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Our Saviour King ::

How does confessing Jesus as Lord save us? JOHN CHAPMAN investigates the saving role of Israel’s kings…
Source: Perspective Vo10 No1 © Perspective 2002

1.0 Gospel Clarity

As gospel preachers, we proclaim Jesus as saviour. And rightly so. But maybe you’re surprised when you read the words of Romans 10:9-10:-

9 That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord”, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.

Questions we need to ask ourselves from this passage include ...

(a) How does confessing Jesus Christ as Lord save us? (v 9)

(b) How does believing this justify us? (v 10)

(c) What, if anything, does this have to do with the atonement?

In the earlier chapters of Romans it is argued that ‘justification’ is by the redemption that comes through Jesus Christ. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement through faith in his blood (Rm. 3: 24-25). In chapter 4 the content of saving faith is described as … ‘who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life because of our justification’ (4: 24-24). In chapter 5 we are told that ‘God demonstrated his love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have been justified by his blood.’ (5: 8-9)

Because of the statements in Romans 10:9-10, the question I ask is this: have we understood the term ‘Jesus Christ as Lord’ in a narrow way that the Bible writers didn’t? I want to argue that the kingly rule of God (and his Messiah) embraces the idea of being saviour as well as ruler and judge. So to confess Jesus as Lord means that I will submit to his rule in obedience and trust that he will save me on the day of judgment. (1 Thess 1: 9-10)

2.0 The Salvation-Kingship Link

Kingship is linked with saving in the Bible. One example of this is Exodus 15:3 which says “The Lord is a warrior; the Lord is his name”. God is a warrior who defeats Israel’s enemies and thus brings salvation to them.

2.1 God … The King

– God will reign forever and ever as their king (Ex 15:18)

2.2 The People’s King

When Israel asks for a king like the nations round about them that want someone who will “ fight their battles” for them. (1 Sam 8:19). In rejecting God’s kingship, they reject the one who saves them. Will the “new king” they ask for be able to do the same?

“But you have now rejected your God, who saves you out of all your calamities and distresses. And you have said, ‘No, set a king over us.’ So now present yourselves before the Lord by your tribes and clans.” (1 Sam 10: 17-19)

2.3 Rejection Of The True King

In spite of the fact that the Lord has saved, Israel has rejected God as their king. Saul is anointed king but it is not until he brings salvation (rescues) to Jabesh Gilead that he is acknowledged as king. (1 Sam 11). Saul is rejected as king and so is powerless to rescue Israel from the giant Goliath (1 Sam. 15). David is anointed as king in his place (1 Sam. 16) and immediately brings salvation to Israel by slaying Goliath (1 Sam 17). Note how David describes his shepherding of his flock in 1 Samuel 17:

34 But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, 35 I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. 36 Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. 37 The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you.”

2.4 God … Israel’s True King

Clearly, in David’s eyes the shepherd role does not just bring to mind a passive pastoral scene. The shepherd is actively involved in guarding his sheep from danger. God is the shepherd of Israel and this carries the same idea of saving them and leading them (Psalm 23)

2.5 The Saviour King In The Psalms

The Psalms abound in the idea of King and saviour. Who does the warrior God fight against? See Psalm 6 and 9.

Psalm 21

1 O Lord , the king rejoices in your strength. How great is his joy in the victories you give! 5 Through the victories you gave, his glory is great; you have bestowed on him splendour and majesty 7 For the king trusts in the Lord ; through the unfailing love of the Most High he will not be shaken. 8 Your hand will lay hold on all your enemies; your right hand will seize your foes. 9 At the time of your appearing you will make them like a fiery furnace. In his wrath the Lord will swallow them up, and his fire will consume them. 10 You will destroy their descendants from the earth, their posterity from mankind. 11 Though they plot evil against you and devise wicked schemes, they cannot succeed; 12 for you will make them turn their backs when you aim at them with drawn bow. 13 Be exalted, O Lord , in your strength; we will sing and praise your might.

Psalm 24

7 Lift up your heads, O you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. 8 Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. 9 Lift up your heads, O you gates; lift them up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. 10 Who is he, this King of glory? The Lord Almighty- he is the King of glory

Against whom does the Lord fight? And on whose behalf?

Psalm 44

4 You are my King and my God, who decrees victories for Jacob.
5 Through you we push back our enemies; through your name we trample our foes. 6 I do not trust in my bow, my sword does not bring me victory; 7 but you give us victory over our enemies, you put our adversaries to shame.

Psalm 47

1 Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy. 2 How awesome is the Lord Most High, the great King over all the earth! 3 He subdued nations under us, peoples under our feet. 4 He chose our inheritance for us, the pride of Jacob, whom he loved.

Psalm 66

3 Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds! So great is your power that your enemies cringe before you. 4 All the earth bows down to you; they sing praise to you, they sing praise to your name.” Selah 5 Come and see what God has done, how awesome his works in man’s behalf! 6 He turned the sea into dry land, they passed through the waters on foot- come, let us rejoice in him. 7 He rules forever by his power, his eyes watch the nations- let not the rebellious rise up against him. Selah

Psalm 72

1 Endow the king with your justice, O God, the royal son with your righteousness. 4 He will defend the afflicted among the people and save the children of the needy; he will crush the oppressor … 12 For he will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help. 13 He will take pity on the weak and the needy and save the needy from death. 14 He will rescue them from oppression and violence, for precious is their blood in his sight

Psalm 76

1 In Judah God is known; his name is great in Israel. 2 His tent is in Salem, his dwelling place in Zion. 3 There he broke the flashing arrows, the shields and the swords, the weapons of war. Selah 4 You are resplendent with light, more majestic than mountains rich with game. 5 Valiant men lie plundered, they sleep their last sleep; not one of the warriors can lift his hands. 6 At your rebuke, O God of Jacob, both horse and chariot lie still. 7 You alone are to be feared. Who can stand before you when you are angry? 8 From heaven you pronounced judgment, and the land feared and was quiet- 9 when you, O God, rose up to judge, to save all the afflicted of the land. Selah 10 Surely your wrath against men brings you praise, and the survivors of your wrath are restrained.

Psalm 102

8 All day long my enemies taunt me; those who rail against me use my name as a curse. 9 For I eat ashes as my food and mingle my drink with tears 10 because of your great wrath, for you have taken me up and thrown me aside. 11 My days are like the evening shadow; I wither away like grass. 12 But you, O Lord , sit enthroned forever; your renown endures through all generations. 13 You will arise and have compassion on Zion, for it is time to show favour to her; the appointed time has come. 14 For her stones are dear to your servants; her very dust moves them to pity. 15 The nations will fear the name of the Lord , all the kings of the earth will revere your glory. 16 For the Lord will rebuild Zion and appear in his glory. 17 He will respond to the prayer of the destitute; he will not despise their plea.

Psalm 19

19 The Lord looked down from his sanctuary on high, from heaven he viewed the earth, 20 to hear the groans of the prisoners and release those condemned to death.” 21 So the name of the Lord will be declared in Zion and his praise in Jerusalem.

Psalm 132

17 Here I will make a horn grow for David and set up a lamp for my anointed one. 18 I will clothe his enemies with shame, but the crown on his head will be resplendent.

Psalm 145

1 Praise the Lord . Praise the name of the Lord ; praise him, you servants of the Lord , 2 you who minister in the house of the Lord , in the courts of the house of our God.

Psalm 146

7 He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets prisoners free, 8 the Lord gives sight to the blind, the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down, the Lord loves the righteous. 9 The Lord watches over the alien and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked. 10 The Lord reigns forever, your God, O Zion, for all generations.

4.0 The ‘Spirit Empowered King’

Isaiah 11 introduces us to the ‘Spirit empowered king’ who judges rightly and who brings in the new creation. Isaiah 12 is a response to this and is a song of praise for salvation. Is the Servant of 42: 1-4 the same person as Isaiah 11? I am sure that they are. Then he (the King) is the saviour of 52-53. Notice in 44:6 Israel’s king is her redeemer:

6 This is what the Lord says-
Israel’s King and Redeemer, the Lord Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God.

This idea is supported elsewhere in the Old Testament:

Jeremiah 23

6 This is what the Lord says-Israel’s King and Redeemer, the Lord Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God.

Micah 5

4 He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord , in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth. 5 And he will be their peace.

Zechariah 14

9 The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord , and his name the only name. 10 The whole land, from Geba to Rimmon, south of Jerusalem, will become like the Arabah. But Jerusalem will be raised up and remain in its place, from the Benjamin Gate to the site of the First Gate, to the Corner Gate, and from the Tower of Hananel to the royal winepresses. 11 It will be inhabited; never again will it be destroyed. Jerusalem will be secure.

5.0 The Messiah Brings Salvation

In the New Testament the same ideas are linked. The Messiah is the One who brings salvation.

Matthew 1

1A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham … 21 “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”


Is this Psalm 2 and Isaiah 42?

17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

Mark 1

1The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God … 14After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!”

What was the gospel they had to believe? That Jesus was ruler and saviour? As this gospel unfolds there is plenty of evidence of Jesus kingly rule but in almost every occasion he is rescuing his people.

In Luke’s gospel we are introduced to godly ‘old testament’- type people in the person of Mary- the mother of the Lord Jesus, Zechariah and Simeon. By the time we come to the end of chapter 1 we know what to expect from the Messiah:

31 “You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.” … 68 “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come and has redeemed his people. 69 He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David 70 (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago), 71 salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us—72 to show mercy to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant, 73 the oath he swore to our father Abraham: 74 to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear 75 in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.

This is also echoed at Jesus’ birth in Luke 2:

11 Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord … 29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss[ your servant in peace. 30 For my eyes have seen your salvation, 31 which you have prepared in the sight of all people,
32a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”

From the gospels we see that the Messiah will be called Jesus. He will free us from our enemies and enable us to serve God in holiness and righteousness all our days.

When we come to Acts we are introduced to ‘gospelling’ which is without atonement but which is never apart from resurrection? This calls for explanation. Peters speech recorded in Acts 2:24-36 is used to link the resurrection of the Lord Jesus with Psalm 16 to show that Jesus is the Messiah. Acts 2:

24 But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. 25 David said about him: ‘I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. 26 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will live in hope, 27 because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay. 28 You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.’ 29 Brothers, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. 30 But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. 31 Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay. 32 God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact. 33 Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. 34 For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said, ‘The Lord said to my Lord: ‘Sit at my right hand 35 until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.’’ 36 Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.

As Luke 1:68-75 is definitive in understanding Messiah in the gospel so Acts 2:24-36 is definitive for the way resurrection is to be understood in Acts. The Risen One is the Messiah. Messiah is ruler, judge, and saviour and so “If you believe on the Lord Jesus Christ you will be saved” (Acts 16: 31). I presume that this is a summary of what was said. I think the statement in Acts 16:31 is in essence essentially what is stated in 1 Corinthians 15:

1 Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. 3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.

The idea of believing on the Lord Jesus Christ carries these implications.

5.1 Preaching Jesus As Lord

It is possible to explain the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ without linking it with Jesus as Messiah but not if you are dealing with Acts! It is possible to speak of Jesus as Lord without conveying the idea of saviour. However if we are using the Bible as our model we will be doing less than justice to the writers.

In answer to the question “Do I always have to explain the atonement to have properly preached the gospel?” I assume the answer is ‘no’ but I do need to call on people to trust Jesus as their saviour as part of their submission to him as Lord. If this is not done through the atonement the preacher will be challenged to find another way. To believe that Jesus is Lord will justify us because being Lord embraces all that is said about his work in Romans 3-5.

6.0 Conclusion

Preaching Jesus as Lord can be done in other ways than through his resurrection. However as it is done, it must be done is such a way that people will obey Him and trust him as their deliverer. (The atonement does this well but it isn’t the only way.) Does the resurrection always have to be preached? I take it the answer is ‘no’ so long as lordship is. (Resurrection is a very good way to do this but it isn’t the only way.)

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