Lordship Salvation

by Pastor Jack Hyles (1926-2001)

(Loyal Pastor of First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana for over 42 years)


Colossians 2:16, 17, "Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ." I Corinthians 2:8, "Which none of the princes of this world knew- for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory."

Now exactly what is Lordship salvation?  It is a doctrine embraced by some who say that one must receive Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord in order to be saved.  A careful took at this doctrine will show that it is really nothing more but salvation by works rearing its ugly head.  It adds to salvation by faith and faith alone something that man must do, and that is make Jesus the Lord of his life.

Those who embrace this doctrine often do so from good motives.  They are sick of sub-standard Christianity and shallow Christian living.  They find others who agree with them, and as they fellowship in their lamentation caused by disappointment after examining the lives of God's people, their lamentation becomes doctrine.  They do not realize that they are adding works to salvation.  They adopt spiritual clichés such as "if Christ is not Lord of all, He will not be Lord at all."  Then they will adopt other little clichés like, "Don't pluck green fruit," "Easy believism," etc.  Their disappointment and oftentimes disgust with the shallowness of many Christians causes them to go so far in their disdain that they teach heresy.  They love to talk about returning to New Testament Christianity.  Well, the truth is, people have not changed since the New Testament.  They had shallow Christians then even as we have today.  For example, look at I Corinthians 3:14, "And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?"  Here we have mention of carnal Christians.  Jesus was certainly not Lord of their lives.  Yet they are called babes in Christ.

I Corinthians 5:1-5, "It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father's wife.  And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you.  For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed.  In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, to deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus."  Here is a member of the church, and the Lord said of him that his spirit would be saved in the day of judgment.  What a tragic testimony!  He, like Ananias and Sapphira and others, had committed the sin unto death.  Certainly Christ was not the Lord of his life.

Galatians 4:8-11, "Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods.  But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain."  Once again we have some weak Christians whose lives were not characterized by the Lordship of Christ.

2nd Thessalonians 3:6,14,15-- "Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us. And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother."

Was Jesus the Lord of Lot's life when he was in Sodom?  Of course not, yet God called him "just."  This does not mean he was just in his behavior, but he was just in his standing before God because he was a believer. Was Jesus the Lord of David's life when he sinned?  Was Jesus the Lord of Peter's life when he denied the Lord, denied the faith and denied the church?  Was Jesus the Lord of Abraham's life when he fled to Egypt because of a lack of faith?  Was Jesus the Lord of Moses' life when he lost his ticket to the Holy Land because of his sin of smiting the rock twice?  Was Jesus the Lord of Jacob's life when he was in Haran all those years?

Now certainly there is a doctrine called the Lordship of Christ, and the Bible is full of warnings, pleadings and exhortations for God's children to yield to Lordship.  Romans 12:1, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service."  Romans 6-12, 13, "Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.  Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God." Galatians 5:16, "This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh." Galatians 6:10-17, "As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith. Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand. As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain, you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh. But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by Whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God. From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus."  The admonition to the unsaved is that they accept Christ as Saviour. The admonition to those who have accepted Christ as Saviour is to accept Him as Lord.



Now here are some observations about Lordship salvation.

1. In the final analysis, it is salvation by works, which is in direct contrast to the teaching of the Scriptures.  Titus 3:5, "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." Romans 3:28, "Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law." Romans 4:2, "For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God."  Ephesians 2:8, 9, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast."  Romans 4-5, "But to him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness."

2. If one must accept Christ as Lord of his life in order to be saved, it would of necessity remove growth in grace.  If one has yielded his life to Christ as Lord at salvation, there would be no babes in Christ, but the simple truth is that there are babes in Christ. I Corinthians 3: 1, "And 1, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ."  I Peter 2:2, "As new born babes, desire the sincere milk of the Word, that ye may grow thereby."

3. Lordship salvation necessitates the doctrine of losing one's salvation.  If one must make Jesus his Lord in order to be saved, then when he backslides to the position to where Jesus is no longer his Lord, consistency would drive us to believe that he is no longer saved.  This would make us doubt the salvation of Peter when he denied the Lord, the salvation of Barnabas when he had contention with Paul, the salvation of Jonah when he left the will of God, etc.

4. Lordship salvation makes no provision for the carnal Christian. None of us takes pleasure in the carnality of a Christian, but the fact remains that there is such a person taught in the Bible.  In I Corinthians 3:1 we have the carnal Christian and the spiritual Christian.  "And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as babes in Christ."  The world is divided between saved and lost.  The saved are divided between carnal and spiritual.  I do not delight that there carnal Christians, but I must accept the fact that they exist.

5. Lordship salvation removes grace and would nullify the plainest verses in the Bible concerning salvation.  John 3:15, "That whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life." John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."  John 3:36, "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him." John 5:24, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life." John 1: 11, 12, "He came unto His own, and His own received Him not.  But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name."  Ephesians 2:8, 9, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast."  All of these verses plainly tell us salvation is by believing; that is, by faith in the finished work of Calvary.

6. Salvation is receiving, not giving.  John 1: 12, "But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name." In salvation it is God Who does the giving, not man. Man does the receiving. God gives His Son.  John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." God gives eternal life.  John 10:28, "And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand." God gives us all things.  Romans 8:32, "He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?"  To be a believer, one accepts what God has given.  To be a disciple, one gives.  Salvation comes from the sacrifice of Christ.  Discipleship comes from the sacrifice of self.  Salvation depends on God's faithfulness.  Discipleship depends on my faithfulness.  Hence, salvation cannot be lost.  Discipleship can be lost.

Occasionally someone will say, "You can be saved if you will give your heart to Jesus."  Now I think that people who use this statement are sincere, and many have been saved in response to their appeal, but technically one is saved, not because he gives his heart to Jesus; one is saved because he receives Jesus and His gift of eternal life.

7. Lordship salvation would make salvation a trade or a deal or maybe even a bribe.  It would take away the simple reception of Christ for eternal life and would become God giving us something if we give Him something.  God would say to us, "You give Me something; I'll give you something.  We will trade, and you will be saved."  Salvation is not my giving God something and God giving me something; salvation is God giving me something and my receiving it. Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."

In order to understand the Lordship of Christ, let us notice the following:

1. The unsaved man is IN the flesh and sin is IN him.

2. He receives Christ. Christ comes IN him. Colossians 1:27, "To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory."

3. When Christ enters, the old man does not leave.
Though Christ is in him, so is the old nature.  Romans 7:15-17, "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."  There is the new man and there is the old man in the believer.  Romans 7:22, 23, "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."

4. The new man needs new environment.
 Hence, he is IN Christ. 2nd Corinthians 5:17, "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."  Ephesians 2:6, "And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus."  The term "in Christ" or its equivalent is mentioned over 130 times in the New Testament.

5. Now that I am IN Christ, many things are made available to me.  Ephesians 1:3, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ."  I Corinthians 3:21, "Therefore let no man glory in men.  For all things are your's."  Romans 8:32, "He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?"

6. Though these things are available to me, they are not forced upon me, though I live where they are.  Notice that I am already in Christ, and now that I am in Him, these things are available to me, but I must choose to have them.  One of these things is fellowship with God.  Ephesians 2:13, "But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ."  Another is a spiritual walk.  I John 2:6, "He that saith he abideth in Him ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked."  Another is His approval.  Romans 16:10, "Salute Apelles approved in Christ. Salute them which are of Aristobulus' household."  Another is spiritual growth.  Colossians 2:7, "Rooted and built up in Him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving." Another is spiritual maturity Colossians 1:28, "Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all--wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus."  Another is sanctification.  I Corinthians 1:2, "Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both their's and our's."

All of these things are available to the believer.  All are at his disposal, whereas none were before he came in Christ.  When he became a new creature and entered into Christ, these and many other things were made available to him. Now to whatever extent man avails himself of these things that are at his disposal, Christ is his Lord.  Naturally, the baby Christian does not avail himself of all the things that are his any more than the babe in the house avails himself to the washing machine or the family car.  However, as we avail ourselves more and more of the things that Christ has made for us, we grow in grace and Jesus becomes more the Lord of our lives.

Perhaps the greatest Christian who ever lived was the Apostle Paul.  In speaking of himself he said, "0 wretched man that I am."  He called himself "the chief of sinners."  He said the things that he would do, he did not, and the things he would not do, he did.  Probably Jesus was Lord of more of Paul's life than any other person who ever lived, but Paul himself said he had not yet apprehended.

In conclusion, notice the vanity and pride involved in one testifying to his salvation who believes in Lordship salvation.  He is saying, "I have made Jesus my Lord."  That means that Jesus controls his life and he is totally yielded.  My, what a statement for a person to make about himself!  On the other hand, notice the humility in the person's testimony who says, "I am saved because I received Christ as my Saviour."  He is talking about a salvation that he did not merit.  He did nothing to receive it except receive it.  It was a gift.  Whereas, if we bad to give something to God to get something in return, he and God made a trade and his salvation is earned.

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 "I am an old-fashioned preacher of the old-time religion, that has warmed this cold world's heart for two thousand years." —Billy SUNDAY