This Week's Focus Passage

God Made Him Lord and Christ

Focus Passage: 1 Corinthians 5:1

‘It is actually reported that there is fornication among you.’

It strikes one as somewhat surprising that within just the space of two chapters in this epistle of Paul to the church at Corinth, an apparent anomaly is present. There exists a passage in the earlier portion of the third chapter which has been historically prominent in the teaching of some in the Church of Jesus Christ, that Scripture teaches such a thing as the ‘Carnal Christian’ theory while only two chapters later, at the very beginning of chapter five, one of these presumed ‘carnal Christians’ is being delivered unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh because of the wickedness of incest, ‘one of you hath his father’s wife,’ Paul declares that such has come to his attention. In fact, he says clearly that ‘it is actually reported.’ How can it be reconciled that there are such things as carnal Christians, those of whom the aforementioned teaching would insist are true Christians because somewhere in time they accepted Jesus Christ as their own personal Savior and who will ultimately be saved on the basis of that singular profession of faith, regardless of their manner of life—how can it be reconciled, I say—with this startling exhortation of the apostle Paul to deliver the incestuous man unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh?

If Paul was teaching, in chapter three, the ‘Carnal Christian Theory,’ why would he not have advised his readers to bear patiently with this man who, at least, has embraced Christ as Savior, and may sometime, even embrace Him as Lord. The Carnal Christian Theory was a teaching that predates the more recent conflict in the churches that has become known as the ‘Lordship controversy.’ Essentially, they are each teaching a two-stage experience of salvation. One prominent exponent of the anti-Lordship faction has not only insisted that one may be saved through the acceptation of Jesus as their Savior without ever ‘accepting’ Him as Lord, but even more startling, he asserts in defense of the ‘once saved, always saved’ version of eternal security, that if ever one has ‘accepted Jesus as Savior’ even if they cease to believe the gospel, they will never be lost. Millions that have come down aisles; multitudes that have raised their hands at ‘revival’ meetings; vast numbers that have ‘said the sinner’s prayer’ at Vacation Bible School, or any number of other methods that have been propounded by the innovation of man to make disciples—even if they are disciples after the pattern of Simon Magus—these have been deceived into a presumption which is based, not upon faith in the blood of Jesus Christ, but rather upon some action that they have been induced to take. Sadly, the vast majority of these poor folk, are deceived into thinking that they can have Christ as Savior without ever having recognized Him as the Lord of their lives. They thus continue being the lord of their lives themselves. They consider themselves to be saved from the wrath of God and the punishment due unto them forever in hell, yet they may freely continue living as they please. These are denominated by the teachers in many of the churches that have bought into this theory to be ‘carnal Christians.’

In either of these cases; whether it be the Carnal Christian theory, or the Lordship controversy, there remains for the individual an act which they must perform in order to advance to the second stage, as it were, or to receive the ‘second blessing’ of being truly spiritual Christians. In the one case, it was set forth in a popular form of ‘four spiritual laws.’ In this pamphlet, or tract, the individual supposedly had ‘allowed’ Christ into their lives after He had knocked at the door for some time, but still He was only in the outer circle of their lives; He was not on the throne of their hearts; they were still sitting upon that throne. It was therefore needful that they put Christ upon that throne to rule their lives. It is almost as though salvation were considered to be a democratic process by which the King is voted upon; in fact, often the question is put to these deluded folk, ‘who are you going to make lord of your life?’ These poor souls stand in need of learning that Jesus Christ is Lord indeed, and no man makes Him to be Lord.

This truth is explicit in the Scriptures; so explicit that it is most difficult to understand any one missing it. In Peter’s first sermon on the day of Pentecost, we hear this indisputably pronounced into the ears of his auditory. After Peter had spoken of the sovereign act of God involved in the Cross, when he spoke most clearly of Christ in Acts 2:23, him, being delivered up by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye by the hand of lawless men did crucify and slay, whom God raised up, declares in the 36th verse, Let all the house of Israel therefore know assuredly, that God hath made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom ye crucified. God made Him Lord and Christ! He declared Him, the Messiah, to be Lord! Man does not make Him Lord; God has made Him Lord; it is the prerogative of God, and God alone to do so!

It is impossible to see how anyone could avoid this reality. It is, however, not so difficult to understand that which lay behind the teaching that Jesus is not Lord until a man makes Him to be Lord. This is a continuum of the heart of man that desires to be his own ruler. William Ernest Henley expressed well this attitude:

It matters not how strait the gate

How charged with punishments the scroll.

I am the captain of my fate,

I am the captain of my soul.

The very thought of such usurpation should strike ghastly fear into the heart of any that suppose such blasphemy to bear any resemblance to Truth. Interestingly, Peter is the only apostle that has used the expressive title, Lord and Savior. He does so in his 2nd epistle, and he has done so no less than 4 times. May professing Christians in all places come to know that they cannot separate what God has joined together.

David Farmer, elder

Fellowship Bible Church

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