Lordship Salvation

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. – 2 Timothy 2:15

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The following is the concluding article of the 7-part series titled, What Is Wrong with NON-LordshipSalvation?, which is a refutation of Dr. Andy Woods’ article, “What Is Wrong with Lordship Salvation?  Each piece goes in depth to cover why lordship salvation is the Gospel according to the Lord Jesus Christ. I invite you to explore each article in this series, and continue to the plethora of resources at the bottom of this page.

It is critical that we get the Gospel right, lest we be deceived and play a role to deceive others, intentionally or not.  This Gospel is under attack now more than ever in these last days, so we must, therefore, faithfully proclaim the promise of God that those whom God justifies, He will also sanctify, and one day glorify, without exception, to the praise and glory of Himself alone!

What Is Wrong with NON-Lordship Salvation? – Part 7

On March 19th the Bible Prophecy Blog posted an article by Dr. Andy Woods of Sugar Land Bible Church refuting the biblical doctrine of “lordship salvation” titled, What Is Wrong with Lordship Salvation?  I’m very thankful this was posted and praise God for the opportunity to carefully examine critical and essential doctrines of the Christian faith that are under attack by modern evangelicalism. As a result of Dr. Woods’ article and by God’s grace, I was able to sharpen my understanding of God’s work in salvation and hopefully provide you understanding of what this doctrine does and does not teach. The series was broken up into the following 6 previous parts:

Part 1 – Introduction

Part 2 – Saving Faith

Part 3 – Repentance

Part 4 – Carnal Christianity

Part 5 – Sanctification

Part 6 – Biblical Assurance of Salvation

And now,

Part 7 – Conclusion

In my own experience in discussing these issues with various people and reviewing the work of those on both sides of the debate, I conclude that much of the controversy is derived from a gross misunderstanding of what lordship salvation teaches, which gives birth to misconceptions and misrepresentations when dismissing or condemning this doctrine.

At root, as I understand it, whether or not one adheres to lordship salvation is the view through which one sees the work of salvation.  On the one hand, those who view salvation as a work of God alone for the glory of God alone (monergism) accept “lordship salvation” as nothing more or less than the pure Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.  While through the lens of synergism, on the other hand, believers view salvation as a work of God with the cooperation of man to achieve salvation, which lends to the misunderstanding that any type of commitment to Christ or repentance from sin are additional works instead of gifts from God.

Dr. Woods is one such person who embraces synergism. As far as I can tell, Dr. Woods is a sincere man who may love the Lord, but he is significantly confused in his theology.  Reading through Sugar Land’s statement of faith, they have elements of the sovereignty of God and work of the Holy Spirit to sanctify those God justifies. If sanctification is an absolute and direct consequence of justification, then Dr. Woods’ positions from his article on saving faith, repentance, carnal Christianity, and assurance conflict with his statement of faith.  This type of confusion is rampant in the visible church, which has left many sheep disillusioned and giving perhaps many more nominal christians false assurances of salvation. Especially around the doctrines concerning salvation, the following Scripture from James 3:1 is ever so important:

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.

This applies to preachers and teachers of the Gospel, and preachers and teachers of false gospels.  I do not know the heart of Dr. Woods nor would I assume anything about him, but I would call him to repent from the repentant-less gospel he is preaching, to humbly submit himself to the Lord that he might gain the knowledge of the truth in matters of soteriology, and contend for the faith that was once delivered to him.  At the end of the day, the message we preach will be out of the abundance of our hearts, so it is critical we examine what we believe lines up with the Word of God, most especially in matters of salvation, lest we deceive ourselves and deceive those who listen to us.  The consequences for not doing so could be damning if we fall outside of orthodoxy into heresy (Galatians 1:8-9).

To close this series out, I’d like to briefly outline what lordship salvation is and what it is not.

What Lordship Salvation Is NOT

  1. Lordship salvation does not teach that one must change their behavior before coming to Christ.
  2. Lordship salvation does not teach that one must consciously assess every area of one’s life and consciously forsake every single sin and idol before coming to Christ.
  3. Lordship salvation does not teach that there is no such thing as a Christian living carnally.
  4. Lordship salvation was not developed as a response to fight carnal Christianity.
  5. Lordship salvation does not teach salvation through justification by faith plus works.
  6. Lordship salvation does not steal the joy of salvation or take away assurance of salvation from born again believers.
  7. Lordship salvation does not teach that one must be perfectly obedient or is sinless after one is saved.
  8. Lordship salvation does not confuse sanctification with justification.

What Lordship Salvation IS

  1. Lordship salvation teaches salvation is monergistic (a work of God alone) whereby God is the absolute author and the absolute finisher of our faith for which He may get the glory alone.
  2. Lordship salvation teaches that saving faith is more than a mental assent to knowledge about Christ, but rather a trust in the Person of Christ and His work on the cross to not only save us from the wrath to come but also to save us from the bondage of our sin.
  3. Lordship salvation teaches that repentance is more than just a change of mind about sin and Christ, but it involves a change of mind, a change of heart, and a change of attitude toward sin. The result of genuine repentance rooted in godly sorrow will be a change of behavior. In essence, the faith that saves is a repentant faith where one turns from a sinful lifestyle toward God in faith.
  4. Lordship salvation teaches that this repentant faith is a gift from God whereby the Holy Spirit changes the heart of the sinner, thus enabling the person to respond positively to grace through repentance and faith. God actually plants new desires in the heart of the new believer where they will increasingly hate sin and love God.
  5. Lordship salvation teaches that love for God will be evidenced by a life of obedience and a lifestyle of repentance.
  6. Lordship salvation teaches that because salvation is of the Lord, the regenerated believer will submit to the authority of the Lord and Master of all creation to live a patterned life of habitual obedience.
  7. Lordship salvation teaches that the believer will be gradually conformed to the image of Christ in cooperation with the Holy Spirit through sanctification. This sanctification begins at the moment of justification.
  8. Lordship salvation teaches there is no distinction between a disciple and a believer. All believers are disciples.
  9. Lordship salvation teaches that while a Christian may act in carnal ways, carnality will not be the patterned lifestyle of the believer and such carnality is only temporary. All Christians are disciplined by God and convicted by the Holy Spirit to repent from their sinful behavior.
  10. Lordship salvation teaches biblical assurance of salvation by examination of one’s life through the objective Word of God, not based on past emotional experiences or prayers.
  11. Lordship salvation teaches that believers will continue in the faith as it is God who keeps us. This means the believer will continue to surrender to the Lordship of Christ in increasing measure.
  12. Lordship salvation is the historical and biblical doctrine of orthodox Christianity.

Much confusion can be cleared up if one honestly assesses what is being taught by lordship salvation proponents and considers the clear teaching of Scripture on these matters. Some folks are fundamentally ignorant of the truth of this doctrine, while others work as pawns of Satan to destroy souls by blurring the lines of truth and illusion.  A significant reason for why there are so many false converts in American churches today is because of the diluted and polluted message taught from pulpits and the decisional evangelism so rampant today. This has led to a distinctly unbiblical category of “carnal Christians” and will contribute to many professing Christians burning in hell for all eternity under the wrath of a God they did not know.

If you are still struggling with this doctrine or even still deny its truth, please ask yourself:

Have I, myself, surrendered to the Lordship of Christ?

If you have not or do not know the answer to this question, then please, by all means, post a comment below or message me privately. This is no matter to take lightly as it is of utmost importance for you to know that Christ is your Lord as much as He is your Savior.  After all, Jesus Himself said in John 10:27,

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.

Do you hear His voice? Does He know you? Do you follow Him? All sheep do, so please be sure you have this assurance by biblical examination of your heart.

If you have questions about any information contained within these articles, please post your comments in the appropriate parts of this series.

May God alone be glorified by these efforts to contend for the faith, and may the Body of Christ be stirred to proclaim the unadulterated Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ!

Please also see the following resources:

It Will Cost You Everything – Steven Lawson

The Lordship of Christ – Monergism 

Lordship Salvation Distinctives – John MacArthur

The Carnal Christian Doctrine (Part 1)

The Carnal Christian Doctrine (Part 2)

Lordship Salvation – Segment of Day with Todd Friel (Wretched)

Clinging to a Counterfeit Cross – James P. Shelly

Lordship Salvation – Justin Edwards

The Gospel According to Jesus – John MacArthur

Slave – John MacArthur

The Gospel According to the Apostles – John MacArthur

Is Christ Your Lord? – A.W. Pink 

The Lordship Controversy and Repentance – Ernest Reisinger

The Lordship Controversy (stream or download mp3) – John MacArthur

Common Questions about Lordship, Part 1 – John MacArthur

Common Questions about Lordship, Part 2 – John MacArthur

The Lordship Salvation Controversy – Dr. Michael Barrett

Dispensationalism and Lordship Salvation – Reverend John Greer

A 15-Year Retrospective of the Lordship Controversy – John MacArthur

Other Resources on Lordship Salvation from Grace to You

Lordship Salvation – James White

35 Responses “Lordship Salvation” →
  1. Although I am a notorious free will advocate, I thoroughly enjoyed John MacArthur’s book “The Gospel According to Jesus”. I will always remember this statement:

    “Many men preach such a watered down version of the gospel that even the non-elect cannot reject it” (or something like that)

    Great!

  2. Hi there, thought to let you know that the font size on your blog is very small. It looks like a size 8. For better readability, please consider increasing the font size. Thanks.

    • Hi tekhelet,

      This is the standard size for wordpress blog, so nothing has been done to decrease the font. Are you sure it’s not your computer? Have you tried holding CTRL and scrolling with your mouse to enlarge your screen?

  3. I think the trouble with your thinking and others in part is confusing the word christian with salvation. Not all saved people are christians. A christian means like christ. When a person is first born into God’s kingdom he doesn’t all of the sudden become a great almost sinless person. A baby needs fed. If someone instrumental in their salvation doesn’t help them they will have trouble growing. Life happens and ten years later no one has given them direction so he never possibly gets grounded and to many will look like just another lost man. God does not takeyour free will away when you get saved. Though the Holy Spirit will convict him of his sins and may have to chastise him still he still has the old nature and the Devil to help him go the wrong way.. Each man must make the right choice. Lordship proponents will say he never got saved.

    • Hi Jerry, thanks for the comment. There are many things wrong about your comment, and you will find Scriptural reasons for why in the articles contained within this series. I hope you take the time to go through each one of them. I would like to ask you a question about your statement that “not all saved people are christians”. Could you please elaborate on that and provide Scripture to support your argument? Thanks.

  4. Hello friend! I searched for Ephesians 2:8-9 in all of your posts and only found it in reference to what Dr. Any Woods said in his article. And you mentioned it in passing barely touching on the Action of God to Save Sinners. Why did you avoid this core issue of Biblical Salvation? “It is by grace through faith that we are saved so that we do not boast about working for it!” No works at all! It is about Believing and Receiving Jesus Christ as Savior (All of the Gospel of John). That is all! To suggest that we have to do anything to make him Lord of your life at Salvation is to fall into the trap of works.

    You need to read Chuck Swindoll’s book Grace Awakening to balance your Biblical views.

    One more thought, please don’t grab lots of Pastor and Author’s Names lumping them in one big pile to make your point. Every one of them don’t believe the same things with all the doctrines of the faith, but you made it look like they all did just that. That is not fair to you, your readers or these men and woman.

    Blessings to you as you live for Christ!

    • Hi Jeff, thanks for commenting. I actually covered Ephesians 2:1, 2, 5, 8-10 multiple times in this series. Check out Part 3 and 5 for instance, so I’ve not avoided it at all.

      Also, please point out where I said anything about “making Christ Lord” – those are your words not mine. Moreover, you make no mention of repentance – why is that?

      Could you clarify what you mean regarding lumping people in a pile?

      • Hi Justin, thanks for replying. I know you have spent much time on 7 parts on defending “Lordship Salvation”, but I want to keep my comment brief.

        First, I do not think you have accurately represented all the “Is and Is Nots” above well. The purity of “Lordship Salvation” IS that you need to clean up your act making Jesus both Savior and Lord of your life at salvation. It is not completely by grace alone that you are saved and kept (Jude 1). This is where the term “Lordship Salvation” comes from.

        It is very simple, as I see it and how I read the Biblical Scriptures. Ephesians 2:8-9 says that we can do nothing to gain salvation. Nothing. It is free, by grace alone. Not grace + something. I do not need to declare Jesus the full Lord of my life at salvation, otherwise I would be boasting in my works and be getting my life cleaned up before salvation. I just believe and receive him as my Savior. I “change my mind” about who he was and know by the Holy Spirit understand him to be my Savior. That is “repentance”. I is not grace +.

        After coming to Christ, I grow in sanctification giving him more “territory” (if you will) and making him more and more Lord, but I still sin until I go home to heaven for glorification. To declare anything else is a different Gospel and yes, would be heresy. It is clear from these few passages that it is by “believing” alone (Galatians 3:22; John 1:12; 3:15-16; 18; 36; 5:24; 6:40; 47; Acts 16:31; Romans 1:16; 3:22-23; 4:24-25; 6:23, I could literally add another 150 more verses to the list).

        Based on my reading from a variety of sources on “Lordship Salvation,” here are my main concerns:

        1. We can’t earn God’s love and acceptance by resolutions leading to consistent good works (1 Corinthians 3:11-15) before or after salvation. It is by grace alone and God’s work in us. Lordship Salvation does not teach this in it’s purist form.

        2. People are often asked to make Christ Lord of their Life. This implies that acknowledging Christ’s lordship is a human work. If it is a work of God, than we have no debate here, but if it is a requirement, we have confusion. We can’t separate Jesus into parts (Savior Part, Lord Part, Friend Part, etc.). We have Jesus or we don’t.

        3. We will always fall short of a daily commitment to make Christ Lord of our lives. We are always doomed to fail on our own (Romans 8:4; 6:14). This is not seeing the cup half empty, it is the flesh battle we are in even though our position is in Christ as believers.

        4. The negative Impact of Lordship Salvation Theology is causing guilt, insecurity, negativity stripping the fruit of the Spirit from doing it’s work in grace. Not to mention, depression, pride, anger, passive-aggressive behaviors, and personal disorders in people are coming in. On a personal note, I have been in Pastoral Ministry for 17+ years and have seen all of these as a result of “Lordship Salvation” apart from grace + nothing.

        The bottom line: The whole theme of the Bible is God’s extreme sovereignty and grace. We must stand in freedom and grace for mental and spiritual health. We are unconditionally loved and assured in our salvation.

        Lumping People in a Pile:

        You had given a list of names in Part Two, “Jonathan Edwards, Charles Spurgeon, Martin Lloyd-Jones, George Whitefield, John Bunyan, A.W. Pink, B.B. Warfield, John Knox and the Puritans, J.C. Ryle, Leonard Ravenhill, Steven Lawson, John MacArthur, Ray Comfort, Al Mohler, C.J. Mahaney, Ray Comfort, and Paul Washer.”

        I am not sure all of these men adhere to “Lordship Salvation”, that is it is grace + something else to be saved. I would have to do more research on that.

        I appreciate your time!
        Jeff

        • Hi Jeff, thanks for dropping by again. Some of the issues you have brought up are a main reason why I did this series. I was part of an online community who raised similar concerns as you, but I did not see their concerns in the material I was reading from those who teach “lordship salvation”. More than that, when God first saved me in March 2009 and I was burning through pages of the Bible, I quickly realized how different Christianity is according to the Bible versus Christianity according to the modern church. I say this because 1) I realized how far astray the modern church is in its modern message (Andy Woods for example) and 2) the people opposing lordship salvation could never show evidence of their concerns. Instead, straw men and misrepresentations get lofted up instead of rationally discussing the issue and providing proof of accusations against lordship salvation proponents. I’m not necessarily saying this is you, but I’d like you to keep that in mind should you desire to continue this discussion (and I hope you do :) ).

          With this said, you and I could cover a lot of ground if you could answer these two questions:

          1) Are you a monergist or a synergist?

          2) Do you believe there is a difference between a true believer and a true disciple?

          3) Did you read all of the articles in this series?

          I’m going to answer the rest of your comment one part at a time, but perhaps it would help both of us (and other readers) if in the future we limit our discussion to particular subtopics of this conversation to the respective articles. This way various issues can stay in one place and comments won’t get too long and complex to follow.

          You said,

          The purity of “Lordship Salvation” IS that you need to clean up your act making Jesus both Savior and Lord of your life at salvation.

          Ok, this is what I meant by my first paragraph. Nowhere in my articles, in any of the sources I’ve provided from leading teachers on the doctrine, or from Scripture itself has it been taught that LS says you must “clean up your act making” Jesus Lord. So the burden is on you to provide this proof where this is being taught. On the contrary, from my article linked above, leading LS proponent John MacArthur says,

          “A person might be truly born again without explicitly considering the cost of following Christ, but no one can be saved who counts the cost and is unwilling to pay it. Again, I am certain that no one understands the full implications of Christ’s lordship at the moment of conversion; in fact, none of us ever reaches full knowledge of such spiritual realities in this life. But the work of the Holy Spirit in the heart of a true believer prompts some degree of surrender to Christ’s authority even at the inception of the new birth.”

          So I ask you to provide evidence to support your argument of “pure LS”. Respectfully, all I see is a straw man.

          You said,

          Ephesians 2:8-9 says that we can do nothing to gain salvation. Nothing. It is free, by grace alone. Not grace + something.

          That is exactly right, and why I asked if you are a monergist or a synergist. If the former, then you can consistently say the above statement, yet, if you are the latter, then you cannot. Please see Part 5 for more on this.

          You said,

          I do not need to declare Jesus the full Lord of my life at salvation, otherwise I would be boasting in my works and be getting my life cleaned up before salvation.

          By this, do you mean one can consciously say, “I declare Christ half a Lord of my life?” or do you mean to say, “I believe and receive Christ as my Savior, but I don’t desire to obey Him as Lord?” Please clarify. To your second point, please see previous points regarding monergism and provide evidence showing a LS proponent teaching works righteousness before God saves them.

          You said,

          I “change my mind” about who he was and know by the Holy Spirit understand him to be my Savior. That is “repentance”. I is not grace +.

          Did you read Part 3 on repentance? If yes, please show from Scripture your opposition with that article. Many points were made on repentance and I’d like to hash this out there.

          You said,

          After coming to Christ, I grow in sanctification giving him more “territory” (if you will) and making him more and more Lord, but I still sin until I go home to heaven for glorification.

          Well, I would certainly agree that we grow in sanctification after we have first been positionally sanctified at justification (1 Corinthians 6:11), but I disagree when you say we “make Him Lord more and more” – nobody can “make Christ Lord”, He already is Lord. Perhaps you mean you continue to surrender to His lordship more and more, and to that I agree. To your last point, yes, we will sin until we are glorified, but we will not live a lifestyle of sin and we will sin less and less as we love God more and more (1 John 3:4-10 for example).

          To your Point 1, I simply ask you to prove your argument with evidence. I’ve studied this topic extensively and I’ve never seen one biblical proponent of LS teach this. I certainly have not taught it on this website.

          To your Point 2, people who say “make Christ your Lord are unbiblical.” I’ve not seen a biblical LS proponent do this, and I haven’t here. Please support your argument with evidence that “pure LS proponents” do in fact teach this. Regarding it being God’s work, yes, absolutely, it is all the Lord’s work. If one is a synergist and believes in repentance or LS as “a requirement” for salvation, then that is absolutely works-based salvation. But Scripture reveals even our faith and repentance are gifts from God.

          You then said,

          We can’t separate Jesus into parts (Savior Part, Lord Part, Friend Part, etc.). We have Jesus or we don’t.

          It seems you are contradicting your whole argument against LS with this statement. LS proponents, including myself, agree with this point.

          To your Point 3, I don’t disagree and if you believe LS proponents teach otherwise, please provide evidence to support your argument.

          To your Point 4, I can’t discount your experiences, but I can affirm mine and more importantly my observation of Scripture. I speak about carnal christianity and assurance of salvation in Parts 4 and 6, respectively.

          Finally, you said,

          I am not sure all of these men adhere to “Lordship Salvation”, that is it is grace + something else to be saved. I would have to do more research on that.

          Well, in keeping with the theme of this response, “show me the money”. ;)

          Thanks again for your visit, Jeff. I hope our conversation can continue in the spirit of humility and love for the truth (and to be conformed to it). It seems you have your work cut out for you, else you will remain in the crowd that continues to toss around straw men and misrepresentations of what LS actually is and teaches. I look forward to your reply – grace and peace.

  5. If I had to place myself, I would be a monergist with a high view of God and his full independent work in salvation. Although, I don’t like theological labels that are manmade because of the baggage they imply and the fraud nature of their use. It leads toward us needing to define every term we use to make sure we are on the same page. But I digress…

    You mentioned that “my work is cut out for me” and that I was “setting up straw man” in my comments. This really isn’t the case at all. I will give details below. I will just share a few quotes and comments from the main proponent of “Lordship Salvation” which adds works/deeds/actions to grace. Here is just a short list of Dr. John McArthur’s quotes. But before I share them, I would say, I like much of what John McArthur says. He is a good teacher most of the time, but on this issue I believe he is out of bounds Biblically and Theologically.

    …[Moderator Cut]…

    I end with this. Jesus did not come to put a larger load on our shoulders (i.e. yoke), but to set us free by grace alone, no works, no need to do anything, but believe and receive his free gift. That is the Good News.

    • Hi Jeff,

      I must say I’m rather disappointed that you did a copy and paste job in response to my last comment, especially using David Stewart’s slanderous and outrageous excuse for a Christian website. I am also familiar with the inconsistencies of Middletown’s website that you copy and pasted, and would be very careful with Miles Standish as he was a hyper-dispensationalist who argued there are 3 different Gospels in the New Testament.

      If you say you are a monergist, then you would agree that salvation is absolutely of the Lord, which means even our faith and repentance are gifts by grace. So there is no “work” involved when one surrenders to the Lordship of Jesus Christ because we are given the ability to do so when we are regenerated.

      Regarding my 2nd question in my previous comment, could you clarify as to whether you believe there is a distinction between a true believer and a true disciple, eg. can one be a true believer and not be a true disciple?

      Also, did you read all of the articles in this series?

      • Justin, I did borrow the quotes off various websites and confirmed that McArthur wrote and said them myself (as I have been studying this for years) and I added some of my own thoughts, but they are still quotes from John McArthur’s books and interviews. Why aren’t you speaking to his direct quotes? You chose to take all of those quotes out of my last comment (moderator cut) and yet still responded. I don’t think that is fair to your readers, nor to an honest debate, but it is your blog. This is disappointing and tells me you are close minded on “Lordship Salvation” just like McArthur. Be careful in being so dogmatic. Yes, I read your posts. Blessings to you as you pursue Christ.

        • Jeff,

          I don’t have the luxury of verifying in context all of these cut and paste quotes from those websites. If you skim through David Stewart’s website, you’ll see just how fanatical he is, even calling men like John MacArthur, Paul Washer, and Ray Comfort damnable heretics. It’s very easy to pluck quotes out of the larger context and misrepresent what the author is intending (we see this with Scripture all the time, as I’m sure you know).

          But neither is the page or this website an apologetic for John MacArthur, yet somehow this thread has gotten off-track to suppose it is. There is an abundant amount of Scripture to discuss in these articles, and MacArthur is scarcely even mentioned. So, I welcome you to address my points in these articles and back your arguments up with Scripture if you are still willing.

          Thank you for answering one of my questions, but you still have yet to answer whether or not someone can be a true believer and not be a true disciple. If you decide to move on, that’s OK too. If so, grace and peace to you.

          p.s. honesty would have been to at least link where you got your resources and add quotes that weren’t yours – not plagiarizing other people’s work as you did. ;)

          • Hey Justin,

            With all due respect, you are quick to jump to conclusions on several fronts and I wonder if you are teachable in this area?

            I did not “cut and paste quotes”. I did my research as you challenged me to do so saying “I had my work cut out for me”. I confirmed quotes I found in books, listen to tapes/CD/online (recently and in years past). I am not connecting with particular people like David Stewart or others. I am specifically speaking to the quotes and writings of John McArthur. The quotes I mentioned are mostly from his books. If this issue is that imporant, I would say we need to take the time to look up what the leaders say even if it is difficult to receive.

            I mentioned in my earlier comment that “I did borrow the quotes off various websites and confirmed that McArthur wrote and said them myself (as I have been studying this for years) and I added some of my own thoughts, but they are still quotes from John McArthur’s books and interviews.” The quotes I took were John McArthur’s writings and quotes from him. This is not plagairizing (especially in a blog comment). I have been writing for publications and have written three books. I fully understand what plagiarizing is and is not.

            Please be careful to show grace and love. Please, do not jump to conclusions in the midst of passion and boldness. If we (me included) are not careful (like many before us), we end of up dieing on the wrong hills.

            I like many of the same teachers/preachers/writers that you do to, but I don’t go to extremes, but pray with the help of the Holy Spirit to stay in the center of Biblical tension. It is too easy to swing to one side or the other.

            P.S. As mentioned earlier, I don’t like the theological manmade categories, thus I am struggleing with your question about “believer and disciple…” This certainly is not the first time I have thought about this area, but I am not ready to give a written answer.

            I have enjoyed the back and forth. I pray that it is encouraging to both of us. Forgive me if I have written anything that hurt you in any way. We don’t really know one another and blogging/commenting is not really the best way to connect, but I appreciate your heart for the Word of God and the Truth in grace. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year friend!

            • Hey Jeff,

              I can see how you took my words to be directed at you in my first sentence. I was referring to the website’s “cut and paste quotes”. I apologize for not being more clear to that end.

              With regard to plagiarism, I understand you had added some of your own words, but they were intermixed with the respective website commentary on the quotes, and you did not provide quotation marks to distinguish between your words and the commentary on the quotes. At best, it made it difficult to follow and at worst this was plagiarism because you did not give credit to the original author’s commentary.

              I do believe this a hill to die on because we are talking about the salvation of the souls of men. If our message is watered down, inadequate, incomplete, or false, we are not only cheating men and women from the pure Gospel, but we will be held accountable to God for mishandling His Word. That is why it is so important to work through this – if your message lacks a call to biblical repentance to follow Christ as Lord, then you are preaching an insufficient gospel. I counted 6 men you have listed on your blog who would agree with me, in addition to historical orthodox Christianity. This repentant-less gospel has only been around for the last century or two. Here’s the fruit, and it’s tragic: http://airocross.com/2011/12/09/tim-tebow-christian-evangelism/

              Regarding my question of believers and disciples, perhaps I could offer this – is there such a thing as an unrepentant homosexual born again believer? In other words, can one be a homosexual believer but not be a disciple, and be born again?

              I have also appreciated the conversation and thank you for your time here. You are still welcome here, and I apologize if I have been uncharitable toward you. May God’s grace and love consume you as you continue to seek after Him.

  6. I come from an Arminian background, and we have long taught what you are calling Lordship Salvation. You can’t even repent without acknowledging Christ is Lord because you first must realize you are a sinner and that Christ has the right to judge you for your sin, and that you are, indeed, a sinner in need of Christ’s work on the cross. While I disagree with a good bit of what MacArthur teaches, he is right on this score and I commend him for standing up to teh abuse he has taken because of his preaching of this doctrine.

    The other stuff, such as monergism, we will not agree on and have no intention of arguing it here.

    • Thanks for the comment, Quartermaster. I will just say that any belief of “lordship salvation” outside the context of biblical monergism is a works-based system. If one repents, believes, and surrenders apart from the grace of God, then they are working for God’s favor to bless them with salvation. In other words, you can’t repent, you can’t believe, and you can’t surrender unless God grants you repentance and faith. 1 Corinthians 2:14 tells us it is impossible for the natural mind to accept the things of the Spirit of God: “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are vfolly to him, and whe is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.”

  7. I’m quite familiar with Calvinism as I’ve read Calvin’s Institutes as well as the basis of his opinions in both Augustine and Aquinas. I’ve weighed the idea of monergism biblically and it doesn’t pass the test and the idea was not taught prior to John Calvin. I am not willing to call Calvinists non-Christian, but I am compelled to place them in the same category as 7th Day Adventist, Christian but aberrant.

    For monergism to be a fact God must force himself on us. That is the thrust of grace being irresitable. As I said above, I will not argue it here. For one, I don’t need it as I have satisfied myself that Calvinism is a theological dead end. Second, it requires things that go against the holy character of God to be true.

    I’ll make sure the “notify me” check box isn’t checked this time. For some reason on my system that comes up as a default on WordPress sites these days. Best Wishes.

    • Quartermaster, the God of Scripture does not share His glory with another (Isaiah 42:8), which is exactly what synergism aims to do as it boasts in the salvation of “sovereign man”. 1 Corinthians 1:18-31 is enough to thwart that entire system (not to mention 1 Corinthians 2:14 that I previously mentioned). Your belief that man must cooperate with God to obtain salvation is no different than that of Catholics and Mormons.

  8. 1st, you have no idea what I believe. I have as yet to meet a Calvinist that has an inkling what Arminius taught, or have the slightest idea what the early church taught. The Ante-Nicene writes are a foreign country to them, and you, obviously.

    2nd, I’ve read the major works of Calvinists, beginning with the Protestant Pope of Geneva himself. The system has very serious weaknesses and the implications of the system are close to blasphemous, if not actually over the line.

    I agree that God does not share his glory with another. Nor is man “sovereign” in the sense that Calvinists accuse Arminians of believing. However, there is nothing in scripture that tells us that God forces himself upon us in this life. At the judgment the sentence will be forced on those that reject Christ, however. But he does not force himself on us here. If you really, really think he does, then God said some really strange things to mankind in his word.

    3rdly, God created man with free will. That does not mean, however that he can save himself.

    The two passages in 1 Corinthians do not say what you think they say. Proof texting does not honor God’s word. It leads to all sorts of eisegesis of the type you are engaging in. I refuse to be part of such.

    You really need to deal with the implications of your system for your Theology proper let you find yourself joining characters like Vincent Cheung who has no problem with making God the Author of sin.

    I have not checked either of the boxes to notify me by email of any further responses. Accusing me of being like Roman Catholics and Mormons tells me you know nothing of what I believe and teach, and you know little about them as well. I do not believe that works can save anyone (and I know of no Arminian that does) and sloppy accusations do you no credit. I took the trouble to learn your system. It would be better if you actually learned something before you engage in further embarrassing yourself.

    There will be no further reply from me.

    • Quartermaster, you’re free to continue replying if you feel necessary. My comment regarding synergism is that man cooperates with God for salvation, so whether one is a Catholic, a Mormon, Arminian, or Pelagian, at some level man is working with God (whether that is through a work of belief, repentance, surrender, keeping sacraments, or “being a good person”). All of this falls under the synergistic system and is contrary to God’s Word.

      You are correct that the Bible does not teach that God “forces Himself upon us in this life”. He does, however, awaken spiritually dead people with life so they can respond to the Gospel through repentant faith. Parts 2, 3, and 5 of this series explain how and why.

      Free will is a figment of the Arminian’s imagination since Scripture speaks nothing of it, but rather of a natural man who can do nothing to please God, who does not seek God, who has no good thing in him, who is at enmity with God, whose heart is deceitful and desperately wicked above all things, whose every thought and intention of his heart is evil continuously, who hates God, who is a rebel against God, of whom it is impossible to discern the things of the Spirit of God, who is a slave to his sin, who satisfies the lust of his flesh, and whose mind the god of this world has blinded so he cannot see the glorious gospel of Christ. These truths are not exactly conducive to “free will”, but rather shows the will of man is in bondage to sin.

      I welcome you to explain the Corinthians passages I mentioned. I also ask this question: how does the natural mind become unnatural?

  9. It’s very confusing, and I don’t categorize myself as this or that. I’m born again of the Lord’s Spirit, He granted me the gift to see my homosexual sin, which in-turn caused me to confess my unbelief (I thought I was born gay), and asked His forgiveness, and to cleanse me from the unrighteousness of my sin, and then automatically prayed that the Lord just take over my life. I believe the Lord does become Lord over the life instantaneous!

    Let me tell you I was raised basically a Baptist, but God was never truly REAL to me. Well when He came and opened my eyes to the lie I believed, I was never the same again. I realized that Jesus was real, and God truly did exist! I was overcome with such joy once I felt the cleansing power of the blood wipe away my sin, and start a cleansing on the inside!

    With that being said, I believe through the Lord’s word, and by no man’s teaching, that “Free Will” does not exist, man can’t turn to God on his own, let alone his own merit, for ALL have sinned and fall short of God’s Glory! Man (mankind) is dead, and no one seeks after God unless the Lord does draw that particular person.

    He is sovereign and He chooses and predestines all who are to be His. And please I ask that no one label me as a “Calvinist”, I have never read anything by this man, I have heard about Him, and I have seen the “TULIP”, but I believe what I believe because the LORD has taught me, before I read what “TULIP” meant.

    I just enjoy the simplicity that is in Christ Jesus, I haven’t always had that simplicity in Christ, because within 2-3 months after my conversion, I got caught up in the Pentecostal denomination, and then I was lead to a cult lead by a woman our lady pastor was charged with various counts of abuses, which did occur, with the exception of sexual abuse. Our fellowship was raided, pictures of certain members of the group were plastered all over the papers, and I was shocked, and left the group, with a lost faith. I had picked up ‘doctrine of demons’, and other damaging false teachings, and ended back into my old life, for several years, thinking I was a Judas, and all hope was gone for me. But the Lord brought me back unto Himself, and it took years for the Lord to undo all that false teaching.

    I will end it hear, I’ve gone on too long already, sorry, but our God Lives, and He is faithful, and true and just, and He loves His children, and no matter what comes our way, He in His faithfulness will save us, and deliver us from everything that is not of Him, and by Him. I no longer believe or follow Pentecotalism, Hyper-Faith, Word of Faith, Manifested Sons of God, Kingdom Now theology, or Latter Rain teachings.

    His promises hold as true today and forever, as they did in the ages which have gone by.

    The Lord bless you abundantly with all blessings in all things, according to His Will!
    In His Eternal Love,

  10. You say above, “I conclude that much of the controversy is derived from a gross misunderstanding of what lordship salvation teaches” I agree, but it also seems that there is confusion about what the Free Grace position teaches. Many of the items you list above for the Lordship position are also true of the Free Grace position. For example in item 2, Lewis Sperry Chafer (one of the alleged founders of “easy believism”) notes specifically that faith in Christ is not mere mental ascent but involves the mind, emotions, and will. He also clearly teaches that good works will be the result of true faith and that sanctification is the work of the Holy Spirit in the believer. This is all in his Systematic Theology. One of the perplexing things to me about the Lordship position is the claim that free grace attacks God’s sovereignty. How is it that requiring only faith in Christ as Savior attacks God’s sovereignty but adding the condition of turning from sin doesn’t? More specifically, in light of number 1 in your “Lordship IS” statements above, why are conditions on salvation needed at all? While God has predestined, the Gospel is offered to whosoever believes. I hope you don’t disagree with the Gospel as simply stated in Acts 16:31 – “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” Another of my favorite verses is “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

    • Hi Loren, thanks for commenting. Regarding mental assent and sanctification, 1) did Chafer teach (and do you believe) there is a distinction between a believer and a disciple, and 2) do you believe there can be justification without sanctification? 3) What does “more than mental assent” look like?

      Secondly, regarding conditions of salvation – the condition is that God gives one a new heart, and the evidence of that is repentance and obedient faith. After all, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ **has been** born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever **has been** born of him” (1 John 5:1).

      Lastly, “whoseover shall” does not mean “whosoever can”. Only those who the Father draws and the Son chooses to reveal to the Father will be saved:

      John 6:44 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.”

      Matthew 11:27 “All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone oto whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”


      • Chafer DTS

        August 4, 2013

        Yes Lewis Sperry Chafer did make a distinction between disciple and Christian. In a biblical manner he in his Systematic Theology defined what is a disciple based on the meaning of the word. In Acts 19:1 we find disciple of John the Baptist who had not yet had the Holy Spirit and was not a ” Christian ” and upon learning of Christ the disciples of John became Christians and were baptized. In that being a disciple of John the Baptist was not equal to being a Christian. All Christians are disciples of Christ. That is not a problem at all. But there are ” disciples ” who are not true believers or Christians. I am sure you would agree that Judas was a disciple of Christ and yet was never saved or was a Christian. All those who are justified will also be sanctified. The error lies in when one merges justification and sanctification or totally separates them from each other. Justification and sanctification are distinct yet inseparatable. Faith involves a person trust in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ as he is the specific object of our faith in salvation. I would agree that good works as the fruit of faith in Christ in a Christian through the filling of the Holy Spirit as He enables a Christian to make divinely enabled choices in their daily lives. What is rejected are concepts in which good works before or after justification done by the grace of God are meriterious. What is also reject is when faith is improperly redefined to mean works in addition to personal trust in Jesus Christ. Faith in Christ is one thing but works are another. One is the cause and the other is the fruit. Faith results in good works as it’s fruit. Zero fruit means one was never regenerate. While the regenerate have various levels of fruit ranging from small to alot based upon a proper read of John 15. I affirm 2 truths there 1 ) All Christians will have fruit and 2 ) all Christians will have different levels of it. Jesus is Lord and Savior biblically speaking and must not be separated from one another. The rule of life for the Christian is the law of Christ under the work of the filling of the Holy Spirit . The text John 6:44 with the irresistable drawing prior to belief is equally true with the text Acts 16:30-31 which teaches the necessity for faith in Christ for salvation. Scripture teaches the sovereignity of God in salvation along with human responsibility that is root in unconditional election in the eternal purpose of God. The same thing also in regard to progressive sanctification In Scripture we find 1 Thes 4:3 equally true with Ro. 6:13.

        • It seems our doctrine is the same with regards to regeneration, justification, and sanctification, Chafer DTS. But what I meant with regards to a making a distinction between a believer and a disciple was the idea that one can be a believer then one day become a disciple. Of course, there are false disciples as you laid out. But I vehemently oppose the idea that one can be a believer and not a disciple, as if there is some sort of next step in the Christian faith to be more committed to Christ. Here is an example of what I mean: http://airocross.com/2012/05/11/greg-laurie-all-christians-are-not-disciples/

          I also reject the things you mentioned, and argue that no “lordship proponent” I know teaches otherwise, thus my positive and negative statements given in the article.

          Thanks for commenting, and grace and peace to you.

  11. Hi Justin,

    I hope the following will encourage and exhort those who come by and read about the lordship of the Lord. Thank you for tackling this very important and urgent topic.

    http://www.gty.org/Resources/Articles/537 :

    James and Paul both echo Jesus’ preaching. Paul’s emphasis is an echo of Matthew 5:3: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” James’s teaching has the ring of Matthew 7:21: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.”

    Paul represents the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount; James the end of it. Paul declares that we are saved by faith without the deeds of the law. James declares that we are saved by faith, which shows itself in works. Both James and Paul view good works as the proof of faith—not the path to salvation.

    James could not be more explicit. He is confronting the concept of a passive, false “faith,” which is devoid of the fruits of salvation. He is not arguing for works in addition to or apart from faith. He is showing why and how, true, living faith always works. He is fighting against dead orthodoxy and its tendency to abuse grace.

    The error James assails is faith without works; justification without sanctification; salvation without new life.

    Again, James echoes the Master Himself, who insisted on a theology of lordship that involved obedience, not lip-service. Jesus chided the disobedient ones who had attached themselves to Him in name only: “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46). Verbal allegiance, He said, will get no one to heaven: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 7:21).

    That is in perfect harmony with James: “Prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves” (1:22); for “faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself” (2:17).

    End quote.

    http://www.gty.org/Resources/Articles/A100

    Grace is not a liberal clemency or a passive indulgence that simply tolerates and coexists with sin. Divine grace doesn’t guarantee heaven in the afterlife while merely overlooking the evils of this life. Authentic grace is the undeserved favor of God toward sinners, delivering them from the power as well as the penalty of sin (Romans 6:14). Grace is dynamic, “teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age” (Titus 2:12).

    That’s why sanctification is another major doctrine whose biblical foundations are undermined by no-lordship doctrine. The whole gist of the no-lordship message is that while justification is a free gift of God’s grace, sanctification is primarily the believer’s own work–and therefore more or less optional.

    Sanctification is as much a work of divine grace as justification. By portraying sanctification as an optional human work, advocates of no-lordship doctrine actually fall into the very error of works-salvation they profess to deplore. They have made at least this aspect of salvation into a human work.

    The errors of no-lordship theology do not find their origin in the principle of sola fide; they stem from an incomplete, man-centered soteriology that refuses to see anything beyond justification. In defending the gospel from no-lordship doctrine, we must take care not to commit the opposite error by downplaying or abandoning the doctrine of justification by faith alone.

    S. Lewis Johnson critiquing a book by Zane Hodges in which Dr. Johnson concluded that the central error underlying no-lordship doctrine is nothing but the ancient heresy of semi-pelagianism–the belief that saving grace cannot be efficacious without the prior cooperation of human free will.

    End quote.

    AW Pink also has some excellent things to say about Lordship salvation: http://www.pbministries.org/books/pink/Practical/prac_01.htm

  12. I wanted to add something else that might be helpful, if you haven’t covered it.

    Scripture makes the lordship of the Lord paramount, not an option, to the Gospel as well as sanctification:

    Rom 10:9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.

    Luk 6:46 “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?

    Mat 7:22 “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’

    Moreover, Jesus Christ is called “Lord” no less than 747 times in the New Testament. In the LITV its 670, with 100 times in Acts, where we have the preaching pattern particularly in an evangelism setting, and only called “Savior” twice. (One might also note that the love of God isn’t preached in any Gospel call either, interestingly.)

    The greek word for Lord is “Kurios” and means: 1) he to whom a person or thing belongs, about which he has power of deciding; master, lord1a) the possessor and disposer of a thing 1a1) the owner; one who has control of the person, the master 1a2) in the state: the sovereign, prince, chief, the Roman emperor

    1Co 6:19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? 20 For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.

  13. I have been defending LS with various people for a few years now. I finally came to this conclusion with its opponients. If they believe that repentance, surrendering, obeying, etc. is a work, than they have to conclude with that logic that faith is a work as well.

  14. I must be too old. I have never heard of the term Lordship Salvation until yesterday. So today I did a google on the term. That was too much. In addition to being to old, I must not be all that bright, because I just don’t get it.

    What if someone was in the world trade center right before it came down. They cried out to the Lord to save them, and then 20 seconds later the building collapsed on them killing them. Would the term Lordship Salvation mean much?

    What if someone was born again at the age of 14, and lived to the ripe old age of 93. Would the term or thinking concerning Lordship Salvation mean much?

    In other words, what is good for one seems like it should be good for the other?

    • Hi Jim, thanks for your comment. The issue here isn’t about the term “lordship salvation”, but rather the nature of true saving faith. The person in the WTC example would be no different than the account of the thief on the cross. I had not heard of the term “lordship salvation” until I was accused of believing in it about 6 months after I was converted. In actuality, the term was coined by opponents of this biblical doctrine who teach one must simply “believe” in Jesus the Savior without regard to His lordship. They believe one can simply “believe” without repenting and following Jesus – that one can be a “believer” but not a disciple. If you have the time, it may be helpful to read this series to understand what all the fuss is about. Or, if you just want to hear a biblical sermon preaching the undadulterated Gospel, listen to this: http://media.resolved.org/2007/S07_Steve_Lawson_-_It_Will_Cost_You_Everything.mp3

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