There Is One Lord
It is not a little remarkable that in the epistles of Paul to the Ephesians and the Colossians, which, as is well-known, are complementary each of the other, the title ‘Lord’ occurs much less frequently in the doctrinal sections than it does in the hortatory part. This can be readily checked by the reader. The lesson is plain: doctrine is given not to inform the mind merely, but to affect the behaviour. The doctrine of Christ must be held in recognition of the claims of Christ.
Everyone in the Church has professed to have acknowledged Jesus as Lord, as we saw when considering Romans 10:9. Each one is, therefore, expected to “Sanctify Christ as Lord” in his heart (1 Peter 3:15) recognizing the supremacy of His commands, whatever the world may say. They must get to know what is “well pleasing to the Lord” (Eph. 4:10); they should “understand what the will of the Lord is” (ibid v. 17).
Paul proceeds to set out this ‘will’ of the Lord in some detail. Wives are to be subject to their own husbands as to the Lord. Husbands are to imitate Christ as the Lord (as some mss. read 5:29) nourishes and cherishes His bride the Church, so should the husband his wife. Children are to obey their parents in the Lord (6:1): that is, not ‘parents in the Lord’ but they are to “obey … in the Lord,” because of their responsibility and subjection to Him. Fathers are to bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (v. 4). Servants are to render their service to their masters with good-will, a cheerful mind, as if they were serving the Lord and not men. It is the Lord who will make recognition of what has been done to Him (v.8.). Masters, too, are to be reciprocal in their treatment of these servants, for they must remember that, in common with their servants, they each have the same ‘Master’ (Kurios) in Heaven who is no respector of persons. It will be a constant fight and they must ‘be strong in the Lord’ (v.10). Thus the Lordship of Christ impinges on every department of our lives, and on everyone of us who own Him. None can escape his duty.
All this may be summed up in the words of Colossians 2:6. “As ye have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him” (2:6) and again, “Whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus” (3:17), and Paul goes over the same ground of relationships again in each case stressing the claims of our Lord.
The reasonableness of this is apparent. We are not our own, we are His property. We have, therefore, no right of independent action. This is not a slavery such as men were accustomed to in those days, when the slave had no rights whatsoever. This is a slavery gladly accepted in which the mind and will gladly consent to subordinate all personal interests to the rightful claims of Him who has bought us with His blood.
Our social conditions today differ from those which existed in Paul’s day but this is all the more perilous for the believer. The fact that he renders contractually agreed service to his employer for so much payment, for so long a term of service per day or per week, does not nullify the obligations devolving on him as a Christian. They should ‘please’ their employers ‘well in all things’ showing scrupulous honesty and reliability: and there should be no answering back (see Titus 2:9-10), for any behaviour that fails to attain to this standard will bring reproach on the Christian gospel.
In addition to all this, we have to remember that we are subjects of the state, whether our supreme ruler be a Queen or President. We are to be submissive “for the Lord’s sake” (1 Peter 2:13). That is to say, these “powers that be” having been “ordained of God” should be unreservedly obeyed unless divine claims are involved. We should “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s” as well as render “to God the things that are God’s.” We will then render to all their dues: tribute (taxes on persons and goods) to whom tribute is due; custom (taxes on merchandise) to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour (Romans 13:7). In this way we shall “put on the Lord Jesus Christ” (v. 14) making it plain that our submissiveness to the state springs not from a sense of national duty, but from the higher source of subjection to our Owner-Lord.
Thus the Lordship of Christ touches every department of the believer’s life, ecclesiastic, social, business, domestic, and it even reaches further. Some are entrusted with specific spiritual work, such as was the case with Archippus who was exhorted to take heed to the ministry which he had received “in the Lord,” that he fulfill it (Col. 4:17). The ellipsis may be filled out to read “in the service to the Lord” or “in relation to the things of the Lord” or “in the interests of the Lord.” It is a comprehensive phrase, declarative of responsibility to the One Who had entrusted him with the service. How necessary such an exhortation is today! If heeded it would eliminate much casualness in spiritual work, fits and starts, hot and then cold, quick to accept a task but quicker to drop it. Because we cannot actually see the Lord, the propensity to be careless is all the more easy, but where there is a constant awareness of the Lord’s commissioning there will also be the concurrent sense of complusion. Like the Lord we shall be found using the word ‘must’ in relation to our work. This, surely, is the force of what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:11. “Knowing, therefore, the fear of the Lord we persuade men.” There loomed before him the prospect of the Judgment Seat of Christ, when all would come out in its true colours. How grievous it would be were there to be discovered at that time that, in the pursuance of his apostolic work, he had encouraged mixed and hypocritical motives, for at that day it will not only be that our work will be examined, our very motives will then be scrutinized also.
The happy event which will usher us into His presence is called The Rapture, a word of perfectly legitimate use, it according with the significance of the Greek word “Harpazo” which means a sudden transportation from one place to another. When Paul speaks of this, in writing to the Thessalonians, he uses the plain word ‘Lord’ no less than five times in the space of four verses. His disclosure is: “by the word of the Lord”; we remain unto the “parousia of the Lord”; it is “the Lord Himself shall descend”; we “meet the Lord in the air”; “we shall ever be with the Lord” (1 Thess. 4:15-18). Mark well the significance of this: Master and servant meet, and the servants gladly anticipate the meeting. As in the parables of the Pounds and the Talents, “the Lord” will than have returned and will “take a reckoning” with His servants. But in the Thessalonian passage that reckoning is not in view, but rather the termination of the period of absence, and the meeting with the Lord and the reunion with temporarily lost loved ones.
However, we may well ask ourselves whether it is a real matter of joy to our hearts that we have the prospect of meeting Him Who is our “Lord.” We should never allow this world’s affairs to swamp the trust which has been committed to us. How dare we face our Lord if we are so doing, yet it is gravely to be feared that in these high-pressure times many of the Lord’s people are allowing themselves to be so overwhelmed with mundane material things that they can give little or no time to the spiritual, to the loss of their present well-being and the loss of a reward later. We need to adjust our priorities and to “seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness” being assured, on the word of His own promise, that all other requisite things will be added to us (Matt. 6. 33).
The fact of the Lordship of Christ gave Paul the utmost confidence in his adverse circumstances and he encouraged the saints in the same direction. To the Phillipians he wrote that they should be over-anxious in nothing: to allow their yieldingness to be known to all men, adding “the Lord is near” (Phil. 4.5). This does not appear to relate to His future coming but to His present proximity to the believer. He is not One afar off: He is near. Because of this we can “Rejoice in the Lord always.” He is over all. Men cannot have their way altogether, but only under His permissive will. It was so in the case of Paul’s last recorded letter. The Lord, the righteous judge, will give him the victor’s crown “at that day,” whatever such an unrighteous judge as Nero may say or do. It is the Lord who will render to Alexander the coppersmith the appropriate reward according to his evil works. It was the Lord who stood beside Paul at his first defence when all others deserted him. He is confident that the Lord will deliver him from every evil work and preserve him unto His everlasting kingdom. Paul sees the Lord over all and his heart is at rest (2 Tim. 4:8-14).
If only we could encourage a similar confidence! When we see the Lord walking on the troubled waters of this life we can follow Him with an amazing superiority to all that surrounds us. But lose sight of this fact then we also are disturbed as well as the waters. “Lord, if it be Thou” enables one to tread the waves: but when the fact of His Lordship is lost to view then we cry “Lord save me” (Matt. 14, 28:30). We have to come back to it, realising that all is under His ultimate control. We have no real conception of the
Scope Of His Lordship
It embraces not merely the circumstances of time: not merely His claims over His redeemed people, and over mankind in general, but it extends into the spiritual realms, as is apparent from the scene depicted in Isaiah chapter 6. There the Lord (Adonai) is seated on the throne, high and lifted up, and His train filled the temple. In the year that King Uzziah, who had intruded into the priestly office, died as a leper, Isaiah lifted his eye away from earth and saw on Heaven’s throne another King who also was a Priest. Behold the seraphic host, listen to their cry of worship, and note their reverence, their humility and their ready and speedy obedience. All tells the same fact that is depicted in the fifth chapter of the Apocalypse — the Lord is the centre of Heaven’s praise and worship and all angelic beings are at His command, to do His bidding, no matter whether it be for the good of His redeemed or for the judgment of His enemies. He is the ‘Lord of the whole earth’ and Supreme both in Heaven and earth.