The answer is that a person can admit that someone has authority over them without accepting the implications that come therewith. For example, when President Bush was elected, and then re-elected for a second term, some protesters held signs that said, “Not my President.” If they reside in the United States of America then he certainly is their President. But the point is that they do not like it, they do not like him, they do not want him to be their President and they wish it was otherwise. If pushed to a logical conclusion, they may admit that he has authority over them but that they want nothing to do with him.
Is it not the same with proclaiming the lordship of Jesus Christ? The Bible certainly seems to make this point:
James wrote, “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!” (James 2:19).
This last text that we will look at is very telling. The liberal side of the main monotheistic religions teach that all that is really important is that one be a monotheist. Yet, simply believing in one God is not enough because even demons know that there is one God but they have rebelled against Him. Strictly technical information is not what God seeks.
Jesus said, “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say? Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like: He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock. But he who heard and did nothing is like a man who built a house on the earth without a foundation, against which the stream beat vehemently; and immediately it fell. And the ruin of that house was great” (Luke 6:46-49).
Jesus is pointing out that there are people who call Him Lord but do not practice what He preached.
Jesus also stated:
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (Matthew 7:21-23).
Clearly, this text covers what we have been discussing, and more. There people who will call Him Lord for the first time at the last judgment. But there are others still who spend a lifetime calling Him Lord and yet there was something wrong in their relationship with Jesus. Since we know that Jesus is omniscient, when He states, “I never knew you,” we can understand that He did know about the person but there was something lacking on this person’s side of the relationship. Even though this person spend a lifetime proclaiming Jesus publicly, and even going as far as to perform miracles, still there was something missing.
You can believe in one God. You can call Jesus Lord but fail to do what He says. You can proclaim Jesus to be Lord along with carrying our various aspects of His teachings. Apparently, what was missing is what the Lord is most interested in; a personal relationship.
In refusing to accept Jesus’ salvation during this life a person is demonstrating that they don’t want what He has to offer—salvation. Many people actually besmirch Jesus in words, thoughts and deeds. If you despise Jesus, then when you find yourself before Him you will not suddenly be filled with love for Him. This is because at that moment He will represent everything that some people have spend their lives besmirching—holiness, righteousness, Godliness, morality, absolutism, etc.
The reaction will be the same as that of a person who is asleep in a dark room when someone suddenly turns the light on, the reaction is to close, and cover, one’s eyes and maybe even yell out, “Turn that off!” This is tantamount to what Jesus taught in John 3:19-21, “light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”
It would be unjust for God to take a person who wants nothing to do with Him and force them to spend eternity with Him—this would be hell for such a person. This would be a true injustice and the sad fact is that God is the one who offers salvation and we are the ones who choose whether or not to accept it—ultimately it is we who condemn ourselves to hell or accept the invitation to heaven. Why not RSVP now.
Also see our article On Hell.