Jesus our Saviour
One of the greatest things about being a Christian is that we have a Saviour. The Lord Jesus Christ came into the world to save his people from their sins. He lived a perfect life, fulfilling God’s laws, then died on the cross, bearing the punishment for all the things we have done wrong. In this way, his people are reconciled to God and saved from an eternity separated from him in hell. This is the central theme of the gospel, and it should fill us with joy. We were in a helpless situation and unable to save ourselves.
But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.Ephesians 2:4-10
It’s a wonderful thing to have a saviour – no doubt we are very thankful for it. We just need to be careful that we don’t take the Lord Jesus for granted. It’s one thing to love the fact that we have a saviour, but do we love the Saviour? Do you see the difference? It’s one thing to be glad about what we have been rescued from, but we also need our hearts to be full of love to the one who did the saving. He sacrificed everything to save his people from their sins. Do we appreciate this fully?
Keep this point in mind – we’ll come back to it in a bit.
Jesus our Lord
The Bible makes it clear that Jesus is not only our Saviour, he is also our Lord. Four times in his second epistle, Peter directly refers to Jesus as our ‘Lord and Saviour’ (for example 2 Peter 3:18). The other NT writers focus on this theme as well. In the passage from Ephesians above Paul hints at it – look again at verse 10, ‘we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works’.
A Lord is someone who rules over others. Of course, as Creator, the Lord Jesus is Lord of heaven and earth. All human beings are under his authority and bound by his laws. Those who are not Christians are living in open rebellion against him. Christians, on the other hand, have been changed and given a new nature that wants to serve God. They are happy for him to be their master. The result of this is that Christians cannot have Jesus as Saviour and not have him as Lord. The two go hand in hand.
It’s key to remember this, because our old human nature keeps trying to make us forget it. Whilst we love to have Jesus as our Saviour, because we are still sinful, we are much more reluctant to have him as our Lord. We still like to go our own way rather than God’s way. But, being a Christian not only means being forgiven; it also means being changed. Over time we are brought more and more into conformity with Christ and we should strive for this.
Sadly, in many churches these days there is lots of emphasis on Jesus as Saviour, but less emphasis on him as Lord. People want to be saved, but they don’t want to change. They want to have justification without sanctification, forgiveness without holiness, faith without repentance. This just doesn’t stack up.
Whilst Jesus fulfilled the law on our behalf, he didn’t make the law disappear. To say, “I’m saved, so I can do what I want” is a heresy called antinomianism. Paul refutes this clearly ‘Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?’ (Romans 6:1-2). James also refutes this clearly, ‘faith without works is dead’ (James 2:20).
Maybe we don’t consciously fall into an antinomian way of thinking, but do we really focus on Jesus as our Lord? Or is our holiness half-hearted and our Christian walk inconsistent? Do we still cling to favourite sins and worldly lifestyles? Do we have idols that need to be torn down? Are our affections set on heavenly things or earthly things? Do we put the crown on Jesus’ head?
Saviour and Lord
In one way or another, all of us fail when it comes to submitting to Jesus as Lord. We shouldn’t despair though because (coming full circle) Jesus is also our Saviour.
Earlier in the article, we saw that we need to guard against taking the Saviour for granted. Not only is this important in and of itself, but having a proper view of Jesus as Saviour can also help us to embrace him as Lord. Appreciate Jesus fully as Saviour, and our heart will be so full of love to him that we will willingly follow him as Lord. It is also an encouragement for when we mess up and go our own way because it reminds us that our salvation does not rely on us but on him.
As a final thought, when we do follow Jesus closely, we find that he is the best and kindest of masters and promises good things to us – ‘Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light’ (Matthew 11:28-30).
So, for Christians, Jesus is both Saviour and Lord – both aspects are important and both should be kept in mind at all times.