Who is Jesus? - More Than a Savior

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, January 9, 2014 0 comments

Growing up in the church, I was taught that the most important thing to find out about someone was whether he or she was “saved”. This term was always further explained to include those who had “accepted Jesus as their Savior”. To find out if someone was saved, you usually asked questions about when and where it happened and who else was present. Obviously, those who call themselves believers know that IT happened nearly 2,000 years ago on a cross on a hill outside of Jerusalem, where Jesus gave his life for the whole world in front of a few family members and a whole bunch of people who mocked him and cheered his death. Yet, we give our individual testimonies and say that we are saved when WE choose to accept it. Do you see how we focus more on our part rather than what Christ did? While it’s true that we have God-given free will and are only spared from the penalty of our sin if we choose to accept what Jesus did to set us free, I believe we are severely underselling his effect on our earthly lives if all we talk about is the moment we supposedly got “saved”.

A good friend of mine and fellow pastor once said, “We can’t say that Jesus is our Savior, but only that he is our Lord”. As I questioned the first part of his statement, he clarified that our “decision” regarding acceptance has no effect on what Jesus did. His point was that God is the one who determined that Jesus would be our Savior. It wasn’t up to us! What IS up to us, for now, is whether or not we make him our Lord. I say “for now” because Philippians 2:10-11 tell us that there will come a day when EVERY knee will bow and EVERY tongue will confess that “Jesus Christ is Lord”. That means that it won’t just be those who do so willingly; it will be everybody! Until that point, however, you and I must choose whether to live with Jesus or something else as our Lord. Something must determine how you live your life. If it’s not Jesus, it could be any of a number of other things, including popular opinion, worldly logic, law, yourself, or someone else. In the church, we speak very fondly of Jesus saving us. But what about his lordship? Every verse I know in the Bible that talks about being “saved” also includes something about confessing that Jesus is Lord (i.e. Romans 10:9) or calling on the name of the Lord (i.e. Romans 10:13 and Joel 2:32). You can’t have one without the other!

I believe this issue lays at the heart of almost every challenge that the Church and our society face today, particularly those involving sinful behaviors that many now want to affirm. We only want Jesus to be Lord and the Bible to be truth if it suits our feelings and desires. Jesus did die on the cross to set us free from both the penalty and the entrapment of our sins, and we all have an opportunity to accept it. But according to Scripture, Jesus must be Lord for those who want to truly be “saved”. That means he is Lord even when we don’t want him to be. He is Lord when someone has hurt me and I don’t want to forgive that person. He is Lord when no one else knows my sin and I could get away with it in the world’s eyes, but his grace and truth invite me to confess, repent, and be purified. He is Lord over your bedroom, your computer, your checkbook, your workplace, and your loved ones. If we live as if we have the right to determine what is pure and righteous in any of these areas, can we really call Jesus our Lord? If he’s not our Lord, we can’t be saved.

Paul almost always referred to our Savior as “Lord Jesus Christ” in his letters. I learned in seminary that this was likely intentional, so that the titles represented his divinity, his humanity, and his mission, in that order. Again, you can’t just accept part of him. It’s all or nothing. As a Jew, Paul had always been aware of Jesus and aware of his crucifixion. But it wasn’t until he came to know Jesus as Lord that his life was changed. You may be aware of the historic argument known as the “trilemma”, made popular by C.S. Lewis initially in a series of radio talks and later in his classic work “Mere Christianity”. The gist of his argument is that Jesus was “a liar, a lunatic, or the Lord”, with no other possibility. What do you believe?

Like us, the people who listened to Jesus and saw him face-to-face when he was on this earth had to deal with their questions about who he really was. In John 6:25-59, the Jews in his hometown of Capernaum had to listen to Jesus saying what seemed to be some really crazy things. He claimed to be the “bread of life” who “came down from heaven” and that whoever would come to him and believe in him would never be hungry or thirsty again (vv. 35-38). As the people continued to question him, he talked about the need for them to “eat his flesh and drink his blood” in order to have life (vv. 51-53). I encourage you to read the whole story for yourself and see the truth that Jesus was sharing with the people as BOTH Lord and Savior. As he said things they didn’t want to hear, the people struggled, to put it lightly. “They said, ‘Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know?’”(v. 42a)

This is where the challenge comes for me and you. The Jews of Jesus’ time were blinded by what they thought they already knew about Jesus, and perhaps by only what they WANTED to know about him. People began to package Jesus neatly into THEIR boxes many years ago while he was still on this earth, and it continues today. Personally, I know Jesus is my Savior because he is my Lord. That doesn’t mean I never put myself on his throne. It means I am convicted by the Holy Spirit every time I put myself there and I know it’s time to repent and surrender it back to him. I also know there are times when he takes it back forcefully because I may be unwilling and it’s the only way he can bring me to repentance. Do you live as if Jesus can be your Savior without being Lord over every area of your life? The challenge is to accept what the Bible says about not having one without the other, to examine your ways, and to surrender the throne back to your Lord!