25
Feb
13

The Real Issue in “Lordship Preaching”

I have recently had the unfortunate experience of spending time reading articles at expreacherman.com. Every time I visit that blog I feel like weeping. There are at least two factors that contribute to my sadness. The first is that so many have misunderstood what the gospel is all about. The second is that those who believe in “Lordship salvation” have apparently done such a poor job of communicating our position. Communicating our view in such a way that we are not interpreted as teaching a works based salvation can be difficult. In an effort to guard the gospel from abuse, could we be guilty of failing to preach the doctrine of free justification in Christ as freely as we should?

The apostle Paul’s proclamation of justification by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, exposed him to the false charge of “antinomianism.” I believe if we are faithful to the gospel, we will also be exposed to that charge. In fact, if we are not exposed to that Charge, we can not have been proclaiming God’s good news freely enough. I believe Paul’s answer to that charge gives us the key to understanding and proclaiming clearly the real issues involved in the gospel.

The real issue is not whether we are justified by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, or by adding a commitment to follow Christ, good works, etc., to the work of Christ as the ground of our justification. No one, at least no one from the Calvinist’s camp, believes that the basis of our justification is other than the finished work of Christ. On that issue, we all appear to agree.

The issue is what we mean by being “saved.” Paul explains that believers cannot continue in sin because we have died to its reigning power. The gospel is not merely about forgiving grace but about liberating grace. Jesus died not merely to release us from our guilt because of sin, but to liberate us from our sins. Jesus’ death not only cancels our guilt, it also renders sin’s tyrannical reign over us inoperative. A person who wishes to be released from his guilt, but resolves to continue in his hostility toward God does not wish to be saved. Look at the way Peter described the purpose of Jesus’ death, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls” (1 Peter 2:24-25). Jesus’ purpose in dying is clearly stated, “that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.” It does not matter how much we may insist that our sins have been forgiven, if we have not been returned to the Shepherd, we have never been “saved.” Being returned to the Shepherd is what salvation is all about.

God doesn’t save us because we promise to get rid of our sins and follow Jesus. God saves us when we bring our sins to Jesus and confess that we are helpless to break the fetters that have bound us. If he does not break our fetters, we are doomed to a life of bondage in sin. No one who rightly comes to Jesus for salvation would say, “I want to be forgiven, but I love my sins too much to leave them.” The issue in salvation is not heaven or hell; the issue in salvation is sin and righteousness. The purpose of Jesus’ death was not merely to take us to heaven when we die. His purpose was to restore God’s holy image in us.

“Lordship” preachers must guard against giving the impression that we must add something to Jesus’ finished work as the ground of our justification. Those who oppose “Lordship Salvation” need to give up the “straw man” argument that Lordship preachers teach some ground of justification before God other than the finished work of Christ.

Advertisements

2 Responses to “The Real Issue in “Lordship Preaching””


  1. February 25, 2013 at 11:38 am

    I read in a small book recently that “God doesn’t challenge us to become volunteers for Jesus, He commands people everywhere to repent”. God also gave us, through the Apostle Paul, Phil 2:13: “… for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. ”

    It’s as you stated: ” The issue in salvation is not heaven or hell; the issue in salvation is sin and righteousness. The purpose of Jesus’ death was not merely to take us to heaven when we die. His purpose was to restore God’s holy image in us.”

    Amen, my brother!

  2. February 25, 2013 at 11:41 am

    Well put. Indeed, many well known preachers of the doctrines of grace emphasize the change that accompanies new life by the gift of God’s Spirit in ways that do lead people to think one has deeds to do in order to be saved. As you’ve pointed out – salvation IS of the Lord; but those saved by His grace ARE changed and cannot be content to continue on in sin. Some who are opposed to the Lordship doctrine err by claiming one must exhibit a certain “gift” to prove salvation, preaching the lordship of self instead of the Lordship of Christ. The Truth is narrow – but salvific!


Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com 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 )

Google+ photo

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

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: