him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.”
The most frequently quoted Old Testament verse in the New Testament is Psalm 110:1. It asserts Christ’s Mediatorial Lordship, showing how important this concept is – “The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit Thou at My right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool.” “God the Father said to the Son, Sit Thou at My right hand, until I make all creation subject to you.” There are the 21 places Psalm 110:1 is quoted in the New Testament.
Christ made various references to it speaking directly about Himself. Matthew 22:44 – “The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit Thou on My right hand, till I make Thine enemies Thy footstool.” Matthew 26:64 – “Jesus saith unto (the high priest), Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” Mark 12:36 – “For David himself said by the Holy Ghost, The LORD said to my Lord, Sit Thou on my right hand, till I make Thine enemies Thy footstool.” Mark 14:62 – “And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. “ Mark 16:19 – “So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, He was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.” Luke 20:42-43 – “And David himself saith in the book of Psalms, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit Thou on My right hand, Till I make Thine enemies Thy footstool. “ Luke 22:69 – “Hereafter shall the Son of man sit on the right hand of the power of God.”
In Acts, the Apostles made reference to Psalm 110 and the Lordship of Christ. Acts 2:33 – Christ “therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, He hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.” Acts 2:34-35 – “For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit Thou on my right hand, until I make Thy foes Thy footstool. Acts 5:31 – “For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit Thou on My right hand, Until I make Thy foes Thy footstool.” Acts 7:55-56 – “But (Stephen) being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand cf God, And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.”
In the Apostles’ epistles there are more references. Romans 8:34 – “Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.” 1 Corinthians 15:25 – “For He must reign, till He hath put all enemies under His feet.” Ephesians 1:20 – “Which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him .from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 1:22 – “And hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be the head over all things to the church.” Hebrews 1:3 – “Who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand Of the Majesty on high. “Hebrews 1:13 – “But to which of the angels said He at any time, Sit on My right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool?” Hebrews 8:1 – “Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens.” Hebrews 10:12-13 – “But this man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; From henceforth expecting till His enemies be made His footstool.” Hebrews 12:2 – “Looking unto Jesus the author and.finisher ef our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand ef the throne of God.” 1 Peter 3:22 – “Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand ef God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto Him.”
This doctrine is important because it is interwoven into every aspect of our faith and practice. No part of salvation or Christian service can be separated from Christ’s Lordship. And this doctrine answers some of the most significant questions that first-century Christians faced following Christ’s resurrection from the grave and His departure from this earth. “Where is Jesus now? What is He doing?” The answer was and still is, “He is at the right hand of the Father, exercising lordship as the exalted Savior.” A failure to grasp the nature of Christ’s Mediatorial Lordship opens the door for many errors – such as the corruption of gospel evangelism – easy believeism.
Can someone receive Christ’s saving benefits apart from Christ’s sacrifice? Can someone receive Christ’s salvation apart of Christ’s Lordship? The answer to the first question is obvious, and the answer to the second is directly linked to the first. Can anyone be saved without yielding to His lordship? I don’t think so. The only reason that this debate exists is due to the fact most Christians have not spent much time considering Christ’s mediatorial rule or lordship of Christ. If everyone could grasp the meaning of “Jesus is Lord,” there would be no controversy.