by Joseph Franks
Have you ever said, “No Lord!”
I must admit, I have said this to my God on numerous occasions. I have said “No Lord!” when He has called me to go and minister. I have said these words when He has led me to stay put and soldier on. I have said “No Lord!” when he has answered my prayer with “No Joe.” And I quite often reject my Sovereign when through his Law he calls me to loathe sin and love righteousness. Then I follow this up by regularly saying or thinking “No Lord!” when he tells me how beloved, forgiven, reconciled, righteous, and blessed I am despite my putrid transgressions. Yes, far too often and far too regularly I respond to proclamations from my King with a humbly-clothed arrogance; too many times God hears me say to him, “No Lord!”
That being confessed, from a quick study of scripture it appears I am not alone. The Bible is full of worshipers who proclaim “No Lord!” in their hearts, mouths, and actions. The Bible is full of God’s saints who have responded with the same humbly-clothed arrogance.
For example, God came to Moses saying, “Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.” To God’s revelation Moses said, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” In effect he said, “No Lord!” and this was not the last time. Several times, in several different manners, and with increasing boldness and folly, Moses rejected the declaration of his Sovereign. (Exodus 3:10ff)
Then there was Jeremiah. He verbally responded to God in a similar fashion. God approached his young prophet and said, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah responded, “Ah Lord” or “No way God!” He continued, “I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.” Jeremiah was sure his King was giving orders to the wrong individual. (Jeremiah 1:5ff)
However, no one said “No Lord!” with as much vigor as did Saint Peter. He did so when Jesus told him of his own upcoming arrest, torture, and death. (Matthew 16:22) Peter did it again when Jesus commanded him to forsake his Jewish Ceremonial Laws and Traditions and eat barbecue with his Gentile neighbors. With emphasis Peter said to Jesus, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” (Acts 10:9-14)
Throughout the Bible, over and over again, God’s children responded to him with “I don’t think so!” or “You’ve got to be kidding” or “You must be mistaken.” Far too often, Jesus’ worshipers hear his proclamations and respond with a humbly-clothed arrogance, “No way Lord!”
Well, last night, I was in a meeting with a representative from Evangelism Explosion, and during his presentation he made the statement:
When someone says, “No Lord!” they have to be insincere in one of those two words.
That got me thinking …
When some say “No Lord,” they are proclaiming insincere praise. With their mouths they are giving title and tribute to God, but there is a wide gulf between their words and their affections. They are insincere in calling Jesus, “Lord.” They are very sincere in saying, “No.”
However, when some say “No Lord,” they strangely prove to be insincere in their rejection of Jesus’ declaration, and this is the case for all the men listed above. Ultimately, God led all these sinful saints to accept and pursue that which they verbally rejected. Moses became Israel’s prophet and savior. Jeremiah spoke to several nations during his life, and he speaks to all nations through his writings today. And Peter was consistently being rebuked and reformed. His “No Lord” became a “Yes Lord” over and over again. All these men were sincere in their “Lord.” By grace they proved to be “insincere” in their “No.”
This leads me to the following application:
Sadly, when I say “No Lord,” I prove my self-worship and my poor recognition of God’s sovereignty over every part of my life.
Gladly, though I far too often say “No Lord,” my gracious God changes my affections, thinking, proclamation, and actions, and he proves my initial rejection to be insincere.
Friends, have you said “No Lord” to Jesus’ missional calling and evangelism?
Have you said, “No Lord” to self-denial, staying the course, suffering, and sacrifice?
Do the words, “No Lord” come out when God answers your prayer in a negative fashion?
Did you hear God’s good Law and say, “No Lord” to his call to holiness, purity, obedience, and worship?
Then, seeing your sin and hearing the Gospel, are you still stiff-arming your Savior as he comes to you and whisper’s Gospel truth, “I know all your sins. I have recorded them all — past, present, and future.” I have come to earth and earned 100% of the righteousness you need for your account. There is nothing left for you to pay. I have stayed on earth and died on the cross for all your wicked affections, thoughts, words, and deeds. I have paid for every one of them — past, present, and future. There is no condemnation for you in any way. You are saved. You are a new person. You are a saint. You are the Father’s beloved son and with you he is well pleased. You are the sacred temple of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, come boldly before the throne of the holy, holy, holy God, for this is exactly where you belong.”
Oh friends, let us respond as did Moses, Jeremiah, and Peter. Though we have dishonored our King by saying “No Lord,” let us now honor him by proving the insincerity of our “No.” Let us repent of our humbly-clothed arrogance and say “Yes Lord!” to all he declares.