The Lordship of Christ
What is the theology of the Lordship of Christ? How should the believer make Christ the Lord of his or her life? What about Lordship salvation?
Four terms are used in the Bible to describe the meaning of Lordship. The first term is translated by the English letters YHVH. This name for God, LORD or Jehovah, is used 6832 times in the Hebrew Bible. It refers to God as the eternal, self-existing One (Exodus 3:13), God as the Covenant-Keeper (Genesis 15:12-21), the unchanging One (Malachi 3:6), as God who is not only righteous (Psalm 11:3-6) but also loving and kind (Isaiah 63:7-9). The second term used in the concept of Lordship is the Hebrew word “Adon”, translated in English as master, lord (in respect of humans) or Lord (in respect of God). When Adon is used of God, it frequently is used in conjunction with the term Jehovah or YHVH, emphasising God as master, Lord, sovereign, owner of this world and the One in control of this world. A third term is the better known Hebrew word Adonai, for example the fear of the Lord (Adonai) is the source of wisdom (Job 28:28). The Greek word used in the New Testament, kurios, is the fourth term, emphasising someone as owner, in authority and one who has lawful power of disposal.
How do these terms relate to the Lordship of the Messiah? Christ is the Lord of the Old and the New Testament. Just as it happened at the burning bush in the Old Testament, Jesus referred to Himself as I AM (Exodus 3:14; John 8:58; 18:5-6). Another example is Psalm 102:12, 25-27 which refers to God as Jehovah— and these verses are quoted in the New Testament as referring to Jesus Christ (Hebrews 1:10-12). More examples can be added: the Old Testament terms Adon and Adonai are also applied to Christ in the New Testament (ex: Deuteronomy 10:17 and 1 Timothy 6:15; Isaiah 6:1, 8-10 and John 12:39-40). Concerning the Lordship of Christ, one can conclude that the Lord Jesus Christ is Creator (John 1:1-3), Covenant-Keeper, self-existent, Master, Owner, Ruler and central to everything.
Is salvation by God’s grace through faith alone or is salvation by God’s grace through faith plus the commitment of one’s life to the Lordship of Christ? The issue concerns the condition of salvation — thus the doctrine of salvation — and also touches on faith, discipleship, spiritual growth, etc.
The expression “Lord” in the title “Lord Jesus” (cf. Romans 1:1-4; 10:9-10) emphasises Him as the God-man, both in His deity (Lord) — for only God can spiritually save — and in his humanity (Jesus), for the Redeemer must also be a human kinsman-redeemer, willing and able to offer himself as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. Accepting the Lord Jesus is therefore accepting Him as the God-man, because He must be both God and man to qualify as Saviour.
Would you say the apostle Peter was saved by the time one reaches Acts 10? When Peter was called to go to the house of a Gentile and to eat what he thought was un-kosher food, what did he say to the Lord? Peter said “Not so, Lord” (Acts 10:14; NKJV). At that precise moment in time, Peter was not yielded to the Lordship of Christ in all areas of his life otherwise he would not say those words. Was the apostle Peter saved? Of course he was. But if someone says Peter wasn’t saved because he was not fully committed to the Lordship of the Messiah, what was Peter then supposed to do? Presumably Peter was to be saved, and by Lordship salvation is meant this time he really, truly had to commit to the Lordship of Christ. But this works-based gospel takes you back not to Wittenberg [and the Reformation] but to Rome (Radmacher 1990:40). The gospel of Christ teaches that salvation is by God’s grace through faith (plus nothing).
What should happen in believers’ lives after having been saved? The Bible encourages believers to grow in Christ (don’t remain babes in Christ; do not be carnal Christians) and to become fully committed disciples by making Christ the Lord of our lives. How can this be done? It is done by dedicating our life in a one-time act to the Lord Jesus and by living a Spirit-filled life.
Dedication is always on the basis of blessings already received from God, the chief blessing of course being our redemption. Romans 12:1 is the great verse about dedication: “I beseech your therefore brethren [Paul addresses people who are already believers], by the mercies of God [based on blessings already received from God], that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” The main issue in dedication is this: who is going to control your life, God or yourself?
What happens if you’ve dedicated your life/body to God but then “mess up”? Do you re-dedicate all over again? No, since you have already done it, you confess and ask forgiveness so as to be restored in fellowship (1 John 1:9), you pick up your cross where you dropped it and you continue following Christ on the narrow way.
The results of this life of a believer will be an increase in the knowledge, the doing and the enjoying of the will of God (cf. Romans 12:2). The second result is that it leads to a Spirit-filled life, or Spirit-controlled life. We encourage you to read the rest of this article by Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum.
Since the start of 2016, FaithEquip has introduced you to the Come & See discipleship course of Ariel Ministries. This discipleship course has 50 articles and FaithEquip has endeavoured to summarise each article to encourage you along the course. Articles are available in Afrikaans on this website and in English on Ariel Ministries’ website.
Having completed Bibliology, the Trinity, God the Father and now also teaching about God the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, the next few articles will focus on God the Holy Spirit, angelic beings (both holy and fallen ones), human beings, Israel, the Church, salvation, prayer, various articles of importance before moving on to eschatology.
Come and See!
This article partially summarises an article by Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum on “The Lordship of the Messiah” – please read it at www.arielm.org/dcs/pdf/mbs133m.pdf .
Radmacher, E.D., 1990, ‘First response to Faith according to the apostle James by John F. MacArthur, Jr.’, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 33(1), 35-41.
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