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Jesus is Lord
By David A. DePra
The purpose of the Holy Spirit is our lives is to make JESUS LORD. But not just generally. The Holy Spirit seeks to make Jesus our PERSONAL Lord – on every level of our lives, inwardly and outwardly.
Now certainly this requires obedience. Jesus Himself stated the folly of calling Him, "Lord, Lord," and yet not doing what He commanded. But mechanical obedience is only the beginning. For Jesus to be made Lord of all of me means that ALL OF ME operates as if He is Lord – not just mechanically, but in a relationship with Him.
The reality of Jesus as our personal Lord has other Biblical names. One of them is HOLINESS. Holiness means, "to be set apart for God’s use." In other words, holiness means, "to belong to God." Well, isn’t that a description of Jesus as Lord – to belong to Him?
Another way of describing Jesus as our Lord is to say that we are born again into His kingdom. The kingdom of God is the rule of God, and the rule of God in us is the life of Christ. In other words, the kingdom of God has a King – Jesus Christ. And if His rule is in us then He is most certainly our personal Lord.
Another term is sanctification. This is really the same as holiness. Sanctification means that I become – in every way – formed together with the Christ within. But notice that this is nothing more than saying that Jesus is my Lord.
Jesus as my personal Lord means that, yes, I obey Him. I believe Him. But it means that because every part of me comes under His rule and His REDEMPTION – that I become formed together with Him. What emerges is a person who is a living witness to Jesus as Lord.
When people see a Christian, they ought to see what happens when Jesus is Lord of a life. They ought to see people who are dependent upon Christ, and devoted to Him. They ought to see a life that is characterized and defined by a relationship with Jesus Christ – with Him as Lord. But again, this is not due to some mechanical obedience to law. It is due to a LIFE that is within, that has come to be made manifest through that individual.
A witness unto Christ IS evidence of Christ. And evidence of Christ as Lord of a life is a life of freedom and Truth. The fruits of the Spirit. When Jesus is my Lord, I don’t walk around in fear. I walk around in freedom.
When the Comforter Came
In John, chapters 14-16, Jesus stated a number of things that the COMFORTER would do when He came. Thus, we need not be in the dark as to the purpose of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer. Jesus told us what that purpose was, as did some of the apostles in the epistles.
But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. (John 14:26)
But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceeds from the Father, he shall testify of me: (John 15:25-26)
Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall show it unto you. (John 16:13-15)
And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: (John 16:8)
Here we see many things the Comforter IS DOING RIGHT NOW in God’s people. Jesus said He would do these things WHEN He came, and He DID come in Acts 2. Thus, if you and I want to know what God is doing in the lives of Christians today, we have a nice list from the words of Jesus.
You will notice that there is NOT ONE WORD here about a single spiritual gift, a sign or wonder, or a miracle. These are all included in the work of the Spirit, indeed, they are used of God to witness to, and to do, that work. But Jesus gets to the root of the matter and tells us what the greater purposes are of the Spirit. And if you read those purposes you will see that they all come back to Jesus Christ. The Spirit will reveal Christ, testify to Christ, glorify Christ, and show us the Truth about Christ. Add them all up, and the conclusion is that the Holy Spirit takes Jesus Christ and makes Him real TO US and IN US. Or, to put it another way, the Holy Spirit makes Jesus Christ our personal LORD.
Jesus is Lord
The apostle Paul makes a statement in one of his epistles that seals the deal on this purpose of the Spirit. In fact, Paul declares this Truth as the foundation for his discussion on spiritual gifts. Of course! The spiritual gifts are not merely displays of God’s power. They are not entertainment. They are not THINGS. All spiritual gifts have behind them the same purpose as the Spirit to whom those gifts belong: To make Jesus Lord.
Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant. You know that you were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as you were led. Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. (1 Cor. 12:1-3)
Paul is drawing a contrast between pagan idol worship and the worship of Christ. He is drawing a contrast between error and the Truth. In pagan religions, the one being sacrificed to the false god was called, "accursed." This meant that the sacrifice was, "devoted to destruction," at that hand of the wrathful, pagan god. Of course, this sacrifice was offered to appease the anger of that false god. False gods are generally not very nice, and really, this is because most false gods have a very real demon behind them.
Paul is saying that Jesus is not, "accursed," that is, devoted to destruction at the hand of the Father. This is significant for reasons off our topic, in that many Christians continue to think that this is exactly what happened on the Cross – that Jesus was devoted to destruction at the hand of God’s wrath. They think that redemption is the result of God pouring out His wrath upon Jesus instead of upon us. But that is error, and another story. Sufficient for this topic is the fact that Paul goes on to say no, that this is not the Truth about Jesus Christ. Jesus is Lord.
Now, the point is this: Paul says that no one can say that, "Jesus is Lord," except by the Holy Spirit. Notice what this means: First, it means that the Holy Spirit in an individual will bring that person to personally declare the Truth that Jesus is Lord – both in word and by our lives. In other words, He will be our Lord – that will be our relationship with Him.
Secondly, this means that ONLY the Holy Spirit can do this work in a person. No one can say Jesus is Lord except the Holy Spirit make that possible. Religion cannot do it. The Holy Spirit must do it by changing us.
Thirdly, by default, this means that any suggestion of Christianity that does not exalt Jesus as our personal Lord is NOT of the Holy Spirit. This is because all that the Holy Spirit does is geared toward making Jesus Lord. There is no compromise with this purpose.
The ramifications once we realize the purpose of the Holy Spirit to make Jesus Lord of US cannot be overemphasized. At the top of the list, if Jesus is to be Lord of us, then can we see that WE cannot be Lord of us? Thus, it isn’t simply a matter of the Holy Spirit charging in, teaching us the doctrine of Jesus as Lord, and then us easily moving forward in the purposes of God. No. Rather, it is a matter of the Holy Spirit – through the power of the Cross – bringing us down off the throne in every aspect of our lives, so that Jesus can truly function as our Lord.
This is vital to see today, for so many in this day and age preach, "Jesus as Lord," and emphasize only the blessings and the benefits of Him as our Lord. Those blessings and benefits ARE real, and not to be despised. But today we hear a message that suggests that the blessings which come as the result of Jesus as Lord can be ours even though we are still on the throne. This is not directly preached, but really, preached by omission. For once we neglect preaching the Cross of Christ, the reality of sin, and the need for repentance, we may be preaching, "Jesus as Lord," as a doctrine, or a banner, but we are not preaching the MEANS by which He becomes Lord, nor are we preaching what this will mean for us in a practical way.
Jesus cannot become our Lord unless we are no longer our lord. And the reality is, we ARE our own lord, our own boss, and fully on the throne of our lives. That is what SIN IS – by definition. The Holy Spirit will be – not MIGHT BE – but WILL BE in the process of dealing with this sin. Parallel to making Jesus our personal Lord is the necessity that everything about us that hinders Him from being our Lord must be brought down to a death.
If the Holy Spirit is going to guide us into all Truth, then the Holy Spirit must first expose all of our error – not just doctrinal error – but all of our MORAL error. He must expose all of the errors in which we have LIVED in our relationship with God. Chief among these is the error of sitting on the throne and assuming that God is going to pronounce a benediction upon our kingdom and our agenda. No. God is going to bless us by DETHRONING us and setting us free from our kingdom – which is really our prison. The Holy Spirit wants to make Jesus our Lord, and it is ONLY by the Holy Spirit that any of us can come to the place where we truly say, "Jesus is Lord."
It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. (John 16:7)
He that believes on me, as the scripture has said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spoke he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.) (John 7:38-39)
And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it sees him not, neither knows him: but ye know him; for he dwells with you, and shall be in you. (John 14:16-17)
If we read these passages about the Comforter, there should be little doubt as to WHEN the Comforter actually came: In Acts 2. In was on the day of Pentecost that the Comforter did come for the very first time. For the first time on that day, the Holy Spirit came to dwell IN people.
There is no other conclusion possible. Jesus repeatedly said, "WHEN the Comforter comes…" – always future tense from the time of His ministry. There was NEVER a suggestion that the Holy Spirit came before Jesus ascended, indeed, we read from John 16:7 that this was impossible. Jesus even made it clear the Holy Spirit was WITH them, but not IN THEM – not in those disciples until Acts 2. Sure. The Comforter had not COME – in the way made possible by the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus. Not yet.
This affirms that when the Holy Spirit came on that day of Pentecost, it was the first time that the Holy Spirit had ever come to DWELL IN PEOPLE. This was the birth of the church – which is Christ IN people. This was the inauguration of the new birth – which is only possible if the Holy Spirit dwells IN people. This was the experiential END of the Old Covenant – under which the disciples had been saved – and the beginning of the New Covenant – which put INSIDE of them everything that God had made possible through Jesus Christ. When the Comforter came, all of this began. It was brand new.
We see from the above passages that the coming of the Comforter was NOT POSSIBLE as long as Jesus was on earth. This makes it plain that the ascension of Jesus UP to heaven, and the outpouring of the Spirit DOWN to His people, are linked. The ascension was the final event in God’s Redemption plan that made the baptism of the Holy Spirit possible. Why?
Because through the ascension Jesus was made Lord of all -- in the heavens. He was seated at the right hand of God. Only then could the Holy Spirit be sent forth INTO people and make Him Lord of THEM PERSONALLY. Because Jesus IS Lord truly, He can be MADE Lord – practically.
Jesus could not INDWELL people through the Holy Spirit as long as He was here bodily. No. Jesus had to first ascend to heaven in order to come back through the Holy Spirit to INDWELL His people. If we really look at this, we see just how REAL the life of Christ is that dwells in us. The Holy Spirit within is not simply a metaphor or a doctrine. It really IS CHRIST HIMSELF. So much so, that Jesus said that as long as He was here on this earth, the Comforter could not come back and dwell in us.
And yet, the life of Christ in us is not static or passive. The Holy Spirit is absolutely sovereign and intent on making the Christ within us LORD OF US. The Spirit wants to invade every dimension of our being and bring into those territories the Redemption of Jesus Christ. He wants to topple our kingdom and make Jesus Lord of us in every way.
The Kingdom of God
So we see what Jesus has been doing the last two thousand years. He has been sitting on His throne as Lord of all, and putting together His kingdom. His kingdom consists of people in whom His kingdom is being established. Or, to put it another way, the people who are IN the kingdom of God are those IN WHOM the kingdom of God reigns.
You cannot truly inherit the kingdom of God unless the RULE OF CHRIST is established in you. This is so important to see, for as we mentioned earlier, false teaching has always suggested that you can inherit God’s kingdom all the while you remain on the throne of your own kingdom. No. To be IN the kingdom means you must come UNDER the rule of that kingdom – the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
Some Christian teaching tries to separate SALVATION from the need to come under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. The Bible makes no such distinction. The Truth is, salvation IS a matter of coming under the Lordship of Jesus.
Think about it: What are we supposed to do to be saved? Repent and believe. Right? Well, repent of what? Repent of SIN. Of SINS, yes, but of THE SIN. We are to repent of THE SIN of running our own lives – even if we have run them in a nice, religious way. Or, if you see the point, we are supposed to repent of the sin of our own kingdom and lordship. And if we do, then what happens? Well, if we repent of being our own lord, then obviously, the next step is that we surrender to Jesus as Lord. The two always are as ONE.
We say this in our common language about salvation. We say, "I surrendered my life to Christ." Well, doesn’t that mean that we have repented of owning our lives, and have now surrendered our lives to Him?" Isn’t that equal to coming under His Lordship – and consequently, coming into HIS KINGDOM? Sure.
Salvation is LIFE. But by definition, it is life as Jesus as Lord. It is really the only kind of eternal life there is. What? Do we think that God has made provision for eternal life WITHOUT Jesus as Lord? No.
Here again we see that the only purpose of the Holy Spirit – which IS the life of Christ in us – is to make Jesus our Lord. The life of Christ within us is going to push out OUR agenda, and OUR kingdom – with a divine invasion. All of it must go down under the Cross. We must surrender to this invasion – we must live out the once for all surrender we made when we gave our lives to Christ. And as we do, His kingdom and His rule becomes more dominant.
Paul said, "Work out your salvation." Not – work FOR your salvation, but work OUT your salvation. If you are saved, you got that way by surrendering your life to Jesus Christ. You relinquished your old life and your own lordship over yourself, and surrendered to His Lordship and kingdom over you. Now, the Holy Spirit is going to take you up on your surrender. For the rest of your life the Holy Spirit is going to invade you with His kingdom and Lordship. You must work out your general surrender by surrendering each piece of territory into which you are brought. In that way, you inherit the kingdom of God IN THAT DIMENSION.
The kingdom of God in us is the life of Christ within us – through the Holy Spirit. And there is no such thing as salvation without Jesus as Lord, and there is no such thing as the kingdom of God without Jesus as Lord. These are all ONE – and to make them a reality in us is the purpose and function of the Holy Spirit.
The Measure of Christ
There is one body, and one Spirit, even as you are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ…And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the maturing of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ… speaking the truth in love, may grow up into Him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: (Eph 4:4-15)
It should be more than obvious that if the purpose of the Holy Spirit is to make Jesus the Lord of each individual, that this would be the purpose of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Sure. And this is exactly what we read in the above passage from Ephesians.
Paul says that ALL MINISTRY that is of the Holy Spirit – the purpose of all the gifts -- is "for the maturing of the saints for the work of the ministry, and for the edifying of the body of Christ." But unto WHAT purpose? "Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a mature man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ…may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ."
Can we now see why, "no man can say Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit?" Can we know see that the purpose of the Holy Spirit is to reveal Christ TO us and IN us – that we might be filled with Christ? That Jesus be our HEAD in all things – our personal Lord – to the extent that we are living witnesses unto Him?
This is what the Holy Spirit wants to do in His church. Contrast that to the goal of building big churches, keeping people happy and entertained, and getting rich. No. Christ is the goal and purpose. And with Christ, there will come many blessings, spiritual and material, as they suit the sovereign purpose of God under Jesus as our Lord.
Paul’s obsession was Jesus Christ in believers – but not just the FACT. No. Rather, Paul wanted Christ to be formed in us:
My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you. (Gal 4:19)
To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. (Col 1:24-29)
Christ in you, the kingdom of God within you, and eternal life in you – all the same Truth by the Holy Spirit. And certainly, if Christ is in us, He will not be less than sovereign Lord OVER us, will He? He should not be, although we CAN refuse Him.
The Holy Spirit will evermore strive and invade us with the reality of Jesus Christ. He will seek to make Christ know to us as Savior, Redeemer, and make God known to us as our Heavenly Father. But all of this comes down to the necessity of saying, knowing, and living in the Truth of Jesus as our personal Lord.
Seek You First
"Seek you first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you." (Matt. 6:33) These are the words of Jesus about the provision of God. If we seek FIRST His kingdom, God will take care of everything that comes with it.
We see in this several principles – which become clear only if we recognize that the kingdom of God is the rule of God over us, i.e., the Lordship of Jesus Christ in us. Firstly, we see that the Lordship of Jesus GOVERNS, "all these things," that will be added unto us. In other words, God material provision for us is going to be according to His will and purpose. Not according to ours. In short, God’s provision for us IS what comes with His rule over us.
Secondly, we see that God’s kingdom within us results in His provision for us. Sure. How can God give us all kinds of blessings if He knows that we are not even submitted to Him as Lord? And Jesus is not demanding that we be a finished product. He is simply saying that if we will SEEK God, we will GET God – and everything that comes with Him.
The blessings of Christ are experienced when we experience Christ. Do you want the blessings of Christ? Find Christ. They are all found IN HIM – as a by-product of Him. You will never find true blessing any other way. God is not going to separate THINGS called, "blessings," from the Person from whom all blessings flow.
God is a merciful, generous, gracious God. But if He were to mete out all kinds of material blessings upon people, independent of those people knowing HIM, then those people would never know Him. We are all too selfish and ignorant. We would stop short. No. The blessings of God come with God Himself. They come under His rule and order. They come with Christ Himself.
As the Holy Spirit dismantles OUR kingdom and OUR rule, He will even have to dismantle OUR tendency to serve mammon. But all of this is to get us onto the right basis. If we will come under God’s kingdom and God’s rule, God will provide. In His way, in His time, and according to His plan for our lives – isn’t this what it means to be under God’s rule? Sure. But God promises it that way – seek you first His kingdom and all things will be added to you as they serve His purpose for you IN His kingdom.
When everything is said and done, there is going to be only ONE Lord: Jesus Christ. All power and authority has already been given Him through His resurrection. The question, therefore, is not whether Jesus is Lord. The question is whether we are coming under His Lordship. I’m not sure how we can expect to live under His Lordship throughout the eternal ages if we aren’t doing it now – on this tiny, temporal level. The Holy Spirit has come to get us ready. He is seeking to make each of us able to say with our lives, "Jesus is Lord."
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