Ask Pastor Dave: Is Believing Jesus is Lord Enough?

q-aIt’s not generally a good idea to think about salvation in terms of the minimum amount of doctrinal content one must believe to be saved. Jesus, when he sends out the twelve to make disciples in the so-called Great Commission tells them to teach “all that I have commanded” (Matt. 28:20) That covers pretty much everything. That being said, no one is expected to be a systematic theologian before they can come to Christ. We are invited to come to Jesus like little children (Matt. 18:3). So, it has been asked, then, is believing Jesus is Lord enough for salvation?

There are a lot of interrelated factors that require some extrapolation before this question can be answered. Like, for instance, what does a person mean when they profess that “Jesus is Lord.” Do they mean what the Bible claims? Do they have some alternate idea? Does the profession that Christ is Lord come with the associated belief in Scripture that Jesus is Lord because of his death for sinners and resurrection for their justification (Rom. 1:4)? So helping a person unpack what they mean by this expression will be important for helping them determine their grasp of the gospel, because it is, after all, the gospel that brings salvation.

The gospel is necessary for salvation. So Paul declares that we must preach the gospel to men because faith comes by hearing, and hearing comes by the Word of God (Rom. 10:17). The gospel is the power of God for salvation to all who believe (Rom. 1:16). So this is the message that men must believe in order to be saved. That gospel message, Paul tells us, contains several essential details: (1) Christ died for our sins; (2) He was buried; (3) He was raised on the third day; (4) He appeared to many (1 Corinthians 15:1-8). These are the beliefs we must accept to be saved.

Salvation is for those who recognize that they are sinners (Matt. 9:12-13). We confess that sin to God, repent, and put our faith in Christ’s death for our sins, where he took our place and died the death we deserved. We look too to His resurrection from the dead. Christ did not remain dead, he conquered death, and hell, and sin, and Satan for us. These are the beliefs that capture our soul. But even here we must be careful, for it is not merely the mental ascent to some doctrinal truth that saves. Intellectual knowledge, or verbal confession alone are not what save us. Paul states that one must “believe in your heart” (Rom. 10:9). Belief is a heart matter. It means we love these truths! After all, the demons believe certain true facts about God, but they are not saved because of such beliefs (James 2:19). Our faith must come from a trusting heart. One that has put all its hope in Jesus Christ for salvation. I like how Mike Wittmer puts it:

Faith requires knowledge, for we cannot believe in what we do not know. But it also requires commitment: we must place our entire weight on what we claim to know. (Don’t Stop Believing, 40)

The relationship between faith and commitment in the New Testament is an important one to keep in mind here too. Because, after all, the Bible does not draw that distinction that we sometimes do between what we believe and how we live. So we cannot talk about salvation merely in terms of believing a minimal amount of content.

Obedience does not save us. A person, however, who has experienced salvation evidences it in their desire and efforts to obey God’s Word. So Jesus says, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word” (John 14:15). James too adds that “faith without works is dead” (James 2:14-26). How we live is an important indicator that we have truly experienced heart transformation. It’s not about perfection, or never struggling with temptation and sin. James reminds us, “we all stumble in many ways” (3:2). If, however, our lives never give any evidence, however small, that we are in fact children of God, if our hearts never desire to obey Jesus, then we have no reason to trust our profession of faith.

Salvation is both a simple and complex issue. At one level it is so simple that Jesus can say come to me like a child. At another level we recognize that we can’t merely speak about it minimalist terms. To be a Christian is to commit one’s whole life, self, and heart to Christ. This is an important question to regularly consider and reflect on (2 Peter 1:10). In that regard this has been a great question for me to think about this week, and I hope it will be good for you to reflect on too.


    There are those who advance the position that, by saying, the Sinner’s Prayer your sins will be forgiven and you will be added to the Lord’s church. The question remains, can saying a prayer save anyone? Let us investigate that supposition.

    The typical sinner’s prayer: “Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner. I believe that you have died for my sins and arose from the grave. I now turn from my sins and invite You into my heart and life. I receive You as my Lord. Amen.”

    The birth of the church of Christ was A.D. 33 the Day of Pentecost. How were they saved?

    Acts 2:22-41…..36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified.” 37 Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren what shall we do?” 38 Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

    The events on the Day of Pentecost that lead to salvation.
    1. Peter preached the death, burial , and resurrection of Jesus.(Acts 2:22-35)
    2. Peter proclaimed Jesus as both Lord and Christ. (Acts 2:36)
    3. Men believed the message and were convicted of their sins and ask what they should do. (Acts 2:37)
    4. Peter told them to repent and be baptized (immersed in water) so their sins could be forgiven and they could receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
    5. How were they saved? Act 2:40-41…”Be saved from this perverse generation” 41 So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. (Notice they were not saved until they were baptized).


    What did they have to do to be saved?

    They needed to have faith: John 3:16, Mark 16:16
    They needed to repent: Acts 2:38, Acts 3;19 (repentance means to make a commitment to turn from sin and turn toward God).
    They needed to confess: Romans 10:9-10, Acts 8:36-37.
    They needed to be baptized: Acts 2:38, Mark 16:16, 1 Peter 3:20-21.

    The apostles never taught the sinner’s prayer as the terms for pardon.

    No one is questioning the sincerity of those who recite the SINNER’S PRAYER, the question is, can the SINNER’S PRAYER SAVE ANYONE?


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