In considering the articles of the Apostles Creed, we are studying the fundamental truths of the Christian faith. The articles are the most basic truths that God has revealed in His Word. These truths we must understand if we claim to be Christians. We need to be able to articulate these truths intelligently to the world in which we live. One of the great tragedies of our postmodern era is that so many professing Christians are ignorant of what they claim to profess. That simply will not do.
In this article we consider what is meant by the statement “Our Lord,” referring of course to “Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son.” It is interesting that in regard to Jesus Christ, the Apostles Creed does not mention the word “Savior” but it does mention the word “Lord.” Of course, our Catechism goes on in Q29 to explain that the word “Jesus” means “Savior.” However, the title “Lord” is explicitly mentioned.
In light of this, what an anomaly it is that modern evangelicalism is abysmally weak on the Lordship of Christ while claiming the Saviorhood of Christ. Christ is the Savior of none but of those of whom He is also the Lord. Christ the Lord and Jesus as Savior are inseparable in the divine Scriptures. Over and over again the New Testament writers use the phrase “Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 1:3; 1 Corinthians 1:2; 2 Corinthians 1:2, etc.). The point is that the Savior of people is also the Lord of people. Those two propositions cannot be and are not separated anywhere in the Bible.
That Jesus is our Lord has implications for us that are just as enormous as those that follow from Jesus as Savior. Evangelicalism, in effect, says that once you have received Jesus as your Savior, you should move on to the next step and also receive Him as your Lord. Well, to receive Jesus as Savior is also at the same time to receive Him as Lord. Jesus is Lord and the two cannot be divided. You cannot claim to be saved from your sins if you do not live consciously under Jesus as Lord of your life.
First, I want to consider that Jesus is Lord. And secondly, that Jesus is our Lord.
Jesus is LORD
The Lordship of Yahweh is basic throughout the Bible. In Deuteronomy 6:4 we have the famous “Shema.” This Shema is “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord.” God’s covenant people recited these words every morning and evening according to Deuteronomy 6:7. In Psalm 136:2-3, He is called “the God of gods” and the “Lord of lords.” The apostle Paul reiterates these words in 1 Timothy 6:15, when he says that Jesus is “the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords.” The Lord in the Old Testament is the same Lord in the New Testament.
Our Catechism in Q50 tells us that Jesus is in a special way the Lord of his people.
It says, Christ ascended into heaven for this end, that He might there appear as the Head of His Church, by whom the Father governs all things.
However, Jesus is also Head and Lord of the universe. Jesus was there with the Father when God created the heavens and the earth. Moses says explicitly in Genesis 1:26, in the creation of man, that “God said, Let us make man in our image.” Christ seated at the right hand of God is Head over all. Paul says in Ephesians 1:20 ff., that God set Christ “far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: and put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things.” If Christ is not the Lord of all, He is not Lord at all.
It is through Jesus that God the Father rules over all things, including the state, politics, the family, and the church. Christ is indeed the King over all the kings. Christ is indeed the Lord over all the lords of this earth. Abraham Kuyper was right when he famously said,
There is not one square inch of the entire creation about which Jesus Christ does not cry out, ‘this is mine!’ This belongs to me!
Christ the Lord is sovereign, not only over what is called the area of “faith” or of “religion,” but over all. We live in an age in America where Christ may be Lord over one’s private life but not in the public square! Not only may we not privatize Christ the Lord, He cannot be privatized. The minute we try to privatize Christ the Lord in the public square, we of course legitimize ourselves as lord in the public square. In no area of life do we live in a vacuum. We either see Christ as Lord, or we see ourselves as lords.
The Bible is profoundly jealous of the Lordship of Christ. Paul’s writings are just simply full of the title of “Lord” for Jesus. The apostle Paul after his conversion simply did not know how to write without using that title for Jesus. His conversion brought him from the realm of his own lordship to the Lordship of Christ his Savior.
How common it is for us to hear preachers at national functions pray, but so pray as to carefully avoid the name of Jesus Christ. Yet it is also that very name without which a prayer is never heard by God the Lord. How shameful and disgraceful it is when even ministers can pronounce every name, but not the name “Lord Jesus Christ”! A world without the Lord Jesus Christ is a hell bound world.
In the New Testament, Peter’s primary confession of faith is, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). In this primary confession of faith, Peter is very careful to identify the Son of the living God truly as the Christ. Our Catechism in Q31 then rightly points out that the title “Christ” means “our chief Prophet and Teacher, our only High Priest, and our eternal KING”.
Jesus is Our Lord
The confession in the Apostles Creed of Christ as “our Lord” is, however, not merely a corporate confession that is made by everybody in the church. It is also a personal confession of faith that you and I as Christians make. Jesus is my Lord. He is Lord of the universe, but He is also my personal Lord.
Jesus Christ is the one to whom I owe my submission in all of my life. The “our Lord” means Christ is Lord of all who are in the body of Christ by true faith. All those who have Christ as Savior also have Him as Lord. If He is not the Lord of your life, He is not your Savior. Perhaps this is something that has to be emphasized anew in our day. Often, too many church members believe Jesus is their Savior when their lives do not manifest that they are saved from their sins.
How is it manifested if Christ is your Savior and Lord? Q34 in our Catechism is correct when it says that “with His precious blood He has redeemed us, body and soul, from sin and from all the power of the devil, to be His own.”
Jesus came not only to show us we are sinners, but to redeem us from our sins. He has redeemed us unto Himself as our Lord. By saving us from our sins He brings us personally under His power, direction, and authority. Being saved from our sins, we are now owned by Christ. That is what Lord ultimately means. We no longer belong to ourselves. We belong to Christ.
That has enormous implications. We are now subject to His bidding. We take our orders from Him. What He says we are obligated to do, and we must do it without argument, dispute, or negotiation. There are two decisive words by which Jesus identifies us as his disciples — He says “follow me” (cf. Matthew 8:22; 9:9; Mark 2:14, 34; Luke 18:22, etc.). Someone has said, “We are only followers of Christ when in fact we follow Christ.” How true. We Christians are a people whose deeds must match our words. In Luke 6:46, Jesus asks us a very poignant question: “And why do you call me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” We need to give that serious thought also as Reformed Christians. You call Christ your Lord. Good. Then let your life match your words, or we are hypocrites. Os Guiness, in a scintillating book called “The Call,” says, “We have shouted the name of Christ and enacted the service of Molech.” How easily that can happen. Brothers and sisters, this ought never to be said of us.
It is our responsibility to bring others to Christ. If we would bring others to Christ, we must first be Christians ourselves. We must make our message to the world credible by living lives which manifest to all that it is Christ who is our Lord. Not to live under the Lordship of Christ is to make our message lose its credibility.
It is said of Arthur Burns, a Jew and former chairman of the Federal Reserve Board and counsellor to Presidents Eisenhower and Reagan, that he began attending a White House prayer group in the 1970s. One week he began attending the prayer group and he prayed, “Lord, I pray bring Jews to Jesus Christ. I pray bring Muslims to Jesus Christ. I pray bring Christians to Jesus Christ. Amen.” Perhaps he, a Jew, saw something we sometimes miss seeing.
Christ has given us a very clear word on how we are to live under His Lordship. He has given us the Scriptures. He has given us His moral law summarized in the Ten Commandments. The Bible is so very clear in labeling for us those things which, if we “do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:21b). Check for yourself what those things are in vv. 19-21. Poisons are to have clear labels on them. Christ has clearly labeled the poisons for our souls. We ignore them to our eternal peril. Christ has also clearly labeled for us the “fruit of the Spirit” in Galatians 5:22-23.
Our culture is given to living by science. But there is one question science cannot answer, and it is the most important question of life: “What shall I do and how shall I live?” Christ our Lord answers that. C. S. Lewis said,
There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘thy will be done’ and those to whom God says, ‘thy will be done.’ That is the difference between heaven and hell.
Jesus as our Lord said, “Follow me.” May we not live before the audience of many but before the audience of One — the audience of the One who said “Follow me” and that One is Christ, “Our Lord.”