Summary: An article from James & Dave’s Bible Page: Understanding what it means to follow Jesus. Can He be Savior, but not Lord?
"These are the signs, these are the signs of life, The love that proves there is a living faith inside..." -Steven Curtis Chapman¹
(Jesus said) " ...why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?" (Luke 6: 46)
Friend, This will be a message in which we get back to basics, and take a sobering look at the most important question of all: Are you saved? Are you prepared for eternity? Do you know that if you died right now, that you would go to Heaven?
To these questions, most of you will probably answer yes, and no doubt, many of you are. You may consider yourself to be a good, even a religious person. You may be a lifelong church member, perhaps even a minister or spiritual leader in some capacity. Regardless, the Bible solemnly exhorts us to examine ourselves, whether we be in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5) and to make our calling and election sure (2 Peter 1:10.) That is why it is vitally important to understand what the Bible says concerning the nature of true, saving faith, and to make an honest assessment of where our own faith stands in comparison.
"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved..." (Acts 16:31.) "...if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved" (Romans 10:9.) Simple enough. However, it is important to understand exactly what is meant by the term "Believe." It is much more than simple mental acknowledgement that the Gospel is true. Even the devils do that, and tremble because of it! (James 2:10)
The Greek word for "believe" in both of these verses is "pisteuo," which means "to commit, to trust, to rely on," not to simply give credence to. Saving faith is a simple, yet deep devotion born from a heart of brokenness and humility, and as we will see, results in a dramatic change in heart and life.
Most people will say they want Jesus, as long as it can be on their own terms, taking Him as Savior, but not as Lord. However, as we will examine in this study, it simply doesn’t work that way. When the rich young ruler walked away (Matthew 19:16-22,) notice that Jesus didn’t offer to renegotiate. He stood firm in His call for total surrender, showing that He is either Lord of our lives, or He is not.
Although it is often ignored in many modern churches, Jesus’ call to follow Him invariably involves a call to forsake sin. Genuine faith brings forth fruits of repentance (Matthew 3:8.) In fact, the first recorded word in Jesus’ public ministry was "Repent." (Matthew 4:17) If you were walking away from me, and I said "Come here," it would be understood that coming to me would involve changing directions. Without repentance from sin, our conversion will not be complete, and we will perish (Luke 13:3.)
Jesus said that those who are truly His sheep will hear His voice, and will follow Him. (John 10: 27) He also taught that those who are of God will hear God’s Words (John 8: 47) and that it will not be those who simply call Him "Lord, Lord" who will inherit the Kingdom of Heaven, but those who actually do the will of His Father (Matthew 7:21.)
Was Jesus teaching that we are saved by works? Not at all. Scripture is very plain that our salvation is solely a gift of God’s grace, which we receive simply by faith, NOT by works (Ephesians 2:8-9.) However, James 2:17 also teaches that faith without works, or corresponding actions, is dead. In other words, we are not saved by works, but true saving faith will produce works as a result. These works spring, not from our own self-effort, but from the new heart that Jesus gives us when He comes into our lives.
When we receive Jesus, our sins are forgiven ( Acts 3:19; 1 John 1:7,9,) we are adopted into the family of God (Romans 8:14-16; Galatians 4:4-5; Ephesians 1:5,) we are cleansed to our innermost beings, becoming totally new creations, renewed in righteousness and true holiness (2 Corinthians 5:17-18; Ephesians 4:24,) and we receive eternal life, to live with God forever! (John 3:14-21) In fact, in John 3:3, Jesus even refers to it as being "Born Again!" Friends, can we honestly believe that we can go through a transformation like this, and not have it impact our lives?
When we belong to Jesus, we are no longer our own. We are bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20,) and our lives are to reflect that. I had a classmate in high school who once said that he went out partying on Saturday nights, and then went to church to "sober up" on Sundays. However, Scripture clearly shows us that this sort of double life is not characteristic of a person who loves God. 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Galatians 5:19-21; and Revelation 21:8 all list activities such as drunkenness, lying, murder, fornication (sex outside of marriage,) idolatry, witchcraft, and a number of other lifestyles, and tells us that those who participate in them will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven. This serves as a very solemn warning to anyone who feels that they can be a Christian, and still live any way they choose. As Romans 6:1-2 puts it "Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid!"