Lordship in the Assembly
Colin Lacey, Bath, England [SEE PROFILE BELOW]
Mark’s Gospel could justifiably be referred to as ‘The Gospel of the unrecognized Lordship of Christ’. In this Gospel He is referred to as Lord on only eighteen occasions. Indeed, His disciples never call Him Lord, except when they are instructed so to do, Mark 11. 3. This is perhaps not surprising since Mark portrays Christ as the perfect Servant, 10. 43-45, and, naturally speaking, a servant cannot also be regarded as Lord. It was the most unlikely of people, therefore, who recognized His Lordship, e.g., a Syrophenician woman, 7. 28, a father of a boy with a dumb spirit, 9. 24, and the owner of an unbroken colt, 11. 3. Indeed, neither the colt nor its owner had any rights in the presence of Christ; therefore, their one desire was to be subject to, and of service to, Him.
Lord in every aspect of His life
Sadly, Christ is so often the unrecognized Lord of our individual and assembly lives. However, whether we recognize it or not, He is still Lord! Even a cursory glance at the New Testament will impress upon us that He was Lord in every aspect of His life. First, the angels declared at His birth, ‘For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord’, Luke 2. 11. Second, during His public ministry He said to His disciples in the upper room, ‘Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am’, John 13. 13. Third, speaking of His death, Paul writes, ‘But we speak the wisdom of God . . . which none of the princes of the world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory’, 1 Cor. 2. 7-8. Fourth, the New Testament teems with references that firmly link His resurrection with His Lordship. Luke records, ‘And they entered in and found not the body of the Lord Jesus’, 24. 3. The angel at the tomb said, ‘He is not here: for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay’, Matt. 28. 6. Paul wrote, ‘For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living’, Rom. 14. 9. This is not to imply that He was not Lord prior to His resurrection, but the full significance of His Lordship rests upon His resurrection.
Lord in the future
If the scriptures attest to Christ’s Lordship when He was here on earth, we would expect them to do the same as we look forward to coming events. They do not disappoint us! Paul, writing of His coming again for believers, says, ‘For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout’, 1 Thess. 4. 16. It ought to be a joy to our hearts to know that the world that rejected Him and cast Him out will one day confess that ‘Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father’, Phil. 2. 11.
Lord in every aspect of our lives
In the light of these things, we ought to join Peter and declare triumphantly in this godless world, ‘Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all)’, Acts 10. 36. These are not simply doctrinal truths to give mental assent to, but they must be lived out in our individual and collective lives. Indeed, every aspect of our Christian life is linked to the Lordship of Christ in the New Testament. It begins at our conversion: ‘The word of faith, which we preach; that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus [lit. Jesus as Lord], and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved’, Rom. 10. 8, 9. A local assembly, of course, consists of such people. It is also important to note that the New Testament does not envisage unbaptized believers; therefore, it is no surprise to discover that the believers at Ephesus were ‘baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus’, Acts 19. 5. These are, of course, fundamental requirements for fellowship in a local assembly and elders need to take care today that they are upheld.
We must ensure that our preaching is sound if we wish to see sinners saved and acknowledging the Lordship of Christ by being obedient in the waters of baptism. A study of the Acts of the Apostles will clearly indicate that the Lordship of Christ was a central theme of the early believers’ preaching; indeed, the word ‘Lord’ appears on 110 occasions in the book. Believers went to Antioch and preached ‘the Lord Jesus’, Acts 11. 20. The result was that the Lord’s hand was with them, a great number believed and turned to the Lord. Later on, Barnabas continued the good work in this area and exhorted the converts to cleave to (continue with) the Lord and many people were added unto the Lord. Similarly, the assembly at Phillipi was built up on the sound basis of the recognition of Jesus as Lord, 16. 12-40. The Lord called Paul to preach the gospel there, v. 10. It is recorded of Lydia that the Lord opened her heart and she was faithful to the Lord, vv. 14-15. The keeper of the prison heard the message, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved’, v. 31. It was little wonder therefore that after he believed, he was baptized and rejoiced. It is interesting to note that, when Paul later wrote to the assembly of believers in Philippi, he used the title Lord on fifteen occasions. When speaking to the elders from Ephesus, he testified ‘both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ’, 20. 21.
Lordship in our worship
Paul firmly roots our worship and remembrance of Christ in His Lordship. When dealing with the subject of the institution and observance of the Lord’s Supper, he used the title, ‘Lord’, on eight occasions, 1 Cor. 11. 20-34. Indeed, as he was not present when it was instituted, he acknowledges that he received his information about the Supper from the Lord, v. 23. He reminded the Corinthian believers that each time they came together to eat the bread and drink of the cup, they proclaimed the Lord’s death, v. 26. The Supper does not belong to any special group of people – it is the Lord’s. It is the glory of His presence that enriches these occasions when we meet together to remember Him. He is, indeed, the Host and we are the guests.
Lord Jesus Christ we seek Thy face,
Within the veil we bow the knee;
O let Thy glory fill the place,
And bless us while we wait on Thee.
Lordship in service
Paul turns the spotlight on service, when he writes to the believers in the assembly at Colossae: ‘And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ’, Col. 3. 23-24. When we are called to service for the Lord, there is no room for ‘Lord suffer me first’, or ‘Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go’, Luke 9. 59, 61. The words of Mary at the wedding in Cana of Galilee are apposite, ‘Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it’, John 2. 5, as are the words of Saul of Tarsus on the Damascus road, ‘Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?’ Acts 9. 6. We must learn that, as believers, we have no will of our own – we have been ‘bought with a price’, 1 Cor. 7. 23.
Lordship in daily living
It has been rightly said that we will never rise in public above what we are in private. How we live our daily lives will determine the spiritual calibre of our various assemblies. In the planning of what we intend to do each day, ‘If the Lord will’ ought to be the precursor, not the suffix, to all our plans, Jas. 4. 15. If we are subject to the Lordship of Christ in every aspect of our daily living, we will bring this same spirit into the times when we meet together in our various assemblies.
In conclusion, recognizing the Lordship of Christ calls for unquestioning obedience and whole-hearted service on the part of all those in fellowship in a local assembly. May our response be like that of Saul of Tarsus, ‘Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?’ Acts 9. 6.
There are two main words employed for Lord in the New Testament:
- despotes – the Lord who possesses supreme authority – it is used in relation to God but only on three occasions in relation to Christ, 2 Pet. 2. 1; Jude 4; 2 Tim. 2. 21;
- kurios – to have power or authority – it is used in every New Testament book, except for Titus and the Epistles of John. It was a common form of address to the Lord Jesus. It was drawn from the Septuagint, i.e., the Greek translation of the Old Testament. It is the New Testament word for the Hebrew word, Jehovah. Indeed, many of the New Testament writers used the word kurios alike of God and the Lord Jesus.
AUTHOR PROFILE: Colin Lacey is a retired secondary school headteacher. He travels extensively throughout the UK teaching the word of God. He has contributed to several Day by Day publications and has also written the commentaries on Judges, Nehemiah and 1 & 2 Kings for the What the Bible Teaches series published by John Ritchie Ltd.