Do you consider yourself a Christian? There are many variations of self-definition when it comes to faith and Christianity. Some are cultural Christians, some are Christians by birth, some just want to go to Heaven and some are radically transformed sinners who love and serve God. Jesus defines a Christian – his disciples – as those who die to themselves, who have been born again, and who submit to God out of love and thankfulness for the grace given to them. In short, we must surrender our lives to God in order to receive life from Him.
– Matt 16.25
What does this mean, exactly? Theologians have coined a term that defines/explains this reality: Lordship salvation. Or simply, Lordship. If we want to be Christians (mini Christs, followers of Christ), we have to submit to His leadership and authority. Simply, He is in charge. Paul says it this way:
“…if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved…”
– Rom 10.9
When we recognize our sinfulness and helpless state, we turn to Jesus for hope and help. When we confess our sins and inability to honor God, we submit to Jesus for direction and admit that He is the way to righteousness and eternal salvation. He is thus Lord over our lives. He is in charge. He is the authority. Until we recognize the fact that Jesus is indeed the final authority, we are not believers. We must confess with our mouths – and live out the reality that Jesus is Lord because we believe in our hearts that God raised Him from the dead in order to be saved.
Sometimes our logic would tempt us to disbelieve a command or teaching from Scripture. We may try to follow Jesus as a good teacher, picking and choosing the parts of the Bible we like. Sometimes the Bible is taught as a buffet of nuggets of wisdom from which we can choose. But the reality is that we must take it all or none of it. As long as we consider ourselves authoritative to decide the parts we like, the parts we believe, or the parts to which we will submit, we have not made Jesus Lord and are therefore not saved.
Adoniram Judson was the first missionary to Burma (now Myanmar). He gave up his life to serve in this extremely dangerous and difficult place and ultimately left a tremendous legacy of believers behind. While serving, a Buddhist teacher told him that the Gospel he was preaching was unbelievable because no king would allow his son to suffer such indignity. This was Judson’s response:
“Therefore you are not a disciple of Christ. A true disciple inquires not whether a fact is agreeable to his own reason, but whether it is in the book. His pride has yielded to the divine testimony. Teacher, your pride is still unbroken. Break down your pride, and yield to the word of God.”
– Adoniram Judson
Our pride and self autonomy often keeps us from true belief. Either we harbor a sin, or we allow our logic to facilitate disbelief, or we simply treat the teachings and expectations of Scripture as optional. Pride is a wicked enemy against which we must fight continually. Have you confessed Jesus as Lord over your life? Have you recognized His power? Are you submitting yourself to Him and dying to yourself? Or are you still just enjoying the little pearls of wisdom from the buffet of Scripture? Do you have a verse or promise that makes you feel better, even though you make your own decisions, you practice things that God calls sin, and you live life the way you want to live it?
Let us break down our pride. Let us submit to Jesus who is Lord over us and over all of reality. Let us recognize that God has revealed Himself in Scripture and given us everything that we need for life and godliness therein (2 Peter 1.3). Let us turn to Him, submit to Him and die to ourselves so that we might have eternal life.