Jesus is both the Lord of all, and the Savior of all who believe. He is not just Lord of those who believe, but he is Lord of all those who do not believe. Understanding His role as Lord as we proclaim the Gospel can help us better understand the Gospel and help make us more appreciative of our roles as His witnesses.
And His witnesses we are to be for he told His disciples that “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.“
Now as His witnesses, we are to witness to Him as He is, both to us, and to those we are witnessing to. Taking our cue from both Peter in Acts 2 and Paul in Romans 1, we see how to do this, first Peter in Acts 2:
This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses. 33 Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear. 34 For it was not David who ascended into heaven, but he himself says:
‘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 the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified.”
To the religious Jew, the Lord was Jehovah. Peter had already directly referred to God as Lord in verse 20 where he spoke of the great and glorious day of the Lord in quoting the Old Testament. Also in verse 21, where he again quoted the OT and declared that all who call upon the Lord will be saved. And then again Peter quoted from the Scriptures in the above quoted passage, where a little part of the mystery of the Trinity is revealed. The point is that Peter used the same word to describe both Jehovah and Jesus.
Paul, in Romans 1, wrote this:
Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh, who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name’s sake, among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ;
Now why is the Good news of Jesus Christ *incomplete* with out the declaration of His Lordship?
We are asking people to believe, submit, and trust in Jesus, and to honor Him only as they should honor God Himself. We are telling them that He is God in the flesh and judge and ruler of all people in all times and places. that in telling them of their need for Jesus, we also identify the cause of that need: their sin and their sinful rebelling heart. That each of us has sinned against the Holy God, violated His law, and earned the condemnation which end is the everlasting lake of fire.
This truth, or these truths, must be recognized before they are saved. He will not be their Savior if He is not first their Lord. Now I do not mean that they must first live as good and proper servants before Him as Lord before He can save them. Rather that in their understanding and perception of life and reality, that they need to recognize Jesus as the Lord of all. And likewise, they must recognize themselves as rebels and sinners against the Lord of all.
This results in two things. The first is humility, the rightful state of one before Holy God, and all the more so by one who has stood against Him. Second is repentance. More on that in a bit.
We not present Jesus as Lord without also presenting Him as Messiah or Savior. In reading Peter’s sermon in Acts 2, you will see him speak of the cross. In reading Paul’s writings to the Romans, you will read of his speaking of the cross. The Gospel is good news, but only is perceived as good news to those who believe it. When we present Jesus as Lord of all it is because He is Lord of all, and all should submit to Him. All will submit to Him one day, but they should submit to Him today. They are under Law and are sinners condemned by God for their rebellion. The only reconciliation possible is through the Lord Jesus Christ who by His suffering and death has made a way to the Father.
So we present Jesus as both Lord and Savior. He is Savior for only those who believe. He is the only Savior of the world but only saves those who believe. He is Lord of unbelievers. In recognizing His Lordship over them, those who were once unbelievers have become believers. And Jesus is both their Lord and Savior. But it is a package deal. They won’t become believers by simply declaring Jesus as Lord. We must also give them the whole Gospel story of His Lordship, of His suffering and death, and of His resurrection. We must tell them that He died for the sins of rebels sinners and that all who call upon Him will be delivered from their deserved end.
For it is presenting them with His sufferings on their behalf, the Lord for the sinner, that the Gospel message is complete, and the Spirit can open the eyes of their heart to the awesomeness yet sweetness of Jesus and bring about their repentance in humility and their submission in joy and the salvation of their soul. And these bring about confession of the new man: Jesus is Lord!
It is in the whole Gospel story, that Jesus is both Lord and Savior, that faith is birthed. Simply knowing that there is a Lord who will judge you for your sins and has already sentenced you with condemnation, does not bring about faith and trust. But just relating Jesus as Savior does not lead to humility and repentance.
We are His witnesses.
Let us proclaim the Gospel truth to all people, inviting them to surrender and submit to the only Savior, the Lord of all: