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Foundations for Christian Life

The Lordship of Christ

Study verses: Philippians 2:9-11

"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."

There are numerous instances in the New Testament where Jesus Christ is referred to as Lord. In our study verse Paul says that God exalted Jesus to the highest place, gave him a name above every name. Peter in Acts 2:36 declares to the crowd, "God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ." Man did not elevate Jesus to Lord but God made Jesus Christ Lord of all. Paul, in Galatians 1:10 calls himself a servant of Christ, meaning he belongs to Christ and indeed so do we. In Romans 14:7-9 Paul says, "For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord." We belong to Jesus, we are his servants, Jesus is king and we are his subjects.

The most striking characteristic of the Christian as distinct from the unbeliever is that by the working of the Holy Spirit within him, he is able to say (and mean) "JESUS IS LORD" (see Rom.10:9 and 1 Cor. 12:3) or "JESUS IS BOSS OF EVERY PART OF MY LIFE", because he is either Lord of all or not Lord at all.

What does accepting Christ's lordship mean? It will help us if we look at an Old Testament picture. Because the Israelites were the servants of God they were not to be treated, when they became servants of their brethren, as bond servants (slaves), but as hired servants, working for a period of time, and their masters were to rule over them with kindness (Lev.25:39). There are several ways in which a Hebrew might become a servant of his brethren.
1. When he, through poverty, became unable to maintain himself as an independent citizen (Lev.25:29).
2. By commission of a theft. The law required restitution to the extent of at least double and in some cases up to five times (Ex.23:3).
3. The children of a Hebrew servant became by condition of their birth servants of the master (Ex.21:4). There are others but this shows the background. Now every seventh year all the Hebrew servants to Jewish families were given the opportunity to go free. If a Hebrew servant, out of love for his master, preferred not to accept freedom in the seventh year but wished to remain in the master's house, he was brought before the elders and had his ear bored against the doorpost with an awl, in token of life-long servitude (Ex.21:6 and Deut.15:17). The Hebrew servant had willingly committed himself to remaining a servant for the rest of his life.

The New Testament reality of this picture is that we used to be slaves to sin (Rom.6:17), but at the time we repented and received Jesus Christ as our Saviour, God rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of his Son (Col.1:13) and we have become slaves of righteousness (Rom.6:18). Jesus through his death on the cross, purchased for us the opportunity to go free. In accepting the offer of salvation, we commit ourselves to become Christ's servants and accept him as Lord in the same way as the Old Testament servant (Rom.6:15-18). God has made Jesus both Lord and Christ (Acts 2:36, Eph.1:20-23). As our study verse says, "...every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord." The Christian does it now.

When we come to Christ we are in effect saying, "I no longer wish to be guided by Satan or by my own desires; I want to submit my every thought and word and action to you, Lord. If your command cuts across my feelings or natural inclinations, it is your command I will obey." How can we keep Christ's commands?

It is a mistake to think that there is no law in the New Testament, that grace is an easy going, do as you please concept. Having been justified freely by His grace, our motive as believers for keeping the law of Christ is love and gratitude (1 John 4:19). Rom.8:4 "...in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit." 1 Cor.9:21 "I am not free from God's law, but under Christ's law." Gal.6:2 "Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ."

We can fulfil or keep the law of Christ because we have been re-born, become new creations, we have a new nature with a desire, a bias, to please the Lord and because we love Him, it should not be too hard to please Him by being obedient to His will. Jer.31:33 "I will put my laws in their minds and write it on their hearts." (See also Isa.59:21, 1 Cor.2:16, Matt.11:29-30, 1 John 5:3) We must then set out to discover what the Lord wants of us, his servants, and having found it, deliberately set our hearts and minds to do it. We discover what the Lord wants of us by reading the bible, the word of God and by prayer, communion with God. Without reading His word or praying, we have no communication with the Father and cannot discover the joy of knowing God's leading and guiding step by step through life. We also have Jesus as our example, a pattern and guide for our lives. It is often useful to ask yourself, "What would Jesus do in this situation?"

Finally, there is another area of help; this is the church, fellowship from other believers and from those appointed to positions of leadership. We see therefore that our new nature will desire to keep the law of Christ and our new nature will obey that law in scripture.

In our study verses it shows that God made Jesus Christ Lord, not only of our lives, but he is the Lord of everything. The purpose of Christ's exaltation is that all beings might bow in acknowledgement of the name that belongs to Jesus and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord because of what the name of Jesus represents. A time is coming when every knee shall bow before him in recognition of his sovereignty. This universal acknowledgement will include angels, departed saints in heaven, people still living on earth and the satanic hosts and lost humanity in hell. The bible teaches that Christ will return to claim his kingdom and that we will be with the Lord forever, 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18: "For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord for ever. Therefore encourage each other with these words." Our hope is based on the certainty of the return of Jesus Christ to rapture (i.e. catch away) His church. How can we be sure He is returning? God has given us ample proof in His word, the bible, that Jesus will return to claim His bride the church.

1. The prophecies about Christ and his coming have only partly been fulfilled by His incarnation at Bethlehem and his life on earth so far. Look at some of those that have been fulfilled - there are more.

Messiah to be born in Bethlehem Micah 5:2, Matt.2:1-6, Luke 2:1-20
Messiah to be born of a virgin Isa. 7:14, Matt.1:18-25, Luke 1:26-28
Messiah was to be betrayed by one of his own followers Ps. 41 :9,Matt.26:14-16, Luke 22:19-23
Messiah to be tried and condemned Isa.53:8 Luke 23:1-25
Messiah to be struck and spat on Isa.50:6 Matt.26:67 Matt.27:30
Messiah to die by crucifixion Ps.22:14-17 Matt. 27:31 Mk.15:20,25
Others were to cast lots for his garments Ps.22:18 John 19:23-24
Messiah's bones were not broken Ex.12:46 John 19:31-36
Messiah was to die as a sacrifice for sin Isa.53:5-12 John 1:29, 11:49-52, Acts 10:43, 13:38-39
Messiah was to be raised from the dead Ps.16:10, Matt.28:1-10, Acts 2:22-32

Now look at these unfulfilled scriptures and again there are many others: Daniel 6:26-27 Isaiah 66 Micah 4:1-7 Job 19:25-27

2. Jesus himself, the Son of God, promised he would return. John 14:1-4, "I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am." See also Matt.24:30-31, John 21:22.

3. When Jesus ascended into heaven the disciples watched and angels attested to the fact of his return, Acts 1:9-11 "After He said this, He was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid Him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 'Men of Galilee,' they said, 'why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen Him go into heaven.'"

4. The New Testament is full of references to the return of Jesus to the earth, so the early church obviously believed the promise of His return was true. See 1 Cor.15:51, 1 Thess.4:16, Heb.9:28, 2 Peter 3:14-18. Assured of His return, how and when is He coming? We have read the promise in Acts 1:11 that He will come back in the same way.
Other scriptures show this - Matt.24:30 - "...coming on the clouds of the sky..." See also Luke 21:27, 1 Thess.4:16-17.

The illustration used in the bible for when He is going to return is the one of a thief in the night, at a time unknown; obviously no burglar would be successful if he called by appointment. In fact the bible says only the Father knows the day and the hour, see Matt.24:36, Matt.24:44, 1 Thess.5:1-2, Rev.16:15.

Finally, what should we be doing?
The promised return of Christ should make us ready to share the gospel with others; in fact His delay in returning is that none should perish but that everyone should come to repentance, 2 Peter 3:8-10. Our attitude to Christ's return should be:
Watchfulness - Matt.24:42-44 Luke 12:37 - like a guard on duty.
Readiness- Matt.24:44 - keep short accounts with man and God.
Stewardship- Luke 19:13 - using what God has given, entrusted to you, your talents.
Charitableness- 1 Cor.4:5 - not judging others.
Blameless living- 1 Thess.5:23 - in every part of your life.
Perfect obedience- 1 Tim.6:14 - obedience to your call and to the Lord.
Joyful expectation- Titus 2:13, Col.3:4 - a glorious hope.
Constant abiding- 1 John 2:18 - staying in happy fellowship with Christ so that when He comes there will be no shame or shrinking back from Him.


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