The Lordship of Christ (Published 1983)

There are certain expressions in the Scriptures which, by reason of familiarity, often lose much of their impact. Take for instance the oft-repreated expression “Jesus Christ our Lord”, Rom. 6. 11, 23. Our tendency is to regard this description, as used in such verses, as just another example of a well-used title, “through Jesus Christ our Lord”. In the context of this chapter, however, the force (and therefore the gain) of its teaching is lost unless the practicality of Lordship is recognized. It is interesting to note that the two titles “Lord and Saviour” are often linked together, indicating that they are not divorced, and that at conversion the One known as Saviour also becomes Lord, the import of which in its everyday bearing could scarcely be exaggerated. The implications of this truth are far-reaching, affecting the whole of the subsequent responsible history of the believer. The lordship of Christ not only relates to subjection personally to Himself, but also to obedience to the Word of God implicitly.

The ministry of Peter might be described in the main as kingdom truth, that is, involving not only our blessing in their fulness, but also our corresponding behaviour in the light of them. Whilst lordship and headship are both prominent features of Christ, the latter being found more in Paul’s ministry, involving also the church, the body of Christ, Peter stressed the former, His lordship, which is personal. This is amply demonstrated in his second Epistle; the title “our Lord” is in frequent use in the first chapter, vv. 2, 8, 11, 14, 16. It is of paramount importance that the One who has become Lord and Saviour (note the usual order in Scripture) has become the supreme Object of affection for the one who has surrendered all to Him—spirit, soul and body, as an act of will. A shallow conversion rarely blossoms into a fruitful and satisfying relationship with the Saviour.

Lordship is never intended to be an arbitrary, iron rule: rather on our side it is the glad service of one captivated by the unique love of the One who has given His all and died to secure a sinner, lifted him from the dunghill and set him amongst princes. All this may seem elementary, but is fundamental to the truth of lordship: it is not just a doctrine, but in its outworking it affords supreme pleasure to the heart of the Saviour—no mean objective! If this be true at the outset of the Christian pathway in measure, how should it deepen after many years of experience of the faithful love of the Lord Jesus. But lordship involves warfare; hence Paul writes, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might … For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places”, Eph. 6. 10, 12.

Undoubtedly, the spirit of lordship is seen outstandingly in Moses: his great authority is seen at the defection of Aaron in the making of the golden calf. Moses then took the calf and burnt it in the fire and ground it to powder, and made the children of Israel drink of it, Exod. 32. 20. There is in Scripture, of course, no such thing as a perfect type (perhaps Joseph is the nearest), and Moses’ service is confined to the wilderness—in the ways of God he is not allowed to lead Israel into the land of promise. In all the greatness of the mercy of God, He will never lower His standard of government. Moses laid his hands upon Joshua, giving him a charge, so the leadership passes to Joshua, “a man in whom is the spirit”, Num. 27. 18, 23.

Joshua, then, is the great leader in this conflict over Jordan, and it is the kind of conflict which taxes the most mature and spiritually minded. Whether Moses in wilderness ways, or Joshua in the setting of conflict on the lines of Ephesians 6, both typify our Lord Jesus under whom we are called to serve as good soldiers of Jesus Christ, 2 Tim. 2. 3. We may opt out, as perhaps do many, but this would be to our loss, missing the opportunity of laying up treasure in heaven and being rich toward God, Luke 12. 21. We are intended to learn from the change of circumstances from Moses to Joshua: we remember that these things were written for our admonition (a putting into the mind), upon whom the ends of the ages are come, 1 Cor. 10. 11. The writer to the Hebrews envisages this change when he says, “For ye are not come to the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire” (the old dispensation, which Moses, the man of God, represents), “but ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem”, Heb. 12. 18, 22.

We are still in the world, but our Lord and great Leader (typified in Joshua) has pledged Himself to bring us into our inheritance, into the fulness which is in the mind of the blessed God, as John writes, “Jesus, knowing that his hour had come that he should depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, loved them to the end” (the end of time is not in view, but rather through everything, the end of the tunnel), John 13. 1 J.N.D. How beautiful is the Lord’s view of His own death, “that He should depart out of this world to the Father”. He takes its terror from the grave.

We have, then, much positive gain from the lordship of Christ, in no way restrictive, but His strong hand of protection preserving us throughout.

In the desert God will teach thee
What the God that thou hast found—
Patient, gracious, powerful, holy;
All His grace shall there abound.

There no stranger-God shall meet thee—
Stranger thou in courts above—
He, Who to His rest shall greet thee,
Greets thee with a well-known love.

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