Do People Need To Confess Jesus As Lord (On This Earth) To Be Saved?
Question: What do you think about the ideas that some people are perfectly happy in their faith and don’t need or want Jesus? Isn’t Jesus’ work objectively done, no matter what people come to believe for themselves? I believe at some point all will be reconciled by his love; but it then begs the question: “What is the point of believing now?” I believe Christ opens up grace and new life in this life, but how imperative is it that all embrace the faith?
Response: I love the question! These are some thoughts that help me answer:
1. Everybody needs Jesus: “The only way to the Father is through the Son.” But what does that mean?
“Jesus” is an English translation of a Hebrew name. The name means “Yahweh is Salvation.” Jesus is the way God saves people from everything that would render them not saved. God is “salvation” means I am not salvation. “God is salvation” means Grace.
Jesus is the “Word of God,” The “Logos (meaning, reason, idea) of God” through whom all things are created and sustained. If there were no Jesus, there would be no creation and no question or questioner asking, “Do we need to believe in Jesus?
Jesus is “the Way, the Truth and the Life.” If this is the case, as Scripture says it is, without Jesus, we couldn’t ask, “What’s the way, the truth or the life?” For those terms would have no meaning or “logos. Jesus is “God in Flesh.” God is Love.
2. Maybe the question is something like, “Does a person have to confess the English word ‘Jesus’ or agree with commonly held notions regarding his story to be saved?” Well, It’s clear that folks have been saved who didn’t know the English word, “Jesus,” and lived long before his story was told. Hebrews 11 has an extensive list of those folks… and I see no reason why this wouldn’t include people today who live in other countries etc. etc.
3. It also raises a question about people who like the ideas that God is gracious and “God saves”—people that see an underlying purpose to all creation, seek the “Way, Truth, and Life,” and love LOVE… but don’t like what they know of Jesus. If there are people like that, which I believe there are, wouldn’t it mean that they actually like Jesus, but just don’t know who the real Jesus is?
4. Scripture says that we will all have to stand before the judgment seat of Christ. At that time, He will appear as He truly is. In 2nd Timothy 4:8, Paul seems to be saying that Heaven is for all that have loved His (Christ’s) “appearing.” The first time He appeared He demonstrated God’s Grace, “Logic,” “the Way, the Truth and the Life.” He was LOVE illustrated. However, since that time we’ve done much to mare His image. So, many today associate Him with other ideas and many just can’t believe He existed.
Well on Judgment day, all will see Him and none will be able to deny His existence—indeed they will recognize that He is “Grace, Logic, Way, Truth, Life, and Love.” His question will be, “Do you like me?” The judgment will still be: “Do you love His appearing?”
5. If a person loved “logic, way, truth, life, and love,” I think they would exclaim, “I love you! I just didn’t know your name was Jesus!” And they would run into His kingdom. They would like Jesus and they would like God because Jesus is the perfect image of God. AND they would like themselves—their true selves, for we are being made in the image of God.
6. If a person was proud, worshipped their own logic, thought they “deserved salvation,” and had made themselves in God’s image, I suspect they would run in terror and hide in outer darkness where men weep and gnash their teeth, until that time that Jesus would reach them or Hades was thrown into the Lake of Fire and “Divinity.” They would be trapped in their own lies, their own false selves.
7. Perhaps #5 and #6 can both be true: part of me is burned up (the tares, the dross, the flesh, the foreskin, the stone heart) and part of me is purified (the wheat, the gold, the spirit, that thing under a foreskin—I didn’t invent these ideas—a new heart).
8. Having said that, I hope you see that learning to love Jesus now, is the greatest of gifts. I don’t need to fear judgment day, for in Christ, hopefully, I choose judgment day every day: I confess my sin and receive His righteousness… and look forward to the day that I experience judgment as complete.
Hope that helps,