What is Lordship salvation?
Lordship salvation is the false doctrine that states, “If you get out of faith or do not produce good works, you lose your eternal life, or you have never been saved at all.”
They use “faith that works,” not “works that save,” which is a charming saying, but let’s look at what the Bible says.
Why is Lordship salvation so dangerous?
The danger with this doctrine which is pertinent to one’s salvation is that it’s making a believer who may have already showed genuine repentance for their sins, having true faith and calling Jesus Lord, doubt their own salvation and become stuck in a cycle of trying to prove themselves a true believer.
Not only does this person stop growing as a believer, if they’re convinced that they have to show works instead of trusting the finished work of Jesus Christ at the cross, they’re not going to be saved!
Who are the main teachers of Lordship salvation?
John Piper, John MacArthur, Ray Comfort, and Paul Washer all teach this heretical teaching. This is a doctrine that Bible believers must avoid.
Modern denominations including Methodists, Presbyterians are all teaching this now.
The Roman Catholic, Jehovah Witnesses, and Seventh Day Adventists teach the same thing, and yet these organizations will claim that they believe that they’re saved by faith.
What does the Bible say about eternal salvation?
There is only one condition for salvation, which is by grace through faith:
Romans 10:9-10 “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”
And if that’s not sufficient, we also have this Bible verse to show us that salvation by faith, and it cannot be of works.
Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”
In this article, we examine Lordship salvation in three parts:
- The Bible clearly says that salvation is through faith only, faith and works are separate
- The mistake of combining salvation and sanctification
- Debunking Lordship salvation
The Bible clearly says that salvation is through faith only, faith and works are separate
Here are five Bible verses that show that faith is separate from works. Therefore, the Bible is against Lordship salvation or the notion that “If you are saved, you must show works.”
It is so important to have this doctrine of salvation right and separated from the doctrine of sanctification.
1 ) Romans 11:6
Romans 11:6 “And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.”
Christians automatically cancel salvation by grace when they have works. They have to separate the two.
2) Romans 3:24-28
Another argument the Catholic church has is that they deny salvation by works, but because of the faith, they will have works. But, the Bible says that this faith has no works accompanied. The two are separate. The Devil’s people are getting craftier.
Romans 3:24-28 “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.“
3) Galatians 2:21
Let’s take a look at another solid verse for proof. If Christians believe that their works count or that they have to live a good Christian life, then Jesus died in vain. Jesus died for a reason, to save us.
Galatians 2: 21 “I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.”
4) Romans 4:4-5
If Christians choose to work, then God reckons it’s not of grace. God reckons it as debt. If they choose not to work, their faith is automatically counted for righteousness.
Romans 4:4-5 “Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”
5) Galatians 3: 10-12
Many churches will say, “If you’re saved, where are your works? You stopped reading the Bible, going to church, you were not saved to begin with.” However, the Bible says that those who are working are under the curse. They have to continue to work to keep their salvation.
Galatians 3: 10-12 “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.”
The mistake of combining sanctification and salvation
Colossians 1:21-23 “And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled. In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;”
The above is a famous passage that Lordship salvation proponents use to prove that Christians need to continue in faith.
Do Christians get salvation only when we are saved?
No, the nature of salvation is such that when Christians get saved in Jesus Christ, there are so many more benefits that we receive – sanctification (separation from sin to holiness – which is a process of works), blessings, justification, atonement, etc.
Once Christians accept Christ, they work through the faith to be sanctified. Sanctification and salvation are separate events. The mistake that Lordship salvation proponents make is to combine sanctification and salvation together, i.e. when a person is saved, he is sanctified too. Sanctification is a progress of works. Jesus Christ’s death on the cross allowed us to work for the King of Kings to be sanctified.
1 ) Sanctification is for the judgment seat of Christ (rewards, not hell)
1 Thessalonians 5:23 “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.“
If we look at the context above, sanctification is not preserving us to be blameless from hell, but it’s preserving us for the judgment seat of Christ. Therefore, if Christians are not sanctified or do not live a life of obedience, it’s not that they go to hell, since they are saved. They would lose rewards at the Judgement seat of Christ.
2) The aim of Christ to sanctify us is so that he may present himself a glorious church (not avoid hell)
Ephesians 5:25-27 “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.”
We will see that the verse in Colossians and Ephesians have the same application – we are to be sanctified that Jesus may present us holy and blameless at the Judgment seat of Christ. The judgment is not about our soul condemned in hell.
Salvation only has to do only with the soul. Sanctification is all 3 – it’s body, soul, and spirit as according to 1 Thessalonians 5.
3) Sanctification = body, Salvation = soul
2 Corinthians 5:10 “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.”
Sanctification’s judgment is done based on what the body does. Salvation’s judgment is on the soul.
4) Understand that the body and soul are separate
Colossians 2:11 “In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:”
As an unbeliever, the soul is attached to the body. So both body and soul are condemned. But when salvation happens, God cuts off something from saved believers. Their souls are cut off from their bodies that continue to sin. If they do not continue in good works, their souls are still saved. The two (body and soul) are separate.
The entire book of Colossians has the same theme – a saved Christian should continue to do good works, not to avoid hell, but for rewards. There was no reference to hell, but the connection was to reward and judgment at the Judgment Seat of Christ.
How to debunk Lordship salvation
Lordship salvation teaches that if Christians got saved by faith in the beginning, they will have works at the end. But let’s look at what Paul says.
Galatians 3:1-3 “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?”
If we have begun in faith, we end in faith. We do not end in works.
The proponents of Lordship salvation may use James 2: 17 to say that Christians need works in order to perfect their faith. If they continue to look at this entire passage, they have to admit that James is talking about a salvation that is wrought by works and faith. James 2 is also a direct contradiction to Galatians 3.
James 2: 17-26 “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”
Let’s attempt to resolve this contradiction by taking the word of God as it is written. Who is the book of James written to?
James 1:1 “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.”
James 5:3 “Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days.”
We will see it quite clearly that James was referring both to the 12 tribes of Israel (historical context) and the tribulation Jews (last days in the future). This matches what the tribulation saints have to do in the book of Revelation; they have to keep both the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.
Revelation 14:12 “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.”
Paul also says,
Galatians 3:4 “Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain.”
If works were necessary, then why would the early Christians have to be martyred if they could work for salvation? What was the point of the burning martyrs, if they did not believe in faith? They were tortured because they disagreed that salvation was based on works. Today, the Laodicean Christians are the greatest disgrace – Episcopalians, Methodists, even Baptists are reuniting with the Catholic church.
Let’s also look at
Galatians 3:5 “He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?”
If the hearing of faith saves a pastor who helped the people understand salvation, why should it be any different? The phrase “worketh of miracles” refers to the apostolic age because the apostles performed miracles. If the apostles who performed miracles were saved by faith alone, how can we require works in our salvation?
There is no such thing as real faith or repentant faith producing works. The Bible has examples of saved believers still sinning.
1 Corinthians 5:1,5: It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife. And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you…. To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
In the letter of Corinthians, Paul was writing to the church (saved believers) that they were fornicating in the form of incest. 1 Corinthians 1:5 points out that this person should be delivered to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, but that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.
That is pointing to a man who has not produced good works for the Lord but he is a saved soul.
For more information about this topic, you can check out the following short articles: