In this study two very important aspects of the relationship between a Christian and Jesus Christ are emphasized and pointed out: Jesus Christ is our savior, and he is our lord. That these are not just some mere used up words and terms will be presented to the observant reader in simple words from the Word of God.
The title of this study about Jesus Christ may perhaps not stir any great interest at first sight, but it contains two very important truths which are of great significance to us as born-again Christians, as believers within the church of the body of Christ Jesus Christ is our savior, and he is our lord! In this study we will be concerned with these two aspects of our relationship to Jesus Christ, and that should bring great gain to our daily life as Christians.
First, we want to look at several scriptures which tell us of Jesus Christ as our savior.
1 John 4:14:
And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.
The word saviour in the English doesn't quite show the connection to wholeness which is actually present in the Greek word used. The verb form means to save, to make whole. We read in this verse that the Father did sent the son as the savior of the world which indicates that Jesus Christ can bring and or already has brought wholeness and salvation to the world through that which he accomplished.
In John 3 we read a verse of Scripture which may be known to all of us from many different occasions.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved [attain wholeness].
He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
These verses are connected to that which we just read before. They tell us of Gods great act of love when He gave His only begotten son in order to provide men in the world with a possibility of salvation, or as it is called here, that the world through him might be saved.
Man, as he is born into this world, needs a salvation, needs that wholeness, because as natural man he is lost and has no eternal life. All men do have this possibility of salvation, of being saved and receiving eternal life but this is related to a certain condition: whosoever believeth in him [Jesus Christ] should not perish. Those who do not believe are already under the sentence of condemnation which puts him in the category .of being condemned; but those who believe on him will not be lost but will have eternal life. God has sent His only begotten Son as savior of the world, but that does not mean that automatically all the world will at one time attain to salvation. No! Salvation is available to all the world, but it is a matter of decision on the part of each individual to appropriate it by believing on Him. Only those who believe on Christ will receive everlasting life and will not be lost.
A comparison with an experience from our daily life may illustrate these points. Many things are offered to all people every day, nowadays for example a quite extensive TV program selection for 24 hours per day. It is offered to all but, do all view it? No. There are some who purposely decide to turn their TV off at certain times, or they do not want to view a certain program. Not all want to view all, and yet one could say that it is being put on the air for all. God has sent His only begotten son as savior of the world whereby all have salvation available to them. But not all will actually be saved it is only those who believe on him who will not be lost but who will receive everlasting life.
In John 4, the word "savior" is used as well. Jesus Christ was traveling through Samaria and he met a woman there whom he told some tremendous truths. The woman then proclaimed what she had heard to the others in that city and they came out of the city to see him.
So when the Samaritans were come unto him, they besought him that he would tarry with them: and he abode there two days.
And many more believed because of his own word;
And said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.
Some had already believed because of the word of that woman. Now, when they heard Jesus himself, many more believed. They had recognized that Jesus Christ was the promised Savior of the world, that he indeed was the promised Messiah who was to come as the savior.
Acts 5 tells us of an incident when the apostles had been ordered to appear before the Sanhedrin.
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.
And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him.
When they heard that, they were cut to the heart, and took counsel to slay them.
What a difference in reaction to an almost identical message! In Samaria the people were rejoicing, here the men were very mad even to the point of taking counsel and making plans to have them murdered. Peter had told them that God had raised the crucified Jesus and that He had exalted him to be prince and savior which made it available for Israel to receive repentance and forgiveness of sins.
In Acts 13 we read about Paul and Barnabas and how they came to Antioch in Pisidia on their first big journey. There they went into the synagogue, and they were given the opportunity to speak to the people.
Then Paul stood up, and beckoning with his hand said, Men of Israel, and ye that fear God, give audience.
After some explanations about king Saul, Paul began to speak about king David.
And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will.
Of this mans seed hath God according to his promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus:
Here we can see that Jesus was in a very special way sent as a saviour for the people of Israel in accordance with the promises God had made to His people.
In Philippians 3, an epistle addressed to the church, we can read more information about our topic at hand.
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.
These verses make reference to still future time, the time when Jesus Christ shall return. Then he indeed will change our vile body, and we will receive a body fashioned unto his glorious body. This is part of our salvation. We are already saved, and we do already have eternal life as an absolutely firm promise of God. But our salvation as a whole is not yet come into full manifestation. We still have our old body, and this change of our body will be in the future as part of our salvation. We therefore not only expect our Lord Jesus Christ, but we also look for the Saviour. He has saved us, but there are things included in this salvation which will not be completely fulfilled and come into manifestation until the return of Jesus Christ.
2 Timothy 1:9-11
Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,
But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:
Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.
Now the grace has been made manifest through the appearing of our saviour Jesus Christ. It had been promised from ages that a messiah, a saviour was to come. God actually had announced this already shortly after the fall of man. It was Adam's fall which brought man into a situation where now man is lost and needs to be saved. Adam's transgression and sin was initially responsible for this dilemma. By one man sin entered into the world and with sin death came upon all. Sin did not enter into the world by the devil, but by the one man it was the one man Adam who brought this catastrophe. But, as Romans 5 tells us also, it was by one other man, i.e. by Jesus Christ, salvation and life came and is now available to all. As by the one man Adam sin and with it death came, so salvation and eternal life came by the one man Jesus Christ.1
Here we read of the saviour Jesus Christ. From this record again, it becomes clear that the natural man is in a situation where he needs a saviour. Some readers of this study may perhaps remember when they began to realize that they were lost and needed a saviour. This realization comes at some time, and man does come to know that there is something amiss with this life and that there should be more or something else beyond what one has in terms of life, that there is something definitely wrong. Finally, when one becomes honest with life and one's own position, one will realize that one needs a saviour. It becomes evident and clear that one cannot pull one self by own works out of this dilemma. And this is especially true in regard to eternal life and the things beyond this earthly life. By God's grace and mercy one may hear the good news of Jesus Christ and the he is that saviour. Then there remains really only one logical and good response to accept the message from God's Word and to believe on Christ.
With this we come now to the great revelation about salvation by faith on Jesus Christ, as it is declared and set forth in Romans 10.
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
How marvelous and sure is this statement: " thou shalt be saved"! One could perhaps translate this a little differently as, " thou shalt receive (have) salvation!" Upon such confession and believing one is no longer lost but has been saved and granted eternal life.
For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
This verse again set forth the two necessary things to be done by man in an affirmative way: (1) confession with the mouth that Jesus is lord, and (2) believing with the heart that God did raise Jesus Christ from the dead. The one brings with it the necessary justification and granting of righteousness before God, the other assures of the necessary salvation.
" if thou shalt confess with thy mouth" confess what? Of course that which just has been mention in verse 9, " the Lord Jesus". Here we have a nice transition to the second point which we want to study some more. Jesus Christ is not only our saviour, but he is also now our lord.
There are some Christians today who love to have Jesus Christ as their saviour, but unfortunately and alas they have no need for him as their lord because they just rather want to continue living the way they have been living all along when they themselves were their own lord. But, these two things are inseparably connected with each other. There is no salvation, except we confess Jesus Christ to be our lord!
Thus we have at the very beginning of our Christian existence changed lords. We were our own lord, but we no longer are our own lord, we rather have confessed another to be lord Jesus Christ. He is from that moment on our lord. As we constantly remind ourselves and remember this, we can conduct our lives as God our Father would like us to live worthy of our calling and as Jesus Christ as our lord and saviour has made it available for us to do and wants us to live. When we at first say: "Oh yes, Jesus, you are lord" and then we even come around to thank him that he has saved us, but then turn and say, "Well, now that we have accomplished this, we'll do what we did before and now we are going to take over and be our own lord again" then we will not conduct our lives in the way it ought to be and as becomes a son of God. We have confessed Jesus Christ as lord, now we ought to live accordingly.
In Acts 2 we can read about Jesus Christ as lord in a passage of scripture which Peter included in his sermon at Pentecost.
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.
Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.
Jesus Christ did not assume to be the Christ and the Savior of the world on his own. Neither did he assume the position of lord on his own. God made him to be both Lord and Christ. This is an important truth which we should keep in mind.
What Jesus Christ made himself to be can be gleaned from the record in Philippians 2.
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.
Isn't this just remarkable and tremendous? Jesus Christ humbled himself, and it was God who then greatly exalted him. It is he, who humbled himself and who was then exalted by God, whom we have confessed to be lord and whom we have thus made to be the lord of our lives.
Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,
(Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,)
Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh;
And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead:
Jesus Christ is our lord. It is truly remarkable that in the church epistles Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Thessalonians really only one time the word "saviour" or the expression "Jesus, the saviour" is used (in Philippians 3:20), but many times we read of "lord" and the expression "lord Jesus Christ". Here we see it right at the opening of the first salutation in the first epistle to the church where we read of "Jesus Christ our Lord". Paul even calls himself a "servant of Jesus Christ".
1 Corinthians 8:5-6
For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,)
But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.
People may speak of many gods and have many lords. We have only one, there is but one God the father of our lord Jesus Christ and there is for us only one lord Jesus Christ!
A few other scriptures show this to us and enable us to gain a deeper understanding of this truth.
1 Corinthians 15:57
But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
It is the lord Jesus Christ by whom we have this victory. God gives us the victory, and to Him we give thanks. This victory is granted us by our lord Jesus Christ.
Many Christians are used to speak of Jesus Christ being their brother and saviour, and they are correct by saying this. However, unfortunately quite often it is left out that Jesus Christ also is our lord. With great enthusiasm some call Jesus Christ their brother, and they do so because they really like that idea and even quote from Hebrews 2:11,12: " he is not ashamed to call them brethren". What great rejoicing at this truth! But, do we then also with the same enthusiasm go forth and shout, "Jesus Christ is my Lord! I am doing what he says!" ? Or are we then hesitant and have a hard time to do so?
Sometimes we may hear say, "We are free in Christ. We are now God's children! The word "servants" only shows up in the Old Testament in reference to Israel." Hold it just a moment if we have a "lord" then there must also be a "service" in our case! We, as the sons and children of God, are to serve as well. We are to serve our lord Jesus Christ! We cannot go about and claim to be children of God and then say that as children we need not be servants and can forget serving anybody (but ourselves, of course). Oh no! We became God's children only by confessing another as lord and by "employing ourselves in his service"!
It is by this lord that we are given the victory. Interestingly, it is not by our "saviour" and also not by "our brother", even though of course we are talking about the same person, Jesus Christ! The emphasis is however on him being our lord. As we acknowledge this and give ourselves into his service, we will indeed see victory in every regard given us by God through him.
2 Corinthians 4 has another verse in which Jesus Christ as our lord is mentioned.
2 Corinthians 4:5
For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus sake.
"For we preach not ourselves " and we might ask ourselves at first, "ourselves as what?" The answer becomes clear from the next part of the verse, "not ourselves [as lords], but Christ Jesus the Lord"! A very important part of preaching must be that Christ is preached as lord. When we preach we cannot and dare not preach ourselves as lord, but we must preach that there is one who is lord of any believer, Jesus Christ.
Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe.
Some people today may completely reject such a statement and say, "If someone else is lord, then there can be no joy, then it is over with having joy. You can only have joy when you decide what you want and when you are your own boss." Perhaps we have thought this way and said similar things, "If you are your own boss, you can do just as you please and then you can be really happy and have joy all the time." But what do we read here? "Rejoice outside of [or separate from] the lord"? The biblical exhortation is rather, "Rejoice IN the lord!"
We can also perhaps understand this much better when we observe that the biblical concept of "lord" is much different from what we often see today as "lord". A lord who had servants in his house was absolutely responsible to care for them. A good lord cared for the well being of his servants and he did by no means just exploit them. The way lords were oftentimes looked upon by society was often determined by the way their servants were treated. If someone's servants were not cared for and were seen in town in a bad condition, such a lord would quickly lose his good reputation among the people of the town and gain a bad name. Today's world is in many ways of course just the opposite the more servants are exploited the more reputation such lords seem to get among their friends and associates. In biblical times and in the lands of the Bible, the lord was responsible to care for all in his house, including the servants, in a proper manner. He cared in every way for the well being of those who had made themselves servants to him.
From this perspective we can very well understand how God's Word can ask and command us to rejoice in the lord!
Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.
I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord.
And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life.
Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.
"Rejoice in the Lord alway" this great truths is repeated here again. We can rejoice in the Lord at all times. If we put ourselves in his service, when we do those things which he would have us to do, then there can be and will be great joy. If we once again try to be our own lord little or no true joy will ensue. Only as we live in fellowship with our lord Jesus Christ, our lives will show forth and be filled with joy. If we instead try to get rid of him as our lord, things will begin to be cumbersome and go by without much joy, and that is no wonder or surprise, for we then are not "in the lord".
The epistle to the Colossians also have some wonderful truths about our lord and how we as Christians are now to walk.
And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
All that we do in life that is really what is expressed in these words "whatsoever ye do in word or deed" should be done "in the name of the Lord Jesus". We can and should act and do in his service, according to his commandments, with his permission, in accordance with his will. What we sometimes think of is not the all important thing or necessarily decisive; rather, what is in accordance with God's Word, in alignment with the will of our lord, that really counts.
When we act in his name, we have power and might. This then is not our own authority, but we act under his authority. Many times we see how people go to great length to get the support of some important person in order to be able to drop their name and include their name on a paper when they want to ensure success or when they try to convince someone else of something. When they think that their own name might not be sufficient, they resort to finding an influential person whose name may have more weight in the matter. The real issue of course is not just the name, but rather the person and influence, the authority and power of that person behind the name.
We already read that our lord was given a name by God which is above all other names! It is therefore no wonder that we as Christians actually can be successful when we act in the name of our lord! It is however difficult to use this name with conviction when we perhaps have just "taken a vacation" or "leave of absence" from our lord because we wanted to do what we wanted to do for a while and be our own lord again. Hey, we might then experience sort of what happened to some guys at Ephesus a long time ago.2 They tried to use "the name of Jesus whom Paul preaches" for their own endeavour, and they ended up leaving the scene in a rather sad and unpleasant way.
We however have confessed Jesus as our lord and we ought to now do everything in our might to remain loyal to him and stay in fellowship. All that we do in word or deed we should do in the name of our lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God our Father by him.
We are mostly used to carry out our work and obligations to our employers and others faithfully. Only with very good reason and in sort of unavoidable situations of emergency would we consider to not show up or come late without prior notice and arrangement. And once we arrive we would apologize and endeavour to make up for the time. How about our attitude toward our lord Jesus Christ? Are we as much or even more concerned when it comes to his service? Or are we more negligent when it comes to his affairs? Who really is our first and most important lord? How important to us is our service for him?
His affairs ought to have preeminence and occupy first place, only then do the other affairs work out nicely and successfully. If not, there's "sand in the machinery of life" and little if anything wants to work out right. There should really by a grave emergency for us not to have the time to start out the day consulting him. And even then, it may be a very good idea to consider carefully if it be not better to quickly stop and pick up the most important parts before continuing the day without the lord altogether. It is only wise to take time to pray to God, to read God's Word, to stay in fellowship with Him and with our lord Jesus Christ!
And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;
Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.
We should put forth effort to remember again and again that we have confessed Jesus as lord. He is now our lord, we are no longer our own lord. We have been bought with a price and we belong now to him. We are not to live for ourselves but we are to live unto him. All that we do we therefore want to do heartily as unto him for he is our lord. We do not work just because we want to please some man or even want to please ourselves. We give our best, give our utmost, heartily as to the lord. And we do so in the full conviction and with the greatest assurance because we also have come to know that it will be our lord Jesus Christ of whom we will in the end receive the reward of the inheritance.
This little study was designed to bring these two aspects of our relationship with Jesus Christ closer to us. Jesus Christ was sent into the world by God as the saviour of the world so that now all who believe in him may be saved and receive eternal life. This salvation is received as we believe in our heart that God has raised his only begotten son from the dead and as we confess with our mouth Jesus Christ to be our lord.
Jesus Christ is now the lord in the life of a Christian. The Christian is now to conduct his life in a way that he does all what he does in word or deed in the name of the lord Jesus Christ, and that he does it heartily as unto the lord. From him, he will in the end receive as reward the previously prepared inheritance.
(1) Compare Romans 5:12-21.
(2) The record of this incident is in Acts 19.