Is "Lordship Salvation" Biblical?

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1 From TeachingtheWord's Bible Knowledgebase Salvation: Sin & Repentance Is "Lordship Salvation" Biblical? by Dr. Paul M. Elliott "Lordship salvation" says that you must "take up your cross" in order to be saved. But genuine saving faith rests in Christ's cross, not ours. In a recent article we said Scripture plainly teaches that a "Jesus" who is not the Lord of all is not the true Christ. This is why the Holy Spirit through Paul is so clear in telling man how to be saved: "If you will confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus" literally, confess that Jesus is Lord "and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved" (Romans 10:9-10). Verse 12 tells us why such a confession is essential to salvation: "For the same Lord over all" the same One who is head of all principality and power, and is before all things (Colossians 2:9-10) "is rich unto all who call upon Him. For 'whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved'." When a preacher makes the statements I have just made and cites these Scriptures, often people will ask the question, "Are you teaching what is called 'lordship salvation'?" I hope you will pay careful attention to the answer I am about to give. One Extreme In Reaction to Another In our generation there has been a great debate over what is called "lordship salvation." It has become a popular teaching in some circles. But confessing Christ 1

2 as Lord does not entail what some people call "lordship salvation." The teaching of this false doctrine often stems from the zeal of some men to preach against the deception of "easy believism." This is likewise a false teaching the notion that a person can be saved merely by repeating a formula of words apart from regeneration by the Holy Spirit. To oppose "easy believism" is, in itself, a commendable position. But the problem is that those who preach "lordship salvation" go to the other extreme. They often cites passages such as Matthew 16:24, and say that in order to be saved, one must take up his cross and follow Christ. When a preacher does this, he breaks down a vital distinction that all of Scripture clearly maintains: the great difference between justification and sanctification; between genuine, Spirit-wrought, empty-handed saving faith in Christ, and the evidences of that saving faith in a changed life. Confusing Justification and Sanctification: A Fearful Step This is not a mere theological technicality. It is confusion on the essence of the Gospel. At its core, it is the same confusion of faith and works that one finds in Roman Catholicism and in so many of the cults. So-called "lordship salvation" mixes two elements of Biblical doctrine that must always be kept distinct, and preached in proper relationship to one another. The Bible marks out a clear, unbreachable line of demarcation between the empty-handed faith in the cross-work of Christ alone that saves the sinner, and the dying-to-self, dying-to-the-world taking up of one's cross which is the Spirit's work of sanctification after a sinner has been saved. Scripture is clear: We do not change our lives in order to believe on Christ. God changes our lives because we have believed on Christ. 2

3 Those who teach "lordship salvation" step over a line that the Bible says we must never cross. They are teaching a way of salvation which says that Paul s declaration to the Philippian jailer in response to the question, "What must I do to be saved?" "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved" (Acts 16:31) is not enough. They teach that you must add your own cross-bearing to Christ's crossbearing in order to be saved. When they step over that line, they are by definition preaching salvation by faith-plusworks. Crossing the line into the preaching of "lordship salvation" is a fearful step: I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the Gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ. But I make known to you, brethren, that the Gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ. (Galatians 1:6-12) The Authentic Gospel What, then, does Scripture actually say? These passages speak of the cross in terms of Christ's finished work of salvation, to which we can add nothing: 3

4 And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it. (Colossians 2:13-15) For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9) But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law. (Romans 3:21-28) These passages speak of the cross in terms of the Spirit's ongoing work of sanctification: Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me." (Matthew 16:24) 4

5 But God forbid that I should glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. (Galatians 6:14) These passages place the two distinct aspects of Christ's cross-work and the believer's cross-bearing in their proper relationship to each other: I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. (Galatians 2:20) For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:5-11) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-25) 5

6 Faith in Christ's Cross, Not Ours Blurring the Biblical distinction between justification and sanctification sows deadly seeds of confusion about the Gospel. I know this to be true from the questions we receive from readers and listeners when they hear someone preach "lordship salvation." Genuine saving faith rests in Christ's cross, not in our cross. We are not saved by being sanctified; God sanctifies us because we are saved. The Bible makes a clear line of demarcation between those two things, and warns Gospel preachers in the strongest terms never to conflate them, and thus confuse their their hearers and lead them away from the truth. "Lordship salvation" is just such confusion. What, then, does Romans 10 mean when it says that we must confess Jesus as Lord in order to be saved? We shall see the answer as we continue. tq0422 Copyright TeachingtheWord Ministriesmmmmmwww.teachingtheword.org All rights reserved. This article may be reproduced in its entirety only, for non-commercial purposes, provided that this copyright notice is included. We also suggest that you include a direct hyperlink to this article for the convenience of your readers. 6

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