Most adults probably 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 the 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, as taught by the Bible.
Many people who profess to be Christians show little evidence that they are. The manner in which they conduct their life is not much different from the manner in which most non-Christians conduct their life. They do not seem to have much, if any, desire to live according to the teachings of Jesus Christ. Perhaps, they made their decision to trust Jesus to be their Savior so they could avoid going to hell, but they have little or no interest in allowing Him to be their Lord. They may admit their past sins, but they do not intend to subsequently follow Jesus’ teachings in conducting their life. For them, trusting in Jesus as Savior involves no commitment as to their future behavior. They may refer to Jesus as “the Lord,” but they are not willing to accept Him as their Lord and live according to His teachings.
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 His authoritative name or title, but also to their commitment to Him as their Master.
Philippians 4:1 admonishes Christians to “stand fast in the Lord,” which suggests that they should remain faithful to Jesus Christ in the way they conduct themselves. [Note: When we quote Scripture in this article, we use the wording in the New King James Version of the Bible, unless indicated otherwise.]
Romans 10:9 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 passage in several other versions 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 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, just saying that Jesus Christ is their Lord is not sufficient for a person to have eternal salvation. At the time a person makes a profession of faith that he (or she) is accepting Jesus as their Savior, that person must also have a willingness to accept Him as their Lord.
The winter 2008-2009 Adult Learner Guide used by many Southern Baptist Sunday School/Bible Fellowship classes 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.”
Doing God’s will subsequent to their profession of faith in Jesus Christ will make it evident as to whether or not a person truly has 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 verse in the Bible specifically indicating that confessing Jesus Christ as Lord is necessary for salvation, there are a number of scripture passages that indicate anyone who professes to trust in Jesus as their Savior is expected to take up their cross and follow Him (i.e., be genuinely committed to Him), which essentially means they are expected to allow Him to be their Lord.
In Matthew 10:38, 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.”
And, in Luke 14:27, Christ asserts, “[W[hoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.” 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 biblical passages, including Mark 8:34 and Luke 9:23, indicate that Jesus Christ addressed similar remarks to not just His inner circle of Twelve Disciples (or Apostles), but to anyone who wanted to be a true follower of what He was teaching. Therefore, every person who genuinely professes to trust in Jesus for eternal life should be willing to obey His teachings, which implies acknowledging His lordship.
Certainly, there are times when even otherwise devout Christians don’t 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. Conversely, it is doubtful that a person who has never been willing to allow Jesus to be their Lord has met the biblical requirements to have eternal salvation (i.e., it is likely that they are a Christian in name only).
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, those who have been a Christian for a number of years should have a much better understanding. With the passage of time, every person who claims to be a Christian should show willingness to allow Jesus to be their Lord. If they do not show at least some willingness in this regard, it is doubtful that they have had a genuine salvation experience; i.e., it is likely that their heart has never been changed, and, therefore, they have never had an earnest desire to live according to God’s will for their life.