IS JESUS YOUR LORD?
Arthur W. Pink
We do not ask: Is Christ your “Savior”?— but is He, really and truly, your Lord? If He is not your Lord, then He is most certainly not your “Savior.” Those who have not received Christ Jesus as their “Lord” and yet suppose Him to be their “Savior,” are deluded, and their hope rests on a foundation of sand.
Multitudes are deceived on this vital point, and therefore, if the reader values his or her soul, we implore you to give a most careful reading to this little tract. When we ask, is Christ your Lord? we do not inquire, Do you believe in the Godhead of Jesus of Nazareth? The demons do that (Mat 8:28-29) and yet perish notwithstanding! You may be firmly convinced of the Deity of Christ, and yet be in your sins. You may speak of Him with the utmost reverence, accord Him, His divine titles in your and yet be unsaved. You may abominate those who traduce His person and deny His divinity, and yet have no spiritual love for Him at all.
When we ask, Is Christ your Lord, we mean, does He in very deed occupy the throne of your heart, and does He actually rule over your life? “We have turned everyone to his own way” (Isa 53:6) describes the course which we all follow by nature. Before conversion every soul lives to please self. Of old it was written, “every man did that which was right in his own eyes,” and why? “In those days there was no King in Israel” (Jdg 21:25). Ah! that is the point we desire to make clear to the reader. Until Christ becomes your King (1Ti 1:17; Rev 15:3), until you bow to His scepter, until His will becomes the rule of your life, self dominates, and thus Christ is disowned.
When the Holy Spirit begins His work of grace in a soul, He first convicts of sin. He shows me the real and awful nature of sin. He makes me realize that it is a species of insurrection, a defying of God’s authority, a setting of my will against His. He shows me that in going my “own way” (Isa 53:6), in pleasing myself, I have been fighting against God. As my eyes are opened to see what a lifelong rebel I have been, how indifferent to God’s honor, how unconcerned about His will—I am filled with anguish and horror, and made to marvel that the thrice Holy One has not long since cast me into Hell. Reader, have you ever gone through this experience? If not, there is very grave reason to fear that you are yet spiritually dead!
Conversion, true conversion, saving conversion, is a turning from sin to God in Christ. It is a throwing down of the weapons of my warfare against Him, a ceasing to despise and ignore His authority. New Testament conversion is described thus: “Ye turned to God from idols to serve [to be in subjection to, to obey] the living and true the God” (1Th 1:9). An “idol” is any object to which we give what is due alone unto God supreme place in our affections, the molding influence of our hearts, the dominating power of our lives. Conversion is a right about face, the heart and will repudiating sin, self, and the world. Genuine conversion is always evidenced by “Lord what wilt Thou W have me to do?” (Act 9:6); it is an unreserved surrendering of ourselves to His holy will. Have you yielded yourself to Him? (Rom 6:13)
There are many people who would like to be saved from Hell, but who do not want to be saved from self-will, from having their own way, from a life of (some form of) worldliness. But God will not save them on their terms. To be saved, we must submit to His terms: “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord [having revolted from Him in Adam], and He will have mercy upon him” (Isa 55:7). Said Christ, “Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath [all that is opposed to Me], he cannot be My disciple” (Luk 14:33). Men must be turned [by God] “from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God,” before they can “receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified” (Act 26:18).
“As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him” (Col 2:6). That is an exhortation to Christians, and its force is—Continue as you began. But how had they “begun”? By receiving “Christ Jesus the Lord,” by surrendering to Him, by subjecting themselves to His will, by ceasing to please themselves. His authority was now owned. His commands now became their rule of life. His love constrained them to a glad and unreserved obedience. They “gave their own selves to the Lord” (2Co 8:5). Have you, my dear reader, done this? Have you? Do the details of your life evidence it? Can those with whom you come into contact see that you are no more living to please self (2Co 5:15)?
Oh my reader, make no mistake upon this point: a conversion which the Holy Spirit produces is a very radical thing. It is a miracle of grace. It is the enthroning of Christ in the life. And such conversions are rare indeed. Multitudes of people have just sufficient “religion” to make them miserable. They refuse to forsake every known sin, and there is no true peace for any soul until he does. They have never “received Christ Jesus the Lord” (Col 2:6). Had they done so, “the joy of the LORD” would be their strength (Neh 8:10). But the language of their hearts and lives (not their “lips”) is, “we will not have this man to reign over us” (Luk 19:14). Is that your case?
The great miracle of grace consists in changing a lawless rebel into a loving and loyal subject. It is a “renewing” of the heart, so that the favored subject of it has come to loathe what he loved, and the things he once found irksome are now winsome (2Co 5:17). He delights “in the law of God after the inward man” (Rom 7:22). He discovers that Christ’s “commandments are not grievous” (1 Jo 5:3), and that “in keeping of them there is great reward” (Psa 19:11). Is this your experience? It would be if you received Christ Jesus THE LORD!
But to receive Christ Jesus the Lord is altogether beyond unaided human power. That is the last which the unrenewed heart wants to do. There must be a supernatural change of heart before there is even the desire for Christ to occupy its throne. And that change, none but God can work (1 Co 12:3). Therefore, “Seek ye the LORD while He may be found” (Isa 55:6). Search for Him with all your heart (Jer 29:13).
Reader, you may have been a professing Christian for years past, and you may have been quite sincere in your profession. But if God has condescended to use this tract to show you that you have never really and truly “received Christ Jesus the Lord,” if now in your own soul and conscience you realize that SELF has ruled you hitherto, will you not now get down on your knees and confess to God. Confess to Him your self-will, your rebellion against Him, and beg Him to so work in you that, without further delay, you may be enabled to yield yourself completely to His will and become His subject, His servant, His loving slave, in deed and in truth?
Christ will not save any who have not submitted to Him as King!
The of way salvation is falsely defined. In most instances the modern “evangelist” assures his congregation that all any sinner has to do in order to escape hell and make sure of heaven is to “receive Christ as his personal Savior.” But such teaching is utterly misleading. No one can receive Christ as his Savior while he rejects Him as Lord! It is true, the preacher adds, that the one who accepts Christ should also surrender to Him as Lord, but he at once spoils it by asserting that though the convert fails to do so, nevertheless heaven is sure to him.
That is one of the devil’s lies! Only those who are spiritually blind would declare that Christ will save any who despise His authority and refuse His yoke: why, my reader, that would not be grace, but a disgrace–charging Christ with placing a premium on lawlessness!
It is in His office of Lord that Christ maintains God’s honor, subserves His government, enforces His Law; and if the reader will turn to those passages (Luke 1:46-47; Acts 5:31; 2 Peter 1:11; 2:20; 3:1) where the two titles occur, he will find that the order is always “Lord and Savior,” and not “Savior and Lord.” Therefore, those who have not bowed to Christ’s sceptre and enthroned Him in their hearts and lives, and yet imagine they are trusting in Him as their Savior are deceived, and unless God disillusions them, they will go down to the everlasting burnings with a lie in their right hand (Isa. 44:20). Christ is “the Author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him” (Heb. 5:9), but the attitude of those who submit not to His Lordship is–“We will not have this Man to rule over us” (Luke 19:14). Pause then, my reader and honestly face the question: Am I subject to His will? Am I sincerely endeavoring to keep His commandments?
“Lord and Savior”
In every passage of the New Testament where these two titles occur together, it is “Lord and Savior,” and never “Savior and Lord.” The mother of Jesus averred, “My soul does magnify the Lord, And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior” (Luke 1:46, 47). Unless Jehovah had first become her “Lord,” most certainly He would not have been her “Savior.” No spiritual mind that seriously ponders the matter can have any difficulty in perceiving this. How could the thrice holy God save one who scorned His authority, despised His honor, and flouted His revealed will? It is indeed infinite grace that God is ready to be reconciled to us when we throw down the weapons of our rebellion against Him, but it would be an act of unrighteousness, a putting a premium upon lawlessness, were He to pardon any sinner before he was first reconciled to His offended Maker.
In 2 Peter 1:10 the saints of God are bidden to make their “calling and election sure” (and this, by adding to their faith the other graces enumerated in verses 5 to 7), and are assured that if they do so they shall never fail, for so an entrance shall be ministered unto them abundantly “into the everlasting kingdom of our (1) Lord and (2) Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:11): that is, an abundant entrance should be given them now into His kingdom of grace, and hereafter into His kingdom of glory. But what we would particularly note is the order in which Christ’s titles are here mentioned: it is not “our Savior and Lord” as the corrupt preaching and teaching of this degenerate day presents it; but instead, “Lord and Savior,” for He becomes the Savior of none until the heart and will unreservedly receive Him as Lord.
The same principal is clearly illustrated in passages where other titles of Christ occur. Take the opening verse of the New Testament, where He is presented as “Jesus Christ (1) the son of David, (2) the son of Abraham.” Waiving now the “dispensational” signification of these titles, let us view them from the doctrinal and practical viewpoint, which should ever be our first consideration. “Son of David” brings in the throne; it emphasizes His authority; it demands allegiance to His scepter. And “son of David” comes before “son of Abraham!”
In 2 Peter 3:18 God’s people are exhorted to “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” Here again God’s order is the very opposite of man’s. Nor is this merely a technical detail, concerning which a mistake is of little moment. No, the subject of which we are now treating is basic, vital, fundamental, and error at this point is fatal. As we have said before, those who have not submitted unto Christ as Lord, but are trusting in Him as “Savior” are deceived, and unless God graciously disillusions them, will go down to their everlasting burnings with a lie in their right hand (Isaiah 44:20).