Peter described Christ's relation to believers in two words. Again and again in his brief second epistle he used these two words. Listen for them. "Entry into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be richly provided for you" (1:11). "If, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overpowered, the last state has become worse for them than the first" (2:20). "Remember the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets, and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken through your apostles" (3:2). "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen."
Lord and Savior. As the oak tree lies within the acorn, so all that Christians believe about Christ lies in those two words. Both are equally important, but we have tended to give more attention to Saviorhood than to Lordship. We prefer to think more about what Jesus does for us than what we do for him.
Jesus is indeed our Savior. He saves us from sin and damnation. But he is more. He is our Lord. Salvation is more than hell-fire insurance. It is a life lived in loving obedience to our Lord and Savior. Jesus makes his disciples face this issue in Luke 6:46-49. He asks, "Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say? I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice. He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete."
You can't say "Jesus is Lord" except by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:3). That is our profession of faith. But that profession alone doesn't guarantee you a one-way ticket to heaven. Jesus said, "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only those who do what the Lord asks" (Matthew 7:21). You and I will be judged by our walk not our talk, by our life not our lip. It is not the hearers of the word nor the talkers of the word but the doers of the word who will be blessed (James 1:22). Those who talk their religion by the mile and live it by the inch ought to be kicked by the foot. They have a Christian vocabulary instead of a Christian experience. They think they are doing their duty when they are only talking about it. They are professing Christ as Lord but not possessing Christ as Lord. Jesus asks them and us this simple question: "Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?"
An ancient inscription on the Cathedral in Lubeck, Germany, says: "Ye call me master, and obey me not. Ye call me Light and seek me not. Ye call me Way and walk me not. Ye call me Wise and follow me not. Ye call me Fair and love me not. Ye call me Rich and ask me not. Ye call me Eternal and seek me not. Ye call me Gracious and trust me not. Ye call me Noble and serve me not. Ye call me Mighty and honor me not. Ye call me Just and fear me not. If I condemn you, blame me not."
Jesus made clear that profession without possession is a beautiful house without a foundation. Such a house cannot survive the storms which break upon it. Jesus said, "The one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete."
After Hurricane Andrew devastated homes in southern Florida a TV reporter asked an owner why his house was the only one still standing in his neighborhood. "I built this house myself," the man replied. "I also built it according to the Florida state building code. When the code called for 2x6 trusses, I used 2x6 trusses. I was told that a house built according to code could withstand a hurricane. I did and it did." Others didn't!
When the sun is shining and the sky is blue, we are tempted to build our lives on something other than the blueprint of God's Word. But Jesus warns us there is a hurricane coming for everyone.
Empty profession of faith may look good for a time. Indeed, it may look better than genuine commitment because all its attention is given to external appearance and none to structure. The missing foundation, however, will be exposed by the inevitable storms of life. Zechariah says, "God wants to know why you are disobeying his commandments. For when you do, everything you try fails" (2 Chronicles 24:20 LB). Life doesn't work if you don't obey the rules.
If your religion is a convenience instead of a conviction, you will be destitute when the bad times come. Disease, disappointment and death will blow it down like a house of cards. It has no foundation.
That's bad news. But Jesus announced the good news. "I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice. He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock." Jesus describes this rock foundation in two ways. First, it is built on the rock of hearing. "He who hears my words," Jesus said. A good foundation begins not with talking but with hearing. There is no one more worthy of your attention than the Architect of the Universe. Put your ear to the Bible, to prayer, to public worship, and hear God speaking to you about his plan your life.
Second, it is built on the rock of doing. One who hears Christ's words "puts them into practice." Hearing without doing is like cement without sand and water. James said, "Be doers of the word, not hearers only deceiving yourselves" (James 1:22). Yourself is the only one deceived. Nobody else is fooled by one who is long on words and short on action. (See Ezekiel 33:30-32.)
The church is in constant danger of producing connoisseurs of religion experts in hearing, amateurs in doing. In the words of my favorite philosopher, Charlie Brown: "We never win any ball games, but we have some interesting discussions!"
Are you like the one who prayed:
Auditoriums and sanctuaries look a lot alike. They are both big rooms where people sit, but they are different. An auditorium is where people come to hear something religious. A sanctuary is where people come to do something religious.
That reminds me of the old joke about the preacher flying over the ocean. The plane lost power. The stewardess said, (I said this was an old joke!) "You're a preacher. Can't you do something religious?" He took up an offering! Actually, that's theologically sound. The offering is one point in the worship when we actually do something besides sit, listen and sing.
"Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,'" Jesus asks, "and do not do what I say?" Are you professing Jesus as Lord or are you possessing Jesus as Lord? Possessing him as Lord actually means that he possesses you. We mean something different when we say, "my pen" and "my Lord." That this is my pen means I own it and can do with it what I please. That Jesus is my Lord means he owns me and can do with me what he pleases. When Moses was a young man he slew an Egyptian and spent the next forty years hiding in Sinai. He did in a small way what he would later do in a big way. But he didn't do it God's way and at God's command and time. The question Jesus asked his disciples he continues to ask of you and me: "Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?" What is your answer?