Saved by Grace Alone


A Biblical Analysis of Lordship Salvation


Chapter 6


Can a true believer receive Him as Saviour but reject Him as Lord?


If we are honest and face reality we must admit that there are times when every true believer rebels against Christ’s authority and is disobedient to His Word. Total submission to His Lordship requires total obedience to all His commands, and we all have fallen short of this. Consider the following two statements from professing believer A and from professing believer B:


Professing believer A: "I have received Christ as my Saviour but I refuse to submit to Him as Lord! I reject His authority over my life and I refuse to obey Him. I’m glad to have Him as my Saviour from hell, but He is not going to tell me what to do."


Professing believer B: "I want to obey my Lord, the One who died for me, but there are many times when I fail. My heart is deeply grieved when I fail to obey Him and I’m convicted and bothered and often miserable. I have dishonored my Lord and brought shame to His Name."  We are reminded of Peter who, after he had sinned, "went out and wept bitterly" (Luke 22:62) or of Lot whose righteous soul was vexed (2 Peter 2:7-8).


Professing believer A, by his words and attitude, does not give much evidence of having a real, personal, saving relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Professing believer B seems to be a true possessor of Christ, because although he has sinned and rebelled against his Lord, he was bothered and broken about it. The Spirit of God who indwells a sinning believer is grieved, and He makes His grieved presence felt. As R.Gene Reynolds has written, "A person who is living sinfully, who knows he is living sinfully, who enjoys living in such a manner, who intends to continue that sinful way of living—that person does not have the Holy Spirit living within him. The very fact that he is ‘comfortable’ about his sin is proof of the Spirit’s absence. His spiritual vital sign registers, ‘no life.’ "  [R. Gene Reynolds, Assurance (Tyndale House), page 73]


Does every true believer surrender to Christ’s Lordship?

This question needs to be answered very carefully in light of the Scriptures. The answer to the question is both YES and NO.


1) YES, every true believer surrenders to Christ’s Lordship.


The person who surrenders to Christ’s Lordship is the person who bows before His authority and obeys His Word. The New Testament indicates that one of the characteristics of a true believer is that he obeys God’s Word and keeps God’s commands: "And hereby we do know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He that saith, I know Him, and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him" (1 John 2:3-4). The same was true of the original disciples. Jesus said of them, "They have kept My Word" (John 17:6). This was a remarkable statement for our Lord to make in view of the obvious shortcomings of these men. Peter, for example, did not represent a surrendered, obedient believer when he denied his Lord three times. Nor was he being submissive in Acts 10:14 when he said, "Not so, Lord!" Nor was he surrendering in Matthew 16:22 when he rebuked the Lord and strongly contradicted His Word! If you were to take a snapshot of any of these isolated acts of failure you could say that Peter was a disobedient believer who did not surrender to Christ’s Lordship. But as you look at the overall picture of his life, as the Lord Jesus did, you would have to conclude that this was a man who kept Christ’s Word. As you look at the whole panorama of his life you would say that Peter, in spite of his shortcomings, was a man who surrendered to Christ’s Lordship.


2) NO, every true believer does not surrender to Christ’s Lordship.


We desire and want to please our Lord, but there are times when we fail to surrender as we should. If we are honest we would have to admit the following: All believers have sinned and come short of perfect submission to Christ. Every believer falls short of perfect surrender, perfect obedience, perfect submission, perfect compliance with all the demands of discipleship. Thank God we have an Advocate with the Father, Christ Jesus the Righteous One (1 John 2:1-2)!


Does a new believer understand the full implications of Christ’s Lordship?


No, the new believer is just beginning to learn what Christ’s Lordship means and the obligations that accompany it. The newborn babe in Christ knows very little about surrender and submission. He knows his sins have been forgiven and that he has received Christ and that he possesses eternal life. He is full of thanksgiving for his so-great salvation and he desires to please the One who died for him. But how Christ’s Lordship will affect his marriage, his family, his job, his finances, his church, the way in which he takes care of his body, etc.—all these things he will need to learn in time.


Similarly, a new believer does not understand the full implications of Christ’s saving grace all at once. He is learning what it means to be saved by grace and this learning process takes a lifetime. John 3:16 should mean more to a believer now than it did a year ago and it should mean more to him a year from now than it does today. So it is with discipleship and Lordship. There is a learning process involved. The fact of Christ’s Lordship should be more precious to me now than it was last year. As I grow in Christ (2 Pet. 3:18), I will gradually come to a better understanding of what it means to submit to Christ as my Lord.


Is Lordship Salvation is misnomer?


It would be more accurate to speak of "Lordship Sanctification."   Sanctification used in this way refers to progressive sanctification (as in 1 Thess. 4:3; John 17:17), not positional sanctification which is true of every believer, including carnal believers (1 Cor. 1:2; 6:11). Surrendering to Christ’s Lordship is an essential requirement for sanctification (growth in Christ), not for salvation. Our message to the unsaved is to BELIEVE on the Lord Jesus Christ, not to surrender to the full demands of discipleship. Saints are the ones who need to surrender.   Sinners need to believe; saints need to surrender.


Can unsaved people surrender to Christ’s Lordship?


Absolutely not. It’s impossible. "Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither, indeed, can be. So, then, they that are in the flesh cannot please God" (Rom. 8:7-8).  This illustrates the folly of making submission a requirement of salvation.  Salvation is needed in order for a person to submit and obey! If salvation is a requirement for submission, then how can submission be a requirement for salvation?  Submission to Christ and all His commands is not something a sinner does in order to be saved.  The person is responsible to live a life of surrender and obedience once he is saved, but not beforehand.  Do not put the cart before the horse.



Saved By Grace Alone

A Biblical Analysis of Lordship Salvation

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