Savior, Not Lord
One of the most liberating truths in Christianity is that salvation comes from God and not us. It is by his grace alone. Ironically enough, some of the most dangerous lies in Christianity stem from a distorted view of God’s grace. As we unpack this topic, ask yourself this question: Is Jesus both your Savior and Lord?
The Gospel of Jesus
As a former atheist, when I read Romans 5:10, I always think to myself, “I was literally an enemy of God.” In both primary and secondary school, I dedicated a substantial amount of time to researching supposed contradictions in the Bible to use them to cause Christians to doubt their faith. I frequently told myself that if the God of the Bible was real, I would have no interest in worshipping him because I hated him.
Now that I’m a Christian, one of my favorite verses is found in Romans 5:8: “God demonstrates his own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” This scripture is meaningful to me because even in my hostility and rebellion towards God, he died for me, paving the path for me to be adopted into his family. Such grace surpasses all of my understanding, causing me to worship God with deep reverence and gratitude. Truly, salvation comes from God and not man. His grace is immeasurable.
The Gospel of Jesus teaches us that “…God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16). It’s through his perfect obedience to the law, his blameless life, and his sacrifice on the cross that we can be saved. The gospel of Jesus reveals Christ as our Saviour but the story doesn’t end there.
The Gospel of the Kingdom
The sad truth is that many professing Christians are glad to stop at the cross. Salvation is enough for them. They are content to know Jesus only as Savior. Although this may not sound bad, in reality, it has horrendous implications.
Whereas the gospel of Jesus teaches us that relationship with God begins at the foot of the cross, the gospel of the kingdom teaches us that relationship with God is further cultivated when we pick up our cross. The gospel of Jesus does right in teaching us that Christ is our Savior, but the gospel of the kingdom reminds us that our Savior is also our Lord.
To better understand the gospel of the kingdom, it’s imperative that we examine the various parables describing the kingdom of heaven. In Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus shares the parable of the talents. He compares the kingdom of heaven to a man who embarks on a journey, leaving his servants in charge of his possessions. While away on his journey, the man expects each of his servants to utilize the money he has left them. He anticipates that they will multiply what he has given them by the time he returns. All but one servant manages to multiply the money. The man praises the productive servants but offers a harsh rebuke to the unproductive servant, eventually commanding that they “throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 25:30).
Several times throughout the gospels, Jesus lays out what is necessary for those who desire to follow him. In Mark 8:34-38, Jesus teaches “…If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? For what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”
These scriptures reveal an important fact that we must grasp: the gospel begins with salvation through the cross of Christ, sparing us from eternal damnation, but it continues to empower us to live a life of purity and obedience to the word of God through the Holy Spirit.
Do you deny yourself? Do you take up your cross? Do you follow Jesus? If you can’t answer yes to these questions, you may have bought into a false gospel. You are at risk of sharing the same fate as the worthless slave who was cast out into the outer darkness. Obedience to the word of God is mandatory, not voluntary.
The problem with many professing Christians today is that they proclaim Christ as Savior but not as Lord. They have believed in the lie that they can receive Jesus as Savior yet live a life that is contrary and void of him. A Lordless Christianity is ultimately a Christless Christianity.
Jesus, as Lord, has expectations of his servants:
- Whereas the professing Christian says “Jesus knows that I love Him,” Jesus says “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15).
- Whereas the professing Christian says “I can live however I want,” Jesus says “If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body than for your whole body to go into hell” (Matthew 5:30).
- Whereas the professing Christian says “Eat, drink, and be merry,” Jesus says “He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal” (John 12:25).
God’s great grace towards us should not be misconstrued as an opportunity to sin. God’s grace towards us should act as a source of empowerment whereby we live lives of submission and gratitude unto Christ.
Every kingdom has a king, and one day Christ will establish His kingdom on earth. It’s important that we come to realize now, rather than later, that Jesus is Lord — not us. I pray that we would see Jesus not only as our Savior who has rescued us from hell but also as our Lord whom we ought to be glad to serve and obey.
May we demonstrate our love for him through our acts of obedience, strive to live lives of purity whereby we reject sin and cherish our life in Christ more than all the world has to offer. I pray that God will keep us from being hypocrites who wear the title of Christian, yet live as if you have not instructed us. Keep us from lawlessness, O Lord!
May our hearts burn with the knowledge of Christ.