Lordship Salvation: Right or Wrong?

August 22, 2011 at 11:40 AM 2 comments

I received a note from a friend about the topic of Lordship Salvation.  He also commented on the article I referenced previously in a post regarding the question of whether or not our future sins are automatically forgiven.

I responded to my friend who also agreed with the writer of the article when he stated that to teach that our future sins are forgiven is blasphemy.  By that definition then, I am a blasphemer.

I asked him his views the article and he responded and then I responded to him.  I’m leaving names completely out of this because it serves no purpose.  His comments are italicized and mine are not.

I know that this issue has been written about repeatedly.  I know that John MacArthur for instance has been accused of teaching Lordship Salvation and I don’t believe that is the case.  I have his books and while I can see how people might misinterpret MacArthur’s teachings on the subject, I fully believe that this is exactly what they have done.  I believe MacArthur was emphasizing God’s work of sanctification in the life of the believer.  I also believe it is a good yardstick for us that if I can look back over my life and see no progress, no growing desire not to sin, a greater desire to commune with God and become more like the character of Jesus, then maybe there is something wrong.  That maybe is that there is a possibility I am not saved if my life appears to have grown no closer to God and no further from sin.

In reality, the issue of Lordship Salvation is a very difficult topic to explain.  People on both sides of the aisle can use the same Scripture references in their attempt to prove their opposing points.  The basic problem though seems to be found in the meaning of the word “repent.”  For some, this involves agonizing over my sin until the weight of it makes it impossible for me to stand, so I become broken.  This should happen often in my life because of the tremendous evil that is sin, so naturally, if I do not understand this as being terribly evil and react to it with the proper feelings and emotion, then how could I possibly be living for God?  How could I possibly be understanding just how evil sin is as God sees it?  How could there be true repentance?

If I feel terrible about my sin – if I go through life with an attitude of constant repentance – then the belief is that I am closer (Lordship salvation proponents believe) to understanding just how bad sin is and if I understand how terrible sin is, then I have proven to God that I am truly repentant for my sin.  It may involve beating myself up emotionally (or going so far as beating myself up physically as Martin Luther of the Reformation did).  But until I come to an abject awareness of just how terrible my sin is, then there has been no real repentance.  As far as I can tell, this is the Lordship Salvation dogma at its core.  To me, this is tragic and I will have more to say on this subject in future posts.  For now, let me post my friend’s comments and my responses.

Oh, and by the way, I am not posting this topic to enter into debates.  Debates are pointless.  I know that if you believe in Lordship Salvation, I can’t convince you of anything different.  You should probably know also that your arguments will not likely convince me either.  This is not to say that either of us are arrogant, but hopefully, it means that we have studied the issue and arrived at a conclusion that we believe is based on Scriptures, yet open to any correction by the Spirit.  If not, then we are arrogant.

So by posting this topic, I am not inviting debate.  If you want to briefly share your opinion feel free.  If you do so in attack mode, your comment will not be posted.

This is absolutely a very difficult issue to discuss because there is so much involved in it.  For me, I believe when I receive the Lord, He becomes my Savior and my Lord at the same time.  The Holy Spirit takes up residence within me, seals me, and activates His Presence within me, recreating the wonderful and perfect image of Jesus.  This certainly doesn’t mean I will never sin, but just as the athlete tries and fails, but gets up, dusts him/herself off and moves on, Christians – I believe – should do the same thing.  Far from minimizing or “cheapening” God’s grace, it proves that we understand the nature of that grace and we are extremely grateful for it.  I will try to develop this more over the next few posts.  For now, here is the response I had for my friend and again, his comments are mixed throughout in italics and is between the lines of asterisks.

**********************************************************************

Hi [friend],

“It is cheap grace. Where is the accountability if one does not have to repent for sins? Of course Christ died for all sins, but the opposite of what [the author of the article] is teaching is cheap grace or a license to sin.”

Amazing how many people think this, [friend].  I believe I covered this quite well in the article I just wrote.  Either you didn’t read it or you read it through your Lordship Salvation glasses.  You are unfortunately assuming that the Holy Spirit is completely inactive in the authentic Christian’s life here.

I think the main sticking point is the definition of “repent.”  Some, like [the writer of the article] and people like [certain well-known evangelists] believe that if we do not have this constant fear of God’s anger, then we are not really living the life that God wants us to live.  Yes, I believe that there should always be a reverential fear of God.  I do not believe that I need to beat myself up either emotionally or physically in order to somehow prove to God that I am really sorry for my sin(s).

“I can do as I please, my sins are forgiven.”

Again, I covered this when I noted that authentic Christians do not want to sin.  There are plenty of professing Christians who certainly live like this and it is what gives the Church a bad name.  It also explains why there are so many people today who say that God is judging His Church.  That’s garbage.  His actual invisible Church is doing just fine.  It’s the TARES within the VISIBLE Church that are wreaking havoc.  They are the ones who are living like the devil.

“If one does not have to worry about sin then where is Christianity?”

So you think God wants us to focus on our sins?  The idea that we must have this lifestyle of repentance is simply man’s way of adding to God’s salvation, a requirement that makes us feel that we are “doing something” to help in God’s salvation.  The reality is that God has freed us to a life of love.  People like [the author of the article] don’t seem to understand that this freedom creates within us the desire to serve God, not by focusing on sin, but by focusing on God, something the Law would not allow.  When you are under the Law, you focus on how many times you break that Law and how terrible you feel because of it.  When you are under Grace, you realize just how precious you are to God and how much He loves you.  It is that understanding that keeps us from wanting to follow the dictates of sin.

“[the author of the article] is correct and what many are calling legalism is called sanctification in scripture. Once saved our responsibility to live a holy and acceptable life is foremost.”  

Actually, in your opinion, [the author of the article] is correct.  In my opinion he is dead wrong.  Sanctification is a process that is fully directed by the Holy Spirit.  You think we can resist the Holy Spirit?  Temporarily maybe, but not for long.  If I am sealed by the Holy Spirit, I become His, lock, stock, and barrel.  Because of this, He takes the lead and is fully in charge of my life.

“Christ said, if you love me obey my commandments. “

Yeah, okay, so why are you focusing on your sin?

“We are bound to responsibility once we accept Christ as our savior. Paul in Romans 12:1 calls it “our reasonable service.”  To do opposite and to think opposite is cheap grace.”

Again, you are assuming that if I sin, I don’t care about it.  You are also assuming that repentance means I have to feel as though I am a worthless pig.  If I do not come to that point, then there has been no real repentance and if there is no real repentance, then God will not apply His forgiveness.  By the way, I don’t “accept” Christ as Savior.  I receive salvation because He opened my eyes to the truth and allowed me to embrace it.  I’m not referring to prevenient grace here.  I’m simply stating that unless God works in the life of the individual, no one would ever choose to “accept” Jesus.

Martin Luther lived like this and he was miserable.  There was no fruit of the Spirit as we read in 1 Corinthians 13.  Because of it, he wound up hating the Jews and became extremely anti-Semitic.

Unfortunately, I believe what [the author of the article] is teaching (aside from calling me a blasphemer) is that there is actual work that I need to do, heavy, back-breaking work that will constantly threaten to overwhelm me as a Christian.  Yet, Jesus Himself said that we should take His burden on ourselves, because it is light and easy to bear.  Not according to [the author of the article] or [certain well-known evangelist], or others like that who believe that the life of a Christian is much more difficult than what Jesus says.  Apparently, they know better than He does.

We could unfortunately go back and forth quoting Scripture to each other until the cows come home and neither of us would be convinced.  The reality for me is that I do not believe Lordship Salvation is Scriptural.

I am saved.  I have received salvation from the Lord, which is an ongoing result of my faith in Him and will culminate in the next life.  He is also my Lord because that is the position He is in over me.  Either I submit my life to Him voluntarily, or He will force me to do it through loving chastisement.  There is no “if I make Him Lord” about it.

People are attracted to Lordship Salvation because it gives them something to do, something to work for, something to achieve.  Instead of glorying in His love for us, and being thankful for all that He has done and will do in and through us, the focus for the Lordship Salvation person is solely on SELF, yet it is so insidious that most people are not even aware of it at all.  It is how – I believe – Satan traps believers into participating in a form of “indulgences” because they think they have to somehow “pay” for their own sin by feeling terrible about it and agonizing over it.  If they do not do that, then their salvation comes into question.

Many people who believe in Lordship Salvation also often believe that salvation can be lost.  These folks do not believe in unconditional eternal security and in essence – whether they agree or disagree – they wind up believing in conditional salvation and there is nothing eternal about that.  I’ve talked to people who have told me that you cannot know you are saved until you actually stand before the Lord.  Really?  Interesting.

While I can understand people wanting to be holy (sanctified, or set apart), the disagreement comes in with what that really means.  We both probably know that Sanctification is really two-pronged.  There is something that God does FOR us – Positional Sanctification, and there is something that I, as a Christian participate in – Progressive Sanctification.  This progressive sanctification is where I walk in the newness of the Spirit, instead of the death of the old man, yet it is only done with the strength and empowering of the Holy Spirit.

2 Corinthians 5:17 states, “Wherefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature: the old things are passed away; behold, they are become new.”

I am no longer the old Fred.  I’m completely new.  This new nature has already been given to the believer, but its transforming power is experienced when a Christian becomes sanctified to follow after the things of God.  How do I do that?  I mainly do this by studying His Word and allowing His Word to transform me into the image and character of Jesus and through prayer.  He creates within me the desire to ignore SELF (the flesh).  He creates within me the desire to follow Him and submit to Him.  I believe Lordship Salvation creates the desire to – unfortunately – cater to SELF without realizing it.

When I sin, I recognize it and admit it as quickly as possible, not with a laissez-faire attitude, but with an understanding that what I did was wrong and God wants me to quickly recognize it and confess it so that I can return to the fellowship I had with Him before I sinned.

When I do something wrong against my wife, she does NOT expect me to beat myself up.  She is ready and quick to forgive me.  I don’t have to go to her on my knees begging for her forgiveness.  I come to her and apologize for my behavior.  If she is that quick to forgive, how much more is God toward His children?  Would you call what my wife does “cheap grace”?  If you did, you would be wrong.  It is because of how quickly she forgives that I do not want to “sin” against her again.  Unfortunately, I know that I will likely sin against her again and she with me.

Certain individuals believe that considerable time should be spent conjuring up emotional turmoil so that we can somehow “prove” to God that we are really, really sorry for what we did.

This was not the attitude of the Prodigal Son’s father.  Even as his son tried to give the speech he had prepared, saying how bad he was and how he merely wanted to be a slave in his father’s employ, the father would have none of it.

It is too bad that this “holiness” movement has risen to the level it has risen to because in my view, it simply adds requirements to salvation that do not exist.  Many who believe in Lordship Salvation also believe in a form of Dominism – the idea is that as more Christians become involved politically, they will gain more control over their area of influence and that area – whether a city or a nation – will become governed by Christian principles.  Sounds like what you said to me the other day.  Call it Dominism, Christian Reconstructionism, or whatever you’d like, but the meaning is the same.  That’s not what the Bible teaches, as far as I can tell.

My job as a Christian is to fully cooperate with God, not beat myself up, not go through life believing that if I do not castigate myself for every sin I commit, I’m worthless and have not confessed it properly.  My job is to believe that God in Christ is the Author and Perfector of my salvation.  Yes, I work with Him, but he carries the bulk of it so that I will become like Him.  I can’t do that, no matter how terrible I make myself feel and it does not impress God either.

Or, I guess I could do what certain people teach and take on the attitude that Martin Luther adopted.  Hey, I could even start whipping myself to make me feel better!

Sorry [friend], Lordship Salvation is merely another name someone has given to make the concept of “indulgences” sound Christian.  It adds nothing to His salvation, but pretends that it does.  In the process, it leaves people feeling worthless and ashamed.  You think that’s the way God wants us to go through life?  Sorry, but I do not recall Paul mentioning this in 1 Corinthians 13…

If we are to feel like crap for our sin, then that is all we will ever be able to do in this life because of all our sin.  The focus is SELF.

You know, I’ve been called a heretic for my views on the PreTrib Rapture.  I’ve been told I will likely lose my salvation because of it.  I’ve been called a blasphemer because I do not believe in Lordship Salvation.  The way Christians toss around these terms is a bit much.

**********************************************************************

Because this is such an important issue, I will write more about it.  Again, will I convince anyone of anything?  It is not likely, though I’m hoping that for those who have not made a decision, they will certainly prayerfully consider what I have to say.

There was a time in my life when all I did was focus on how bad I was, how sinful I am, and how unworthy I was/am to receive salvation.  Certainly, this is true, but believing that this attitude needs to be an integral part of the Christian’s daily walk is foolhardy and anti-Christian, in my opinion.

What child would love his/her father if that father expected them to denigrate themselves every time they made a mistake?  I have a daughter and a son.  They are both adults now, but I remember a period of time when I was constantly on my son’s case.  He couldn’t do many things right, as far as I was concerned.  Thankfully, the Lord helped me realize that while loving discipline is certainly necessary, ultimately, it is love, not discipline that wins out.

I could take the time to still correct my son about this or that and sometimes, depending upon the situation I still do, but one thing I do not do is try to make him feel as though when he messes up, he should feel worthless!  There is no point to that because it simply discourages him and gives him a reason to be angry.  Both Ephesians 6:4 and Colossians 3:21 speak of not provoking or embittering our children.  Paul is telling us to not make your children feel worthless by constantly pointing out all the wrong things they do.

Yet, certain teachers believe that we have an obligation as Christians to make ourselves feel embittered when we sin!  How ludicrous and the belief that if I do not take the time to castigate myself when I sin, I am somehow cheapening grace is also ludicrous.  God poured out His wrath on Jesus as He hung on the cross, yet many believe that we are supposed to pour out our wrath on ourselves in repentance every time we sin and if we don’t, we are taking sin too lightly, cheapening God’s grace.  This is so wrong in my opinion.

Isn’t it funny how much we focus on our wrongs, instead of what God is making us into?  This is not say that I should ignore my sin, but like Paul says, I should cast off every work of darkness.  Can you picture this?  It is throwing those things aside and walking away from them.  Our attitude needs to be that of a warrior in battle, but always with our eyes on Jesus.  The warrior focuses on the goal, not getting sidetracked by missteps (or sin, in our case).  Can you imagine a warrior belittling himself, castigating himself, and literally hating himself every time he did something wrong in battle?  He wouldn’t last long at all.

Satan is our accuser.  He works with our flesh to mount the effort to destroy or weaken us.  If he can get us to focus on our bad we are (which is not true if we are IN Christ, meaning if we have salvation), he can successfully get us to take our eyes of Christ and onto ourselves.  That’s the last place our eyes should be.  They should be completely and forever glued to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith!  Try looking at Jesus AND yourself at the same time.  I triple dog dare ya!  You can’t do it.

If Satan wants to accuse you of sin, agree with him, confess it to the Lord and move on.  If Jesus is not condemning you, how do you justify condemning yourself?  Jesus goes to bat for you as your Advocate against Satan.  Yet, too many people are not only agreeing with Satan about our sin (that’s fine), but also agreeing with everything he says about us!  He’s a liar and a murderer.  I am saved by grace!  I am a new creature.  All things are past and everything is new.  I walk in the newness of Life through the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit.

When God looks at me, He sees Christ’s righteousness.  For those who take sin so lightly that it makes no impact on their lives, I contend that they do not know Jesus in the first place, because He will not allow that attitude to continue in one of His own.

Look for more on this very important topic.

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Future Sins: Forgiven or Not? Earthquake of Revelation 6

2 Comments

  • 1. p  |  August 23, 2011 at 6:04 AM

    This is so true. the guilt of beating yourself up is PARALYZING. You just can’t move forward. I grew up under this kind of law and still struggle to see myself as God sees me.

    Like

    • 2. modres  |  August 23, 2011 at 10:20 AM

      It is tragic, isn’t it? People who – under the guise of Lordship Salvation – are intent on being masochistic about our relationship to God really do not seem to understand the value of His love, in my opinion. I keep going back to the Prodigal Son and the father’s reaction to his young son. It was anything but judgmental.

      Like


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