The Claims of Christ
Basic Studies in Christian Living for Young Believers, # 3
Every believer has been brought into intimate and eternal association with God’s Eternal Son, the Lord Christ, the King of kings. What an honour is this! What dignity is conferred upon us! What blessings and privileges result from this association! What responsibilities are ours to acknowledge the claims upon our lives of this glorious Person! The contemplation of who He is, what He has done for us, and the blessings that are ours in Him should challenge our every heart. He is the Son of God, the Creator of the universe, and its supreme Sovereign. Does He not merit our complete trust and constant obedience? He left the glory of Heaven, stooping to share the sorrows of earth and to die in shame on a cross. Should we not live for Him who thus died for us (2 Cor. 5:15), and count any sacrifice as nothing compared with His? He has given us countless and priceless blessings for time and Eternity, utterly undeserved — eternal life (John 10:28), joy (John 15:11), peace (John 14:27), and satisfaction here (John 6:35, 51 ff.), and the prospect and assurance of a heavenly home and eternal glory hereafter (John 14:1-3; 17:24). Can we withhold from Him, in return, our hearts, our lives, our all? Let us then consider His claims upon us and our responsibilities to Him from four aspects.
He is Our Divine Creator
The Scriptures repeatedly emphasize that our Lord Jesus Christ is God, and that He made the worlds. John 1:1-3, Colossians 1:15-17, and Hebrews 1:1-4 should be specially studied. In John 1, notice the clear statements of His eternal existence, distinct personality, divine person, and creative power. The word “firstborn” in Colossians 1:15 does not, of course, mean that He had a beginning — for He was “in the beginning” (John 1:1) — but that He has priority over all creation — as the explanatory “for” in verse 16 indicates. This priority is evident from the facts stated in verses 16, 17 — in the past, all things were created by Him; in the present, all things consist or hold together by Him; and in the future, all things are “for Him.” Hebrews 1 declares His superiority over men and angels in virtue of His person, power, propitiation, and position; and His Deity and creative power are again unmistakably asserted in this chapter.
Since this is so, should we not give Him the honour and worship which are His by right (John 5:23), live in utter dependence upon Him by whom all — including ourselves — consist, and seek to fulfil the purpose for which He made us — to glorify God in our lives?
He is Our Saviour
“The great Creator became my Saviour.” This was the wondrous purpose for which He came, sent by the Father into the world (1 Tim. 1:15; Luke 19:10; John 3:17; 1 John 4:14). In each chapter of his short letter to Titus, Paul speaks of the Lord Jesus Christ as “our Saviour” (1:4; 2:13; 3:6), and it is instructive to compare the expressions he uses with the phrase “God our Saviour,” also occurring in each chapter (1:3; 2:10; 3:4), and thus to note an incidental proof of the Deity of the Lord Jesus. As is well known, the salvation He has provided has three tenses: not only has He saved us from the penalty of sin by dying for us; He is saving us from its power by living for us; and He will save us from its presence by coming again for us (see Hebrews 7:25; Philippians 3:20, 21; 1 Peter 1:3-5; Romans 8:24, etc.). What should be our response to Him who has given us “so great salvation” at infinite cost to Himself? Surely He claims our gratitude — not only saying and singing our thanks with our lips, but showing our appreciation by our lives yielded to Him and doing His service; our trust — for deliverance from sin’s power as well as its guilt; our devotion — living for His glory, and telling others of His saving power; and our joyful anticipation of that coming day when salvation will be complete.
He is Our Lord
“Our Lord is still rejected and by the world disowned.” Yet God has made Him Lord (Acts 2:36), and the day is fast approaching when every tongue shall confess that “Jesus Christ is Lord” (Phil. 2:11). Even now this should be the confession of our lips and the acknowledgment of our lives. It is characteristic of every true believer that he has not only claimed Him as Saviour but crowned Him as Sovereign, reverencing Christ as Lord in his heart (1 Peter 3:15, R.S.V.). Note the emphasis on His lordship in such familiar Gospel texts as Acts 16:31 and Romans 10:9. The Lord Jesus died and rose again not only to be our Saviour, but “that He might be Lord” (Romans 14:9). Having received Him as Lord, we should live constantly in recognition of His claims (Col. 2:6). In terms of utmost solemnity, the Lord warned His hearers of the seriousness of a lip-expression of His lordship without corresponding life experience (Matt. 7:21-23, Luke 13:24-30). It is therefore of tremendous importance that we should know what it means to call Him Lord.
“I am the Lord’s; yet teach me what it meaneth,
All it involves of love and loyalty,
Of holy service, absolute surrender,
And unreserved obedience unto Thee.”
(1) Obeying His Commands (Luke 6:46, Matt. 7:21). “Whatsoever He saith unto you, do it” (John 2:5) should be our motto as we hear His voice in the records of His earthly ministry, the pages of His Word, and the quietness of His presence. Ignorance is no excuse for disobedience. It is our responsibility to listen, to learn and to obey. Samuel’s request should constantly be ours: “Speak, Lord; for Thy servant heareth” (1 Sam. 3:9). Think, for example, of some of His commands given to His disciples near the end of His sojourn here — to love one another (John 13:34), to go and declare His message (Mark 16:15), to be baptized (Mark 16:16) and to remember Him (Luke 22:19). Are we obedient?
(2) Serving at His Commission, wherever He may send us and in whatever service He may entrust to us. Without questioning the implications of His commission, we should unhesitatingly present our lives to be used as He directs; responding, as did Isaiah to the Lord on the throne, “Here am I; send me” (Isa. 6:8), and as Saul of Tarsus to the Lord in the glory, “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?” (Acts 9:6).
(3) Yielding to His Control. “We are the Lord’s” (Rom. 14:8) — His personal property, His by sovereign right. He has a claim to every part of our being and we should allow Him to control every day (not only the Lord’s day), every department (In church — 1 Cor. 1:8, 12:3; at work — Eph. 6:7, Col. 3:24; at home — e.g. Eph. 5:22, 6:1, 4; and everywhere — Col. 3:17), and every decision of our lives (Rom. 14:6; Col. 3:17).
(4) Conforming to His Character. As His subjects, it is our responsibility to represent Him, and He has given us a perfect example to reproduce (John 13:13-17).
(5) Looking for His Coming, “like unto men that wait for their Lord” (See Matt. 24:42, 45, 46; Luke 12:35-38; and note the frequent reiteration of the title “the Lord” in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18).
“In full and glad surrender, I give myself to Thee,
Thine utterly and only and evermore to be;
Reign over me, Lord Jesus, Oh, make my heart Thy throne;
It shall be Thine, dear Saviour, it shall be Thine alone.”
He Will be Our Judge
In John 5:22 we read that “the Father… hath committed all judgment unto the Son.” Two verses later, believers in Him are assured that they will not come into judgment. Yet “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ” (2 Cor. 5:10, Rom. 14:10), not to be condemned and sentenced for our sins, but to be rewarded for our service. The Judge is Himself our Saviour, having taken in full our sentence, and “there is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1). When He comes again, however, and we appear before Him, our lives and service will be appraised and rewards will be given commensurate with our faithfulness to Him. The relevant passages should be carefully studied (in particular, Rom. 14:10-13, 1 Cor. 3:9-15, 2 Cor. 5:9-10). Note the practical implications for us all: in relation to Him, we should make it our ambition to be acceptable, well-pleasing to Him (2 Cor. 5:9); in relation to others, we should not pass judgment on their motives and service (1 Cor. 4:3-5) or actions (Rom. 14:10-13), nor should we do anything that might cause them to stumble (Rom. 14:13); and in relation to ourselves, we should examine our motives and the quality of our service, remembering that quality, not quantity, will stand the test in that day when our work “shall be revealed by fire” (1 Cor. 3:10-15) — under the scrutinizing, discerning look of Him whose eyes are “as a flame of fire” (Rev. 1:14).