Q: #76. Does the Bible say we can tell of someone is or isn't a Christian by whether or not they will say "Jesus is Lord?"
A: People who teach this is an acid test for Christianity are simply misunderstanding the verse and the context in which it is used. The verse is found in (1 Cor 12:3), and says, “Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.”
I believe the Living Bible actually says this verse in the way Paul intended. It says,
“… no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” AND REALLY MEAN IT, unless the Holy Spirit is helping him. (caps emphasis mine)
In context, Paul is speaking about how to recognize false teachers. He is NOT saying a false teacher can’t say the words “Jesus is Lord.” On the contrary, this happens numerous times each day… You would be amazed how many times I have personally witnessed false teachers saying these words. A person will confess Jesus is Lord, but is not God. A cultist (i.e. Latter Day Saints) will confess Jesus is Lord, but teach about a Jesus that is totally different than the Jesus of the Bible, etc…
What Paul is saying, is that we will recognize a false teacher, not because he does or doesn’t say the exact words “Jesus is Lord,” but because his teaching will not be consistent with the teachings in the Bible that tell us who Jesus truly is. As we said above, “he won’t really mean” what he has confessed, because his false teachings will give him away.
In addition, there are numerous others who confess “Jesus is Lord,” who not Christians either. Let me tell you something interesting that I came upon online while preparing for this study. I found a website for homosexual “Christians.” Now let me ask this question, do you believe a practicing, unrepentant, homosexual, who is proudly living that lifestyle can be a Christian. On the contrary, the Bible tells us quite clearly that ANYONE, homosexual or not, who is a proud and unrepentant sinner that is practicing sin does not know the Lord (1 Jn 3:9). I suppose you can guess what the main article was on that website. It was from a gay pastor who was writing on the importance of believing Jesus is Lord! Is this pastor a Christian because he confesses Jesus is Lord? No…
There are thousands (likely millions) of people who have called upon the Lord in prayer to be saved (Rom 10:13) and confessed Jesus is Lord (Rom 10:9), and yet still remain unsaved today. Why? Because salvation is more than just saying words in a prayer. It is about actually believing Jesus “IS” God. It is about believing He arose from the dead (Rom 10:9). It is about confessing we are sinners in need of a Savior. It is about trusting in Jesus and surrendering our life to Him. Finally, it is about REPENTANCE. This is where the problem comes for many who actually confess Jesus is Lord. They may say the words, but they are unwilling to turn from their sins and go in a new direction.
Jesus also gave us two parables in the Bible that we should keep in mind. In (Mt 7:21-23), He said, “Not every one that saith unto to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. (22) Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in the name? and in they name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? (25) And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
Notice, these people are calling Jesus “Lord.” They prophesied, cast out devils, and did wonderful works in His name. However, Jesus said He NEVER knew them. They called Him “Lord,” but were not Christians.
The same is true in the “Parable of the Ten Virgins” found in (Mt 25:1-13). Half of the virgins called Jesus “Lord,” but were not allowed into the wedding banquet. Jesus said to them as well, “I know you not.”
Friend, I have seen people try over and over to get someone to just say the words “Jesus is Lord” when they believe they may not be a Christian. We should not be making that judgment based on if one simply says those words. We should be testing their words and actions against what the Bible says a Christian is.