Contending for the faith | Making Disciples | Equipping the Saints for Ministry

by Rayola Kelley

      Last month I talked about knowing God. There is only one way to know God and that is through Jesus Christ. He is the way into a relationship with God, He is the truth about God, and He is the only way into a life with God (John 14:6). Therefore, to know God, we must know Jesus Christ (John 14:7-11; Colossians 2:9).

      My first genuine introduction to Jesus was that as Savior. We need a Savior and our understanding to this need is not just once in a lifetime acknowledgement. I don’t know about you but I need Jesus to save me daily from the enticing ways of the world, the snares of Satan, and the foothold that the flesh has on me. I need His way to lead me away from the ways of the world, I need His truth to help me discern the snares of Satan, and I need His way of life to help me daily overcome the “old man.”

       I remember when I was first saved— there was a honeymoon of sorts. I was so excited and full of zeal that I did not realize I constantly needed His intervention. As a result, I took various detours along the way until I realized that I needed my precious Savior to save me from the influences of the world, the workings of my flesh, and the activities of Satan. He gave me His Word to recognize and flee the influences of the world; He gave me the example of His life to enable me to overcome the flesh through faith, and He gave me the Spirit to overcome Satan in power and authority. As the Bible tells me, He is able to save each one of us to the uttermost (Hebrews 7:25).

       The second reality I had to grow in was that Jesus Christ is God in the flesh. To many this is just a concept of theology and doctrine, but it must become a revelation that is constantly being unfolded to us as we grow in the knowledge of Jesus Christ. We can keep Jesus in a doctrinal box if the eternal aspects of His nature and character are not being unfolded to us by our spiritual teacher, the Holy Ghost (John 16:13; 1 John 2:27). The Bible calls this unfolding “revelation.” (Ephesians 1:1, 7; refer to Revelation 1:1).

       I have said this before and I will say it again and again. There are no new revelations but that of Jesus being revealed in greater measure to our spirits. The greater revelations of Jesus must line up to what the Bible tells us about Him. If anything takes away from His deity and perfect, sinless nature as man, it is heretical (Titus 3:10; 2 John 7-11). If anything perverts His work of redemption, it will prove to be a false gospel (Galatians 1:6-9). If any person declares that he or she stands as the final authority to a matter, that person is a predator in sheep’s clothing rather than a shepherd who leads by example and guides in humility. And, if any person exalts his or her conclusions or any other book over the Word of God, that person is not standing on the Word of God; rather, he or she is hiding behind a fig-leaf of misguided devotion that will leave him or her standing on shifting sands that will collapse from underneath him or her in due time (Matthew 7:15 refer to 1 Peter 5:1-4; Matthew 7:21-27).

       It is easy to shift our dependency from God to embrace every whim that leaves us feeling good, accept error that makes sense to our logic, and become deluded by that which is self-serving and self-exalting. It is for this reason that we must always test our attitude towards God and others, the spirit motivating us, the extent of our reliance on His Word, and the fruits that such attitudes produce in us.

       Jesus is clear that the fruits will tell on a matter (Matthew 7:16-20). If something causes me to become unreasonable, belligerent, unkind, demanding, and judgmental, then I must discern the source (Galatians 5:22-23). For example, perhaps there is a flaw in my character, or I could be coming into agreement with a wrong spirit, or I could be buying a lie (2 Corinthians 11:3, 4, 13-14; 1 John 4:1-3). It is up to each of us to be honest about our fruits, and quick to examine our motives, and be humble enough to submit to what the Word says about a matter. Of course, such a response can only happen if the person loves the truth of God’s Word more than his or her reality or take on a matter (2 Thessalonians 2:10-12). The latter is a product of pride.

       It is clear that because of whom Jesus is we have the authority to stand, the power to withstand, and the enduring faith to continue to stand. However, the authority to stand involves having a right attitude or the mind of Christ Jesus, the power to withstand includes right standing with God, and the faith to continue to stand entails a powerful, living testimony that is backed up by right living.

       Clearly, if Jesus is God Incarnate, He alone is the final word and authority in a matter. He alone is the one who deserves our complete commitment, obedience, honor, and worship. He alone is the Rock of ages and the ultimate Judge in all matters. He alone is the One we must please and obey.

       Obedience leads us to the third relationship: that of Lordship. First Corinthians 8:6 states, “But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him, and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.” (Emphasis added.)

       What does it mean for Jesus to be Lord? The word “lord” is presented in different ways. For example, we read a couple of different presentations of the word “lord” in the Old Testament. When we see it being presented in this way, “LORD” (all caps), it is in reference to Jehovah or Yahweh. This presentation is used in relationship to our God being a covenant God. When you study the prayers in the Old Testament, you will see this presentation of LORD often being used by the Jewish people to approach and appeal to God. The reason for this is because the Jewish people had one basis in which to confidently approach God and that was according to the covenants He made with their forefathers. This is why the name of “Jehovah” is attached to various promises and works that can be traced back to His covenants. These promises and works include such titles as Jehovah-Jireh (the Lord will see or our Provider, Genesis 22:8-14); Jehovah-Nissi (The Lord our banner, Exodus 17:15); Jehovah-Ropheka (The Lord our healer, Exodus 15:26); Jehovah-Rohi (The Lord my Shepherd, Psalm 23:1).

       When you see the word “lord” being presented in this manner, “Lord” (lower case), it points to Adonai. Adonai is used in relationship with earth as in God carrying out His purposes of blessings in the earth. It points to Him as being overlord or ruler, owner, and the one who blesses.

       I have said this before, kings have subjects, but lords have servants. Kings oversee kingdoms, but lords oversee personal households and estates. There is a more personal knowledge between a lord and his servants than between a king and his subjects. Just lords always recognize virtuous qualities of their servants and will entrust such faithful servants with greater responsibilities in their households. Hebrews 3:4-6 tells us, “For this man was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he who hath builded the house hath more honour than the house. For every house is builded by some man; but he that built all things is God. And Moses verily was faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after; But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.”

       We know that in the case of Moses the house that was being built was according to the ministration of the Law, while in the case of the house of Christ, it was established according to the ministration of grace. We are told in the case of Moses, the glory the law emitted from his face had to be covered by a veil, while the glory of the second house, Christ, is to be manifested in the faces of those who are being conformed to His image (2 Corinthians 3:7-18).

       This brings us back to the concept of Lordship. In the Old Testament “LORD” or Jehovah was used     because the people’s relationship with God was based on what He declared He was going to do. Hebrews 6:13 gives us a special insight, “For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself.” But, when it comes to the New Testament, “Lord” or Adonai is used exclusively in light of what Jesus did on earth in regard to redemption. Redemption is what ushered in the new covenant.

       It is always interesting to see how these two presentations of “Lord” were used in the Old Testament. As stated, you can see “LORD” consistently being used in the Old Testament, but “Lord” is used a few times as well. For example, it is used in Genesis 18 when the Lord came with two angels and spoke with Abraham about destroying Sodom and Gomorrah. It is interesting that in Genesis 18:1, that the Scripture’s presentation of Lord is that of Jehovah, “And the LORD appeared unto him,” but when Abraham bows before Him and actually addresses Him in Genesis 18:3, Abraham said, “My Lord.”

       Another incident where “Lord” is used is in Isaiah 6. Consider what Isaiah 6:1 states, “In the year that King Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.” (Emphasis added.) This chapter is where Isaiah volunteered himself to be sent forth to his people after hearing the voice of the Lord asking, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? “Then said I, Here am I; send me” (Isaiah 6:9). (Emphasis added.) It is important to note that in this verse, the plurality of the Godhead is clearly being brought out by the word “us.” In Isaiah 6:12, LORD is then used in relationship to judgment on those who forsake Him.

       Here is another interesting question. It is clear that the LORD appeared to Abraham in the form of a man in Genesis 18. (There were three men that came to Abraham, two were angels and he addressed the third one as Lord. See Genesis 18:2-3.) Isaiah clearly testified that he saw the Lord sitting on the throne, high and lifted up. The Lord appeared in other places in the Old Testament. For example, Jacob had a dream that he saw the LORD standing above the ladder that reached from heaven to earth in Genesis 28:12-13; the elders of Israel saw the God of Israel in Exodus 24:10; and Joshua bowed before the captain of the LORD’S host and worshipped Him in Joshua 5:12-15. The question is who were they seeing?

       John made a statement in his Gospel, “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.” Is there a contradiction between the sightings in the Old Testament and John’s words in the new? You first have to ask what it would mean to see God. To see God in his entirety, you would have to see all three persons of the Godhead. We know that Moses could not even look at the full glory of God in Exodus 33:18-20 without dying.

       Jesus gives us this insight in John 5:37, “And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath born witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape.” In John 6:46, He makes this statement, “Not that any hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father.

       Jesus made it clear that no man has seen the Father except Himself, but He never made such declarations about the Holy Spirit or Himself. Consider what King Nebuchadnezzar declared about the fourth man that he saw in the fiery oven with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, “He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God” (Daniel 3:26).

       What one person of the Godhead could take on the shape of man and be able to present Himself as Yahweh, the God of Israel, and the captain of the LORD’S host? There is only one answer and that is the Son of God. It was Jesus, the one who formed the material world with His very words, the One who was the Word or verbal, visible expression of God in the beginning, the One who spoke to Moses in the burning bush, and is known as the Lawgiver of Mount Sinai (Colossians 1:16-18 refer to John 1:1; Hebrews 11:3; Exodus 3:4-14; Genesis 49:50 refer to James 4:12). Clearly, it was Jesus in His pre-incarnate state that was seen by Abraham, Jacob, the elders of Israel, Joshua, King Nebuchadnezzar, and Isaiah. John the Baptist said of Jesus in John 1:30 that He was before him (existed), and Jesus said in John 8:58b,Before Abraham was, I am.” And, we must not forget what Jesus told Philip in John 14:9b,he that hath seen me hath seen the Father.”

       This brings us to Jesus as Lord. The Bible declares that if we confess the Lord Jesus, and believe in our hearts that Jesus was raised from the dead, we shall be saved (Romans 10:9). Romans 10:13 states, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.First Corinthians 12:3 states, “Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God called Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.”

       It is easy for people to refer to Jesus as Lord, but to understand “Lord” in relationship to Him in the right way means understanding “Lord” in reference to Him being Adonai, deity. For a person to gain such insight takes the Holy Spirit to reveal that truth to a person’s heart. Jesus said as much to Peter, when He asked him who he declared Jesus to be, and Peter acknowledged that He was Christ, the Son of the Living God. Then Jesus went on to say this, “Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 16:17).

       Next month I will show the necessity for a person to understand and properly translate the word “Lord” in relationship to Jesus. Meanwhile, the question we must honestly ask and answer is what does the word “Lord” in relationship to Jesus mean to each of us personally? Obviously, it is vital that our understanding is right. Remember we must confess and call upon the Lord Jesus to be saved.