by Rolfe Barnard

The basic confession of faith is simply: Jesus is Lord. What are some of the implications of His Lordship? Before suggesting two such implications, note several statements:

If Jesus is Lord, He can brook no rivals. The very name, “Lord,” implies that He is “ruler,” “one who has authority.” Therefore, all others are His subjects. This thought in the New Testament goes much beyond the mere meaning of the title itself. This meaning is drawn from the Old Testament. The very heart of the Old Testament was this: “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God is one Lord.” There is but one God, and that God is absolute Ruler of the universe. Men and nations are ruled by Him and subject to His authority. Since there is but one Lord, He is Lord of all. In the New Testament calling upon Jesus as Lord was the same thing as calling upon God as Lord. (Rom. 10:9-13). If this be true, and it is, two implications follows:

1. Jesus demands from men not admiration, sympathy, interest, approval, He demands surrender. To be Christian is first of all to “bow the knee” to Jesus, to “crown Him Lord of all.” Friend He is as well as counselor, example, guide. But before all these He is absolute Lord. “For the Lord our God, the Almighty reigns” was the theme song of the early church. Someone has pointed out that in this sense Christianity is not a democracy but a monarchy. And it is not a constitutional monarchy, wherein subject and ruler agree on the limits of rule. It is an absolute monarchy. Men are subject to Him not by a compact they have made with Him, but because they belong to Him. His Lordship is not arbitrary, for it is exercised as an expression of His gracious nature, but that gracious nature is not of our choice, and His kindness is not the result of an agreement which we have forced on Him. It is the free exercise of His own nature. We receive, but do not contribute. He reigns over men absolutely by virtue of His Lordship. It is our source of blessings that His Lordship is gracious. God’s people confront the world then, not primarily with an offer to heal its ills or solve its problems. Our first appeal is to rebels who have taken up arms against their Creator, an appeal which is nothing less than the demand for surrender. P. T. Forsyth says, “The gospel faces the world with terms, and does not simply suffuse it with a glow.” The message is still, “Jesus is Lord. Bow down!”

2. Another implication of Christ’s absolute Lordship is that there is no other way of salvation for man than surrender to Jesus. In this sense Christianity is absolutely intolerant. Both the Old and New Testaments are clear here. “For I am God, and there is no other,” cries Isaiah. What then? The conclusion is inevitable. “Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth.” If there is no God but one, then He is God of all men, and there can be salvation in no other. The New Testament says, “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.”

Christ does not just add to the world’s knowledge. He is not the concern of a process. He is not the capstone to be placed on the pillar of others faiths. He does not supplement them. Thus our message is absolutely intolerant and adamant. This world belongs to Him. All other efforts at salvation are vain. All who are saved are saved by Him. Despite criticism, fast growing now, in this connection this dogmatic message, this absolute call to surrender, is not to be shrunk from. If God has done what the Bible says He has in Christ, it is not the mark of intolerance to tell men of His great act. If one should be in a burning building with many doors, but only one of which moved open, should one not with desperate command point to that door alone? To keep silent is to shame Christ and bring reproach to Him. God grant His Spirit of boldness upon us to cry aloud to all whom we may touch. He is the door, the only door, the way, the only way, the Lord, and only Lord! Bow to Him!

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