Lordship Salvation Exposed
By David J. Stewart
There is a heresy going around in many of our churches today known as “Lordship Salvation.” This false doctrine teaches that a person must accept Jesus Christ as the “Lord of their life” to be saved. Proponents (supporters) of Lordship Salvation wrongly define “repentance” concerning salvation to mean a literal forsaking of the act of sin in a person's life. So unless a person is willing to cease from lifelong sinful bad habits, they are told they cannot be saved because they have not repented. This nonsense is epidemic in America's churches today.
To be saved, one must turn in faith to Christ alone, believing on Him for the forgiveness of sins. Acts 20:21 speaks of "repentance TOWARD GOD." The Word of God NEVER teaches repentance FROM sin to be saved; BUT, rather, repentance TOWARD GOD. Repentance is a change of mind concerning sin and the Savior. Childlike faith is all that is required for salvation. If a person knows they are a guilty sinner, bound for Hellfire, and turns in faith to Jesus Christ to forgive their sins and save them--that person has repented.
What Is The Gospel?
The Bible teaches that we are saved by the power of the gospel. Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” We are saved by believing the gospel. Beware of ADDING more requirements that God did not add for someone to be saved.
What is the gospel? 1st Corinthians 15:1-4, “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.” As you just read, the Bible defines the gospel as Jesus' death, burial and resurrection from the dead three days later. The word “gospel” means “good news” or “glad tidings.” So, Biblically, we are saved by believing (receiving) the gospel as full payment for OUR SINS.
Today's radio preachers have strayed away from the simple gospel message of Christ's DEATH, BURIAL and RESURRECTION. In sharp contrast we hear nonsense about “inviting Jesus into one's heart” and “making a commitment to Christ” or “having a relationship with Jesus” to be saved. May I say, Judas had a relationship with Jesus and still went straight to Hell. You had better believe the gospel truth! Christ died for our sins! He was buried! He arose from the dead three days later!
Christ died and rose, that's history; Christ died and rose for me, that's salvation!
The Error Of Expecting Everyone To Have The Same Salvation Experience As Saul (Paul)
I recently heard a popular Baptist evangelist/radio preacher, say that everyone should have the same Lordship salvation experience as Paul (Saul) when he got saved. Kindly, that's wrong. Paul's conversion experience was definitely out of the ordinary. You can read the full story in Acts 9:1-16, but here are the primary Scriptures...
Acts 9:5-6, “And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.”
It is wrong to demand this type of spectacular experience from anyone to be saved. The Bible is filled with plenty examples of saints who were saved quietly and without any sensationalism. Not everyone has the same immediate dedication to serve God that Paul did. Paul was raised as a Pharisee in the strictest sense of the law (Acts 26:5). Paul was a woeful threat against the new Testament Church, Galatians 1:13, “For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews' religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it.”
God's Holy Spirit had been dealing with Saul's heart for a long time, which is why God said to him in Acts 9:5... “it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.” The word “pricks” here means “a point, that is, a sting or goad.” A “goad” is a long pole with a point on the end used to poke at livestock (like cattle) to get the herd to move. It is very effective! God had been poking at Saul's conscience for a long time, and now the chickens finally came home to roost. When the Lord confronted Saul, he instantly repented and asked God where to go from there. I love the story of Paul because it shows that some of the most stubborn sinners also have the potential to become the best Christians when they get saved.
Oh listen my friend, Jesus Christ is the King of kings and Lord of Lords, the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the Lamb of God, the Prince of peace, the Everlasting Father, the Rose of Sharon, the Bright and Morning Star, the Lily of the Valley, the Son of God, the Savior, the Way, the Truth and the Life, the Resurrection, the Door, the Great Shepherd, the One and Only, the Redeemer, the Great Physician and Almighty God of the entire universe!!! These are all wonderful and accurate names for the precious Lord Jesus Christ, but the only one that matters concerning our salvation is SAVIOR! Jesus Christ is the Savior of all the world. Whether or not you receive Him as your personal Savior is completely up to you. Your going to Heaven depends upon it.
Receive Christ As “Savior” To Be Saved, Not “Lord And Savior”
We often read in tracts that one must accept Jesus as “Lord and Savior” to be saved. This heresy is not taught in the Bible. Many Bible preachers and teachers use this terminology in their preaching.
Let me say, there is a “growing-in-grace” period for the believer in Christ. As a matter of fact, it is a life-long growing process. Being born-again happens immediate, but the sanctification of the believer (conforming us into the image of Christ) is a lifetime process. No Christian can ever claim to have “arrived” in this fleshly body. We are all sinners saved by God’s grace—deserving of hell. It matters not how good a Christian you may think you are, you are a nobody without God. Immature believers hypocritically point fingers, saying “He has sinned” and “She has sinned,” when they ought to be saying “WE HAVE SINNED!”
Listen to the words of the apostle Paul in Galatians 6:3, “For if a man think himself to be something, when HE IS NOTHING, he deceiveth himself.” There are no big shots in the Church, only little shots. Jesus said that the greatest are made to serve. Matthew 20:27, “And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant.” Jesus washed His disciple's dirty feet as an example to us how to serve OTHERS. Yet, this has absolutely nothing to do with salvation, which is a gift. DISCIPLESHIP and FELLOWSHIP are not the same as SONSHIP. Some people attempt to use 1st John 1:6 to support the Lordship Salvation heresy, “If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth.” Please notice that the subject is “fellowship” and not “sonship.” Sonship is established the moment that we are born-again by the Spirit of God.
Oh the delusion of so many people, they think they’re God’s gift to the world. Let me tell you, we are nothing without God. The only good thing about any believer is the Lord Jesus Christ. Apart from God, we are simply wicked, hell-deserving, sinners. Don’t misunderstand the Bible, we are special to God and the object of His love—so much so that He laid down His own life for us. However, Jesus Christ will never truly be in absolute control of our life until we are rid of this earthly body. Question: how much would a person have to make Jesus the Lord of their life to be saved? The answer is simple, none. Why? Because you can do NOTHING of your own to merit God’s free gift of eternal life—it was paid for by Jesus alone. It is silly and wicked for anyone to teach that a person must make Jesus the Lord of their life to be saved.
A person only needs to trust the Lord for salvation, not dedicate their life to serve Him. In John 12:42-43 we read that “many” of the chief Jewish rulers believed on Jesus, but secretly so for fear of being kicked out of the synagogue by the unbelieving Pharisees. The Bible says they valued the praise of men more than the praise of God. Here we plainly see that these chief rulers hadn't received Jesus as Lord of their life. John 12:42-43, “Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.”
Recognizing Christ as the Master of your life has nothing to do with being saved. You need NOT do anything to be saved except admit that you’re a sinner and believe the gospel. The only sin which you must literally forsake to be saved is the sin of unbelief! Since unbelief is the only sin that can keep a person out of Heaven, it is the only sin which must literally be forsaken to be saved. When a lost sinner turns to Christ for salvation, they have just turned from their unbelief (this is repentance, a turning point, a change of mind).
John 3:20 Explains The Meaning Of Repentance
John 3:20, “For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.”
John 3:20 is an excellent Scripture to help us understand what it means to “repent” concerning salvation. Jesus teaches in John 3:20 that unsaved people who love their sins WON'T come to the light to be saved. John 5:40, “And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.” Notice that jesus didn't say “ye cannot come”; but rather, “ye will not come.”
The Lord teaches that people who love their sinful lifestyle WON'T come to the light to be saved, to avoid being reproved for their sins. That is, they don't want to face the realization that the life they are living is wickedness. The heathen world doesn't want to feel guilty for their sins.
The light is the gospel (good news) of Jesus Christ Who died, was buried and resurrected. 2nd Corinthians 4:4, “In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” Since the unsaved man refuses to come to the light of the gospel to be saved because he loves his sins, then it becomes clear that the man who repents has changed his mind and is now coming to Christ to be saved. The very act of coming to Jesus Christ to be forgiven of one's sins is plain evidence that repentance has taken place. All that God requires to be saved (concerning sin) is that a person admit they have a sin problem.
Mark 1:15, “And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.” The Greek word for “repent” in this Scripture is metanoeo and means “a change of mind.” Notice that repentance concerning salvation is a change of mind and not a change of lifestyle. Although the Bible does not specify what the change of mind is, John 3:20 provides the answer for us.
The word “reproved” in John 3:20 is the Greek word elegchō and means “to confute, admonish: - convict, convince, tell a fault, rebuke, reprove.” The word “confute” means “to prove false or wrong.” The ungodly world do not want to be told that their sexual immorality, drunkenness and abortions are sinful and wrong. Thus, they rename the sin of sexual immorality to “sexual freedom.” The sin of drunkenness is now called “a disease.” The sin of abortion has been renamed to “freedom of choice.” And the vile sin of homosexuality is now considered an “alternative lifestyle.” The Bible calls these acts “sin.”
Again, the word “confute” means “to prove false or wrong.” Unsaved heathens don't want to be proven wrong concerning their sins. That's why they won't come to the light (truth) of the gospel to be saved. No one likes to be told that they are doing wrong and are sinning against God. Homosexuals don't want to be proven wrong concerning their same-sex perversion. Abortionists don't want to be proven wrong regarding their mass-murdering of human life. Unrepentant sinners don't want to be proven false or wrong!
Lordship Salvation Eliminates Growth in Grace
Jesus said in 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.” That settles it! The doctrine of Lordship Salvation is dangerous because it adds to what Jesus said concerning salvation. Jesus said, “whosoever believeth in Him should not perish.” For Christ to be the Lord of your life means that you have given Him complete control of your life. Though this would be a wonderful change in the life of any believer, it is NOT a requirement for salvation.
Again, the Bible speaks of “growing in grace” ... “But GROW IN GRACE, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen” (2nd Peter 3:18). Every new convert needs to grow in grace. It is impossible for a new believer in Christ to have the understanding and discernment that a mature Christian would have. How can a newborn baby run a marathon without first learning to walk, and how can he or she walk until they first learn to crawl? 1st Peter 2:2, “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may GROW thereby.” The Christian life is all about changing. Moment-by-moment, we must ask the Holy Spirit to show us areas in our life that need improvement, as we obey the Word of God.
Salvation is simple, men make it complicated. Many people are confused on this subject. God wants nothing from you to be saved. Eternal life is a free gift, paid for by Christ's precious blood (1st Peter 1:18-19). As a matter of fact, only those who come to Jesus empty-handed will ever be saved. Just admit that you are a sinner (repent) and believe the gospel. Repent And Believe To Be Saved.
Lordship Salvation Adds To The Simple Plan Of Salvation
I cannot say for sure whether or not these Lordship salvation folks are saved, I do believe they are sincere. What I am saying is that the doctrine of Lordship salvation is of the devil. Salvation is a FREE GIFT of God and we must NOT add or subtract anything from it. Jesus paid a debt He did not owe because we owed a debt we could not pay. The price has been paid in full by Christ's precious literal, physical, blood. All we need to do is accept the free gift of eternal life. “Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the FREE GIFT came upon all men unto justification of life” (Romans 5:18). Eternal life is a free gift to each and every one of us, paid for by the precious blood of Jesus Christ.
The Devil is a trickster my friend—he is a busy beaver, working to kill, steal and destroy. I am not saying that every preacher who says to receive Christ as your “Lord and Savior” is a heretic. A lot of the old-time preachers used that phrase, but meant it very differently than false teachers do today. The Roman Catholic religion has infiltrated many of our religious circles, introducing works salvation into our churches. The heresy of Lordship Salvation teaches that faith in the Lord is not enough to be saved; but rather, some degree of self-righteous works are also required, although they deny that such works are self-righteous. They certainly are self-righteous! Adding anything to simple faith in the gospel is a false gospel of self-righteousness!!!
It only took God one day to take Israel out of Egypt, but it took God forty years to take Egypt out of Israel. Think about that! Though many of the Israelites who wandered in the wilderness were saved, they never saw the Promised Land. In the same way, we are saved the moment we trust upon Christ; however, it takes God a lifetime to straighten us out. Everyone's life is a mess! This does NOT mean we are not saved, it simply means that we still have a lot of spiritual growing-up to do. Whether Jesus is the Lord of your life or not, you simply need only trust the Lord as your Savior to be saved.
Anyone who adds anything to simple faith in Christ is wrong. Salvation is NOT found in good deeds or merit, it is NOT found in religion or behavior, it is NOT found in giving up sins or turning over a new leaf, it is NOT found in being kind or giving away lots of money, it is NOT found in how good a person you may think you are—salvation is found in a person, Jesus Christ.
I recently heard on the news of a man who won $3 billion (that’s billion with a big B) in a lawsuit settlement. He developed lung cancer from smoking cigarettes all his life. The cancer had now spread to his liver and to his brain. Needless to say, this man won’t make it much longer. Death is right around the corner. What good is $3,000,000,000 if you can’t enjoy it? I wonder if this man is ready to die? Is he saved? Will he go to heaven or hell for all eternity? How about you, are you ready to die? Are you right with God? Do you know what it means to be right with God? Let’s see what the Bible says, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have PEACE WITH GOD through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). Anyone can have peace with God. We must come to God the Father through the Son Jesus Christ.
Do you believe that Jesus is God’s Son Who came to this earth as God Almighty in the flesh? Do you believe that Jesus is Almighty God today? Do you believe He died in your place to pay for your sins and redeem you from hell? Do you believe Jesus was crucified, buried and raised up after three days? If so, won’t you trust Christ now as your personal Savior if you’ve never done so? If you will simply confess to God that you are a wicked sinner, deserving of hell and receive the gospel as full payment for your sins, then you will be immediately forgiven and saved eternally.
You don’t need to make Jesus the Lord of your life to be saved; but rather, just believe that Christ died for YOUR SINS and has risen from the dead. Do you believe? Have you made Christ's payment upon the cross your hope for Heaven? You don’t need to cease from sinful bad habits to be saved. There's only one sin that a person must literally forsake to be saved and that is the sin of UNBELIEF. The only sin that can keep a man out of Heaven is unbelief; so that's the only sin which must literally be forsaken to get saved.
Sorrow Over Sins Not Required For Salvation
The Bible never requires a person to feel the emotion of sorrow over sins to be saved. Instead, God simply requires us to have a change of mind (the Biblical meaning of repentance) concerning sin that compels us to believe the gospel to be saved. Feeling guilt over sin is not repentance; but rather, acknowledging one's guilt is repentance unto salvation. Romans 3:19, “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.” The law of God diagnoses man's problem, which is SIN! Christ is the solution!
Jesus never told anyone to give up their sins to be saved, He simply asked us to believe on Him (John 6:40). All Jesus wants from us is simple childlike faith. Jesus didn't require people to give up their sins to be saved, He saved them and then told them afterwards to go and sin no more, Jesus said, “...go, and sin no more” (John 8:11). To be saved, a person needs only to confess their own sins and seek Christ's forgiveness; hence, they have repented.
The False Repentance Of Judas
“Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders.” —Matthew 27:3
Did you know that Judas repented? Read our text verse above in Matthew 27:1. Yes, Judas repented, but he still hung himself and went straight to Hell forever. Why? It's because Judas was only sorry for what he had done. A different Greek word is used for “repented” in Matthew 27:1 (which means “to feel remorse afterwards”) than the Greek word “repent” in Mark 1:15 (which means, “a change of mind”). Mark 1:15, “...repent ye, and believe the gospel.” Notice that the Bible doesn't say to repent and turn from sin; but rather, repent and BELIEVE THE GOSPEL.
The only turning from sin that God requires for salvation is the admission of our sinnership, the renouncement of our sins, the realization of our guilt. It simply means that whereas we used to defend our sins as an unsaved person, now we've had a change of mind and say, “I have sinned and am guilty in God's eyes.” Biblical repentance is turning to the Lord to be forgiven of our sins. So we see that genuine repentance unto salvation and belief are inseparable.
God gave us the Law to show us the awfulness of our sins (Romans 7:13), to convince us of our GUILT OF SIN (Romans 3:19). Thus, we MUST come to Christ for salvation as a sinner. This is the only extent to which a person must “turn from sin” to be saved. God only saves “THE UNGODLY” (Romans 4:5). To require a change of lifestyle is a works-based false gospel. To “repent” concerning salvation means “a change of mind” (not a change of lifestyle). Whereas an unsaved person used to defend their sins and live shamelessly in shameful sin without guilt, now there has been a change of mind and they desire forgiveness in Christ, knowing that they've broken God's Law and deserve to be punished. The Law points us as SINNERS to Jesus Christ the SAVIOR to be saved (Galatians 3:25-26).
I wrote this article because there are some people who errantly say that believing on Christ is sufficient to save a person who does not come as a guilty sinner. Judas is a perfect example of what I am saying. The Bible says that Judas “repented” (Greek: metamellomaiin, meaning, “to regret”) in Matthew 27:3. Yet, Jesus said Judas had a devil (John 6:70). Judas didn't repent toward God in faith to be saved; but rather, he felt regret that he got caught for betraying the Lord. Judas brought the 30 pieces of silver back to the Pharisees, but they refused it. Judas cast down the coins on the floor and went and hanged himself (Matthew 27:5).
Turning from the act of sin is not salvation. The false repentance of Judas evidences this truth. This is why I wrote this article. I am NOT adding a step to salvation which the Bible does not teach. There are NO STEPS to salvation. I am simply warning everyone that there is a false form of salvation, a false type of repentance, that professes faith in Christ without Biblical repentance (which is simple “a change of mind,” where a person becomes “GUILTY BEFORE GOD” in their own eyes as Romans 2:19 teaches).
Jesus Is The Savior Of All Men
Read the following precious Scripture, which teaches that Jesus is the Savior of all men, SPECIALLY of them that believe...
1st Timothy 4:10, “For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe.”
Jesus is everyone's Savior. The question is have you received Him as your Savior...
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.”
Let us ponder the words of Jesus, who said in John 6:37, “...him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” Any sinner who sincerely wants to be saved, may be saved, if he'll simply come by way of the cross of Jesus. Jesus didn't say that He would turn someone away who is covetous or a drunkard; but rather, He promised not to turn anyone away for any reason!!!
Never let anyone lead you astray from the simplicity of God’s Word. The “growing in grace” process is a lifetime process. No believer is without fault or sin. If we as believers had to meet a certain standard for Jesus to be our Lord, then NONE of us would qualify.
Mark 1:15 — “Change Your Mind” And Believe The Gospel
In the Gospel of John we find the words “believe” and “believed” mentioned 85 times, but the word “repent” is not mentioned even once. Clearly, the person who believes on Christ has repented, and the person who repents has believed. Repentance is a change of mind that compels a person to place their faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ to be saved, and these things happen at the same time. Let's replace the word “Repent” in Mark 1:15 with the Greek meaning of repentance, which is “a change of mind.” So instead of saying, “Repent, and believe the gospel,” we could literally say, “Change your mind and believe the gospel.” This is the Biblical interpretation of Mark 1:15.
It is a false understanding to teach Mark 1:15 as turning away from the act of sin (e.g., drunkenness, stealing, adultery, et cetera) as a prerequisite to placing one's faith in Christ. That is known as the heresy of “Lordship Salvation.” Christ is already the Savior and Lord of all mankind. You don't make Jesus Lord, He is Lord. Albeit, we each must receive Christ as our Savior to be saved; and then as our Lord as we follow Christ in fellowship and discipleship. Contrary to wrong teaching, you don't have to receive Christ as “Lord” to get saved. It is a false gospel to say that “Jesus is either Lord of all or He's not Lord at all.” That's a false statement.
King Solomon was saved, but he was backslidden. 1st Kings 11:4, “For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father.” It is possible to be saved, but not sold out for God. We read in John 12:42 that “many” of the Jewish chief rulers “believed” on Jesus as the Christ, but they were afraid to tell anyone. Clearly, these rulers DIDN'T honor Christ as the Lord of their life. Verse 43 plainly tells us that these saved rulers loved the praise of men more than from God. John 12:42, “Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue. For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.”
What has happened in our church circles is that many people are sick and tired of shallow believers who continue in open sinfulness; so they have perverted the gospel message in an unscriptural attempt to force people to depart from a lifestyle of sin. Granted, many people who profess to be saved aren't; but we must never alter or change the gospel to cater to our human agendas, or to force people to live an upright life. The manner in which a person lives has absolutely nothing to do with salvation.
Don't Try To Work Out God's Salvation
Also, notice in the Bible that we are admonished to “WORK OUT YOUR OWN SALVATION” and not GOD'S SALVATION. Philippians 2:12, “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” We have no part in God's salvation. John 1:12-13, “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: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” Dr. Jack Hyles does an excellent job explaining this awesome truth in his timeless book, “SALVATION IS MORE THAN BEING SAVED.”
Christ died, that's history; Christ died for me, that's salvation. Salvation is as simple as coming to Christ as a sinner to be saved. It's easy to be saved. Anyone is saved who receives the gospel as full-payment for their sins. HE IS RISEN!!!
Salvation is a miracle of God in response to our faith. Salvation is a miraculous, new, second, spiritual, BIRTH! Salvation is instant, that is, being born-again is immediate. However, sanctification takes a lifetime. Discipleship is an ongoing process, so also is fellowship; but Sonship is instant the second that we believe the gospel, irrevocable. We are immediately SAVED BY FAITH IN JESUS; but living a consecrated life requires time, until a believer grows in grace to the point where they are ready to DIE WITH CHRIST, RISE WITH CHRIST and ASCEND WITH CHRIST...
The Saved, Crucified, Resurrected And Ascended Life
(awesome MP3 sermon by Dr. Jack Hyles - Read Article)
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