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What does "Jesus is Lord" mean?

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Thank you so much for your honest spiritual enquiry with this important question. The phrase “Jesus is Lord” comes up in the New Testament and it was certainly one of the earliest creeds (statement of belief) that Christians would confess. Let’s look at what the phrase means, where it appears in the Bible and more specifically whether those who say it will go to heaven.

What the phrase means

To say Jesus is Lord means that one confesses that Jesus, above everyone else, is supreme Lord, master and God; that He is to be worshipped and obeyed and served.

The Bible describes Jesus as Lord through a very old hymn quoted by Paul in one of his letters: Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:5-11)

This passage describes how Jesus, before coming to earth, was in the form of God and when he came he did not exploit that fact but was willing to humble himself taking on human form, obeying his Father and dying on a cross for the sins of the world (vv6-9). Then verses 9-11 speak about Jesus after his resurrection. He has been highly exalted and given a name that all will worship; the confession that all people should say is, “Jesus Christ is Lord”. Jesus as our risen saviour is reigning now over the whole earth from Heaven where he sits at the right hand side of the Father.

This was the phrase early Christians would use to confess their faith. In a culture where the Roman Emperor was hailed as Lord, Christians stood out from the culture by rejecting him as Lord and exalting Jesus as Lord. The Roman Empire demanded people to confess Caesar as Lord with punishment as the consequence for those who didn’t. For the Christian to confess Jesus as Lord proved their faith in the face of persecution, even to their execution.

Where it comes up in the Bible

But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, 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. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. (Romans 10:8-10)

This passage tells us that to be a Christian one must confess “Jesus is Lord” and believe that God raised him from the dead. It emphasises the personal confession and faith needed for salvation.

1 Corinthians 12:3 tells us that no-one can say this phrase except by the Holy Spirit. Now obviously anyone can utter the words but to truly mean it and confess it even in times of persecution is only possible for those who have the Holy Spirit in them. i.e. true Christians.

Will all people who say, “Jesus is Lord” go to Heaven?

The Bible warns us that there will be some who will say, “Lord, Lord” but will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven. This is because they didn’t truly have faith in Jesus Christ. James 2:19 tells us that the demons believe there is a God but they do not worship him as Lord. Jesus tells us that the way to know whether someone who says Jesus is Lord has genuine faith is by their works, the fruit of their Christian life. (Matthew 7:15-23).

In summary, all those who say “Jesus is Lord” will not necessarily go to Heaven but only those who say it by the Holy Spirit. In other words: those who have genuinely put their trust in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour and are willing to honour him and worship him above anyone or anything else. There are no tricks to becoming a Christian. The verses in Romans 10 show us that it is very simple as long as our faith is real.

Here are some more Bible Verses for your further consideration:

  • John 13:1-20
  • John 3:16-20
  • Matthew 7:15-23

I hope this answer helps you to find peace with God through Jesus Christ. If you want to know more about what Jesus has done for you please watch the video on the main part of our site: Watch the video

I encourage you to attend a local Bible believing church and speak to the leader about your question. If you want to find a local church, our Church Finder may help you: Find a Church

Please feel free to submit a question to us or to read our answer database: Ask a Question

*All Scripture references are taken From The New King James Version of the Holy Bible unless stated otherwise

*If anything in this answer affects you directly, then please feel free to call our confidential prayer line in the UK on 0845 4567729, where trained Christian volunteers will take your call and pray both for you and with you. If you are outside of the UK then you may submit your request for prayer on line at www.ucb.co.uk/prayerline


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