What does “Jesus is Lord” actually mean?


This note is dedicated to many who condemn themselves who find themselves, unable to continue the Christian faith failing to live up to the “standards of “biblical” Christianity.

Many people claimed that unless Jesus is your Lord in every area, you are not saved. They argue you have to confess “Jesus is Lord” and thus you have to “make him Lord before you can be saved”. This teaching is called “Lordship salvation”.

The sound of such “gospel” sounds familiar. Here is a typical one:

“Some say all you have to do is just believe, sign a card on the dotted line, walk the aisle, raise your hand, or go to the prayer room. The problem is, when people think they’ll become saved by doing those things, they aren’t on the right road…

I don’t believe it’s easy to be saved. That’s cheap grace or easy believism. That’s the revivalist approach: Raise your hand, walk the aisle, sign the card, and you’re in…

You have to come through the narrow gate in total abandonment to Christ. I do not believe that a person can be regenerate by adding Jesus Christ to his carnal activities.”

Such teachers justify their views by saying that Romans 10:9 states that Jesus must be Lord in your life before you can be saved.

Romans 10:9

New International Version (NIV)

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

As such many believers are not assured that they are saved.

Dear friends, It must be noted that Paul is a Jew and that the only Scripture he would understand is the Old Testament. Hence, when Paul asks us to confess Jesus is Lord in Romans 10, he has 2 passages in mind. Here it is the first.

Philippians 2:10-11

New International Version (NIV)

10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

It is important for us to note that Paul the subject Paul was addressing in Romans 10. Let me try to give you a running commentary.

Romans 10:1-11

New International Version (NIV)

10 Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledgeSince they did not know the righteousness of God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.

Moses writes this about the righteousness that is by the law: “The person who does these things will live by them.”[a] But the righteousness that is by faith says: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’”[b] (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the deep?’”[c] (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).

But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,”[d] that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim: If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.

Paul in dealing with this chapter is highlighting a very important issue. There is a righteousness which comes from God and it cannot be establish by the Law. So the Jews sought after their own righteousness.

Paul calls this righteousness the “the righteousness that is by the law” from Moses. It comes fro doing (“does these things”). It is a righteousness that is full of zeal but without “knowledge”.

The other comes from Jesus. The words “culmination of the law” means that he has fulfilled the law and thus is enabled to impute his righteousness to all who believe whether Jew or Gentile. If righteousness comes through the Law then only the Jews have a possibility of being saved. The Gentiles who do not know the Law will all be lost. Paul is therefore speaking about a righteousness that comes from faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus as his righteousness.

1 Corinthians 1:30-31

New International Version (NIV)

30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”

Hence Paul tells the Romans, there is no need to climb mountains to reach the heavens or to dive into the sea. Salvation is near, it is in your mouth. As such salvation from the law comes from doing (which is impossible) but salvation from grace and faith comes from speaking.

Hence, when a person confesses “Jesus is Lord” and believes in his heart, God raised him up, he is saved. In other words, Paul is highlighting how easy is one to be saved as opposed to doing everything the Law desired. As such to teach that there must be radical submission of every part of your life to Christ to be saved is totally against the message of Paul here.

It is important hence to note what Paul meant by “Jesus is Lord” in the context of Romans 10. He was actually referring to the text below:

Isaiah 45:23-25

Amplified Bible (AMP)

23 I have sworn by Myself, the word is gone out of My mouth in righteousness and shall not return, that unto Me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear [allegiance].

24 Only in the Lord shall one say, I have righteousness (salvation and victory) and strength [to achieve]. To Him shall all come who were incensed against Him, and they shall be ashamed.

25 In the Lord shall all the offspring of Israel be justified (enjoy righteousness, salvation, and victory) and shall glory.

Notice these words “the word is gone out of My mouth”, it is the righteousness that came out of God’s mouth. In Paul’s words “The word is in your mouth”. Notice also the words, “In the Lord… all shall be justified”. Our justification comes from the Lord, by our tongue swearing, “Only in the Lord, I have righteousness”. Paul hence is saying righteousness comes from the Lord, not the law when he quoted this in Romans 10:9.

He is saying “Jesus is now my righteousness” and that “we are all justified by Him”. The Lord is his righteousness. He is not saying unless Jesus is Lord of every area of your life, you cannot be saved. Honestly can anyone truly say that “every part of my life belongs to Jesus?” The only one that can is a hypocrite. Is your thought life thoroughly clean? Are you fully contended? Do you not wish you had more money, more people in your church, a bigger building? Have you never been worried? Have you ever been jealous? Have you never been self righteous? Have you never thought of yourself better than another person? Well I have.

Hence what does it mean by “Jesus is Lord”?

It is pertinent to note that this is a reference to Jesus being seated on the Father’s right hand. Many people attribute Jesus’ judgment seat as a place of judgment. Yet, in the Old Testament, the seat of the Messiah is found between the two cherubim and on the ark. It is called the mercy seat. The writer of Hebrews mentions these verses:

Hebrews 1:3

New International Version (NIV)

The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being,sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.

He is seated there because your sins have been purified. Your sins have been taken away once and for all. He is your Great High Priest. Now when you go to this seat, you will find this:

Hebrews 4:16

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

The throne of Jesus, the judgment seat of Jesus is the Mercy Seat of the Old Testament.

As such, Jesus is made Lord for my forgiveness. He was made Lord to give me grace. He was crowned Lord to make me righteous in Jesus and not by my works. It is his Lordship that saves me. Jesus does not need me to make Him Lord. He is already Lord independent of my actions. His Love for me will melt me into submission. My righteousness is not based on how much I make Jesus Lord. It is how his Lordship makes me righteous. Only in Jesus am I righteous.

I close with another message from His throne.

Revelation 1:4

John, To the seven churches in the province of Asia: Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne…”

Jesus is Lord. I am bowed down with gratefulness and in worship.  Its his Lordship that justifies me, finally a man is worthy to sit in that throne.


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