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Christ Lordship

In my last blog, we observed just how emphatic are the Hebrew Scriptures on the exclusive singular existence of one-and-only-one God. We now move to examination of New Testament teaching concerning the Lordship of Christ and find it no less emphatic in affirming the singular uniqueness of Jesus’ Lordship (that is, “Godship,” really). Brief analysis of just a couple of key passages will suffice.

1 John 4:1-3 serves as a nice prototypical sample:

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; and this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.

A couple of specific aspects of this passage make it particularly informative for our purposes:

  1. It is a divinely-inspired passage that lays out what sort of “diagnostic test” to use to sort truth from error in a “comparative religion” sort of context.
  2. The diagnostic test is one that acknowledges the existence of, and assists in discerning what is true in, the metaphysical (invisible, “spiritual) world — i.e., in the very area of “truth-discernment” in which human empirical assessors are most inadequate.
  3. The assumptions that form the framing of this passage are likewise significant; notice that the framing here does not assume a quest of truth-seekers well-meaningly (even if naïvely) groping for the best expressions of religious, theological, philosophical, or metaphysical truth they can approximate with the limited epistemological means at their disposal. No, on the contrary, the framing here assumes a deliberate counterfeit operation is underway in the spiritual realm, and that human beings had best be wary of divine truth claims, with significant consequences to be borne by those who err or otherwise presume to speak in theological areas on which they are misinformed.

The “diagnostic test” of 1 John 4:1-3 seems to stand in the train of “tests of a prophet” first traced out by Deuteronomy 13 and 18 — prophets raised up by God can be discerned with tests of a supernatural order (and, if they pass the tests, should be heeded as one would heed a word from the mouth of God Himself). Likewise, John in this passage seems to frame out in similar fashion that confession of the Lordship of Christ is something supernaturally prompted; one whose message affirms Jesus’ Lordship is one speaking by the Spirit of God. As in Deuteronomy 13 and 18, the consistency of the message with earlier revelation is likewise noted as a confirmatory quality.

If there were any doubt about what we are inferring from 1 John 4:1-3, the parallel statement of Paul in 1 Corinthians 12:3 makes the point crystal clear: “Therefore I make known to you, that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, ‘Jesus is accursed’; and no one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit.” If anything, then, Paul’s assertion of the Lordship of Christ — and confession of the Lordship of Christ being a pivotal indicator of whether or not a person expositing principles of a metaphysical, theological, or religious nature is being prompted by the Spirit of God or not — is even more unequivocal.

These assertions of John and Paul taken together yield some telling points insofar as what is the nature of truth and falsehood that should not be missed; among them:

  1. These assertions of John and Paul taken together yield some telling points insofar as what is the nature of truth and falsehood that should not be missed; among them:
  2. Not only is the Lordship of Christ discernible as a truth principle, affirmation of this truth is crucial, so much so as to form a litmus test of credibility for anyone who would serve as religious spokesperson, teacher, or prophet.
  3. Truth has an antithetical quality — that is, truth statements (in this case, about the Lordship of Christ) assert a point positively that must be affirmed over against rival points of different perspective that are false. (So, it seems the Van Tilians have a point here, eh?)
  4. Adding the Old Testament survey with which we started to these pointed statements of John and Paul, we could list one more:

  5. The biblical portrayal does not imagine the world as consisting of a vast mural of truthful perspectives in which the truth of Yahweh or the Lordship of Christ adds a slight hue of additional nuance; rather, on the contrary, the biblical picture in these passages at least suggests a world consisting of a sea of falsehoods and rival swill, against which the small-but-sturdy vessel of truth rows to the sure arms of the one-and-only Lord Creator God.

About the Author

Todd Mangum

Dr. R. Todd Mangum

Todd Mangum is the Academic Dean and Professor of Theology at Biblical. He is ordained by the Southern Baptist Convention. Todd is the author of The Dispensational-Covenantal Rift, and co-author (with Dr. Paul Pettit of the Howard Hendricks Leadership Center in Dallas, TX) of the just-released book, Blessed are the Balanced: Following Jesus into the Academy (Kregel), and of several articles seeking to bridge divides among Bible-believing Christians. He is married to Linda and they have three sons.

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