Archive: Jesus is Lord

Archive: Jesus is Lord

Archive: Jesus is Lord

By E. Stanley Jones
Condensed from A SONG OF ASCENTS by E. Stanley Jones, Copyright © 1968 by Abingdon Press. Used by permission.

Now in his 80’s, E. Stanley Jones is Methodism’s most famous missionary evangelist. Author of 25 books, his globe-circling ministry has led countless thousands to Christ. As a keynote to observance of a Christ-exalting Christmas season, we off er this excerpt from “Brother Stanley’s” exciting spiritual autobiography. — Charles W. Keysor, Editor

My faith has been reduced to simplicity: “Jesus is Lord.” They say that all great discoveries are a reduction from complexity to simplicity. The false hypothesis is always complex, for you have to use a lot of words to cover up the falsity, but the truth is always simple … My life answer has been found; I have an answer which is the Answer, and it works; the universe and life approve of it: “Jesus is Lord.” That is the greatest reduction from complexity to simplicity I know – the whole of religion in general and the whole of Christianity in particular reduced to three words: “Jesus is Lord.”

The earliest Christian creed was just that: “Jesus is Lord.” “If you confess with your lips … ‘Jesus is Lord’ … you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9 RSV). “No one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except by the Holy Spirit.” (I Corinthians 12:3 RSV). In both these places “Jesus is Lord” is in quotation marks, showing that it was the earliest Christian confession, probably the earliest Christian creed. This was particularly amazing, for it grew up among the Jewish people whose characteristic and central saying was this: “Hear, 0 Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord.” (Deuteronomy 6:4). “God” was “Lord.” How did these fiercely monotheistic [one God] people come to the conclusion that “Jesus is Lord”? Not easily. They were compelled to it-the facts led them to an almost unwilling confession. They saw that the touch of Jesus upon life was the touch of God. He was doing things that only God could do. So from their very reluctant lips came the confession, “Jesus is Lord. ”

But the moment they said it, everything fell into place – God, life, destiny, future, present, past – everything made sense. They had the key that unlocked everything, everything in Heaven and on earth. Jesus is still that key. Lose Him and you lose the way to live, to think, to be, to love. Keep Him, surrender to Him, obey Him, and you have the key – the way to live. …

Apart from Jesus, you know little or nothing about God, and what you know is wrong. If you don’t see God in the face of Jesus, you see something else than God – and different. Jesus is the self-revelation of God: God meeting us in understandable form, human form, the Word become flesh. God is a Jesus-like God.

A Hindu said to me: “We can talk about God; you talk to us about Jesus.” He was right. For apart from Jesus your ideas of God become strange and uncertain. When you lose Jesus, you lose God.

A Unitarian said to me: “Will you come to our Unitarian conference – help us to get God back into Unitarianism? We are losing God and becoming humanism.” I replied: “This is interesting. You who have specialized on God have lost Him. I, who specialize on Jesus, have found Him.”

I can’t tell where God ends and Jesus begins in my experience, for the more I know of Jesus the more I know of God. I can go from one to the other without any sense of difference. They do not rival or push each other out – they are one.

Jesus is the starting point: You cannot say God until you have first said Jesus. You can’t say Christ until you have first said Jesus, for the Jews had a nationalistic view of Christ; He was to be the conquering Christ. You cannot say the Holy Spirit until you have first said Jesus, for apart from Jesus, divine power has always bordered on the strange or weird. You cannot say the Kingdom of God until you can first say Jesus, for the Jews expected the Kingdom of God to be David’s kingdom – a nationalistic mold. Jesus universalized it and made it God’s Kingdom. …

Jesus is Lord in three directions: He is Lord of the past, Lord of the present, and Lord of the future.

PAST: He cleanses the past of its guilt, reverses the propensities brought over into the present, and can release us from the inferiorities and failures of the past. He can cleanse the subconscious mind, which is a depository of the past, and give it new content and new bent. Jesus saves us from being prisoners of our past. Freud says that man is determined by the lower urges in the subconscious brought over from the past. In Jesus, that is no longer true. Existentialism says that since life is process, the present is dying to the past, so that there is no past. But experience says that there is a past, and a guilty past. The past is not dead, but comes into the present as guilt.

A businessman of the Middle West said to me: “I have an awful sense of guilt in my life, and night after night I’ve tied up my arm to the bedpost so I couldn’t sleep decently to punish myself and atone for my sins.”

My reply: “That hasn’t taken away the guilt, has it? ”

“No,” he replied sadly.

“My brother,” I replied, “you are on the wrong track. You are trying to atone for your sins by what you do, offering your suffering. You can’t find God by what you do; you can find Him by what He has done. He died for you on the cross, to get to you in spite of your sins and to offer you forgiveness. Empty your hands and take the gift of God.”

He looked incredulous. “Why that’s too cheap ” he said.

“No,” I replied, “it is very expensive. For if you take the gift you will belong forever to the Giver. …”

We prayed together. A few days later I received this letter: “I didn’t know that a man could be as happy as I am. All that sense of guilt is gone. I went to church the next day and sang the hymns I had never sung before. I had sung words; now I really sang the hymns. I went to work the next day with lightness of step I had never known, and for the first time in my life I let my full weight down on the universe. ”

A beautiful church in Oak Ridge, Tennessee is made up of broken pieces of waste marble, built into a sanctuary. The broken pieces of our life mistakes can be gathered up and built into a temple of God. He redeems the past as well as cleanses it. …

PRESENT: I know nothing, absolutely nothing so potent, so redeeming, so transforming as the direct and immediate impact of Jesus Christ upon the framework of human nature. It creates miracles of changed character around the world among all classes, among all degrees of culture, among all ages, among both sexes. Jesus is Lord – Lord where it counts most: in the realm of character and life. …

A woman told me she … went to a pagan psychiatrist. He said this: “You are strongly sexed – your libido is out of control. Take up smoking and drinking and that will distribute the load.”

She said, “I did take up smoking and drinking. And instead of getting better I got worse; for now I was fighting on three fronts instead of one. I saw the utter futility of all this, surrendered myself and my drives to Christ, and walked out of all three problems. I’m free – and happy. ” And she was! Jesus is Lord of the present. …

FUTURE: l face the future with confidence, even joy. Many are afraid of the future, afraid of two things – decay and death. But if you belong to Jesus Christ, you don’t belong to either one; you belong to Him, not decay, not death. Because if you live in Him, you are not subject to decay. The real person is not decaying if you live in Him. The shell may wrinkle; the substance is ripening. …

So I stand assured, assured that neither encroaching time nor approaching death can touch me – the real me – for I do not belong to time or death. I belong to the timeless and the deathless: I belong to Jesus Christ. …

Cecil Rhodes, when dying, said: “It is dark – very dark. ” Well, it is not dark to me to live in Christ. It is light, light – light that shall shine more and more to the perfect Day. …

In Jesus there are no sunsets, they are all sunrises. He is the “bright and morning star ” – not the evening star. He heralds the dawn – not the dark. Rufus Moseley, a layman, called on to conduct a funeral, went to the New Testament to see how Jesus conducted a funeral. He found that “Jesus did not conduct funerals. He conducted resurrections. ”

So Jesus is Lord – Lord of the past, Lord of the present, Lord of the future. Jesus is Lord of everything.