Savior, Lord, or Both?

Starting point
I think a good starting point in answering this question is Isaiah 43:11, which says, “I, even I, am the LORD, and there is no savior besides Me” (which means they are inextricably connected!) and the words of the angel Gabriel, who said, “do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11), and “to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.” (Jude 1:25)

Some tidbits

  • In the NASB, the word ‘savior’ appears 37 times in 37 verses (13x OT; 24xNT). In Hebrew the word for ‘savior’ is ‘yasha`’ which can mean ‘to save, to deliver, to help, to preserve, to avenge, to be victorious’. In the Greek the word is ‘sōtēr’ and comes from the root ‘sōzō’ which means ‘to save, to make whole, to heal, to be whole’.
  • In the NASB, the word ‘LORD’ appears 7873 times in 6679 verses (6063x OT; 616x NT). In Hebrew the word for ‘LORD’ is mostly ‘Yĕhovah’ which means ‘the existing One’. In the Greek the word is ‘kyrios’ and comes from the root ‘kuros’ which means ‘supremacy’.
  • Peter is the only New Testament writer you uses the term ‘Lord and savior’ (in 2 Pet. 1:11; 2:20; 3:2; 3:18).

To me, there is a huge difference between God being my savior or God being my Lord. He is first of all my savior in that He saved me, delivered me (redeemed me) from from so many things. From God’s wrath in the first place and from myself in the second place. He also rescued me from the domain of darkness and transferred me to the kingdom of Jesus (Col. 1:13). It goes without saying that all of this is fully by His grace and all accomplished by justification (the past tense of being saved) and will be fully completed ultimately by glorification (the future tense of being saved). For a lot of people, who see God only as their savior, this is where it ends. God saves as a once-and-for-all deal, they continue living without change, and they will be glorified at the end.

But, He is also my savior on a day-to-day basis. This is sanctification (the present tense of being saved), a process which will take a lifetime. By the power of the Holy Spirit, through the completed work of Jesus Christ, becoming more and more like Jesus, continuously being purified until God the Father sees His image in my life. This process, through faith, is what can only happen when you see God not only as savior but also as Lord. In my research for this question I came across the following verse, which I think says it all. It’s Isaiah 48:17 which says, “I am the LORD your God, who teaches you to profit, who leads you in the way you should go.” Do I need to say more? I don’t think so. How can I not want to follow Him?! “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Mat. 11:28-30). But, although His yoke is easy, that doesn’t mean it will be easy. We must allow the dead to bury the dead (Mat. 8:22), we must deny ourselves (Mat. 16:24), we must serve Jesus (John 12:26), and we must be like sheep (John 10:27).

This to me is the difference between seeing God as savior and seeing God as Lord. And boy, what a challenge it is! Maybe that’s the reason why the word ‘Lord’ appears 213 times more in the Bible than the word ‘savior’?

One thought on “Savior, Lord, or Both?

  1. I am in a discussion with some people about this very subject right now. If God saves us isn’t there a point where we become accountable to know Him and follow Him and abide in His doctrine?

    Can Jesus be JUST your savior and never your Lord???

    If you look at scriptures like Matt 7:21-23, Luke 13:25-27; Reve 21:8; 2 Corinthians 5:17
    (we are new creatures); Plus many other scriptures – there is a transformation of those that believe.

    However, the argument I am hearing is that people can simply be saved by acknowledging Jesus is Lord without ever changing. Knowing that we must be Known by Him and Have His spirit (Rom 8:9); and abide in His Doctrine (2 John 9) how can anyone make that argument?
    They never use scripture to prove argument that you don’t have to change. The most common one is the theif on the cross (which didn’t have time to change); and if someone dies on their deathbed (again not having time to change).

    More proof texts:
    Ephesians 4:18-25 (KJV); Colossians 3:1-11; 1 Corinthians 15:1-3; 2 Peter 2:19-22


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