Charles Stanley - Is Salvation Enough?
Why is it that so many people who have trusted Jesus Christ as their Savior continually live in rebellion against Him? And why is it that so many people who name the name of Jesus as their Savior refuse to serve Him and their church, among other Christians or on mission fields in the world? And how is it that so many people who say, "Yes, I am a Christian," and yet their life is dominated by attitudes such as bitterness and jealousy and hostility and anger and depression and all the rest? Well, somebody might say, "That is a good question," because do you not say that when a person is saved, that we call it being born again? That is, that they have a brand new life.
Well how do you reconcile the fact that a person has a brand new life and they have a whole new beginning in life, and yet all these things are true. Well, simply because salvation is not enough. When a person is saved by the grace of God, that is a one-time act in their life. It is something that God does once and for all for all eternity. Now, what that guarantees is, it guarantees you'll get to heaven. What it does not guarantee is that you'll live a godly life or that you'll live a fruitful life. Because, you see, salvation doesn't guarantee that. God is not satisfied with our simply being saved. He has something far, far greater than just salvation. And I'm simply saying to you today that salvation is not enough.
And I want you to turn, if you will, to Romans chapter fourteen. And in this fourteenth chapter of Romans, the Apostle Paul deals with what really God is after in our life and why salvation is not enough. In the fourteenth chapter of Romans, and I hope that if you do not have a Bible and you're a guest, that you'll slip over next to someone who does, or at least look on. Because I'm gonna take you through lots of scriptures here. And I think seeing them is very important in this message.
Beginning in verse seven, "For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord's. For to this end Christ died and lived again," that is, He rose, "that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we shall all stand before the judgment-seat of God. For it is written, 'As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall give praise to God.' So then each one of us shall give an account of himself to God".
Now, look in verse nine, "For to this end Christ died and lived again," or was resurrected, "that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living". Now, it is the will of the Father that you and I live under the lordship of His Son, Jesus Christ. That's the will of the Father. It is not enough simply to say that I've been saved by the grace of God. God desires that His children live under the lordship of His Son. For example, when you think of all the names ascribed to Jesus in the New Testament, like Jesus and Messiah, Christ, King, Son of Man, Son of God, Shepherd, Bread, Light, all the rest, but the one word that this title, above all the rest that you're gonna find, is the word Lord. Of all the words that title Jesus in the New Testament, it is Lord.
So the revelation of His lordship is found all through the scriptures. And if you'll recall, for example, in the twenty-eighth chapter of Matthew, what Jesus said. He said, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and in earth". Then He said, "Therefore go". Well, what does this Lord imply? What does the word Lord imply? It speaks of authority. And it speaks of great power. And it speaks of control. A lord is someone who has great authority, great power, and great control. For example, when you look in the Old Testament and think about to the word that you'll find most in the Old Testament concerning God, it is the word Lord. It is the Hebrew word for Lord. Whereas, in the Greek, it is in the New Testament.
And the word Lord in the Old Testament carries with it this meaning: the holiness of God, His hatred of sin, and His gracious provision of redemption for us. And so all through the Old Testament, you're gonna find that word, Lord. In fact, you'll find the word Lord about seventy-five hundred and forty times in the Bible. About sixty-eight hundred and some in the Old Testament and the rest in the New Testament. A hundred and eighty-five times in the Gospel. Two hundred and seventy-five times in Paul's epistles. In every single one of Paul's epistles except Titus, he begins by addressing them, and he names the Lord Jesus as Lord.
So, when you look in the scriptures and you think about Jesus and you think about what we call Him. We call Him Jesus and we say that Jesus is the sweetest name we know. And that is true. And yet, the emphasis of the scripture is Lord. And that, in essence, boils down to being "the boss". He is the ultimate, supreme, divine authority in the universe. He is the Lord. Now, you say, "Well, where did this whole idea of God being called the Lord come from"? Well, I don't think anybody can say, "Well, it's here, there, or yonder" because He's always been the Lord, but if you'll go back to Exodus chapter three, this is an interesting point.
In Exodus chapter three, you'll recall that God has called Moses. And He is challenging him to tell his people and to go to Pharaoh and to confront Pharaoh with letting the people go. Well, naturally, you'll recall that Moses is talking to a God whom he doesn't really and truly know. And so, he asks him the question. He says, "Now, if I go and they say, 'Well, what's His name?' what am I going to say"? And you'll remember He said, "'I AM WHO I AM'; and He said, 'Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you.' And God, furthermore," in verse fifteen, "And God, furthermore said to Moses, 'Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, "The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you". This is My name forever, and this is My memorial-name to all generations. Go and gather the elders of Israel together, and say to them, "The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, has appeared to me, saying".'"
And so, in the Old Testament, for example, Lord is the word translated from Hebrew "Yahweh," which means that He is the ultimate supreme authority. And so of all the words that apply, titles that apply to God in the Old Testament, Lord is the major one. In the New Testament about the Lord Jesus Christ, it is just that, and that is that He is the Lord. For example, in those early days when someone would hear about Jesus, they would, and call Him Lord, they would naturally identify that and identify Him with the God of the Old Testament. Because they were very, very precise in their name for God.
Now, He had many, many names, but Lord is the most prominent one of all. And, of course, what is God saying? He has all authority and all power, all dominion and all control. Nothing happens beyond His knowledge nor His power. For example, go back to Romans chapter ten for a moment. And in the tenth chapter and the ninth verse, if some Jewish person were to speak to Paul or one of the believers, and they were to say things like this. Look in verse nine, "If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved". They would immediately identify Jesus as Lord as God. And so, the very idea of Him being Lord was from the very beginning in that New Testament church, in the preaching of the gospel, all through the Gospels, it is the same.
Now, when we say that Lord means authority, one of great power and one of great, great control, what is the will of the Father? The will of the Father is that you and I, for our own good and His glory, live under His lordship, that we recognize that He is Lord. We yield to His lordship. We submit to Him as the boss of our life. Now, the truth is, we have to ask the question. If the revelation of scripture is that He is the Lord, then the next question is: Do we really and truly, genuinely recognize Him as the Lord of our life? It's one thing for me to say, "Oh, yes, He is the Lord". That's not even the issue. The issue is, is He Lord of our life?
Now, just get it down to really where it is. Who's the boss? That's what it's all about. Who's the boss? Now, either you and I are gonna try to control our life and live out our lives according to whether we want to live it or we gonna submit to Him. There are no other alternatives. You say, "Well, what about Satan"? Well, who is it that's tempting us to live it on our own? It is none other than Satan himself, but you and I make the decision. And you see, we decide: Are we going to live for the Lord Jesus Christ? Are we gonna let Him guide our life? Or are we gonna do it ourselves? And I'm afraid that most people, many, many people, they are conscious of their salvation. Somewhere along the way, nobody ever said to them, "When you trusted the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, He came to be also the Lord and the Master of your life".
Now, we don't always understand that, but that is why He came. Now, when you look at all of these passages, it's very evident here what's going on. He says, "If thou shalt confess with thy mouth," listen, "Jesus Christ is Lord". Not Jesus is Savior. Not diminishing that, but he said you confess Jesus Christ as Lord. Because if I confess that Jesus Christ is God, that's what he means. If I confess Jesus Christ is God in my life, is it not normal and natural to realize and recognize, if I'm confessing Him as God, that means He's the boss? He's the ruler. He's the ultimate authority. It's not up to me any longer. It's up to Him to give guidance and direction for our life. And so to receive Jesus Christ and say, "Well, you know, I took Him as Savior, but I didn't take Him as Lord". No, you didn't.
Friend, you get the whole package when you get Jesus. You get Him as Savior, and you get Him as Lord. You may not fully understand that. You may not understand how God operates in your life. And I can remember when I was saved, I was only twelve years of age. The only thing I knew, primarily, was that I had sinned against God, that I was a sinner, that Jesus Christ was God's Son and He came into the world to die on the cross and to save people like me. And therefore, I knelt down and asked Him to come into my heart and to save me and forgive me of my sins. Nobody said anything to me about Lord. Nobody taught me anything about the lordship of Jesus. And so I didn't understand that. But that didn't mean that Jesus Christ did not come into my life as Lord.
Look, if you will, back again in Colossians chapter two. Because Paul clarifies this right here in the second chapter of Colossians, in the sixth verse of the second chapter, "As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him". Now, what in the world does that mean? It means exactly what it says. Listen, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him as what? As Lord. Now, I don't, listen, I don't have to walk in Him as the Messiah because He's coming as Messiah. And He came as Messiah. I don't have to walk in Him as Savior because that's a once and for all act. He saved us once and for all. That's a one-time act. That's over. Salvation is complete, suited for heaven. He's fitted us for heaven. But He said I'm to walk in Him. How am I to walk in Him? I am to walk in Him as the Lord and Master of our life.
Now, it really boils down to something simple. This is the way... what He's saying is, this is the way we're to live. We're to live under the lordship of Jesus. We're to live daily, recognizing and acknowledging Him as the Lord and Master of our life. Now, let's think about it for a moment. If Jesus Christ is not Lord, then He's not God. And if He's not God, what is our offer of salvation, forgiveness but an empty, fraudulent offer? Because only God can forgive sin. Only God can make men and women right with Him. We can't do that for ourselves. We can't pay the penalty for our own sin. The only way we could do that is to die and be lost forever.
And so, when Jesus came, He came as the Son of God, the Son of Man, the Savior, the Lord and the Master. You know why? Not only forgive us for our sins because listen, He knew when He came into our life to save us, you and I would not be able to live the Christian life. We can't. How many of you would boast that you know exactly how to live the Christian life? And you do it daily and you do it fantastically, wonderfully, victoriously, and triumphantly. But how many of us sin against God and fail sometimes and think, "Lord, what in the world's going on"? All of us do. So, what does He mean here? He says, "so we're to walk in Him, we're to walk in this person of Jesus Christ".
Well, here's what He means. Does that mean that you and I will live a perfect life when we submit to Him as Lord? No, it doesn't mean that. But we have to remember this. We have to remember what grace is all about. What's grace all about? Grace is all about this. Grace is all about the fact that you and I are inadequate. We said, for by grace have you been saved. Why are we saved by the grace of God, the goodness and kindness of God that has been bestowed upon us without regard to our merit and our worth? Why does God grace us to save us? Because we can't save ourselves. Then what is grace in the life of the believer? Because God knows that you and I are gonna blow it, over and over and over again, we're gonna sin against Him. Why? Because we're children. Because, you see, He says, "As many as received Him, to them gave He the power to become the adults of God". He didn't say that. "The children of God". We're learning.
And so, what happens? We, in the process of learning, because we have been predestined to be conformed to His image. Now, what does He mean by that? Simply this: that God is in the process of daily conforming us to His likeness. Well, He saved us once. What's this process of being conformed to the image of His Son? That means that our character, that our spirit, that we become more and more in tune with, in harmony with, walking in oneness with the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior, our Lord, and our Master. And so He said Listen to this, He predestined you and me to be conformed to His likeness. That means God foreordained before that you were ever saved, that once you were saved, you and I would be transformed to the likeness and the image of His Son so that our character, conversation, and conduct would reflect Him because we are the living Christ, walking on this earth.
Now, watch what I said. I don't mean that we're little Jesuses, but I mean that Jesus living within us, that Jesus is walking on this earth through us. And so what's His goal? His goal isn't just to save us and leave us like we are, but His goal is to save us and to make us like Himself. And so, the whole idea of lordship is this: the whole idea of lordship is learning how to walk under the lordship and in submission to Him. It is learning to walk daily and submit myself to Him, to, in every decision that I make, Lord, what would You have me to do? You see, here's the tragedy, tragedy of tragedies!
That so many of God's people are saved by the grace of God, their name is written in the Lamb's Book of Life, and they go about life making one decision after the other. What appears to be insignificant decisions, major decisions, and never stop to consider the fact that every decision ought to be sifted through the mind of Christ. Every decision ought to be sifted through the will of our Lord. What would the Lord have me to do? And so people just make decisions. That's why we get ourselves in trouble. Now, it's one thing to follow Him. That is, we say, "Follow Him? What do you mean by following Jesus"? It's just submitting to His will. He's the Lord. He's the Master.
And you see, lordship is not optional. Once you trust Jesus as your Savior, you got the whole package, Jesus and Lord. That's not optional. "Now that I'm saved, I won't have to worry about going to hell, so I'm gonna enjoy myself". Out from under the lordship of Jesus, you will not. Because the Holy Spirit's not gonna let you. And some folks can fake you out and live in sin once they've been saved and tell you everything is just fine, and everything is just great. If you're living in disobedience to God, everything's not fine, everything is not great, because the Holy Spirit's job is to bring about conviction.
And so here's what happens. So many of God's people, they never ask the Lord about who they're gonna marry, they never ask the Lord about buying their car, buying their house, buying their clothes. They never ask the Lord about where they're going to college or what's gonna be their major. They just make decisions. Well, I'm saved and I'll just decide what I want to do. Listen, the lordship of Jesus means that every single solitary area of my life is to be brought in submission to, under the control of, under the dominance of, and under the wisdom and the power and the will and the pleasure of the Son of God, Jesus Christ. That's what lordship's all about. That is not optional.
Now, it isn't that He's this bad God up there trying to deprive me from having fun or succeeding in life. It is this awesome, loving God, who loves you and me so much that He wants the best for us. And so here's what He said. He said, "I'm gonna send my Son, Jesus, to save you. And I'm gonna take care of your sin problem. But you can't, you won't be able to live the Christian life. So, here's how much I love you. I'm gonna send the Holy Spirit, and He's gonna live in you for the rest of your life. And what He's gonna do is enable you to do what you can't do". And so, what the Holy Spirit is gonna keep saying to you in every decision: What's the will of the Lord? What would the Lord Jesus have me to do? He's always looking out for our best.
So, listen, sin is rebellion against the lordship of Jesus in my life. Sin is rebellion against Jesus being God. Sin is rebellion against any authority, divine authority, in my life. And so when we come to rebelling against God, what we are saying is: God, I don't want You functioning at this moment, in this decision of my life. I'll handle this one. So what we have to ask is: Is Jesus Christ the Lord of my life or is He not? Are you asking Him how you dress or what you ought to wear? Are you asking Him where you go and what you ought to buy and what you should not do and how you handle your finances? What about cleaning up your house? What about your organization? How do you organize things? Are you just living your life from one thing to the other and throwing stuff here and yonder and disorganized and bad testimony?
You say, "Well, is God interested in all these things"? He's interested in every single solitary thing that concerns you and me because He's our Lord and Master. We're His children. We're His servants. Not just preachers are servants of God. Every single believer's a servant of God. And you see, the very idea that God would say to someone, "I want you to teach that Sunday School class". "Well now, Lord, let me tell You something". What you've said is, "God, keep Your nose out of my time and business". And God says to you, "It's time you start tithing your income. You're late". "Lord, stay out of my finances".
Let me ask you a question. Now, watch this. "God, stay out of my schedule. I don't have time to teach". "God, stay out of my life. I'm not going to the mission field". "God, stay out of my schooling. I'm not gonna change my whole plan and purpose and my major and all that. Stay out of those things". "Now Lord, this is what I want. I'm gonna stay out of what I buy, God". And then you get sick. And you're lying on a hospital bed. And the doctor says, "We don't know what to do for you". How many of you would then say, "Stay out of my health, God"? You know what we do? We want to choose when we want Him to be Lord and when we don't.
Friend, that's not the way Jesus operates. He is the Lord. He is the Master of life. I am to live in submission to the will of God. I may not always understand the will of God. I may not always understand the purpose of God. I may not always understand what the will of the Father is in that moment. I may make mistakes at times. That's what grace is all about. But if our heart is bent, that is, if you and I have ever said to Him, "Lord Jesus, I do acknowledge that You're the Lord. I understand that You're the Lord of my life. I submit myself to You. I want to learn to walk in your way," God takes us up on that. Then what happens? We make mistakes. We make wrong turns. We get in the flesh. What does He do? He just does whatever's necessary to get us back on track and get us doing what He, listen, what He knows we want to do in our heart. I'm simply asking you a question.
What is it that God's told you to do and you've said, "God, stay out of my business in that area". Now we say, "Oh-h-h-h, I wouldn't ever tell God to stay out of my business". Well, listen, you can say things and never say it verbally, audibly. If you just think here's what I'm gonna do regardless, then you've said, "God, stay out of my life". Sin and rebellion against what we know is the will of God is to say, "I don't want Jesus playing God in my life in this decision," and you head for a disaster. And then so many Christians wonder why they get themselves in such a mess. It's real simple. Because they decided they are gonna run their life.
Listen, you can't improve the flesh, the five senses, they're gonna always be the same. There'll always be temptations and trials and heartaches and burdens in the Christian life, and joys and happiness. The issue is: Who's in charge? Who's the boss? And if you and I... and I do believe that salvation is a one-time experience. There's no question about that. Well, what is lordship? Well, lordship is not a one-time experience. But I do believe this. I do believe there needs to come a time in every person's life where they recognize and realize and understand that Jesus didn't come just to save us. He came, listen to this, He came to master our life for our good, our best, and for His glory, and He always knows what's best. And I'm asking you, has there ever been a time in your life when you acknowledged Jesus Christ... and I don't mean just the Lord of the Bible, but I mean your personal Lord, and you said to Him:
Lord, I acknowledge You as my Lord. You have the rightful authoritative position and place and power to be the Lord and Master of my life. I want what You want. I will what You will. When I don't want what You want, change my wanter so that what You want is what I want. When my will is not Your will, change my will. When I falter and fall, show me where I have fallen because my heart is bent toward obedience to You, no matter what. Period.
My friend, that will never take the place of salvation, but I believe it's equally as important in the mind of God because He's not satisfied with me just being saved. Listen, He is conforming us to His likeness. It is something God wants to make of us. And that making process, in essence, can be boiled down to learning to walk in submission to the will and ways of God. Now, I'm simply saying this: submitting to His lordship is to get myself in the most perfect position in life I can be. Now, once in a while you'll hear somebody say, "Now, wait a minute, what about this lordship, salvation business"?
And what they mean by that is this. Can you accept Jesus and be saved without accepting Him as Lord? Well, let me ask you a question. Here is a half-dollar, and it has a picture of Eisenhower, and it has an eagle on the other side. Suppose I said to you, "Now, sir, I want to give you this half-dollar". If I gave him this half-dollar and I cut off half of it. Would he have half-a-dollar? No. He'd only have part of one. So, if I gave him the half-dollar, he's gonna have to get the head and the tails. Let's look at Savior and Lord. How do you get Jesus? Can I get Him as Savior but not Lord? He doesn't come that way.
If I give you a full coin, then I'm gonna give you the head and the tails. If you gonna get Jesus, you gonna get Him as Savior and Lord. You may not understand it, but that's the way you gonna get Him. He, listen, He doesn't, listen, Jesus doesn't just come in to forgive you of your sins so you won't go to hell. Jesus comes in to save us from our sins and to liberate us from the power of sin in our life so that what? So that you and I can grow up into His likeness. If I only... see, and oftentimes in revivals, so much pressure invitation. Come to Jesus, come to Jesus, come to Jesus, come to Jesus. Get saved. Get Jesus in your life.
Well, I want to ask then what? Man, don't, listen, don't tell folks to come down the aisle and just get saved and leave 'em, just leave 'em there. Somebody better tell 'em what to do next and to help them understand that when you receive Jesus Christ as your Savior, the full package is Jesus is Savior, Jesus is Lord, that you are stepping inside the kingdom of God in order that Jesus, from that moment on, as Lord in your life, can so work and train you and discipline you that your life is a continuing growing into His likeness.
Now, let me ask you a question. Some of you've been a Christian a long, long time. And if you were really honest, you'd have to say, "Well, you know what, I've been a Christian thirty or forty years, and I don't feel like I'm much further along than I was back yonder thirty or forty years ago". Why not? I do believe this. I can't take a verse in the scripture and say this verse, this chapter, this book, but I do believe this. At whatever point in your life and my life, we come to an issue at which we say no to Jesus, no to the Lord, not gonna do that, I do believe with all my heart, at that point, your spiritual growth ceases, it stops, until you're willing to say, "Yes, Lord!" and move on.
Do you think that God is going to give you greater understanding and greater knowledge and continuously deepen your relationship and your intimacy with Him when you have said no to the Lord and Master of your life? He is not. Now, some folks would argue with it, but if they'd look at their own life, they wouldn't argue very long. When you say no to the Lord, what you're saying is: I'm... that's enough. I don't think anybody in their intelligence, in their right mind, would say, "I don't want to know anything else about Jesus and I'm satisfied with all I have".
Not if you know the Jesus I know, you'll never get enough of Him. I guarantee that. You'll never get enough of Him. Why? Because He is infinitely wonderful! Matchlessly, marvelously, majestically, indescribably God! And you cannot exhaust Him. What does He want? It's just this simple. You know what He wants? He just wants to be the boss. L-O-R-D in modern day language is He wants to be the divine boss. Let me ask you a question. Can you think of a better one? A fairer one? One who has your interest at heart like He does? One who can give you eternal life? And one who'll walk with you moment by moment, day by day till the last step and the last breath from this life into glory. He's right there. He's the Lord.
Now, I'm gonna leave you with this. Now, watch this. Remember what we said a few moments ago? In your finances, would you say, "Stay out of that. Not gonna tithe"? In buying your automobile? "Stay out of that. That's my choice". Buying your house? Where you live? "Stay out of that". Your vocation? "I'll handle that". Not teaching Sunday School? "I don't have time for that". And the doctor walks into your hospital room and says, "We don't know anything else to do for you". Would you tell Him, "Stay out of my life"? No, you wouldn't. It's really simple, isn't it? He's either gonna be Lord or I'm gonna mess it up trying to be lord myself.