It has been a few weeks since we last studied the great New Testament doctrine that Jesus is Lord. In Romans 10, the apostle Paul makes a powerful case for submitting to Jesus as Lord for salvation. He says that if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord you are really saying that what is true about Jesus is also true of God. The word “confess” literally means to say the same thing.
To confess Jesus as Lord means to declare openly—to publicly acknowledge—that Jesus is your Kurios, your Master and Lord. This was the earliest confession of the Christian church. In order to be baptized, before you would actually go under the water, you had to publicly say, “Jesus is Kurios.”
I think you understand it’s not merely mouthing the words or a mantra that grants you admission into Christ’s kingdom. Jesus refutes such ideas in Matthew 7:21 when He says, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven…” (emphasis added). Jesus says that you have to believe in your heart, not merely recite words. It’s out of that belief that comes the confession of Jesus as Lord.
What does it mean to confess Jesus is Lord? Jesus defined it for us in John 13: you must acknowledge His right to rule you. In other words, Jesus becomes your Master and you become His doulos (slave). Of course, this confession includes biblical repentance and belief in Christ alone. But it also means submitting your will to His good and perfect will.
There is a second condition that must be met in order for true salvation to be a reality: not only must you confess Jesus as Lord (see previous blog entry), you must believe in your heart the content of the gospel message.
I want you to see that this condition is not separate from the first condition. Rather, they’re two different ways to describe the same content of faith. Romans 10:9 teaches that confessing and believing produce spiritual salvation. Then, Paul states that believing the gospel results in righteousness, that is, a right standing before God, and confessing results in salvation (10:10). Do you see how Paul mixes everything together? In other words, the two conditions are really just one condition. This is what true saving faith looks like. Both conditions are simply two sides of the same coin. Truly believing the facts about Jesus with your heart produces a true confession of Him as Lord.
Paul continues by stating a promise for all of those who confess and believe in Jesus as Lord: “for “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved” (10:13). That is a divine promise!
The Christian church has always understood the Bible as teaching a proper confession of Jesus as Lord for salvation. Charles Spurgeon writes, “You cannot have Christ for your Savior unless you also have Him as Lord.” R. A. Torey, the former president of Moody Bible Institute, wrote, “Lead the person as directly as you can to accept Jesus as personal Savior and to surrender to Him as his Lord and Master.” Griffith Thomas, who was one of the cofounders of Dallas Theological Seminary, wrote:
We have to acknowledge Christ as our Lord. Sin is rebellion, and it is only as we surrender to Him as Lord that we receive our pardon from Him as our Savior. We have to admit Him to reign on the throne of the heart, and it is only when He is glorified in our hearts as King that the Holy Spirit enters and abides. There should be no gap, no interval, between the acceptance of Christ as Savior and the surrender to Him as Lord. His full title is Jesus Christ our Lord, and the full extent of its meaning, though, of course not its full depth, is intended to be realized from our very first experience of His saving presence and power. This initial act of surrender, however, is but the beginning of a life of surrender. The act must develop into an attitude, this has been recognized by God’s true children in all ages.
Martin Lloyd Jones adds, “You cannot receive Christ as your justification only, and then later decide to refuse or to accept Him as your sanctification. He is one and indivisible. You cannot receive Him as your Savior only and later decide to accept or refuse Him as your Lord.”
That is just a few of many voices that speak through church history on this issue.
Let me emphasize this again, you must confess Jesus as Lord in order to become a Christian. My question for you today is not, “did you pray a prayer at some point in the past? Did you walk down an aisle, or sign a card? Did you throw a stick in the fire at some camp?” My question to you this morning—it’s ultimately Jesus’ question to you—is, “Have you ever truly confessed Jesus as your Lord, as your Sovereign, and as your Master? If you have not, then you are not a Christian, because this is the essence of true saving faith. But if you will turn from your sins today and confess Him as Lord, He will save you. That is the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ.