The Distinctives of Lordship Salvation (taken from Grace Community Church’s website)
With comments (in Bold) by John Hayworth.
There are many articles of faith that are fundamental to all evangelical teaching. For example, there is agreement among all believers on the following truths: (1) Christ’s death purchased eternal salvation; (2) the saved are justified by grace through faith in Christ alone; (3) sinners cannot earn divine favor; (4) God requires no preparatory works or pre-salvation reformation; (5) eternal life is a gift of God; (6) believers are saved before their faith ever produces any righteous works; and (7) Christians can and do sin, sometimes horribly.
What, then, are the distinctives of lordship salvation? What does Scripture teach that is embraced by those who affirm lordship salvation but rejected by proponents of “easy-believism”? The following are nine distinctives of a biblical understanding of salvation and the gospel.
First, Scripture teaches that the gospel calls sinners to faith joined in oneness with repentance (Acts 2:38; 17:30;20:21; 2 Pet. 3:9). Repentance is a turning from sin (Acts 3:19; Luke 24:47) that consists not of a human work but of a divinely bestowed grace (Acts 11:18; 2 Tim. 2:25). It is a change of heart, but genuine repentance will effect a change of behavior as well (Luke 3:8; Acts 26:18-20). In contrast, easy-believism teaches that repentance is simply a synonym for faith and that no turning from sin is required for salvation.
(Comment) Repentence Greek Metanoia means a change of mind, as it appears to one who repents, of a purpose he has formed or of something he has done. Biblical repentance involves a change of one’s thinking, a change of mind, as the scripture states:
In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; (2 Timothy 2:25)
Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, (Hebrews 6:1).
What was the response of Paul and Silas to the question, “What must I do to be saved?”
And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.
According to Grace Fellowship Paul and Silas would be teaching “easy-Believism” by telling this man that in order to be saved all that was necessary was for him to believe! Paul declared:
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. (Romans 10:9)
Biblical Repentance is about changing one’s attitude towards the Lord Jesus:
But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name. (John 20:31)
Second, Scripture teaches that salvation is all God’s work. Those who believe are saved utterly apart from any effort on their own (Titus 3:5). Even faith is a gift of God, not a work of man (Eph. 2:1-5,8). Real faith therefore cannot be defective or short-lived but endures forever (Phil. 1:6; cf. Heb. 11). In contrast, easy-believism teaches that faith might not last and that a true Christian can completely cease believing.
(Comment) Paul, in writing to the Gentiles believers in Rome warned them about the possibility of them being “cut off”:
For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. (Romans 11:21-22)
The writer to the Hebrews also speaks thus:
But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end; (Hebrews 3:14-15).
These scriptures are written to believers, to people who profess Christ and have faith. The Holy Spirit speaks of God dealing out to people the “measure of faith.” (Romans 12:3)
Third, Scripture teaches that the object of faith is Christ Himself, not a creed or a promise (John 3:16). Faith therefore involves personal commitment to Christ (2 Cor. 5:15). In other words, all true believers follow Jesus (John 10:27-28). In contrast, easy-believism teaches that saving faith is simply being convinced or giving credence to the truth of the gospel and does not include a personal commitment to the person of Christ.
(Comment) The scriptures point out that there will be those that are weak and who struggle. The message is clear:
We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. (Romans 15:1)
…comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men. (1 Thessalonians 5:14)
And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed. (Hebrews 12:13)
Fourth, Scripture teaches that real faith inevitably produces a changed life (2 Cor. 5:17). Salvation includes a transformation of the inner person (Gal. 2:20). The nature of the Christian is new and different (Rom. 6:6). The unbroken pattern of sin and enmity with God will not continue when a person is born again (1 John 3:9-10). Those with genuine faith follow Christ (John 10:27), love their brothers (1 John 3:14), obey God’s commandments (1 John 2:3; John 15:14), do the will of God (Matt. 12:50), abide in God’s Word (John 8:31), keep God’s Word (John 17:6), do good works (Eph. 2:10), and continue in the faith (Col. 1:21-23; Heb. 3:14). In contrast, easy-believism teaches that although some spiritual fruit is inevitable, that fruit might not be visible to others and Christians can even lapse into a state of permanent spiritual barrenness.
(Comment) A person who is born of God will have a changed life. They will no longer be unbelievers and their life will begin to show evidence of this. Whereas before they did not desire Christ, now they do desire Him. The problem here is that people are not being encouraged to continue in Grace, a whole heap of other things is being piled on their shoulders. Rather than encourage believers to grow and trust Christ this encourages people to doubt whether they are really saved! It gives people the idea that unless they are sinlessly perfect they are not really saved!
I have met some dear people who came away from meetings led by proponents of Lordship Salvation doubting whether or not they were truly saved!
If fruit is present in their lives this means that they are saved. The parable of the sower shows us that the seed that fell on good soil bears fruit but that no two plants will bear the same amount of fruit:
But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. (Matthew 13:8 & Mark 4:20)
Some people’s lives will be more fruitful than others! Being less fruitful is no indication of lacking salvation.
Fifth, Scripture teaches that God’s gift of eternal life includes all that pertains to life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3;Rom. 8:32), not just a ticket to heaven. In contrast, according to easy-believism, only the judicial aspects of salvation (e.g., justification, adoption, and positional sanctification) are guaranteed for believers in this life; practical sanctification and growth in grace require a post-conversion act of dedication.
(Comment) When a person first becomes a believer, born again by faith in Jesus Christ, they are NOT fully mature in the faith. Personal Sanctification and growth in Grace can only come “post-conversion”! When a person is born again of the Spirit of God they have been perfected but sanctification (or Holiness as it is also called) is a continual process:
For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. (Hebrews 10:14)
In other translations we are given to understand that being sanctified is a continual process:
those who are being sanctified. (NKJV), those who are being made holy. (NIV), those who are being sanctified. (HNV).
The Greek text uses the term ἁγιαζομένους (hagiazoumenous) which gives the sense of the sanctification being pronounce upon people. Just as the Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us, so the sanctification is a work of God.
Sixth, Scripture teaches that Jesus is Lord of all, and the faith He demands involves unconditional surrender (Rom. 6:17-18; 10:9-10). In other words, Christ does not bestow eternal life on those whose hearts remain set against Him (James 4:6). Surrender to Jesus’ lordship is not an addendum to the biblical terms of salvation; the summons to submission is at the heart of the gospel invitation throughout Scripture. In contrast, easy-believism teaches that submission to Christ’s supreme authority is not germane to the saving transaction.
(Comment) Whenever the Gospel was preached in the scriptures we do not read anywhere where people were exhorted to submit to the Lordship of Christ. They were exhorted to believe in the Son of God. (John 3:16; Romans 10:9-10; 1John 5:13; John 1:12-13; Romans 4:13-25; Romans 5:1-2;
Seventh, Scripture teaches that those who truly believe will love Christ (1 Pet. 1:8-9; Rom. 8:28-30; 1 Cor. 16:22). They will therefore long to obey Him (John 14:15, 23). In contrast, easy-believism teaches that Christians may fall into a state of lifelong carnality.
(Comment) We cannot fault the scriptures! Yet when reading this seventh distinctive do we not automatically begin to question, “Do I love Jesus?” Will we ever love Him enough?
Eighth, Scripture teaches that behavior is an important test of faith. Obedience is evidence that one’s faith is real (1 John 2:3). On the other hand, the person who remains utterly unwilling to obey Christ does not evidence true faith (1 John 2:4). In contrast, easy-believism teaches that disobedience and prolonged sin are no reason to doubt the reality of one’s faith.
(Comment) The commandments we have been given to follow are to Love God above all else and love everyone else as ourselves.
Ninth, Scripture teaches that genuine believers may stumble and fall, but they will persevere in the faith (1 Cor. 1:8). Those who later turn completely away from the Lord show that they were never truly born again (1 John 2:19). In contrast, easy-believism teaches that a true believer may utterly forsake Christ and come to the point of not believing.
(Comment) When Paul was writing to the believers in Galatia it was obvious from his letter that he considered them to have been believers because he addresses them as “brethren”. (Galatians 6:1) He speaks of them as being “known of God”. (Galatians 4:9) Paul writes to them in order to warn them of false teachers that had come amongst them. Judas Iscariot was an Apostle of Christ, when he was sent out he had the power of God to heal the sick just as the other 11 Apostles could!
Most Christians recognize that these nine distinctives are not new or radical ideas. The preponderance of Bible-believing Christians over the centuries have held these to be basic tenets of orthodoxy. In fact, no major orthodox movement in the history of Christianity has ever taught that sinners can spurn the lordship of Christ yet lay claim to Him as Savior.
This issue is not a trivial one. In fact, how could any issue be more important? The gospel that is presented to unbelievers has eternal ramifications. If it is the true gospel, it can direct men and women into the everlasting kingdom. If it is a corrupted message, it can give unsaved people false hope while consigning them to eternal damnation. This is not merely a matter for theologians to discuss and debate and speculate about. This is an issue that every single pastor and layperson must understand in order that the gospel may be rightly proclaimed to all the nations.
(Comment) On the surface LS may seem Biblical however it lends itself to self-righteous judging of weak believers. Many believers struggle with the flesh, as Paul wrote:
…we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin. (Romans 7:14-25)
LS leaves so many under condemnation as they judge themselves as not living up to the measure of sinless perfection that this doctrine implies!
LS is a divisive doctrine. Church leaders will tell their charges to have nothing to do with other believers who do not hold to the Lordship position.
Teachers of LS deny that they teach a works-based Salvation, however the very nature of LS proves otherwise. We are not saved on the basis of anything other than faith. It is our faith that justifies us, the fact that we believe on Christ, and nothing more:
Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men. (Titus 3:5-8)
LS implies that anyone who does not agree with this doctrine is teaching Antinomianism or “easy-believism” as they call it! This accusation was also leveled against Paul:
(as we be slanderously reported, and as some affirm that we say,) Let us do evil, that good may come? whose damnation is just. (Romans 3:8)
For some good questions that every adherent of LS needs to answer:
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