Christianity 201

June 1, 2019

Declaring Christ as Lord

Phil.2.9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.

Today we are back at re|knew the blog of Woodland Hills Church pastor, author and theologian Greg Boyd.

“Christ is Lord”: What Does it Mean?

We enter the domain of God’s reign when we enthrone Christ as Lord of our life. This seems simple enough. But actually, I think there’s a lot of misunderstanding of what this means.

The Bible says that if we “declare with our mouth ‘Jesus is Lord,” we “will be saved” (Rom.10:9). To the thinking of many consumeristic-minded people today, this is simply a cheap deal that is too good to pass up.

What does it mean to confess that “Jesus is Lord”? According to Wester’s Dictionary, a “lord” is one who “has power and authority over others.” I don’t think the Greek concept of “lord” (kurios) as applied to Jesus Christ is very far from this.

So, when a person confesses that “Jesus is Lord, ” they are confessing that Jesus “has power and authority” or them. And for a person to confess that someone “has power and authority” over them means they submit to them. What else could it possibly mean for someone to have “power and authority” over another?

If someone confesses “Jesus is Lord” but doesn’t actually submit to his “power and authority,” they are contradicting themselves. Their confession is meaningless. It’s like confessing “milk flats tire poke” or “round square” or “nikbo jip slupe” – or (better), just remaining silent.

No wonder Jesus asked, “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not the things that I say?” He’s pointing out that people who do this are simply saying “nikbo jip slupe.”

The simple truth is that when Paul tells us that if we confess “Jesus is Lord “ we will be saved, he’s not giving us a magical salvation verbal formula. Rather, he’s stipulating what kind of relationship we need to have with Jesus to be “saved.” This relationship, by definition, must be one of submission. We are saved when we authentically surrender our life over to Christ. This not only changes our eternal destiny, but it begins to bring wholeness into our life, as the Jewish concept of salvation (shalom, soteria) implies.

This leads to a rather sobering conclusion. Folks who confess “Jesus is Lord “ as a magical formula to invoke a supposed legal transaction in heaven without actually submitting their lives to Christ are kidding themselves. I know that may sound harsh. But I don’t see any way of avoiding this conclusion.

Now, I can immediately hear someone wondering, “Well, how submitted do I have to be to be saved?” When I first became a Christian, I belonged to a church that basically said any and every sin un-saves you. You’re only as saved as your last sinless moment. So, they would say only 100% submission saves you.

I didn’t last long in that church.

But the funny thing was, the people of this congregation seemed to me to be serious sinners. They didn’t smoke or drink or go to movies or dance or a million other things. But they were packed full of religious self-righteousness, gossiped like it was nobody’s business, and didn’t share much of what they had with the poor (though most seemed pretty well off).

Now, this meant to be a slam on my first church, because the truth is that all churches are packed full of sinners – because we’re in them. So if 100% submission is required, then we’re all lost.

So then, what percentage “gets us in”?

May I suggest that this is the exact wrong question to be asking?   It’s still operating with a legal-transaction mentality, treating God like a cosmic attorney who relates to us in a court of law rather than a cosmic lover who simply wants our hearts so he can dance with us throughout eternity.

It’d be a pretty sick marriage if one spouse were to ask the other spouse, “What’s the minimal level I can be committed to my marriage vows without you divorcing me?” Well, this is basically what we’re doing when we ask, “How submitted do I have to be to the Lord to be saved?”

To confess Christ as Lord isn’t a pledge that one will at all times be perfectly submitted to Christ. But it is a pledge of commitment that one will seek to cultivate a life of submission to Christ. And if this pledge isn’t present, the confession is devoid of meaning.

September 1, 2015

Bowing Before God

Every Knee Will Bow and Every Tongue Confess

Occasionally we feature writing by young authors whose blogs are new to the various Alltop pages, this one is from Alltop – Christianity. The website is titled Your Bible Quotes, and the writer is Sonya Richards.

Glory of God the Father – Name Above All Names

Glory of God the Father

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 shall  bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:9-11 (NIV)

Although Paul talked about this in his letter to the Philippians, the foundation of Philippians 2:9-11 comes from Isaiah.

I have sworn by Myself; The word has gone out of My mouth in righteousness, And shall not return, That to Me every knee shall bow, Every tongue shall take an oath. Isaiah 45:23 (NKJV)

The near, literal application (meaning its immediate, possibly symbolic, relevance at the time of its writing) of this scripture is to the Israelites in captivity in Babylon and to King Cyrus who would lead them back to their ancestral homeland to the glory of God. Although Cyrus was a pagan king, God used him to accomplish His work, showing that God can do whatever He chooses, and work through whomever He desires. Proverbs 21:1 says:

The king’s heart is like a stream of water directed by the LORD; he guides it wherever he pleases. Proverbs 21:2 (NLT)

It Shall Come to Pass

There is a principle that is applied to certain Biblical prophesies called “double fulfillment,” meaning it has a first fulfillment, often immediate, and a second, or even multiple, fulfillment(s) later on. All prophesies point to Jesus in some way to the glory of God. In some cases prophesies can even be split between current and future fulfillments with no specific designation as to what or when they refer to, such as in Matthew 24:2-3. Jesus prophesied that the temple in Jerusalem would be destroyed and spoke of the signs of the second coming. In verse 2 He speaks of the literal destruction of the temple in 70 A.D., and in verse 3 speaks to the final judgment, and yet, they appear side-by-side.  They are not in succession chronologically, yet they are conceptually associated.

Some believers abstain from reading the Old Testament for various reasons. They think is too hard to understand, they think it is obsolete, or they think it is not important; nevertheless, the whole Bible is God’s Word. If the Old Testament were obsolete, or unimportant God would not supernaturally, as He does for the whole Bible, shield it from extinction. It is the foundation for the New Testament, which is why reading the whole Bible is important.

Paul refers to the aforementioned passage in Isaiah in his letter to the Romans regarding the Good News of salvation:

Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” So then each of us will give an account of himself to God. Romans 14:10-12 (ESV)

The Second Coming of the Lord

Someday the Lord Jesus Christ will return to the Earth to take His children home, the committed, submitted, and sanctified, in the blink of an eye, and those left behind will try, out of fear, to strike a bargain to save themselves, unfortunately, it will be much too late in the game. If you have not accepted Jesus as your Savior, it is not too late now to turn to God; He is calling even now.

Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 1 Corinthians 15:51-52(NIV) Glory to God in the highest; forever, He reigns!

It is notable that our opening scripture from Philippians, is similar to Isaiah 45, and Romans 14 as quoted from Isaiah, in that it contains the same foundational reference of bending the knee and confessing, declaring, or taking an oath (to God), but there is a new and wider meaning added in Philippians to encompass not just believers, but also non-believers; essentially every person on earth will partake in “bending the knee” before Jesus.

In the Isaiah passage, echoed by Paul in Romans, God says every knee will bow to Him but in Philippians Paul said God gives Jesus a name above all names and every knee will bow at its utterance to the glory of God the Father. God takes the highest place, even in the Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; therefore, even as the text refers to knees bowing at the name of Jesus, it is still for the glory of God the Father.

When Paul in Philippians says every knee will bow, it is clear that He is referring to believers, because the passage in Isaiah refers to the Jewish exiles, and the quote from Romans is also to believers because Paul calls them “brothers and sisters,” but the Philippians passage refers to all people, and, based on the verbiage, includes both believers and non-believers, meaning every knee will bow willingly or will be forced to bow. In the end, no one will be able to resist Him.

When Jesus comes on the scene to the glory of God, His brilliance, ten thousand times brighter than the noon-day sun, will blaze across the sky and we know “every eye will see Him.” I posit that everyone will fall to their knees, either out of pure joy for those who love His appearing, out of shock, or out of fear and a sense of self-preservation such as begging for their lives.

Every Eye Will See Him

In that day, when Jesus Christ the Lord comes on the clouds of Heaven with fire and every eye sees Him, those who ridicule Him now, who curse His holy name, will have to bow when it is spoken in their hearing (glory to God!), much the same as all were made to bow towards the statue of King Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel Chapter 3; however, no one will be able to resist as Daniel did, because God, and His Son, rule supreme. And the tragic end for those who refuse to believe and be saved is that the Lord will delay as long as He can to allow as many as will come, to come before this age comes to a close, and yet, some will never yield.

 

September 8, 2013

Obedience and Faithfulness that Pleases God

Another first time for a new source of great devotional and Bible Study material; this one goes by the name Quality of Life Ministries. The post is titled Loyalty and Obedience. (Click through to view other material and graphics.)

Loyalty and Obedience

“Consider the holiness of Christ.  We need this first of all to be firmly grounded in our security in Christ….  It is important  therefore that we understand the righteousness of Christ, and the fact that His righteousness is credited to us.

On numerous occasions the Scriptures testify that Jesus during His time on earth lived a perfectly holy life.

But the holiness of Jesus was more than simply the absence of actual sin.  It was also a perfect conformity to the will of His Father.

It is possible to do the right action from the wrong motive, but this does not please God.  Holiness has to do with more then mere acts.  Our motives must be holy, that is, arising from a desire to do something simply because it is the will of God….

Consider the holiness of Christ, because His life is meant to be an example of holiness for us….

Consider then His statement, “I always do what pleases Him, “Do we dare take that as our personal goal in life?  Are we truly willing to scrutinize all our activities, our goals and plans, and all of our impulsive actions in the light of this statement: “I am doing this to please God”? …

This is the example we are to follow.  In all of our thoughts, all of our actions, in every part of our character, the ruling principle that motivates and guides us should be the desire to follow Christ in doing the will of the Father.  This is the high road we must follow in the pursuit of holiness.

(From The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges)

Joshua 22:2-5

He told them, “You have done as Moses, the servant of the LORD, commanded you, and you have obeyed every order I have given you.  You have not deserted the other tribes, even though the campaign has lasted for such a long time. You have been careful to obey the commands of the LORD your God up to the present day.  And now the LORD your God has given the other tribes rest, as he promised them. So go home now to the land Moses, the servant of the LORD, gave you on the east side of the Jordan River.    But be very careful to obey all the commands and the law that Moses gave to you. Love the LORD your God, walk in all his ways, obey his commands, be faithful to him, and serve him with all your heart and all your soul.”

Before the conquest had begun, these tribes were given land on the east side of the Jordan River. But before they could settle down, they had to first promise to help the other tribes conquer the land on the west side (Numbers 32:20-22). They had patiently and diligently carried out their promised duties. Joshua commended them for doing just that. At last they were permitted to return to their families and build their cities. Follow-through is vital in God’s work. Beware of the temptation to quit early and leave God’s work undone.

Here Joshua briefly restated the central message Moses gave the people in Deuteronomy: Obedience should be based on love for God. Although the Israelites had completed their military responsibility, Joshua reminded them of their spiritual responsibility. Sometimes we think so much about what we are to do that we neglect thinking about who we are to be. If we know we are God’s children, we will love him and joyfully serve him. We must not let daily service take away from our love for God.

Psalm 119:33-37

Teach me, O LORD,
to follow every one of your principles.
     Give me understanding and I will obey your law;
I will put it into practice with all my heart.
     Make me walk along the path of your commands,
for that is where my happiness is found.
     Give me an eagerness for your decrees;
do not inflict me with love for money!
     Turn my eyes from worthless things,
and give me life through your word.

In today’s world, people most often covet financial gain. Money represents power, influence, and success. For many people, money is a god. They think about little else. True, money can buy certain comforts and offer some security. But far more valuable than wealth is obedience to God because it is a heavenly treasure rather than an earthly one (Luke 12:33). We should do what God wants, regardless of the financial implications. Make the psalmist’s prayer your own, asking God to turn your heart toward his statutes and not toward making money; it’s in your own best interest in the long run.

John 21:15-17

After breakfast Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.”
“Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him.
 Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
“Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.”
“Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said.
 Once more he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was grieved that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know I love you.”
Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.

In this beach scene, Jesus led Peter through an experience that would remove the cloud of his denial. Peter had denied Jesus three times. Three times Jesus asked Peter if he loved him. When Peter answered yes, Jesus told him to feed his sheep. It is one thing to say you love Jesus, but the real test is willingness to serve him. Peter had repented, and here Jesus was asking him to commit his life. Peter’s life changed when he finally realized who Jesus was. His occupation changed from fisherman to evangelist; his identity changed from impetuous to “rock”; and his relationship to Jesus changed—he was forgiven, and he finally understood the significance of Jesus’ words about his death and resurrection.

Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved him. The first time Jesus said, “Do you love (Greek agape: volitional, self-sacrificial love) me more than these?” The second time, Jesus focused on Peter alone and still used the word translated into Greek, agape. The third time, Jesus used the word translated into Greek, phileo (signifying affection, affinity, or brotherly love) and asked, in effect, “Are you even my friend?” Each time Peter responded with the word translated into Greek as phileo. Jesus doesn’t settle for quick, superficial answers. He has a way of getting to the heart of the matter. Peter had to face his true feelings and motives when Jesus confronted him. How would you respond if Jesus asked you, “Do you love me?” Do you really love Jesus? Are you even his friend?

Philippians 4:3

And I ask you, my true teammate,  to help these women, for they worked hard with me in telling others the Good News. And they worked with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are written in the Book of Life.

Those “whose names are written in the Book of Life” are all who are marked for salvation through their faith in Christ (see also Luke 10:17-20; Revelation 20:11-15).

1 Peter 1:14-16

Obey God because you are his children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of doing evil; you didn’t know any better then.  But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God—who chose you to be his children—is holy.  For he himself has said, “You must be holy because I am holy.”

The God of Israel and of the Christian church is holy—he sets the standard for morality. Unlike the Roman gods, he is not warlike, adulterous, or spiteful. Unlike the gods of the pagan cults popular in the first century, he is not bloodthirsty or promiscuous. He is a God of mercy and justice who cares personally for each of his followers. Our holy God expects us to imitate him by following his high moral standards and by being both merciful and just.

After people commit their lives to Christ, they sometimes still feel a pull back to their old ways. Peter tells us to be like our heavenly Father—holy in everything we do. Holiness means being totally devoted or dedicated to God, set aside for his special use and set apart from sin and its influence. We’re to be set apart and different, not blending in with the crowd, yet not being different just for the sake of being different. God’s qualities in our life make us different. Our focus and priorities must be his. All this is in direct contrast to our old ways (1:14). We cannot become holy on our own, but God gives us his Holy Spirit to help us obey and to give us power to overcome sin. Don’t use the excuse that you can’t help slipping into sin. Rely on God’s power to free you from sin’s grip.

Ramblings

Do you really want to follow Christ’s example by doing the will of the Father?  Are you ready and willing to submit your plans, thoughts, and behavior to him?  If submitting is difficult for you in a particular area, pray specifically that God will help you.

Still need more help; work on loving God with your whole heart, mind, soul and strength.  If you make progress on that; God will give you the help to truly be His, “Good and Faithful Servant.”  Then all other things will fall into place.  You will still have battles to fight, but you will be on the winning side.