I said yesterday that I was going to continue the conversation on the Lordship debate, and that is exactly what I am going to do. As is true with any theological debate we need to look to Scripture to see what it says about a particular issue. What I want to do today is look at James 4:7a.
Submit, therefore to God…
It may not seem like this verse has anything to do with this topic, but I believe that it does. If we take a close look at the context of this passage we will see several important things. We see that James is, in this section, writing to individuals who have identified themselves with the Church, but are committing adultery against God (4:4). This is why James calls them adulteresses in v. 4 and brothers in v. 11. They identified themselves as Christians, but it was quite clear that the jury was still out on many. These people needed to take a serious look at their own lives, and this is what James forces them to do in vv. 1-6 of this chapter. Here in v. 7 James begins a list of commands that run through v. 10. These commands are a call to repentance, and if followed would lead to a life that is positioned in such a way so as to receive God’s grace (see v.6 & v.10). With all of this in mind we find ourselves in v. 7.
The first command that James give to those who need to repent (either back unto the salvation they first accepted, or unto this salvation for the first time) is to Submit. This is the one and only conclusion to the good news of God’s grace that we find in v.6. As I already mentioned there are ten commands in this block of verses, but all ten are not of equal importance. The two commands that bookend this section are “submit to God,” and “humble yourself in the presence of the Lord.” These are the two commands that sum up this entire section of verses. Submission to the Lordship of the Lord, and humility in the presence of the Lord are the two commands that go hand in hand. These two commands are the key to receiving God’s grace because they are necessary elements of repentance. We will look at humility later, as I continue my posts on James, but for now we will just look at submission. But before we move on I do want to point out some areas in which there is overlap in these two concepts. Just in a few words I think that these two concepts both involve understanding who God is, and obeying Him because of who he is. We cannot submit to God unless we humble ourselves before him, and at the same time we cannot truly be humble before God unless we have submitted to Him.
For now let me focus back in on submission. Man’s submission to God, Christ in particular, is at the very heart of the gospel. Again we find ourselves in Romans 10:9:
…that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved…
Here the apostle Paul makes it clear that we must confess with our mouths and believe in our hearts. The key for our subject is what the mouth is confessing. The mouth must confess that Jesus is Lord. I think that we are accurate if we summarize it this way, we must submit to Christ as our Lord in order to be saved. Of course, this conclusion that I have gleaned from the text is the very question at hand. Here is how John MacArthur summarized it:
No one can be saved without submitting himself to God, willingly coming under His sovereign authority as Lord, to follow His will no matter what. Submitting to God is obeying His Word about Christ and the fullness of the “gospel of God” (Rom 1:1), as well as submitting to Jesus as Lord and God (Rom 10:9-10). [MacArthur, J. (1998). James (204). Chicago, Ill.: Moody Press.
Leave your finger here, we will pick this up tomorrow.