Christ the Lord of the Nations

If Jesus Christ is not the Lord of all nations, then He is not the Lord of any nation. If He is not the Lord of any nation, then He is not the Lord of any individual. If He is no one’s Lord, then you are still in your sins. But you are not in your sins, and so therefore Jesus Christ is the Lord of the nations.

“For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith” (Romans 4:13).

Abraham was promised, not only the gospel, but the fruit of the gospel. What field will the gospel harvest? It would be more to the point to ask what field will it not harvest?

The fact that we worship the same God Abraham did means that we have the same gospel that Abraham did. We see it more clearly, but what we have had revealed to us, and what he saw by faith, are the same thing. Same God, same gospel. Given the nature of the promise made to Abraham, the biblical evangelist is placed under an obligation; he is a debtor to every nationality, every ethnic group (Romans 1:14). This gospel is for the nations, it is for the whole world. The Church is therefore obligated to every nation.

We know that God is the same God. “Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also” (Rom. 3:29). For those who think biblically, this is self-evident. God is not limited. He is not limited in history; He is not limited spatially; He is not limited in any way.

We can see what God is up to through what He does — through those called by the gospel. God has called more than Jews (9:24). “But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after me” (10:20). But the Gentiles were not included because of their spiritual zeal. “What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith” (9:30). They did not find; they were found.

But when the gospel calls, we do not remain silent. “For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (10:12-13). The gospel heals the spiritually mute — whether Jew or Gentile.

What is the glorious result? The end result divides the entire human race iton two, whether Jew or Gentile. “For there is no respect of persons with God” (2:6-10). We either love God or we do not. We either live that way or we don’t.

Transformed by the gospel, we discover we have a common ancestor — our covenant father Abraham. He was in a unique position, able to be a father to all of us. When Abraham was first put right with God, was he a Jew or a Gentile (4:9)? This was God’s intention from the start, and this is why He gave Abraham his unique position: “But to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all, (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations)” (4:16b-17). Look at the promises made to him, and then look at his biography. “Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God. Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers . . .” (15:7-12). Jesus came to confirm the promises made to the Jews through Abraham. But He also came to confirm the promises made to the Gentiles through Abraham.

We must never forget the root and fatness of the olive tree. Recall what we have learned about the covenant, as pictured in the olive tree of chapter 11. We Gentiles have been made partakers. It is important for us to note what we have come to share. “It hath pleased them verily; and their debtors they are. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister unto them in carnal things” (15:27). The Gentiles have been made partakers of the Jews’ “spiritual things.” It would therefore be greatly mistaken to assert, as many Christians have, that the Jews didn’t have any spiritual things. But if they didn’t have any spiritual things, then neither do we.

Now the point of all this is the obedience of all the nations to the lordship of Jesus Christ. And Paul says this repeatedly, and in various ways. Christ commanded us to disciple all the nations, baptizing them and teaching them obedience. Paul echoes this command in the first part of Romans. “By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name” (1:5). And he says the same thing again later. “For I will not dare to speak of any of those things which Christ hath not wrought by me, to make the Gentiles obedient, by word and deed” (15:18). This is the whole point of the Church; this is why we are here. “But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith: To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen” (16:26-27).

Paul labored in the way that he did in order to make a sacrificial presentation to God. “That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost” (15:16). And so here we are, carrying on the same great mission. In the work of missions, we are called to bring all the nations of men to the altar, and to place them all on that altar, as an acceptable consecration offering to God. God has given us a great altar, copied from the one in heaven, and not the one in Damascus. That altar is great enough to contain all the nations, and this is why we have been authorized to gather them all. If we are to continue the great Pauline sacrificial ministry (that is the language he uses), then we must offer up the animals that God has required of us. We must not substitute something else, as Cain did. We must not diminish what is required, offering a part as if it were the whole.

This means that we are not being Pauline in our ministry unless we labor in faith to bring to the altar of God, in alphabetical order, the pleasing aroma of Albania, Burma, the Czech Republic, Denmark, England, Finland, Germany, Haiti, India, Japan, Korea, Laos, Mexico, Nigeria, Oman, Peru, Qatar, Russia, Sweden, Turkey, Uruguay, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe. The world must be Christian because Christ is Lord of the nations.

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