“The Lordship Controversy Revisited Pt. 1”
Pastor Mike Wing
Grace Community Bible Church
There has been an ongoing battle within the evangelical community over the years that continues to rear its ugly head. This doctrinal issue is most often referred to as “Lordship Salvation.” ( A term that I do not believe accurately reflects the position of those who adhere to it. ). At its heart are several questions such as; is repentance a necessary part of salvation? Can a person be truly saved and continue to live in rebellion against the Lord He professes? Can a person be a Christian but not be a disciple? In a paper this size, it will be impossible to set forth and discuss each item of concern in detail. But, I would like to explain briefly my understanding of the gospel and its fruits. This is necessary to refute those who often misrepresent the “Lordship” view.
1. We are saved by grace. God’s grace can be defined as His blessings bestowed upon those who do not deserve it. Man is a sinner by nature and by deed and is utterly helpless in changing his spiritual condition. “Can the Ethiopian change his skin Or the leopard his spots? Then you also can do good Who are accustomed to doing evil. ” (Jer. 13:23) . Left to our own, we would continue in our spiritual blindness (Rom. 3:11, II Cor. 4:4), unable to comprehend the gospel (I Cor. 2:14) and dead in our trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1). “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), ” (Eph. 2:4-5) “But we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they also are.” (Acts 15:11) Scripture is clear that if any aspect of our salvation was dependent upon our good works or our deserving of this gift, we would remain “without hope.” (Eph. 2:12). Every aspect of our salvation is the direct result of God’s gracious working in the lives of those who were His enemies (Jas. 4:4). “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. ” (Eph. 2:8-9)
2. Repentance is a work of God that occurs with genuine salvation. To repent is to turn away from something. It refers to a change of mind about Christ and what He has accomplished for us through His death, burial and resurrection (Phil 3:7,8). Biblical repentance does not involve man changing his behavior so as to make himself ready for salvation!!! Rather, repentance is a work of God whereby He changes man’s heart toward the truth and results in a willingness and ability to obey that truth. There can be nosalvation if there is no repentance. “Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, ” (Acts 17:30) Those who refuse to repent will face God’s judgment. “Men were scorched with fierce heat; and they blasphemed the name of God who has the power over these plagues, and they did not repent so as to give Him glory. ” (Rev. 16:9) It must be made clear that even this repentance is a gracious work of God in the life of those whom He is saving and not some work men must do to earn their salvation! “with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, ” (2 Tim. 2:25).
3. Genuine salvation involves a spiritual transformation. It is my belief that this is the key to the ongoing misunderstanding. Those who oppose the “Lordship” view of salvation believe that a person can be saved from the guilt of their sins but never be delivered from the bondage of their sin. In other words, while experiencing forgiveness for our sins, a believer is not necessarily assured victory over sins on a daily basis. What they fail to grasp is that in salvation, God transforms the individual and makes him a new creation that has both the desire and the ability to live in obedience to Him as revealed in His word. “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. ” (2 Cor. 5:17; Rom. 6; Tit. 3:3-7)
4. This transformation is reflected in behavior of the individual. Theologically this is known as “Sanctification” and speaks of the fact that we have been set apart by God from those who still live in rebellion against Him. We are set apart from judgment (Rom. 8:1), we are to be set apart in our affections and behavior and we are set apart to enjoy the blessings that come from having a personal relationship with God through faith in Christ (Eph. 2:13). The apostle Paul makes it clear that this transformation will have a direct impact upon the way you live your life. “that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. ” (Eph. 4:22-24) . Where such a transformation does not exist, there is no salvation.
5. Jesus is Lord. Jesus is God in the flesh and therefore that has all right to rule His creation, including mankind. Our sin is a reflection of our innate rebellion against the Lordship of Christ. But a sinner’s denial of God’s rule does not negate that rule. Jesus is Lord, and one day every human being ever created will acknowledge that (Phil. 2:9-11). When a person is graciously saved and divinely transformed, he repents of that rebellion and submits to the Lordship of Christ.
This does not discount the reality of sin in a believer’s life (I Jn. 1:8;2:1), but does make it clear that in saving faith, God has created a new heart that desires to obey the Lord. Jesus addressed those who were following Him by asking them an important question.“Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? ” (Lk. 6:46). John makes it clear when he says, “The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; ” (1 Jn. 2:4)
7. Where there is no evidence of transformation, no change of heart, no spiritual fruit, no growth … there should be a concern with the genuiness of that individual’s profession of faith. How can it be said that God has done a miraculous work in saving men from the guilt of their sins, but that same salvation is powerless to help overcome the bondage to sin? Clearly, the salvation that comes through faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ is ordained by God to free us from both the guilt and bondage of sin. “Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts,” (Rom. 6:11-12). “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” (Eph. 2:10) C.H. Spurgeon stated that “If the professed convert distinctly and deliberately declares that he knows the Lord’s will, but does not mean to attend to it, you are not to pamper his presumptions, but it is your duty to assure him that he is not saved.” Paul warned Titus about the deceiving, unbelieving individuals who were threatening the church. “They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed.” (Tit. 1:16). Paul also warned the saints at Corinth, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, ” (1 Cor. 6:9). Christ Himself gave this warning to the disciples, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. ” (Mat. 7:21)
My desire is to faithfully proclaim the pure gospel that is the power of God unto salvation (Rom. 1:16). This gospel saves men from sin by calling them to repentance and faith in Christ and results in a transformed life that will show itself in an ever increasing conformity to the image of Christ. All of this is possible only by the grace of God and will end with the saints persevering until that time in which they are glorified (Rom. 8:29,30; Jude 24). This gospel displays God’s mercy, His grace and His power to transform the lives of those who were dead in their trespasses and sins. And it is for this gospel that we must earnestly contend (Jude 1:3).
In the next month’s “Pastor’s Perspective” we will look at some of the “Straw Men” arguments that have been erected by those who would take the opposing view in this discussion concerning the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to give me a call.
Pastor Mike Wing
Grace Community Bible Church