Lordship Salvation – Putting the Cart Before the Horse
“But he denied, saying, I know not, neither understand I what thou sayest. And he went out into the porch; and the cock crew… But he began to curse and to swear, saying, I know not this man of whom ye speak.” -Mark 14:68,71
The above passage of Scripture is speaking about the Apostle Peter. Peter sinned by denying Jesus. Yet, Peter was a born-again believer. King David was a Christian; yet he conspired to have a man killed, to cover up an unwanted pregnancy, from an adulterous affair with that man’s wife. Abraham and Sara doubted God. Moses was a murderer. Samson went with a harlot. Jacob was a thief. Jonah ran from God. Noah got drunk. Isaiah was a man of unclean lips. These were God’s best and brightest.
Lot was a worldly believer. Yet, 2nd Peter 2:7 calls Lot a “just” man. The Lordship Salvation crowd would have considered all of these men unsaved. Yet, we see they were saved.
This subject needs to [be] preached about on a regular basis, because the damnable heresy of LORDSHIP SALVATION has infiltrated our churches, and is leading multitudes into Hell.
What is “Lordship Salvation?” Lordship Salvation is the unbiblical teaching that a person MUST cease from a sinful lifestyle to be saved. Lordship Salvationists pervert the true meaning of the word “REPENT” in the Word of God. Whereas Biblical repentance means that a person recognizes their guilt of sin (Romans 3:19); Lordship Salvationists corrupt the meaning of the word, teaching that a person must cease from living a sinful lifestyle to be saved. God does not ask us to give up anything to be saved. Eternal life is the gift of God (Romans 6:23). Salvation is receiving, not giving. God gave us His only begotten Son, Jesus, to pay our debt of sin. All we have to do to be saved is to acknowledge our guilt of sin, coming to God on that basis; believing on Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God, to forgive our sins (Acts 10:43).
In 2nd Peter 3:9 we read, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” The Greek word for “repentance” here is “METANOIA” and literally means “a change of mind.” Not a change of lifestyle; BUT, a change of mind. The changed life should follow afterwards; but the Bible is filled with examples of saints who continued to live in rebellion and sin, such as Solomon and Samson.
Turning from Unbelief verses Turning from One’s Sins
“And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.” -Mark 1:15
Carefully notice in Mark 1:15 above that Jesus didn’t say “repent ye, and turn from your sins.” No, Jesus clearly stated, “repent ye, and BELIEVE THE GOSPEL.” It is plain to see that Biblical repentance is a change of one’s mind concerning sin and unbelief, which causes that soul to turn in faith to the Lord Jesus Christ for forgiveness and salvation. Jesus never once said to a person, “Give up all your sin and then I’ll save you.” No, rather, Jesus said “Go, and sin no more” after making them whole (John 8:11). All God asks is that we come for salvation through His dear Son (John 3:16).
We must be extremely careful when we tell lost sinners that they need to be willing to turn from their sins to be saved. I have read many Gospel tracts that give the impression that a person MUST forsake their sins to be saved-which is NOT true at all. A person DOES need to REPENT of their SINS to be SAVED, but that change begins in the mind and may take some time to show in that person’s personal life (1st Peter 2:2). The ONLY repentance which God requires of a man to be saved is for that man to acknowledge his sinful condition and; thus, recognize his desperate need for a Savior.
I certainly think it would be reasonable for a repenting sinner to desire to turn from his or her sins; BUT, as we learn from countless believers in the Bible, that’s not always the case. Judges 16:1 states, “Then went Samson to Gaza, and saw there an harlot, and went in unto her.”
I am NOT condoning sin. I am simply saying that Christians at best are people, and people at best are still sinners.
Lordship Salvation is rooted in self-righteousness, for all Christians are sinners. If living in sin can cause a born-again believer to lose salvation, then we all lost it a long time ago, for all have sinned (Romans 3:23; Romans 7:14-25). It is solely by Christ’s merciful righteousness that we are saved (2nd Corinthians 5:21). Lordship Salvation and the Pentecostal Charismatic heresy of losing one’s salvation are related monsters. Lordship Salvationists ADD works to faith to GET saved, and the Charismatics ADD works to faith to STAY saved. Regardless, these two damnable heresies are both rooted in works salvation!
The Change Comes AFTER a Person is Saved, NOT before.
The internet is plagued with heretics who are teaching that a person must forsake their sinful life to be saved. 2nd Corinthians 5:17 reads, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” Please notice that a man does NOT become a “new creature” until AFTER he is in Christ. The change comes after a person is saved, NOT before.
If a person claims to be a Christian but is still living a wicked lifestyle, still living in perpetual sin, then I would sincerely doubt that person’s salvation as well. However, I am not going to start teaching damnable heresy by saying that sinners must forsake all their sins in order to be saved. Salvation comes through childlike faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; nothing may be added.
Once a man becomes a new creature in Christ, THEN and ONLY THEN he begins to change. Lordship Salvationists are sanctimonious (i.e., hypocritical in their beliefs) in that they are sinners themselves. The entire notion that a lost sinner must give up sin to be saved presents a serious indictment against Lordship Salvationists … “For all have sinned…” (Romans 3:23). Let he who is without sin among you teach Lordship Salvation.
A changed life is the FRUIT of genuine repentance; and not a part of the ROOT of saving-faith.
My question to you is: Are there 2 Gospels?
- The Gospel of John MacArthur, Ray Comfort, Kirk Cameron, Paul Washer, Jack Chick, Aiden Tozer, and others, requires that a person forsake (or be willing to forsake) their entire lifestyle of sin, make amends, and change their ways, as a prerequisite (beforehand) to saving faith.
- The Biblical Gospel teaches that we are saved solely by Christ’s righteousness (Romans 10:3-4), and that no self-righteousness of any kind is required (Titus 3:5), because we have none to offer (Isaiah 64:6); neither does a person have to quit any sin to be saved (Romans 4:5-6). Repent of their sins, yes. After we are genuinely saved, are we a new person in Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit abiding in us, chastises us when we sin, as we grow in Christ-likeness, and change our ways to sin no more. But we will never be sinless because the bible says so.
A lot of Christians have brushed the issue aside as a matter of semantics, but the difference between the 2 Gospels is day and night. One includes a certain degree of self-righteousness, which is a false Gospel; but the other is solely based upon Christ’s righteousness, which is by the precious literal, physical, blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
“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 3:16
Lordship Salvationists, in a futile attempt to support their false doctrine, paint an ugly picture of their opponents. They allege that we believe people can happily indulge in open sin with no remorse whatsoever. That is simply not the case at all. God doesn’t give anyone permission to sin (Romans 3:31).
Please remember that Biblical repentance IS A CHANGE OF MIND. A person who is genuinely saved now has a different attitude. If a man is a true Christian, he won’t have the haughty attitude that he can continue in open sin with no consequences. Each believer has the Spirit of Christ living within (Romans 8:9). This is the Holy Spirit. Hebrews 12:8 makes clear that God will CHASTISE His children. The Holy Spirit always convicts the believer of unrepentant sin. In sharp contrast, the heathen unsaved world knows not God, and sins with no remorse or concern for the things of God.
Lordship Salvationists are wrong when they they attack Bible-believing Christians with shallow accusations which simply CANNOT be substantiated with the Scriptures. A person who has been genuinely saved has repented concerning their sins, i.e., they acknowledged their GUILT of sin and believed on Christ for forgiveness.
The heresies that Lordship Salvationists teach are not found anywhere in the Scriptures. They mandate repentance FROM sins to be saved, but this is not Scriptural. Biblically, we are to repent OF our sins, i.e., our sinful condition. God says we are all sinners (Romans 3:10,19-23).
Repentance from sin is an entirely different matter. Just because a person believes upon Christ as Savior doesn’t automatically mean that their life is cleaned up. It takes time for a new believer to grow in the Lord (1st Peter 2:2). A new believer doesn’t instantly stop drinking, smoking, cursing, etc. It takes time to grow in grace.
Lordship Salvationists are hypocrites because they expect a sinner to change instantly in order to get saved. Lordship Salvation prohibits anyone from coming to Christ for salvation who isn’t willing to forsake all their sins. So then how can anyone be saved? No one can forsake ALL their sins, otherwise they’d be perfect, and only Jesus Christ is without sin (2nd Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 4:15).
I believe repentance is necessary for salvation. Mark 1:15, “…repent ye, and believe the gospel.” The Greek word for ‘repent’ here is ‘metanoeo,’ which translated into English means ‘to change one’s mind.’ It does not mean to stop sinning, since that would mean self-righteous works for salvation. We are commanded to repent and believe the Gospel; not repent and turn from sin. We turn to Jesus to be forgiven of our sins; we don’t turn from our sins in order to trust Jesus.
If a person has to stop committing sin to be saved, then how can anyone be saved? There is much confusion over the phrase “turn from sin,” but if the Biblical teaching that eternal life is a free gift is not forgotten, then the truth becomes very clear. A gift cannot be earned. Salvation is not a reward, it is the free gift of God (Romans 5:15; 6:23).
When a sinner must ‘turn from sin’ to be saved, he simply means that a sinner must renounce all their sins. But renouncing one’s sins is quite different than ceasing from committing sin (when one is trying to get saved). Biblical repentance is a change of mind. Paul Washer teaches that repentance is a change of life; but that is wrong. A changed life is the FRUIT of genuine repentance, and not a part of the ROOT of saving-faith.
Biblical repentance unto salvation means turning to Jesus Christ to be forgiven of one’s sins; not turning from one’s sins to trust in Christ. When a man turns to Christ by faith, he has turned his back against sin. This is why we find the word ‘believe’ mentioned 85-times in the Gospel of John, but the word ‘repent’ is never mentioned even once. Thus, the man who believes on Jesus has repented, and the man who repents has believed on Christ. The solution to sin is not education, legislation, rehabilitation, nor reformation; but regeneration. Repentance and faith are inseparable. They occur simultaneously. Lordship Salvationists attempt to divide repentance and faith, but you cannot.
Many false prophets, such as Ray Comfort and John MacArthur, misinterpret the meaning of repentance as ceasing from a sinful lifestyle. The Bible does not teach that. This heresy is commonly referred to as ‘Lordship Salvation,’ which I DO NOT believe at all. Salvation is without works of self-righteousness. Romans 4:5, “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” We are saved by the IMPUTED righteousness of Jesus Christ.
We are saved solely by Jesus’ righteousness, and not by our own self-righteousness in any way. The desire to forsake one’s sins is not a prerequisite to faith in Christ. The sincere admission of one’s guilt of sin for breaking God’s commandments is sufficient. The only requirement is for a person to realize that they have sinned against God and; therefore, need a Savior. It is not what we can do for God that saves us; but rather, what Jesus Christ did for us through His work of redemption. Jesus paid a debt that He did not owe, because we owed a debt that we could not pay.