I’ve read long and wide about the issue of Lordship Salvation. It has well-reasoned arguments on both sides. Those opposed to the idea seem very concerned that virtually any act, any effort on the part of the individual in coming to Christ is considered work or works. And they reject this on the bases of Ephesians 2:-89 where it is made emphatically clear that we are not saved by works, but by (God’s) grace through (our) faith.
I agree. In fact, I committed a healthy portion of a sermon to explain that the very faith by which we trust in the saving grace of God is His gift to us, else we would not believe and brag about our faith if we did.
But we must be clear. You cannot read the Gospels in particular and the New Testament in general and conclude that Jesus expects nothing of you apart from naming and claiming him as your Savior. Listen to some statements Jesus made in that regard:
“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and do not do what I say?” Luke 6:46
“If you love me, you will do what I command.” John 14:15
“Not everyone who says to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, only he who does the will of my Father who is in Heaven.” Matthew 7:21
“If any man would come after me (read: be my follower or disciple), he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me (read: follow my example and commands).” Luke 9:23
I’ll repeat myself for emphasis. You cannot read the New Testament and conclude that trusting Christ for salvation results in (a) assurance of Heaven when you die combined with (b) freedom to live your life on your own terms for your own gratification. Paul nailed that down in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20: “…do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”
The very fact that a person continues to consistently, willingly, happily lives for him or herself reveals that conversion has not occurred. Galatians 5: 19-21 issues a dire warning in this regard: “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
I believe it is safe to say that when first-century folk heard the word lord they understood it to mean master. Building on that, it wasn’t a stretch for them to understand that to trust the Lord Jesus as Savior involved a commitment to His lordship, to be a certain way and do certain things. With this knowledge, a person appropriates the God-provided faith to trust Christ for salvation. Done. He or she is saved. Now what?
Matthew 3:8 (NLT) says, “Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God.” The way one lives is the sum of his or her actions and the motives behind those acts. Are they Savior-centered or self-centered?
I which I knew who wrote this next quote, but it’s what prompted this post in the first place. It’s powerful stuff:
“Faith encompasses obedience. That obedience is an integral part of saving faith; indeed, obedience is bound in the definition of faith being a constituted element of what it means to believe [in Christ and be saved].”
If one need not act on the lordship of Christ to be saved in the first place, it seems clear that he or she must demonstrate their salvation by lordship living in the second place.