Why We Must Preach Jesus As Lord
The dawn of the third millennium has seen discernment fly out of the Christian window. This is especially true, it seems to me, in the area of evangelism. Health and wealth preachers have gained a wide audience at home and abroad, but they do not obey the Scriptures. Then there are those who preach Jesus as Savior and leave it there. What about the lordship of Christ?
The consistent theme of New Testament preaching is the lordship of Jesus Christ. Note the following examples:
Therefore, when the biblical gospel is preached, there will always be an emphasis on the lordship of Christ, not as a second act of consecration, but as the hinge upon which all else rests. Referring to the entire New Testament, Matthew Henry put it this way: “All the grace contained in this book is owing to Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior; and, unless we consent to Him as our Lord, we cannot expect any benefit from Him as our Savior.” Similarly, the Willowbank Report of the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelism stressed the importance of the lordship of Christ (p. 19):
We are clear that the fundamental meaning of conversion is a change of allegiance. Other gods and lords – idolatries every one – previously ruled over us. But now Jesus Christ is Lord. The governing principle of the converted life is that it is lived under the lordship of Christ or (for it comes to the same thing) in the Kingdom of God. His authority over us is total. So this new and liberating allegiance leads inevitably to a reappraisal of every aspect of our lives and in particular of our world-view, our behavior, and our relationships.
It is tragic in our day to witness the loss of this understanding. It is not an idle question to ask, Do our present-day altar calls, with their emphasis on “accepting Jesus as your personal Savior,” conform to the teaching of the Word of God? We are badly deceived if we think our man-centered and needs-based evangelism will issue in lasting fruit. Evangelism is more than saving people from their sins; the scriptural call is to yield one’s entire life, without reserve, to Jesus Christ as Lord.
Those who look in the New Testament for the formula, “Accept Jesus as your personal Savior,” will look in vain. Rather, the biblical gospel calls for “repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus” (Acts 20:21). Let me emphasize again, the New Testament knows nothing of receiving Christ as one’s Savior and then later making Him Lord. Why, then, do we put asunder what God has joined together? Why do we emphasize the blessings of forgiveness but fail to mention what it costs to follow Jesus? Such thinking reflects Reinhold Niebuhr’s famous dictum that a god without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment and to a Christ without a cross!
There are only two categories of people in this world: those who acknowledge Jesus as Lord, and those who do not (1 Cor. 12:3). This is not something about which non-believers should have any doubts!
August 4, 2005
David Alan Black is the editor of www.daveblackonline.com. If you would like to know more about becoming a follower of King Jesus, please feel free to write Dave.