Lordship salvation

Lordship salvation

Lordship Salvation is a teaching in Christian theology that maintains good works are a necessary consequence of being declared righteous before God. [cite web| url=http://audio.gracechurch.org/filetransfer.asp?id=2624&fn=Lordship%20Salvation.pdf&url=http://www.gracechurch.org/home/doclib.asp&ministry_id=1 |accessdate=2008-01-09 |title=Lordship Salvation |publisher=Grace Community Church Adapted from John MacArthur's writings on the subject.] In other words, Jesus cannot be considered a person's savior (that is, bringer of salvation) without simultaneously being lord of the person's life, which is demonstrated by the gradual purification from sin and the exercising of good works (for instance, caring for widows and orphans, James [http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Jas+1:27 1:27] ). The teaching is advocated in many of the creeds of Protestantism, but is not universally accepted. Advocates and opponents of the doctrine within Protestantism all agree that acceptance before God is through faith alone by grace alone, but they differ on whether true justification can ever be followed by a life of indifference or even apostasy.

The opposing position is often called Free Grace theology, and those who are putatively saved but have no works are termed "carnal Christians."

History of the debate

In the mid-20th century Reformed scholars began to question whether the opposing could even be considered "Christian" [A.W. Tozer, "The Knowledge of the Holy", Harper Collins, 1961] and if the Gospel of the new evangelical culture was even the true gospel. [J. I. Packer, "Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God", Inter-Varsity Press, 1961]

Dispensationist leaders, many of whom advocated a notion of "carnal Christianity," were slow to respond to this observation, especially given their recent experience separating from dispensational fundamentalists, an experience not shared by Reformed evangelicals. [George Marsden, "Reforming Fundamentalism", Eerdmans Publishing Company, March 1995] Figures of the Reformed tradition and their historical dispute with Arminian Protestants over a person's participatory role in salvation, a debate which many Calvinists identify with the original sin issue Augustine wrote of in his polemics against the British monk Pelagius, gave Reformed scholars and church leaders an intellectual tradition from which to oppose what they considered a false gospel. [David F. Wells, "Reformed Theology in America: A History of Its Modern Development", Baker Academic, 1997, p. 17]

The first known use of the term "lordship salvation" occurred in a 1959 debate in "Eternity" magazine between Presbyterian Everett F. Harrison, a professor at Fuller Theological Seminary, and John Stott, an Anglican theologian. The controversy moved to the forefront of the evangelical world in the late 1980s when Calvinist John F. MacArthur argued against the doctrine of carnal Christianity in his book "The Gospel According to Jesus" (ISBN 0-310-39491-0). In response, in 1989, Charles Ryrie published "So Great Salvation" and Zane C. Hodges published "Absolutely Free! A Biblical Reply to Lordship Salvation". Both MacArthur's and Hodges's books were published by Zondervan. MacArthur later published "Faith Works" (1993) and Hodges released a second edition of his earlier title, "The Gospel Under Siege" in 1989. John Piper moved the argumentfact|date=June 2008 by clarifying why good works are necessary – not only for faith to be real, as MacArthur argued, but also for final salvation from Hell. [ [http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/Sermons/ByDate/1996/955_The_Danger_of_Drifting_from_the_Word/ "The Danger of Drifting From the Word"] , John Piper, "Desiring God" Website] Lou Martuneac's "In Defense of the Gospel: Biblical Answers to Lordship Salvation" (2006) is the most recent contribution to the debate.

The Grace Evangelical Society, founded in 1986, and the Free Grace Alliance, founded in 2004, exist to advance Free Grace soteriological views. In recent years the Grace Evangelical Society (GES) has adopted a reductionist view of the Gospel commonly known as the "Crossless Gospel." Because of this view the GES no longer represents the generally accepted and broader base of Free Grace theology.

Free Grace theology

When Evangelicals such as Hodges, Ryrie, Chuck Swindoll, Charles Stanley, Norman Geisler, and Bill Bright denied that Reformed soteriology was biblically superior to the Dispensational view, and since the term "Dispensationalism" denoted a broad hermeneutic and philosophy of history, they called their own view "Free Grace" theology.

The Free Grace view posits that salvation is a gift of divine grace whereby the recipient is declared righteous before God on account of Jesus' atonement and righteous life, and that God's declaration of righteousness is unaffected by the future behavior of the saved person. The Free Grace consensus, however, is that sanctification is an "inevitable" part of every Christian's life [cite journal |author=Zane Hodges |url=http://www.faithalone.org/journal/1990ii/Hodges.html |title=We Believe in: Assurance of Salvation |journal=Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society |volume=3 |issue=2 |year=1990 |pages=p. 7 |quote=Of course, there is every reason to believe that there will be good works in the life of each believer in Christ. The idea that one may believe in Him and live for years totally unaffected by the amazing miracle of regeneration, or by the instruction and/or discipline of God his heavenly Father, is a fantastic notion—even bizarre. We reject it categorically.] [cite journal |author=Bob Wilkin |title=Are Good Works Inevitable?|quote=Reformed theologians suggest that good works are the inevitable result of the new birth. All believers will produce good works, they say. Some people from the Lordship Salvation position seem to think that we in the Free Grace camp deny such teaching. While GES has no specific statement directly on this point, most members of GES would not have a problem with the above statement—at least in terms of what it actually says. |journal=Grace in Focus |month=February | year=1990] [cite book |Charles Ryrie |title=So Great Salvation |quote=Every Christian will bear spiritual fruit. Somewhere, sometime, somehow. Otherwise that person is not a believer. Every born-again individual will be fruitful. Not to be fruitful is to be faithless, without faith, and therefore without salvation.citequote|date=August 2007] and that good works are outward evidence (especially to the unsaved world) that God is at work in a person's life and that the person is truly following Christ. But the Free Grace position rules out seeing good works as evidence of one's own salvation. For this, they would argue, one can only look to the sufficiency of him who provides eternal life to the person who believes in him. Free Grace proponents further point to the way apostasy is treated by the New Testament writers whom they understand to teach that apostasy suggests, not an unregenerate nature as Lordship proponents teach, but a failure and a "wandering from the truth". [GES 2007 Conference, Bob Wilkin, Address on Apostasy] Essentially, the Free Grace view is that the New Testament writers are quick to call on believers to question whether they are truly following Christ as "disciples," but these writers never encourage the person who is trusting Christ for eternal life to doubt his or her born again status. [Zane Hodges, "The Gospel Under Siege 2nd ed", 1992]

Miles J. Stanford goes further in suggesting that "Lordship salvation ... rightly insists upon repentance, but wrongly includes a change of "behavior" ... in order to be saved. No one questions that there must be a sincere change of mind, a turning from oneself to the Savior; but Lordship advocates attempt to make behavior and fruit [that is, good works] essential "ingredients" of, rather than "evidence" of, saving faith." [cite web|author=Miles J. Stanford |title=Review of John MacArthur's "The Gospel According to Jesus" |url=http://withchrist.org/MJS/gospelaccord.pdf |accessdate=2008-01-09|format=PDF] Stanford's views, however, go beyond the GES.

Lordship critique of their opposition

Among other arguments against their opponents, the Free Grace view is considered "carnal Christianity" by Lordship leaders because those who live carnally (in biblical terms, "indulging the flesh", that is living in gross, habitual sin) and who currently show no "fruit" (that is, no evidence of a converted heart) are thought of as having equal rights to assurance as far more active disciples, since they have been taught that they are saved because Christ offers eternal life to anyone who believes in Him for it.

The Free Grace position is also called "cheap grace" by critics. By way of comparison, proponents of Lordship salvation claim that true salvation necessarily produces a desire for sanctification and living a righteous life. For them, it is not a matter of undoing what God has done, but of following the natural desires of the truly regenerated heart, and if those desires are not present, then it is evidence that the person is not truly saved.

Relevant Bible passages

Several Bible passages (the following are from the New International Version) are frequently used to support Lordship Salvation. Advocates of Lordship Salvation argue that these passages appear to unequivocally demand sanctification, or "holiness", as an essential part of being a follower of Christ, and by implication, a regenerate person. Advocates of Free Grace theology understand all of these quotations (with the possible exception of 2 Corinthians 5:17) as having a context in which the author is admonishing unfaithful but truly saved people to live their lives as an example to others faithfully in obedience to God's commands:

* John 14:15: "If you love me [Jesus] , you will obey what I command."
* Hebrews 12:14b: "Without holiness no one will see the Lord."
* Ephesians 5:5: "For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a man is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God."
* 1 Corinthians 6:9-10: "Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God."
* James 2:14,17: "What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? ...faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead."
* 1 Peter 1:15-16: "But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: 'Be holy, because I am holy.'"
* 1 John 2:3-6: "We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, 'I know him,' but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did."
* 1 John 3:6-9: "No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.... Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. He who does what is sinful is of the devil.... No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God."
* Romans 8:5-8: "For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God."
*Romans 6:1-2a: "What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means!"
*2 Corinthians 5:17: "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!"


ee also

* Perseverance of the saints

External links

* [http://www.gty.org/media/pdf/Lordship_Salvation.pdf "Lordship Salvation"] by John MacArthur (advocating Lordship salvation)
* [http://www.gty.org/Resources/Articles/2263 "A 15-Year Retrospective on the Lordship Controversy"] by John MacArthur
* [http://www.monergism.com/directory/link_category/Lordship-of-Christ/ A directory of articles] advocating Lordship salvation from Monergism.com
* [http://jesus-is-lord.com/lordship.htm Lordship Salvation] article leaning heavily upon Biblical references to defend this doctrine against Antinomians.

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