Christianity 201

January 16, 2018

Confession of Christ’s Lordship

by Russell Young

That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. (NIV)

  Confess and confession are translated from the Greek homologeo which means “to assent, i.e. covenant, acknowledge: —con- (pro-)fess, confession is made, give thanks, promise.” Strong’s Greek Dictionary #3670

Considering all the representations given for homologeo, the utterance of the phrase, “Jesus is Lord,” does not represent the intent of this word.  The Greek ‘homologeo’ is a compound of ‘homo’ and ‘logeo’ meaning of one or of uniform word or mind. The meaning of a promise, pledge, and even a covenant is being transmitted. That is, the believer is agreeing to a relationship where Christ is his lord or supreme ruler. This covenant with God does not result in a person’s eternal salvation, however, unless it is honored.

There are many biblical passages that attest to the need to allow the Lord to reign in the believer’s life.  (Mt 7:21, 28:20; Jn 14:15, 21, 23; 15:10; Acts 26:20; 2 Cor 2:9; Gal 5:18, 6:8; Eph 5:6; Heb 5:9; 1 Jn 2:3, 5, 3:22, 2:4, 5:3; 1 Pet 1:14; Rom  6:16, 8:4, 8:14; Rev 14:12; Rev 22:14 KJV) Paul wrote that “the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Rom 6:23 KJV) Paul not only intended to honor Jesus through his title as “Lord,” but through honoring the reality of his authority and position.  Of course, if his sovereignty is not being practiced, he is not lord. The Lord questioned, “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” (Lk 6:46 NIV) Christ has revealed that defying his leadership is living a lie (Rev 22:15) and such a practice has eternal consequences.

Matthew wrote, “Not everyone who calls me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Mt 7:21 NIV) The covenant or promise of Christ’s lordship is very real. The writer of Hebrews has revealed that “eternal salvation” comes through obedience. “[Christ] is the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.” (Heb 5:9 NIV) The Lord himself revealed, “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.” (Jn 14:21 NIV; See also 1 Jn 5:2─3) It is the person who obeys the Lord’s commands who will find an eternal hope. Obedience results in a good conscience and Peter has written that baptism is a person’s “pledge” to maintain a good conscience toward God. (1 Pet 3:21 NIV)

Many have tried to dismiss the on-going sovereignty of Christ by denying his lordship, and accept that his love and his grace cover their need and meet their hope. The issue of the constant evil imaginations of people’s hearts must be overcome. Many accept that the pardon for sins committed under the jurisdiction of the first covenant is sufficient (Heb 9:15), even though God requires transformation into the likeness of his Son as the real need. Humankind was created in the image of God and to this image they must be conformed if they are to dwell with him. Pardon for past sin, although essential, does not result in a person becoming an acceptable offering to God (Rom 15:16); transformation is required and that is accomplished through the sanctifying ministry of the Spirit. (Rom 7:6, 8:13; 2 Thess 2:13; Titus 3:5:6, etc.) Being led by Christ as Holy Spirit, as lord, is the only means of meeting God’s righteous requirements. (Rom 8:4)

Some have taken Romans 10:9-10 to refer to the Jews alone and view the passage merely as acknowledgement that Jesus is the Messiah. Such a distorted perception denies that those in Christ are to serve in the new way of the Spirit as opposed to the old way of the law. (Rom 7:6) Service in the Spirit is the crux of the New Covenant and it is through obedience to him as lord that allows for a person’s eternal hope. The “confession,” pledge, promise, covenant that Christ is his sovereign is the believer’s means of attaining righteousness and his or her eternal hope.


Author Russell Young lives in Canada and is the author of Eternal Salvation: Really? available in print and eBook in the U.S. through Westbow Publishing, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble; and in Canada through Chapters/Indigo.  His column appears here on alternate Tuesday.  To read all of Russell’s contributions here at C201, click this link.


August 7, 2016

The Signs of Eternal Salvation

•••by Russell Young

Each of us wants assurance of an eternal hope.  The apostle John has provided clarification concerning this matter, but did not let assurance rest on a confession of faith once made.  Near the end of his first epistle he has recorded: “I wrote these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” (1 Jn 5:13, NIV) The things that he wrote were contained in his first letter. From his epistle fifteen characteristics have been identified that expose knowledge of the believer’s hope. A person may know that he or she has eternal life if they:

  1. img 080716enjoy fellowship with Christ and the Father. (1:3, 2:24)
  2. do not keep on sinning. (2:29, 3:6,9)
  3. obey God’s commands (2:3, 3:24, 5:3)
  4. do not love this world or the things in it (2:15, 16, 5:4)
  5. purify themselves. (3:3)
  6. see a decreasing pattern of sin in his or her life. (3:3, 6, 9, 5:18)
  7. love other Christians. (2:9, 10, 3:10, 14, 4: 7, 11, 12, 4:19-20)
  8. experience answered prayer. (3:22)
  9. experience the ministry of the Holy Spirit. (2:27, 3:20, 24, 4:13)
  10. know the truth; can discern between spiritual truth and error. (2:21, 3:6)
  11. suffer rejection (hated) because of their faith. (3:13)
  12. love others. (4:7)
  13. have concern about the material needs of others. (3:17)
  14. are like Christ in this world. (4:17)
  15. have a clear conscience. (3:21)

No one can “work” to achieve what is required for eternal life and a single confession of faith will not accomplish it.  Without the Spirit the believer does not have the capacity to accomplish that which is needed, but would be left with his or her own sinful nature and a demanding body.  The life that manifests these characteristics is being worked in the believer by the Spirit of Christ in order that the Lord might be the first-born among many brothers and sisters in his likeness.  A person’s work is to believe and to believe to the extent that he or she is willing to submit to the leadership of the Holy Spirit (Heb 5:9; Rom 8:4).  The transformed believer will display the identified characteristics.

A person’s eternal salvation is not accomplished by adhering to the practices of an institution, nor living by a list of rules.  It does not take place through a specific religious experience or by engaging in a certain type of service.  Neither is it superficial “belief” that lacks trust and obedience.  Eternal salvation comes through Christ and the believer’s personal relationship with him.  The hopeful person must practice obedience so that Christ might live in and through the person who claims his name. (Col 1:27) A relationship must develop that leads the believer in a righteous walk because that is the only walk engaged by the Lord.

The apostle Paul said, “I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I might be disqualified.” (1 Cor 9:27, NLT) He did not rest in the belief that he had mastered the life of faith.

God does not want his people to walk in fear but in love for him and in obedience to his will. Perfect love (which is obedience) casts out all fear and like the Israelites of old, his people have been told of his expectations. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Mt 22:37, NIV)

The love that God expects is revealed in a close relationship with him.  It requires reading his Word so that the Spirit might use it for any cleansing that is necessary to accomplish the believer’s transformation and develop holiness. And, it is based on an active prayer life through which sin is confessed and forgiveness sought so that a clean conscience can be maintained.  The importance of being made holy, washed by the cleansing of God’s Word (Eph 5:26), was made clear by Paul.  Righteous thoughts and actions lead to holiness (Rom 6:19, 22) and without holiness no one will see the Lord. (Heb 12:14)

All of God’s creation was fashioned for his good pleasure.  Humankind is part of that creation.  When all is said and done, God will be eternally satisfied with his work and the transformed believer.  Those who have listened to his voice, who possess the characteristics of his Son and those revealed by John, will be part of his eternal joy.

June 27, 2013

Truth: The Alternative to Telling People What They Want To Hear

Christianity 201 is the devotional blog that I write and edit, but Daily Encouragement by Steven and Brooksyne Weber is the devotional blog that I read.  The story in Monday’s edition was familiar to me, but I had not looked at it in a long time. Be sure to read C201 posts at source, your traffic is an encouragement to the creators of these ministry sites. This one appeared under the title Hating the Voice of Truth.

Then the king of Israel gathered the prophets together, about four hundred men, and said to them, “Shall I go against Ramoth-gilead to battle or shall I refrain?” And they said, “Go up, for the Lord will give it into the hand of the king.” But Jehoshaphat said, “Is there not yet a prophet of the Lord here that we may inquire of him?” The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “There is yet one man by whom we may inquire of the Lord, but I hate him, because he does not prophesy good concerning me, but evil. He is Micaiah son of Imlah” (1 Kings 22:6-8).

“There are those who hate the one who upholds justice in court and detest the one who tells the truth” (Amos 5:10). 

“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept Him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you know Him, for He lives with you and will be in you” (John 14:16,17).

Brooksyne picked up a little paperback book the other day that’s interesting to randomly peruse. It’s titled, “The Book Of Bible Names – Fast facts on all 2,026 people named in Scripture”. It’s interesting see all the names of real people I have read about at some point but in many cases have given little thought as to the origin of their names. Many of course are obscure with no biographical info about them at all, such as those in lists. But the book has an interesting way of summarizing in a few sentences the notable aspects when there is information about the person in Scripture. I expect these will be a springboard for some future study and daily encouragement messages.

When we think of prophets in the Bible we likely first consider those who have Bible books named after them such Isaiah and Jeremiah. But there were other great prophets such as Elijah, Elisha and Nathan.

One of the lesser known prophets is Micaiah (we pronounce his name like Isaiah since its spelling is very similar). His story is told in parallel accounts in 1 Kings 22 and 2 Chronicles 18. He was a prophet to the apostate Northern Kingdom and was known for telling it like it is. People like Micaiah are rarely popular but their boldness is needed for each generation! Their words and actions may not be just for their time but may also affect the following generations and he present age as well.

The Book Of Bible Names sums up his life with these words: “Prophet whom King Ahab of Israel hated because he never prophesied anything good to him. When King Jehoshaphat asked Ahab for a prophet who would tell the truth, Ahab called for Micaiah.” I was especially intrigued by the phrase, “a prophet who would tell the truth.”

The background: Jehoshaphat, king of the southern Kingdom (Judah) and Ahab, king of the northern kingdom had entered into an ungodly alliance and were preparing for an attack against their enemy, the Aramites. Jehoshaphat had agreed to proceed but then remembered that he should seek the will of the Lord. His “Charge Ahead” attitude got ahead of Moses’ command, “Listen to His voice, and hold fast to Him” (Deuteronomy 30:20b)!

So he asked Ahab, “Please inquire first for the word of the Lord” (22:5). King Ahab got together four hundred “prophets” that assured them of victory in battle. “Go up, for the Lord will give it into the hand of the king” (22:6). News of victory surely was a “sign” that God was in this but Jehoshaphat, on the face of such news, detected that these were false prophets. Exercising discernment he asked, “Is there not yet a prophet of the Lord here that we may inquire of him?” (22:7). For Jehoshaphat the unfettered truth was more important than false assurance.

Indeed there was a prophet of the Lord but Ahab did not want to consult him! It seems even Ahab had some discernment but tried to ignore it, hoping to get his way.

His response is like many who don’t want to hear what God says. Instead he had gathered around him those whom he knew would say what he wanted to hear. The apostle Paul in the New Testament warned: “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear” (2 Timothy 4:3).  I think we live in such a time!

In regard to Jehoshaphat’s appeal for a true prophet of the Lord Ahab probably spoke just above a whisper through clenched teeth when he finally revealed, “There is yet one man by whom we may inquire of the Lord”.  I think in his heart even Ahab realized this was a real prophet. Surely his eyes were full of deadly venom as he went on to confess, “but I hate him, because he does not prophesy good concerning me, but evil. He is Micaiah son of Imlah.”

So Micaiah was called and pressured by the messenger to give a prophetic word agreeable to the other 400.  He told Micaiah, “Look, all the prophets are promising victory for the king.  Be sure that you agree with them and promise success.”

But Micaiah didn’t succumb to the messenger’s ungodly counsel. He surely reasoned that kings on earth do not have the same authority as the King of heaven. His response, although obscure, is one of the greatest statements of faith and acts of obedience in the Bible, “As surely as the LORD lives, I can tell him only what my God says.” *

The application: Today we need to take some lessons from Micaiah. He didn’t go along with the crowd just to accommodate others’ ideology, even though they represented the “experts” of their time.  Our counsel and lifestyle must reflect the principles set forth in Holy Scripture, not the ever changing values and evolving definitions presented in our present society.

Like many today Ahab hated the voice of truth but that did not keep Micaiah from boldly speaking out. May God raise up men and women today who will speak the truth to our world. We want to be two of them. Won’t you join us?

The post title reminded me of a song which Steven and Brooksyne had already linked to. Posts at Daily Encouragement include photos, suggested music and stories of their chaplaincy ministry. Here’s the song Voice of Truth by Casting Crowns.

April 15, 2012

Spiritual Transformation

Today we introduce you to yet another new blog, I Want to Believe in God by Justin Powell; where this post appeared recently under the title Be Transformed.

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” –Romans 12:2

There are two parts to man—the spirit and the natural.  The natural part of man is what the Bible often refers to as our “flesh.” I realize my flesh will never be satisfied.  Man was created to walk in the Spirit but our flesh calls us to darkness and wishes for us to remain there.  Lust by nature and definition cannot be satisfied.  Our carnal lusts will continually want more.  It is only through Christ that we can walk in the Spirit and seek the will of God in our lives.

The Chuck Smith commentary on this verse states:

“Many people seek to relate man to animals, because they want to live like them. Animals don’t possess a spirit and live solely on a body-conscious level.  So, the man who wants to feel free of any responsibility to God disclaims his spiritual capacities and proclaims himself a highly evolved animal. He’s constantly searching for the missing link between himself and the ape.  Natural man does have a missing link, but it’s not between man and the animal kingdom, but between man and God.  Man, once created in the image of God, has fallen from the spirit-controlled being he once was to the flesh-controlled creature he has become.”

Once we have tasted the goodness of the Lord our spirit is never content unless we are walking in the will of God.  If we are Christians but led by our flesh, then we are not walking in the will of God and this will only bring confusion, bondage, strain, depression and discontent.  That is not the joy the Bible talks about.  Jesus offers a way out and a way to freedom—it’s called being a disciple.  The way to freedom is to simply follow Jesus, so what do we have to do to be a disciple of Jesus?

Jesus said:

“If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.  For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.  For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”

Be strong today and be encouraged because Christ is with you!  When your flesh calls you to darkness rely on the power of Christ and His word to lead you from temptation.

“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” -1 Corinthians 10:13 

Glory to God and Christ our Savior!

~Justin Powell

Read more at the same blog by the same author: The Lord Has Set Peace Before You.