“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” (Mt. 7:21-23) This verse shows plainly that doing good works and calling Jesus Lord will not get you into heaven. It’s believing in the heart for sure but it’s also making Him Lord and Master of your life. And when we do we will soon discover that we are doing the will of His Father in heaven. Who is your Lord and Master? The cult of materialism says that Money is Lord, the cult of worldly pleasure says that Entertainment is Lord, the cult of nationalism says, the Nation is Lord, the cult of ecclesiastical says, the Church is Lord. Who is your Lord and Master?How do we make the good confession? We do so by first listening to Him, Jesus Christ as Lord and Master.
Listen to His Word – whose word are we listening to?
There are many voices in the world today – Think about it for a minute. There are voices from the great philosophers of our age. There are voices from the political realm. There are voices from the religious elite. There are voices from secular psychologists. There are voices from our friends and neighbors. And there is the voice from within – our own voice of human reasoning. We ask ourselves the question, what is right, what do I think? And the moment we do we enter into very dangerous territory. Satan has always been there telling man that he can think like God, in fact with a little help he can be his own god discerning the difference between right and wrong – discerning the difference between truth and a lie.
But to make the good confession – to make Jesus Lord and Master of our life we need to listen to what He says. I could not stand before you with my own words for if I did you would not receive them, but if I bring a word from God then you would listen. Friends, it always begins by listening to Christ alone, it is He who has everything we need for this life. If you believe that then you are on your way to making Him the Lord and Master of your life.
When we listen to self then every thing we hear from God through His Holy Spirit and through the reading of His Word passes through a filter of human reasoning and logic. This has been the biggest tragedy of our day! People say I cannot believe that even when Christ said it so clearly in His Word. Why do they do that-because Christ has not been made the Lord and Master of their life? Let me give you an example
Everyone who confesses Christ as Lord and Savior believes that there is a hell. And everyone who does not believe in his heart and confesses with his mouth that Jesus is Lord will go to this eternal punishment. This is where there will be the gnashing of teeth, for the torment will be unbearable and it will last forever and ever. Yet, if we have not made Christ Lord and Master then we will easily change His words by saying He simply cannot do that because His love and justice would not permit it.
Listening to self has inevitable consequences – It is our own vain attempt to save ourselves by bringing Christ down from heaven or raising Him from the dead. What have we done but ascended into heaven and brought Christ down to our level. To bring Christ down to our level makes Him less than God and makes us more than God. That is, when we listen to self instead of listening to Christ we bring Him down to our own finite level. He therefore is no bigger than who we are. We have reduced him to our own way of thinking. Friends, when you do that, then your God is too small. You have put Him into a little box – He is no longer your Lord and Master for you have reduced all of His difficult sayings to conform to your own human reasoning and logic.
To make Christ your Lord and Master we then begin by listening to His Word even if we do not understand it, even though we cannot fit it into our system of thought. To do so we need to learn to die to self. But listening is only the first step we need now to believe it in our heart.
Believe in your heart
Confession and belief in your heart must go together. You cannot have one without the other. It is however, the belief in the heart that precedes the confession. You must believe the gospel; believe that Christ is the Son of God; believe that He came from heaven above (Phil. 2); that the word became flesh and dwelt amongst us, and that He did many wonderful miracles (the greatest of all the incarnation), that He died on the Cross for the sins of the world, was buried in the grave for three days and on the third day was raised from the dead. You also believe that forty days later He ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of God interceding for those who have been called into the Kingdom of God. You believe that He has all power and authority in heaven and earth, that no power is greater than His. You believe that He can do exactly what He has promised, to provide, to protect, to guide, and to return from heaven to receive all those who are His. For those He receives now belong to Christ, and are under His protection, guidance, and providential care. Jesus Christ said, “You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” (John 14:14)
We accept the mysteries of God and believe them for what they are; His ways and thoughts are far above our own. To make Him Lord and Master we accept everything He says on faith alone, even if we do not understand it, even if it does not align with our human logic.
Abraham obeyed God on faith alone. Believing that God could raise his son back to life if necessary. For example, we have a hard time believing that Christ was in the beginning with God creating everything that exists out of nothing and that it was done in six literal days. So many have turned to science and believed them instead of accepting by faith the mysteries of God. Who is your master? The logic of science, philosophy, and human reasoning, or is it Christ, the risen Lord?
We must get self off the throne in the throne room of our heart. We must deny self, we must die to self, and put off the old nature, but how do we do it? The only way is to make Christ the Lord and Master of our life. It begins by listening, entering the schoolhouse of prayer – listening to the Spirit as He intercedes for you. It means studying the Scripture and allowing the Spirit to bring His Words to life and then responding to those words in obedience. It all comes down to being obedient to the teachings of His Word – the Bible. To do so will lead you to die to self and follow Christ and this following Christ and putting on the new nature will make Him Lord and Master of your life. For example, if He tells you to stop being moody (which allows circumstances to make you happy one moment and aggravated the next) but to rejoice in all things, then we learn do it because He is our Lord and Master. Who is your Master?
Confess with your mouth
Acknowledge Him as Lord and Master – If we refuse to acknowledge Him as Lord and Master He will not acknowledge us before His Father in heaven. What you have seen (in these two baptisms) today is our first step in acknowledging Christ as Lord and Master by joining Him in His death, burial and resurrection. Let me say to you there are those who refuse to acknowledge His Lordship because they are afraid of what people might think.
“Confession is the chief work of faith; for here man denies himself and confesses God. And he dies (to himself) in his confession of God by the denial of himself; for there can be no greater denial of oneself than this, that one dies to confess God. By doing this, he surrenders himself, in order that God may be confirmed and (his) confession of Him (may be confirmed)” – Martin Luther.
Friends, our beliefs in Christ cannot be something just between us and Christ. It cannot be a thing just of the heart, but it must also be confessed with the mouth. There is just too much of wishy-washy doctrine in the church. They say they do not like doctrinal confessions because they want to be free to believe what ever they want, but if that belief does not align with God’s Word, then they have not made the good confession. For example what does God’s Word have to say about Christ being our intercessor? What does it say about the absolute authority of His Word the Bible? What does it say about following Christ in believer’s baptism? If we know the truth and the truth has set us free then why do we have such a hard time confessing it before men?
Do you believe that Jesus Christ is Lord and that His power and authority is over every man, over every institution, over every government, over ever thing in this universe that exists? The early Christians believed this to the point of refusing to salute the Roman Caesar as Lord. In today’s world we would just say that it’s just a word –why make a big deal about saying a simple word. In today’s world, many so-called Christians would be lined up to pay homage to the Roman Caesar by burning a little bit of incense and proclaiming him to be Lord so that they would not have to face certain death.
So why did the early Christians make such a big deal out of it? They did so because the gospel taught that Christ was above all power and authority. To confess Christ as Lord of both heaven and earth they could not proclaim anyone else as their Lord and Master. Now this is important and goes much deeper than what we might think. To proclaim Christ as their Lord and Master was an open defiance to the State. In essence they said if it did not align with the sound teachings of the gospel they would not participate in it. So how does this relate to our world? If we confess Christ as Lord and Master what would this mean to us? It means that we would not ever condone abortion and would withdraw from every institution or political identity that would ever have anything to do with it. We cannot be wishy-washy in our Christian beliefs.
Suppose a religious institution added non-biblical doctrines and forced their adherents to abide by those teachings. Making the good confession that Jesus is Lord we would have to resist that worldly power even though it called itself religious. Suppose they taught their adherents to pray to someone other than Christ and expect favors from them? If you confessed Jesus as your Lord and Master you would need to listen to His infallible authoritative Word –the Bible and resist even if it meant being put out of the church or brought up on some legal charges.
You might say Pastor, why are you making a big deal out of this? Let me say to you with tears in my eyes that Satan is alive and well and he will do everything in his power to lead you astray. He will blind you with worldly tolerance so that you will follow the antichrist the moment he comes upon the scene. It is time for Christians to take a stand in what they believe. It’s time to make the good confession that Jesus is the Lord and Master of your life.
Confession is difficult among people who know you – Others refuse to acknowledge His Lordship because they are known all too well by their neighbors and family. That is, they knew you before you came to Christ and perhaps even know some of your current flaws and they have a hard time believing that you have changed; so what do you do but remain quiet. You live a life as a secret Christian and even worse maybe even join them in their pagan practices. This should not be so! We must boldly face our neighbors and family and tell them that we have confessed our sins and that God has forgiven us and that we are following Him as our Lord and Master.
Unspoken Confession – Confession is made not only with our words but with our actions. If He provides, then why do we act as if He will not? If He will protect, then why do we act as if He will not? If He guides, then why do we act as if He will not? This is what I call the unspoken confession that speaks louder than words. Our actions will prove who our Lord and Master really is.
Confession is much more than just letting people know that you go to church or that you claim to be a Christian. It means, that you must acknowledge Jesus Christ as your Lord and Master and all that it entails. It will also cause you trouble: you may miss that promotion, you may miss getting that contract, you may miss getting that bid you had been working so hard on, it may mean that you will be mocked, or being made fun of or simply ignored by your peers. Whatever happens, it will always have its consequences. Christ said that you will be persecuted and if you are not in any way, chances are, you have not really made Jesus Christ your Lord and Master.
It’s being careful about what you say in public. Do you think about being an ambassador for Christ wherever you go? Everything you say and do will be judged by the outsider. I have seen some Christians complain in public about another Christian. I have seen them talk negatively about their own religion and even their own church. This should not be so; this is not the good confession that Jesus is Lord and Master of their life, because He has called us to be the salt of the earth and light to the world.
The world will always expect an answer right away. If you tell them I am not ready to give you an answer because I need to pray first and get direction from my heavenly Father, they will think that you are a bit strange. But we cannot follow the world; we are called to follow Christ and His will for our life. The world does not respect the Christian and His desire to get approval from His Lord. The world attempts to force the Christian to make his or her decisions based upon logic, money, or selfish desires. But for Christians, their decisions are based not on what they want but on what Christ the risen Lord wants for their life. To know that Jesus is Lord is not a human discovery; it is something revealed by the Holy Spirit. The Bible says, “Therefore I tell you that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, ‘Jesus be cursed,’ and no one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit.” (cf. I Cor. 12:3)