A Christian is someone who is saved. Okay, so what does it mean to be saved? "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household." Acts 16:31 (NASB) Fine, but what does it really mean to believe? When there are confusing verses in scripture, we look to other related verses for clarification. Romans 10:9 says “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” (NASB)
Now we’re getting somewhere. This verse makes it extremely clear what Jesus we are talking about. God wants us to worship Him in spirit and in Truth (John 4:24). Jesus is He who was foretold about in the Old Testament as the promised redeemer. As Peter said in Matthew 16:16 "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." (NASB)
Let’s look at the first half of Romans 10:9. “Confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord”. Simple enough right? Except, what does “Lord” actually mean. Most people believe that Lord means “God”. It does not. Lord means master.
If Jesus is my master, what does that make me? A servant or a slave. A better translation would be bondservant. If you were an Israelite who owed some money, one of your options would be to serve a wealthy landowner for a set number of years in exchange for the landowner paying off your debt. If you did this, you would be a bondservant. When your servitude is complete, you go free.
So how does the idea of a bondservant apply to Christ? Romans 3:23 says “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Romans 6:23 says “The wages of sin is death.” We earned death because of our sin. In truth, we could never do enough good to outweigh the evil we have done. We owe God a debt we can never repay. It is an eternal debt.
The good news is, Jesus holds the title deed to the earth. He is the wealthiest landowner. And being God in the flesh, Jesus is the only one who could pay your debt. The other half of Romans 6:23 says “But the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”. Colossians 2:13-14 says Jesus, by his death on the cross has paid our sin debt.
Our debt was an eternal debt. To confess Jesus as lord is to allow Jesus to pay the penalty for your sin, and you willingly become His bondservant forever. Is that a raw deal; to be forever in slavery? Before Christ you were a slave to sin. Sin is a harsh master. Sin is a cruel master. Jesus is the good master. He is a loving and caring master. That’s why he paid the ultimate price (his life) to redeem us from sin. You are a slave, but you get to choose your master. When you confess with your mouth that Jesus is lord, you are allowing Jesus to take His rightful place as your master and king.
Now let’s look at the second half of Romans 10:9. “Believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead”. God the Father raised his Son Jesus from the dead to prove that the Son’s sacrifice (death on the cross) was an acceptable payment for the sin debt of the world. Do you truly believe that Jesus paid the death penalty for your sins?
So back to our original question. What is a true Christian? A Christian is forever a servant of the Living God. The Christian has been set free from sin, and so willingly serves Christ who paid their sin debt in full.