Recent Experience with Lordship Salvation

I had never come across the concept of “Lordship Salvation” until a few years ago. My first encounter with “Lordship Salvation” was a simulcast  ata church I was involved in.

It was David Platt and Francis Chan.  Apparently they’re very popular in some Christian Circles now.   When I heard their speaking I was troubled.

Taking the sermon on the mount as a “performance measure” they indicated that a Christian and Disciple were synonymous terms.  To be a Christian and not be a disciple was not possible, and if you were not a disciple, there was a good chance you were not a Christian.  Therefore, they said, many “Christians” are Christians in name only, having deceived themselves.

I agree that there are many Christians who are Christians in name only.  But when it gets down to it, you find that many do not believe the Gospel.  Salvation comes to us because we have heard a message and believed it under the Holy Spirit’s conviction and enlightening.  The simple  message is that Jesus died for our sins according to the scriptures and was raised from the dead for our justification.  When the Holy Spirit convicts us of this reality, we believe with our hearts that God raised Him from the dead and confess the Lord Jesus with our mouth and we are saved(Rom 10:9-10).

The heart believes unto righteousness (which the same right standing that Jesus has with God and is given to us as a gift)  and the mouth confesses unto salvation. The scripture says that none who believe in Him will be disappointed and all who call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

I have been in and out of many things as a Christian, and have seen much failure and defeat, many trials, much suffering and also persecution.  However, the one thing that has never changed has been my faith.  From the day I believed, that faith has been there.

This is because the Spirit in me testifies that God is true and continually bears witness in my heart that I have received eternal life (1 John 5:10.  Sometimes when I have looked at my life, at my works, at my sins, I have come into doubt that I was saved, and that maybe I didn’t really believe fully, but I never doubted that Jesus died on the cross for my sins and rose again for my justification.

No matter how weak my faith was, or how it was assailed with accusations and doubts, I couldn’t “unbelieve” these facts if I tried.  This is the work of God.

Salvation is entirely of the Lord, and not of works, so that no man can boast.  Paul says “He who works NOT, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted to him as righteousness.”

So I had a real problem with the message that Francis Chan and David Platt gave based on what I already knew about salvation.  We should not  look inward at ourselves too much for assurance of salvation, we should look to what we believe, which sets the focus where it belongs – on Christ and His finished work.

A couple of months after the simulcast, the church mandated the materials that had been produced for “discipleship” by David Platt and Francis Chan.  It really felt “off” to me. But it was a mixture, hard to pin down.

They spoke the language of faith in Christ, grace, and salvation being of the Lord.  Yet all of their questioning and admonition led the believer to focus on themselves and what they’re doing.

I tried talking to a pastor about it but could not put my finger on it.  He said “see, they’re talking about grace and faith here.  This isn’t works salvation.”  And at the time I had to admit “yes I can see that”, but it still felt “wrong” and I was confused.

So I started digging into the matter – who  these guys are and what is their background. that’s when I learned about “Lordsihp” salvation.  To put it in a nutshell, this is very much like the roman catholic view of salvation.

They speak the language of grace and faith, but faith means something different. They say that mere “mental assent” to a list of “facts” about Jesus is not enough to qualify as saving faith. We must count the cost, surrender ourselves fully, turn from all known sin, and commit ourselves entirely to Christ.

Basically they load the word “faith” and make it into a work. They say that those who believe the simple gospel as I believe it are just into “easy believism”.  They say we’re just lazy and want to get out of obedience to Christ, and have not fully surrendered to Him as Lord, or “made Him the Lord of our life.”

In the end, it is all on you.  Have you surrendered ENOUGH?  Have you really turned from “all known sin”?  Have you really made Jesus Lord of EVERY area of your life?  If not, you might not even be saved – you might be deceived.

So this “Lordship Salvation” message is a direct attack on the believers assurance of salvation.  They say you can’t look to the message you have believed for assurance, even though John said “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.”

The message of Lordship salvation attacks the assurance of salvation by focusing the believer’s attention on works, rather than on Christ.

The sublety of the message is that it is rooted in the synoptic gospels and on the words of Jesus Christ.  For those who are not aware of dispensational distinctions, they will be convinced that it is Biblical.

This teaching is flourishing in ground where certain distinctions that have come about as a result of the finished work of the cross have not been taught.

For instance, there is nothing in the sermon on the mount that teaches about justification by faith by believing in the finished work of Christ.  (That message is found in Romans, often called the “5th Gospel” or “Paul’s Gospel”)

This message was not clearly and fully proclaimed until after Jesus was resurrected.  Paul says that this is because it needed to remain a mystery (because if the principalities and princes of this world had known and understood the result of it they would never have crucified the Lord!) (1 Cor 2:8).

The message of Jesus to the Jews in His earthly life was given by One who lived under the law to those who were also under law.  He used the law of Moses to convict their conscience and to show them their need of a salvation.

He was preparing them to believe and trust in Him after He had been raised from the dead, while keeping the nature of His work a secret until it had been accomplished.

When we read the Gospels, we need to read them in the light of what Paul reveals to us about how to be saved.  Peter says we need to be established in the “present truth (2 Peter 1:12)”

Often the teachings of Jesus in the Gospels are presented apart from an understanding of the impact of His Work on the cross, and this leads to great loss and confusion among Christians. Lordship Salvation finds great entrance where the focus is not placed on the finished work of Christ!




I recommend the following read


  1. Damon D.

    I have experienced stumbling over Lordship when the book Not a Fan came to the church i was visiting. Watch out for this one too. It has similar messages. Also when researching Lordship Salvation I came across a great blog (i think is the spelling). A retired preacher set it up and they breakdown LS topics quite well and reach out to LS followers that come to the blog.
    Thanks for your thoughts here at your blog.
    Damon D

  2. Henry

    “We must count the cost, surrender ourselves fully, turn from all known sin, and commit ourselves entirely to Christ.”

    We are not justified on the basis of counting the cost, surrendering ourselves, turning from all known sin, and committing entirely to Christ. Those things do not make us deserve salvation. They don’t get us into heaven. Those things are the consequences of receiving a new nature. When God regenerates a person, he will exhibit those things as a result of his new nature, but those things don’t actually save that person. Jesus alone saves people.

    • seekingtoknowhim

      well said!

      and we also learn that the purpose of “counting the cost” is merely to realize that we don’t have what it takes – the demand is too high, it must be Christ to step in. Even in our new nature, we live entirely dependent on Him.

    • alexander

      nobody is saved “surrendering all” whatever that subjective term means…you’re confused like all lordship salvation people….many verses in the bible you interpret thru the lens of your own verses like “die to self” “go and sin no more” mortify the deeds of the flesh” etc etc you interpret as mans works…die to self = not relying on works….deeds of the flesh = works…when jesus told the woman to “go and sin no more” he was telling her she was saved and forgiven…that was not a carnal instruction…it was a declaration of her being forgiven…ALL CHRISTIANS [if they’re real born again believers] GO AND SIN NO MORE…you know why ??? NOT under the law that’s why,,,,sinning no more has nothing to do with an imaginary moral improvement or the catholic def of “repent”…this is why a Christian CAN’T SIN>>

      Rom 4:8 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.

      Rom 10:4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.

      Rom 4:15 Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression.

      Rom 5:13 (For until the law sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.

      Heb 10:17 And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.

      I can on and on with scripture here but that’s the reason….sin matters still… just doesn’t COUNT…if you’re in Christ that is and don’t believe in works…if you still hang on to works IE lordship salvation, catholiscism, Pentecostalism etc,…well you’re going to hell for believing their false gospels of mans righteousness. instead of the finished work of Christ.

  3. savdbygrace77

    This is a well written article. It’s something that I’m dealing with right now. Most reformed churches hold to the “lordship salvation” doctrine. It’s so suttle but that’s why it’s so deceptive. Anything we add to faith( which is not by our own selves), is works no matter how you spin it.

  4. Brady

    Excellent article. Well supported by scripture and much needed in this Christian culture that is soaked in salvation by works thinking.

  5. jeri bell

    I object to your valuation of the teaching of Paul – who spent no time with Christ on earth – over the words of Christ. As we will be judged by the words of Christ one day, and not by the words of Paul, I think it is dangerous to make light of Christ’s teaching and imply that the full gospel was not known, nor fully given, until Paul came along.
    Jesus showed that obedience is expected of all those who call him “Lord” when he said, Why do you call me Lord, but don’t do the things that I say? Therefore, whoever comes to me and hears my sayings, and does them, is like a wise man who built his house upon a foundation of bedrock: when the floods beat upon that house, it was not shaken. But he who comes to me, hears my sayings, and does not do them, is like a fool who built his house on sand; when the stream beat against that house, it immediately fell, and it’s ruin was great, Lu. 6:46-49 and Mt. 7:19-27. Each man shares the fate of his house, for men build houses to live in. John chapter 14 (all) and 15:1-14 are very clear that obedience is imperative for our final salvation, and after Paul has made his case for justification through faith in Christ (Romans chapters 3, 4, and 5), he yet says that we must not let sin reign (rule) in our mortal bodies, for if we do we will die (spiritually) – the end being eternal destruction, Ro. 6:11-16, 8:1-14 (KJV), 11:19-22, 13:14, 15:18, Gal. 5:19-21, 6:7-8, Eph. 5:3-7, Col. 3:5-6, I Co. 6:9-10, etc. Peter also attests to this possibility, warning us to abstain from fleshly lusts because they war against our very soul, I Pet. 2:11. Paul, in the above listed verses, repeatedly warns Christians that if they willfully continue to commit the sins of the flesh, they will not enter the kingdom of God; they will fall under God’s wrath along with the wicked, (and note that in all of Paul’s sin lists, sexual sin and idolatry is always at the top of the list). Paul doesn’t pooh-pooh the fornicator in the church at Corinth (chptr. 5) – he says, Throw the man out! He is outside of the Church because his conduct shows him to be in rebellion against Christ, regardless of what he “believes.” This expulsion is for two purposes: that the man may repent and recover himself, and that his sin may not spread through the rest of the Church by example. Paul says Christ is our Passover Lamb – therefore, we are to be unleavened and keep the feast (Passover, Unleavened Bread, see Ex. 12:1-24) in sincerity (leaven correlates to sin and wickedness).
    These are the things Chan is trying to present.
    *There is typically misunderstanding concerning Paul’s use of “works” in his writings (as to what he refers to by the term), but there can be no denying that Paul taught the necessity of conformity to the will of God as that which accurately reflects our salvation, however you want to term it. When Paul preached to Felix concerning “faith in Christ.” he stressed the need for righteousness and self-control, for there is a coming judgment by God, Acts 24:24-25, and he told the Athenians that God now commands all men everywhere to repent of sin, Acts 17:30, and he says he has testified to both the Jews and the Greeks the need for repentance from sin AND faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, Acts 20:21.

    • DaveFromSTL

      To object to the valuation of the teaching of Paul “over the words of Christ” reflects a failure to discern that all scripture is God breathed. Jesus Christ is the author of the scriptures, whether its through Moses, Jesus or Paul, it’s all the Word, and the Word is Christ Himself, and His revelation of Himself is progressive in time.

      He came in flesh, in weakness as a servant – as a minister to the circumicision to reach the lost sheep of the house of Israel, to confirm the promises He made to their fathers (Romans 15:8), concerning their Kingdom. but then He went to the cross to carry out His redemptive work, and to be resurrected and to ascend to the right hand of God as a glorified God Man.

      Having been raised from the dead and now having sat down at the right hand of God after purging our sins by Himself, being fully glorified and having received all power, He sent forth His Spirit. Through His Spirit, as He had promised in John 14-16, He began to reveal more of what His followers could not “previously bear” while He was on the earth, and to further lead the Church into truth. It is as the Heavenly, ascended, enthroned Christ that He began to dispense truth concerning the nature of what Had been accomplished in His death, burial and resurrection – to the Church, especially through Paul.

      Incidentally the words He spoke to Paul are every bit as binding as the words He spoke on earth. If you distinguish them and say Paul’s words are not the words of Christ, then your canon of scripture is different than mine.

      ” Paul was given a dispensation of God “to complete the word of God” by revealing a mystery which had been hidden from previous generations but now made known – (Christ IN you, the hope of glory).

      Col 1:25 Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God;
      Col 1:26 Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:
      Col 1:27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

      Paul clearly let us know that he was specifically given a revelation concerning mysteries that had been previously hidden – related to Christ and the Church, His Body, and Paul’s writings were his revelation which were given to him BY the resurrected Christ.

      He commended the Thessalonians for not receiving his word as the word of men, but the word of God.

      1Th_2:13 For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.

      Paul did not consult the apostles in the flesh, nor did he receive his gospel from men, but received it directly by revelation. (Galatians 1:11-24) the resurrected Christ revealed truths to Paul that He had not previously been able to reveal, (1 Cor 2:8-7, John 16:12-13) without which we would not have the gospel. Incidentally, Paul called this “My Gospel” – because there was a body of truth that he specifically was chosen to reveal to the Church, and we will be judged by Paul’s Gospel: “Rom_2:16 In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.”

      Without Paul’s writings we do not have the identification truths –
      our identification with Christ in His death(Gal 2:20)
      , our burial with Him, (Rom 6:4;Col 2:12)
      our resurrection with Him(same verses as well as any others),
      all of which transferred us out of Adam, and into Christ (Romans 5 and 1 Cor 15:22) -,
      our identification wtih Christ in His ascension, where we are seated with Him in the heavenlies (col 3:1-4; Ephesians 2:6) .

      Without Paul we do not have the principalities and powers stripped off, the body of sin put off, the handwriting of ordinances blotted out, and the creation of the new man in Christ,(Col 2:10-14) nor do we have the revelation of the Church as the Body of Christ.(Eph 1:23; Eph 2:16). We also don’t have the translation, transfiguration and rapture of the Church by the resurrected life of Christ that indwells her and the putting on of incorruptible bodies at the time of His coming. (1 Cor 15:51-54; Phil 3:21; 1 Th 4:16).

      There are numerous other items related to the Gospel and the Church that were uniquely Paul’s to reveal, without which you do not have any power to “obey Christ.”

      It is in Paul’s writings that we learn a new way of life, which is according to the New Creation of God, which involves putting off the old man, reckoning the body dead to sin, walking by the Spirit and mortifing the deeds of the body – all of this is carried out by a growing faith in the FACTS that are contained in Paul’s unique body of revelation (that again was given to him by the resurrected Christ Himself).

      If you don’t have Paul’s revelation of the new creation, and the truth of the indwelling Spirit of Life, you have no capacity to deal with the flesh and its works. You don’t have any way to understand the difference between the flesh and the spirit. You won’t know how to walk by the Spirit through the hearing of faith. You’ll be left with the walk of trying to be perfected in the flesh (gal 3:1-5) (to keep the law by the power of the flesh, which brings you under its curse.(Gal 3:10).

      To walk in the spirit, (Gal 5:16) to put to death the deeds of the body,(Romans 8:13) to reckon one self by faith “dead to sin” (Rom 6:11) and also “dead to the law”(Romans 7:4; Gal 2:19) and to present oneself as alive from the dead to God (Rom 6:13) – These are things that ONLY SAVED people can do!

      In order to have a true spiritual life before God that manifests Christ, you must have received the Spirit (Romans 8:15, 1 Cor 2:12) and you have to be indwelt by the Spirit, (1 Cor 3:16), to walk in the Spirit. This is what happens when you believe the gospel. when you believe, you receive the Spirit of promise, who seals you unto the day, guaranteeing the redemption of your body (Eph 1:13; Eph 4:30; Romans 8:23).

      All of the above is “Pauline” truth. Only those who believe in the Gospel that Paul preached concerning justification and imputed righteousness – that “He who knew no sin became sin on our behalf that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor 5:21) will understand the other “new creation” truths Paul revealed, because they are spiritually discerned (1 Cor 2:14).

      In order to walk in the Spirit, one must have ACCSESS to the spirit, which is what Justification is for. You must have the righteousness enables you to stand in the Holy of Holies. Only the spotless righteousness of Christ qualifies you to receive the Spirt and live by Him. This also comes to us through Paul’s gospel which uniquely reveals the nature of justification and imputed righteousness.

      The Gospel tells us that Jesus died for our sins according to the scriptures and rose for our justification.(Romans 4:25) That justification grants us the free gift of righteousness to be received by faith. (Romans 5:17) This righteousness is not human righteousness of law keeping and obedience ( we have already been judged as failures and transgressors by that standard (Romans 3:19-20). It is the very righteousness of God, which was witnessed by the law and the prophets, but is now manifested upon those who believe in Jesus, who are justified freely by His grace in Christ (Romans 3:21-24). Incidentally, this righteous is for those who “work not but believe on Him that justifies the ungodly” . That faith is credited to them as righteousness (Romans 4:5).

      This righteousness is the righteousness that exceeds that of the pharisees, and qualifies for the kingdom and for the inheritance (Matthew 5:20;Col 1:12-14; Romans 4:13-15). When we receive that free gift, we are identified with Christ – even baptized into His death. It’s not that we escape judgment, we were judged and died with Him, but He tasted death for us. He died the death we could not die – a death to sin once for all. (Romans 6:10.) when we believe the Gospel, the Spirit joins us to Him. God credits us as having died in His death, but our entrance into that death was after its suffering. We were buried into that death that already happened. Now that crucified, resurrected Christ comes to us and joins Himself to our spirit, so that we are “one spirit”, and the effectiveness of his death and the reality of His resurrection are now within us as the Spirit. We are now one spirit with Him (1 Cor 6:17), and our bodies are members of Christ (1 Cor 6:15). Furthermore, we are already seated with Him in the heavenlies as far as our position is concerned, and we are considered “complete in Him” who has brougth us into this process.(Col 2:10).

      Now because of our union with the Lord in Spirit, we have the capacity to bear in our bodies the “dying of the lord jesus” so that “his life may also be manifested in our bodies” (2 Cor 4:10)” as well as to walk in the newness of life. (Romans 6:4). But we are not automatons, and we grow in the knowledge of His grace and how these things work. This is a whole new reality that we have been baptized into, and we must hear and learn before we can believe. The whole thing works by faith. Meanwhile, we still have our flesh, and it can manifest everything ugly that it always could. We retain our free will, and can mind the things fo the flesh, (Rom 8;5) and walk after the flesh, (Gal 5:16) and we need to be renewed in the spirit of our mind (Eph 4:23; Romans 12:1-3) in order to have the mind of the spirit and be governed by the law of the spirit of life (Romans 8:1-2) who can quicken our mortal body and manifest his virtue in us. (Romans 8:11)

      None of the above truths can be enjoyed or applied by someone who is not saved and secure in their salvation.
      Those things come AFTER we establish our assurance in Christ and know that we are secure in Him.

      Because you’re so fully convinced and want to argue AGAINST the gospel in its simplicity and clarity, and to deny the distinctive of Paul’s ministry, I’m quite aware I’m not going to be the one to convince you otherwise, nor will I waste any further time trying. Everything I wrote above is “Pauline” and I write it only to give my readers (if there are any out there) a glimpse into some of the truths that are UNIQUE to Paul’s ministry. If you took Paul’s writings out of the Bible you wouldn’t have any of those truths fully laid out.

      Sadly right now as it stands you have no assurance of savlation and none to offer, because you cannot guarantee that you will “obey Christ” to the end and not fall into some sin, which you believe will damn you for eternity. There’s no hope in your position, and no joy. I’m not going to go through all the verses that you’ve presented to show that in most cases they mean something other than what you’re presenting, because you won’t listen. The easy one to address is the man in Corinth. He was to be disciplined, even turned over to satan for the destruction of the flesh “so that his spirit might be saved in the day of Christ.” (1 Cor 5:5). Thank the Lord, He also repented and was able to continue living and be restored to fellowship. (2 Cor 2:7-10). There are consequences here on earth for believers who sin, and we reap what we sow. We may die early (1 Cor 11:30), and at the judgment seat, we may suffer loss of reward, and be saved “yet though as through fire.”(1 Cor 3:15)

      Still, faith in Christ grants us eternal life,(Tit 3:7) and we shall not persih or be plucked out of His hand (John 10:28). Because of that eternal life, we participate in the first resurrection, which puts us at a different judgment seat than the sheep/goat judgment in Matthew 25, and the Great White throne judgment at the end of revelation. Instead we meet our bridegroom in the air in our new incorruptible body, and there we will receive rewards (or suffer loss) based on our work as believers. But, we ourselves will be saved, even if “as by fire.” This is all Pauline truth related to the “mystery which had been hidden from previous generations” (Romans 16:25). Chan and many others are confused and put the Church at the judgment of the sheep/goat nations in Matthew 25, or at the Great White throne at the end of Revelation, not realizing that there are several different distinct judgements. This happens because they allegorize some of these literal passages, and do not consistently distinguish between Israel and the Church, which is rooted in a failure to discern the distinct nature of Paul’s ministry and the revelation of the Mystery .

  6. Jonathan

    For me, i notice a trend around me in my church that quite a lot of people around my age (i am 30 btw) are really into the “young, restless and reformed” movement. I had a friend who introduced me to John Piper’s desiring God book and when i read it my impression was that Piper seemed very devoted to the deep things of God but my inner spirit felt something was not quite right with the way things are being expressed. After going deep into theology, i eventually learnt that the reason why I was disturbed was because Piper’s a hard core calvinist and has the same hard ball lordship salvation rhetoric as platt when it comes to soteriology. I therefore made every effort to stay clear away from all these authors who have such soteriologies and prefer the more moderate/gracious rhetorics of authors like RT Kendall, Chuck Swindoll and Charles Ryrie

    • DaveFromSTL

      yeah. I spent some time among the young coffee house calvinists who basically seem to enjoy it as a sense of identity. it was an intellectual exercise, and they were extremely conceited with it. i would describe them as practically backslidden though. their minds were occupied with politics and calvinism, but it was bascially just a counterculture rebellion against their parents who lived in the suburbs, who they viewed as consumeristic false christians. they did not have a heart for the lord at all.

      I recommend Newell’s verse by verse commentary on Romans, Lewis Sperry Chafer’s writings as well. very edifying.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s