Calvary Road Baptist Church

“HOW THE LORD BECAME THE LORD”

Romans 1.3-4

 

Let me ask you a question. How many of you have ever thought about how the Lord became the Lord? Since you’ve become a Christian (if you are a Christian) you’ve probably thought about a great many things, but have you ever given any thought to how the Lord became the Lord? There’s no need for you to panic. This preacher hasn’t gone off the deep end theologically. I’m not questioning the eternity of the Savior. I’m not questioning the deity of the Savior, suggesting that He is anything less than the eternal God. Nor am I trying in any way to cause anyone to doubt Who He is and What He is to the child the God. I am convinced and have the personal conviction that

 

“in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily,”

 

Colossians 2.9. Further, I am of the opinion, am fully persuaded, and am delighted to be able to proclaim, that we

 

“are complete in Him Who is the Head of all principality and power,”

 

Colossians 2.10. So, without in any way questioning what the Bible says about my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, without demeaning either His person or His mission in any way, I wonder if any of you have ever given thought to, ever wondered about, ever considered how the Lord became the Lord. You see, for years in my Christian life, I had never given thought to how the Lord became the Lord. However, the Apostle Paul does address the issue in his letter to the Romans.

Put yourself in his shoes. Here you are, a church-planting missionary who is writing a group of Christians in Churches that are scattered about the largest city in the entire world. You have never been to Rome in your life, and you have had no direct role in starting any of the Churches in that city. However, you realize that for you to accomplish your goal of getting to Spain to preach the Gospel at the western end of the known world this group of Churches can provide vital assistance. These Churches are not led by ignorant and unwise men. They are pastors with a great deal of experience in handling virtually every kind of problem you can think would come the way of those who live at the very crossroads of the Empire. I mean, every cultist and religious nut case in existence have come through Rome trying to grab their Church members. So these spiritual leaders are wary of anyone who would come in under the guise of a spiritual leader and pose a potential threat to their flocks. Realizing that these spiritual leaders are only doing what Paul would do himself, serving as undershepherds on guard against ravening wolves in sheep’s clothing, he seeks to give his readers assurance that he is not a religious nut case and that he is not a cultist. And how does Paul do this? Well, he actually begins to qualify himself to his readers in the first two verses of this letter to the Romans. In the first verse of Romans, Paul identifies himself. He is a servant of God, a called apostle; a man separated unto the gospel of God. In the second verse, Paul scores another round by declaring his position on the Word of God. Just as in our day, there were men in Paul’s day who had a very low opinion of Scripture. But when Paul refers to the Bible as “holy scriptures,” a title apparently never before applied to God’s Word, he put to rest any possible notions that he might have a low view of the Bible.

However, he still hasn’t done enough. You see, from our own modern day experience we know that cultists and even religious nut cases claim to have a high opinion of Scripture, even as they twist and pervert and misinterpret and misapply God’s Word. One’s view of the Bible alone just is not the sole criteria in determining Christian orthodoxy. No, where the cultist is detected for what he is, both then and now, is concerning his position and beliefs about the Lord Jesus Christ. Every modern day cultist, whether it be the Seventh Day Adventist, the Jehovah’s Witness, the Christian Scientist (who is neither Christian nor scientist), the Moonie, the Children of God movement, the Apostolic Pentecostals, and even Muslims, have beliefs about the Lord Jesus Christ that they claim honor Him, either His person or His saving work, but which deviates in some way from Scriptural truth. And the same thing was true in Paul’s day. Therefore, Paul wanted to assure his readers that he was not a religious deviant or a cultist, so he includes what he believes about the Lord Jesus Christ in the introductory remarks of his letter to the Romans. And what he chooses to say about what he believes about the Lord Jesus Christ is just how the Lord Jesus Christ became the Lord Jesus Christ.

We turn our attention at this time to Romans 1.1-4:

 

1      Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,

2      (Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,)

3      Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh;

4      And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.

 

Using verses 3 and 4 as the text for my message, I want us to review how Paul established his credentials as an orthodox Christian, teacher, and spiritual leader, to the Roman Christians by stating what he believed about the Second Person of the Trinity and how the eternal Son of the living God came to be to us the Lord Jesus Christ. Though what I am about to relate to you may be new to you, so far as Bible doctrine is concerned, I assure you that it is not new. For centuries Christians who study their Bibles have realized that some things had to occur for the eternal Son of God to become something He wasn’t always . . . our Lord Jesus Christ. Precisely, there were two things that had to occur:

 

First, WHAT HAD TO OCCUR IN ORDER THAT THE ETERNAL SON OF GOD COULD COME TO BE JESUS CHRIST?

 

Specifically, what event had to transpire so that the Second Person of the Trinity, being God and therefore being spirit, could become human, could become Jesus, could become the Messiah, the Christ?

 

Verse 3: “Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh.”

 

First, let me address His preexistence. Nothing in this passage directly speaks to the preexistence of God’s Son, but I do want to establish very clearly that His preexistence is both established in the Bible and believed by this preacher. You see, the Son of God is clearly understood in Bible prophecy to be that One predicted by Isaiah in 9.6:

 

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”

 

He is also the One spoken of by John in the first three verses of his Gospel:

 

1      In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

2      The same was in the beginning with God.

3      All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

 

I could go on and on and on, but for time. The point that needs to be clearly stated here is this: The One Who is spoken of as the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of peace, and Who is spoken of as being in the beginning with God, as having made all things, and as being, in fact, God, is the Son of God. And being the Son of God, and God the Son, He is shown by far too many passages to present to you here as being preexistent. That is, being God, being the Creator, the Son of God has no beginning. That is a cardinal doctrine of our faith. That is an essential ingredient in Christianity. He is the Alpha and the Omega.[1] If you are wrong on that, it does not matter what else you may be right

Next, let me address His incarnation. My friends, Jesus was a man. He wasn’t only a man, but He was a man. He was both God and man, but He was a man. But He wasn’t always a man was He? He has always been God, but He has not always been a man. For Him to become Jesus, He had to become something He had not been before. Additionally, for Him to fulfill all the prophecies about the Christ, about the Messiah of Israel, He had to become something that He wasn’t always. He had to become a man. Even in Paul’s day there was rising out of the spiritual sewer a cultic belief system that theologians in our day refer to as Gnosticism. Let me read a workable theological explanation of Gnosticism so you will have a better idea of what Paul was dealing with:

 

Gnosticism. An early Greek religious movement of broad proportions that was particularly influential in the second-century church. Many biblical interpreters see in certain NT documents (such as 1 John) the attempt to answer or refute Gnostic teaching. The word gnosticism comes from the Greek term gnosis, meaning “knowledge.” Gnostics believed that devotees had gained a special kind of spiritual enlightenment, through which they had attained a secret or higher level of knowledge not accessible to the uninitiated. Gnostics also tended to emphasize the spiritual realm over the material, often claiming that the material realm is evil and hence to be escaped.[2]

 

Of course, nowadays the various kinds of this spiritual perversion have assumed the form of organized religious institutions. The Church of Scientology, the Rosicrucians, and even the Masonic orders strike me as examples of modern day Gnosticism. Whatever you call them by name, the fact is, various forms of Gnosticism do not believe what the Apostle Paul believed and what the Bible teaches about the Son of God becoming a man. Jehovah’s Witnesses deny that He was preexistent. Mormons deny that He was the only-begotten Son of God. Seventh Day Adventists deny that being God, He could not have sinned. Apostolic Pentecostals such as T. D. Jakes deny He is a distinct Person of the Godhead. Muslims emphatically deny His deity. What does the Apostle Paul say about the matter? Paul writes,

 

“which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh,”

 

three phrases that are packed with meaning:

First, Paul indicates that “His Son . . . was made.” That particular word “was made,” ginomai in Greek, was used to indicate both the creation of something and the birth of someone, with the context in which the word was used determining what the word was to be understood to mean. It is unthinkable to assert that the companion of Luke, who wrote so much about the virgin birth of Christ, and who himself wrote so much about the preexistence of God’s Son in such books as Philippians and Colossians, would think of asserting that the Son of God was created. No, when Paul uses this word in this verse he is referring not to our Lord’s origin (since He is without origin, being the eternal God), but to the virgin birth of Jesus Christ.

Second, Paul indicates that “His Son” was made “of the seed of David.” Why must it be asserted that Jesus Christ was a physical descendant of King David? Two reasons: First, it reinforces the reality of Christ’s humanity. The descendant of a man is a man. Second, it shows that Jesus met the prophetic requirements to hold the office of Messiah.[3] The Messiah, God’s Anointed, had to be a descendant of King David and had to be a man. Jesus Christ measured up to both of those requirements.

Third, Paul indicates that “His Son” was made of the seed of David “according to the flesh.” What does Paul mean when he uses the word “flesh?” “Flesh” is used in three ways in both the Old and New Testaments. In the strictest sense of the word “flesh” refers to that portion of the human body which is not bone or blood. Slightly expanding the meaning of the word, it is also used in the Bible to refer to the entire physical body of a human being. Then, expanding the meaning of the word, even more, the word “flesh” is also used to refer to the whole man. Romans 3.20 says that “no flesh shall be justified in His sight.” Flesh in that verse refers to the whole man. I am of the opinion that Paul is in our text using the word “flesh” in this final sense of the word. I think he is indicating that the Lord Jesus Christ was fully human when He was born into this world. He had a human body. He had human emotions. And though He was entirely without sin, He had during His earthly ministry all of the limited capabilities that every other man experiences as a part of everyday life. Paul is letting us know here that he believes Jesus Christ was truly incarnate. He was not a fake or a fraud human. And when He became human He did not cease to be God. Such errors do the cultists make to the damnation of their eternal souls.

This is how God’s eternal Son became Jesus Christ . . . through the virgin birth, born into the lineage of King David, and fully human.

 

Then, WHAT HAD TO OCCUR IN ORDER FOR THE ETERNAL SON OF GOD, WHO HAS NOW BECOME THE GOD-MAN JESUS CHRIST, TO THEN BECOME THE LORD JESUS CHRIST, TO BECOME OUR LORD?

 

Verse 4: “And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.”

 

Three factors, if you will, were involved in that single event which resulted in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, becoming the Lord Jesus Christ:

The first factor is power –

 

“And declared to be the Son of God with power.”

 

“Pastor, was not Jesus Christ declared to be the Son of God with power at the time of His birth?” Though it cannot be denied that the infinite power of Almighty God came into play with that great miracle of Christ’s virgin conception and birth, that event is not what Paul is referring to here. The particular word that Paul uses which is translated “power” suggests that what is being referred to is something that is striking in its demonstration of power, something that is triumphant in its display, something that is so obviously the result of divine power being brought to bear that God’s involvement cannot be denied. And the result of this demonstration of power? Notice the word translated “declared,” which is used seven other times in the New Testament, meaning “determine, appoint, fix” in those places and also here.[4] Jesus Christ was appointed to be the Son of God by that demonstration of power as He had never previously been appointed. When that event had transpired Jesus Christ was our Lord.

The second factor we see in this verse is a Person –

 

“according to the Spirit of holiness.”

 

This is a very difficult phrase to interpret because it is a phrase found nowhere else in the New Testament or known Greek literature, for that matter.[5] Whatever this great and awesome demonstration of power happened to be, it was wrought by the Third Person of the Triune Godhead upon the Second Person of the Triune Godhead. The Holy Spirit of God did something that had tremendous impact and a profound effect on Jesus Christ’s relationship with believers everywhere.

Which brings me to the third factor mentioned by Paul; the process. That single event in history which resulted in Jesus Christ the Son of God being to us Lord was His resurrection. It was His resurrection which was that awesome demonstration of supernatural power unparalleled and unequaled. And His resurrection was accomplished in and through the ministry of the Holy Spirit of God:

 

“according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.”

 

And the resurrection from the dead, as Paul terms it, shows us two things about the Lord Jesus Christ which are vital points of doctrine and belief: First, Paul asserts that it was a resurrection. It was a rising. The tomb was empty on the third day. And second, Paul asserts that it was from the dead. Jesus Christ really did die on the cross, and His resurrection was a real victory over sin, death, Hell, and the grave. And the result of that triumphant victory over these things? The Son of God, Who through the incarnation had become Jesus Christ, through the resurrection had become the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Think of what Paul had accomplished in four brief verses at the beginning of his letter. Writing to people that do not know him (but no doubt had heard of him), and attempting to establish his credibility so they will help him reach Spain for Christ, notice what Paul has told his readers about himself: First, he claims special apostleship, in verse 1. Second, he makes it very clear that he has an exalted view and opinion of God’s Word by referring to the Bible as “holy scriptures,” in verse 2. And third, he has an extremely clear understanding of Bible doctrine as it relates to the Lord Jesus Christ. The phrase “His Son” in verse 3, coupled with what he believes about Jesus Christ, and a demonstration of power by the Holy Spirit that could only be true if the Holy Spirit is God, we see at least the suggestion of the doctrine of the Trinity here. The Son must have a Father, and He was raised up by the Spirit. Further, his reference to Jesus Christ being of the seed of David could only be true if He was virgin born, since our Lord’s stepfather Joseph was descended from the line of infamous Jeconiah, who was a wicked descendant of David that God cursed so that no physical descendant of his could ever qualify as king.[6] However, the most important thing that Paul writes concerns his understanding of the two-step process that resulted in the eternal Son of God becoming Jesus Christ and then becoming the Lord Jesus Christ.

Has Paul accomplished his goal of showing that he is orthodox in his doctrine, of showing that his beliefs are true to the Word of God and that he has an exalted view of the Savior? Hey, he’s convinced me. If he came to our Church, I’d want to support him. Amen? Paul was writing to Christians to establish that he was indeed a Bible-believing Christian, who was straight on Who Jesus Christ was and what He had accomplished.

My friends, Christianity is all about power. In this world of weak and anemic Christians, I’m here to tell you that we have a powerful God Whose Son is a powerful Savior, and that He always does His business in a powerful way. If you are not a Christian, you don’t have the power to deal with the sin that will drag you into Hellfire. If you are not a Christian, you don’t have the power to establish and maintain healthy relationships, with Jesus Christ or anyone else. But when Christ saves your soul He will use His power to do great things in your life. He will forgive your sin. He will give you the gift of eternal life. He will transform you into a new person. Is that for you? It is only if you trust Him.

I close with this observation: What good does it do you for the eternal Son of God, God the Son, to leave heaven’s glory, become a man, walk on this earth for 33 years before being crucified to pay the sin penalty for sins, and then to rise from the dead on the third day as the Lord Jesus Christ, if you don’t believe in Him? I mean, does all that work that He did to lay the groundwork for saving you from sin’s condemnation and then going through what He went through so that He could be enough like us, being a man, that He could relate to us and have a relationship with us on a personal basis . . . does that do you any good at all if you’ve not trusted Him as your Savior? No. It helps you, it does you good, only if you’ve trusted Him and His power is available to do you some good.

Why not trust Him today?

__________

[1] Revelation 1.8, 11; 21.6; 22.13

[2] Stanley J. Grenz, David Guretzki & Cherith Fee Nordling, Pocket Dictionary of Theological Terms, (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1999), page 56.

[3] See Second Samuel 7.12; Psalm 98.3-4; Jeremiah 33.22, 25-26, J. Dwight Pentecost, Things To Come, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1958), pages 100-115, and Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, Israelology: The Missing Link In Systematic Theology, (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries Press, 1994), pages 345-354.

[4] Douglas J. Moo, The Epistle To The Romans - NICNT, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1996), pages 47-48.

[5] Ibid., page 50.

[6] Jeremiah 22.25-30

Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org