Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Every Knee Will Bow

By Bruce Mills
Recently I’ve been thinking about the verses found in Philippians 2:10-11, which read: “so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

A few implications of these verses have been sort of rattling around in my head. First, it strikes me that those who oppose what they refer to as “Lordship Salvation” have not considered what it means that “every knee will bow…and…every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.” What is pictured here is the final judgment; that event at which unredeemed mankind will bend the knee and acknowledge that Jesus is the Sovereign Ruler of the universe, with the just right to do whatever He wishes with their lives. The corollary truth which stands in contrast to that fact is that those who are redeemed have already bowed the knee and acknowledged Him as their Lord. Thus, genuine salvation must include the individual’s surrender to the authority of Christ to reign over his life. The believer may not fully understand the significance of what such means, but there must be a willing submission to Christ or their supposed salvation is spurious. So, while believers have already acknowledged Christ’s lordship over their lives at the time of salvation, the unredeemed will only acknowledge His lordship when it is too late. But the point is simply that eventually everyone will acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord.

The second implication flows out of the first. It is not original with me, but it is a powerful thought. James Montgomery Boice once articulated this idea. He said that when every knee bows and every tongue confesses Christ as Lord, they are acknowledging that He is righteous and just in sending them to hell for all of eternity. His logic was that since mankind will be acknowledging that Jesus is the Sovereign God of all and therefore perfect in every way, His decision to condemn them to hell is a right and perfect and just decision because they deserve that penalty for their sin against His infinite holiness. This line of reasoning is certainly borne out in Isaiah 45:23-24, the passage which is quoted in Philippians 2:10-11. God, speaking through the prophet, says, “I have sworn by Myself, the word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness and will not turn back, that to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance. They will say of Me, ‘Only in the Lord are righteousness and strength.’ Men will come to Him, and all who are angry at Him will be put to shame.”

Finally, as I pondered these things, I noticed the rather obvious conclusion which one must draw when Isaiah’s statement is compared with Paul’s statement in Philippians. In Isaiah, God says, “that to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance.” But when Paul quotes that statement in Philippians, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he says, “at the name of Jesus every knee will bow…and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.” So, we understand from Paul that it was Jesus who was speaking when Isaiah quoted God (YHWH). So Jesus and YHWH are one-and-the-same. When we teach about a Trinitarian God, some people misunderstand and think we are speaking of three Gods, rather than One. But although we can never satisfactorily explain nor completely understand how God can be three persons, yet one God, that is the clear teaching of Scripture. God the Son is just as fully, infinitely, and completely YHWH as are God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. So when Isaiah says that every tongue will swear allegiance to YHWH, it is synonymous with Paul’s statement that every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord.

I hope you will also think on these things, and that you have already bowed the knee and sworn allegiance to Christ. If not, I plead with you to come to Christ today before you find yourself bowing the knee to Him when it is too late to avoid eternal condemnation.


Adam Pastor said...

Greetings Bruce

On the subject of a Trinitarian God,
I recommend this video:
The Human Jesus

Take a couple of hours to watch it; and prayerfully it will aid you to reconsider "a Trinitarian God"

Yours In Messiah
Adam Pastor

Bruce Mills said...

The viewpoint expressed in the recommended video link is not historic, orthodox Christianity. The doctrine of the Trinity was taught by the early church fathers, then affirmed clearly as orthodox doctrine at the Council of Nicea in 325 AD. To understand the development of the doctrine of the Trinity in Christian thought, I recommend the chapter devoted to this topic in Dr. John Hannah's book, Our Legacy: The History of Christian Doctrine.