Jesus Christ Is King
P. G. Mathew | Sunday, October 7, 2001
Copyright © 2001, P. G. Mathew
But what does it say? "The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart," that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, "Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame." For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile--the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."
Have you gotten your gas mask yet? The authorities are telling us that there exists a one hundred percent possibility for another terrorist attack in the near future. They are speaking also about biological, chemical, and nuclear terrorism. We are surrounded by troubles and people are frightened. The government itself says it cannot guarantee our security.
Over nineteen hundred years ago, one night at midnight there was a violent earthquake in Europe. The foundations of a prison in Philippi, where Paul and Silas were held, were shaken, and the Bible tells us that all the prison doors flew open. The jailer in charge woke up and was about to kill himself, thinking that the prisoners had escaped. Then he heard the voice of Paul cry out, "Don't harm yourself! We all are here!" and the Bible tells us "the jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, 'Sirs, what must I do to be saved?'" (Acts 16:28-30)
When we are surrounded by trouble and there is no one to help, we must ask the question the Philippian jailer asked long, long ago: "What must I do to be saved?" What is the answer? "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved-you and your household" (v. 31).
There is no question more troubles are coming to our country in the future. We must realize now that our nation cannot save us, nor can the corporations that we work for or other agencies save us. But there is one who can save us-the only one-who is the Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. This nation long ago abandoned Jesus Christ by trusting in money and technology. Now the question is: Will it turn to him and be saved? That is also my question to you today: Will you turn to him and be saved?
Romans 10:8-13 speaks about a confession people make when they become Christians: "Jesus is Lord." In the Greek this confession is only two words: Kurios IÍsous. In this study we want to look at the content of this confession, the character of it in terms of what it reveals, and then, finally, how this confession should control all aspects of our lives.
The Content of the Confession
Jesus is Lord-Kurios IÍsous. This simple, two word creed is the earliest confession of the Christian church, the irreducible minimum creed in Christianity. It is the creed that a candidate for baptism must believe and confess to be baptized. It is an objective creed, based on something outside of ourselves.
This creed relates to the person and work of a historical being, Jesus of Nazareth. This passage from Romans 10 tells us that when we believe this confession with all our heart and proclaim it publicly with our mouth, we will be saved. Oh, just marvel at the simplicity and ease of it! We don't have to work for this salvation, in other words; it is all done for us. We don't have to go up to heaven to bring Christ down or down to the deep to bring him up. In the incarnation of Christ God sent his Son in the world in human flesh, and this Jesus lived and died on the cross to make our salvation ready. So God tells us the feast is ready and we can enjoy it by faith. In Psalm 116:10 the psalmist declares, "I believed; therefore, I spoke." In 1 Corinthians 12:3 we notice it is only by the Holy Spirit one can confess Jesus is Lord.
God's salvation is not based on morality. There are many people around the world who are moral because of common grace. Many people do not fornicate, lie, or cheat. All over the world there are many non-Christians who have a sense of right and wrong-moral people-but they are not saved.
The salvation that this scripture in Romans 10 tells us about is not dependent on one's morality, neither is it dependent first and fundamentally on some experience. If experience is the criteria for being a Christian, there will be no difference between a Christian and a Mormon or a Jehovah's Witness or a Hindu. All these false religions speak about some kind of experience, such as the Mormon experience of having a "burning in the bosom." I myself have had all kinds of experiences in my being, but such experiences do not ultimately save anyone. True salvation depends upon an objective person and it comes to us by our faith in Christ's person and work. In other words, everlasting, true salvation is based on, not some glorious, subjective experiences, but on belief and confession of the historical person and saving work of Jesus Christ. That is the content of the confession "Jesus is Lord."
The Character of the Confession
What is the character of the confession, "Jesus is Lord"? First, it tells us that Jesus is God. When we look into the Septuagint, which is the pre-Christian translation of the Old Testament into Greek, the word "Jehovah" or "Yahweh," which is the covenant name of God that appears six thousand times in the Old Testament, is translated by the word "Kurios." The Septuagint translators carefully chose the Greek word "Kurios" to translate that title for God. Later, knowing that Kurios in the Old Testament meant Jehovah, which means God, the New Testament writers, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, deliberately gave this title to Jesus Christ. What does that mean? That Jesus is Jehovah, that Jesus is God, that Jesus is deity, the true God. It means that all other gods of the world are false, empty nothings and that Jesus Christ alone is God.
Paul himself made this statement in Romans 9:5. There we read, "Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all forever praised! Amen." We also find this idea that the historical Jesus, the virgin-born Jesus of Nazareth, is God in the first chapter of Colossians. In Colossians 1:15-17 we read in reference to Jesus, "He is the image of the invisible God . . . ." I want to pause to note that although God is invisible because he is spirit, in Jesus we see God. Jesus makes God visible, in other words. So Paul wrote, "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together."
Let me tell you, the whole universe, including each one of us, is held together and consists because of Jesus Christ. He is the creator and upholder of all things, and in him alone all things cohere. That is why it is cosmos and not chaos. We must understand this. It is not Buddha who does this; it is not Mohammed who does it; it is not anyone else. Only the God/man, Jesus Christ, created all things and upholds all things.
In verse 18 we read, "And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him. . . ." All the fullness of God dwells in this historic person, Jesus.
In Colossians 2:9 we read, "For in Christ" all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form." When the New Testament writers gave the title "Kurios" to Jesus, they were making the deliberate and conscious statement that Jesus Christ is God. Jesus of Nazareth-the virgin-born, sinless Jesus Christ who was crucified, died, was buried, and was raised from the dead, who ascended into the heaven and is now Lord of all- is fully God! Krishna of Hindu mythology is not God, nor is Buddha. Mohammed is not God, and his followers do not even claim that he is. The Jesus of history alone is true God.
How do we know Jesus Christ is God? The Bible tells us that Jesus was God before his incarnation, during his incarnation, and when he was raised from the dead. But specifically God the Father declares Jesus to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead. That is why Paul says we have to confess with our mouth "Jesus is Lord," and believe in our heart that God raised him from the dead to be saved. The resurrection particularly proclaims to the whole world that Jesus Christ is the true God.
Additionally, this confession has another character: It tells us that Jesus Christ is the sovereign conqueror of all his enemies. When Jesus died on the cross, he defeated all his enemies. So the confession Kurios IÍsous-Jesus is Lord-means Jesus alone is the sovereign conqueror of all evil. This two word creed means that the Jesus of history, by his death on the cross, conquered all his enemies-sin, Satan, death, the world-once for all by his death on the cross. Thus, not only do we make the statement that Jesus is Lord because he is God and King, but also because he is conqueror and Savior. He is Savior because he conquered all our enemies.
Not only that, the death of Jesus Christ was propitiatory, meaning it turned God's wrath away from us and caused God the Father to be gracious to us. His death accomplished our redemption, for the price of our redemption was the death of Jesus Christ. Additionally, his death accomplished our justification. Thus, the propitiatory death of Jesus means we are redeemed and justified.
So this confession has the meaning that Jesus is Savior, and that he is Savior because he is Lord, not the other way around. Yes, our need was forgiveness for all our sins. But we have another need, which is righteousness. If God only forgives the sins we have already committed, what about the sins we may commit tomorrow and the day after tomorrow? So God forgives all our sins through the death of Jesus Christ, and, beyond that, Jesus Christ gives us his own perfect righteousness, clothing us in it so that now we can come to God in the righteousness of Christ.
We find this interpretation in Romans 4:25: "He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification." When we put our trust in the person and atoning work of Jesus Christ, we are forgiven, redeemed and justified. Because Jesus Christ is God and the sovereign King who conquers all evil, he is Savior. He alone is the Savior who saves his people from their sins. Thus, if you believe in Jesus Christ by faith, you can overcome sin, Satan, death, the world, and fear by faith. When you become a Christian, you become an overcomer in Jesus Christ, who is the overcomer.
Not only does this confession tell us that Jesus is God, the sovereign King, the Conqueror, and the Savior, but it also tells us that he is the living Lord. Jesus Christ rose from the dead; thus, he is our living Lord who created all things and upholds all things, and all things are subject to him, as we read in Colossians. When we look at the universe, we tend to think it is infinite, intimidating, indestructible, and incomprehensible, but that analysis is not true. The universe is comprehensible, finite, and destructible. Only Jesus Christ is infinite, and he is the upholder of everything else.
Additionally, when we say Jesus Christ is the living Lord, we mean that he is the Lord of all nations. Remember how he raised up Cyrus, Nebuchadnezzar, Sennacherib, and Pharaoh? With ease he brings men up; with ease he puts them down. Understand, then, that our Lord Jesus Christ is the living Lord of all nations.
Finally, this confession tells us that Jesus Christ is the head of the church. As living Lord, he governs all things, particularly his own people. Because he is our head, he meets our every need, so we read in John 1:16, "From the fullness of his grace we receive one blessing after another." Our Lord Jesus Christ never diminishes in his fullness.
The Control of the Confession
Third, we want to examine the control of the confession "Jesus is Lord." This confession must and does control us, if we are Christians.
The confession "Jesus is Lord" is patterned after the suzerain treaties that existed in the second millennium B.C. These treaties were made when a great king came who could and should wipe a people out because of their rebellion against him, but in his mercy, he saves them instead. When we speak about God and ourselves, we are the vassals, the little fellows, and God is the Great King. So the Great King and the little fellow meet, and the King should destroy us, but he somehow shows us mercy instead and makes a treaty with us.
When this happens the great king gives the vassals a written constitution, which speaks about the covenant existing between him and them. So where there is a covenant, there is a document; where there is no covenant, there is no document. The great king himself offers the document out of his mercy. He never checks with the vassals first because he is the sovereign. He just delivers the document and tells them to live by it, and warns that if they violate it, they will be in serious trouble.
The Holy Scriptures are a covenant document from God, our Great King. The wrath of God was revealed against us, but he saved us, even though he did not have to. As the Bible tells us, salvation is by grace through faith. Then our gracious God/King gave us a Book by which we must live, and it is with this understanding that we should study the Scriptures.
The Covenant Analyzed
The Bible, then, is the treaty document, the control mechanism, given to us by our Great King, and the commandments listed in Exodus 20 help us to analyze the nature of the entire covenant.
- The first component in this covenant is the self-identification of the great King, the sovereign Lord. In Exodus 20:2 God says to his people, "I am the Lord your God."
- The second component in the covenant is what God, in his mercy, did to us. It is summarized in verse 2: "I am the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery," meaning he saved and redeemed his people. God didn't have to save us, but he did. This speaks about his love for us. He loved us and saved us. Notice, no one else saved us. Baal cannot save us, Buddha cannot save us, Mohammed cannot save us, and not even Mohammed's god cannot save us because any knowledge of that god is simply a projection of Mohammed's head. The only One who can save us, did save us, and will save us is the One who says, "I am the Lord your God," "I am that I am," the eternal, infinite, almighty, self-sufficient, self-existing, independent God of the Scriptures.
- The third component in the covenant is the basic demand that the great King makes upon us. Our Sovereign first makes a basic demand, which we find in Exodus 20:3: "You shall have no other gods before me." Translated in Deuteronomy 6:4-5, and Matthew 22, we learn that this is the demand that we love God and God alone. God loved us and saved us; now, therefore, he demands our love. That is the basic demand.
- The fourth component of the covenant, following the basic demand to love, are the detailed demands for exclusive loyalty, as we read in Exodus 20:12-17. (or 4-17?) These include the commands concerning idolatry, the Sabbath, honoring parents, murder, adultery, theft, lying, and coveting.
- The fifth component of the covenant is the curse and judgment for those who do not love the covenant Lord and keep his commands. For example, in Exodus 20:5 we read, "You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me. . . ." In Exodus 20:12 we read, "Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you." That is the blessing promised for obedience, but there is also a curse built into this commandment, which is the implication that if you don't honor your parents, you are not going to live long in the land and it is not going to be well with you.
- The sixth component is the blessing pronounced upon those who are obedient to the covenant Lord. In Exodus 20:6 we read that God will show love "to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments."
- Finally, the seventh component of the treaty given in Exodus 20 are the details of covenant administration.
We should look upon the Bible as our covenant document and upon the Lord Jesus Christ as our covenant Lord. He is the Great King, who, having saved us, demands that we render absolute loyalty to him. So in Matthew 22:37 Jesus tells us, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind," and throughout the gospels Jesus tells us, "If you love me, keep my commandments." These are the words of our covenant Lord.
The King's Absolute Demands
What else do we need to know about the control of this confession? We must know that the Great King, the Lord Jesus Christ, makes certain demands of his vassals when he saves them, and these demands are absolute, as Professor John Frame says. Let us, then, examine the absolute demands of our King.
First, we must recognize that the demands of Jesus Christ cannot be questioned. Because he is the great King, his word is unquestionable. PGM When he gives us a command, we must not ask him why because it is not ours to do so.
The great illustration of this truth is found in Genesis 22, where we find Abraham, to whom God gave a son in his old age-a son of promise, through whom blessing was to come to the whole world. One day, in the middle of the night, God told Abraham, "Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about." Why can God make such a demand? Because he is the Great King.
What was Abraham's response to God's demand? Did he begin to argue with God about it? No. In Genesis 22:3 we read, "Early in the morning Abraham got up and saddled his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about." Abraham obeyed God and did what he said. And because of his great obedience, in verse 18 God commended Abraham, saying, "And through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me." You see, this great King makes absolute demands, and we don't question him.
Second, we must realize that the absolute demands made by this Great King must transcend all other loyalties. He demands exclusive loyalty and will not tolerate any competition or idolatry. As we just read, we must love him with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. The Lord tells us, "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters-yes, even his own life-he cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:26). Later on he also said, "No servant can serve two masters" (Luke 16:13).
This Great King demands first place in our lives. Thus, if you are a Christian, your first loyalty is not to your wife, or your husband or even your nation. They have no right to claim such loyalty. No one can demand absolute loyalty but the Great King, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Third, this Great King makes absolute demands governing all areas of our life-our worship, our sex, our diet, our marriage, our family life, our travel, our political life, our land-everything! Just read the Old Testament. It will tell you that there is nothing that his covenant does not regulate. And when you come to the New Testament, it is even more comprehensive. In 1 Corinthians 10:31 we read, "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."
Do you see the wide reach of this lordship of Christ? You cannot eat all that pie. You cannot drink whatever you want. Even the daily things of what you eat and what you drink are regulated by the absolute demand of this Great King. All should be done for the glory of God and in the name of God. That is the sweeping comprehensiveness of Christ's lordship.
Implications of the Lordship of Christ or Application
So the Lord of the covenant has given us his covenant document, the official record of his absolute rule, which is the Bible. It is our constitution, which supersedes even the Constitution of the United States. In the Bible the Lord has set forth the terms that must control our lives. That is what we mean when we make the two-word confession, "Kurios IÍsous," "Jesus is Lord."
What, then, is our responsibility toward this covenant document? We must receive it, read it, and respond to it in accordance with its demands. Only then will the blessing of the covenant come to us. If Jesus Christ is the Lord of our life, he must control us. There are certain implications of Christ's lordship in our lives.
1. Jesus Christ is Lord of our minds.
The lordship of Christ means we cannot download pornography off the Internet or believe in hollow philosophies or scientism or anything that denies the existence and the governance of the Great King.
If Jesus Christ is the Lord of our minds, we must think God's thoughts after him. This idea is brought forth by the Great King, Jesus Christ himself, in Matthew 11:28-29. In verse 28 we read, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." That is salvation. The Great King saves us and shows us mercy. As we said before, he should destroy us, but instead he saves us. But then he says in verse 29, "Take my yoke upon you," a phrase which was understood by the Jewish people to mean "Be my disciple." Then Jesus says, "and learn from me. . . ." We must learn from Christ! Our church is located next to a major public university, but I don't think there is one course in that university that will teach a person the fear of God, the way of salvation, or anything about our God who is both Savior and Lord. If we are Christians, therefore, we must be careful to submit our minds to God's covenant document and to the Christ of the document. We must look upon the universe through the document; only then will we understand everything properly. "Learn of me!" Jesus tells us. As we study the Bible, he will become our teacher and tell us what to think.
How sweeping this control of the confession "IÍsous Kurios" is! In 2 Corinthians 10:5 we read, "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." The entirety of our thinking should be made subject to our Great King, the Lord Jesus Christ. This means that if we are Christians, we cannot indulge in lies and denials of truth. God's word is truth; thus, we must think and speak truth.
In 1 Timothy 6:3-4 we read, "If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, he is conceited and understands nothing." This applies to all who will not submit their minds to Christ.
2. Jesus Christ is Lord of our will and behavior.
In Luke 6:46 Jesus asked, "Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?" As Christians, we must think truth, will truth, and do truth. If Jesus Christ is Lord, we must do what he says. Otherwise, he will say on that day, "I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!" Our confession that Jesus is Lord must control our will and behavior as well as our mind.
3. Jesus Christ is Lord of our careers.
When Saul of Tarsus was arrested and confronted by the risen Christ, he asked the question, "What do you want me to do?" If we are Christians, we are not free to do what we want to do whatever we want with our lives. We must do what the covenant Lord wants us to do.
4. Jesus Christ is Lord of our marriages and families.
This means we must marry someone who also loves the Lord Jesus Christ in this manner. When we are looking for a spouse, we must not look for chemistry as much as for piety and fear of God. In the family, the husband must fear God and be the head of the wife. The wife must be submissive to the husband in everything. Children must obey their parents in everything. Who said so? The Lord.
5. Jesus Christ is Lord of the church.
Not only does Jesus Christ build his church, but he also rules it. That is why a true church is a church that proclaims the word of God, administers the sacraments-baptism and the Lord's supper-properly, and exercises discipline. It functions under the lordship of Christ in accordance with the covenant document, the Bible.
6. Jesus Christ is Lord of the world.
In Revelation 19:16 he is called "King of kings and Lord of lords." What a comforting understanding that God is in control of all nations! As we read the entire Old Testament, we can better understand that. God brings nations up and puts them down, all in his own time.
7. Jesus Christ is Lord of global missions.
Any true Christian mission work is under the lordship of Christ. In Matthew 28:18-20 Jesus told his disciples, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you." This is the directive of the Lord Jesus Christ to all disciples of every age.
Jesus Is Lord!
Do you see the seriousness of this irreducible two word confession, Kurios IÍsous? Let me tell you, Jesus Christ was Lord before he became incarnate. God created the heavens and the earth and everything in them. Then he spoke to man and said, "You do thus and so," and man disobeyed and fell. But Jesus Christ was Lord before the Fall and he is Lord after the Fall. How does he exercise his lordship? In judgment and redemption. He is always Lord-the immutable, unchanging Lord.
Troubles are all around us and more are coming. There may be outbreaks of anthrax. Bridges might be blown up. More buildings may come down. Where can we go for help? There is no salvation in the nation. Other religions cannot help us. Philosophies cannot help us. Money cannot help us. Technology cannot help us. There is no other God, no other Savior than the Jesus of history. He alone is the true God and Savior of the world. He alone is Lord of all.
Do you want to be saved? Let me tell you, you don't have to go all the way to heaven or all the way to hell to find salvation. The feast is ready here and now. In one of the most profound statements ever made, our Great King tells us, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved"-saved from the divine wrath that is coming upon the whole world. I hope you will pay attention to his words. It is not the mumbo-jumbo of a philosopher or a guru, who is but a sinful man. It is the declaration of the eternal God. So he tells us, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved," and "If you confess with your mouth 'Jesus Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." I exhort you to take this simple step today.
In the meantime, if you are Christians, fear not. We are saved now and forever. The body they may kill, but no one can separate us from God and his salvation because Jesus is Lord. How many people throughout history have died making that confession! How many in the early church were forced to confess "Caesar Lord"! But who is Caesar? He is nothing compared to the sovereign Lord of the universe.
On February 22, 156, Polycarp, the bishop of Smyrna, was about to be executed. A very kind and respected man, Bishop Polycarp had committed one crime: He refused to confess, "Caesar is Lord," and continued to proclaim, "Jesus Lord." Many people, upon hearing of his plight, came and pleaded with him, saying, "What harm is there in saying, 'Caesar is Lord,' and burning a little incense to save your life?" What was his reply? "For eighty-six years I have been Christ's slave, and he has done me no wrong. How can I then blaspheme my King who saved me?"
If you are a Christian, this confession, though it consists in only two words, must control your life. It is that simple. If you confess "IÍsous Kurios" and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, meaning you put your trust in the person and work of Jesus Christ, who alone is God, King, Savior, and Lord, you will be saved.
If you are not a Christian, I hope and pray that you will believe the declaration of God, put your full trust in him, and be saved, even this day. If you are a Christian, I hope you will look at the Bible and study it seriously, for troubles will come to test your faith. If you are a true Christian, you will be immovable and unafraid, always abounding in the work of the Lord.
May God have mercy on us and deliver us from our superficial understanding of the gospel! May we believe in this profound truth that Jesus is Lord so that we may be saved from the wrath to come and live unafraid and strong because God has admitted us into his unshakable kingdom, the kingdom of God. Amen.
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Copyright © 2001, P. G. Mathew
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