Story – Early Christian Family Perished

A story has been handed down to us over the generations of a first-century Christian. The Roman Empire ruled the then-known world and Caesar was emperor of Rome. Caesar had made an edict that all the subjects of the Empire were to greet each other with the salutation “Caesar is Lord!”

This Christian man was walking down a road near Rome when he was met by two Roman soldiers who greeted him with “Caesar is Lord!” The man looked away, trying to ignore the soldiers, pretending he hadn’t heard. But the soldiers were not to be put off. They stopped the man and demanded he greet them with “Caesar is Lord!”

The man refused saying, “Jesus is Lord!”

When it was apparent the man would not obey, the soldiers arrested him, together with his wife and children and took them to the authorities in Rome. From there they were taken to the Coliseum where he was warned, “Unless you confess ‘Caesar is Lord’ you and your family will be thrown to the lions.

The man sorrowfully shook his head saying, “I cannot. Jesus is Lord!”

Angrily the officials ordered his youngest son to be thrown to the lions. Horrified the family watched the young lad being torn apart by the lions.

Again the father was ordered, “Confess that Caesar is Lord!”

With tears streaming down his face the father sobbed, “I cannot. Jesus is Lord!”

The officials ordered a second and then a third child to be thrown to the lions. By then the officials themselves were horrified and told the man, “Just say the words. It doesn’t matter if you don’t mean them. Just say them and you will save yourself and your family’s lives.”

The man whispered, “I cannot. Jesus is Lord!”

The entire family perished that day.

What was so important about Jesus as Lord that the man would sacrifice his life and that of his family over saying three words, i.e. that Caesar is Lord?

To say “Caesar is Lord,” would be to acknowledge Caesar as Lord of all. Paul taught, “for us . . . there is but one LORD, Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 8:6).  And Paul taught that Jesus is Lord of all (Romans 10:12). Jesus warned, “Whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven” (Matthew 10:33). That early Christian did not disown his Lord.

Define “Lord”

Kurios is the Greek word for lord. In its usual meaning it is a title of respect, perhaps similar to “Mr.” or “Sir”. God redefined the word with a capital L as it is rendered in English versions of the Scriptures. Jesus is King of kings, Lord of lords, with a name above every name, with all authority in heaven and on earth.

Careless Use of Terms – Titles

Is Jesus our Savior? Of course. We know he died on the cross to take the punishment for our sins so we would not have to bear it ourselves. We sometimes say he atoned for our sins. We also say he redeemed us. At the Lord’s Supper we commemorate his death and shed blood, his body given for us, all as our Savior.

But is Jesus’ role as Savior the one God wishes us to emphasize in our lives? It seems to me the church has grown careless in the way it refers to Jesus and in the titles that it uses for him. What is the emphasis God is trying to get across to us in Scripture? Is it that Jesus is our Savior? Or that he is our Lord? Let’s take a look.

How many times do you think the title Savior is used in the New Testament? It is 24 times. You may say, “Hmmm, 24 times it speaks of Jesus as Savior.” NO. Only 15 times it speaks of Jesus as Savior; 9 times it speaks of God the Father as Savior.

How many times is Jesus referred to as Lord? 618 times. Yes, 41 times as often as he is referred to as Lord. Do you think God is trying to show what he is emphasizing for us?

Perhaps even more surprising, two-thirds of the books of the New Testament do not refer to Jesus as Savior. Even Romans and Colossians, the two theological books of the NT do not refer to Jesus as Savior.

Nevertheless, in our carelessness I most frequently hear Jesus spoken of as Savior. And that is often true with respect to salvation. How many times have you heard it said, “If you accept (or receive or believe in) Jesus as your (personal) Savior, you will have eternal life.” Would you agree that such a statement is true? That statement is not found anywhere in Scripture. Nowhere. Then what does Scripture say?

Did God Authenticate Jesus as Lord?

Beginning with his birth, God began to authenticate Jesus as Lord and Christ. Authentication is a legal term for proving something to be what it is claimed to be. A lawyer does this when he enters the courtroom and seeks to prove a document is what he claims it is. He has to authenticate it.

God authenticated Jesus as both Lord and Christ. He announced his birth supernaturally with angels who told shepherds:

A Savior has been born to you. He is Christ the Lord! (Luke 2:11).

Then he proceeded to authenticate him through a myriad of miracles. The magnitude of the miracles, from casting out demons, healing all diseases, raising Lazarus from the dead after four days, feeding thousands from a few loaves and fish, stopping a storm, walking on water, all established that Jesus is LORD – that he has all power and authority.

The Apostle John confirmed that God had authenticated Jesus through the miracles:

“These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:31).

Did Jesus Claim to be Lord?

He did indeed. Jesus said to his disciples, “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am.” (John 13:13).

When Jesus was about to ascend into heaven he told us the extent of his Lordship: “All power and authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18).

Is it important that We Believe Jesus Is Who He Said He Is?

Indeed it is. Jesus told the Jews, “I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins.” (John 8:24).

What did the First Century Church Preach? 

Peter, in the first sermon after Pentecost, explained “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Acts 2:21). He concluded: “God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36).

Paul said, “We do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord!” (2 Cor. 4:5).

Peter exhorted, “In your hearts set apart Christ as Lord.” (1 Peter 3:15).

In writing to the Colossians, Paul said, “Just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord,” (Col. 2:6).

Paul told the Thessalonians, “God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:9). Paul taught the Romans, “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23. See also Romans 5:21).

Salvation is through faith in the LORD Jesus Christ!

Story. When Paul and Silas were thrown in prison in Philippi, an earthquake freed them, and they rescued the jailer from taking his own life, the jailer asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They answered, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, you and your household,” they replied. (Acts 16:22-31).

Paul taught: 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 (Romans 10:9).

And, “For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:12-13).

***Important: When summing up his ministry to the Ephesian elders, Paul said, “I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus” (Acts 20:21).

Paul taught the verses at Ephesians 2:8-10. Combining it with the summary of his teaching at Acts 20:21 we get a more complete statement: “For by grace are you saved, through faith [in our Lord Jesus] . . . .

***Important: Paul said, “For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living” (Romans 14:9).

What am I if Jesus is my Lord? (His Bondservant)

Define bond-servant (New American Standard Translation)

 5 “But if the servant declares, ‘I love my master and my wife and children and do not want to go free,’ 6 then his master must take him before the judges. He shall take him to the door or the doorpost and pierce his ear with an awl. Then he will be his servant for life (Exodus 21:5-6).

You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price (1 Cor 6:19).

If Jesus is our Lord, what are we in terms of our relationship to him? We are bond-servants! A bondservant is a (1) voluntary slave (2) for life (3) out of love for his master (4) who gives up everything.

Bondservant was a position of honor! Gold-earring. 

Jesus and Apostles were Bondservants

Paul said we are to have the same attitude of Christ Jesus (our model – see Rom. 8:29) who took the form of a bond-servant (Philippians 2:5-7).

Paul (Romans 1:1), James (James 1:1), Peter, (2 Peter 1:1), Jude (Jude 1:1) and John (Rev. 1:1) all referred to themselves as bond-servants.

All true believers are bond-servants:

The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must shortly take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John (Revelation 1:1).

What is required of a servant or slave?

Obedience!

Did Jesus expect obedience from his followers? He said, 46 “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? (Luke 6:46).

What did Jesus command us to teach all disciples?

19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20).

An Oxymoron: “No, Lord”

Examples of Oxymorons:

Found missing

Resident alien

Advanced BASIC

Genuine imitation

Airline Food

Good grief

Same difference

Almost exactly

Are Salvation and Punishment Related to Obedience?

The writer to the Hebrews insisted: “he [Jesus] became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him” (Hebrews 5:9). 

What if we don’t obey?

Paul taught the Thessalonians: “He [God] will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus” . 9 They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9).

Did Jesus make Obedience a Salvation issue?

Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).

Then Jesus continued with one of the most frightening of all scriptures:

“Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” (Matthew 7:22-23).

Why would these people be condemned? Because they had never submitted to his Lordship; they did not obey him; they did not do the will of his Father.

Whoops!!! Am I Advocating Salvation by works? 

No. It’s the obedience that comes from faith (Romans 1:5).

Why and When is the Holy Spirit given? 

Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey what I command. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth” (John 14:15). Peter corroborated the connection between obedience and receiving the Holy Spirit: “We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him” (Acts 5:32).

My False Conversion

Bernie’s Testimony

Bernie grew up in a Christian home planning to be a pastor or missionary. But doubts crept into his faith in his teens, finally abandoning his faith. In his early 40s he was drawn back into the Word and finally came to believe, once again, that it was true. He believed that Jesus died on the cross for his sins.

His life changed – but only a little. His marriage, already rocky, got worse. He now could demand that his wife submit to him. He had given up his party friends for “church” friends, but began to get bored with Christianity.

The Lord drew him back into the Word. This time every place he read he saw “Lord,” “Lord,” and “Obey,” “Obey”! He’d never heard a sermon on either following Jesus as his Lord or the need to obey him. After being convinced he must submit to Jesus as Lord and obey him, he committed to do that.

His life changed – A LOT! Suddenly he experienced love, joy, and peace such as he had never known existed. His marriage improved wonderfully. Later he learned from Galatians 5 that what he experienced was the fruit of the Holy Spirit.

Paul warned: 

“You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ” (Romans 8:9).

Are there Special Blessings for Those Who Obey?

Jesus said:

Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.” (John 14:21)

Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. (John 14:23)

No obedience to his teaching = No love for Jesus

Jesus warned,

“He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me” (John 14:24).

Are there Conditions Dependent Upon Obedience? 

10 If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. (John 15:10).

14 You are my friends if you do what I command. (John 15:14).

Is It Hard or Impossible to Obey? A Lie of Satan?

Many people continue to say it is impossible to obey the teachings and commands of Jesus. Is it? What did Jesus say?

Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:29).

The Apostle John assured us of the same truth: 

“This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome,” (1 John 5:3).

Love for God: To Obey His Commands

Jesus taught: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment” (Matthew 23:37). 

John said, “This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. 3 This is love for God: to obey his commands” (1 John 5:2).

Ask Yourselves These Questions

Have you ever consciously received Jesus Christ as YOUR Lord?

Have you ever committed to him that you would obey him the rest of your life?

Do you experience the fruit of the Spirit in your life – supernatural joy, peace, and love?

Count the Cost Before Committing to Receive Jesus as Lord!

I’d love to have everyone of you receive Jesus as your Lord and to commit to obey him the rest of your life. But Jesus said before you do that, count the cost. Are you willing to pay the price?

Jesus gave some examples:

28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? 29 For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, 30 saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’ (Luke 14:28-29).

31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33 In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:31-33).

Explain: What you have is no longer yours to be used for your purposes and selfish desires. As a bondservant of the Lord Jesus, you now become a steward, holding what you have for God.

Give up everything and gain love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. And eternal life!!! (Galatians 5:22-23)

Sing “He is Lord”.

Ask him to be your Lord as we sing “Be My Lord

Then sing “You’re My Lord”.