This is probably one of the most important articles in the series that I have been writing on the Names (characteristics) of God. If this Name were understood by every member of every Christian church and personally applied, then there would be a literal revolution overnight in the state of the Church in the USA and around the world. The church would stop being a “sleeping giant” and the message of the Gospel would reach every nook and cranny of the earth. The process of discipleship would flourish and the world would be transformed. In the Bible, when referring to Jesus Christ, He is mentioned not as Lord or Savior but as Lord and Savior. Unfortunately, in our modern age, even in the church, Jesus is presented as your Savior but not necessarily your Lord. I have heard testimony after testimony of people who say, “Jesus became my Savior when I was 6 but He did not become Lord of my life until I was 30.” I want you to keep this in mind as we study the word “Adonai“. Can Jesus be your Savior without being your Lord? Can you benefit from all of the other characteristics of God while refusing Him His Lordship? We will discover the answers to these questions and many, many more during the course of this article.
I. The definition of the word Adonai and some practical examples will help us understand the importance of knowing God in this manner
In fact this is the starting point of a personal relationship with God and the key that opens the door to all of the benefits of knowing God. God is not like a buffet where you pick and choose what you want. God is a packaged deal, you take the whole thing or nothing at all. In the Greek language, there are 2 words that translate to the English word “Lord”. They are “kurios” and “despotes”. Kurios means “one who is supreme in authority, ruler, controller”. Despotes mean “absolute ruler”. The Greek words carry the meaning of one who has ownership of and complete authority over. Jesus is referred to as “Lord” in the New T. He is the Lord over the life of His disciples. That is why we have the expression “I gave my life to Christ”. It literally means that we remove the steering wheel of our lives from our own hands and give it to Jesus Christ. When He says, “jump” our response is not “why” but instead, “how high?”. This is the calling that Jesus gives to anyone who wants Him as Savior.
25 Now large crowds were going along with Him; and He turned and said to them, 26 “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. 27 “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. (Luke 14:25-27)
Many people were following Jesus hoping to “benefit” from knowing Him yet they did not want to submit to His Lordship. Since He knows the thoughts and intentions of every human, Jesus decides to show them what it will cost them to have Him as Savior. First, you have to come to Him which implies leaving something behind. He then explains what you have to be willing to leave behind; everything including; father, mother, wife, children, brothers, sisters, even your own life. Then He takes it a step further by saying that we have to carry our cross in order to be His disciples and have Him as Savior. The expression “carry your cross” does not mean the burdens of life (ex. you were born with a deformity and that is your cross to bear). To carry your cross means to walk the road from sentencing to execution. Your life is over, you are condemned to death. In this case, Jesus says “give up control of your life and walk according to My Lordship and then you can be My disciple and I will be your Savior”. It is a difficult teaching and many cannot bear it. They could not then and they cannot today. What about you, are you one of the few who can bear this statement or one of the many who prefer the benefits of having Jesus as Savior yet refusing to make Him Lord? Please do not deceive yourself thinking that you can fool God by having Jesus as Savior but not as Lord.
II. This idea of ownership, Lordship carries over from the Old T. Hebrew word “adonai” which also means “supreme ruler”
God revealed Himself to Abraham in Genesis 15 as “Adonai”. When Abraham entered into covenant with God, he knew that he was joining himself to “Adonai” his supreme ruler and master. In other words, Abraham not only received the benefits of knowing God, he also bowed his knee to the Lordship of God in his life. As I said before, it is a packaged deal when referring to God. Who is the supreme master of your life? Is it you or is it God? Is it God or is it something else (like a vice, ex. nicotine, alcohol, lust, food, etc.)? Do you claim to have Jesus as your Savior but not your Lord? Do you see how absurd that sounds when you understand what God’s Word says?
III. There is a specific order in God’s revelation in the Bible and the order is crucial to our understanding of who God is and how He works
- God first reveals Himself as the all powerful Creator or Elohym (Genesis 1)
- Then He reveals Himself as God Most High or El Elyon (Genesis 14)
- Next He reveals Himself as Supreme Master or Adonai (Genesis 15)
- Then and only then does He reveal Himself as the giver and sustainer of life or El Shaddai (Genesis 17)
In other words, you must first realize that He created you. Then you must realize that He is supreme over everything. After that, you make Him Lord of your life and finally He becomes your El Shaddai. Knowledge of who God is leads to understanding. Understanding leads to acceptance and acceptance leads to the benefits. There can be no other way, according to the Word of God. So I ask again, can God be your Savior without being your Lord? Keep in mind that salvation is a benefit and we have clearly seen that the Lordship comes before the benefits.
IV. There are specific responsibilities to having God as your Adonai and the Word of God explains what they are, step by step
- Serve Him (Psalm 119:125)
- Obey Him and do not excuse yourself (Judges 6:14-16, Luke 6:46, Matthew 7:21-27)
- Live for Him (Philippians 1:20-21)
V. There are numerous benefits to know God as Adonai
- Salvation (Romans 10:8-10)
- Righteousness (being right with God) also see Romans 10
- Protection (Psalm 141:8-10)
- Knowledge, Understanding, and Wisdom (Psalm 119:125, Matthew 7:21-27)
- Victory over the enemy (our flesh) Judges 6:14-16
- Entrance into the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 7:21-27)
- Sin debt is paid (Isaiah 6:1-8)
- Forgiveness (Isaiah 6:1-8)
- Freedom from sin’s enslaving power (Romans 6:16-17)
- Ability to be obedient to God
The line has been drawn is the sand. Which side will you choose? Jesus spoke of those who will and will not choose the narrow path.
13 “Enter through the narrow gate ; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14 “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. (Matthew 7)
Many want to accept Jesus as Savior but not so much as Lord. Few are those who will give up everything to follow Jesus. Do you see the parallels between the teachings about God (Jesus) being Adonai and the Words of Christ in Matthew 7? May God help us understand who He is and live accordingly.