The Lordship Salvation Controversy

Genesis 3:1-7 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made.He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

A. The first temptation was a temptation to self righteousness. The serpent tempted the woman with a lie. He told her that by eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, she would gain the knowledge of good and evil (become wise) which she could then use to establish herself as righteous by doing the good she would have knowledge of and by not doing the evil she would have knowledge of. B. This is how world views God’s law. They see God’s law as a means to establish themselves as righteous by doing the good the law commands them to do and by not doing the evil the law forbids them to do. II. The gospel tells us that Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. This means He is the end of us using the law as a means to establish ourselves as righteous.

Romans 10:1-10 Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.

God’s purpose for the law was to imprison all mankind under sin.

Galatians 3:19-22 Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary. Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one. Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

Psalm 51:1-5 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.

All men and women, elect and non-elect alike, are born guilty of disobedience by virtue of Adam’s disobedience imputed to them. God’s law justly and rightly demands the death of all who are guilty of disobeying it. To break one law is to break them all. This includes the law God gave to Adam, the very law which Adam broke, thereby incurring guilt, the very same guilt which is now imputed to every human being at conception.

GENESIS 2:15-17 The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

It was this demand for the elect’s death that Christ satisfied on behalf of His elect by dying for them at the cross.

Hebrews 10:1-10 For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Consequently, when Christ came into the world, He said, “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me; in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure. Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’” When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law),then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first in order to establish the second. And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Christ satisfied His law’s demand for His people’s death by offering His body to God at the cross as a substitute for His elect. When He died on the cross for His elect, He fully and forever satisfied the law’s demand for their death. God was satisfied by this death. This is what propitiation means.

The righteousness which the law demanded from God’s elect was their death. The law was righteous to demand this. This righteousness which the law demanded from every one of God’s elect was obtained by Christ.  He obtained the law’s righteous demand for His people’s death by dying in their place. The moment God immerses (imputes) one of His elect into Christ’s death, that elect person is charged with having died with Christ. The law’s righteous demand for their death is satisfied. It was satisfied by Christ, but His death is charged to their account.

Romans 6:1-11 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 2:19-21 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.

Passive and Active

Some people believe the righteousness imputed to the elect is not only Christ’s death (passive obedience), but also His law obedience (active obedience). I disagree, because we are told in Romans 10:4 “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” This means the law can never again demand His elect’s death after they have been imputed with Christ’s death. Not even when they disobey His law! Why? Because Christ has fully and forever satisfied the death which the law demanded for disobeying it. He satisfied the law’s righteous demand for His people’s death by dying not only for their sins past, but also for their sins future. And all their sins, even their past sins, were future 2000 years ago. Therefore, why would they need Christ’s law obedience imputed to them if the law can never again demand their death? If they cannot be made righteous by obeying the law, why then would they need the obedience of that law imputed to them?

The law still demands their obedience, but not for righteousness. Christ’s death is the righteousness. His death is what gets imputed to His people. His death merited all the positive benefits of righteousness including regeneration, faith, justification, sanctification and even resurrection at the last day. All false gospels pervert this truth in some form or fashion. But not all false gospels do that in the same way.

Zane Hodges

In 1981, Zane Hodges, former professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary (and not to be confused with Charles Hodge), published a book in which he espoused what has since become known by some as “Tattoo Christianity”. The name of his book was The Gospel Under Siege.

What is Tattoo Christianity?

Tattoo Christianity is a false gospel which teaches that if a person but for one instance in time believes thepromise that “Jesus guarantees eternal life to all who believe in Him” then they will be saved. Even if they later become an Atheist and denounce Him, even if they never learn anything else about Him, even if they trade in their Protestant Bibles for a Catholic crucifix, they will be saved. They will be saved, because for one instance they believed the promise that Jesus guarantees eternal life to all who believe in Him. I liken it to getting a tattoo; a spiritual stamp that cannot be removed. A one way ticket straight to paradise, even if the person with the tattoo is cussing out God all the way there.

In other words, Hodges’ tree of the knowledge of good and evil has only one piece of fruit hanging from it – a single item of knowledge that one must obey in order to establish themselves in righteousness. That one piece of knowledge is “believe the promise that Jesus guarantees eternal life to all who believe in Him.”

Zane Hodges, How to Lead People to Christ, Part 1, Grace Evangelical Society, 2000

“Let me begin with a strange scenario. Try to imagine an unsaved person marooned on a tiny, uninhabited island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. He has never heard about Christianity in his life. One day a wave washes a fragment of paper up onto the beach. It is wet but still partly readable.

“On that paper are the words of John 6:43-47. But the only readable portions are: ‘Jesus therefore answered and said to them’ (v 43) and ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life’ (v 47).

“Now suppose that our unsaved man somehow becomes convinced that this person called Jesus can guarantee his eternal future, since He promises everlasting life. In other words, he believes Jesus’ words in John 6:47. Is he saved?

“I suspect that there are some grace people who would say that this man is not saved because he doesn’t know enough. For example, he doesn’t know that Jesus died for his sins on the cross and rose again the third day. Needless to say, there is a lot more he doesn’t know either, such as the doctrine of the Trinity, the eternal Sonship of Jesus or the doctrine of the virgin birth.

“But why is he not saved if he believes the promise of Jesus’ words? It is precisely the ability of Jesus to guarantee eternal life that makes Him the Christ in the Johannine sense of that term. Our Lord’s exchange with Martha in John 11:25-27 demonstrates this clearly.

“If we believe that Jesus is the One who guarantees our eternal destiny, we have believed all we absolutely have to believe in order to be saved.” . . .

(later on in the same article)

“Let me repeat. Neither explicitly nor implicitly does the Gospel of John teach that a person must understand the cross to be saved. It just does not teach this. If we say that it does, we are reading something into the text and not reading something out of it!

“What is my point? That we should not preach the cross of Christ to men? Not at all. I will make it emphatically clear a little later on that I think we should. Instead, I am arguing that we need to focus on the core issue in bringing men and women to faith and eternal life. What is that core issue?

“Very simply it is this: We want people to believe that Jesus guarantees their eternal destiny. Of course, we would like them to believe a lot more than this, but this at least must be believed. Our failure to clearly define our goal in evangelism can have a negative or impeding effect on our efforts to lead people to simple faith in Christ.”

This is Antinomianism.

Antinomianism (“nomos” – law, “anti” – against; antinomianism – against law)

Antinomianism is the belief that God’s objective law has no application for the Christian. There are different kinds of Antinomians. Some Antinomians deny the absolute authority of the objective word of God.  Sometimes, when the Bible says law, it means the objective, authoritative printed word of God. Antinomians who reject this believe they receive knowledge and revelation from God by listening to the Spirit speak from within them.

Matthew 5:17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.

Acts 28:23 When they had appointed a day for him, they came to him at his lodging in greater numbers. From morning till evening he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus both from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets.

Other Antinomians believe they cannot sin, because Christ has erased God’s objective moral standard by dying on the crossand rising again. They believe there is no law they can violate, therefore they cannot sin.

1 John 1:8-10 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

This is the kind of Antinomianism Zane Hodges falls into. He denies that sin is even a problem. The problem as Hodges sees it is not hearing about and believing a promise Jesus made. If you would just believe that promise, then you would be established in righteousness.

Another way that a false gospel perverts the truth about Christ’s righteousness is found in John MacArthur’s response to Zane Hodges

Who is John MacArthur?

In response to Hodges tattoo Christianity, pastor and seminary president, John MacArthur, published a book of his own. It was entitled, The Gospel According to Jesus. He followed it up a few years later with another book meant to defend the previous book. It was entitled, The Gospel According to the Apostles.

In his first book, published in 1988, and also in his follow up, Dr. MacArthur argues that a person who has received Jesus as his Savior, in the way Hodges had meant it, is not saved, because that person has not submitted to Christ’s Lordship.  Had MacArthur stopped there, we might not still be talking about Lordship Salvation all these years later.  After all, he was correct to insist that the propositions of the gospel go beyond simply stating that Jesus guarantees eternal life to all believe in Him. The problem though, is that he did not stop here. Instead, he went on to define “submitting to Christ’s Lordship” as turning from your sins.

“The gospel call to faith presupposes that sinners must repent of their sin and yield to Christ’s authority. That, in a sentence, is what ‘Lordship Salvation’ teaches.” – The Gospel According to the Apostles, pg 22

“The gospel calls sinners to faith joined in oneness with repentance. Repentance is turning from sin.” – ibid, pg 24

“Real faith inevitably produces a changed life. Salvation includes a transformation of the inner person. The nature of the Christian is different, new. The unbroken pattern of sin and enmity with God will not continue when a person is born again.” – ibid, pg 24

“Behavior is an important test of faith. Obedience is evidence that one’s faith is real. On the other hand, the person who remains utterly unwilling to obey Christ does not evidence true faith.” – ibid, pg 25

“Jesus is Lord of all, and the faith He demands involves unconditional surrender. He does not bestow eternal life on those who hearts remain set against Him.” – ibid, pg 25

Notice what MacArthur argues. He argues that the gospel calls people to stop doing the evil they have knowledge of and to instead start doing the good which Christ has knowledge of. Is that really what the gospel calls people to though? No. It calls them to repent of trying to establish themselves as righteous by obedience to the law, and to instead agree with God that Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to all who believe in Him.

Romans 10:1-10 Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.

Recall what the serpent had told the woman in the Garden of Eden. He told her that by eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, she would gain wisdom from the knowledge of good and evil which she could then use to establish herself in righteousness by doing the good she would have knowledge of and not doing the evil she would have knowledge of.


This is exactly what MacArthur tells us is “an important test of faith.” Behavior. Not a confession of faith in the righteousness of Christ, but rather behavior. Are you doing the good which you have knowledge of and not doing the evil which you have knowledge of?

But doesn’t MacArthur believe we are justified by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone? Yes, he does. And he is very careful to say he does . . . as long as what you mean by faith is behavior change. This is how MacArthur sneaks in works righteousness. He does it by simply by redefining a single word – faith.

MacArthur redefines faith to mean intellectual assent + law obedience. With this new definition of faith in place, Christ is no longer the end of the law for righteousness. He is now instead the beginning of a new law for righteousness.A Lordship law for righteousness.

“Orthodox doctrine by itself is no proof of saving faith. Demons affirm the oneness of God and tremble at is implications, but they are not redeemed. Mathew 8:29 tells of a group of demons who recognized Jesus as the Son of God. They even exhibited fear. Demons often acknowledge the existence and authority of Christ (Matt. 8:29-30); Mark 5:7), His deity (Luke 4:41), and even His resurrection (Acts 19:15), but their diabolical nature is not changed by what they know and believe. Their fearful affirmation of orthodox doctrine is not the same as saving faith. James implies that demonic faith is greater than the fraudulent faith of a false professor, for demonic faith produces fear, whereas unsaved men have ‘no fear of God before their eyes’. If the demons believe, tremble, and are not saved, what does that say about those who profess to believe and don’t even tremble?” – Ibid, pg 151

MacArthur  insists that faith which “merely” agrees with the propositional truth about Christ’s righteousness is a dead faith. Is this true though? Most certainly it is not. The first problem with MacArthur’s definition is that it relies upon a dichotomy Scripture does not make. (dichotomy is in reference to two opposite choices; either a or b). The dichotomy MacArthur makes is that your heart is capable of knowledge that is not intellectual and propositional. (Either head or heart)

Proverbs 23:7 As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.

Matthew 15:19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts

Romans 1:21 and their foolish heart was darkened

Acts 5:4 Why have you conceived this deed in your heart?

Romans 8:27 And he who searches the heart knows what is the mind of the Spirit

Romans 10:10 for with the heart one believes

The word “heart” is a polysemy (polly-seemy). A polysemy is a word with many different meanings. The word “light” is also a polysemy. Light can refer to – intensity of brightness an object’s weight an object’s purity an object’s appearance a person’s mood the setting of fire or to a person’s mental faculties, such as “he’s a little light in the head.”

Genesis 1:3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.

Ruth 2:3 (KJV) And she went, and came, and gleaned in the field after the reapers: and her hap was to light on a part of the field belonging unto Boaz, who was of the kindred of Elimelech.

1 Samuel 18:23 And Saul’s servants spake those words in the ears of David. And David said, Seemeth it to you a light thing to be a king’s son in law, seeing that I am a poor man, and lightly esteemed?

2 Samuel 21:17 ButAbishai the son of Zeruiahsuccoured him, and smote the Philistine, and killed him. Then the men of David sware unto him, saying, Thou shalt go no more out with us to battle, that thou quench not the light of Israel.

1 John 1:5  This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

In each instance, the word light indicates something different. So it is with the word heart.

Genesis 6:5-6 The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him to His heart.

Genesis 8:21 And when the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma, the Lord said in His heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth.”

Genesis 20:4-5 Now Abimelech had not approached her. So he said, “Lord, will you kill an innocent people? Did he not himself say to me, ‘She is my sister’? And she herself said, ‘He is my brother.’ In the integrity of my heart and the innocence of my hands I have done this.”

Exodus 4:16 Then the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses and He said, “Is there not Aaron, your brother, the Levite? I know that he can speak well. Behold, he is coming out to meet you , and when he sees you he will be glad in his heart.”

Exodus 7:3-4 But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply My signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, Pharaoh will not listen to you.

Exodus 9:13-14 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Rise up early in the morning and present yourself before Pharaoh and say to him, “Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, ‘Let My people go, that they may serve Me. For this time I will send all My plagues on your heart, and on your servants and your people so that you may know that there is none like Me in all the earth.’”

Exodus 23:9 You shall not oppress a sojourner. You know the heart of a sojourner, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.

Exodus 35:5 Take from among you a contribution to the Lord. Whoever is of a generous heart, let him bring the Lord’s contribution

Exodus 35:34 And He has put it in his heart to teach, both him and Oholab the son of Ahisamach of the tribe of Dan.

In each of these instances, the word heart indicates something different. But Scripture never uses heart to indicate a secondary source of knowledge that is non intellectual. We could examine the entirety of Scripture and we would find not one instant of where the Bible uses the word heart to indicate a second way of knowing something. We simply do not have a second organ in our body that is capable of thought. Imagine if we really did a second organ capable of thought. The idea is absurd. How would we ever know whether we are just head believing rather than also heart believing?

Psalm 51:6 Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.

From Psalm 51!
Conceived in iniquity and born into sin
Behold! (Stop what you’re doing! Look! Listen!) You delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.

When we are lost, we do not believe we are conceived in sin. We believe instead the serpent’s lie. We believe we have done a few bad things, but at least we haven’t murdered or stolen. We think we’re pretty decent and that if we get our acts together we can establish ourselves as righteous. But when God opened our eyes to receive the good news of His righteousness, He made us to know wisdom. We learned this truth intellectually.

Deuteronomy 6:4-6 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.

Matthew 15:19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.

Matthew 18:35 So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.

Luke 16:15 And he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

John 16:33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Faith simply means to agree with what God’s word says about His gospel.

1 Corinthians 15:1-6 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures,that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep.

“In accordance with the Scriptures”. Not just mere historical fact that Jesus Christ died and rose again, but rather what Scripture says about His death and resurrection.

MacArthur undercuts the gospel of grace by dividing faith into head faith and heart faith. This false head/heart dichotomy is what leads him to say demons have orthodox faith. But do demons really have orthodox faith? No demon has ever affirmed orthodox doctrine from a basis of faith in Christ’s righteousness.

James 2:19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe – and shudder!

The demons shudder from fear, not faith. They shudder from fear of God, not love for God. The accuser of the brethren does not agree with God that the brethren cannot be accused of unrighteousness! This is why he is called the accuser of the brethren. Demons do affirm SOME orthodox doctrine about God, like the fact that He is one, but they do not do this from a basis of faith in His righteousness. Demons believe God is one. And the religious leaders who murdered Christ used this very same doctrine against Him when they protested that He was making Himself out to be equal with God.

Matthew 8:29 And behold , they cried out, “What have you to do with us, O Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time?”

Mark 5:7 And crying out with a loud voice, he said, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God do not torment me.”

These demons were not affirming orthodox doctrine from a basis of faith in God’s righteousness. They were instead affirming orthodox doctrine from a basis of accusation of unrighteousness! The demon in Matthew 8:29 was accusing Jesus of being a liar. Have You come to torment us before the time? Demons agree there is a time coming when God is going to punish them with eternal destruction, but have You come before that time, Jesus? The implication was that Jesus might as well lie about the time since God lies about everything else. After all, isn’t this what the serpent had insinuated in the Garden of Eden, that God lies?

The demon in Mark 5:7 was the same. I adjure you by God do not torment me. The implication being, I know what a kick You get out of tormenting Your creation, Jesus, so I adjure You by Your Father do not torment me. Demons believe God is one. They also believe He lies, that He is unjust, that He is unrighteous, that He hates all His creation and that He loves to torture it, just to name a few. Yes, they agree a time is coming when God is going to punish them, but they do not agree, not for one moment, that God is righteous to do this to them.

But what about sanctification?

Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. God does work into His justified elect a desire to please Him.

Philippians 2:12-13 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. But this desire to please Him is a result of being justified by Christ’s imputed righteous, and not instead the cause, nor the proof.

HEBREWS 10:19-29 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace?

What is an evil conscious? An evil conscious is a conscious that is bothered by the fact it has not, in order to establish itself as righteous, done the good that it had knowledge of and not the evil it had knowledge of.

Genesis 3:7-13 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the coolof the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.”He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

Why did they cover themselves? Because they were each ashamed of the fact the lie did not work for them. They believed they were supposed to be established as righteous by doing the good they had gained knowledge of and not the evil. But it hadn’t worked. They aren’t righteous, and they aren’t like God. Rather than realizing the serpent had lied to them, they believe instead something is wrong with them. Adam and his wife tried to cover their shame with fig leaves. This is an allusion to false religion. Man turns to false, self righteous religion in an effort to establish himself as righteous. But God showed them that what is needed is not fig leaves, but rather the bloody sacrifice of a substitute.

Genesis 3:21 And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.

Zephaniah 3:14-20 Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion;
shout, O Israel!

Rejoice and exult with all your heart,
O daughter of Jerusalem!
15 The LORD has taken away the judgments
against you;

He has cleared away your enemies.
The King of Israel, the LORD,
is in your midst;

you shall never again fear evil.
16 On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem:
“Fear not, O Zion; let not your hands grow weak.
17 The LORD your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;

He will rejoice over you with gladness;
He will quiet you by His love;
He will exult over you with loud singing.
18 I will gather those of you who mourn
for the festival,
so that
you will no longer suffer reproach.

19 Behold, at that time I will deal with all your

And I will save the lame and gather the outcast,
and I will change their shame into praise
and renown in all the earth.

20 At that time I will bring you in,
at the time when I gather you together;

for I will make you renowned and praised
among all the peoples of the earth,
when I restore your fortunes before your eyes,”
says the LORD.

What does the rest of that passage in Hebrews mean? For if we go on sinning? For if we go on sinning . . . that is, if we go on trying to establish ourselves as righteous after receiving the knowledge of the truth, then there will be no sacrifice that can save you, because why? BECAUSE CHRIST IS THE END OF THE LAW FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS.

If you’re going to say, well, He may be the end of the law for righteousness, but I’m still going to use the law to establish myself as righteous, then you are guilty of treading the blood of His sacrifice underfoot. There is no other sacrifice that can save you but the one you have just tread underfoot.

Very well. But how long does it take for God to work a desire to please Him into someone?

Acts 18:7-11 And he left there and went to the house of a man named Titius Justus, a worshiper of God. His house was next door to the synagogue. Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed in the Lord, together with his entire household. And many of the Corinthians hearing Paul believed and were baptized. And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.” And he stayed a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.

Paul taught them for 1 1/2 years.  Some years later, he received news of the moral state they were in.

What did Paul say to these people?

1 Corinthians 3:16-17 Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.

He didn’t bring them more law. He brought them more grace!

The answer to a Christian who is living immorally is not more law. It is more grace. Know who you are, gospel believer. Know that you are not your own anymore. Know that you have been bought with a great price. You belong to another. He paid a great price and you are His. Now, show Him your gratitude and thanks by presenting your body as a living sacrifice which has already been made holy and acceptable to God by the atoning, shed blood of Christ. How do you do this? By renewing your mind! That is, by getting it through your thick skull who you now are in Christ Jesus.

Romans 12:1-2 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Do you hear the good news in that?

The law still has application for the Christian.  It tells us what sin is and it tells us what is pleasing to God.

VIII. Sadly, today, there is not a single popular reformed Baptist, reformed evangelical, or Presbyterian denomination that has not fully accepted Lordship Salvation. If you disagree with them, you are automatically grouped in together with Zane Hodges and labeled “easy believist”. There is no third choice with these folks. It’s either them or it’s Hodges.

“No-lordship theology utterly ignores the biblical truth that grace instructs us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age. Instead, it portrays grace as a supernatural Get Out of Jail Free ticket – a no-strings-attached, open-ended package of amnesty, beneficence, indulgence, forbearance, charity, leniency, immunity, approval, tolerance, and self-awarded privilege divorced from any moral demands.” – John MacArthur, The Gospel According to the Apostles, pgs 56-57

JOHN 6 Notice verse 2. And a large crowd was following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing on the sick.

Verses 10 & 11 Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, about five thousand in number. Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated. So also the fish, as much as they wanted.

Verse 14. When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!”

Verse 15. Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself.

Verses 22-24. On the next day the crowd that remained on the other side of the sea saw that there had been only one boat there, and that Jesus had not entered the boat with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone away alone. Other boats from Tiberias came near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. So when the crowd saw that Jesus was not there, nor his disciples, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum, seeking Jesus.

They believed He was a prophet and they were willing to submit to His kingship! They were willing to do so, because He had fed them free tuna fish sandwiches. They thought it a good idea to make Him king so they could continue receiving as many free tuna fish sandwiches as they could eat. Jesus even says this! Verses 26-27.

Verses 26-27. Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you.”

They thought it a good idea to submit to His kingship so they could continue receiving free food.

Verse 28. Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?”

You tell us to work for the food that endures to eternal life, Jesus, so we ask how are we to do that. What work are we to do? Verse 29. Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” The work is this, believe in Him whom the Father has sent. Believe He is who He claims He is.

Verse 30. So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform?

What sign?! Really? Verse 2 told us that they saw the signs He was doing on the sick. Verse 14 tells us they were also the very recipients of His tuna fish sandwich miracle. And yet they still ask for a sign to prove He is who He says He is?

These people were ready to accept Him as a prophet. Verse 14 tells us that. They were even ready to submit to His Lordship! But the one thing they were not ready to do was to believe that He really is who He said He is – the Son of God, come to save His elect by satisfying the law’s demand for their deaths.

The biggest danger to gospel churches is not immorality. It is legalism. The biggest danger to a gospel church is the temptation to believe our morality can tell us whether we are truly righteous. That kind of preaching will kill a church faster than anything. It’s what condemned Jesus to the cross, self righteous false religion.  Most protestant churches in America today are more concerned with combating gay marriage than they are with combating Lordship Salvation. In fact, most are not even combating Lordship Salvation. They have instead accepted it, and are now calling it “traditional Christianity.” They are more than ready to make Jesus their king, but they want nothing to do with the claims He made about who He really is.

About David Bishop

Gospel of Grace Church
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5 Responses to The Lordship Salvation Controversy

  1. michael says:

    Very well stated David.

  2. Josh says:

    This is once again baseless anti Macarthur rethoric that stems out of jealousy for a man whom God used to bring about the salvation of countless people. This commentary is no different than anything that has been coming out since 1988. I would challenge your definition of legalism; nowhere does John advocates that one is either saved or being kept saved by works apart from those that God does through the belriver. Like kin rebuke of the so called “Lordship Salvation” it conviniently ignores or skip the words from our Lord “he who keeps My commandements is the one loves Me” or words from the Apostle Paul where he mentions that we were saved onto good works prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Even Jesus’ brother James mentions that faith without works is dead faith, to fit your agenda you decided to skip verse 2:18 and go right for verse 19 therefore putting it out of context. I could provide countless other passages that advocates that believers are called to holiness, but I’m afraid I’m would wasting my time. This dishonest approach to biblical interpretation is typical of those who are more concerned with attacking a person than with accurately presenting the whole counsel of God. To finish your conclusion that Lordship Salvation is in fact a form of legalism is grossly misinformed and betrays that you either don’t really know what legalism is or what Lordship Salvation entails. I would challenge you to study the puritains and you would quickly see that this is nothing new and that you are in fact advocating not antinomianism but a form of licence to sin. In the Corinthian church God even put people to sleep for sinning, as Christians we are commanded to act in way worthy of our calling and that is not a desire of someone who calls himself saved it would be legitimate to doubt that persons salvation.

    • David Bishop says:

      “John advocates that one is either saved or being kept saved by works apart from those that God does through the belriver.”

      This is my point. There are no works performed by God through the believer that keeps the believer.

      Consider the lie the serpent told our parents. The knowledge of good and evil which the tree will give you will enable you to become as God. You won’t need Him to tell you what is good and evil. You can decide for yourself what is good and evil, and you can thereby establish that you are as perfect as God by doing what you have decided is good and by not doing what you have decided is evil.

      1. Reject God’s law

      2. Make your own law (you can even include some of those parts of God’s law that you are sure you can obey).

      3. Obey your own law

      4. Establish yourself in righteousness like God is by obeying your own law

      You Lordship guys invent your own law. You cull those parts of God’s law that you think you can obey while you reject the rest. Every one of God’s commandments require absolute perfection. You reject this. You talk as if trying to obey is as good as perfection, and then you insist God rewards those who obey this ungodly standard. Dog of the circumcision, who warned you of coming wrath? Do you really think picking and choosing what laws you will obey and how much is to be obeyed is something God will honor? Repent of your wickedness. You either accept all of God’s law or you accept none. My only hope is in the cross of Christ, because I accept all of God’s law and therefore know I can keep none of it.

  3. Pingback: Antinomian Propositions or No Faith? Dr Alderson’s Confusion | Cornbread & Bourbon

  4. Manfred says:

    I’ve read of the train wreck of the Zane Hodge theology and read and listened to lots of MacArthur. It is beyond argument that Mac does posit works by the Christian as necessary for regeneration and /or sanctification. He also has taught that there are things one must do if one wants to go to hell. He sometimes presents a gospel so complex that nobody could be saved if that YUGE body of knowledge was required to be believer before being born by the Spirit of God.

    Mac is not a heretic but he is not inspired, either. Though many of his disciples seem to think he is.

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