PULPIT TODAY SERMONS
Robert D. Pace
JESUS IS LORD OR IS HE?
The lordship of Jesus Christ is one of Scripture’s most significant doctrines. The word Lord means, “supreme in authority; master; ruler; and owner.” The fact that Christ rose from the dead three days after dying on the Cross proves that He is unlike any man in human history. That’s lordship!
To proclaim “Jesus is Lord” asserts that man, nature, kingdoms, and constellations yield to His mastery.
When we confess “Jesus is Lord” it comes with the understanding that He not only exercised power 2000 years ago; He existed before all things, He governs all things today, and He will continue to master all things throughout eternity.
To declare “Jesus is Lord” insists He is not subject to a committee, Congress, or Parliament—He’s sovereign and omnipotent!
“The Lordship of Christ” is not a cliché or trivial application the Bible assigns to Jesus. That’s because the New Testament uses the phrase, “Lord Jesus Christ” seventy-two times. Think about that title for a moment: “Lord . . . Jesus . . . Christ.” That’s strong! When you study the Bible you find Jesus completely satisfied that designation:
As “Lord” He was the supreme ruler that conquered everything that confronted Him—death, disease, and nature.
As “Jesus,” which means, “Jehovah is salvation,” He surrendered Himself for our sins on the Cross and was resurrected in power.
As “Christ” He fulfilled every Old Testament prophecy that predicted the Messiah’s coming.
(Corporate Confession) Before I continue, let’s make that declaration: “Jesus Christ is Lord”!
The Bible makes it clear that Jesus is Lord over every realm and kingdom. He is Lord over heaven and earth, the seas and the dry land. He governs the seasons, the stars, and the farthest galaxy. But what God is really after is governing our lives. It’s no problem for Him managing the Milky Way; He wants us to surrender the reins of our heart to His lordship. And that’s the focus of today’s message. Jesus is Lord! Or is He? Does Christ rule your heart? Do you consult Him about your decisions? Do you seek to serve and please Him in every area of your life?
If you don’t know Jesus as Savior you need to make that confession from the depths of your heart before you leave here. Jesus provided our salvation by becoming a man and dying on the cross. And the only way to have your sins pardoned is to accept that sacrifice. The apostle Paul said in Romans 10:9, “if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” I know enthroning Christ as Lord of your life and asking Him to influence your decisions is difficult, because we don’t like being controlled. We want to be the CEO and call the shots. But the truth is, we aren’t capable of managing our lives without God.
People Fear Christ’s Lordship
(Illustration) Years ago an unusual report surfaced about a stolen car in California. The police staged an intense search for the vehicle and driver, even to the point of placing announcements on local radio stations to contact the thief. That’s because the car contained a box of crackers laced with poison. The car owner had intended to use the crackers as rat bait. Now the authorities were more interested in apprehending the thief to save his life than to punish him or recover the car. When we run from God we sometimes assume it’s to escape His punishment, but what we’re actually doing is eluding the Lord’s rescue!
We aren’t intelligent enough to manage our life without God. And we travel the road of self-deceit if we assume we are clever enough to chart the course of life without His help. And it’s why the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, speaks of God’s lordship over one thousand times! One thousand times God indicates He wants the opportunity to guide and protect our lives. But here’s Satan’s lie. He wants you to believe that surrendering control of your life to Christ means being saddled with sorrow. He wants you to believe that life will never be fun and you’ll twist in misery under His thumb of oppression. But when the Bible speaks of Christ’s lordship it’s nothing like that.
Think about it. If making us miserable was God’s desire, He could do that without asking our permission! It would be no problem for the all-powerful, sovereign God to thoroughly frustrate us. That would be a very simple matter! But there’s one fact the Bible makes abundantly clear: Jesus is for you! He is full of love, goodness, mercy, and compassion and there is no way God would abandon His benevolence and deal with us any other way.
Some people think if they surrender everything to God He will say: “Okay, you crowned Me Lord, I have you now! Quit spending time with your music. Sell the boat. Cancel your trip to the beach. Get rid of those senseless hobbies.” We fear surrendering to Christ’s lordship means being denied enjoyment. And that’s just the perception Satan wants us to have. There’s no question that God will convict us and ask for changes when we accept Him as our Savior and Lord. But He does that to bless us. He doesn’t want us to eat the poisonous crackers! He wants to remove those things that could harm us and prevent us from being a better person. Listen how the Bible describes God’s disposition toward us:
Zechariah 2:8 says we’re the: “apple of his eye.”
1 John 3:1 says: “great is the love the Father has lavished on us!”
1 Corinthians 2:9 says: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.”
Romans 8:31 says: “If God is for us, who can be against us?”
There’s tremendous blessing in surrendering to Christ’s lordship because it puts you in the safest place you could possibly be. That’s why Satan fights Christians with the issue of totally surrendering to Christ. He knows Christians that are submitted to Christ live directly in the path of God’s blessing!
(Transition) Why would we want to live any other way? Why would people want to deny the Lord the opportunity of governing their lives? That’s the very question Jesus posed.
Submitting to Christ’s Lordship Involves Trust
In Luke 6:46 Jesus asked: “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” That’s a fair question. If any statement applied to the American culture, that does! How can 80% of Americans claim to be Christians, yet so few of that 80% subscribe to Biblical principles? The answer is obvious: People don’t submit to Christ’s lordship and obey His Word because they don’t trust Him! They don’t believe what He says. And nothing impugns God’s character more than man saying, “I don’t believe what You say is true.”
God has already provided the ultimate testimony to assure us He’s trustworthy. He sent His only begotten Son from the glories of heaven to suffer ridicule and abuse and betrayal to show us His love! And since He surrendered His absolute best for us, it’s only reasonable that He will continue to “work all things for our good.”
(Illustration) Sometime back a Christian magazine published a story about a father’s love for his daughter. The young girl loved jewelry and so she worked hard to buy an imitation pearl necklace from a discount store. Her dad saw her attachment to the necklace and each night he came to her bedside he asked: “Jenny, do you love me?” And she would say: “Yes, Daddy.” “Then give me your pearls.” But she would say: “Daddy please, not my pearls. I saved my money for these pearls.” That conversation was repeated for weeks until Jenny finally relented and with tears running down her cheeks she said: “Here Daddy. You can have them.” And he took them! But a moment later he handed her a velvet case with a strand of genuine pearls that he had all along. He was waiting for her to surrender the imitation so he could give her the genuine. (Adapted from Discipler Magazine.)
Our Heavenly Father has made the same offer to us. He says: “Do you love Me? If so, give me your life. I want everything.” And we squirm at the thought of surrender. And the struggle to submit to God’s call can be agonizing. But when we finally say, “Yes,” He takes what’s cheap in our life and gives us what’s priceless—His Son Jesus Christ and His promises. “Jesus Christ is Lord! Or is He?” Is He Lord of your life? I want to assure you that you can completely trust Him! Jesus is for you; He always has your best interests in mind; and He will never fail you.
There’s a wonderful Scripture that applies to everyone here. It is Jeremiah 29:11. The prophet says: “‘I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”
(Illustration) Have you ever driven on a two-lane road and gotten stuck behind a slow driver? It’s frustrating! Every time you veer left to peak around the vehicle there’s another curve, hill, or oncoming car to deal with. So you’re stuck creeping along for miles. But imagine something. What if a helicopter were flying above you? And what if your best friend was in that helicopter—someone you could trust with your life? Let’s say they phoned you from that helicopter and said: “I can see the road ahead of you for miles. There are no crossroads, no oncoming traffic, and it’s perfectly safe to pass. Move into the left lane and pass now.” Would you have the confidence to do it? That is, would you drive by faith in your best friend above that perfectly viewed the road, or would you continue driving by sight and say, “Sorry, I’ll pass only when I see for myself”? In real life God is like that—He’s our best friend and guide. And from His heavenly perspective He has a better view than any aircraft. The Bible says: “He knows the end from the beginning,” and that means we can completely trust His guidance! I ask once again: “Jesus Christ is Lord! Or is He?”
The Importance of Christ’s Lordship
Here’s why it’s important to acknowledge Christ’s Lordship and let Him direct your life: It is the only way we can become more like Christ! It’s the only way to develop our spiritual maturity. You see, there are times we get stuck at a spiritual plateau because something isn’t submitted to Christ. We want a closer walk with God and receive His blessings but we’re stuck, because there’s an area of our life that’s not submitted to Him!
I want you to answer three questions about Christ’s Lordship:
“Lord, I’ll give You anything except . . . what?”
“Lord, I’ll do anything except . . . what?”
And “Lord, I’ll change anything in my life except . . . what?”
Jesus Christ is Lord! Or is He? If there is any practice or relationship that hinders your walk with Christ, you are limiting the flow of God’s grace toward you. And you can’t imagine what God has for the fully surrendered life!
(Transition) I want to illustrate this through Saul, Israel’s first king.
Saul’s Rebellious Heart
The Bible gives us our first glimpse of Saul when he’s wandering through the countryside searching for his father’s lost donkeys. But while Saul was looking for donkeys God was looking for a king. And the prophet Samuel was waiting to intercept Saul on his trip and anoint him as Israel’s first monarch. At the prophet’s command Saul would be suddenly transformed from a peasant to a prince.
And that’s what happened. When Saul approached Ramah Samuel stopped him, took a flask of oil, poured it on his head, and prophesied: “Has not the Lord anointed you a ruler over His inheritance? (6)The Spirit of the Lord will come upon you mightily, and you shall prophesy with . . . [a group of prophets] and be changed into another man.” Notice that prophecy! Samuel predicted that Saul would be “changed into another man” (1 Samuel 10:1 & 6, NASB). And that’s exactly what happened. God intruded on Saul’s life like a whirlwind and next day he was prophesying with the prophets and a few days after that he was enthroned as Israel’s king. What a transformation!
And isn’t that what we’re after? Most Christians would love for God to radically transform their life. We want to rule and reign with God. But you have to notice how this story unfolds, because the Bible is precise when it records the sequence of events that led to Saul’s transformation. The Bible says when this anointing took place that Saul “turned his back to leave Samuel, [and] God changed his heart.” (1SA 10:9). That’s important! The first miracle that happened was not outward; it wasn’t a visible ecstatic event; it was a hidden, inward work of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit sovereignly touched Saul’s heart and turned it toward the Lord.
Before God desires to transform our position, He first seeks to transform our heart. That’s because He wants us fully devoted to Him. If our heart is pure and submitted to Him, He knows we will walk in His ways. And yet the heart is the hardest part of our life to keep pure. It has a natural tendency to resist God’s will. It’s amazing that the first thing God changed about Saul was his heart, and the first thing Saul took back was heart!
(Bible Example) Saul disobeyed God at Gilgal and offered a sacrifice that only Samuel was authorized to make. Samuel promised that he would join Saul at Gilgal in seven days and make the sacrifice. But on the seventh day Saul became restless when Samuel hadn’t shown up. So Saul ignored God’s Word, took matters into his own hands, and offered the sacrifice. Minutes later Samuel showed up!
And listen to Samuel’s indictment: “You have acted foolishly; you have not kept the commandment of the LORD your God, which He commanded you . . . the LORD would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. (14) “But now your kingdom shall not endure. The LORD has sought out for Himself a man after His own heart, and the LORD has appointed him as ruler over His people, because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you.” (1 Samuel 13:13-14, NASU). What a price to pay! There’s always a cost to living outside God’s plan. That’s why I continue to ask you: “Jesus is Lord! Or is He”?
(Transition) God wants your heart wholly devoted to Him. And there’s a wonderful reward Jesus gives to those that maintain a pure heart toward God. It’s found in the Sermon on the Mount.
The Pure in Heart will See God
Jesus said in Matthew 5:8, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” The Lord Jesus Christ said those who maintain a pure and undefiled heart toward Him will be rewarded by seeing Him! I know this promise primarily awaits our face-to-face meeting with the Lord in Heaven. But this is more than a futuristic expectation. We can claim this promise, in part, today.
When we draw near Him with a pure heart, we will see Him working in our circumstances.
When we have a pure heart, we will see the God of grace and mercy operating in our behalf.
When we have a pure heart we will see the Good Shepherd going before us with loving guidance.
Can you see God in your life? David said: “I have set the LORD always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken” (Psalm 16:8, NIV). Hear me saints of God. If you will keep God in view, regardless of what happens, you will never be shaken! When “the LORD is always before you,” you will realize all that touches you, must first go through Jesus. If you really want to experience God in a greater dimension, then surrender your agenda, ask Him to direct your life, and pray for your reward to be the presence of God.
Do you remember the car thief that was running from the police? I want you to imagine something different about that story. Put yourself in the driver’s seat of that car. (Pause) Is there some area of your life that has you running from God and His lordship? Why does that particular area of your life have you running from God? It is probably because you think Jesus wants to rob you of something you enjoy. You think Jesus is trying to make you miserable and punish you. But that is not the reason. Jesus is pursuing you because He loves you and wants to rescue you from something that could destroy you! If that describes you, it’s time to pull over and surrender the wheel to Christ. Get in the passenger seat and let Jesus do the driving for a while.