My opening statement for this debate is here.
My rebuttal statement is here.
This is my closing statement.
While there is no explicit, emphatic, and indisputable statement in the New Testament that Jesus is God. the same cannot be said about Jesus being Lord. In fact, the New Testament is filled with declarations that Jesus is Lord: explicit, emphatic, and indisputable. No one denies that the New Testament declares Jesus to be Lord. In fact, “Lord” is a much a part of Jesus’ name as is “Christ.”
People may deny that Jesus was actually raised from the dead, but they cannot deny that the New Testament calls Him Lord. People may deny that Jesus even existed, but they cannot deny that the New Testament calls Him Lord. People may even deny that the New Testament is itself trustworthy, that any of it can be believed, but they cannot deny that the New Testament documents, as they exist before us today, call Him Lord.
Therefore, regardless of what you think of Jesus’ origin and ontology, there is this issue of His lordship with which we must deal. That is, given the assertion made by the apostles throughout the New Testament that Jesus is Lord, are you going to accept is as true or not?
Accepting Jesus as Lord means more than mere lip service to the idea. If you call Jesus Lord but do not obey Him, you have not truly accepted Him as Lord. Jesus Himself asked in Luke 6:46, “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord’ and do not do what I say?” Therefore, to accept the claim that Jesus is Lord, we must subordinate ourselves to His will and live according to what He says.
We may serve Jesus as Lord imperfectly. In fact, all of us who genuinely attempt day after day to serve Jesus as Lord do so imperfectly – and no one knows it better than those of us who are trying. “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” is as true today as it ever was. This does not excuse us, however, from growing in “the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). That is, we should be showing progress (Philippians 1:25; 1 Timothy 4:15). If we show no spiritual progress, we prove ourselves to engaging only in lip service to the Lord Jesus (2 Timothy 3:9; Matthew 7:21-23).
Progressing in grace means coming to understand our Lord better and better. “That I may know Him” was the heart cry of Paul (Philippians 3:10). Certainly, Paul already knew the Lord – but he wanted to know Him better. Likewise, we first come to know Jesus at some point in our lives, however young or old we might have been at the time – and growth in grace means coming to know Him better from that time forward.
There is much to know about our Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, it is in Him that “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” are to be found (Colossians 2:2-3, emphasis added). He is “the beginning and the end,” “the Alpha and Omega,” “the first and the last” (Revelation 22:13). Surely, in our quest to know Him better and better He will reveal to us more about His identity. How can it be otherwise?
Therefore, let us consider this promise of Jesus:
“All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.” – Matthew 11:27
To understand the identity of God is not a matter of sufficient formal theological education. Neither is it a matter of random selection by God. It is a matter of obedience to Christ. That is, we come to understand the identity of Christ as we progressively actualize His lordship in our lives. The one who trusts and obeys Him comes to understand His identity better and better over time…because that is the sort of person to whom God wants to make Himself better known.
Consider this: John Doe, being aware of all the Christological controversies, decides to set them aside and merely seek to trust and obey Jesus as Lord. John Doe prays:
“Lord, I don’t know who is right about Your origin and ontology, but I do know that you want me to trust and obey You. Therefore, that’s what I’m going to give my whole heart to do, no matter how little I understand about your origin and ontology.”
In following through on this prayer, John Doe is going to find out that for all practical purposes, Jesus is God to him. That is, Jesus’ commands are the commands of God. Jesus’ promises are the promises of God. You cannot truly pursue Jesus as Lord and have any capacity left over to obey any other entity. At this point, He who is God for all practical purposes reveals Himself to be God in actuality. No one can teach you that Jesus is God. He has to reveal it to you.
Even if you disagree with me that Jesus is God, that is okay. What we ought to be able to agree on is that Jesus is Lord. If we are both trusting and obeying Jesus as Lord, how can there be any significant difference between us? Let us say that John Doe is serving Jesus as Lord while believing that Jesus is God, and Richard Roe is serving Jesus as Lord while believing Jesus is not God. Will they not both be loving Him with all their hearts and souls and minds and strengths? Will they not both be loving others as Christ loved them? Will they not both be living lives on the earth that reflect the Christ who rules from heaven?
Let us serve Jesus as Lord that we might come to know Him better. And even if we do not come to know Him in precisely the same terms, let us serve Him as Lord anyway.