For many worldwide, Christ’s death on a cross, His burial, and His resurrection is old news. It is now over 2,000 years old. But it is as important to teach today as though the empty tomb was discovered yesterday. As the political and maybe prophetic headwinds appear to be blowing against us, children of the living God must remain faithful to our appointed task. We are to be loyal teachers of the gospel of the grace of God today (1 Cor. 15:1-9). Why? Because the gospel remains the power of God unto salvation to as many as believe, to the Jew first and also to the Greek (Rom. 1:16).

The gospel remains God’s good news. The source of the power has not changed from generation to generation to generation, and it will not change until Christ returns. And confusion still comes the same way. No matter what year it is, Satan is still in the mind-blinding business of keeping people from hearing and understanding the truth of the gospel and believing in Christ (2 Cor. 4:3-4). He is the master of confusion! But God continues to master this master by guiding and germinating His seed as it pleases Him (Isa. 55:10-11). One point of confusion today concerns the Lordship of Jesus Christ.  

I have heard it said that one cannot have Jesus as Savior without following Him as Lord. This is true if one truly understands the meaning of Savior and Lord in their proper context. “Savior” is taken from the Greek word soter, and “Lord” is the Greek word kurios. The name soter is easy to process. What we must be saved from is the destruction of the body and soul in hell. Listen to the words of Jesus Christ. “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him [God] who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). Hell is real and to be feared as God’s just judgment for sin. The wages of sin is still death – eternal separation from God (Rom. 6:23).

But Satan never quits confusing! Could it be that Satan has moved God’s church toward believing a “different gospel” which cannot save? Paul implies in his letter to the Galatians that this different gospel thing can happen. “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel” (Gal. 1:6). A group of legalistic Jews called Judaizers added various ways of keeping the law as a requirement for salvation. A bunch of young Galatian Christians fell for it, and Paul chastised them for turning to a different gospel. Its confusion was deadly because it changed the gospel. And today there is a teaching that sounds good on the surface but is equally deceptive. I speak of what has come to be called the “Lordship of Christ” view. By “Lordship” I mean making Christ not only the Savior but master and owner of one’s life in order to be saved. It becomes a sneaky way of adding works to grace.

It is an interesting fact that the phrase “make Jesus Lord of your life” is never found in the Bible. I have no quarrel with allowing the Lord Jesus Christ to be owner and master of all that I am and ever hope to be. It would be parallel to presenting my body to Him as a living sacrifice, which is a one-time forever presentation (Rom. 12:1-2). But this relationship can be achieved only by the Holy Spirit who comes into a believer’s life permanently the moment we believe (Jn. 14:16-20; Eph. 1:13-14).

We are told to “walk by means of the Spirit and we will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16-17). Walking is a beautiful picture of the Spirit’s control. There is a moment in a step when one does not know if the other leg will hold. It is as though one – at the middle of the step – is at a short moment, in the air, trusting that the other leg will hold. But step by step one learns to trust the other leg and thus our faith is vindicated. In like manner, moment by moment, we learn to trust in the Holy Spirit to give us the power to live the Christian life and keep us from sin and in fellowship with Christ, keeping the sin nature controlled. But there are the factors of time and of living in a sinful body in a fallen world.  Attempting to make Christ Lord of our lives 24/7, 365 is to severely underestimate the power of the Adamic sin nature within us and the danger of Satan’s mine fields. The words “If Christ is not Lord of all, He is not Lord at all” really confuse young Christians needing the Word and needing time in order to grow.  And requiring a person to make Jesus Lord of all in order to be saved creates a problem – the problem of adding works to grace.  Making Jesus Lord and Master of our lives in itself is not a bad thing. But there are times when a good thing can be a bad thing if it is misunderstood.

No believer would deny that Christ should become the master of every part of our lives, even our thoughts. This is the goal of earthly sanctification. But considering the power of the sin nature within every Christian, is this goal possible 24/7, 365?  This making Jesus Lord or ruler of our lives falls into the category of sanctification – the believer being set apart for God’s glory.  Sanctification is the distinct role of God the Holy Spirit. The exact moment that we trust in Christ as Savior, we are immersed into Christ and Christ comes into us (John 14:16-20). It is living our lives under the direction and control of the Holy Spirit step by step that produces the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22-26).  But even with the Holy Spirit living in us, we still cannot be filled – controlled by Him every minute of every day. We still sin! John says if we say we have no sin we make God a liar and the truth is not in us (1 Jn. 1:8).  

Let’s go back and visit this Greek word Lord (kurios) a moment. In Exodus 3, when God first introduced Himself to Moses at the bush that burned but was not consumed, He called Himself, YHWH. This is the Hebrew being verb, “I Am.” And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, I AM has sent me to you.’” The word YHWH was written in the original Hebrew language with all consonants, no vowels. Hence, it could not be pronounced. And the name became very holy to the Jews. Before writing God’s name as Adonai or Elohim, the scribes had to change pens. But when coming across YHWH, they had to prayerfully consider it then take a bath and put on clean clothes before writing it. It became the mysterious holy name for God. Notice God’s further words to Moses. “Moreover God said to Moses, ‘Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: ‘The LORD (YHWH) God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This [YHWH] is My name forever!  And this is My memorial to all generations.” Forever, YHWH, I AM, is to be God’s eternal name and His memorial to all generations. All generations are to know Him as YHWH, I AM, and He obviously meant all generations.  

Because God’s name could not be pronounced, a group of Jews called the Masoretes and seventy Jewish scholars translated the Old Testament scriptures into Greek (the Masroetic text and the Septuagint). The translation went well until they came to the word, YHWH. They could find no corresponding Greek word to reveal its meaning, not one. The closest they could come was the Greek word kurios, Lord.

In his letter to the Romans, Paul began chapter ten with these words. “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved” (Rom. 10:1). Paul was writing to Jews. Now look closely at Romans 10:9. “That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus [Jesus as Lord] and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Paul intended for the Jews to recognize the gospel. Jesus is YHWH; He is the great I AM. This is the first part of the gospel reflected by Paul’s words “that Christ died” in 1 Corinthians 15:3.

God had determined that the payment for sin is death, and only death. But God in grace determined to take in His body that death payment Himself. But God, as God, could not die because He is eternal life. He had to take on flesh. This He did in Bethlehem of Judea when He was born of the virgin Mary. She had come into contact with no man. No human seed had entered her womb. Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit (Lk. 1:35). This is called the incarnation. This tiny embryo was the Lord Jesus Christ. He was the God/man, undiminished deity and perfect humanity in one body. He lived 33 years and then as a perfect man He went to the cross as the Lamb of God where He died for sin. Then He rose again. This is the gospel. This is what Paul was asking the Jews to believe (1 Cor. 15:1-4). Believing that Jesus is God was hard for them. They believed Him to be a great teacher, a great prophet, and even a healer. But not YHWH.  “For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, ‘Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.’ For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved” (Rom. 10:9-13). What I am saying is that if the word confused a group of Jewish scholars, why shouldn’t it have the capacity to confuse us?

Do you not see how easy it would be to get making Jesus Lord (Master and Owner) of one’s life from this text as a requirement for salvation?  This would forever change Paul and Silas’ words to a terrified jailer who asked them how he could be saved. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved, and your house” (Acts 16:31). Believe is a transitive verb meaning it must have an object in order to stand. One could say the word “believe” and let it hang in the air. But it would beg several questions: believe what, believe where, believe whom, believe how, or believe when? The jailer had asked Paul and Silas a very straightforward simple question. Sir’s, what must I do to be saved?

My question is how did the jailer even know he needed salvation from sin? Did that thought just come to him out of the blue or did conviction come to him via the Holy Spirit. Paul said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.” To believe, the Greek word pisteo, means to place one’s faith in, to trust. The moment one hears the gospel and places personal faith in Christ, salvation comes. That is how we can have Him as Savior. Recall when Jesus left the world it saddened his disciples. But Jesus’ response was clear. “Nevertheless, I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper [the Spirit] will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me, of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged (Jn. 16:7-15).

There is little doubt that the Holy Spirit had convicted the jailer of his sin and need of a Savior. When the jailer asked what he must do to be saved, the prisoners recognized that God had already done His convicting work. They did not have to make it happen! Salvation comes from God downward not from man upward. God finds people, people do not find Him. The “and your house part” quickly followed. The jailer led Paul and Silas to his house where the gospel was explained, and the jailer’s entire family believed.

It is my belief today that both the Masoretes and the seventy Jewish scholars were wrong when they added vowels to the consonants YHWH. Why? Look at Moses words. “Now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the judgments which I teach you to observe, that you may live, and go in and possess the land which the LORD God of your fathers is giving you. You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.” (Deut. 4:1-2; Rev. 22:18-19). They may have added the vowel A from Adonai, God’s name for master or owner to get Yah! And maybe the vowel E from Elohim (Gods) to get Weh. Later it became known and used as Jehovah. I do not think that we know the real way to pronounce YHWH. I used both Yahweh and Jehovah in history and I used them in my books. But I think if I had the names to write over, I would stick only with YHWH, I Am.Why? God said that YHWH is His forever name and His memorial to all generations.

Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone. Is now and always will be.  All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags to Him.