Many people, especially senior adults, are familiar with the song “My Way” that Frank Sinatra made famous. The lyrics are as follows:
And now, the end is here
And so I face the final curtain
My friend, I’ll say it clear
I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain
I’ve lived a life that’s full
I traveled each and ev’ry highway
And more, much more than this,
I did it my way
Regrets, I’ve had a few
But then again, too few to mention
I did what I had to do
And saw it through without exemption
I planned each charted course,
Each careful step along the byway
And more, much more than this,
I did it my way
Yes, there were times,
I’m sure you knew
When I bit off more than I could chew
But through it all,
When there was doubt
I ate it up and spit it out
I faced it all and I stood tall
And did it my way
I’ve loved, I’ve laughed and cried
I’ve had my fill, my share of losing
And now, as tears subside,
I find it all so amusing
To think I did all that
And may I say, not in a shy way,
“Oh, no, oh, no, not me,
I did it my way”
For what is a man,
What has he got?
If not himself, then he has naught
To say the things he truly feels
And not the words of one who kneels
The record shows
I took the blows
And did it my way!
Although this song has a lovely melody and may seem to communicate a positive message, the basic theme of the song is contrary to what God wants with regard to the attitude of Christians. God wants Christians to live their life according to His way, which is taught in the Bible.
Sadly, many people who profess to be Christians provide little evidence that they are true Christians, because their lifestyle is not much different from the lifestyle of most non-Christians. Perhaps, these people made a decision to trust Jesus as their Savior based on their belief that doing so would keep them from literally going to hell, but they demonstrate little or no interest in allowing Jesus Christ to be their Lord. Even if they refer to Jesus as “the Lord,” they do not try to honor Him as their Lord. In other words, trusting in Jesus Christ as their Savior did not include a commitment to treat Him as their Lord by seeking to conduct themselves according to His teachings. Therefore, they conduct their life according to their own preferences, rather than doing what God wants them to do.
According to Unger’s Bible Dictionary, the term “Lord” can be translated as “Master.” Ideally, when a Christian uses the term “the Lord Jesus Christ,” he or she should not only be referring to the authoritative name or title of Jesus, but also to their personal commitment to Him as their Master. (In the context of this article, the relevant definition by Webster’s Dictionary of the term commitment is “dedication to a long-term course of action.”)
So, what does it mean to be committed? In the context of this article, the relevant definition by Webster’s Dictionary is “dedication to a long-term course of action.”
A somewhat humorous anecdote in this regard involves a teacher who was trying to explain to her students the difference between involvement and commitment, but they were having difficulty understanding the distinction. Finally, the teacher used the following example that enabled them to understand: When we consider a breakfast of ham and eggs, the chicken is involved, but the pig is committed.
Now we will consider several scriptures that pertain to commitment. [Note: When we quote Scripture in this article, we use the wording in the New King James Version of the Bible.]
Philippians 4:1 admonishes Christians to “stand fast in the Lord,” which suggests that Christians should remain faithful to Jesus Christ in how they conduct themselves in every circumstance.
Romans 10:9 in the NKJV Bible states, “[I]f you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” The same scripture in several other versions of the Bible is very similar, with a notable exception: The confession is “Jesus is Lord” or “Jesus as Lord,” both of which suggest that the term “Lord” necessitates a commitment to live according to the teachings of Jesus Christ.
In Matthew 7:21, Jesus Christ warns, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” And, in Luke 6:46, Jesus asks, “[W]hy do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do the things which I say?” Furthermore, John 2:3 asserts, “Now by this we know that we know Him [Jesus Christ], if we keep His commandments.”
In other words, if a person just says that Jesus Christ is his (or her) Lord, this is not sufficient evidence that person is a true Christian. At the time a person makes a profession of faith that he (or she) is accepting Jesus Christ as their Savior, that person must also have a willingness to accept Him as their Lord.
The winter 2008-2009 edition of the Adult Learner Guide, which is a quarterly publication used by many churches for Bible studies, stated on page 51, “A faith response to the call of God for salvation includes submitting oneself to His lordship – that is, to live in a manner consistent with His character and in obedience to His commands.”
The extent to which a person seeks to live according to God’s will after making a profession of their trust in Jesus Christ as their Savior is generally a good indicator as to whether or not that person has truly allowed Christ to be their Lord. Matthew 7:23 states that those who have not genuinely trusted in Jesus as their Savior and committed to Him as their Lord will be told by Him, “I never knew you; depart from Me,” with the result being that they will not be allowed to enter the kingdom of heaven.
In this regard, the Adult Learner Guide for fall 2011 asserted,
To declare one’s heartfelt conviction that Jesus is Lord is to affirm He is God and His authority is absolute and unlimited over every aspect of one’s life. . . . He doesn’t become a person’s Savior and then at some later time become Lord. There is no salvation apart from one’s recognizing Jesus as Lord.
Although Romans 10:9 is apparently the only scripture in the Bible specifically indicating that confessing Jesus Christ as Lord is necessary for salvation, there are a number of scriptures that indicate anyone who professes to trust in Jesus Christ as their Savior is expected to take up their cross and follow Him (i.e., be genuinely committed to Him), which essentially means they will be obedient to Him as their Lord.
In Matthew 10:38, Jesus Christ declares, “[H]e who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.” With regard to this verse, a footnote in the NIV translation of the Bible says, “The cross was an instrument of death and here symbolizes the necessity of total commitment – even unto death – on the part of Jesus’ disciples.” Likewise, Christians today are Jesus’ current disciples, and, therefore, they too need to have total commitment to Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ asserts in Luke 14:27, “[W[hoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.” In this regard, Strong’s Concordance notes that “a disciple was not only a pupil, but an adherent.” According to Webster’s Dictionary, an adherent refers to a supporter or follower.
Other scriptures, including Mark 8:34 and Luke 9:23, indicate that Jesus Christ addressed similar remarks to both His inner circle of twelve disciples and to anyone else who wants to be a true follower of Jesus. Therefore, every person who genuinely professes to trust in Jesus Christ for eternal salvation should be willing to obey His teachings, which implies submitting to Him as their Lord.
Because of the sinful human nature of every person, there are likely to be times when even devout Christians fail to allow Jesus Christ to be their Lord. However, striving to live a lifestyle that generally is in accordance with the will of God is evidence that a person is a true follower of Jesus Christ. Conversely, it is doubtful that a person who seldom, if ever, is willing to allow Jesus to be their Lord has met the biblical requirements to have eternal salvation (i.e., it is likely that person is not a genuine Christian).
The following are excerpts from books by Billy Grahamin regard to commitment and obedience, which are essential in allowing Christ to be Lord:
Alone with the Savior, page 21: “Faith implies four things: self-renunciation, reliance with utter confidence on Christ, obedience, and a changed life.”
The Holy Spirit, page 142: “Submission . . . involves getting rid of everything which hinders God’s control over our lives.”
World Aflame, page 241: “Believers in Christ owe nothing to God in payment for salvation . . . but they do owe God a life of undivided devotion and service.”
Although most relatively new Christians, particularly children, probably have only a very limited understanding of the importance of allowing Jesus Christ to be the Lord of their life, people who have been a Christian for a number of years should have a much better understanding in this regard. With the passage of time, every person who claims to be a Christian should demonstrate greater willingness to allow Jesus Christ to be their Lord. If a person does not do so, it is likely that he (or she) has never had a sincere desire to live according to God’s will for their life and, therefore, it is doubtful that they have had a genuine salvation experience. [For a discussion of how a person can have assurance of eternal salvation, click on the title of our article entitled “What Must a Person Do to Be Assured of Eternal Salvation?”]