AFFIRMING BOTH LORDSHIP AND GRACE
Reflections on Matthew 7:13-27
Jesus is Lord. This is one of the primary confessions of Christians. The word can mean “master” or “boss” but also is a title used to refer to God, who is “Lord of all.” What do we learn about Jesus being Lord from the immediate context of Matthew 7:13-27 and the wider teachings of Scripture?
Immediate Context of Matthew 7:13-27
With Bible in hand, prepare to answer some straightforward questions about this passage. There are two paths (vv. 13-14). What are the characteristics of each one? How do you know if you are on the right path? There are two kinds of prophets, teachers, or Christian leaders (vv. 15-20). How do we discern the good from the bad? There are two kinds of “disciples” (vv. 21-23). What is the difference between the genuine and the false? There are two foundations of life based on hearing Jesus’ teachings (vv. 24-27). What do they share in common? What is the distinguishing factor that separates the two?
What the Whole Bible Teaches about Jesus’ Lordship
- We don’t make Jesus Lord. He IS Lord.
I have heard Christians say something like, “Jesus was only my savior but I made Him my Lord.” Let’s be clear. Jesus IS Lord regardless of how we respond to him. Revelation shows a picture of a victorious Jesus with these words written: King of kings, and Lord of lords (Rev. 19:16). One day every knee will bow and every tongue confess “that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father” (see Phil 2:9-11).
- Being a follower of Jesus means that we have surrendered to the Lordship of Christ.
In our American evangelical teachings, I have often heard people talk about Jesus being a savior in their life, but not Lord; or that they surrendered to Christ’s lordship sometime after their conversion. Now, I know that life is messy, and that when we come to Christ we have various seasons of greater or lesser spiritual growth, and that sometimes it takes years for the Lord to mature us in different areas of our lives. But still, we must be careful about our language. We don’t see this distinction in Scripture between Jesus being our Savior and Jesus being our Lord. Matthew 7:21-23 is a sobering reminder that there are those who have claimed to do ministry in Jesus’ name and call Him “Lord,” but to whom Jesus will say on the Day of Judgment: “I never knew you.”
- Salvation is 100% by God’s grace through faith in Jesus and not by our works.
This principle is clearly taught in Ephesians 2:8-9, and reaffirmed throughout the New Testament, perhaps most clearly in books like Galatians or Romans. We must distinguish between the need to exercise repentance and faith in Jesus (a surrendering to Christ’s lordship) and the reality that our acceptance before God is purely based on what Christ has done for us, and that we can add nothing to this merciful gift. We do not achieve salvation because we have successfully obeyed Christ and fully surrendered to His lordship. We simply surrender to Him in our sin and imperfection and receive His glorious and free gift of salvation!
- We obey because we are already accepted. We do not obey in order to be accepted.
Getting this order right changes everything because it gets to the heart of motivation and what we trust in for salvation. As the old hymn says: “My hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name. On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand, all other ground is sinking sand.”