That a booklet of this title should even be necessary
tells of the sad condition of our times. It makes it seem as if there
is more than one type of salvation, or more than one way to be saved.
It gives the appearance of putting a descriptive element on salvation to
distinguish one type from another. For example, it seems to imply
that there is a Lordship salvation and one that is not Lordship salvation.
This flies in the face of Jesus' statement in John 14:6, where He says,
"...I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the father,
but by me." There is only one way to be saved; one scriptural
way to be saved.
What has happened, is that some have begun to teach that Jesus' two relationships with the believer, that of Saviour, and that of Lord, can be acknowledged at different times. There is a teaching that one can turn to Jesus to be saved by simply accepting or acknowledging Him as Saviour, and can then make Him Lord at some later time in their life through submission to Him. We will deal with the foolishness of this as we go on, but we will first agree that Jesus does act in these two capacities. We do not find our cause for argument over this. We will prove that they cannot be separated.
The Bible does teach that Jesus is 'Saviour,' and He is 'Lord.' There is ample evidence given in scripture here to prove this, but let us look at several witnesses in a few verses to establish the facts.
First of all, that Jesus is Saviour is seen in Matthew 1:21. The angel of the Lord says, "And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins." The name Jesus means Saviour in Hebrew. Also, in John 1:29, John the Baptist says, "...Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." To take away is to save from. Jesus said in Matthew 18:11, "For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost." We could give more verses, but here are three witnesses that Jesus is Saviour. If one won't believe an angel of the Lord, a man of God, and Jesus Himself, they won't believe a multitude of verses!
That Jesus is Lord can also be established by the Scriptures. Mark 1:3, tells us that John the Baptist was 'preparing the way of the Lord.' The disciples called him Lord in too many places to list, but we can show in one verse where all of them did so. In Matthew chapter 8, there is a great storm that threatens the boat they are all in, and in verse 25, it says, "And his disciples came to him...saying, Lord, save us: we perish." If you don't think 'disciples' was all inclusive, you haven't properly pictured the conditions in that boat! They were all calling on Him. Those who had their sins forgiven called Jesus Lord. In fact, even those who sought only fleshly help called Him Lord, and we shall deal with that later also. But surely the best proof that Jesus is Lord is seen in His own statements. In Matthew 12:8, He says He is Lord of the Sabbath, and in Matthew 10:28, He says He is the Master of the house. It is the household of faith according to Paul, as seen in Galatians 6:10. Again, we could give more, but this should suffice to show that Jesus is Lord.
The issue now becomes one of whether or not these two relationships are consecutive or concurrent in salvation. That is, do they come one after the other, or do they operate together? Are theses two relationships separate, or co-existent? That is, can you have only one of these relationships with Christ, or must you have both to have either? Here, again, we must look to the scriptures.
No one who came to Jesus and had their sins forgiven, that is, who benefitted from him being the Saviour, ever called him simply Jesus. There were some who were healed in the flesh, or ate the loaves and fishes, or beheld the power of God through the miracles, who did not appreciate His Lordship, but they were not saved from their sins.
The confusion on some preachers' parts has come from a misunderstanding of scriptural precepts. One evangelist of great reputation has written a booklet refuting Lordship salvation, and calls it 'a perversion of the gospel.' He justifies his negative position, in part, by implying that Jesus is not Lord if a believer disobeys Him one time. If that is so, then one must believe that Jesus can never be Lord to a believer unless we reach a state of 'sinless perfection.' This has never been a Baptist belief, because we all disobey at one time or another! I would direct you to Luke 17:5-10, where Jesus puts us all in our place with his response to the disciples request to have their faith increased. He says in verse 10, "...when ye shall have done all those things which were commanded you, say, we are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do." We may be saved in our spirit, but we must always battle the flesh. A person can submit to the Lordship of Christ in attitude at the time of salvation, and yet in a moment of weakness disobey. The fact is, though, that he cannot continue in that manner for any length of time due to conviction and chastisement. This same preacher likely believes that a 'saint' can go long periods of time in a 'backslidden' condition if Jesus is not yet Lord. This is a deception that Satan has sold many folk!
It is also necessary that we deal with the idea of 'making Jesus Lord.' The evangelist we spoke of earlier who wrote denouncing the doctrine of Lordship salvation said it is a doctrine of works. If one did, indeed, make Jesus Lord, this might be true. But as we have already seen, Jesus IS Lord. It is a misnomer to believe that we decide whether He will be thus or not, or that we would have the power or authority to do so if we wanted to. The truth, that the Scriptures teach, is that we submit to His Lordship at salvation, but it is because God enables a rebellious soul to do it. Philippians 2:13 says, "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." The work is a work of God, not of man. Also, an attitude of submission is what is required, not a performance of obedience. A believer becomes willing to obey at salvation.
Let me say at this point that if one does not submit to the Lordship of Christ at salvation, they are not saved. Further, it is not an unconscious decision. By this I mean that the individual must be aware that he is becoming subject to that Lordship. It is not something that dawns on you later, or that you grow into spiritually.
Again, we look to Scripture to prove the point. Romans 10:9 is surely the most known verse in the Bible regarding salvation. It says, "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." This verse does not say one must confess simply Jesus, nor does it say to confess the Saviour Jesus. It says 'the Lord Jesus.' It may be redundant but it bears repeating at this point that one must confess the Lord Jesus, not make Jesus Lord. To confess means to admit, to agree, or to get in line with. Paul says in II Corinthians 4:5, "For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord..." Here we see that one should understand that Jesus is Lord at salvation, because true preaching presents Him in that light. Peter preached the same truth. In Acts 2:36, he says, "Therefore, let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ." Again, the individual seeking salvation would be able to recognize that he was placing his confidence in one who was Lord, and was Lord because God made Him so. Paul and Silas gave the same message to the Philippian jailer in Acts 16:31, where we read, "And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house." I don't know about the reader, but I will take the word of these preachers over those who say one doesn't need to acknowledge Jesus as Lord at salvation!
Then, too, salvation is referred to as entering the kingdom of heaven in several places. In Matthew 11:12, Jesus said, "And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force." In Luke 12:32, He said, "Fear not, little flock; for it is the Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." Jesus told the scribes and Pharisees in Matthew 23: 13, "But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in."
Salvation is also referred to as entering the kingdom of God. We are told Matthew 6:33, "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." Luke 16:16, tells us, "The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it." These are the words of Jesus in both instances. Some may argue that we will not enter these kingdoms until we leave this world, especially the kingdom of heaven. I do not have the space to deal with the differences between the two kingdoms mentioned, nor is it important to the subject we are dealing with. Let me simply remind the reader that according to Philippians 3:20, '...our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.' The word conversation means 'a state,' 'commonwealth,' or 'form of government.' It means we are already citizens under the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ. Notice that it calls Jesus 'Saviour' here, but clarifies that it is as the Lord Jesus Christ that He is so. Ephesians 2:11-22, confirms the fact of our citizenship and subjection to the Lordship of Christ. Again, space prevents dealing with all that is in that tremendous passage, but notice in particular that we who were at one time 'aliens from the commonwealth of Israel,' have been made 'fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God.' We become subjects of God, and the Lord Jesus Christ in particular, at salvation.
From these texts, we can see that the spiritual realm is a kingdom. Every kingdom has a ruler, or Lord, if you will. The kingdom involving salvation is no different. There must be a ruler to rule it. Since Jesus is a Lord, and the spiritual realm is a kingdom, this must be where He reigns and exercises authority. It is His kingdom. Jesus said His kingdom was not an earthly one. Many today have the idea that it is like in the United States where we have rulers, but men act as though they are free to obey or not to obey laws as they see fit. It works as long as one does not get caught. Even if caught, they are judged by their peers and not the rulers. They can often get off. In a kingdom the Lord is sovereign. He is free to do what he pleases. If one is not in subjection, the Lord has the right to pass judgement and pronounce sentence on the rebel. The sentence is not pleasant, as we shall see in the passage below from Luke 19. In this nation, if folks don't like the law, the people can change it. This is 'people rule.' Indeed, our constitution begins with the words, "We the people..." This is the cry of the Laodicean church. The name Laodicea means 'people rule.' This is where the idea of Saviour now, Lord later, comes from. It is a sign of the times! Jesus spoke of this in Luke 19:11-14, when he spoke of the nobleman who told his servants to 'occupy till I come.' The response of the citizens was to send a message after him that said, 'we will not have this man to reign over us.' To reign is to Lord over. Even in this world, if one is to enter a kingdom as a faithful citizen, they must bend the knee to that ruler. They will submit to his authority before they will be accepted as a subject. Verse 27 tells of the fate of those rebellious citizens, where we read, "But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me." Since they were called 'citizens,' we see that they are a picture of folks in the church, not in the world. The world is not expected to be subject, nor can they be until they are saved. The fate of those who are religious but lost will be tragic.
At this point, some might try to argue that the kingdom is ruled by God the Father, not by Jesus, but this is easily refuted. Although the authority comes from God the Father, the ruler of the kingdom is Jesus in His office of Lord. Look at Matthew 28:18, where Jesus says, "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth." Further, in John 5:22-23, Jesus says, "The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgement unto the Son: That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him." We see from Hebrews 5:8, that Jesus was subject to the Father during His time on earth until Calvary. The writer said, "Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;" But Paul said in Philippians 2:5-6, "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus: who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:" In I Corinthians 15:28, Paul says, "And when all things shall be subdued unto Him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him who hath put all things under him, that God may be all in all." So we see that Jesus was equal with the Father before His coming to earth, subject to the Father during His time here, elevated by the Father to supremacy in this age, and will eventually return all authority to the Father in the end. What is significant to the issue at hand is that Jesus is Lord at this present time.
There is a another truth that must be dealt with at this point, because all who say they believe in Lordship salvation are not unified in their belief of what salvation is. Some of those who seem to be the most vocal on the issue and use the phrase most often, are not even correct on the doctrine of salvation and thus are not even saved. It is surely true that many will not even take the time to read this due to their position on the other side of the issue. But there are some who will read the title of this booklet and say, "Yes brother preach it. We are with you on this." They will take up the booklet with great anticipation, but will soon have their excitement turn to frustration when they see what is set forth herein. They will say, "This can't be!" But it is certainly true.
Merely acknowledging Lordship is not salvation. There are many instances in the Scriptures where folks called Jesus Lord, but did not follow Him unto salvation. In Luke 6:20-49 Jesus is addressing his followers. In verse 20, it says they are disciples, or those who claim to be disciplined in, or learning the ways of God. Yet in verse 46, Jesus says they call Him Lord, but do not obey His commandments. These are not saved folks. In Luke 9:57-62, we see some of the same type of people who want salvation now, but submission later. Their attitude is, "I'll give you some of me, but you can't have all of me." Jesus says they are not fit for the kingdom. That does not mean they aren't fit, but saved in spite of it.. None of us is really fit and are saved despite this, it is true, but don't be misled here. Attitude is the key in this passage. These folk aren't fit, and they aren't saved, as evidenced by their attitudes. Then in John 6:24-66, we have a lengthy passage dealing with this problem. In verse 24, we are told these are simply 'people,' but in verses 60, 61, and 66, we are told they were 'disciples.' They called Him Lord in verse 34, and certainly more often than this if they were in fact disciples. Yet they missed salvation. Simple acknowledgement of the authority of Christ is not salvation. There must be a Divine operation of the Spirit of God which at a point and time, through Holy Spirit conviction, produces Godly sorrow leading to repentance toward God and faith toward the LORD Jesus Christ. Notice in Acts 20:21, Paul emphasizes all three titles attributed to Jesus.
Even if there is submission to the authority of Jesus Christ which leads to apparent faithful service, this is not a sure sign that one is saved. This is seen in Matthew 7:21-23. Jesus says in verse 22, that 'many' would say that they had done many wonderful works, while calling Him Lord. Yet He would say to them, "I never knew you." Matthew 25 tells of ten virgins, which implies purity on their part. Yet five of them had no salvation and were outside looking in at the wedding. One can be a hard worker who is under the authority of Christ and yet not be a saved individual. This may be the folk the evangelist I alluded to earlier is looking at when he accuses those who preach Lordship salvation of preaching a salvation of works. I would agree with him that these appear to do so. But these folk are not saved, even as Jesus said. I know this not only from the scriptures that we have seen, but my own life bears witness to this fact. Also, I have seen many others who were just like I was, and still see many who are yet in that condition!
Space prohibits me from giving my testimony, but it is in print and available to anyone who desires to have it. If you will write to the address on the back cover of this booklet, I will send it to you free of charge. Ask for 'Make Toward Shore - How God Saved A Lost Baptist Preacher."
Let me give you a practical illustration of the validity of this truth. The previously given scriptures should suffice. But in order to erase any further doubt in the reader's mind that these things can be so, a natural application of the spiritual truth may be helpful. Jesus taught in parables because He knew that people could grasp the natural easier. God must still give one illumination of the spiritual, but it may start with something easier to comprehend. I will use the United States as an example. Although we do not have a king, we do have a seat of authority whose laws we are expected to obey and who we are answerable to. We could look to another country such as England, which has a queen, but neither this writer nor most of the readers are familiar enough with that system to do it justice. The truths we wish to present can be adequately seen from this country's system.
In this country, we have individuals who are not citizens. They are called 'resident aliens.' Their citizenship is in another country. They are free to live here, work here, and enjoy the benefits of this nation as long as they are subject to the laws of the land. If they are found to be in violation of the laws, they are deported. But as long as they submit, they may reside and work here. If they desire, they can apply for citizenship and it will be granted if they meet the prescribed requirements. They do not have to, however, and many never do. They are satisfied with being resident aliens. There are certain benefits they never enjoy, but they are satisfied with what they have. They may obey every law, rule, regulation, and ordinance set down by the government. But if they lack the fulfillment of one requirement; that which is necessary for citizenship, they remain aliens. They may even look and act like citizens. They may learn the language of this country and even lose their accent and talk like the other citizens, but they are still aliens. They may become so like the citizens that they see themselves as citizens, but they remain aliens. And this is the saddest truth of all, they may outwork the citizens, and often do. They may do it for far less money, which again is true. And they may live in substandard conditions compared to the citizens. Yet they do it because the conditions, the pay, and the work brings more reward and satisfaction than that which they had in their own country.
So it is in our churches. A person who has come out of the world and into the church but is not saved, will still be better off than they were before, and so will often settle for what they have. Just as a foreigner hesitates to become a citizen of this country, for whatever reason, so do these individuals in our churches. In the case of a foreigner in this country, it may be due to a lack of knowledge of what citizenship affords them, or fear of the process of naturalization, or pressure from their relatives who are still aliens, or any number of other reasons. The result is, they remain aliens from the United States. And for whatever reasons, many in our churches remain aliens from the commonwealth of God. These individuals are the 'tares' spoken of in Matthew 13:24-30, that Jesus said to allow to grow along with the wheat. They do no harm, and in the case of people in our churches, many of them can be reached if the truth is taught and practiced. It would do harm to the church to confront or to reject them. We must love them and try to help them. It was love, patience, and the prayers of many true believers who saw what I was and yet left me in the hands of God that eventually reached me. This booklet and the others that I have written are for the purpose of helping those who are like I was. It is not my purpose to divide, but to unite. It is not to condemn, but to convert others that these are sent forth. It is to convince others to become citizens and enjoy the full benefits of that position. This nation has long had a commodious attitude toward immigrants, and it is significant that none of us can trace our ultimate roots to this land. We are all by ancestry, at least, foreigners here. We ought to have a desire to see the kingdom filled with citizens, and do all in our power to encourage folks to become such. For such were we once.
There is one difference between the non-citizens in this country and those in our churches. In this country, the vast majority of aliens know they are not citizens, to be sure. But there are likely some who don't. The best way to explain how this can be so, is to look at those who come here as aliens, and especially their children. Aliens may not realize that they are not really the same as the citizens due to lack of understanding. They cannot comprehend the matter. Or, in the case of the children, it may be that their parents cannot rightly convey the idea to them as they don't understand it all themselves. It may be that the citizens cannot explain properly to the adult aliens the differences that exist between aliens and citizens. There is often a language barrier which prevents full appreciation of what is what. There is a mental picture of how their country operated that may hinder their understanding of ours. There may be a diversity of opinion among their family members which serves only to confuse them on the issue. All in all, we begin to see how it can be that there are those who just don't understand.
In our churches, there are many who do not realize yet that they are not real citizens of the kingdom. This is for the same reasons as those seen in the aliens described above. Many don't have a proper understanding of spiritual things. Many have a worldly idea of salvation based on the system they came out of. Many have been given false ideas by those who don't know what real salvation is themselves. And the confusion caused by so many points of view has hindered others.
Churches have gone so far off into error, that many people disagree on what really goes into salvation. There is a language barrier that hinders understanding. What does 'born again' mean to people? Is there agreement on it? What is 'sin, repentance, conviction, faith,' or any number of other terms the Scriptures use? Can the 'sinner's prayer' save a person? Can you begin to see where there is so much confusion that many have no idea whether they are citizens of the kingdom or not? This is a fulfillment of II Timothy 3:7, which says, "Ever learning, and never able to come to a knowledge of the truth."
A word about 'illegal aliens' would be in order at this point. There are some who know they are in this country illegally, and will not be subject to the laws of the land. Where most resident aliens strive to become a part of the established system, these care nothing for the system. They live in constant danger of being found out and so they live a life of willful deception. If they are found out and deported, they come in somewhere else. They claim for themselves rights they do not legally hold. They abuse the systems designed to help our citizens. They burden the governmental, educational, institutional, and service sectors of the country with little or no remorse. They attempt to set the agenda for the citizens and for the entire country. They demand to be catered to. And time is on their side, they will not be denied. They eventually wear the authorities down. They win through persistence, and through sheer numbers. They overwhelm the authorities. There is so much territory to patrol, that they creep in through the cracks. These individuals have no business being here, and ought to be weeded out. In this country, they have given us bi-lingualism. That is, we no longer have a single language. They have given us multi-culturalism. We have no definitive American culture. We have an identity crisis in this nation. And anyone who tries to approach and remedy the situation is attacked by the aliens and uninformed, sympathetic citizens alike. Citizens have begun to view these aliens as citizens! Some would argue this is a political issue, and so ought not to put in the booklet. But I do not put it here to attempt to get people to rally to any political cause, but to prove the point which follows.
It has become this way in most of our Baptist churches. We have strayed so far from Baptist doctrine, that we are different from the other denominations only in our belief in 'eternal security.' Many don't know what salvation really is, but they are certain one can't lose it. Salvation has come to mean more than one thing. There is no certain language of Baptist doctrine, particularly where it relates to salvation. We have become spiritually bi-lingual, and actually multi-lingual. We have assimilated the practices and beliefs of other denominations and become multi-denominational. It is a sad day for our people. There is much confusion and no power due to disunity. Church members can't tell citizens from aliens! Time and the persistence of the adversaries have worn us down. Satan knows the time is short, and he has been, and is continuing to work hard to overcome the churches. He has flooded us with a vast army of false teachings and many of them appeal to the ear. They sound good, but their end is death.
There are some who the Scriptures say ought to be identified and avoided. There are some who are to be withdrawn from. It is not our business to name them, but to say if anyone does not agree with what the Scripture says about any doctrine, especially that of salvation, they are to be identified and held up for public disdain. It is left to the reader to decide if the propositions and proofs set forth herein are true. If I am wrong, I take the position of Paul, who said in Galatians 1:8-9, "But though we,, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that which ye have received, let him be accursed." I pray the reader will be like those noble individuals of Berea, who 'received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.' Search out what I have written for yourself. I invite examination. If one can deny what I say, based on scriptural truths, so be it. But if one cannot, there is a responsibility to embrace it.
The first step in remedying any problem is to acknowledge that one exists. If I can get folks to see there is a problem and admit to it, I have done something. To acknowledge the problem is to acknowledge the truth. Yet I hope to go beyond this and get us to unify around the truth. One thing that Satan cannot stand is the truth. And he must flee when we are unified around the truth. Jesus said, in John 8:32, "...ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." He said the opposite about Satan in John 8:44, "...He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him.." Paul tells us in II Timothy 3:1-8, that there would come men who 'resist the truth,' and in 4:4, that people would 'turn away their ears from the truth.' But concerning the saints, he said in II Corinthians 13:8, "For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth." We need that attitude among our people today, especially our preachers. We must do all in our power to promote the truth. In Ephesians 4:15, we are told that if we speak the truth in love, it will serve to help individuals grow up into Christ in all things. Paul told Titus in Titus 1:1, that acknowledgement of the truth is 'after godliness.' That is, it demonstrates godliness. It will be because men would not receive the love of the truth, that they will be deceived by the lies of Satan in the last days, according to II Thessalonians 2:10. But the difference in the believer, is that God has chosen us from the beginning to salvation through the sanctification of the Spirit and a belief of the truth. John tells the church in II John 1:1-3, "The elder unto the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth; and not I only, but also all they that love the truth; for the truth's sake, which dwelleth in us, and shall be with us forever." Here we see that we are positioned in truth, like-minded with those who love the truth, we love the truth for the truth's sake [or because it is truth], and that we will have the truth with us forever.
Truth is seen in its fullest in the person of Jesus. He said, in John 14:6, "I am...the truth..." The truth is also seen in the Scriptures according to John 17:17, where we read, "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth." Preaching and teaching is to set forth truth as we have seen from Paul's statements about some who would turn their ears from it, and in that he told Timothy to 'preach the word,' which we have seen is truth, etc. We must return to a love of the truth in all its forms if we are ever to turn the present situation around. We may not like what the truth sets forth, but we can love the truth for the truth's sake if we are truly citizens of the kingdom and in subjection to the Lord of the kingdom. Lordship salvation, or salvation that acknowledges and submits to Jesus Christ as Lord from the very point of faith, is the only type of salvation that is real, and that is God-given. We may drop the qualifying word Lordship in our language and simply call it salvation like Baptists used to, and hope that we all mean the same thing. But there had better be an underlying recognition of the truth presented above, or what an individual possesses is not really salvation. It is something less, something inferior, and something that will let them down in the end. My prayer is that people will examine themselves and what they are claiming as salvation to see if it measures up to the scriptural qualifications. If it does not, denying the truth will only succeed in preventing one from obtaining citizenship and will lead to certain destruction in the day of judgement. Acknowledgment of the truth gives hope that God will grant true salvation.
In closing let me thank the reader for taking the time to read this booklet. I hope that it has helped you better understand the issue of Lordship salvation. There is much more we might have said, but space hindered. May the LORD bless you. - J. M. G.
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