No Divided Allegiance!

In the New Testament world, “Lord” was also the title of Caesar, as the one to whom people in the Roman world owed their ultimate allegiance. “Lord” set him apart as a god-like figure in the ancient world.

In the First Century world, one had to affirm ultimate allegiance to Caesar in an outward way. Allegiance was affirmed usually by having a person approach an altar with fiery coals on it and a statue of the Emperor beside it. One would toss a pinch of incense on it and say the words, “Caesar is Lord!” In the Greek, only two words, Kaesar Kyrios. (see “Church” below). Not much, you might think. However, Caesar or a modern nation-state is not our ultimate patron or King. Jesus Christ is! (see “Ploycarp” below).

Incense to Caesar

 

God requires obedience to his Son, Jesus Christ.

We do not have a Caesar any more, but we have authority figures and structures that permit no rival to authority. Thomas Hobbes’s Leviathan sets forth the answer to unrest in society—”civil war and the brute situation of a state of nature [can] only be avoided by strong, undivided government.” (see “Leviathan” below) The motto in the picture below is from Job 41:33—On earth there is nothing like him (i.e. the sea monster, or Leviathan). This by extension is applied to government by Hobbs.  

Leviathan_by_Thomas_Hobbes

This is the frontispiece to Hobbes’ book Leviathan. It depicts government as a King arising from the land as supreme ruler unchallenged by any other power.

Do we not see potential conflict here? Government demands to be our unchallenged Lord. Jesus Christ is inherently Lord and does not admit any rival as first place in our hearts. Two passages in Revelation make this plain.

Revelation 17:14—
These will make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful.”

Revelation 19:16—
And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.

When any earthly power makes demands contrary to the Word of God, we must conclude with Peter in Acts 5:29—

But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men.

We as Christians come into conflict when we do otherwise than obey government, our modern-day Caesar. We cannot conform to Caesar’s will in our lives just to fit into society. If we do not conform, we will suffer—politically, financially, socially, etc. We may have to forfeit our lives.

It is not that we hate our modern day “Caesar.” It’s that we love our Lord Jesus Christ so much more in comparison! We do as government requires so long as government doesn’t demand what God alone deserves. Our God cannot permit divided first love and loyalty! 

Exodus 34:14 states this clearly—

“…You shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.” 

Our God made us to glorify him and enjoy him, and he cannot share first place in our hearts with another person or thing, other than Himself. 

A martyr was asked, whether he did not love his wife and children, who stood weeping by him.

“Love them? Yes,” said he, “if all the world were gold, and at my disposal, I would give it for the satisfaction of living with them, though it were in prison.”

“Yet, in comparison of [my love to] Christ, I love them not.”
(See “Whitecross” below)

Hymn line (Martin Luther “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.”) 

Let goods and kindred go,
This mortal life also;
The body they may kill:
God’s truth abideth still,
His Kingdom is forever.

Prayer 

O Lord Jesus Christ, 
I want to give You first place in my heart—
to find my highest good in You—
the ground of my rest, and
the spring of my being.
Give me a deeper knowledge of Yourself as my
Saviour, Master, Lord, and King.

I have no Master but You,
no law but Your will,
no chief delight but You,
no wealth but what You give me,
no good but that with which You bless me,
no peace but that which You bestow.

All gifts from You I hold in my open palm—
You are my most precious Gift! 

You may take things back; give them to another person;
give me other things in their place; but my chief delight is You.
And You I will never give up!

Hold me to Your heart. In Jesus’ Name. Amen. 
(Adapted from, see “Puritan Prayers” below) 


Notes

Church, Alfred J. (2017). “The Examination.” Accessed 17 June 2018 from https://www.heritage-history.com/index.php?c=read&author=church&book= lions&story=examination

Leviathan Hobbes Book. (2018). Accessed 18 June 2018 from https://en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/Leviathan_(Hobbes_book)

Polycarp. (2002-2018) Accessed 15 May 2018 from https://www.polycarp.net/

Puritan Prayers. (17 June 2007). Modern Puritan Prayer I [Blog post]. Accessed 19 May 2018 from https://postmortemism.wordpress.com/category/modern-puritan-prayers/

Whitecross (2016). The Shorter Catechism Illustrated Accessed 15 May 2018 from http://www.shortercatechism.com/resources/whitecross/wsc_wh_026.html

© 2018 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

The Indivisible Christ!

Romans 14:9 “that He might be Lord…of the living.”

As we have seen in previous posts–

Submission to Jesus as Lord connects us to him in a personal relationship.

There is today a false idea that a person can take some aspect of Jesus and leave other parts for a later stage in Christian development. Some today think, “I want him as a Savior, but I’m not ready to accept him as my Lord. I could never let anybody tell me what to do.” Consider this important fact about Christ. He is not divisible. He is one Christ—prophet, priest, and king.

Jesus_knocking

Christ cannot be divided so one can choose which parts of him to receive.

James Fisher (member of Scottish secessionist church 1697–1775) has given us an able exposition of the Westminster Shorter Catechism.

Question. 23.29. When faith closes with Christ, does it not close with him in all his offices?

Answer. Yes; for Christ is never divided: we must have him wholly or none of him. (Fisher’s Catechism, 1753-1760).

Maybe “close with Christ” is foreign to our modern use in religion. It still retains its meaning in business. We must “close the deal.” (Close with Christ, 2017).

closing-the-deal

Hebrews 1:1-3 present Jesus Christ in his three-fold office as Messiah or Christ—

1 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; 3 who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.

Verse 2 presents Jesus Christ as prophet who has spoken God’s final revelation to us.
Verse 3a presents Jesus Christ as priest and once-for-all sacrifice for our sins.
Verse 3b presents Jesus Christ as King seated at the Father’s right hand.

These verse present the whole Christ we receive for salvation. When we exercise saving faith in Christ, we accept all three offices which he has or we do not exercise saving faith. Also, William Guthrie says—

[Closing with Christ] is that which is called faith or believing—the “receiving of Christ,” or “believing on His name” John 1:12. (Guthrie, 1658).

Receiving Christ as Lord is not sinless perfection, as some may think. There is still “the subduing of the Christian” to Christ. This takes a lifetime and is still incomplete until we arrive in glory.

I am reminded of a story I read somewhere, though I cannot remember where. It illustrates this point well.

One day a woman came into a clock-maker’s store and placed two hands of a great clock on his counter. She exclaimed, “These are running slow, so fix them.”

The clock-maker replied, “Madam, I cannot fix the hands if I do not have the whole clock.”

She angrily relied, “No! I won’t bring the whole clock in. You’ll take it apart. It’ll take a long time and cost me a great deal.”

“Nevertheless, I cannot fix any of it unless I have all of it!” the man replied.

watch-parts-clock-mechanism-with-image_csp48734577

It is the same way in regard to our Lord Jesus Christ and us. He must have all of us to fix any of us. It will take a long time, and it will be costly—it may cause temporary pain and suffering. However, God is the master “person-repairer.” He heals our hurts and fixes our problems so we can enjoy his presence and life both in this world and in the one to come.

Prayer

O Lord Jesus Christ, you are my prophet—
     I receive your words from Holy Scripture that
speak to my deepest need and guide my steps.

You are my priest—
     I receive your offering of your sinless self on the cross to forgive my sin,
I rest on your obedience of the law of God on my behalf, and

     I rely on your constant intercession for me at your Father’s right hand.
You are my king—
     Subdue me to your ways.
     Rule over me and lead me deeper into your kingdom.
     Defend me from your and my enemies.
     Conquer all that opposes your kingdom and
     Come at the end to receive me into your presence. Amen. 


References

Close with Christ (2017). Accessed February 5, 2017 from https://www.puritanboard.com/threads/close-with-christ.92083/  

Fisher’s Catechism (1753-1760). Accessed February 5, 2018 from http://www.reformed.org/documents/fisher/index.html

Guthrie, William (1658). The Christian’s Great Interest. Accessed February 5, 2018 from http://media.sabda.org/alkitab-12/ccel/g/guthrie/interest/int12.htm

© 2018 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved

Just What does “Lord” Mean?

We have seen that: 

Submission to Jesus as Lord connects us to him in a personal relationship.

Romans 14:9 For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again…
that He might be Lord…of the living.”

However, the term “Lord” is connected to a world in which we no longer live—the world of kings and royals. (Our modern world’s royalty are constitutional monarchs.)

The Greek word is for Lord is kyrios (Thayer’s Lexicon). Kyrios has several different uses in the Bible. (I will not keep writing the Greek word since that makes reading extremely tedious.) 

First, “Lord” in its Biblical context is sometimes simply a term of respect.

Note the Woman at the well’s address of Jesus in John 4:11, when he asks for water—

11 The woman said to Him, “Sir (kyrios), you have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep.”

She was not submitting to him as a king or ruler. She was merely paying him respect. This is the equivalent of our word “Sir,” in Southern English.

Christ_and_the_Woman_from_Samaria_Theodor_van_Kessel

Christ and the Woman of Samaria by Theodor van Kessel (WikiMedia Commons)

Jesus certainly deserves respect from us, but he deserves far more than the mere respect we pay to other human beings. Being respectful of Jesus does not bring us into a personal relationship with him. 

Second, “Lord” can also be used as a title for one’s superior.

This would be a “patron” in the Roman world. One did not operate independently of authority in the first century. One had a patron who looked out for his clients’ interests and demanded certain favors in return (Social Order, 2006).

Maybe the closest we come to the use of “Lord” in this sense is “boss.” Jesus is more than a boss to us. He is not less than that, but doing what one is told doesn’t bring one into a personal relationship with Christ. 

Third, “Lord” has a transcendent quality as a title in the ancient world.

In the Greek translation of the Old Testament (the Septuagint = LXX = “70”), “Lord” is used for Yahweh (YHWH) in the Hebrew Bible. “Lord” is the name of the supreme Creator and Sustainer God to whom every creature owes ultimate allegiance.

Note, “Lord” is a title given to Jesus Christ in the New Testament—Philippians 2:9-11—

9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Jesus is indeed our ultimate Lord! We come into a personal relationship with him when we acknowledge him as Lord and Savior. 

Kneeling before the king

Kneeling to a royal person in the Medieval world was an acknowledgement of his kingship.

Do I only want a person to rescue me or a Lord who is guide for my life? 

At some points in my life I admit I have treated the Lord Jesus as merely the one who rescues me from trouble. I went to church on Sundays, but lived my life the way I wanted to during the week. He gladly rescued me from trouble when I inevitably fell into it and cried out to him for help. But, Jesus did not want me to treat him as if he was only one who handed me a fire extinguisher when my house seemed about to catch fire. 

Instead the Lord Jesus wanted to give me a “lamp”—his authoritative Word—to guide my steps all along the way! Psalm 119:105 gives us a description of a life lived with Jesus as Lord every step of the way—”Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”

The Lord Jesus as my true and ultimate king guides my steps everyday by his Word and his Spirit as I walk in fellowship with him! This is the meaning of Jesus as my Lord! 

Prayer

O Lord Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior,
I acknowledge you as the true and ultimate one
to whom I owe my ultimate allegiance.
I often fail to follow you as I ought.
I fail to live according to your Word as I should.
Your way is best, and in the future I want to learn more
of your ways and conform my life to your will.

Amen. 


References

Kurios, G-4416. (2011). “Thayer’s Expanded Greek Definition.” Accessed 31 May 2018 from https://www.studylight.org/lexicons/ greek/4416.html 

Leviathan. (2018). Accessed 31 May 2018 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leviathan_ (Hobbes_book)

Social Order (2006.) Accessed February 5, 2018 from http://www.pbs.org/empires/romans/ empire/order.html

© 2018 C. Richard Barbare All Rights Reserved