Jesus Is Lord and He Has Spoken
Topic: Dudley's Monthly Message Passage: Acts 2, Hebrews 1:1–1:2
Jesus Is Lord and He Has Spoken
When I was a teenager, the big question at church youth camp was whether it was possible to know Jesus as Savior and not as Lord. Many of us wanted the assurance that we were “saved” from the penalty of our sins, but we weren’t sure we wanted Jesus to be the Lord (Boss) of our lives. Little did we know how dangerous it is to confess Jesus as Lord.
The first gospel sermon after Jesus’ ascension was proclaimed by Peter who spoke at the Pentecost event. Extraordinary signs were taking place, and some were accusing the disciples of Jesus of being drunk at 9:00 AM. Peter explained that the same Jesus the crowds had known as a man from Nazareth, who had taught and done many miracles, was now sitting at the right hand of the Father as Lord over all his kingdom. He had lived a perfectly obedient life; died as the sacrifice for sin; been resurrected from the grave, and now was both the Lord and the Christ. The signs were evidence of the gift of the Spirit that the king was sending to his people.
“Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”
Acts 2:36 (ESV)
That was a subversive confession at that time. Rome was the ruling authority, and the Caesars’ were claiming divinity: “Caesar is the Lord.” Many Christians died because they wouldn’t recant their confession of Jesus as Lord. Albert Mohler in his recent book, The Prayer That Turns the World Upside Down, compares the rise of Hitler in 1942 to such a time. Many Christians and Jews lost their lives because they would not confess that Hitler and his Nazism was Lord. It is becoming clear that we are approaching such a time in our own culture. Christians who hold to orthodox beliefs about a personal relationship with Jesus are being regularly mocked in public. Already we are being criminalized in public discussion for believing in the authority of Scripture, the atonement of Christ, the gifts of the Spirit, and final judgment. It is not Caesar or Hitler, but a form of secularism that demands total submission today. To believe and declare that Jesus is Lord is viewed as not only primitive superstition but subversive.
How does a culture come to such a stance? The climate conducive to allowing false and destructive “lords” to arise is a culture-ruled religion. When true religion begins to accommodate the culture to have respect and influence, it loses both respect and influence. It is the perfect “greenhouse” atmosphere for tyrants. Culture-ruled religion does not satisfy the cry of the human soul, which is designed by God for a passionate faith; an extraordinary vision; and a sure hope for eternal significance.
Humans can’t long abide a passionless faith. We are made to trust and risk. We long for an adventure that only faith can provide. We are uniquely created to enjoy the uncreated God. Anything less than knowing and living with him is less than our souls’ demand. The Jews of first century Israel had accommodated their once strong monotheism with Rome’s polytheism just to get along. Not only were the Jews in turmoil, even the Romans were restless. They had it all, yet they were not satisfied with countless gods and multiple rituals. Caesars rule in such an environment. Germany had experienced the awakening of the Reformation as well as the Renaissance and there were churches in every town, yet they had lost their passion. Propositions replaced personal intimacy. They were ripe for the tyrant. The American civil religion of 2018 is similar. Just a few years ago the culture and the church were so much alike that public schools were as good as private schools in upholding morals and virtue. In my hometown, the same teachers that stood to teach science in the school on Monday had taught Sunday School down at one of the churches the day before. Parents could trust the teachers and the schools. Sadly, it was mostly morals without relationship, and without the vigorous promotion of the gospel from the churches, passion was left out.
The message of the churches accommodated the standards of the culture and promoted the good life, without God. The extraordinary vision of daily walking and talking with God in our assignment to bless the world through service was lost to a much lesser vision. We gave ourselves to self-fulfillment and self-improvement. We concocted doctrines that magnified our soon coming escape from trouble and settled for a deadening pessimism regarding the future of the world. We were told by the culture that any meaning we might find must be found in us—and we bought it. We were no longer awed by the privilege of knowing God and being his partner in world affairs. We began to doubt heaven and hell and decided to find our hope in our own achievements and large central governments.
There is good news. Jesus is Lord. Regardless of the seeming success of secularism’s claims, we are assured that “God has made him both Lord and Christ.” He rules now and forever and is ready to work with his people who joyfully take up the task of extending his rule. We are promised that his word will not fail, servants eventually rule, the last word is his, and darkness always retreats from light. It might become illegal to confess that Jesus is Lord, but it will never be illegitimate. He is Lord and we are his people. Notice that there are no more Caesars. Hitler is dead. Secularism in all is atheistic forms will fall in on itself. Jesus still reigns. It is true—and dangerous.
Since Jesus is Lord, and he has spoken, his word carries ultimate authority.
A favorite scene in the popular movie, Forrest Gump, shows Forrest running and a crowd following him. He has been running for two years and not saying a word. He stops, and the following crowd can't wait to hear his profound first words. After the breathless pause, he says, "I'm pretty tired. I think I'll go home now.” Not the profundity they were expecting! When people, whom we deem significant, finally speak, we long to hear what they say. Who is the most significant person in the universe? Of course, it is God himself. When he speaks, something happens. He spoke, and creation came into existence. He spoke to Moses, and Israel as a covenant people came into existence. He spoke fully by sending Jesus as the Word of God to reveal his thoughts in a way that any hearing heart could understand.
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.
Hebrews 1:1-2 (ESV)
Jesus has been made Lord over all (Acts 2:36), and his words carry the weight of sovereignty. Contrary to current fantasies, everyone’s words do not have the same weight of truth. Jesus is truth, and all his words are true. As he closes out the most famous sermon ever preached, he said,
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”
Matthew 7:24-27 (ESV)
The significance of this declaration was that Jesus was differentiating between his interpretation of truth and that which the religious leaders had called the word of God. Bible verses interpreted without the aid of Jesus the living Word are a form of manmade religion, and they can be very dangerous.
The cosmic battle has always been about the truth of what God says. The serpent challenged God’s word to Adam and Eve. Pagan religions denied the word of God as it was given to Israel. Herod tried to stop the word of God from being fulfilled by killing the young boys when Jesus was born. The Pharisees had replaced the word of God with their own traditions. Jesus told a parable about his kingdom in terms of sowing seed, and it revealed the various responses to the word of God. The devil stole some of the seeds. Some were scorched by persecution. Some were choked by the busyness of daily life. Some fell on good soil and produced fruit—the same fruit as the wise man who built on the rock. It is a clear teaching of scripture that the words of the Lord are essential.
We can reject them in favor of some other opinion. Or, we can neglect them by refusing to take advantage of their availability. Either way, we lose. Neglect has the same effect as rejection in this case: the word does not produce life. The original Liar is actively replacing God’s truth with lies. These lies that replace the word will produce death. One of the most prominent lies is that we can ignore the words of the Lord and still succeed in his creation. But his words don’t fail. A house built on anything but the rock-solid truth of God’s word revealed in Jesus is going to fall at some point. The rain will come. The winds will blow. The house will fall. Whether it is one’s personal life, the family, the business, the church, or the government—it will not stand. God has shown his mercy in giving us his word and the promised power to align with it. Rejecting his mercy is serious. He will continue to love the fallen as a Father cares for his children, and there is no pit too deep that he can’t deliver, but there are consequences that follow foolishness which cause pain to many. It is not a light thing when a person or a society rejects or neglects the word of God. Mocking Jesus and his words might seem to be funny on late-night talk shows, but there are rains coming to reveal the foolishness of such.
But there is great promise to those who hear and embrace the word of the sovereign Lord. A house built on that solid foundation will withstand whatever comes against it. It will be productive as the seed of the word grows. Since Jesus is Lord, we should listen to his word and be eager to make it a priority to implement it in every aspect of our lives.
Jesus is Lord—and he has spoken! What he says is profound. Listen. Hear. Build your house on it.