If all we must do is confess with our mouth that “Jesus is Lord and believe in our heart that God raised Him from the dead” and we’ll “be saved” then what in the world do these verses mean? “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness’” (Matt. 7:21-23). First, it has to do with how we in modern times have defined the words, to “believe” and, to have “faith” in Jesus as Lord. We actually have lost these definitions and have exchanged them to mean something different than what Jesus and the first century Jew understood them to mean.
First though, to “do the will of the Father” is to obey the Son. Obey by “believing” He is who He said He is. Being both the Savior “from” your sins and the Lord “of” your life. For once we truly grasp the price which Christ paid by His horrific death, realizing how grotesque our sin is to a Holy God, and that God paid the full price by His suffering. And therefore, we are, the key word here: thankful! that He has saved us (which is proven by attitude and action). Then when we testify with our mouth that Jesus is Lord, and not Caesar, meaning to testify even before the authorities, which at that time was Caesar, which would mean certain death for us. And to deeply within our core (heart) believe that Jesus rose from the dead, meaning He has overcome death, and so will we when we are martyred for testifying that Jesus and not Caesar is Lord (King), we are guaranteed eternal life. Because the people at that time understood from the Old Testament what the names “Jesus” and “Christ” and “Lord” meant, because they were more than a name, they were a title. When Jesus was on earth, He declared Himself to be King (Christ/Anointed One). And He came to announce His Kingdom. Though most of the Jews were not ready for Him, and though they rejected Him as King. Nevertheless, this was His message. And yet, as He explained to Pilate, “My Kingdom is not of this world.” Though I have not covered every aspect of what Paul meant when he said, “if you confess with your mouth and believe in your heart…you’ll be saved.” I can assure you we have lost what Paul meant. When the Bible uses the words “believe” and “faith” it is not used the way we think of these words normally. We can say we believe in the Easter Bunny or Santa Claus. Or that we believe most people are good, or we believe the Government always does the right thing, and yet not be willing to jump off a cliff and die for these beliefs. Because “believe” now means, “opinion” not “TRUTH.” Well, all those throughout history, beginning with the apostles, who have died for the name of Jesus the Christ who is Lord, died in “faith” and “belief” meaning, “fact,” that it was so. Their faith and belief were not words, but actions. These statements carried weight and substance. And they produced fruit and lifestyles that followed their confessions.
You see, there are many who have attended church for years and who have confessed Jesus as Lord and Savior but who did not know what they were saying. They did not grasp their confession and therefore produced no fruit, or eventually dried up, or were choked by fear or, other competing lusts, or loves, etc. And even worse than this. There are those who have continued to “crucify Jesus” through rejecting the urgings of the Holy Spirit over and over, having hardened their heart through the sin of unbelief and disobedience who once were saved but are no longer, “For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance,” (Heb. 6:4-6). This being one of the hardest doctrines to swallow. But is in fact exactly what it is saying, though many good preachers over the years cannot reconcile it with other scriptures. But that is simply because they are not taking into account the setting and context of those other passages and that they are based one hundred percent on the testimony mentioned above being, “IF we confess with our obedience of faith, or that with substance, resulting from a true, solid, unshakable, enduring faith or belief/life changing conviction that Jesus has rescued us from the slavery of sin, so that we no longer choose to go back to it, even when we screw up, which then we repent and turn away from it again, because it was what “murdered God,” and by the extremely deep conviction that He overcame death, because it could not hold the perfect Son of God down and now we have confidence that we also will be raised from the dead and live with Him in His eternal Kingdom, if we die, we’ll be saved. And we have confidence that He is the King of all kings, being the Anointed Messiah who now sits enthroned at the right hand of the Father in glory. Jesus who is worthy of worship and adoration to the glory of the Father. Therefore, the true Christian’s hope is fixed on the foundation of a confession which can endure threats and death because of the confidence or “faith/fact” that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God…exactly who He said He was.