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No-Lordship: Savior apart from Lord

by randy on January 1st, 2009

I recently picked up John MacArthur’s book, “The Gospel According to Jesus.”  I find it adequately articulates the Lordship debate.  It also highlights the false gospel which I was pleased to find John MacArthur denounce.

I have a hard time calling it a debate and am really sad that our brothers and sisters in Christ are denying the Lordship of Jesus Christ.  I find that their arguments are based on pragmatism and logic as opposed to the truth of scripture.  What disturbs me most is that this comes from men, women and denominations who pride themselves in their study and teaching of scripture.

The no-lordship stance declares that a man must accept Jesus as their savior but that his lordship comes later or is entirely optional and unnecessary for salvation.  Discipleship is the “next step”.  This view is held to on account that salvation is by grace, not of works lest anyone should boast.  In an attempt to put the horse in its rightful position (before the cart) when preaching the gospel they completely ignore the cart and pretend it doesn’t exist.  The result: the gospel is no longer a gospel of reconciling men to God as Lord and the object of our worship.  The gospel merely becomes a means to get a free ticket out of hell and into heaven and perhaps a goody bag of things to use for self-pleasure while still on earth; an item that any demon or unrepentant human would still desire apart from the working of the Holy Spirit.

Those who deny the Lordship of Christ take verses such as Acts 2:21 “And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” and Romans 10:13 “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” and John 3:16 “whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”  But do those verses REALLY say that Jesus can be Savior and not Lord?  Do the scriptures really encourage us to call upon Jesus as “Lord” with our lips without his Lordship being the condition of our hearts?  If our brothers and sisters would go about ignoring the rest of the bible they would do great benefit to at least finish reading the chapter or book!

Advocates of the Lordship doctrine such as Jesus, Paul, Peter, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and James do not deny that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone.  But they do emphasize that true saving faith gives birth to works including, “to keep oneself unstained from the world.” (James 1:27)  If faith does not give birth to works it is not true saving faith; because the very biblical definition of “faith” and “to believe” denotes more than just intellect or emotion.  James calls the man who would argue with this fact a fool (James 2:20).

The Lordship stance does not state the pre-requisite for salvation is to get ones life in order before being saved.  But the pre-requisite is recognizing our sinful rebellion against God and repenting (turning).

Now if your understanding of repentance is wrong you WILL immediately stand up and say, “BUT THAT’S SALVATION BY WORKS!”  No, it’s not.  In fact it was part of the gospel presentation in scripture.  “Now they heard this and they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’ and Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.’ And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them saying, ‘Save yourselves from this crooked generation.'” (Acts 2:37-40) see also: Acts 26:19-20; Acts 20:21; Acts 3:19

The difference between the apostles view of salvation and the view of salvation held to by the no-lordship camp is that the apostles recognized that for someone to genuinely exercise faith in Jesus the Holy Spirit needed to be at work in the person’s heart, drawing the person to Christ to be reconciled to God.  Faith is a gift from God (Romans 12:3).  Not only is the atoning work of Christ a gift of grace but so is my ability to repent/believe (John 6:65; 2 Chronicles 30:11-12; Phil 1:29, 2 Tim 2:25, Acts 13:48, Rom 9:15-18; John 1:13; 1 John 5:1).  One can only refute these verses through human logic.  Yes it is a requirement and command that man turn (repent/believe) however his turning, from God’s perspective and ultimately the true perspective, is granted through the grace of God via the working of the Holy Spirit.  I have no need to argue this stance.  Let the scriptures speak for themselves.

We should therefore approach evangelism with this perspective.  God is working and sovereign.  All I must do is proclaim the truth!  I don’t need to butter it up, I don’t need to hide certain “hard” truths about Lordship.  I don’t need to close the deal with a “decision” and popishly declare men saved.  I proclaim the full-counsel of God and trust God to do the rest.  I explain who God is and what he created us for, I explain rebellion and sin, I explain the results of rebellion and sin (separation and wrath), I explain what Jesus did to reconcile and save us.  The call is for all men everywhere to repent and believe in the Lord Jesus… and if that’s your desire my friend here is how to do it and here is what it looks like!

From → Apologetics, Doctrine

7 Comments
  1. Shon permalink

    I happen to land on this website as I am doing some research on the Lordship view.

    Can you give me a biblical example from the book of Acts where any of the Apostles or anyone preaching the Gospel to an unbeliever where they required more something other than believing or turing to the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior from their sins in order to be justified?

    thanks, Shon

  2. The biblical command to all men is to repent and believe. Lordship salvation is a bad term for the doctrine. The doctrine does not state that man must get his life in order so that he might be saved. Neither does it say that he must work for his salvation. It simple means that if he is saved what will follow is works. Works are not the root of his salvation, they are the fruit of it. Lordship salvation opposes the idea that a man can simply repeat a prayer, continue his life in sin and call himself saved. This is unbiblical and the entire book of 1 John refutes it. Lordship salvation simply means that Jesus not only saves you from Hell but also sin via a process called sanctification. He can not be your savior without Him also being your Lord. If you have been Justified (that is Reconciled to God) then Sanctification naturally follows and the promise is of course a future Glorification (new body, new heaven). The bible is clear on this, the list of verses I have made: http://www.thlibo.com/2009/01/03/lordship-verses/

    Reconciliation to God means that you are not longer at enmity with Him. You are no longer rebelling against Him but in fact you are reconciled to Him. Where He was once your enemy, He is now your Lord. While you were once against Him, you are now for Him.. You have turned around (repentance). You live for Him and seek to glorify Him as He initially created man to do. Regeneration is a miraculous work where at once you were dead in trespasses and sins: you are now alive. You are born-again, a new creature who seeks after and lives for God.

    Anti-Lordship denies this and states that men must simply repeat a prayer and “accept Jesus”. Anti-Lordship states that Jesus can be savior and yet man can have nothing to do with Him as Lord. This is utterly unbiblical as the command to unbeleivers is to repent and beleive. See also my post on the false gospel: http://www.thlibo.com/2008/12/16/the-true-gospel-vs-the-false-gospel/ and 1 John is particularly helpful in its declaration against men who say that “they know Him” but do not keep his commands and deny them with their works… The bible calls them liars.

  3. Shon permalink

    Just on example of a biblically historical situation (the Gospels or Acts) where Jesus or an Apostle or any preacher of the Gospel specifically told an unbeliever that they must DO something other than believe on the Lord Jesus for salvation?

    I can give many many many many (im sure you get my emphasis :) examples where FAITH ALONE in CHRIST ALONE was all that was required for salvation/Justification

  4. Shon permalink

    any by the way …. the whole ability to believe doctrine that your talking about …. is just a cop out for saying ….. God gives me the ability so I can save myself ….

    The Catholic church says the same thing … the say …. we are saved by grace … but what they mean … GOD infuses the “grace or power” so I can do “works or acts of grace or repent or believe or etc etc” so I can hopefully get saved. They call that grace … LOL

    Look at every example of Grace in the bible … the beauty of it is … not God helping you to get saved … its God graciously … saving you without any help …. HE ALONE IS SAVIOR.

    So when you say … He gives you the ABILITY to have faith and repent …. notice what you’ve done …. in your attempt to sound humble and give God the glory …. you have just opened a door and included “YOU” in the middle of the work of salvation.

    I could say … God gave me the ability to do good works so I can be saved .. and you would say …. no …. thats wrong … the bible says we’re saved by grace alone …. then I could use the same cop out excuse and say … God not only sent His Son as a Gift to save me … but He gave me the gift or ability to do works …. so therefore I am not denying salvation by works …. that would not fly …. its a disguise for denying salvation by faith alone.

  5. Does not the grace of God disciplines us to live Godly? (Titus 2:12)

    Mark 1:15 “Repent and Believe. Acts 2:38; repent and be baptized :)

    Sir.. find me where Jesus did not mention repentance.

  6. In a private e-mail Shon said, “Definitely not bitter at God … But I’m angered like Paul was when he wrote Galatians as he confronted those who required the brethren that they must keep the Law to be saved , he said about them ” may the go mutilate themselves” … I’m not here to please u or any group or sect , but to cherish and preserve the Gospel of Gods grace. I am not against sanctification as a result of justification but against those who mix the 2 together and leave the brethren unsure as to their security in Christ .. U do not see my intentions … Only my Savior does … He also sees whether u follow Him or if u follow men and try to please a certain view like MacArthurs or Pipers”

    My reply:

    You mention Galations which proves my point. Paul is writing to the Galations to REPENT from dead works. If faith in Christ does not mean any physical or actual repentance why then must the Galations STOP their dead works? Could they not had just had this intellectual faith you describe and continued doing their worthless deeds?

    Fact of the matter is: Attempting to earn your righteousness through dead works is SIN… and Paul commanded the Galations to STOP SINNING… and not only that… He tells them that if they continue in sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fit sof anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkneess, orgies, and things LIKE THESE… they also will NOT inherit the kingdom of God.

    Galations 5: 16But I say,(AD) walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify(AE) the desires of the flesh. 17For(AF) the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other,(AG) to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18But if you are(AH) led by the Spirit,(AI) you are not under the law. 19Now(AJ) the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions,(AK) divisions, 21envy,[d] drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that(AL) those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

  7. David Emme permalink

    A good representation that should be known as salvation as opposed to the “Lordship” tag. Not that I am opposed to it-I believe in it. Many times, I see some great critiques such as where in the bible does it teach we must repent from all our sins. I do not think most probably do not intend this as repenting from every sin-you will never be saved this way especially when understanding every action before salvation is done in rebellion to Christ-that is a lot to repent of when we could never remember all we did.

    I do think maybe defining repentamce as to repent of the sin nature in us(the tree and not the fruit) and anything else we have relied upon for salvation whether good works or some other religion. Not with a scripture or defining in a dictionary but for me a sense of abandoning that which we have always relied upon in the essence that we have abandoned ourselves to win Christ.

    In saying all this, I do somewhat agree with the critiques on “repent of sins” though I also see this as a point to debate and not extolling truth from the scriptures. It almost becomes the ideal that I have stumped you because you can not show these words though I always turn to the ideal of the lost coin, the lost sheep, and the lost(prodigal) son definetly teaches the ideal of repentance connected to salvation.

    Hope I did not ruffle many feathers here.

    God bless
    Dave Emme

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