Savior AND Lord?

by Lester Young

Have you ever noticed that, when referring to Jesus, many Christians seem to use those two titles as though they’re fully integrated and interchangeable, or as though the citing of one automatically implies the presence of the other? While some people might jump on me for splitting hairs here, the truth of the matter is that although Jesus is indeed both Lord and Savior, the difference between the two – and certainly from a personal standpoint for those who believe in Him – is as wide as all outdoors (2 Peter 1:11).

What am I referring to? Well, let’s consider Jesus’ ‘Savior’ mantle first. Simply put, it’s the reason He came here in bodily form to begin with. We needed saving – you, me, the whole world – and He was the only One qualified to do it (Psalm 40:6-7; John 3:16-17; 1 John 4:14). And everybody who looks to Jesus for salvation will be accepted: none will ever be turned away – no questions asked (John 6:37; Romans 10:9-13). In other words, just like His love, God’s salvation is unconditional (1 Corinthians 13:7-8). The work’s completely done, all that needed doing. Jesus took care of it and finished it – everything! (John 5:36, 17:4, 19:30) And it’s free to anybody who wants it; good, bad or otherwise: all we have to do is come to Him and accept the open Invitation (Isaiah 55:1-3; Matthew 11:28, 22:4, 9-10).

Now as far as the other is concerned, there’s certainly no real question about the overall ‘Lordship’ of Jesus Christ. The word lord means ‘supreme in authority’ and ‘controller,’ and I have to say that latter one I find particularly interesting. We acknowledge that Jesus is the incarnate “Word of God” (John 1:14; 1 Timothy 3:16; 1 John 1:1-2). But in the Person of the Word we also know He was with the Father in the very beginning and indeed made all things (Proverbs 8:22-31; John 1:1-3). Going further, Colossians 1:15-17 reminds us that all things – all things, whether visible or not – were not only made by Him, they were also made for Him; and He’s the Power holding everything together in operational order. So if that’s not de facto “Lordship,” I don’t know what is.

But being Lord over all Creation is one thing; being Lord in an individual person’s life is quite another. How can that be? Well, it’s all because of that little “right” we humans have been given called ‘free choice’. We have the freedom to choose whether or not we’ll come to Jesus and accept the salvation He bought for us. Certainly, if we don’t take that initial, most important first step toward Him, He can’t ever be our Lord, because we’ve already disobeyed and disregarded right out of the gate the Authority given to Him by God to be our Leader (Acts 5:31).

And if we do receive Jesus as our Savior? Great! Then we’ve accepted the truth that His precious shed blood has done the job of washing away all our sins. It also designates that our eternal home to come has changed to the new, heavenly Jerusalem where God resides (Galatians 4:26; Revelation 21:2) – where, I might add, we’ve already been given the full rights and privileges of citizenship, right now! (Philippians 3:20; Colossians 1:13) But none of that means we’ve been stripped of the ‘free-choice’ thing. God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are all Gentlemen, and they’re not going to just jump on us and make us do what they say. They’ll give us commands, directions and gentle leadings, but then it’s completely up to us whether we listen and obey.

And that brings us squarely face-to-face with the concept of Jesus’ Lordship in our own personal lives. The fact of the matter is that you can accept Jesus into your heart and be saved, and then pretty much leave everything else as is over there on the shelf… right next to your Bible. You’ll still go to Heaven to be with the Lord when you die, but the “other shoe dropping” is that you’ll miss out on the knowledge and power of living a totally victorious life while you’re here – a life that witnesses to everybody around the reality and resurrection power of Jesus (Romans 6:4, 8:13-17; Ephesians 1:17-20, 2:10).

I can hear some of you thinking, “I do what God says: I don’t lie, cheat, steal, kill or commit adultery. I try my best not to do anything that’ll hurt anybody else!” Good for you! (No, really; not being facetious – good for you.) But the ‘Big 10’ isn’t all God’s told us – or told us not – to do. He gives us direction and advice every day. The problem is, most of the time we’re not listening for that still, small, inner voice (1 Kings 19:12) – or if we do hear it, we put off doing it until later or even disregard it altogether as just a “stray” thought. By not spending quality time with God and cultivating the truth that He resides in us right now, we find ourselves easily overlooking and missing our heavenly Father’s great desire to correct, direct, protect and provide for us each day, every step of the way (Psalm 23:4-5). By not perceiving the Spirit of His Son in us, we actually cut off His power to help and deliver us (Galatians 4:6; Ephesians 3:20; Psalm 78:41).

Jesus frankly addressed the problem this way (so to speak): “How you gonna stand there and call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ but you don’t do anything I say?!” (Luke 6:46) Thanks to that pesky right of free-choice, we must make a conscious, ongoing decision – day by day, moment by moment, item by item – to let Jesus be Lord in our lives.

Even though you may be born again with Jesus securely as your Savior, His Lordship in your life is not automatic. No one can lead someone who refuses to follow – men can’t, and God won’t. Whatever the issue – one of major importance or just a small, seemingly insignificant garden-variety daily decision – choose Jesus and submit to His direction (Proverbs 3:6). When you do that, you give Him charge over your direction and its outcome, and He’s already promised that when all’s said and done, you’ll be on top enjoying the fruits of Victory (Deuteronomy 28:13; 2 Corinthians 2:14; 1 Peter 5:5-10).


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4 Responses to “Savior AND Lord?”

  1. We need to “split hairs,” we need to be taught to look deeper. I speak from experience, I read the scriptures and there are days I just “lump,” along, get caught up in recognizing what I’ve read before and come away feeling deflated. I become glazed over, feeling like I’m walking over the same trail, never seeing anything new. Yet when I sit down with the idea that each sentence, each Word is there for a purpose and I approach with humility, there is no end to the revelation and the teaching. So again, good teacher, well done and thank-you.

    • Hi there, Sandra. I can relate to that too… we all have to approach our time with our Heavenly Father by checking our “I’ve heard all this stuff before” take-for-granted attitude at the door. It’s so easy to fall into that, but isn’t it just marvelous that we have a Lord and Savior Who’s so merciful, patient and forgiving. If He weren’t so, we’d have all been done long ago. 🙂
      I want to wish you a Merry Christmas and a very happy and blessed New Year, Sandra… and as always, many thanks.



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