“Is Jesus Christ Your Sovereign Lord?”
PM, Sharon OPC
Dr. Jeffrey K. Boer
Today I want to remind all of us of the vows we took when we became
members of the church of Jesus Christ, specifically when we confessed Jesus Christ to be our “Sovereign Lord.” I’d like each of us to ask ourselves, “Did I really mean that?”
Whenever a person joins the OPC he answers, “I do,” to the following question:
3. Do you acknowledge Jesus Christ as your sovereign Lord and do you promise, in reliance on the grace of God, to serve him with all that is in you, to forsake the world, to mortify your old nature, and to lead a godly life?
Today we’re going to discuss what it means to “acknowledge Jesus Christ as your sovereign Lord?” What is a “lord,” anyway? – Particularly, a “sovereign” lord?
Webster’s Dictionary defines a “lord” as, “a person having great power and authority; a ruler; a master.”
Webster defines “sovereign” as, “above all others; chief; supreme.”
In the Bible, Yahweh God is spoken of as being the “sovereign Lord” over all things because He made all things.
Deuteronomy 10:14-17 says, “To the LORD your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it.
Yet the LORD set his affection on your forefathers and loved them, and he chose you, their descendants, above all the nations, as it is today. Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer. For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes.”
God made everything. Everything belongs to Him. God doesn’t owe anybody anything. Because God made us, He has a right to demand everything of us. We belong to Him.
Notice that our text says, in v. 11, that “Jesus Christ is Lord.”
V. 6 says that He, “being in very nature God,” laid aside His rights as Lord for a time and became the opposite of a Lord. It says, in v. 7, that He “made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant.”
A servant’s job is to obey his Lord, totally, and Jesus did that perfectly.
V. 8 says, “he humbled himself and became obedient to death.” That’s what all servants of sovereign lords are supposed to do.
Then, after Christ’s resurrection from the grave, v. 9 says, “God exalted him to the highest place [After all, there is no higher place than “sovereign lord.”] and gave him the name that is above every name [that’s the name, “Lord,” not “Jesus.” The name, “Lord,” or, “Sovereign Lord,” was given to Jesus] that at the name of Jesus [that is, “at the name belonging to Jesus,”] every knee should bow [We don’t bow to everyone who happens to have the name, “Jesus.” My plumber’s name is, “Jesus.” I don’t bow to him. I thank him profusely for unblocking my sewer line, but I don’t bow to him. We bow only to that particular “Jesus” Who’s been given the name, “Sovereign Lord”] in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.”
That’s the name above every name: Sovereign Lord! And Jesus Christ has that name!
The Greek word used here for “Lord,” is the word “kurios.” (κυριος) That same Greek word is the word used to translate the OT name of God,
“Yahweh,” whenever the NT quotes from the OT. The point of our text is that Jesus Christ has been given the name, “Yahweh.” That’s the very name of God. That’s the name of the King of kings and Lord of lords in the OT.
So Jesus Christ is our sovereign Lord, whether we acknowledge Him as our Sovereign Lord or not!
Now some people have the mistaken notion that they can somehow make
Jesus the Lord of their lives. (Almost as a favor to Him of some kind!)
Well I have news for you. That’s not something that’s yours to give. God the Father has already made Jesus Christ the Lord over your life, and that’s true whether you’re a Christian or not! So when you join Christ’s body, the church, you don’t promise to make Jesus Christ your sovereign Lord. You promise to acknowledge the fact that Jesus Christ is already your sovereign Lord. But whether you acknowledge it or not, He still is your sovereign Lord. He’s the Lord God. He owes you nothing. You owe Him everything.
In Philippians 1:1, Paul describes himself and Timothy as servants of Christ
Jesus. He writes that this letter is from, “Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus.”
Christ has two kinds of servants: Those who acknowledge Him as Lord, and those who rebel and refuse to acknowledge Him as Lord. But in any case, He is your Lord, your sovereign Lord, and you owe Him your absolute allegiance!
The very first of the Ten Commandments states, “I am the LORD your God…You shall have no other gods before me [meaning no other gods besides Me]!”
What does it mean, then, to give Jesus Christ your absolute allegiance?
Well, first of all, absolute allegiance is unquestioning allegiance.
A good example of this is seen in Abraham. God said to Abraham, “I want you to sacrifice your only son to Me as an offering.”
All of Abraham’s human reasoning and rationalization would have led him to disobey that command. After all, God had promised Abraham that he would have a son, a son from his own body. After many years of waiting, when Abraham was about 100 years old, and Sarah was 90, God gave them a son. And Isaac was that son!
Now God was commanding Abraham to sacrifice his only son, that promised son, on the altar as an offering!
But Abraham didn’t question the command of his sovereign Lord. The Bible says that he got up early in the morning and proceeded to follow the Lord’s command. Abraham proved that he was ready and willing, even to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, in obedience to the sovereign Lord’s command.
That’s the kind of allegiance God requires of all his servants. And yet, so often, God, in His Word, commands us to do something and we respond, “It’s inconvenient to obey God in this or that command.” Or, “I just don’t feel like
doing that right now.” Or, “How unfair of God to ask me to do that. I just can’t. Maybe later when I have more time or when I feel differently.”
Or sometimes we’ll do what the Lord commands, but we’ll do it moaning and groaning and complaining, rather than doing it with a ready and willing spirit.
Perhaps some of you have heard that story floating around the internet awhile back – it may be an apocryphal story – I don’t know.
In any case, the story certainly illustrates the concept of unquestioning obedience.
There was this little boy whose sister desperately needed a blood transfusion or she’d die, but only one family member had her blood type – this little boy. So his father told him, “This may be a little scary, son, but you’re going to have to let the doctors do a blood transfusion using your blood in order to save your little sister’s life.”
The little boy took a deep breath and said, “O.K.”
When the transfusion was almost complete, the little boy looked up trustingly into his father’s eyes and asked, “Daddy, when am I going to die?”
He thought that giving away his blood would be the end of his own life! But he did it anyway, simply because his father asked him to! That’s unquestioning obedience!
Our heavenly Father knows what’s best for us, and sometimes we may not understand, but we simply have to trust Him and obey.
Isaiah reminds us that even a dumb ox and a donkey obey their master’s
voice more readily than some Christians. In Isaiah 1:3 we read, “3 The ox knows his master, the donkey his owner’s manger, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand.”
Sometimes, we full-grown, pompous human beings refuse to bend the knee at our Master’s voice in unquestioning allegiance. A sovereign Lord must be obeyed without question and without hesitation.
Absolute allegiance is unquestioning allegiance.
Second, Absolute allegiance is also exclusive allegiance.
The Lord Jesus Christ will not tolerate competition! He demands our exclusive loyalty. He’s like a husband who passionately loves his wife. He won’t tolerate his wife having other lovers or other lords. Again, the very first commandment says, “You shall have no other gods besides me.”
That means you shall have no other gods, period. God is a jealous God.
Jealousy is right and proper in a marriage covenant relationship, and that’s the kind of relationship that God has with us, His covenant people.
Jesus said, in Matthew 10:37, “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”
Do you love anyone or anything more than Jesus Christ? Do you know how you can tell?
Whatever or whoever it is that you’re willing to disobey God for is something you love more than God. Would you rather disobey God than lose your wife or your husband? Would you rather disobey God than lose your children or your parents? Would you be willing to give up your boyfriend or your girlfriend, if necessary, in order to keep your relationship with Jesus Christ intact? Do you sometimes disobey God so that you won’t lose a particular person’s respect and friendship? Do you disobey God for the sake of money?
Or pleasure? Or to avoid inconvenience?
It doesn’t matter what it is. Whatever you put before obedience to Jesus Christ is a false “lord” in your life.
Jesus said, in Matthew 6:24, “No one can serve two masters [or two
lords]. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
What is it that you let come between you and God? That’s something that you love more than God.
So you owe God your unquestioning allegiance, and you owe Him your exclusive allegiance.
You also owe God your total allegiance.
Absolute allegiance is total allegiance.
Some people think they can give God one day a week, or a few hours during
the week and keep the rest to themselves. Some think they can serve God with a tithe of their income and then the rest of the money is theirs to keep and do with any way they see fit. But to belong to God means that God owns all of you. He owns all your time, all your money, all your possessions, and all your thoughts, words and deeds!
I Corinthians 10:31 commands, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
Serving God is not the same as serving on your daily job. You don’t just work for God part of the day and then go home at the end of the day. You’re His, heart and soul, lock, stock and barrel, all day, every day, and all night, every
And God doesn’t owe you any thanks or rewards for this perfect, unquestioning, exclusive, and total obedience.
Being God’s servant is your job, all day, every day. There’s no special compartment of your life where you can leave God out. There’s no “King’s X,” no “base,” where you’re free from the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Nothing is off limits to His sovereign Lordship. Not your TV, not your closet, not your bedroom, not your checkbook, not your computer, not your car, not your job, not your school, not even your recreation. Jesus Christ is sovereign Lord over all of those areas as well as being your Lord in church. “Either He’s sovereign
Lord of all, or He’s not sovereign Lord at all.”
So let’s each consider whether or not this vow that we made when we joined Christ’s church is true of us:
Do you acknowledge Jesus Christ as your sovereign Lord, and do you promise, in reliance on the grace of God, to serve Him with all that is in you, to forsake the world, to mortify your old nature, and to lead a godly life?
“That’s too much to ask,” you say.
Is it really? Do you see Jesus Christ as some sort of cruel and harsh taskmaster, taking out what He doesn’t put in and reaping where He doesn’t sow?
That’s not at all what He’s like. Jesus Christ is a most kind and loving Lord.
He says, in Matthew 11:29-30, “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. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
It should be our greatest joy and our highest pleasure to serve and obey Him, and here’s why:
1. First of all, doing God’s will is always best for us. In the long run, we will always find the greatest blessing by doing what God commands. He never commands us to do anything that is not for our good.
2. Second, we can never outgive God. We can never put God in our debt so that He owes us anything. God has already given Himself to us, first. Jesus Christ has already served us and loved us and died to take the penalty for our sin. He continues to pray for us at the Father’s right hand, every day. Our Lord and Master only calls us to obey Him after He’s given His own life to save
us. We can never even begin to pay back what we owe Him. Our obedience, in no way merits for us eternal life. Jesus merited eternal life for us, already, by His death on the cross to take away the punishment of our sins and by His living a perfect life for us.
Jesus never asks too much of us. He always gives much more than He asks.
As St. Augustine once put it, “Lord, give what you ask, and then ask what you will.”
Our obedience, then, is simply our thankful gratitude to Him for our salvation. Our unquestioning, exclusive, and total obedience should spring from our love and thanksgiving to our wonderful Lord. He even gives us the ability to obey!
Is Jesus Christ your sovereign Lord?
The answer to that question is very simple: You bet He is! Jesus Christ is your sovereign Lord whether you’re willing to acknowledge that fact or not. He is
your sovereign Lord, period! He’s Lord of all!
So the real question is this: “Do you acknowledge Jesus Christ as your sovereign Lord? Do you strive to obey Him as your sovereign Lord, in thankful gratitude for your salvation?”
May God enable all of us, by the power of His Holy Spirit working in us, to love, and to serve, and to obey Jesus Christ, with absolute allegiance. May we love Him, and serve Him, and obey Him, with unquestioning, exclusive, and total allegiance as our sovereign Lord!