Bible Truths

Lesson 2 - Lordship Of Jesus

Right from the outset of this study we need to clearlyunderstand what the Lordship of Jesus really means. If we have not got thatright, we have not got our salvation right ( Luke 14:26-35 {Mt 10:37-38 alsorefers}). The word hateth in V26 does not mean that we are to literally hateour fathers and mothers, etc, but that we are to love them less than we loveJesus. Jesus demands that our love and our loyalty for Him be greater than anyother attachment we may have, including even our attachment for our families,and He warns all that would follow Him to count the cost involved. While thebenefits of the gospel are solely on the basis of personal choice, complyingwith the conditions for appropriating those benefits are part of the cost ofthat choice. Salvation is a paradox. It is both free and costly. Free becauseJesus has already paid for it with His life's blood, yet there is a cost interms of its impact upon those who would follow after Jesus. The Lordship ofJesus demands that all that we have: material possessions, family, even our ownlife must be placed at the service of Christ. It also requires our totalrenunciation of all self-interests and ambitions and everything else that wouldtake precedence in our life over the things of God. In the parable of the towerbuilder (V28-30), Jesus illustrates for us the absurdity of seeking to followafter Him without first counting the cost, and in the parable of the warringking (V31-33), He illustrates the impossibility of being saved unless one iswilling to forsake all for Him. The word forsaketh in V33 means to bidfarewell, to take leave of, to dismiss, to renounce. The parable of savourlesssalt teaches us that like salt that loses its saltiness has no value and isthrown out, so disciples who no longer contain the characteristics of discipleship- that of total consecration to the service of God and complete surrender tothe authority of Jesus - are of no value either. This very clearly teaches thatonce saved does not mean always saved as a great many Christians believe. If itwere not possible to forfeit salvation then this scripture and others thatteach the same thing would not be in the Bible ( Luke 9:57-62).

Here we have three seemingly sincere candidates forsalvation but all failed to measure up to the standards Jesus has set for Hisfollowers. These passages teach above all else that anything less than totalcommitment to God eliminates one from the kingdom of heaven. The first incidentteaches that an emotional enthusiasm that has not considered the cost ofabandoning material security to follow Him is insufficient by Christ'sstandards. The second teaches that loyalty to Christ must take precedence overall other loyalties. Following after Jesus must be our highest priority. Jesusis not being insensitive to the propriety of funerals here, but is teachingagainst procrastination - putting off the work of God. Followers of Christ havethe urgent task of proclaiming the life that is in Him to them that are lost.This is more important work than burying spiritually dead people who have physicallydied. Jesus said let their own spiritually dead bury them. The third incidentteaches that once we start in God's service we cannot turn away. Service to Goddemands our undivided attention, and if we are not prepared to single-mindedlyserve God then we forfeit our place in His kingdom (Ge 19:1, 12-26). Lot's wifewould not let go of Sodom where her treasures were. She disobeyed God's wordand looked back on Sodom and turned into a pillar of salt.

There must be no confusion in our minds concerning whatthese scriptures teach. To follow Jesus requires complete surrender to Him, andanything less will cost us the kingdom. These seem to be harsh conditions, andthe question could be asked: are they meant to be taken literally or can theybe adapted to suit our own particular walk? Friends, they have to be takenliterally. They are for the admonition of every professing Christian. Ofcourse, we are not to literally hate anyone as we saw earlier, but our livesare to be totally consecrated to the service of God and completely surrenderedto the authority of Jesus. Jesus has set this divine standard and no one cancome to Him on any other terms ( Jn 12:24-25). Although V24 is a prediction byJesus of His death, the principle by which He illustrates it applies to us too.Unless we die to self we cannot bring forth any fruit. It means not onlybelieving the gospel, but also committing ourselves sacrificially to followJesus ( Luke 9:23). To deny oneself means that we are to put the interests ofthe kingdom above all else and renounce all self-interests and ambitions whichare contrary to God's word. There can be no compromise here because the choicebetween denying ourselves or living for our own selfish desires must be madedaily and that choice determines our eternal destiny ( Ro 6:16-23; 8:1-14; Ga5:19-24; Col 3:1-10).

We are also to take up our cross daily, not periodically orwhen it is convenient or popular. Taking up our cross means committingourselves sacrificially to the service of God. The cross of Christ is a symbolof suffering, ridicule, self-denial and rejection, and we must be prepared tosuffer the reproach, hatred and ridicule of the world because we have separatedourselves from it both morally and spiritually, but if we are hanging onto evena small part of the world still, then we have no part in Christ ( Col 1:21-23;2:6-8; Jas 4:4; He 13:11-14; 1Jn 2:16-17). We must be prepared to lose ourlife, not gain it. This means that making the achievement of happiness andpleasure our goal in this life instead of living in God's will and by Hisprinciples, will end in disappointment and loss. To renounce our own ways andlive in fellowship with Jesus, basing our lives on His teachings is to findtrue life and joy here, and hereafter. This explains the paradox ofdiscipleship - to lose life is to find it: to die is to live (Mt 10:39;19:27-30; Mk 8:34-37; Luke 9:24-25; Jn 12:25). This is what it really means tobe yielded to the Lordship of Jesus. We must always live unashamed of Christand His word. Those of us who seek to be popular in, or accepted by the worldrather than follow Christ in strict compliance to His word, will be rejected byChrist when He comes again ( Mk 8:38; Luke 9:26). These are grim warnings,directed to Christians - not heathens, about the fear of man. It is the fear ofman that makes Christians ashamed of Christ and His word. If we are notprepared to confess Christ before all men regardless of who they are, andproclaim His gospel of salvation, then we will be damned to hell ourselves ( Mt10:24-28; 2Ti 2:12; 4:2; Rev 3:5; 21:8).

The fearful in Rev 21:8 are professing Christians whose fearof man overrides their loyalty to Christ and the truth of His word. Theirpersonal feelings and status among men means more to them than being faithfulto Christ and witnessing to His saving grace. Fearful means to be timid,afraid, fainthearted. Notice that Jesus placed them first among those who willbe consigned to hell because they profess to be Christians, but they compromiseHis word rather than proclaim it. It is futile for Christians to live theirlives unto themselves without being totally conformed to God's word andsurrendered to the Lordship of Jesus. We delude ourselves if we believe that wecan and still be saved ( Luke 6:46-49 {Mt 7:21-27 also refers}). This clearlydemonstrates the futility of not conforming to God's word and surrendering toJesus' authority. Only those who hear the word and do it can be saved ( Jas1:22-25). The one who merely hears God's word quickly forgets it. Only the onewho hears the word and does it is blessed of God because he has built his houseupon solid rock not upon shifting sand. Obedience to the word of God bringsabout the work of God. We are to hear the word and do the work ( Psa 119:9). Wemust order our lives according to God's word. To heed means to hear and obey.

Jas 1:22-25 is directed to those in the Church who professfaith in Christ believing that is all that is necessary for salvation. Thisclearly highlights the grave error in that thinking. James teaches that faithsuch as that is dead ( Jas 2:14-26). Faith without works will neither producesalvation nor anything else that is good ( Jn 14:21 with 1Jn 2:4-5). The onlytrue expression of our love for Jesus is to obey Him. If we are not obedient toHis word it is because we do not acknowledge Him as Lord. It is meaningless tocall Jesus Lord and not do as He commands ( Mk 10:17-25 {Mt 19:16-24 and Luke18:18-25 also refers}). The rich young ruler did not get saved. He failed thetest like the three candidates did in Luke 9:57-62. He sincerely wanted to besaved but like them he wanted it to be on his terms not the terms Jesus laiddown. The rich young ruler was not prepared to obey Jesus and put Him above hispossessions. This is not teaching that believers have to dispose of all theirpossessions as a condition of salvation, but it does teach that whatevermaterial wealth we do have, we must be prepared to employ it for the kingdom,not for self-gratification. Believers must place all of their possessions atthe service of God once they are saved.

There is a lesson for the Church here and that is thatnobody can be saved by a gospel of easy-believism. We must never representsalvation to anyone as something that requires no commitment on their partbecause Jesus has done it all for them and all they have to do is merelybelieve in Jesus to be saved. That is not what Jesus teaches as this studyclearly proves, yet there are many in the Church who do teach thatnotwithstanding. Demons believe in Jesus as Jas 2:19 teaches, but they are notsaved, and they are not going to heaven ( Jas 2:19). Every candidate forsalvation and every new convert to Christ must be made aware of what Christexpects of them regarding obedience to His word. Jesus holds each and every oneof us responsible for teaching them that truth ( Mt 28:18-20 with Luke14:28-33). The word observe in Mt 28:20 means to obey, to keep, to fulfil aduty. We are to teach repentant sinners that to obey God's word is to fulfilour duty to Him for His salvation. It is patently obvious from scripture thatthere is no such thing as a gospel of easy-believism in God's redemptive plan.We owe Him our obedience and complete surrender, and without we give it to Himthere is no salvation for any of us, and we can not teach otherwise. As Jesusonly lived to express God to mankind so the Christian must live to expressJesus to the world. As Jesus consecrated Himself to the service of God and wascompletely surrendered to God's will, so the Christian must also be with Jesus.As Jesus did all to glorify God, so too must the Christian for Jesus. Only thusis Jesus enthroned as our Lord.

When citing the beatitudes in His sermon on the Mount, Jesuswas laying down the principles of the kingdom of God, and it is incumbent uponChristians to live out those principles in their daily walk (Mt 5:1-12). Thefirst principle of the kingdom is the first beatitude: "Blessed are thepoor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven". The poor in spiritare those who recognise their spiritual helplessness without Christ and foregotheir own identities as individuals in order to possess the kingdom. They seethe kingdom as the ultimate, to be possessed (Mt 11:12). The violent here arethose Christians who vigorously seek the kingdom in all its power no matterwhat it costs them. It is the responsibility of every professing Christian toseek unceasingly, in all its manifestations, the kingdom of God. The secondprinciple of the kingdom of God is the second beatitude: "Blessed are theythat mourn: for they shall be comforted". They that mourn are those whoare grieved over their own weaknesses in relation to God's standard ofrighteousness and kingdom power, and are grieved in their spirit over the sinand immorality manifested in the world. They take upon themselves the burdenfor the souls of sinners and cry out to God for their salvation. They arecomforted by receiving from God righteousness and peace and joy in the HolyGhost ( Ro 14:17).

The "meek" in the third kingdom principle arethose who find their refuge in God and commit their way entirely to Him. Meekis not weak, but controlled strength in gentleness and forbearance. The meekshall inherit the earth. The fourth principle of the kingdom is to hunger andthirst after righteousness. The spiritual condition of Christians rightthroughout their lives will depend on how much they hunger and thirst afterrighteousness. The Christian's hunger for the things of God is destroyed byworldly anxiety, deceitfulness of riches (Mt 13:22), desire for things ( Mk4:19), worldly pleasures (Luke 8:14) and failure to abide in Christ ( Jn 15:4).When the hunger for God and his righteousness is destroyed those affected willforfeit their salvation, whereas those who continually hunger and thirst afterrighteousness will be filled. The fifth principle of the kingdom: "Blessedare the merciful for they shall obtain mercy" means that Christians are tobe not simply possessed of pity but are to be actively compassionate towardthose who are suffering from sin or sorrow. They mercifully desire to make suchsuffering less by bringing those people to the grace and help of God throughJesus Christ ( Mt 18:21-35; Luke 10:30-37; 1Pe 3:8-9).

The sixth principle of the kingdom of God is the sixth beatitude:"Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God." The pure inheart are those who have been cleansed from the pollution and the guilt of sinby the grace of God, and now strive to please and glorify God. They seek tohave the same attitude of heart that God has - a love for righteousness and ahatred of evil. Only the pure in heart shall see God. That means they shall beHis children and will dwell in His presence now and in eternity ( Rev 21:7;22:4). The seventh principle of God's kingdom is to be a peacemaker.Peacemakers are those who strive by their witness and life to bring lostsinners to be reconciled to God. Peacemakers are not simply ones who make peacebetween two parties, but ones who spread the good news of the peace of Godwhich they themselves have experienced in His salvation ( 2Cor 5:17-20). Theeighth kingdom principle is to suffer persecution for Jesus' sake. Persecutionshave been promised as a portion for Christians (Mk 10:29-30; 2Ti 3:12).Christians will suffer unpopularity, rejection and criticism, but they are torejoice when they do. We must beware of the temptation to compromise God's wordin order to avoid these experiences, for the principles of God's kingdom neverchange. All that live godly in Christ shall suffer, but those who endure itwill have eternal life ( Mt 5:10-12; 2Cor 4:7-11). The kingdom of God isestablished in the hearts of men and the beatitudes are the principles uponwhich the kingdom is based.

The purpose of Jesus' coming into the world was to establishthe kingdom of God, thus the Lordship of Jesus and the kingdom of God areinseparable. If Jesus is not our Lord then the kingdom of God and the powermanifested in it are none of ours either. The real purpose of becoming aChristian is not to be saved from going to hell, or being saved to go toheaven. It is to become a child of God with the character of Jesus Christ. Ifthe character of Jesus has entered into us then we are like Him in purpose, andwe are like Him in fact, but if the character of Jesus is not manifest in usthen we are not like Him in purpose at all and we are none of His (Mt 22:8-14).The wedding garment in this parable represents a Christ covered life, or thecharacter of Jesus. Wearing the garment is symbolic of having "put on"Christ, or manifesting His character. The parable teaches that only those whohave manifested the character of Jesus, who have "put on" Christ andmade Him their Lord will enter into the kingdom of heaven. The wedding guestwho refused to wear the garment represents professing Christians who will notobey God's word and surrender to the authority of Jesus. Outer darknesssymbolises hell.

There is no more graphic illustration in the Bible than thisof what will happen to those who profess to love Christ but whose purpose intheir Christian walk conflicts with God's purpose for them ( Jn 15:16 with Jn14:21-24 and 1Jn 2:3-4). The wedding guest wanted to partake of the king'sprovision, but on his terms, not the king's: just like the rich young ruler andthe other three candidates for salvation we studied earlier. Many Christiansare like that - they want to partake of the kingdom benefits but they do notwant to obey our King, the King of Glory, Christ Jesus. That is what Jesusmeans when He said "...many are called but few are chosen." Sadly,not all who call Jesus Lord will be going to heaven, which our study of Luke6:46-49 also taught us. It is only to the extent that we obey God's word thatwe have made Jesus our Lord and ensure our place in heaven (Pr 4:4). A successfulChristian life rests upon our knowledge of the teaching of Christ whose word isthe final authority in all matters, and consecration to do the will of God asdeclared by the Lord Jesus Christ, which He commanded us to do in Mt 28:18-20.We can only be saved under the Lordship of Jesus and scriptures quite clearlytell us what we must do. We must continue willing to follow Jesus daily to theend of our life, not only when it suits us, or when it is convenient orpopular, and that means always in strict obedience to His word. To claimeternal life when we only follow Jesus when it suits us is to deceive ourselvesand merely professing faith is not good enough (Jn 12:26; He 3:6-14; 10:38-39;Jas 2:14-26).

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