A Thoughtful Response I Wouldn’t Have Given

“But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that 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;”  Romans 10:8-9

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me;  and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.  My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” John 10:27-19

I recently came across a questionnaire given to a candidate being considered for a youth minister position.   The way the candidate answered one of the questions really made me stop and think.  At first, I was troubled by his answer.  However, after thinking over his response, I found agreement with him. Here’s the question to which I refer:

Can a person have Christ as his Savior without submitting to Him as Lord? Please explain.

When I read the question, I thought it was for sure about the difference between Easy Believeism and Lordship Salvation.   Given the context of the questionnaire (youth ministry), I think this is a reasonable assumption.  Nearly three out of every five young Christians (59 percent) disconnect from church life, either permanently or for a long period of time after the age of 15.   There are questions in the minds of many as to whether those “Christians” who made a profession of faith as a child, left the church as they entered adulthood, and never returned were ever really saved (regenerate).  I’ve personally heard people give testimonies about making getting saved as adults after having made a “walk the aisle” type of decision as a child and leading a sinful life thereafter. Obviously, a youth minister needs to be able to teach young people a proper and biblical understanding of what it means to be saved.

I think Paul, in Romans 10:8-9, makes it clear that a person cannot have Christ as his savior without submitting to Him as Lord.  I don’t want to make seem salvation seem formulaic, but this seems like a simple matter of logic:

  1. If someone confesses Christ as Lord and believes that God raised Him from the dead, then he will be saved.
  2. Someone confesses Christ as Lord.
  3. Someone believes that God raised Christ from the Dead.
  4. Therefore, he will be saved.

Both #1 and #2 must be true of individual for him to be saved. If #2 does not apply to an individual, salvation does not result.  He will not be saved. (Bear with me, I am not denying the antecedent.) There are plenty of children raised in church who grow up believing in the resurrection of Christ but later doubt the gospel accounts and abandon belief in the historicity of that event.  If these children were saved by their former belief alone, then they lost their salvation when they ceased to believe.  Yet, salvation, once attained, cannot be lost; Jesus makes this much clear in John 10:27-29. The perseverance of the saints must be affirmed.  In other words, once saved, always saved.  Again, we can examine the matter logically.

  1. If someone is saved, then he will confess Christ as Lord.
  2. Someone is saved.
  3. Therefore, he will confess Christ as Lord.

Confessing Christ as Lord is a necessary condition of salvation.  Of course, we must not forget the role of repenting of one’s sins.  In repenting of one’s sins, one not only admits that he has sins from which to repent but acknowledges that there is a Lord (Jesus) to which to repent (and confess).  The answer to the question, from a Lordship perspective, is clear.  A person cannot have Christ as his Savior without submitting to Him as Lord.

Here is how the candidate answered:

“I must confess, I am not exactly sure how to understand this question; and I don’t want to read or guess what’s behind it. But if I understand the question correctly, “Can a person…” I would say, Yes, Christians certainly have a free will and can choose to not submit to Christ as their Lord. Obviously there are countless Biblical examples of even where God’s greatest (Moses, David, Abraham, etc) chose to sin; and obviously they were saved. Since you did not ask, I will refrain from expounding on what happens when one chooses to sin against their Lord…but suffice to say, no good comes from it!”

Obviously, this is not how I would have answered the question!  However, I think the candidate should be commended for taking a minute to think about the intention of the question, not assuming that he knew the intent behind it, and admitting as much.  The candidate answered the question from a different perspective than the one I read into the question.

What we see in the candidate’s answer seems to be a firm denial of the idea that engaging in sin can cause a Christian to lose his salvation.  What no church should want is a bunch of kids running around scared that they lost their salvation because they committed a sin (disobeyed God)!  Here, the candidate addresses a very relevant issue.  He addressed Lordship, in the terms of the question, in a very different way than I thought of it.  Perhaps, he did so in the context of the following words of Jesus.

“Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?  Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and acts on them, I will show you whom he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock; and when a flood occurred, the torrent burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built.  But the one who has heard and has not acted accordingly, is like a man who built a house on the ground without any foundation; and the torrent burst against it and immediately it collapsed, and the ruin of that house was great.” Luke 6:46-49

Even though every Christian has submitted, in repentance, to Jesus as Lord, sometimes Christians act as if Jesus is not their Lord by defying him in acts of sin.  Instead of submitting to the will of God, they act in the will of their own flesh.  Thankfully, Jesus does not forsake their salvation for such acts of sin.

There is certainly something to be considered in my experience.  Sometimes, we theologically-minded Christians get so concerned over sensitive issues such as easy believeism (which, let me be clear, is not a biblical doctrine) that we tend to read it into the statements of others who don’t word their statements exactly as we would.  I almost did so when I first read this candidate’s response.  However, after thinking about it, I do not think he was advocating easy believeism but rather the perseverance of the saints.  So really, he and I are on the same page.  If I had been looking for a problem, I would have found one.  Instead, I took a step back, thought for a minute, and found agreement.

Praise God.  I hope you’ll all join me in praying for this candidate and the church which is considering him.  I think he will do well.

Furthermore, I pray that if you’ve never accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior by repenting of your sins.  I pray you’ll do that now in the attitude of your own heart.

*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion.  It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled.  Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.

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