Thursday, 20 February 2014

Lordship of Christ


Just as it says on the tin. A few thoughts put down here on a blog in no particular order as opposed to a polished essay.

* Jesus is both Lord and Christ (Acts 2:36) at one and the same time. It is not in any one's interest to divide asunder what God has joined together.

OBJECTION! Scripture sometimes uses only His earthly name of Jesus in relation to forgiveness of sins, while on other occasions refers to Him as Christ in the same regard (1 Corinthains 15:3) and then again as the Lord (Romans 10:13).

REPLY: This may be so. Scripture does likewise with faith and repentance, sometimes mentioning faith without any mention of repentance (Acts 16:30-31/John 3:15-18) and then repentance without a mention of faith (Luke 13:3-5) while sometimes  joining them together (Mark 1:15/Matthew 21:31-32/Acts 20:21). Scripture does likewise with the Triune members of the One Godhead. Sometimes the Father is mentioned without the Son or the Spirit (Ephesians 3:14) while both Father and Son are mentioned together to the exclusion  of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:23) while all Three are mentioned together (Ephesians 2:18) 

The Bible in its fuller declarations sets forth salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ - where (if you are going tio nit pick, Jesus as Saviour is not mentioned) Indeed, we are distinctly told that we are to confess the Lord Jesus Christ in order to be saved, or (to give William Tyndale's translation) that "Jesus is the Lord" (Romans 10:9-13). We are expected to take the Bible as a whole. In the similar scenarios above, where one is not actually mentioned, it need not necessarily exclude the other. Certainly, it would be very foolish to build a monumental doctrine on it and also start accusing some great heroes of the faith as preaching another gospel (Galatians 1:8-9) on the basis of it. We do not receive a half Christ in order to be saved. This rampant cherrypicking reminds us of the words of the rich young ruler (Matthew 19:16-26) who was told to keep the Commandments in order to have eternal life. Of course, salvation is and always was by faith without the deeds of the law (Romans 3:28) but (as we know) our Lord was teaching him to abandon his somewhat superficial view of his own goodness because of his somewhat superficial view of the Commandments. The amazing thing (other than his claim that he had kept them all from his youth up) was his response to the command of the Saviour to actually keep the commandments. He asked "Which?" You mean there was a choice? An ála carte menu that caters for those who don't like red meat and prefer chicken or fish or a vegetarian substitute?

* No one is looking for nor expecting the fruits of salvation to appear before the soul is ingrafted into Christ. However, the anxious soul needs to be willing to turn away from sin in order to turn to Christ. Even as Saviour, Jesus would save us from our sins (Matthew 1:21). Not only from their their guilt, but also their power. The awakened soul will have been convicted by the Holy Ghost and will want to change his life. He cannot do it in his own strength any more than the Ethiopian can change the colour of his skin or the leopard change the pattern on his skin (Jeremiah 13:23) But if he is not willing to forgo his sin - implicated in the receiving of Jesus as Lord and Saviour - and to live a life of holiness as enabled by the daily grace of God, then he has a wrong and skewed idea of the gospel. It would him no favours to lead him into some kind of profession.

* No one expects the sinner to reform themselves before coming to Christ. It is certainly not a matter of telling a concerned drunkard  that if he keeps himself sober - and gives up lying too and whatever else - for six clear calendar months, then John 3:16 is for him. Not at all. John 3:16 is for him now. There is nothing in John 3:16 that compromises the gospel call to repentance. It is implicit because it offers an alternative to perishing and Jesus offered deliverance from perishing  in Luke 13:3-5 on the condition ("Except") of repentance. In Luke 13, it was taught in the form of a threat or warning, but the fundamental truth is the same. 

* Repentance is not a meritorious work. It is given as a free gift to sinners like faith. (Acts 11:18/Romans 2:4 cp. Acts 18:27/Philippians 1:29) Even giving your life for a lifetime of unbelievable hardship on the mission field or at the martyrs stake for the gospel sake is not meritorious. Nothing that we can do ever merits anything from God. We will never have anything whereof to glory before God (Romans 4:2). Repentance is first and foremost an attitude - a serious change of mind - that leads to determinate action. (See next point)

* Repentance means "a change of mind" and  always leads to action. In itsself, strictly speaking, it does not automatically mean to "turn from sin" although it does in the evangelical sense when the sinner is exhorted to repent in the gospel. God Himself sometimes repented (e.g. Genesis 6:6) and His repentance always led to a change of course, although (obviously) there was nothing sinful to be turned from. When Paul preached the gospel in Thessalonica, he preached both i.e.  "testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ." (Acts 20:21)  When the Thessalonians repented, then they turn to God and in the act of doing so, turned from  their idols. The one supposes the other. Anything less would not have been a true evangelical repentance and would have worked death instead of being repentance unto life (Acts 11:18) We note with sadness that when Paul  reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, that while Felix trembled, he did not turn and we never hear of his salvation. We can only hope that the sovereign and merciful purposes of God ensured that the convenient season was renewed again. 
* Repentance may be illustrated, if not defined, by verses like Isaiah 55:7 where the unregenerate wicked is exhorted to forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. Note the  change of mind ("his thoughts") and his change of way - forsaking - because the proof of the one is the other. Another similar verse is Proverbs 28:13 where the observation is worded thus: He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy. 

* Evangelists are not called upon the measure the depths of someone's repentance. No measurements given in this regard in the Bible. Only God can look into the heart and see. However, it may be induced that while the preacher cannot weigh the spirits, yet someone who (say) was very lighthearted and giggled or examined their fingernails in an enquiry room could hardly claim to be serious about this matter.

* Fruit of preaching salvation without repentance is seen in empty and shallow confessions. It has been astutely suggested that one reason why many professing young folk leave the church when they get to adult age is because they were never saved in the first place. No one doubts that real and genuine Christians can backslide - God's people are often bent towards backsliding from Him (Hosea 11:7) - but many of these professions appear to be have been incredibly empty. The parable of the sower warns of those whose work was not Spirit wrought or deep. 

* Repentance is a life long activity. We are justified by faith - not by repentance, but part of our sanctification process (a life long activity) includes the examining of our heart before God, naming sins and crying out for deliverance on a daily basis from them. We are called upon to be introspective (2 Corinthians 13:5/Romans 7:23-24) yet not excessively so - always looking unto Jesus (Heb 12:2) and rejoicing in the victory that is found in Him alone (Romans 7:25).

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