Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Our God Reigns!

Did you know that these words are really a part of a proclamation of salvation?  Does that mean I have to recognize that God is Lord before I can receive Him as Savior?  On the other hand, how can I receive Him as Savior without recognizing Him as Lord?  A. W. Tozer answers, "Nowhere are we led to believe that we can use Jesus as a Savior and not own Him as our Lord.  He is the Lord and as the Lord He saves us."  Several weeks ago, I learned that fact again when I heard my pastor say, "When you meet the Savior, He stands before you as Lord."  When you search the Scriptures, you find the same thing.  You see, these titles are more than theological labels.  They are descriptions of who He is!  He is Lord, as we have already seen.  But also, He is Savior!  From the beginning, it is the Lord who redeems and delivers and saves.  And He redeems because He reigns supreme.

In the Garden of Eden, Satan started with Eve, telling her that if she ate the fruit of the forbidden tree, she would be just like God; and as a result, she and Adam would be lords of their own lives.  Why let God run your life when you can run it yourself with the same wisdom and knowledge that He has?  Eve bought the pitch.  So did Adam.  He was right there with her.  He heard the temptation.  All of it.  And he evidently believed it, too.  With one bite, the appointed lord of God's creation abdicated.  But the real Lord of creation didn't abdicate.  Instead, He came searching for Adam and Eve.  When He found them, the Lord made coats of skin to cover the nakedness of their sin, clothing them with His special robes.  The Lord also provided the promise of a future deliverer who with royal power would destroy the enemy serpent.  The Creator became the Redeemer without relinquishing His lordship.

In the Old Testament, Isaiah is the prophet of salvation.  More than once, the eloquent prophet identifies the Lord of Israel as their Savior.  Quoting the Lord Himself, Isaiah declares, "Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! ...for I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior...." (Isaiah 43.1-3).  "I even I, am the Lord; and there is no savior besides me" (Isaiah 43.11).  In another place, He said, "Then you will know that I, the Lord, am your Savior, and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob" (Isaiah 60.16; cp. 49.26).  He is Lord and Savior.

In the New Testament, the message is the same.  Hear the praise of Mary: "My soul exalts the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior" (Luke 1.47).  The first proclamation of the gospel by Jesus Himself was "the Kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe the gospel" (Mark 1.14)  George Ladd defines the kingdom of God as "the authority to rule, the sovereignty of the king."  In other words, in the Word of God, a kingdom is primarily the act of reigning rather than a geographical realm over which the king reigns.  Ladd also indicates that  the phrases "the Kingdom of God" and "the Kingdom of Heaven" are interchangeable with each other, as well as interchangeable with eternal life. This simply means that to receive eternal life is to receive the Kingdom of God at the same time, or rather to receive eternal life is to receive the reign of God in your life at the same time.  To believe the gospel, to receive Jesus as Savior is to recognize Him also as Lord.  "The Lord will not save those," says Tozer,  "whom He cannot command....He would not be who He is if He saved us and called us and chose us without the understanding that He can also guide and control our lives."  He is Lord and Savior.

As previously noted, the words "Our God Reigns" are an essential part of a proclamation of salvation.  Isaiah, again quoting the Lord, declares, "How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who announces peace and brings good news of happiness, who announces salvation, and says to Zion, 'Your God reigns.'" (Isaiah 52.7)  In Romans 10, the Apostle Paul discusses salvation in detail, quoting this passage as part of his Biblical support (verse 15).  He says, "if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved; for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation" (Romans 10.9-10).  The confession that results in salvation is Jesus is Lord!  In verse 13, he adds, "whoever will call upon the name of the Lord, will be saved."

Finally, the words Lord and Savior appear together only four times in the Bible, all of them in 2 Peter (1.11; 2.20; 3.2; 3.18); but in all four places, they appear in that order: Lord and Savior.  He was Lord before He was Savior.  When He became Savior, He did not cease to be Lord.  Our great joy comes not only in recognizing Him as Lord and Savior, but in declaring to the world and to each other in song, "Our God Reigns!"

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