Romans 10:5–9 (ESV)
For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
The beauty of this passage is that it shows that getting into heaven isn’t about trying to get into heaven. If you claim Jesus as Lord, then he’s your savior. You do not have to understand how all this works.
This is critical. The thief on the cross didn’t understand the plan of redemption. All he knew was that Jesus was coming into His kingdom and that His crucifixion wasn’t going to stop that.
One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” — Luke 23:39-43 (ESV)
But there’s another important consideration. In Romans 10:9, the words, “Jesus is Lord” can be taken two different ways — “Jesus is the Lord,” or, “Jesus is my Lord.”
The first is obvious. The world was created through Jesus and he is the Lord of his own creation. This is good to know, but it isn’t saving faith.
You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! — James 2:19 (ESV)
“Jesus is Lord” should be understood as, “Jesus is my Lord.” This is the key to life. All the rest of Christian doctrine is worth studying—and will help you to be a more effective servant of your Lord—but the lordship of Jesus Christ is the essence of Christianity. If sin is rebellion against God, then declaring Jesus as Lord is the opposite.
It’s the first step on the long road to recovery.
The number one thing a servant of the Lord must do is pray for direction. What does He want you to do? Does He want you to grow in some way? Does a great task lie ahead? Discipleship is first listening.
Jesus is a loving boss, but He may call you to more action than you think you’re ready for. Ask Him for strength. Recommit to his Lordship and ask Him to make you a better servant.
And beware, it may take a while to be sure about His answer. Sometimes it helps to have a friend to bounce things off of—especially if you’re unsure or afraid of what you’re being called to.
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