Can Jesus be Customized; Thoughts on Jesus as Savior and Lord
Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ – this Jesus whom you crucified. Acts 2:36
If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. Matthew 16:24-25
Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him. Colossians 2:6
For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus Every Knee Will Bow, of those who are are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:9-11
Do we have the option to take Jesus as Savior and not as Lord? Can He be one and not the other? In the minds of some this dichotomy can exist and needs to exist. For some the offer of salvation is a free gift of Christ as savior, but follow-ship or discipleship or obedience is what a person might or might not decide to do in response to Christ as Lord. Adding Lordship to Jesus is optional – optional like a DVD package in a new car.
Until I heard of this doctrine of separation I had been unaware that we had the right to choose certain Jesus options, as though Jesus could be uniquely crafted if we were willing to pay a little more with our life. I did not know that we could build a customized Jesus as though he were a house designed to our liking. I’ve never understood the Bible to be a menu that gave us the options of what we like with our version of Jesus. As I read the Bible I get the overwhelming impression that Jesus and His followers gave people the option to have all or nothing of Jesus. The Rich Young Ruler comes to mind (Matthew 19:16-30). I can’t grasp the division of Christ as Savior and Christ as master (Lord). To have salvation and be saved is to follow Jesus and be ready to give up everything, including one’s life (Matthew 16:24-27).
AW Tozer takes up this question in his book The Root of the Righteous from 1955:
We must never underestimate the ability of humans to get themselves tangled up. Mankind appears to have a positive genius for twisting truth until it ceases to be truth and becomes downright falsehood. By overemphasizing in one place and underemphasizing in another the whole pattern of truth may be so altered that a completely false view results without our being aware of it.
The fact was brought forcibly to mind recently by hearing again the discredited doctrine of a divided Christ so widely current a few years ago and still accepted in many religious circles. It goes like this: Christ is both Saviour and Lord. A sinner may be saved by accepting Him as Saviour without yielding to Him as Lord. Almost all deeper life teaching is based upon this fallacy, but because it contains a germ of truth its soundness is not questioned.
Now, it seems odd that none of these teachers ever noticed that the only true object of saving faith is none other than Christ Himself; not the “saviourhood” of Christ nor the “lordship” of Christ but Christ Himself. God does not offer salvation to the one who will believe on one of the offices of Christ, nor is an office of Christ ever presented as an object of faith……The notion that we are so permitted is a modern day heresy, I repeat, and like every heresy it has had evil consequences among Christians……
It is altogether doubtful whether any man can be saved who comes to Christ for His help but not intention to obey Him. Christ’s saviourhood is forever united to His lordship. (See Romans 10:9-13; Acts 16:31)
When my wife and I were united in marriage for better or worse she did not have the option of customizing me and taking me as husband but not as pastor or Christ-follower. When she said yes, she said yes to all of me. Jesus Christ is our all in all and when God unites us to Him through His Spirit by our response of faith, it is nothing short of ludicrous to think that we could have nothing short of all of Him. It’s all or nothing with Jesus. He is Lord and Savior. Take all of Him or Leave all of Him. That’s your only option.