Make Him Lord or Confess Him as Lord?

Have you ever been asked or heard someone ask, “Have you made Jesus Lord of your life?”

The idea comes from this scripture:

9 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved;
(Romans 10:9, NASB).

Let’s get one thing straight. He already is Lord. You don’t make Him Lord or unmake Him Lord by your obedience or your disobedience. Your promise or vow or statement that you have made Him Lord or that you will make Him Lord of your life is worthless. Do you really believe that He is controlled by your successes or limited by your failures? You are not the one in control of His Lordship. You do not define His Lordship by your actions. You don’t make Him Lord, you confess Him as Lord. When you sin, still He is Lord. When you are righteous, still, He is Lord. You are not Lord. He is Lord. There is a world of difference between “making” Him Lord and “confessing” Him as Lord. When you confess, you acknowledge a truth that you have been resisting. Doesn’t this turn the tables?!

Making Him Lord involves seizing control of the situation, and by your own volition causing His Lordship to come to be. In effect, if you make Him Lord, He is not Lord. You are Lord, and you are granting Him Lordship. You may think this is the way it is, but it is not this way. The power of legalism, and of life in the world of the knowledge of good and evil, is that I am Lord, and that I am greater than God and that I can control God. I can, in fact make God – I can make Him Lord. That means you actually believe that you hold the authority to grant or withhold sovereignty over God Almighty. May it never be!

The way of liberation and freedom is the way of confession. Confession releases you from your own failed Lordship. When you sin, still He is Lord over you. He is the giver of grace, He is the fixer, He is the doctor. You come broken and sick, poor and mourning and hungry. You have nothing but your confession: I am not Lord. I am too small and ignorant and inconstant. I am not the one who grants sovereignty, He is. I once had a false notion of my own control over the world, over God, over myself. I confess this control was a falsehood, and even a sin. I do not have control over the world – my afflictions and problems and irritations tell me that much. I do not have control over God – my few paltry unanswered prayers and my tepid worship and love for Him tell me that. I do not have control over myself – my sins and habits and hangups tell me that. I cannot control my errant heart. I give up my Lordship and confess that I am a very bad Lord. He is Lord, not me. I give up my right to “make” Him Lord. I confess that despite me, He is Lord. I finally surrender to the truth: He, and He alone, by His own power and choice, is Lord.

Let’s look at the context surrounding this verse:

1 Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation.
2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge.
3 For not knowing about God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God.
4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
5 For Moses writes that the man who practices the righteousness which is based on law shall live by that righteousness.
6 But the righteousness based on faith speaks thus, “DO NOT SAY IN YOUR HEART, ‘WHO WILL ASCEND INTO HEAVEN?’ (that is, to bring Christ down),
7 or ‘WHO WILL DESCEND INTO THE ABYSS?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).”
8 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,
9 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved;
10 for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.
12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call upon Him;
(Romans 10:1-13, NASB).

Paul is not talking about a vow of behavioral fitness by which we control God! He has just spent 8 chapters outlining the scandalous free gift of grace – a grace forged by Christ at the price of His own blood while we were yet sinners! He is saying that his brethren the Jews have a zeal, but not in accordance with the grace that comes through the cross of Christ. He is talking about confessing Him as Lord by believing in the gospel, and in doing so dying to your own efforts and control and earnings. This is starkly contrasted with a works based mentality, right here in this paragraph. Nothing could possibly be further from the meaning of Romans 10:9 than the usual idea proffered about “making” Him Lord by promising or vowing a more stringent obedience. We die – we throw this all away. We fall completely and totally on His mercy and His mercy alone.

He is already Lord, and He has been before the beginning of time. When we surrender and confess this, we enter our rest, and give up our ridiculous notions of being God’s God. We give up our efforts by right or by sin to craft our own blessing. We do not make Him Lord – we confess Him as Lord.

Consider that a stronghold which has been torn down in your mind now (2 Corinthians 10:5).

Blessings and peace and grace!

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  1. Sounds like that one has been bugging you for awhile! I bet you feel better! :-). Hit the nail on the head Jim. Picture speaks a thousand words on the top. If those that teach this would just turn a few books over to Colossians they would see that Christ is the believers “life” (Col. 3:4) Just saying…

    • It’s true. I can’t stand the “Lordship salvation” message. It does violence to the text. It is completely false anyway. Nothing could be more nebulous than the idea of “making Him Lord”.

  2. Good job of taking on the “LOrdship Salvation” Issue. The “Lordship” advocates make some good points, but only to the degree that it reminds people that Jesus is Lord not our little genie in a bottle. However they screw up the gospel by this “make Him Lord” drivel. As you said He already is Lord. I believe there is a reverence and a “bowing of the knee” to Him but unlike MacArthur I do NOT believe that we vow nor make promises of obedience. That undermines the whole issue of free grace coming by faith alone in Jesus. If the so called Lordship folks could see that Christ is our life and we merely let Him become our life. So folks in that camp are so arrogant and what makes it worse is that they simple write off Christians who sin as “well they were never saved.” We simply receive Him by faith as in John 1:12 – good job my grace brother.

  3. My husband and I have been talking about this and 1john this morning. Our pastor is doing a series on how to know you are saved…. He is teaching that its the present posture of your heart, it’s a lifetime of making him Lord of your life. He say says “saving faith is enduring faith”. That if you are continuing on habitually sinning or willfully sinning, you may need to check what you think you trusted in. Much more, but you get the drift. My husband, like me, doesn’t agree with it all, but it doesn’t cause in him the string emotion that it does in me. He asked me this morning why this bothers me so much. And I’ve really given it some thought over the say few months. It bothers me, because this s what I came out of in fundamentalism. Yes, once saved always saved, but if you’re “right with God” you’ll wear your skirts longer, or only listen to a particular kind of music, be a church every time the doors are open and so forth. There’s nothing freeing in any of that. It makes me look at Jesus saying that He will give me rest and His burden is light with the response, “Yeah, right! It’s not light! It’s hard!! And frustrating!” But let God be true and every man a liar. It IS easy. And that’s why the road narrow. Because we just. Can’t. Grasp. How easy it is. It’s not a trick. When I read the book The Shack, I cried! Can God really be this sweet? Does such a God exist that is not eternally pissed at me?! That fact makes my soul wail. Seriously. It’s just too good to be true!! When I read Nick Lannon, Mockingbird, Internet Momk, mike Spenser, Robert Capon, I seriously just leap in my heart!! GRACE washes over me!!! I told my husband Gods grace is like a cool pair of 3d glasses…..everything that used to look so grim and frustrating and hopeless now looks alive and promising! And THAT’S why, when I hear even the HINT of legalism…. Of PROVING salvation, of looking to ANYTHING other than what Jesus did as proof causes a very visceral effect in me. That’s just nt freedom, or abundant life. And I spent 10 years in that kind of frustration and have no interest in going back.

    • Serene, what a wonderful comment to find waiting in my inbox this morning! You really have to decide if you think the pastor will come around to actually preaching Christ and Him crucified, and that God loves us, and that He is Lord over our failures, or if you need to move on. I wish more people would abandon these hellish places and fill the seats in grace-centered churches. It makes my skin crawl and my teeth itch to hear a preacher so terribly burden people and so distinctly NOT get the gospel. Why is he even up there preaching?

      You know you are saved because you believe that Jesus died for your sins. Period.

      29 Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.”
      (John 6:29, NASB).

      BTW I have a TON of posts on 1 John that I’ve been working through for over a year from the grace perspective:

      • Jim, thanks so much for your response and I couldn’t agree more, I’m saved because I believe in Christ and his sacrifice for me. Done! My husband and I are enjoying having another grace filled blog to add to our list! Thanks again!!! Serene

  4. “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I tell you?” (Luke 6:46) “Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Fater who is in heaven” (Matt. 7:21).

    The grace that pardons is the grace that changes and empowers. Ironically, the verse quoted above applies to what’s being advocated in this post and these responses: “You have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.” Beware, brothers and sisters of the chronic problem of over-reaction and over-correction. “Legalism” is not the only evil out there, there really is such an error as Antinomianism (which is not exclusively a badge that you must be preaching grace; it is an error that deceives many). We need “the whole counsel of God” not just gospel-snippets. Praise God for the revolutionizing truth of justification by grace alone through faith alone – but don’t buy into the error that sanctification is MERELY getting use to or focusing on or just preaching to yourself every day, justification by faith. Do that, as much as you feel you need to, but don’t stop there. God-honoring motivations to serve Him are numerous and we need every one of them – not just our favorite one (no matter how central it is).

    And don’t misrepresent Lordship Salvation. Don’t be silly or juvenile in acting like words can’t have multiple meanings! No one, no one is advocating that our actions make Christ Lord of All or not; of course He is Lord. But are you seriously going to defend that if someone calls Jesus their Lord and yet their life has no evidence of submission to Him and obedience to Him that their profession is not to be questioned? Salvation is not a matter of merely “saying ‘Jesus is Lord'” – “one man says he has faith,” days James, “SHOW me your faith.” These are Bible / Gospel basics you guys – Do not throw out the clear teaching of Scripture for the sake of your admitted myopic-fixation on “radical grace.” You are riding the pendulum too far the other way.

    • Bob,

      Thanks for your thoughtful comments. I really do welcome differing viewpoints on here, it keeps things interesting and makes us all stronger. I hope you don’t mind if I take a moment to give a weak counter!

      The grace that pardons pardons while we are yet sinners; we are to repent and BELIEVE, not repent and behave. Our belief is the main thing which is wrong with us (1 John 3:23). Our lack of sanctification does not trump grace (Romans 7-8, as well as 1 John 1:7,8,9,10). Our confession lays our reform at the foot of the throne of grace where we receive mercy to help in our time of need (Hebrews 4:16).

      In context, it is fitting that you quoted that they have a zeal but not in accordance with knowledge. He is referring to the Jewish non-believers and leaders. The way in which they have a zeal that is not in accordance with knowledge is that they believe they can manipulate the favor of God through works and obedience. The favor of God comes through the propitiation of Christ as a gift – only.

      You mention the “Lord Lord didn’t I” verses. Let’s read the whole section:

      21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.
      22 “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’
      23 “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’
      (Matthew 7:21-23, NASB).

      Notice that they did dramatic works of incredible service, with the idea that their works and obedience could secure the favor of God. They were not turned away for their sin, they were turned away for their righteous works! They were turned away because they did not come on the basis of the the free gift of the beatitudes (blessed are the poor in spirit and mourners and unrighteous who hunger for change but cannot) – they came touting their own goodness. They thought that THEY were the “Lord-makers” – that they could manipulate God’s acceptance through their actions. They thought that their good stuff could make up for their little mistakes. They wanted to be the God of God. It doesn’t work that way.

      And so, a careful examination of the actual text of scripture notes that it says that we confess Him as Lord – not that we make Him Lord. This is most important and most profound. I do not make Him Lord, even of myself. I do not possess that kind of power, even over myself. I give up my own lordship even in making Him lord over me.

      If you have an understanding of the cross of Christ which does not make it the source of your behavior and transformation, your repentance and your virtue is a fleshly veneer and a sham. Faith really does produce certain behaviors – so it is crucial to have a reality of faith. You can’t plaster deeds onto a flawed and crossless faith and say that it validates your faith. Real sloppy agape free-gift fire-insurance simple-dimple belief in Christ and Him crucified and risen is the only faith which leads to deeds which are an obedience from the heart (Romans 6:17). Otherwise it is an obedience which is born of the coercion and punishment of the law from fear (1 John 4:18,19).

      As a grace junky, Like Abel I come to God with one thing to offer: Christ’s blood sacrifice. I offer nothing else because I don’t have anything else. I am sinful and rotten, even my virtue is filled with pride and self-sufficiency. Like Cain the Lordship salvation camp comes to God bearing their fruits, and it is entirely irritating to them to think that for all their efforts they will be turned away while the ignorant and irritating grace junky sinful people will be accepted.

      This abiding sense of acceptance and favor bears a great deal of behavioral fruit, but the faith in Christ is the real focus. Forget the fruit and seek Christ, and you will find that even though all things are lawful you have a supernatural distaste for gross sin (1 Corinthians 6:9,10,11,12). Yet it remains that we are determined to know nothing except Christ and Him crucified because this is the animus of and crux of soul-mastering transformation.

      True obedience flows from the center of the gospel of Christ’s propitiation. Far from being antinomian, this puts Christ as Lord at the center stage of me and professes my own failure and death in a way that invites God to resurrect me to a living and free faith in His power and grace.

    • I also wanted to address one more thing, I hope everyone doesn’t mind. You said,

      But are you seriously going to defend that if someone calls Jesus their Lord and yet their life has no evidence of submission to Him and obedience to Him that their profession is not to be questioned?

      Of course I am going to seriously defend it. I “called” myself a Christian for years, many years, during which I was eaten up with a raging porn addiction. I felt guilty and promised to repent and change over and over and over and over and over. I cried. I prayed. I swore I would never again. I was wracked with guilt. I could not change. Really. Soon enough I was back, like a dog eating its own vomit. I felt like a dog eating its own vomit.

      The only door out of this was the dawning of the idea that God truly and really loved me and died for me and was faithful to save me and help me even if I could never repent of this properly. All God, none of me, with NO EVIDENCE of “submission.” Faith really does come first. Through knowing that I am completely forgiven and loved forever and am assured of His faithfulness to me no matter what has been the springboard into a lasting transformation. With the people we minister with, we must have this infinite patience. We must forgive 70 X 7 – DAILY. We are so willing to discard people when God is patient and is not willing that any should perish (2 Peter 3:9). However, I still put no hope or stock whatsoever in my ability to remain constant in my behavior – it scares me to death. I trust Him. I don’t trust Him to change my behavior. I trust Him to save me and forgive me. The only promise I feel qualified to make is that I will fail Him in some way over and over and over and over, every day.

      According to 1 John 1:8,10, and Romans 7:15-25, as Christians we still err and our purification will not be complete until He returns or we die and go to heaven (1 John 3:2,3). So anyone who is relying on the evidence on their submission to Him instead of on the salvation they ought to be paying much closer attention to is trusting in the wrong thing:

      1 For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.
      2 For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense,
      3 how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard,
      4 God also bearing witness with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.
      (Hebrews 2:1-4, NASB).

      I am grateful beyond words for His grace, His faithfulness, for His salvation. I needed to be SAVED. I did not need to “repent” in terms of changing my sinful behavior. I couldn’t. I didn’t. I can’t. Now I think maybe that no one really can. There is no way I’m going to press that onto someone else when I won’t press it on myself. I can’t present a way to repent better, but I will offer the message of a very great savior. We don’t need a repentance guidance counselor. We need a savior! Repentance, biblically in the NT, is changing what you believe about God’s kindness and compassion, not becoming a better pharisee.

      • Thanks for what articulating what I’ve been feeling. Maybe it’s because of the ones who always harp on Romans 6:1 but I don’t know why we have to bring it up. People want to know that there’s some fruit but what about when there isn’t. What about those that don’t see it. We talk about fruit and about obedience and works (as if it’s really really something) and forget it’s not the main deal. The thief on the cross could do nothing but I wonder what his rewards in heaven look like or anyone else that just believed. And the guys that came in at the eleventh hour did “little”(or nothing) but their rewards were equal to those that came first. It just seems like the Father wants one hell of a party not just for a few.


        PS I know you must be persecuted for this but I guess it’s not a big deal lol.

  5. I so often hear about evidence of salvation. And I’ve come to the conclusion that it really doesn’t matter what someone else thinks of my salvation. God knows I’m His. If He asked me when I die, “why should I let you spend eternity with me?”, my only response would be “because I trusted you”. If someone sees my kids behave in a way that would make them question, “those can’t be Serene’s kids!” , them thinking that doesn’t make it so. I know my kids! I bear the stretch marks….I went through the labor and held them afterward. I know they are mine, regardless of what anyone else thinks. Why, if we being evil, know how to love our kids through their foolishness, think that Our Father, who is perfect, casts his children out because of bad behavior? If that’s the case, mankind is without hope!!

    And I so often want to ask, “what exact changes PROVE a person is saved?” Everyone talks about these changes but no one wants to commit to absolutes. Is it church attendance? Tithing? Ceasing cursing? Drinking? WHAT exactly? And what does it LOOK like for an average moral person to get saved? They’re already no cheating or using drugs or robbing banks… what oes their salvation change look like? We hear that of course we will still sin, but it won’t be habitual sin. But is that even in the bible? Why are we so afraid to leave it at “for whosoever shall call upon the name of The Lord shall be saved?” And where are we called to assess another’s salvation by their works? Didn’t Christ warn us about judging? If someone tell me they trust Christ as their savior, I’m going to believe them. I mean, what else is my responsibility? I’ll love them and believe them and trust the same Holy Spirit that speaks to me to speak to them. Anyway, it’s this stuff that really gets me going! I think we misrepresent our Father…. Serene

    • Wow, great points! REALLY great points. My wife is saying, “yes yes yes! Let’s be friends with her!” Thanks. In fact we just had a terrible incident with one of our sons and guess what – we still love him and still claim him.

    • You know what else I was thinking? All sin is habitual sin:

      34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin.
      35 “And the slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever.
      36 “If therefore the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.
      (John 8:34-36, NASB).

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