Study of Romans as given by Dr. James Montgomery Boice: Romans 1:4
4…Jesus Christ our Lord
Boice opens this part of his study with recognizing the NIV for putting the words “Jesus Christ Our Lord” in the correct order, which is at the end of verse 4. Boice emphasizes this because “Jesus is Lord” was the earliest Christian creed and therefore was of the greatest importance to the early church. If a person recognized “Jesus is Lord” he or she was ready to be received for baptism. Two reasons for this:
- “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” (Romans 10:9)
- “No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit. (I Cor 12:3)
To us, reading today, it might be kind of strange that “Jesus is Lord” could be so important to the early church, but these words simply overflow with meaning (Kyrios Iesous is the Greek used for “Jesus is Lord”). To say that Jesus is Lord implies two things. First, it implies that Jesus is God. Second, it implies that Jesus is Savior.
- The first implication is due to that fact that in the Greek version of the Old Testament kyrios is used to translate the Hebrew name for God: Yahweh or Jehovah.
- The disciples, knowing full well this word was used to translate this great name for God, did not hesitate to transfer this title to Jesus.
- Need to be careful because not all uses of the word “Lord” were used to imply divinity.
- In the most exalted instances the word was linked to the early disciples belief in Christ’s divinity.
- This is the meaning of kyrios in the Christological passages of the NT. Some examples:
- I Corinthians 8:4-6 “…We know that an idol is nothing in the world and that there is no God but one. For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for who we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.”
- Luke 2:11 “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.”
- Important thing her is that “Lord” is in the nominative case, as is “Christ,” rather than being in the genetive case.
- In gentive case the announcement would have concerned “the Lord’s Christ,” which would have been perfectly correct, but would have meant no more than that Jesus was a specially chosen man.
- In the nominative case, the statement actually goes beyond this to mean “Christ [who is] the Lord.”
- Psalm 110:1 “The Lord says to my Lord: ‘Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for you feet.'”
- In Matt. 22:41-46 Christ asks his enemies who they think he is. The replied back “the son of David”. While this is true they were thinking of an earthly, human Messiah.
- Jesus wanted them to see further so he point them to Psalm 110:1.
- Christ’s point was that if David called the Messiah “Lord,” it could only be because the Messiah was to be more than just one of David’s descendants.
- He would have to be a divine Messiah, which is what the title “Lord” indicates.
- Phillipians 2:5-11 “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became odedient to death-even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
- The title “Lord” meant so much to the early Christians that they were willing to die for this name. Polycarp was executed because he refused to say “Ceasar is Lord”.
- To Polycarp “Lord” meant God and there can only be one God. If Polycarp had called Ceasar “Lord”, then Jesus could not have been “Lord” to Polycarp. This was unacceptable.
Lord and Savior
- The second implication of the title “Lord” is that Jesus is Savior.
- John Stott writing in “The Sovereignty of God the Son” writes “The title “Lord” is a symbol of Christ’s victory over the forces of evil…..He has conquered them on the cross, and therefore our salvation-that is to say, our rescue from sin, Satan, fear, and death-is due to that victory.“
- Recently it has become popular to separate the lordship and the saviorhood of Christ which is bascially having Jesus as savior, but not as Lord.
- This was the view of Charles C. Ryre. Ryrie aruges that any attempt to link “Jesus as Lord” to “Jesus as Savior” is the equivalent of adding “commitment” to “faith” in salvation.
- Since “the message of faith only and the message of faith plus commitment of life cannot both be the gospel…one of them is a false gospel and comes under the curse of perverting the gospel or preaching another gospel.”(Gal. 1:6-9)
- Two serious mistakes in the arugments of Ryrie:
- One mistakes involves the meaning of faith.
- Ryrie seems to detach faith from commitment.
- Is faith minus commitment a true biblical faith? Hardly!
- Biblical faith involves three elements:
- Knowledge upon which it is based
- Heart response, which results from the new birth
- Commitment, without which faith is no different from the assent of the demons, who only “believe that and shudder” (James 2:19).
- Faith without commitments is not true faith. It is a dead faith that will save no one.
- Second mistake is even more serious because it involves the person and work of Jesus Christ.
- No true Christian will add anything to the finished work of Jesus. To do so is really to proclaim a false gospel.
- This Lord is the object of faith and its content. There is no other.
- Consequently, if faith is directed to one who is not Lord, it is directed to one who is a false Christ of imaginations. Such a one is not the Savior, and he will save no one.
- One mistakes involves the meaning of faith.
Is He Our Lord?
- Even if we recognize that Jesus must be Lord to be Savior and that true faith involves commitment, but is Jessus really OUR Lord? Are we truly committed to him?
- John Stott suggests six implications:
- In intellectual implication: If Jesus is our Lord, one thing he must be Lord of is our thinking. He must be Lord of our minds.
- An ethical implication: He is Lord of our wills and of our moral standards also.
- A vocational implication: If Jesus is Lord, then he is alos Lord of our time; this means that he is Lord of our professions, jobs, careers, and ambitions. We cannot plan our lives as if our relationship to Jesus is somehow detached from thoss plans and irrelevant to them.
- An ecclesiastical implicaiton: Jesus is also head of the church.
- A political implication:
- There is an intra-mural battle within the church such as fighting off the attempt to separate the saving work of Christ from his Lordship.
- There is an extra-mural battle that exists outside of the church. It comes from those who insist that religion must be kep in its place. Above all it must not intrude into our national life.
- We as Christians must stand firmly and keep pushing forth the truths that: Christ is Lord of all life, the life of nations included; He is the King of kings, he is the Lord of lords.
- These proclamations must be made correctly. First, they must be done humbly. Second, we must know that our mission is to be by example and word and not by force.
- We must remember that the Lord did not come to set up an army or even a policitcal organization, but rather a witnessing fellowship. Whenever the church has departed from the Lord’s pattern in this area, it has always done so to its harm.
- A global implication: If Jesus is our Lord, the final implication flows from the Great Commission by which, on the basis of his own authority, the Lord sent disciples into the entire world to make and disciple Christians everywhere.
- Are you truly commited to him? If you are, your life can never be what it would be otherwise. If he is your Lord, no other can ever take his place.
I keep thinking about this quote from Boice, “Second, we must know that our mission is to be by example and word and not by force. Otherwise we will become triumphalists. We must remember that the Lord did not come to set up an army or even a political organization, but rather a witnessing fellowship. Whenever the church has departed from the Lord’s pattern in this area, it has always done so to its harm.” I’m reminded of World War II and even the time leading up to WW II. In Germany the church became more concerned about politics than about being a “witnessing” fellowship which lead to deathly consequences. Adolph Hitler was able to use the church to push through his agenda of mass murder and concentration camps. The church became state controlled and pushed the message of genocide using false theology leading the German people down a deadly path. I bring this up for a particular reason.
While the church in America is not even close to the national church in Germany during Hitler’s dictatorship, we see how easy the church is swayed when it takes the focus off the true mission of the church and replaces it with a political agenda. If the church cannot change culture by being a living witness of God’s mercy and love first it cannot be a vehicle of cultural change by taking a political route. If the church is to bring change it will not be through political means. There is no government that can change the heart of man, there is no government that can mend the wounds of rabid disagreement. The change will come with the church returns to becoming a “witnessing fellowship” no matter the ridicule, persecution, targeting that the church faces. Change will occur when the church begins to stop focusing on the glamour of the spotlight, and returns to teaching right theology and witnessing to a lost world. Christ came with no political agenda, He came with no army. Christ came as a living witness of God’s mercy and love. He came to be the ultimate example of the living sacrificial lamb. He changed the world at the time, and He changed all of history up to today and beyond.
Personally I have recognized that this is a fault in myself. I ask myself “Am I part of the witnessing fellowship?” Sadly I have to admit that I am not. I recognize that part of me, but I think it’s time to make a change. For me, it is time to become a part of the witnessing fellowship that Christ calls me to. It is time to look at how I interact with people, time to face the flaws that exist at the heart and mind level. Time to go out into the world, not to confront it with anger, but to confront it with the love of Christ and a passion to live in obedience to my king who sacrificed all. In short, time to be the living witness that we as Christians are called to.