I have been writing on Philippians 3 & 4, this morning as a read from a book I read many years ago, Tortured for Christ, by Richard Wurmbrand, I was reminded of Philippians 2:8-11. I was also reminded of the beginning of the new wording in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s Book of Order which we have just adopted. That is, “standards for ordained service reflect the church’s desire to submit joyfully to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in all aspects of life (G-1.0000).
That name above all names calls the unredeemed to salvation and the redeemed to obedience. And Paul writes that “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 is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” Phil. 210-11).
The book I am rereading is about Wurmbrand’s experiences in Romania after the Russians invaded the country toward the end of World War II. He writes of his prison experiences but he also writes of his witness to the Russians who had invaded his country. He wrote that to preach to the Russians was heaven on earth because they had "such thirsty souls."
Wurmbrand's small book is full of wonderful tales of his ministry. It was reading one of those stories which reminded me that it is no small thing that we are called to submit joyfully to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. I will quote from the book:
Once I saw a Russian lady officer on the street. I approached her and apologized, “I know that it is impolite to approach an unknown lady on the street, but I am a pastor and my intentions are earnest. I wish to speak to you about Christ.”Wurmbrand goes on to remind the reader of Philippians 2:10 and to say that the Russian lady received Christ as savior that day.
She asked me, “Do you love Jesus?” I said, “Yes! With all of my heart.” She fell into my arms and kissed me again and again. It was a very embarrassing situation for a pastor, so I kissed her back, hoping people would think we were relatives. She exclaimed to me, “I love Christ too!” I took her to our home and discovered to my amazement that she knew nothing about Christ—absolutely nothing—except the name. And yet she loved Him. She did not know that He is the Savior, nor what salvation means. She did not know where and how He lived and died. She did not know his teachings, His life or ministry. She was for me a psychological curiosity: how can you love someone if you know only his name?
When I inquired, she explained, “as a child, I was taught to read by pictures. For an ‘a’ there was an apple, for ‘b’ there was a bell, for ‘c’ a cat, and so on.
“When I went to high school, I was taught it was my holy duty to defend the communist fatherland. I was taught about communist morals. But I did not know what a ‘holy duty’ or a ‘moral’ looked like. I needed a picture for these. Now, I knew that our forefathers had a picture for everything beautiful, praiseworthy, and truthful in life. My grandmother always bowed before this picture, saying that it was the picture of one called Cristes (Christ). And I loved this name by itself. This name became so real to me! Just to say this name gave me such joy.”
When we submit to Jesus as Lord, we submit to one who truly names what is beauty, praiseworthy and true. We cannot cling to sin, including sexual sin, and at the same time cling to Jesus. The truths of Scripture as well as our Confessions cannot be flaunted when we sincerely claim and submit to Jesus Christ as our Lord. We have solid ground to stand on in our churches, presbyteries and other high offices. There are no words in our Book of Order which say the word of God or the Confessions are wrong or irrelevant. If Jesus Christ is Lord we will submit. And if we submit we will obey.
---at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth, and under the earth, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.