24. No Savior-hood Without Lordship
We must never underestimate the ability of human kings to get themselves tangled up. Mankind appears to have a positive genius for twisting truth until it ceases to be truth and becomes downright falsehood. By overemphasizing in one place and underemphasizing in another the whole pattern of truth may be so altered that a completely false view results without our being aware of it.
This fact was brought forcibly to mind recently by hearing again the discredited doctrine of a divided Christ so widely current a few years ago and still accepted in many religious circles. It goes like this:
Christ is both Savior and Lord. A sinner may be saved by accepting Him as Savior without yielding to Him as Lord. The practical outworking of this doctrine is that the evangelist presents and the seeker accepts a divided Christ. We have all heard the tearful plea made to persons already saved to accept Christ as lord and thus enter into the victorious life.
Almost all deeper life teaching is based upon this fallacy, but because it contains a germ of truth its soundness is not questioned. Anyway, it is extremely simple and quite popular, and in addition to these selling points it is also ready- made for both speaker and hearer and requires no thinking by either. So sermons embodying this heresy are freely preached, books are written and songs composed, all saying the same thing; and all saying the wrong thing, except as I have said, for a feeble germ of truth lying inert at the bottom.
Now, it seems odd that none of these teachers ever noticed that the only true object of saving faith is none other than Christ Himself; not the "savior--hood" of Christ nor the "lordship" of Christ but Christ Himself. God does not offer salvation to the one who will believe on one of the offices of Christ, nor is an office of Christ ever presented as an object of faith. Neither are we exhorted to believe on the atonement, nor on the cross, nor on the priesthood of the Savior. All of these are embodied in the person of Christ, but they are never separated nor is one ever isolated from the rest. Much less are we permitted to accept one of Christ's offices and reject another. The notion that we are so permitted is a modern day heresy, I repeat, and like every heresy it has had evil consequences among Christians. No heresy is ever entertained with impunity. We pay in practical failure for our theoretical errors.
It is altogether doubtful whether any man can be saved who comes to Christ for His help but with no intention to obey Him. Christ's savior-hood is forever united to His lordship. Look at the Scriptures:
"If you shall confess with your mouth the lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you shall be saved . . . for the same Lord over all is rich to all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Born. 10:9-13). There the Lord is the object of faith for salvation. And when the Philippian jailer asked the way to be saved, Paul replied, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved" (Acts 16:31). He did not tell him to believe on the Savior with the thought that he could later take up the matter of His lordship and settle it at his own convenience. To Paul there could be no division of offices. Christ must be Lord or He will not be Savior.
There is no intention here to teach that the earnest believer may not go on to explore ever- increasing meanings in Christ nor do we hold that our first saving contact with Christ brings perfect knowledge of all He is to us. The contrary is true. Ages upon ages will hardly be long enough to allow us to experience all the riches of His grace. As we discover new meanings in His titles and make them ours we will grow in the knowledge of our Lord and in personal appreciation of the multifold offices He fills and the many forms of love He wears exalted on His throne. That is the truth which has been twisted out of shape and reduced to impotence by the doctrine that we can believe on His savior- hood while rejecting His lordship.
From The Root of the Righteous by A. W. Tozer. Lightly updated to the language of the 21st century by D. N. Pham. (c) 2012.
Insights of the past for the present
Root of the Righteous - A.W. Tozer
ON THE BOOK SHELF
May your insights be worthy.