Jesus Is Lord

1 Corinthians

Jesus Is Lord

May 27th, 1956 @ 10:50 AM

Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.
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Forest Avenue High School Baccalaureate

Dr. W. A. Criswell

1 Corinthians 12:3

5-27-56    10:50 a.m.



You are listening to the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, and this is the pastor bringing the morning message entitled Jesus is Lord.  It is a baccalaureate.  It is dedicated to the graduating seniors of the Forest Avenue High School.  It is beyond them for all of our hearts and is delivered with a humble prayer that God will bless it and make of it a blessing.

For the last eleven years the pastor has been preaching through the Bible, for about a year and a half in the first and the second Corinthian letters.  And I thought today that the baccalaureate sermon could be taken out of the letters of the apostle in which I am now preaching.  So I have chosen the text in the first Corinthian letter, the twelfth chapter and the third verse: "Wherefore I make known to you that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Spirit" [1 Corinthians 12:3].

Jesus is Lord; He is the Lord of heaven and earth.  Matthew 28:18, "And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All authority is given unto Me in heaven and in earth."  Jesus is Lord of all creation.  John 1:1-3:


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

The same was in the beginning with God.

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


He is the Lord of all the peoples of the world.  Philippians 2:9-11:

Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name:

That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;

And that every tongue should confess that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.


And Jesus is the Lord of the living and of the dead.  Romans 14:7-9:


For no man liveth unto himself, and no man dieth unto himself . . .

For, for this cause did Jesus die, and was raised again, that He might be Lord both of the living and of the dead.


And Jesus is the Lord of hell and of death.  "And He spake, saying," in Revelation 1:18: "I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore; and I have in My hands the keys of Hell and of Death."  There is no doubt but that the Holy Scriptures present Jesus Christ as the Lord of heaven, as the Lord of the earth, as the Lord of the living, as the Lord of the dead, as the Lord of time, as the Lord of eternity.

Then Paul, writing to the church at Corinth, gives to the people a criterion by which they can know a true disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ.  And he gives it in a way that is somewhat hid in your translation, but in the Greek, in the language in which Paul wrote the letter, it is very plain; it is most manifest.  "No man can say by the Spirit of God anathema Iēsous ["Jesus is accursed"], and no man can say but by the Holy Spirit kurios Iēsous ["Jesus is Lord"] [1 Corinthians 12:3].  In the Greek, the two phrases are placed side by side, anathema Iēsous ["Jesus is accursed"] and kurios Iēsous ["Jesus is Lord"].  The word anathema is translated "accursed" and means that; kurios means "lord."  And he places the two side by side.  No man can say anathema Iēsous ["Jesus is accursed"], speaking by the Spirit of God, and no man can say kurios Iēsous ["Jesus is Lord"] except by the Spirit of the living God" [1 Corinthians 12:3].  Now that criterion can be applied throughout all the story and throughout all the ages of Christendom.

In the beginning, Saul of Tarsus was a persecutor of the church of the Lord Jesus [1 Corinthians 15:9], and he haled into prison men and women [Acts 8:3, 22:4, 26:10-11; Galatians 1:13].  And when they were condemned to die he said, "And I cast my vote against them" [Acts 26:10].  I can easily imagine a young girl accused of being a Nazarene, denounced or suspect of being a follower of the Lord Jesus, and she stands before the tribunal, and the test is very short and very simple.  It is this: "Say anathema kurios, anathema Iēsous ["Jesus is accursed"]."  And the girl standing there before the tribunal, by some miraculous courage of heart, she does not quail.  Her lips blanch, but they do not form the accursed words.  And I see her standing there.  Then breaking the final silence with the words, Iēsous, Iēsous, kurios Iēsous, "Jesus is Lord."

The generation passes, and I see the same test brought in the same way with just a little change of the word, for the Roman Empire now has decreed that Caesar is god, and the state religion is emperor worship.  So I see the tribunal now, and those who are suspect of being Christian, the test is very simple and very plain: will you say, kurios kaisar, "Lord Caesar," or do you say, kurios Iēsous, "Lord Jesus?"  And in my imagination I can see aged Polycarp, pastor of the church at Smyrna, as he stands before the Roman tribunal, and they say, "Polycarp, is it kaisar kurios ["Caesar is Lord"], or is it Iēsous kurios ["Jesus is Lord"]?"  And Polycarp replies, "Eighty and six years have I served Him, and shall I blaspheme Him now, my Lord and my King?  It is kurios Iēsous ["Jesus is Lord"]."  And Polycarp is delivered to the lions.

I can see the generations pass.  And it comes to my own day and this present hour.  And in my mind’s eye I can see Martin Niemöller, as he stands before the Nazi appointed court.  And they threaten the life of Martin Niemöller by the highest law and court in Germany.  And after they give Martin Niemöller time to recount, to recant his Christian faith, he makes his apology and ends it with the words, "Jesus Christ is my Führer."

And across the seas, in the Orient, I see a little church beyond the bamboo curtain in the heart of interior Red China.  Every member of that church is put to death by the edge of the sword, beheaded.  And the last member of the church is a little boy; all the rest have been slain.  And because of a congenital affection of Chinese people for little children, I see the leader of the band say to the little Chinese boy, "Son, you’re just a lad.  We don’t want to kill you.  See this picture of Jesus?  See?  I put it on the ground.  Now, son, just put your heel on that picture and turn it into the dust of the ground.  We’ll let you live."  So the leader puts the picture of Jesus in the dust, and the little boy, the last member of the church, looks down at the picture of the Savior in the dust of the ground; then he raises his face to heaven and says, "Lord Jesus, one time You died for me; this time, I die for You."  And he bowed his head for the sword of execution.  "No man can say anathema Iēsous ["Jesus is accursed"] but by the Spirit of God; and no man can say kurios Iēsous ["Jesus is Lord"] but by the Spirit of God" [1 Corinthians 12:3].

So we shall apply that criterion to our own lives and to our own days.  Jesus is Lord [1 Corinthians 12:3].  He is to us, to the disciple of Christ, first, last, always, He is Lord politically.  Above allegiance to any government or any state, my first allegiance is to the Lord Jesus Christ, the God of my heart, and the Lord of my conscience.  What is right in my country, what is right in my government, I am duty bound to support.  But what is wrong in my country and what is wrong in my government, I am duty bound to oppose; for Jesus is the Lord of our life, the Lord of our conscience, and the King of our land.

"Well, pastor, can one be a Christian and a nationalist at the same time?"  Yes, he can; for no man could give to God what belongs to God if he felt himself too holy and too removed to give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar.  I can be a good American, and my neighbor to the north can be a good Canadian, and my neighbor to the south can be a good Mexican, and my further neighbor can be a good Brazilian, or a good Nigerian, or a good Frenchman.

You see, it is the doctrine of Marxist Communism that says there must be no class; there must be no state.  There must be no difference.  It is the doctrine of Marxian Communism that all men everywhere are to be exactly alike.  That’s where you get the name "communism"; "common," everybody exactly the same.

It pleased the Lord God to make us different.  Somehow God hates sameness.  When He makes His snowflakes, He makes every snowflake different.  When the Lord God makes flowers, every flower is a little different; and there are multitudes of flowers.  And God made all things varied, variegated.  That’s the beauty of the universe.  His colors are not all one color; there are the colors of the rainbow.  His stars are not all one star; they greatly differ. 

So with mankind and humanity, God must have liked it different.  He made us different races, He made us different colors.  He made us different nations, He made us different states, He made us different nationalities, and we reach our highest best when we are most like ourselves!  What you are, be good, and fine, and noble in that.  I am not interested in being a Frenchman, I am an American!  I’m not interested in being a member of the Chinese yellow race, I am an American, and I can be a good American, like he can be a good Chinese man, or my other neighbor, a good Frenchman.  My highest allegiance is to God.  Then in God, the state is ordained of the Lord.  It’s of God that I love my country, my native land.  Sir Walter Scott wrote in "The Lay of the Last Minstrel":


Breathed there the man with soul so dead,

Who never to himself hath said,

This is my own, my native land

Whose heart within him never burned,

As homeward his weary footsteps turned,

From wandering on a foreign strand.


This is my country, it’s of God that we be proud of our national flag.  We call it "Old Glory," "The Stars and the Stripes," "The Red, and the White, and the Blue."  I’ve seen that flag raised on the battleship Arizona.  It lies on the floor of Pearl Harbor.  But out of the hulk of a great battleship that was destroyed, America has hoisted Old Glory, waving there in the breeze.  I have seen that American flag raised high and unfurled, high in the Apennines of Italy, over an American military cemetery – where the men who died in the campaign against fascism and Nazism were gathered and buried there in the soil of Italy.  I have seen that flag wave on the airfields of Fukuoka, Japan, as I saw those jet bombers leave, and leave, and leave to protect the democracy and the freedom of the world, as we fought in the war in Korea.  There is only one time I’ve ever seen Old Glory raised and I bowed my head in shame.  I happened to go to school in one of the great cities of America in which they built the largest distillery in the world; and on the opening day, high above the highest building, they raised The Stars and the Stripes.  And as I looked at it there unfurled in the breeze, I thought, "Over what heartache, over how many orphaned children, over how many weeping widows, over how many lost lives and ruined fortunes does Old Glory wave today?"  And I bowed my head in shame.  But that is a prerogative of an American!  What is right I support; but what I believe to be wrong, I oppose with all of the energies of my soul and life!  For Jesus is the Lord of my conscience and the King of my heart!

He is Lord economically.  I’m just a steward – just possess for the moment what God gives me.  Young people, I haven’t time; I’d planned, but you do it yourself; sometime, when you’re home, read Moses’ address to the people in the eighth chapter of the Book of Deuteronomy [Deuteronomy 8:1-20].  The Book of Deuteronomy is composed of the final addresses of Moses before God took him away on Mt. Nebo [Deuteronomy 34:1-7].  And that eighth chapter of the Book of Deuteronomy is an address of Moses, the man of God in his farewell discourse to the people.  Here are two sentences in it; one, "For man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" [Deuteronomy 8:3]; and the other sentence, when they came into the land and should possess it, and God should bless them, and they should prosper in His presence, this other sentence, "And remember, and remember that it is the Lord thy God that giveth thee power to get wealth" [Deuteronomy 8:18].

What I have is given me of the Lord.   I may make it, my will may sustain the drive that acquires it, but who made my will?  And who made the hand that clasps it?  And who made the mind that could think of it?  And who gave me the life that encompasses it?  These things belong to God, and the Lord is Jesus [Acts 2:36], I am just a steward; I occupy till He come [Luke 19:13].  A proportion of all that is given me I ought to dedicate to Him.  Not all for me and none for Him; God hath made it "some for me and some for Him."

And finally, Jesus is Lord spiritually.  By that I mean that the great fountains, the secret depths of our life, are hidden in God.  The great motivating force that lies back of our choices, our lives, our destinies, they are hidden in our allegiance to the Lord Jesus Christ.  He is the Lord of my life.  And what I do, and where I go, and the choices that I make, their secret can be found in the commitment of the soul and the life in trust and in faith to the Lord Jesus Christ [2 Timothy 1:12]; the motivation, the dynamic, the great reason that lies hidden in the secret depths of life, found in the lordship of Jesus [Matthew 16:24].


I entered once a home of care,

And penury and want were there,

But joy and peace withal

I asked the aged mother whence

Her helpless widowhood’s defense;

She answered, "Christ is all"


I saw the martyr at the stake,

The flames could not his courage shake,

Nor death his soul appall;

I asked him whence his strength was giv’n;

He looked triumphantly to heav’n,

And answered, "Christ is all."


I stood beside the dying bed,

Where lay a child with aching head,

Waiting Jesus’ call

I saw him smile, ’twas sweet as May;

And as his spirit passed away,

He whispered, "Christ is all."


I dreamed that hoary time had fled;

The earth and sea gave up their dead,

A fire dissolved this ball;

I saw the church’s ransomed throng,

I caught the burden of their song

‘Twas this, that Christ is all.

["Christ is All," W.A. Williams, 1904]


"Brethren, I make known unto you, no man can say anathema Iēsous ["Jesus is accursed"], but that he contradict the Spirit of God; and no man can say kurios Iēsous ["Jesus is Lord"] but that he commit his life and his destiny to the Spirit of God" [1 Corinthians 12:3], the lordship of Jesus.

Now while we sing our song, somebody you, to confess this day his faith in Jesus as Lord, would you come and stand by me?  Someone this day to put his life with us in the church, by letter, by statement, by baptism; however God shall say the word, you come and stand by me.  A family you, one somebody you, as God shall open the door, shall make the appeal, you come and stand by me.  In that topmost balcony, in this great throng, in the press of people on this lower floor, as God shall say the word and lead the way, into the aisle or down the steps, today, giving your heart and life to Christ, or putting your life with us in the church, while we sing, you come, while we stand and while we sing.