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Regarding Lordship Salvation - Comments (0)

Printer Friendly Category: Articles,Doctrine
Author: Jerod Santo
Date: 15th January, 2024 @ 04:21:19 PM

You can listen to an audio version of this article on our Enjoy The Bible podcast:

I recently heard a message from a radio preacher who answers questions from callers like this one:

It’s gonna be Randy from Dallas, Texas. Randy. Welcome.
What is lordship salvation? And what do you think of it? And I’ll hang up and listen to the radio.
Ok. Lordship salvation is just biblical salvation…

What follows is a common but well articulated defense of Lordship Salvation. Well, actually more of an attack on free grace than a defense of Lordship Salvation. I don’t think it’s a particularly good attack… it’s difficult to attack the truth… but like I said it was well articulated by a skilled orator so I thought I’d provide a response in defense of the truth: salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. And not of works, lest any man should boast.

Let’s get in to it.

Lordship salvation is just biblical salvation. But it has been labeled that as a pejorative by one group of theologians. It’s a very modern theological system. It just arose in the last 200 years. Prior to that all salvation in the Bible was seen as lordship salvation.

But a group called the dispensationalists arose who say no salvation is not, does not involve Christ’s lordship. And if you teach that it does, then you’re preaching a false gospel.

Let’s pause here for a brief moment. This refrain is parroted all too commonly by those who want to discredit dispensational thinking as if it’s some new idea invented by a witch and popularized by John Nelson Darby in the 1800s. It’s not. I don’t believe the Apostle Paul had even been acquainted with Darby when he wrote in the book of Ephesians about the dispensation committed to him, which implies the one prior, and the dispensation of the fulness of times, which is yet to come.

And if it’s good enough for the Apostle Paul, it’s good enough for me. But let’s get more into the meat of this Lordship argument.

Well, the truth is, of course, any gospel that says that it doesn’t involve Christ’s Lordship is itself a false gospel. What lordship salvation refers to when these people use that term is saying that if you embrace Christ as your Lord, you will be saved. If you do not embrace Christ as your Lord, you’ll not be saved.

This is a fuzzy representation of the Lordship doctrine, because it depends on what he means when he says ’embrace Christ as your Lord.’ If by ’embrace’ he means believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and yes Lord is part of that, then that isn’t Lordship Salvation: that’s good ole’ fashion Biblical salvation that comes by grace through faith.

But if by ’embrace Christ as your Lord’ he means serve Christ as your Lord and then you’ll be saved… that’s the Lordship doctrine and that’s works-based salvation and that’s no good news for any of us.

When the Philippians jailor asked Paul and Silas, what must I do to be saved? He said, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you’ll be saved.

Well, Lord means Lord and Christ means anointed king.

Small nitpick: Christ means anointed one, not anointed king. Kings aren’t the only ones anointed. Aaron the high priest, for instance, was Christed as well.

So I mean, you have to, you have to embrace Christ as king. Now, the fact they said “believe on” Some people say, well, no, anyone who just believes in that Jesus existed meet those qualifications.

No, no, you have to believe he’s your Lord. You have to believe he’s the king. You have to… believing here is far more than just mentally assessing to it.

This is a straw man. He asserts that his opponents, the free grace dispensationalists, hold a position that they do not hold. How do I know this? I _am_ a free grace dispensationalist and I do not believe, nor does the Bible teach, that ‘anyone who just believes that Jesus existed meets those qualifications.’

Believing that Jesus existed puts you in the mainstream belief of all humanity ever since the books were written about him. Even most atheists believe that Jesus Christ existed. When Paul and Silas told the Philippian jailor that if he would believe in the Lord Jesus Christ then he would be saved, they followed that up with more information. As it says in the following verse, “then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house.” (Acts 16:32)

What is the word of the Lord that was the primary focus of Paul’s missionary journeys? It was the resurrection of Jesus Christ and all that extends from it. Not that the man existed, but that he was declared to be the Son of God with power by the resurrection out from the dead (Rom 1:4). An act, by the way, that no man in history has been able to accomplish by his own hand before or after Jesus Christ accomplished it.

What they did not say to the jailor in that crucial evangelical moment recorded in the scriptures for all history: was “make Jesus Christ the Lord of your life and you shall be saved.”

The devil mentally recognizes that Jesus is Lord and king, but he doesn’t, doesn’t embrace that. He doesn’t, you know, submit himself to that. You can’t believe that somebody is a king and think that it’s ok for you to rebel against him.

Straw man! Whose position says that, “it’s ok for you to rebel against the Lord Jesus Christ?” I don’t hold that position. I don’t think it’s “ok” just like I don’t think it’s “ok” to sin. Neither did Paul, despite those who slanderously reported that he did (Rom 3:7).

And when it comes to kings, there’s only two ways you can react, you can rebel or you can submit a king by definition owns you, or at least the Lord, a lord owns his servants. A king has rightful command over you. And anyone who recognizes that there’s a Lord, that they have a Lord, then that person is a servant.

That’s why Jesus said, “Why do you call me Lord, Lord… And you don’t do what I say?”

It doesn’t make sense. If I’m your Lord, you’re my servant. Why don’t you obey?

On this point we agree! It doesn’t make any sense to confess that someone is your Lord and to not actually serve that person in your life. And yet all Christians have lived out this very contradiction. O wretched men that we are!

If you called Jesus Christ, which means king

No it doesn’t, it means anointed savior.

Why then would you not see an obligation to obey a king? And what is anything other than obedience to a king, but rebellion?

You’re not saved when you’re in rebellion against God and against Christ. That’s the very thing that makes people not saved. And what makes people saved is they stop being in rebellion against him and they embrace him in that role happily by faith.

And that’s salvation.

Here we begin to see how shaky this line of reasoning is. You’re not saved when you’re in rebellion against God, but you are saved when you embrace him in that role? So on good days when I’m serving the Lord… I’m saved? And on bad days when I’m serving sin instead… I’m not saved?

And does he also think that every person who is subject to a king or Lord is at all times embracing him in that role happily? My children believe that I’m their dad. They believe that I’m in charge in our house _and_ they believe that they should obey me. Does that snuff out every rebellion of their heart before it hits their lips, or worse, their deeds?

A rebellious child is still your child. Your approval of that child, your association to the child, your judgment of that child are all at stake when they rebel. But the familial relationship is not.

John 10:27 says,

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.”

No man can pluck you out of your father’s hand. Not even yourself.

Likewise, a disobedient servant is still the Lord’s servant. His approval of that servant, his association to that servant, his judgment of that servant are all at stake when they disobey, but the Lord never calls his servants his enemies. He calls them what they are: wicked servants.

The Bible never separates salvation from the lordship of Jesus Christ. Now, the problem these people have is they want salvation to require nothing of the sinner. They want to just say, you know, just believing is all it takes. Anything else is works that if you have to do anything else, it’s works.

Well, where in the Bible does it say we’re not supposed to do good works?

At this point the speaker shows his arguments aren’t merely bad, they’re presented in bad-faith. And the audacity he will display in a moment when he turns to Ephesians 2 to back up this bad-faith ‘good works’ argument is outright offensive.

I mean in Ephesians 2:8 and 9, it says by faith, you have been by grace, you’ve been saved through faith and that not of yourselves. It is the gift of God, not of works lest any man should boast.

But it says, for you are created in Christ, Jesus unto good works or for good works, which has foreordained that you would walk in. And this is what the whole Bible teaches that we were saved to do good works.

How you can, in the same breath, quote the Bible saying you are saved by grace through faith and not by works… and just cruise right past that fact as if it’s a nothing to the part about good works… well, it’s astonishing. It’s agonizing, really, and it does despite to the gospel.

Of course we are created in Christ Jesus unto good works. We are born from above, by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and our purpose in that family is to do good works well pleasing to God. But the works follow the faith, and not necessarily as is evidenced by the life of Lot.

Lot, Abraham’s nephew, found the exact same imputed righteousness that Abraham did. The exact same righteousness that is described in Romans 4 when it says:

“For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”

That’s how salvation came to Abraham, that’s how salvation came to Lot, and that’s how salvation comes to all people at all times. The difference between Abraham and Lot, though, is that Abraham lived his life by faith and Lot lived his life by sight.

There isn’t a single documented good work that Lot did in all the Scriptures. He was dragged out of Sodom kicking and screaming. He lost his wife and his kids to the world. He lived his final days in shame in a cave. And he begot, by his own daughters, two people groups that were perpetual enemies of God’s chosen ones.

There is on possible way that you can, with a straight face, claim that Lot served Christ as King and Lord.

And yet, because God’s grace comes by faith alone… and not of works! Lot is called just. Lot is called righteous. 2nd Peter 2 says that God,

“turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly; And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;)”

Both Abraham and Lot received the gift of God by grace through faith. Both of them were declared righteous by God. He counted their faith to them as righteousness. Both of them were created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God had before ordained that they should walk in them.

Abraham walked in those good works and he received an accolade for it. He was called the Friend of God. Lot did not walk in his good works and he suffered loss.

As it says in 1st Corinthians 3:

“Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.”

Lordship Salvation is a prime example of God’s servants failing to do what we’re exhorted to do in 2nd Timothy 2:15, where it says: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

Lumping together the Bible’s teaching about the free gift of God that comes by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone with the Bible’s distinctly different (and entirely additive) teaching about serving the Lord Jesus Christ by walking in the works that he has prepared for us is a grave error and does immense damage to the body of Christ.

Don’t fall pray to Lordship Salvation teaching. Don’t let the assurance of your salvation, that you received by the grace of God and not by works, be destroyed by men who wrestle with the scriptures and by their own works-based salvation logic, must conclude Lot to be unsaved when the scriptures clearly and boldly calls him righteous.

There is a doctrine of good works for us Christians, but it’s not Lordship Salvation.