God Who Is Our Master
by Rick Shrader
It is overwhelming for the human mind to try to contemplate God. “For who hath known the mind of the Lord? Or who hath been his counselor?” (Rom. 11:34). “Shall any teach God knowledge? Seeing he judgeth those that are high” (Job 21:22). Yet Solomon advised his son to seek the knowledge of God:
My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee; So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding. Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God (Prov. 2:1-5).
Of those first patriarchs that lived long lives before the flood, Adam, Enoch and Noah were said to have walked with God (Gen. 3:8, 5:22, 6:9). Matthew Henry beautifully wrote of them,
To walk with God is to set God always before us, and to act as those that are always under his eye. It is to live a life of communion with God both in ordinances and providences. It is to make God’s word our rule and his glory our end in all our actions. It is to make it our constant care and endeavor in every thing to please God, and in nothing to offend him. It is to comply with his will, to concur with his designs, and to be workers together with him.1
Our problem in our walk with God is that we as fallen humans are self-centered and forget what we know about God. Like Adam and Eve who disobeyed God, we begin to think that we know better than God and begin to make decisions apart from His approval. Since God is invisible to us, and does not even appear physically to us in discipline, we go on as if He has approved of our action or does not care so much what we have done. But of course God does see us every moment, and He does know everything we do and think, and He is working with us both in chastisement and blessing. Paul’s reminder that we walk by faith, not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7) is written for this very reason.
Before we can see ourselves as God’s servants we must first see Him as our Lord and Master. To do this we must remind ourselves of Who God is and what that means when it comes to having a relationship with Him, especially as believers in Jesus Christ. True, we cannot understand all about God but we can understand what He has revealed to us. “The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law” (Deut. 29:29).
God the Father
Sometimes when we say “theology” we mean a study of all that the Bible has to say. Theology is usually broken into ten general areas or “ologies” such as Bibliology and Ecclesiology. Theology proper, however, is the study of God Himself. Millard Erickson says, “The doctrine of God is the central point for much of the rest of theology. One’s view of God might be thought of as supplying the whole framework within which one’s theology is constructed and life is lived. It lends a particular coloration to one’s style of ministry and philosophy of life.”2 The study of the doctrine of God can be, and should be, an inexhaustible study. Yet as Erickson points out, it ought to encourage us to a proper relationship with God and cause us to want to walk with Him and have fellowship with Him.
Since our narrow focus is to draw closer to God in our daily walk and to see Him as our Lord and Master, a few reminders of the attributes of God our Father are helpful in this regard. They will help us make that “coloration” of our Christian life that is so vitally important.
God is sovereign. By this term we mean that God is in complete control of everything that exists. Ryrie says, “The word means principal, chief, supreme. It speaks first of position (God is the chief Being in the universe), then of power (God is supreme in power in the universe).”3
The Bible says God has a plan for all things that happen in the world, “Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world” (Acts 15:18); God has a purpose in what He does, “according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will” (Eph. 1:11); God does whatever He pleases with His creation, “Whatsoever the LORD pleased, that did he in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places” (Psa. 135:6). We should understand that God is the only One Who can truly be our Lord and Master.
God is holy. The primary meaning of God’s holiness is that He is set apart or separate from everything else. John Feinberg calls this “majestic-holiness. . . As the majestic God whose qualities know no boundary, God’s being is infinitely above his creatures.”4 Moses sang and gave thanks to God for His deliverance in the Red Sea, “Who is like unto thee O LORD, among the gods? Who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?” (Exod. 15:11). In her song of praise, Hannah said, “There is none holy as the LORD: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God” (1 Sam. 2:2). Mary also, at her conception sang, “For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name” (Luke 1:49).
Around the throne of God as John was privileged to see it, is a crystal sea that separates God from all else. Henry Alford writes that “the intent of setting this space in front of the throne will be, to betoken its separation and insulation from the place where the Seer stood, and indeed from all else about it.”5 From beginning to end, the Scriptures portray God as holy and separate because He alone is eternal and all else is created and infinitely less in comparison.
God is transcendent and yet immanent. There have been many abuses of both of these concepts of God, but there is also a wonderful picture of God as our Lord and Master in them as well. God is transcendent in that He is above and separate in His holy perfections from all that is created. He is not out of touch with His creation or beyond our possibility of knowing Him, yet He remains on a plane far above His creation in His person and attributes. It is described this way, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isa. 55:8-9).
At the same time God is immanent in that He is accessible to His creation and within the reach of those who will seek Him. “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there” (Psa. 139:7-8).
God is loving. The good news for the sinner as well as the saint is that God loves us. He did not have to, and when sin entered into His creation, He did not have to redeem us, but “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son” (John 3:16). “So” is from the adverb houtōs, so much, in such a way, like this. God loved us enough to give Himself in the person of His only Son that we might be redeemed from our sinful condition through Him. This love brings us into a relationship with God that could not otherwise be. We will find that making Him our Lord and Master is an easy yoke and a light burden.
God is a triunity. This description of God is important to our walk with Him, in fact, it is essential. Though the Old Testament emphasizes the one true God, the New Testament further explains the trinity of God, making Him a tri-unity. Ryrie says, “To emphasize the oneness while disregarding the threeness ends in Unitarianism. To emphasize the threeness while disregarding the oneness leads to tritheism (as in Mormonism). To accept both leads to the doctrine of the triunity of God.”6 The fact is that not only is God the Father said to be God, but so is God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. The only biblical and logical conclusion is that we believe in the trinity in its traditional understanding. As we will see in the following sections, our walk with God the Father is also vitally involved both with the Son, and with the Holy Spirit.
God the Son
The fact that God is a trinity reveals the fact that God exists of, by, and for Himself. He did not need the world in any way that affects His glory and existence. Yet He created us and extended His love toward us so that we might enjoy His own fellowship that He has within His very Godhead. The apostle John admitted that when he wrote, “that ye also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:3).
To walk with God, therefore, is to walk with His Son Jesus Christ. There is no other avenue into that fellowship. It must be remembered that since Jesus Christ is God, the second Person of the Trinity, all attributes that belong to the Father also belong to the Son. Paul wrote, “For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Col. 2:9). John finished his first epistle saying, “and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life” (1 John 5:20).
Jesus is not just another man with whom we can selectively follow or with whom we may or may not choose to have fellowship. Rather, it is in Him that we live, move, and have our being. It is Christ alone Who qualifies to be our Lord and Master. Our submission to Him must be complete and absolute. It will require a total dedication, denial of self, and a taking up our cross and following Him. That process will be explored in the next article.
There are many New Testament texts that speak of the deity and Lordship of Jesus Christ. There are many descriptions, metaphors, similes, and various ways He is described. Everyone knows the idea of His being the Door, the Good Shepherd, and the Word. Consider briefly how many descriptions one book alone, the book of Hebrews, gives to our Savior. These are given to encourage the readers to make Him their only object of worship.
God and Lord (1:8, 10). The first chapter of Hebrews is taken up with proving that Jesus is greater than the angels who were created to worship God and minister to believers. The Old Testament described them as “a flame of fire” (1:7, from Psa. 104:4) but, in contrast, Jesus is called “God” (1:8, from Psa. 45:6) and also “Lord” (1:10, from Psa. 102:25). Believers do not worship angels but they do worship God in the person of His Son.
Captain of salvation (2:10). “Captain” is the word archechon, which is also translated “Author” in 12:1. Yet it is right to see Jesus Christ as the One who leads us into the battles of life and initiates the victories over the world, the flesh, and the devil.
Apostle and High Priest (3:1). Jesus is uniquely our Apostle in that He is the Sent One from God Who speaks to us the Word of God (see 1:1-2). The whole book of Hebrews is given to the idea of Jesus Christ being our High Priest. In fact, He is also the sacrifice, the veil of the temple, the mercy seat, and the Priest Who initiates the blood sprinkled in the holy of holies before God.
Author and Finisher (12:2). Jesus is again said to be the “author” of our salvation (see 5:9), and also the “finisher” (lit. “Perfecter” from teleōten) of our faith. I like to think of this picture as the starting line and finishing line of our race. These are often the same line but mark vastly different points in the race. Jesus is the One with Whom we begin our race and the One with Whom we will one day end our race.
Mediator (8:6, 12:24). Jesus is the Mediator of the new covenant which He initiated with His own blood. Paul told Timothy that Jesus is the only Mediator between the sinner and a holy God (1 Tim. 2:5).
Helper (13:6). Since He is our Helper, we do not fear what mere mortal men may do to us. The believer always has a Helper Who can deliver him out of every difficulty.
End (13:7-8). Jesus is the end, the “result” of our lives. This gives us purpose because He is “the same yesterday, today, and forever.”
Shepherd of the sheep (13:20). God brought Jesus Christ from the dead to be our Shepherd Who will also lead us out of death into eternal life. No wonder when He is our Shepherd, we have no other want.
It is through Jesus Christ that we fellowship with God because He is Himself God in the flesh. Though possessing all of the attributes of deity, He also is a sympathetic Priest Who knows us and is touched with the feelings of our infirmities. This is the only One can truly be our Lord and Master.
God the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit is that person of the Godhead Who lives within us. Every description of Him in Scripture speaks of names, attributes, and actions of deity. It is the Spirit Who regenerates us (Tit. 3:5) and then dwells within us (1 Cor. 6:19-20). Our bodies become His temple and we are obligated to His leading and conviction. After all, His voice is God’s voice. Someone said that Jesus dwelt in a sinless body during His earthly ministry, but the Holy Spirit has to dwell in our sinful bodies, which is much more frustrating to Him. Nevertheless, He never leaves us nor fails in His divine mission of keeping us until the day of redemption.
Understanding the ministry of the Holy Spirit within us will help us yield to His leading in a greater way. The apostle Paul showed that He seals the believer until the day of our redemption (Eph. 1:13; 4:30) and is the earnest of our coming inheritance (2 Cor. 1:22; 5:5). This shows that God owns us and we are His purchase by the blood of Jesus for eternity. The Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are God’s child (Rom. 8:16) and continually brings assurance of our standing in God’s presence. The Spirit participates in our prayers by interceding at the throne of grace and making groanings for us which we cannot speak as He interprets our prayers before God (Rom. 8:26-27).
In a wider way, the Holy Spirit convicts the world of sin (John 16:8) and also restrains the sin of the world on behalf of the church in this age (2 Thes. 2:6-7). Yet the Spirit can also be grieved (Eph. 4:30) and quenched (1 Thes. 5:19) by believers even as He continues to dwell within us. Our sin grieves Him and keeps Him from having full sway in our lives. We should rather seek to be filled by the Spirit (Eph. 5:18) which will then produce the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 6:22-23) which combats the lusts of the flesh, and allows the love of Christ to be shed abroad in our hearts (Rom. 5:5) by the Spirit. All of these provide great benefits to the believer and allow us to walk with the Lord.
And So . . .
The purpose for this article is to help us to see our need for making Jesus Christ the Lord and Master of our lives. We will not make that surrender to Him unless we first realize that we as believers are living and walking with the God of all eternity Who powerfully lives and works within us. Our yielding to Him ought to be motivated by this fact. How could we who are sinful and rebellious refuse the working of the sovereign, holy God Who gave Himself for us and lives within us? Our very bodies are His temple and our talents and abilities are weapons to be used for or against Him. That surrender begins with David’s words, “Be still and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth” (Psa. 46:10).
In his book on being holy in this world, Erwin Lutzer said it this way,
Our only hope is obedience to the teachings of the New Testament; our fate depends on whether we are willing to become one of Christ’s disciples in the fullest sense. Then we will search our hearts, motives, and affections. Anything that mars our fellowship with God will be recognized as sin. We will discipline and restrict ourselves in matters that can never be included in an official statement on worldliness. Like Christ, we will not please ourselves but will want to please God alone.”7
- Matthew Henry, An Exposition of the Old and New Testaments, vol. I (New York: Fleming H. Revell Co., nd) Gen. 5:24.
- Millard Erickson, Christian Theology (Chicago: Baker Books, 1991) 263.
- Charles Ryrie, Basic Theology (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1987) 43.
- John Feinberg, No One Like Him (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2001) 340.
- Henry Alford, The Greek New Testament, vol. IV (Chicago: Moody Press, 1958) 598.
- Ryrie, p. 52.
- Erwin Lutzer, How in this World Can I be Holy? (Chicago: Moody Press, 1985) 108.