Are there any people living between the 49th parallel and the Rio Grande River, who suggest that Donald Trump is not the legal President of the United States? I can imagine that there are people, who for various reasons, make that kind of statement. But the fact remains that Mr. Trump is in the White House and he is wielding presidential powers.
Similarly, there are a thousand times more people who say that Jesus Christ is not the Lord. They say that He is not the eternal Son of God. They claim that He is not the Messiah or the Saviour. They refuse to bow their knees before the Lord as King. But they will one day acknowledge Him – “I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear” – Isaiah 45:23. “For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God” – Romans 14:11. And Philippians 2:10 – “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.”
This is not the only mistake people make about the Lordship of Christ. There are at least three which are often made by religious people – even evangelical people. And it’s these mistakes that I’d like us to briefly consider this evening.
Many people confuse the Ontological Lordship with Christ’s Mediatorial Lordship.
This takes us back to where we began five or six weeks ago. Christ’s Ontological Lordship is essential to His eternal being – it is a part of who He is. The Son of God is Lord more intimately than you are a human being. If he was not the absolute monarch over His creation, He would not be God; He would not be – period. That is His Ontological Lordship. His Mediatorial Lordship flows out of His obedience to the divine covenant and from His success in the work of redemption. We must distinguish between these two kinds of Lordship. God the Father and the Holy Spirit are as much the Lord as is the Son. It is a part of their individual and collective being – their union within the Trinity – the Godhead. But the Mediatorial Lordship belongs only to the Second Person of the Trinity and flows out of His incarnation and death as the God-man. Obviously, there can be confusion in the things that I have just said. These are difficult principles. But the problems intensify when these two principles are practically applied.
Have you ever heard some well-intentioned preacher plead with people to “Make Jesus, Lord”? Where in the Bible do we read the exhortation to “Make Christ Lord of your life”? In all the preaching of the early church, we read no command for men to “make Jesus Lord.” The truth is, Jesus is Lord regardless of the sinner’s surrender or the believer’s acknowledgment. Our confession of Christ as Lord has no bearing on Christ’s native Lordship. All men ought to confess Him as Lord, but no man can put Christ’s crown upon His head. God the Father has already done that! The only crown any man ever put on Christ’s head was a crown of thorns. The fact is – Lordship is not ours to give – not even the Lordship of our own lives. Does the criminal, by surrendering to authority, create that authority? Does the felon who surrenders to the sheriff pin the badge on that man’s uniform? We do not make Jesus Lord by our surrendering and submitting to Him.
Again, the Son of God has always been the Lord over His Creation and always been King over His Kingdom. But when it comes to the other aspect of His Lordship – the Mediatorial – that was granted by the Father, not by the sinner. Psalm 2:6, 8-9 – “Yet have I set MY king upon MY holy hill of Zion … Ask of Me, and I shall give Thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; Thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel. “ Psalm 110:1-2, 6 – “The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit Thou at My right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool. The LORD shall send the rod of Thy strength out of Zion: rule Thou in the midst of Thine enemies … He shall judge among the heathen.” 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 5:31 – “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.” Philippians 2:9-11 – “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.”
Every child of God must confess and acknowledge not only the deity of Christ, but His Lordship as well. We do not make Him Lord, but only recognize Him for Who and what He is. This is essential, Biblical Christianity. This is Christianity 101. The new babe in Christ may not grasp this, and the seasoned saint may not be able to fully explain it. But to DENY the Lordship of the Lord is to rip salvation right out of the heart of Christianity.
One common denial of Christ’s Mediatorial Lordship can be seen in what we call “Easy Believeism.”
There is widespread error concerning the necessity of Christ’s Mediatorial rule in the life of a Christian. This is closely connected with what we just saw. We sometimes hear appeals to sanctification that include statements like, “If Christ is not Lord of all, He is not Lord at all.”
Once again, these clever but imprecise words leave hearers with the false impression that a person may be a Christian and not come under the lordship of Christ. Such a concept is theological madness. It divides Christ in half, separating His office as King from His office as Savior. And it removes conversion from the realm of the Lord. It makes Christ’s Mediatorial Lordship apply only to a small group within the larger pale of believers. Only some take their profession of faith seriously – and some experience some second work of grace.
Let’s say that I come to visit you, knocking on your door or ringing the bell. You open the door and say, “David may come in, but Oldfield must stay outside!” That would be no more absurd than people insisting they can take Christ as Savior but not as Lord. Peter told the Jews in 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.” Later he said, “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.”
Salvation is an Act of the Lord. How much of evangelical Christianity denies this point? 75% … 85%? Jesus was made Lord because of the humiliation He undertook to bring about man’s salvation. I keep going back to Philippians 2:8-11 because it is so important. Christ Jesus, “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.” Jesus was exalted in His resurrection, ascension, and coronation at the right hand of the Father for the express purpose of bestowing salvation. Again there is Acts 5:31 – “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.”
Upon what is the great commission based? Upon His Mediatorial Lordship. “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you also, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” Not only does Christ’s Lordship mean that He can send, commission and empower His evangelists….
His Lordship guarantees the success of those evangelists. The efficacious power that brought about our salvation is the power of our Mediatorial Lord. Neither the depravity of the sinner nor the opposition of others can hinder God’s purpose of grace in the gospel. “These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: As Thou hast given Him power over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as Thou hast given Him” – John 17:1-2. Neither can the great power and wiles of Satan stand in the way of the good Shepherd as He gathers His elect flock. “When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace: But when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armour wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils” – Luke 11:21-22.
The process of conversion falls under the scope of Christ’s Mediatorial Lordship. “Thy people shall be willing in the day of Thy power” – Psalm 110:3. Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost and the effect it had on 3,000 souls makes this point clear: Acts 2:36-41 – “Therefore let all the house ef Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name ef Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.” Again, Acts 5:31 is relevant – “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.”
Justification is vitally connected with the Mediatorial Lordship of Christ. “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” – Romans 8:34.
Glorification is also connected with the Mediatorial Lordship of Christ. For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself”– Philippians 3:20-21
It is to Jesus as Lord that sinners must come for salvation. Romans 10:13 quotes Joel 2:32 – “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Sinners submit to an enthroned King when they come to Christ for salvation. Throughout the Book of Acts, we see this emphasis. Peter preached, “God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.” Saul of Tarsus, trembling and astonished said, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” – Acts 9:6. Paul and Silas instructed the Philippian jailer, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house” – Acts 16:31. It is noteworthy that while the term “Savior” is used twice in the book of Acts – “Lord” is used 110 times. Even the dying thief bowed before the Lordship of Christ, saying, “Lord, remember me when thou comest into Thy kingdom.”
There are only two Possible Responses to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
Don’t make the mistake of choosing the wrong one. First, there is the future forced confession of His Lordship which will accompany everlasting damnation. And then there is the present willing confession of His Lordship which accompanies the salvation of all who truly believe in Him. There are no other options. God has solemnly sworn that “every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess the lordship of Christ.” A confession postponed until after this life by those who supposedly took Christ as Savior only, but not as Lord, is no option. Scripture knows nothing of such a future salvation. David in Psalm 2:11-12 defines true saving experience in this exhortation, “Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and ye perish from the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in Him.”
A man must come to Christ as a sinner – nothing more or less. Submission to Christ as Lord, and trust in Christ as Savior are two actions that occur simultaneously in the soul of man. There is no exercise of faith without the exercise of repentance. Turning from sin and trusting in Christ are inseparable graces. They are mentioned together in Scripture five times (Matthew 21:32; Mark 1:15; Acts 19:4; 20:21; Hebrews 6:1), and in each case, repentance is mentioned first. And in those scriptures where only one of these graces is mentioned, the other is still implied. True repentance is a believing repentance; true faith is a repentant faith. There is simply no faith in Christ apart from repentance from sin. That is to say, there is no salvation apart from submission to the Lordship of Christ.