Skip to comments.What is Wrong with Lordship Salvation?
Posted on 03/19/2011 8:24:19 AM PDT by GiovannaNicoletta
Lordship Salvation is the idea that an unbeliever must commit all areas of his life to Christ as a condition for being saved. Another way of articulating Lordship Salvation is, if Jesus is not Lord of all then He is not Lord at all. Lordship Salvation began to significantly enter the American evangelical community in the 1980s through the ministries of various prominent theologians and pastors. The movement began with the well-intentioned concern to address too much carnality in the Christian world. However, the proposed solution to this legitimate concern was to increase the sole requirement for salvation in an attempt to argue that carnal Christians were never really saved in the first place since they had never initially yielded to Christs Lordship. Sugar Land Bible Church does not believe in or teach Lordship Salvation. For example, Position Statement #6 in our church constitution says, repentance, as in a person willfully turning from sin, cannot be a condition for salvation. Many people look at the Lordship controversy as merely semantics. They believe that this issue has no real significance for practical living or ministry. In actuality, Lordship Salvation introduces at least five problems into the life of a church.
First, Lordship Salvation changes the very heart of the Gospel, which only requires a child-like faith. There are probably somewhere between 150 to 200 New Testament passages which singularly condition a lost persons salvation upon belief alone in Christ (John 3:16; 6:28-29; Acts 16:31; Rom 1:16, etc...). Belief is a synonym for faith or confidence or trust in Gods provision. The moment a lost person exercises trust in Christ is the moment he is saved. Lewis Sperry Chafer, Theologian and founder of Dallas Theological Seminary, entitled this biblical phenomenon: Belief: Gods One Condition of Salvation. Why has God made salvation so simple? God has designed salvation as a free gift (Rom 4:4). If there were some human action to be performed beyond belief then salvation becomes something that we do rather than what God does. Such a human insertion reduces salvations free gift status by making it something we earn. In other words, under the Lordship Salvation model, surrender or commitment becomes a work that one does to earn salvation despite the fact that the Scripture is clear that salvation is not by works (Eph 2:8-9; Isa 64:6). Also, God has specifically designed salvation so that the principle of human boasting is eliminated (Rom 3:27; 4:2). Yet, if the unsaved could do anything to merit salvation beyond simple belief, such as commit or surrender, then he has contributed to the salvation process and thus has something to boast over. God cannot allow this to happen given His aversion to pride of any sort. Lordship Salvation perverts this divine order by making salvation something we do for God rather than something He does for us. It is Christ who saves us rather than our surrender or commitment to Him.
Second, Lordship Salvation places an impossible requirement upon the unsaved. The unsaved person is dead in his trespasses and sins (Eph 2:1) and thus incapable of doing anything of spiritual value, such as obey, submit, forsake, etc...By making these other things the conditions of salvation rather than simply believing, obstacles are placed in front of the unbeliever that he or she is incapable of fulfilling. The lost are capable of doing only one thing that is pleasing to a holy God: trusting in His provision for salvation. What then shall we make of the numerous biblical commands for the lost to repent (Acts 2:38; 17:30; 2 Pet 3:9)? The Greek word translated repent is metanoeō. It comes from two Greek words meta and noeō. Meta means change, as in metamorphosis. Noeō means to perceive. From the word noeō we get the English word notion, which refers to an idea emanating from the mind. Thus, repent or metanoeō means to change one's mind about Christ rather than to change one's behavior in order to come to Christ. In this sense, repentance is a synonym for faith. Position Statement #6 captures this idea when it says, "With respect to salvation, repentance is a change of mind regarding the Person and work of Christ."
Third, Lordship Salvation ignores the possibility of a carnal Christian. If complete commitment and yielding to Christ is an initial prerequisite for salvation, then there is no such thing as a believer who is carnal or not completely surrendered to Christ. Yet the Bible contains numerous examples of carnal believers. For example, Lot, who is called righteous three times (2 Pet 2:7-8), exhibits perpetual unrighteous behavior (Gen 19:30-38). Similarly, the Corinthians are called saints (1 Cor 1:2) yet the rest of 1 Corinthians reveals their un-saintly behavior. Thus, Paul refers to them as carnal believers (1 Cor 3:1-3). While carnal Christianity is obviously not God's perfect will for His children, such a categorization is a legitimate possibility.
Fourth, Lordship Salvation confuses sanctification with justification. After coming to Christ, God issues another call for His children to pursue practical sanctification or discipleship. For example, those whom Christ called to be His disciples, like Peter, were already believers (Matt 16:24-25). We see the same salvation pattern at work through Old Testament Israel. First, the nation was redeemed through the Passover Lamb and then, sometime later, the nation was put under the Mosaic Law for purposes of sanctification (Exod 19:1ff). Thus, submission to Christ's Lordship is prerequisite for this second step of sanctification rather than for the initial step of justification. Therefore, the Scripture teaches Lordship Sanctification rather than Lordship Salvation. Lordship Salvation confuses this two-step approach by reading the principles for sanctification back into what is required for justification. In other words, what is the result of salvation mistakenly becomes the initial requirement for salvation. This mistake is tantamount to putting the cart before the horse.
Fifth, Lordship Salvation destroys the believer's assurance of salvation. Lordship advocates never precisely define what kind of commitment to Christ is necessary in order to become a Christian. How much surrender is required? How long is this surrender to last? How much fruit must this surrender produce? Because these questions are never precisely answered, the believer spends the rest of his Christian life wondering if he truly made enough of a commitment to become a Christian. Because of the believer's potential for backsliding, the Christian can never really know until his dying day if he is a committed Christian. Thus, Lordship Salvation steals the joy that accompanies the knowledge that one's eternal destiny is sealed. Far from such a guessing game, Christ gives all believers instantaneous assurance of salvation at the point of justification (John 5:24; 6:47).
In sum, although Lordship Salvation represents the right diagnosis of a problem, it holds out as the solution the wrong cure. The remedy for carnal Christianity is preaching more aggressively on the manifold blessings that accompany the sanctified life and the importance of the Spirit-filled life (Eph 5:18) so as to avoid the prospect of forfeiting rewards at the Bema Seat (1 Cor 9:24-27; 2 John 8; Rev 3:11). Let us hold out these genuine cures for carnal Christianity rather than embrace the false cure of Lordship Salvation. Such a false cure fundamentally alters the Gospel, which is the best news that God ever gave man.
This is nonsense.
Well for one, it is patently unscriptural. Salvation is by grace, not of works. Our salvation does not depend on us, it is the gift of God. Ephesians 2:8 spells it out loud and clear.
Bookmarked. By grace we are saved, not of ourselves, it is the gift of God!
Withoug carnal believers (and all were believers), the human population would cease to exist. I think the Shakers (shaking quakers) legislated themselves out of existence with their celibacy rules.
There is too much here to write (all from scripture) that would contradict much of what you said. First, I have full assurance of salvation based on God’s word and his grace.
I’ll bring up two general points:
1. If we are not showing works of salvation, we are fooling ourselves.
Salvation is not by works “lest anyone should boast”. (Ephesians 2:9). However, the next verse says that “We are created in Christ Jesus to do good works.” So, our works are a sign that we have believed God for salvation. 1 John 2:3-4: “Now by this we know that we have come to know God: if we keep his commandments. The one who says I have come to know God and yet does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in such a person.”
Jesus says, “If you love me, keep my commands.” How can we go to live eternally with God and not love him?
2. If I get to heaven and I am wrong, God may say, “You made a mistake. You fretted too much about your salvation. You could have lived without walking in obedience.”
If you are wrong and teach others the same . . .what will God say to you? “He who leads any of these little ones into sin . . .”
I would rather err on the side of relying on the grace of God and seeking to walk in obedience to his commands. When I sin, I confess it. 1 John 2:1, “I write these things to you THAT YOU WILL NOT SIN, but IF anybody does sin, we have an advocate, Jesus Christ, the righteous one.” (Emphasis mine).
My prayer is that God will be Lord of your life. God has come down in Christ not just to forgive us, but to transform us into his image.
All glory, honor and praise goes to Him who has won our salvation. He freely gave us his life—he calls us to give him our lives.
Works come after salvation, which is through faith alone. Works do not save anyone. Each and every human being is born into this world with a sin nature and a sin debt that has to be dealt with. The only payment God will accept for man's sin debt is the death of Jesus Christ on the cross.
Once a person has trusted Jesus Christ as Savior, and has accepted His death as payment for sin, then the works can begin and will actually mean something. Until then, it's like God tells us - "all your good works are as filthy rags."
Jesus says, If you love me, keep my commands. How can we go to live eternally with God and not love him?
No one, even after they are saved, can keep all of Christ's commands. We live the Christian life only through the strength of the indwelling Holy Spirit, Who a person receives after salvation. None of us can keep all of God's commands by ourselves alone. If we could, then it would not be necessary for us to have a "Helper", the Holy Spirit.
If I get to heaven and I am wrong, God may say, You made a mistake. You fretted too much about your salvation. You could have lived without walking in obedience.
If you are wrong and teach others the same . . .what will God say to you? He who leads any of these little ones into sin . . .
I really have no idea what this means. Everything the writer put forth in the article was backed up with Scripture.
I wish I had time for a good debate right now, but I don’t. I was kept up most of the all night and got very little sleep. I may try to get back to this in a day or two.
Let me sum up my thoughts in a too-short way. The Church has made a terrible mistake by “theologizing” salvation. We talk about it as salvation which is by grace alone (and Yes and Amen to that!) and then sanctification and later glorification — which is all true — but our problem is that we talk about “it.” An “it”, not a “Him.” Jesus Christ is life to all who trust in Him. He *is* salvation. His Name is Yeshua... remember what that word means?
Jesus doesn’t have some salvation in His pocket and when someone asks He reaches in and pulls out a handful. It’s HIM, it’s all about Him. It is about walking with Him, talking with Him, listening to Him, basking in His love and loving Him back.
The debate about “Lordship Salvation” completely misses the point. The discussion all revolves around “it” and you can get a Lordship preacher and a non-Lordship preacher in the same room and have a rousing argument... and never mention Jesus once.
The word “repent” in Greek is metanoia, “change the mind.” Most preachers have said that this means to change your mind about sin. But that is impossible for the unsaved. Only the Holy Spirit can convict of sin and bring someone in. It is much more a changing of the mind about *Jesus.* I didn’t know Him, didn’t care about Him, didn’t appreciate Him... and Jesus did WHAT for me??? Salvation is the Holy Spirit tackling someone with His love and saying “Here is Jesus! This is what He did for you! This is Who He is! This is how much He loves you!” and the reply, with trembling lips, is “Dear God... Yes!”
The Lordship guys want some level of pre-commitment to make sure they are REALLY SERIOUS. Impossible for the unregenerate.
The non-Lordship guys are just so eager for the lost person to pray “THE MAGIC PRAYER” that will say anything to get the person to repeat it. Regardless of the sins they are holding onto.
True story: I met a man from a church who was raving about a “new technique” some traveling evangelist had taught them. This “evangelist” — and I use that word lightly — had said the best way to get someone saved is to lead the person in “THE” prayer *whether the person meant it or not.* According to this evangelist/false teacher, the person would be magically converted even if they didn’t believe that Jesus was the Son of God when they started the prayer. No joke!
I would argue that BOTH the Lordship guys and the non-Lordship guys are completely wrong. One of them has the right train on the wrong track and the other has the wrong train on the right track and the whole thing is a trainwreck.
Grace is way, way, way bigger than this. Jesus is totally, radically, insanely, so much of grace that if you meet Him, I mean REALLY MEET HIM, and He falls on you... there is no going back. There is no earning. No levels of pre-commitment. No praying magic words and maybe something will stick. Salvation is JESUS falling on you in the person of the Holy Spirit, forgiving you and giving you Himself. It is a grace, love, relationship, mind-changing reality-shattering God-encounter.
True salvation — Jesus Himself — and the clinical arguments of Lordship vs. non-Lordship are as far apart as the brilliant flash the very moment God spoke light into existance... and a used physics textbook. The textbook can only dissect what the author thinks he knows, the reality of which is incomprehensible.
Lordship salvation says that unless a person exhibits perfect works all the time, then they cannot be saved.
The reality is is that sanctification occurs over a lifetime, not in a moment when a person makes the choice to accept Christ's death on the cross as payment for his sin. A person's life does indeed change after salvation, but for some it takes years and years, depending on their circumstances and the person himself and for others it happens quickly. God knows us better than we know ourselves and only God knows how to grow each and every person spiritually. It is not for others to judge.
A changed life and submission to Christ's lordship are the result of salvation, not a requirement for salvation.
Salvation is the condition a person is in after they make the choice to accept Christ as Savior. No one is claiming that Christ is somehow detached from the salvation that only He can provide.
When I read this type of article and the comments I always go to something Jesus said: Matthew 12:33-37. I will quote only verse 35: “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.” And I know many people believe this is simplistic.
Many people believe the entire Bible is simplistic.
You are corrct.
I agree completely. And true saving faith will evidence itself by producing good works. (Ephesians 2:10 spells that out loud and clear.)
This isn't about salvation by faith vs. salvation by works. It is about the results of saving faith.
Is it possible to have saving faith and not become a new creation? I suppose the no-lordship position would say no to that as well, but they will unquestioningly accept a "new" creation that is an exact replica of the old.
Is it possible to be saved not acknowledge Jesus as Lord? If someone has faith in a Jesus who is not Lord, they have the wrong Jesus, one who is neither lord nor savior. We don't "make Jesus the lord of our lives." Jesus is Lord of everything, including our lives. We either trust him or we don't.
“Lordship salvation says that unless a person exhibits perfect works all the time, then they cannot be saved.”
It certainly does not. Show me one advocate of Lordship salvation that says anything close to that.
"Perhaps the greatest error in the Lordship Salvation view is the apparent call to discipleship for those who are yet unsaved. If one must believe the Gospel, have faith, and make Christ Lord in order to be saved, this is a condition that must be met by someone who does not yet know what the Lordship of Christ means. This results in a Catch 22 which inevitably leads to eternal death. You must make Christ Lord in order to be saved, but you must first be saved in order to make Christ Lord. As the unregenerate, natural man cannot "receive the things of the Spirit of God" (1Cor 2:14, NKJV) for they are foolishness to him, how can he ever acknowledge the Lordship of Christ?"
"Another problem with Lordship Salvation is the problem of the need for some Biblical knowledge in order to submit to the Lordship of Christ. In order to follow a lord or leader, one must have some knowledge of what is required of him. How is a new believer to know what is required at the moment of salvation? How much must one know in order to be saved? Certainly a person must know that he is a sinner, and the penalty for sin is death, that Christ has paid that penalty and that those who accept His free offer are saved. But how much Biblical doctrine must a sinner know in order to be saved? Must he fully understand the kenosis? The legal ramifications of propitiation? To be sure Lordship should come with growth and study by those who are saved, but it is not a requirement for salvation."
"Another question arises as to how much Lordship is enough? What does it mean to submit to His Lordship? Is 75% submission enough to get one saved? Is 80% required? 66.6%? 100%? Who's to say? If 100 % submission is required for salvation, then there is no one who ever believed in God who is saved, not even David, Abraham or Noah."
"Lordship proponents counter this by saying, "well, one must be willing to submit to the Lordship of Christ." But this only begs the issue. Again we can ask, how willing? 80%, 90% or 100%? We still have the troubling question of "how much." One can never know for sure if they are submitting enough to Christ under the Lordship Salvation view. This eliminates all security for the believer, which is unthinkable in light of passages like Romans 8 and others."
"Related to the above, Lordship Salvation leaves all Christians in the ugly and dangerous position of judging others. Surely there are passages which call us to examine ourselves, discipline others in the church, watch out for false believers among us and such, but this involves things like an unrepentant heart, sins leading to death, and false and heretical teachings."
Is Lordship Salvation Biblical? Again, it can't be denied that faith in Christ produces a change (2 Corinthians 5:17). A person who has been delivered from sin by faith in Christ should not desire to remain in a life of sin (Romans 6:2). At the same time, submitting to the Lordship of Jesus Christ is an issue of spiritual growth, not salvation. The Christian life is a process of submitting to God in increasing measure (2 Peter 1:5-8). A person does not have to submit to God in every area of his or her life in order to be saved. A person simply has to recognize that he or she is a sinner, in need of Jesus Christ for salvation, and place trust in Him (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8-9). Jesus is Lord (Philippians 2:10). Christians absolutely should submit to Him (James 4:7). A changed life and submission to Christ's lordship are the result of salvation, not a requirement for salvation.
“I would argue that BOTH the Lordship guys and the non-Lordship guys are completely wrong.”
It sounds like you’re really a Lordship salvation guy who has heard too many distortions and characatures of the Lordship position.
I would be very careful how you present this to your church. I met a young man thirty years ago who was living in an adulterous relationship at the time. When I questioned him he said, “My pastor said that I’m saved no matter what I do.” That is completely against the word of God. Even Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery, “I forgive you; go and Sin no more.” What does that mean?
You seem to have trouble understading this simple statement, so I’ll say it again: if your theology is wrong . . .there will be judgment to pay. If I happen to be wrong, I’ve simply taught people to walk in obedience and rely on the grace of God for salvation. Where, in the scriptures, does it say we are to be disobedient?
“My sheep hear my voice, they listen and follow me . . .” To listen and follow means to obey—does it not?
The gospel is not for those who hear God’s voice and follow their own way—it is for those who take up their cross and follow him.
I wouldn’t believe in a gospel that does not transform my life.
I agree with everything the author says in this paragraph except what he says the Lordship position is. What is child-like faith like? I would say three words summarize it: innocent, trusting, and obedient. Its the faith that allows a young child to jump into daddys arms from a height that would hurt if he missed. Yes, some children will have to step down a few levels to jump. Some will be less attentive than others. But child-like faith is willing to obey. The obedience isnt a precondition, its a natural result.
Second With respect to salvation, repentance is a change of mind regarding the Person and work of Christ."
I think this is the part of the argument that is mostly semantics. I would probably call it a change of mind and heart and add and regarding my sin to the end, but I could live with your statement. I will then ask a question similar to one you like to throw at the Lordship position. How much understanding of the Person and work of Christ do I need to have in order to change my mind? Do I have to understand he paid for my sins? Wouldnt that mean I would have to understand Im a sinner? Do I have to believe that Jesus is Lord? (That is the Person of Christ I know.) Where exactly do you draw the line?
Also, is it just a change of mind that is needed? Isnt it possible for someone to decide those Christians were right about Jesus, but I dont care. I just want to party now? That person changed his mind; is he saved? Isnt a change of heart needed as well?
Repentance is our heart turning away from the way we were going and toward Christ. Commitment is believing the facts of the Gospel and believing those facts apply to me.
Third If complete commitment and yielding to Christ is an initial prerequisite for salvation, then there is no such thing as a believer who is carnal or not completely surrendered to Christ.
The call is to complete commitment and yielding. The reality is always less than that until eternity. That doesnt change the call.
Fourth, Lordship Salvation confuses sanctification with justification.
False. We just believe that step two begins immediately upon salvation and is not optional.
Fifth, Lordship Salvation destroys the believer's assurance of salvation.
Sin destroys a believers assurance.
We do believe it is dangerous to offer unreserved assurance based upon a past prayer or profession of faith to someone who is living in a carnal manner. They might be carnal Christians or they might just be carnal. Practicing proper church discipline would help sort that out. The Apostle Paul even tells the carnal Christians to Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. (1 Cor 13:5 - NKJV)
I dont give people assurance based on a profession of faith because only God knows the heart, and the heart is the real issue. I tell them to examine themselves if the fruit of the Spirit is being produced then the Holy Spirit is in them. How do I know Im saved? I see how God has changed me.
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