Do I Have to Make Jesus the “Lord” of My Life? A Look at the Lordship of Jesus Christ


When I became a Christian in 1994, I knew practically nothing about the Bible or theology in general. And no, I had not read much in the apologetics arena. That all changed shortly after my conversion.  As of now, I am in full time mission work ( I make my living doing it), and have talked to many, many, people about the Gospel and spiritual issues. This has caused me to reflect on what the Gospel really is and how we present it to a needy world around us. The one thing I have noticed over the years is that there are many people who have prayed a prayer to accept Jesus into their heart or maybe they have been baptized. When I ask these people if they are in the process of becoming a disciple ( i.e. a pupil, or student, follower of Jesus), I would say about 75% of the people don’t have any idea  as to what I am talking about. And many of them are not really attending any local congregation and not even pursuing a relationship with God.

Now I am not the judge of anybody’s spiritual condition and while Jesus said we will know people by their fruit, he never commanded us to go and be fruit inspectors.

Anyway, after I did  see my sin in light of God’s holiness and came to faith in Jesus I started to read the Four Gospels. It was during my reading of the Gospels that I came upon something that frightened me. It is called “Lordship.” The more I read about the interactions between Jesus and a variety of people, I was confronted with the fact that he always asked them to count the cost of following him. If anything, he was clear that if you weren’t serious about being His disciple, you might as well not waste your time. This was very convicting. I had just come to faith in Jesus and knew it was true. But now I had to deal with the consequences of trying to live this new faith out for the years to come.

The Word “Lord”

The word “Lord “ as assigned to Jesus during the course of his ministry is used 522 times before and after his ascension. Also, one of the most common Christological title that Luke uses in the book of Acts in regards to Jesus is “Lord.” In Acts 1:24, the disciples address Jesus as “Lord” and acknowledge that he knows the hearts of all people. Hence, the willingness to do this place Jesus in a role attributed to God in Jewish expectation.” For a Jewish person, when the title “Lord” (Heb. Adonai) was used in place of the divine name YHWH, this was the highest designation a Jewish person could use for deity.

As Baker”s Evangelical Dictionary of Theology notes:

“While kyrios was common as a polite, even honorific title for “sir” or “master, “calling Jesus “Lord” to imply divine associations or identity was by no means a convention readily adopted from the Roman world. In Jesus’ more Eastern but militantly monotheistic Jewish milieu, where the title’s application to humans to connote divinity was not only absent but anathema, the title is an eloquent tribute to the astonishing impression he made. It also points to the prerogatives he holds. Since Jesus is Lord, he shares with the Father qualities like deity ( Rom 9:5 ), preexistence ( John 8:58 ), holiness ( Heb 4:15 ), and compassion ( 1 John 4:9 ), to name just a few. He is co-creator ( Col 1:16 ) and co-regent, presiding in power at the Father’s right hand ( Acts 2:33 ; Eph 1:20 ; Heb 1:3 ), where he intercedes for God’s people ( Rom 8:34 ) and from whence, as the Creed states, he will return to judge the living and dead ( 2 Thess 1:7-8 ).” [1]

Can someone accept Jesus as Savior but not Lord?

This is a hot topic. But after a careful reading of the New Testament, the first issue is to distinguish between our justification and sanctification.  Do we tell someone that they can’t place their trust in the object of their faith (Jesus) and not mention the Lordship issue? I think most people may confess Jesus as Lord when then come to faith. However, they don’t understand the full implications of doing this. In other words, I would tell someone that as we start the sanctification process, Jesus begins to impose His Lordship on us.  To make Jesus as Lord of one’s life is a lifelong process. It is a call to daily surrender. We are called to yield our time, bodies, goals and gifts to His Lordship. Is it easy? No, not at all. I struggle with this quite a bit. But we do have a Helper to give us the grace to do it (hint: study the ministry of the Holy Spirit). So in other words, we say ‘”Lord Jesus, have your way with me. I am relying on the work of the Holy Spirit to yield myself to you on a daily basis.”

Being a “Doulos”

This leads me to bring up the issue of slavery in the New Testament:  The epistolary literature focuses on the figurative usage of slave. These books frequently use the primary term for slave, doulos  as a metaphor of being a servant to God ( Rom 1:1 ; Php 1:1 ; 2 Tim 2:24 ; Titus 1:1 ; James 1:1 ; 1 Peter 2:16 ; 2 Peter 1:1), to fellow believers ( 2 Cor 4:5), and even to sin ( Rom 6:20 ). This is a most striking metaphor because a Greek person linked personal dignity and freedom together. Freedom was power and something about which to be proud. The use of doulos  to image relationship to God and fellow believers sent a message of commitment and abandonment of autonomy ( 1 Cor 7:22 ; Eph 6:6 ; Col 4:2 ). [2]

To become a slave of Christ was a tough sell in the first century. In other words, who would make up such a thing? Furthermore, it is tough thing to swallow today. Also, in a culture that demands personal autonomy and personal rights, it is only going to get harder.  Perhaps this is why Jesus said  “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”- Matthew 7: 13-14.


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