What does it mean to make Jesus your Lord?
Rom 10:9 KJV That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
Rom 10:9 YLT that if thou mayest confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and mayest believe in thy heart that God did raise him out of the dead, thou shalt be saved,
Rom 10:9 NASB that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;
Rom 10:9 NLT If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
I have included all of these different renderings of this passage so that you may glean a more in-depth understanding of this verse. It is one of the most often quoted verses when witnessing to the lost, and when extending the invitation to trust Christ as Savior at the end of an evangelical worship service. What the verse really says is that in order to be saved we must believe in His death, burial, and resurrection, and make Him the Lord of our life.
I would suppose that many people do not have a good concept of the Lordship of Christ. Once you believe in your innermost being (metaphorically the human heart) you must also realize that you have made Jesus the Lord of your life and confess His Lordship over your life. That is the way we are saved.
But, what does lordship actually mean. The word translated “Lord” in this passage is Κυριον, Kurion, the masculine singular form of κύριος, kurios—lord. The main English use of the word lord in our present day is landlord. What is a landlord? A landlord is the owner of a piece of rental property. If you rent an apartment or a house, your landlord, the owner of the property, is in charge of the property. He has the power and authority to rent the property, to evict a renter, to collect rents, to care for the property, to repair the property, etc. The landlord has power over his property. Similarly, the Greek word basically means one who has the power over an object, real property, or a person;
The Greek word, according to several lexicons, basically implies ownership:
Thayer: “he to whom a person or thing belongs, about which he has power of deciding; master, lord; the possessor and disposer of a thing; the owner; one who has control of the person, the master”
Gingrich: “owner, master; lord, one who has full control of something”
Friberg: “one having legal power lord, master; in a nonreligious sense; one controlling his own property owner, lord, master; one having authority over persons lord, master”
Liddell-Scott: “of persons, having power or authority over, lord or master of”
BDAG: “the primary meaning relates to possession of power or authority, in various senses: ‘strong, authoritative, valid, ruling’; then to that which is preeminently important principal, essential; one who is in charge by virtue of possession, owner; one who is in a position of authority, lord, master”
When we say that Jesus is Lord, and we truly mean and believe it, what we are saying is that Jesus owns us and has authority over us; that He is our Lord and Master. When Jesus is our Lord, he has total control over our lives. We freely give Him that authority when we believe on Him for our salvation; we confess that He, Jesus, is our Lord. For a person to be a lord over someone, he must have a servant to be lord over.
To have that actually hit home with us, let us look at a statement Paul made:
Rom 1:1 KJV Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,
Rom 1:1 YLT Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, a called apostle, having been separated to the good news of God—
Rom 1:1 NASB Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God,
Rom 1:1 NLT This letter is from Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, chosen by God to be an apostle and sent out to preach His Good News.
The word rendered servant, bond-servant, and slave in these verses is δουλος, doulos, which is a slave. Here are some different lexicon definitions:
Thayer: “a slave, bondman, man of servile condition”
Friberg: “generally, as one who serves in obedience to another’s will, slave, servant”
Lidell-Scott: “properly, a born bondman or slave”
BDAG: “one who is solely committed to another, slave, subject”
Like, Paul, when we make Jesus Lord over our lives, literally, our owner, we become Jesus’ bond-servants, or slaves. Slavery in antebellum or pre-civil war America is not what we mean when we say we are slaves of Jesus. Those slaves were considered chattel on the same order as livestock. In fact, livestock were treated better than antebellum American slaves. Slavery exists today in some parts of the world. It is very similar to American slavery; the slaves are not treated humanely, but as chattel to be used by their master as he or she pleases even to the point of violent death. That is why Bible translators use the words servant or bond-servant instead of slaves. Slavery is a terrible thing in the world.
Conversely, being the slaves or servants of Jesus is a very good thing. Jesus treats His servants humanely; He has our best interests in mind; He wants us to submit to his lordship in order to better our lives. He would not have us do anything sinful; he would not lead us into temptation. He will not beat us or mistreat us. Human slave owners may do such things, but Jesus would never do those things. His will for us is only righteous and virtuous.
So, what does it mean to make Jesus our Lord and be His slave or servant? It means for us to give up our old sinful lives and turn our lives over to Jesus. It means to follow Jesus teachings and commands, which, by the way are God’s teachings and commands, for Jesus is God, who is manifest in three persons. In the Old Testament in Genesis 1:2, we see God as a Spirit. We also see God as the Word, or Imrah, or Memra in Psalm 33:6. We see God in bodily form in Ezekiel 1:26,27,28. He is called our Father in Isa 63:16 (see also Deut 32:6). To clarify, in the Old Testament we see God the Father in Deuteronomy and Isaiah; we see Him as the Word in the Psalms, we see Him as a Spirit in Genesis, and as a Person in Ezekiel. Remember that John 1:1 and John 1:14 tell us that the Word was both God and Jesus. So we see the Trinity in the Old Testament. Please understand that these are only a few sample verses; there are many more examples in the Old Testament.
In the New Testament the Trinitarian concept is fully illuminated. In his Great Commission, Jesus sends his disciples out to evangelize all the peoples of the world in the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit (Mat 28:19). We see many mentions of these Three in the text of the New Testament, usually separately or in pairs, but in context they are all God.
To become a servant or slave of God, we should follow His commands, precepts, teachings, parables, etc. so that we may bring Honor to Him, our Lord. In other words, we must do anything our Master commands. His two commands that cover all of His other commands are that we love one another and that we love God. Thus to be a good servant, we must love Him with all our hearts, our souls, and our minds (Mat 22:37) and love our neighbors as we love ourselves (Mat 22:39). Who is our neighbor? Thayer’s Greek Lexicon explains that our neighbor is “any other man [or woman] irrespective of nation or religion with whom we live or whom we chance to meet.” We are to love others as we love ourselves. Do those two things consistently and you are a good servant.