Gloucester, 'tis true that we are in great danger;
The greater therefore should our courage be.
Good morrow, brother Bedford. God Almighty!
There is some soul of goodness in things evil,
Would men observingly distil it out.
For our bad neighbour makes us early stirrers,
Which is both healthful and good husbandry:
Besides, they are our outward consciences,
And preachers to us all, admonishing
That we should dress us fairly for our end.
Thus may we gather honey from the weed,
And make a moral of the devil himself.
“Turn! Turn! Why will you die?” (Ezk 33:11). “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” (Gal 5:1)
Observations and Comments On a “Lordship” Gospel of Salvation
Nowhere in the Bible are unsaved men called unto the Lordship of Jesus Christ for salvation. This is a non-supranatural evasion of a derivative rationalism that burdens the gospel with a frontloaded demand that someone's (anyone's?) subjective observation of a change of behavior in the new believer is a requirement of salvation. The frontloaded Lordship gospel is the same as "by your signature you agree to all the terms and conditions of this contract." This is not a gospel of the free grace of God. Grace is not the author of this contract, no matter the loud claims to the contrary, and salvation by grace through faith will not be "received upon delivery" of a Lordship gospel presentation.
Lordship is plain and pure legalism. The Bible is clear on the fact that the OT Jew was under the Mosaic Law because of their birth into the theocratic commonwealth of Israel. A gentile (non-Jew) prosylete conversion to Judaism required a circumcision by the hands of man. Which was NOT the prophetically promised supranatural circumcision and the writing of God's law upon the heart of a new believer by the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The NT claim is that both the Jew and Gentile have been declared by God, above and beyond personal sin, to be classed together under the sin of unbelief in Jesus Christ. This includes everyone born by the "will of man."
The theology that follows the notion of the complete autonomy and ability of man’s will concludes that any person at any time and at any place may come to Christ as Lord is correct. But just here - at what may seem an unimportant, subtle emphasis - there is only an acceptance of the external ethic of sanctification when Lordship over behavior is the gospel ground of salvation.
The grand truth of positional and permanent legal justification - to be declared "not guilty" - because of the substitution made by the sinless Savior and "kinsman redeemer" is not only lept over, it is "scorned" in the teaching of Arminian seminarians. And just here, dear reader, is the crime against the gospel of God's saving grace. Saving grace is the good news of salvation. The fact of continuing sin and trouble in the world is not "good news" for a believer. A "bad news" gospel is the unadorned truth of a Lordship presentation.
A Lordship salvation is conceived and preached to rest solely upon the desire of the individual to claim it, to keep it, or to cast it away as a self-appointed lord over Christ. As one might break a contract between equals or return a gift after it has been opened. Just here is another subtle turn of mind in the Lordship gospel. The Arminian does not conceive of the gift of salvation as recieved and opened at the time of saving belief; rather, there is only the conditional promise of a gift that may only be opened after death. Accordingly, Arminian teaching and concepts of salvation with a life shared in the presence of Christ must logically begin and end with death.
Arminian salvation is a bet that the house will win. Why? Because it rests soley upon the greatest weakness of men, not their strength. The ability to overcome sin is thought to rest in the power of the one who was strong enough to claim Christ as Lord. A very seemingly tall order, don't you think? Only the truly strong and serious would accept salvation, right?
My point is - Christ is not "given" the power of continued salvation. He is only the Lord of a "Great Example" in a "bad news" gospel. The Apostle Paul told believers to imitate him, not Christ. Unfortunately, Paul was beat, jailed, and slandered almost every time he opened his mouth.
"Be ye holy, as I am holy" is the standard misinterpretation made by that old rascal Pelagius, so many centuries ago. "Be ye holy" is the same mirror of law that the Mosaic Law and the Ten Commandments are. May I sensibly clean and shave my face "with" the mirror? The Law tells me that my face is dirty and needs cleaning. Can I properly clean it without the mirror? No. But I need soap, also. I need to be washed clean by Jesus once and for all time. After, then and only then - whether I believe it or not - I do not need to be cleaned all over as Peter demanded. I don't need a mirror anymore. I can see my own dirty feet and the dirty feet of other believers. Because I have the "law of Christ" written in my heart. Therefore, based on my own circumstance, the problem I see with the unsaved is not dirty feet or a lack of a mirror - soap is what they need.
After salvation, other believers may help me keep my feet clean. Christ said, "This is my (new) commandment: Love ye one [believer] another, as I have loved you." This is exactly what Christ so lovingly demonstrated with what became a very dirty dinner towel. He continues to use that same dinner towel to wash the feet of those who are clean once and for all time. Christ Jesus the Savior is both the "justifier" and "sanctifier" in the salvation of sinners.
Sinners may easily conform to an outward show of sanctification; but those with saving faith still do not have the ability to sanctify their own heart with behavior. Believers need a living Jesus. Only through obedience in love and gratitude, not fear, may a lonely, searching, and sinning heart be sanctified in the continuing "companionship," of Jesus.
The woman mentioned in the Bible who will be remembered forever - the one who washed the feet of Jesus - was "washed clean" by Jesus through her faith in Him. She was not saved because of her foot washing behavior. The continuuing truth is: believers may only be sanctified by Christ because they were once and for all time - justified "in Christ." The Lordship gospel and its associated theory of salvation - like sin - "misses the mark" of both justification and sanctification, to strike somewhere else.
Scripture very plainly teaches that the one who overcomes is the one who believes in Jesus for salvation. But, don't take my word, read the first three chapters of Revelation and 1 John where "overcoming" is defined as faith in Christ. A false salvation, surely and certainly, may or may not be kept by the individual. However, beyond doubt, if Christ plays no part in the loss then He did not participate in the gain of salvation. In all His creation, who may claim victory over Christ?
A Lordship theme makes use of methods designed to move the audience to action. And, accordingly, the conversion of thousands of new Christians are claimed by very profitable organizations. The result of stressing free will creates a philosophy, a lovable wisdom, that serves to place “members” under the control of an organization instead of “believers” under the grace of God. An honest question for the truly serious to consider is: Today in all the world of unimaginable amounts of money spent requesting money, the money that is given, and the money that is spent by religion - out of thousands upon thousands who are claimed to have been converted by these marketing and leadership wizards, how many of these converts to church or cult are told up front, “the Lordship being solicited from you today is insufficient to save you tomorrow?”
Lordship salvation is a contract with an "asterick" clause in the fine print. No matter the size of a church, world wide or storefront, if that church teaches a false gospel of Christ "plus" a self-maintained salvation, it is only a visible church and, not part of the born from above Body of Christ. Which makes of that church, by definition: a Vatican City, a Pyramid scheme, a Ponzi scam - tax deferred or not.
Into this grab bag of religious humanist theology, which is the dominant force within so-called Orthodox Protestantism today, should go: Jewish replacement theology; the teaching of one master covenant for the whole Bible (a One Covenant or Federal view of God's covenants; the Arminian "Governmental or Rectoral" atonement theory; the Lordship gospel and parolee salvation; repeat-after-me prayers for salvation; alter calls; "all" physcho-babble Christian advice talk shows and "best sellers"; all so-called "leadership" books and manueverings inside the Body of Christ; post-millennialism and amillenialism (the view that Christ will return when the world is converted by the church or that the retutn is only spiritual and the biblical millennial period is an historical fact); and mass produced subscription pamphlets for lazy pastors and their Sunday services that are used as pre-cooked and "canned" sermons nationwide. Last, but foremost: the Arminian system of theology that holds as primary the idea that the greatest achievement of Christ was to die.
The conception that Christ died only as a contract between He and the Father in order to "benevolently forgive sin, may only cripple individual faith with the limited teaching that Christ died so that some, but not all, sins may be "administratively" forgiven. Thus, leading conclusively to the idea that He has ceased to act in the salvation of those whom He is bringing to glory. A cessation of activity on the part of Christ, aside from being completely "not true," is the underlying logic of a false doctrinal assumption which validates and dictates a self-maintained salvation after accepting Jesus Christ in a Lordship gospel presentation.
The Mystery Form of the “Kingdom of Heaven” is Now
One may well discern religious humanism by the way the unexplained parables in Matthew chapter 13 are characterized by a preacher or follower. This is a good indication of what “church” one belongs to. The fowl (a negative symbol) in the mustard tree (that naturally is a shrub) that grows unnaturally large (pay close attention to unnatural and large) in Matthew 13 are people who bring in more people for unnatural growth. The woman (a negative when connected to the Bride, the church) put leaven (always a negative, a lie) in the three portions of bread (the word of God, the gospel) and it grew larger than natural. Christ is the man who ends up with the “pearl” of redeemed heavenly saints in one Body and the “treasure” of the earthly inhabitants when He returns with His Bride (Ps. 45) as King of kings to rule with a rod of iron over Israel and the nations. Jesus Himself explains the parable of the wheat and weeds to His disciples. Matthew 13 is the “mystery” form of the kingdom in this age. A kingdom, a visible church, filled with good fish and many more smelly fish.
False Profession and the False Gospel
False profession is the rule rather than the exception inside the visible church. Evil, once again, never reveals itself as evil. Only by the witness of the Word of God may one know false profession, and this by their doctrine, not by their conduct. Scripture is very clear about the false teaching and profession of faith that is to be the Orthodoxy of the majority in the visible churches. A false profession of faith, in the main, is the result of false doctrine.
The commonly held idea of a profession of faith is correct only when it applies to those who enter into groups that adhere to a secured salvation in Christ alone. But even here, doctrine is not always extended fully into the NT teachings for daily faith and reliance on the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit and the preservation of communion by confession for forgiveness, and the joy to be experienced when one yields to the leading of the Spirit of Christ. Much more pertains to this important aspect of a Christian’s daily life, but here I may not dwell, for I must stay on the narrow way.
The very Word of God is imbued with the power of the Holy Spirit to convict men of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. I challenge anyone to find unassisted free will in the Bible that remotely resembles that conceived and applied by Arminian theology. It is not there, “it is not in man to guide his own steps.” Today, even secular philosophy would deny Kantian unlimited free will.
What is stated by the followers of Arminian theology, more correctly the theology that was completed many decades afterwards by a Simon Episcopus and Hugo Grotius, is a distorted self-soothing construct of humanism, which is merely a false wisdom of man. An Arminian scheme of salvation may not, and should not, be claimed as the Scriptural revelation given to man for his instruction in the gospel of God's saving grace.
"The Lord helps those who help themselves" is a familiar saying that is non-existant in the Oracles of Truth and foreign to a salvation whereby Christ died for those who cannot help themselves. A correct system of theology cannot be in partial agreement with God. In the NT it is a well defined hell determined by the judgment of Jesus Christ that one is saved from, not one’s precious notion of unlimited free will. God offers a redemption that is a turning to the eternally secured salvation in the all sufficiency of His Son from satanic self-reliance and independent rebellion.
In the name of Jesus Christ, I ask how may an eternally secured divine salvation and future transformation be true of self-maintained salvation? The two ideas when properly understood in the gospel of grace and held up to examination cannot occupy the same space. It does no good to accept and deny the same thing.
Self-reliance and spiritual merit has never been seen as satanic in secularized Protestant Arminianism or the Roman Catholic religion. In both systems of salvation, original sin is traced to and stops with Adam. The opposing concepts and disagreements between the origin of the individual soul by virtue of 'creatio ex nihilo' or 'ex traduce' is moot to the doctrine of a self-maintained salvation. When one takes belief in the atoning blood of Christ as sufficient faith to begin a life of dedicated service, this is to use a dead Christ only as a Lord and “a leg up”, on the way to a glorious self-redemption. This is to make a religion out of the crime of the Crucifixion of Christ.
The following is an excerpt from an article written by John Walvoord, "The resurrection of Jesus Christ is one of the fundamental truths of Christian faith. As Robinson writes: “A renewed emphasis upon the resurrection is, however, relevant at this time. In Latin Christianity, the profusion of crucifixes focuses the eye upon the crucified, dead Jesus, leaving to the Evangelical Church a special responsibility for proclaiming the risen, living Lord. In American Protestantism, the weight of old liberalism still swings many from the bodily ‘physical’ resurrection of Christ witnessed in the New Testament to a kind of ‘spiritual resurrection’ at death, one befitting Plato’s society of souls in an idealistic universe. European scholarship is disentangling the biblical from the Hellenistic man, recognizing the body as also the handiwork of God, and the unity of the whole inner and outer man both in this life and in the age to come. Yet the influence of existentialism leads some of these scholars to present the death of Christ as the sole factual event of the kerygma, with the resurrection as an expression of the eschatological significance of the cross, a myth whose meaning is ‘real’ only in faith. The pessimism, resulting from inadequate presentations, can be lifted only by the proclamation of the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ as factual occurrence, an act of God’s self-disclosure in truly divine dimensions.”1
The above reference details a phenomenon of Christian thought and perceptions that Randy Alcorn has coined "Christoplatonism" in his latest book titled, "Heaven." A dead corpse saves no one. An ascended resurrected Jesus loses no one who places their trust in Him. The confounding of a free choice and the sovereignty of God in saving faith with the biblical truth of the continuing secure nature of salvation is an ancient mind game practiced by the genius of a lunatic religious Mentalist named Lucifer. Which then is transferred to human conceit and justified by a rationalism that cannot pass the smile test when asked for an definitive explanation as to the biblical measurements of sin and merit that would make for a positive result. A “point” system is suggested as the determining factor and then no point values are given, should one be bold enough to ask a wizard of self salvation. Also, one will search in vain for an OT salvation merit formula. God has never had one, to which the silence of Scripture is witness. God is very clear about a Christ alone, eternally secure salvation in the NT.
A preacher of self salvation is the man behind the curtain in the Wizard of Oz, he has nothing of real value to offer. No new heart, no new brain, no new courage, nor a way home may be had from a wizard. God provides man with everything he needs to know and certainly salvation and how to successfully live daily by faith would not be undefined.
To preach self-redemption is plain and sure sin. Faith may be abandoned; but it cannot be destroyed. This is what the Bible teaches: “Whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” The absurdity of self-redemption, cloaked in mystery and granted favorably or unfavorably, only after death, attached to the grand conceit of reward, is the only crime more ghastly and unspeakably horrific than the crucifixion of Christ. It is to bury the living, resurrected, glorified Christ Jesus of Salvation.
God Save Me From Your Followers!
Of my life,
You pipe a dirge,
They hear a jig.
They sing they didn’t,
They da---nce they did.
To glo-ry and pra---nce,
the awful dance of the wicked!
The re-sur-rect-ed Christ denied and slain,
by his fol-low-ers with His Name.
A glorified body does not bleed,
Christ is dead just the same.
The crime is hid---den!
So whose to blame?
So whose to know,
before they go?
We keep law!
to feed His,
As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives,
and that at the last
he will stand upon the earth.
And after my skin has been destroyed,
yet in my flesh I will see God,
whom I will see for myself,
and whom my own eyes will behold,
and not another. (Job 19:25-27 NET)
And by Him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses. (Acts 13:39 KJV)
Why is Christ Dead Again?
1 Pet 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he gave us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 1:4 that is, into an inheritance imperishable, undefiled, and unfading. It is reserved in heaven for you, 1:5 who by God’s power are protected through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. NET
The following quotation details the differences between the two teachings of law for a self-maintained salvation and God's free grace. Dr. Lewis Chafer defines the reason why the application of law for a self-maintained "parolee" salvation is false:
"Over against this, it is revealed that Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for it (Eph 5:25-27), and that His resurrection is the beginning of the New Creation of God, which includes the many sons whom He is bringing into glory (Heb 2:10). In that New Creation relationship, the believer is in the resurrected Christ and the resurrected Christ is in the believer. This twofold unity establishes an identity of relationship which surpasses all human understanding. It is even likened by Christ to the unity which exists between the Persons of the Godhead (John 17:21-23).
By the baptism of the Holy Spirit, wrought as it is for everyone, when one believes (1 Cor 12:13), the saved one is joined in the Lord (1 Cor 6:17; Gal 3:27), and by that union with the resurrected Christ is made a partaker of His resurrected life (Col 1:27), is translated out of the power of darkness into the kingdom of the Son of His love (Col 1:13), is crucified, dead, and buried with Christ, and is raised to walk in newness of life (Rom 6:2-4; Col 3:1), is now seated with Christ in the heavenlies (Eph 2:6), is a citizen of heaven (Phil 3:20), is forgiven all trespasses (Col 2:13), is justified (Rom 5:1), and blessed with every spiritual blessing (Eph 1:3).
This vast body of truth, which is but slightly indicated here, is not found in the OT. Nor are the OT saints said to be related thus to the resurrected Christ. It is impossible for these to be fitted into a theological system that does not distinguish between the heavenly character of the Church contrasted to the earthly character of Israel. This failure on the part of these systems of theology to discern the character of the true Church, related wholly as it is, to the resurrected Christ, accounts for the usual omission from these theological writings of any extended treatment of the doctrine of Christ’s resurrection and all related doctrines." (Systematic Theology, Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer)
The self salvation teachers of Arminian theology do not, because they cannot recognize the following six reasons. Nor, do they fully grasp the primary first, as it is counter to the philosophy of religious humanism. In a sovereiegn salvation by God's free grace, He, God the Savior, Jesus Christ, has too much control, and plays the central part in salvation. When the truth of the present activities of the risen Christ are pointed out in Scripture - Arminians go dumb. Christ died for much more than the redemption of personal sins. He died that He might live again and be "all things" to those who trust Him.
Christ was resurrected for these seven reasons:
1. Because of who He is (Acts 2:24)
2. That He might future fulfill the Davidic Covenant (Acts 2:30-31)
3. To become the source of eternal resurrection life (Col 1:27)
4. To become the daily source of resurrection power (Mtw 28:18)
5. To be Head over all things to the Church, the true believers baptized into the Body of Christ (Eph 2:6)
6. Because of eternal and positional justification (Rom 4:25)
7. To be the First-Fruit of a new race of men (1 Cor 15:20-23) ii
A new race of heavenly transformed men and women. Who in Glory and "en Christou" will rule and reign over the perfect peace and provision of the new earth. A providence and prophecy of God that will not fail. Beyond count, immortal generation, after generation will fill the earth and never know the sorrow of sin and death in the Eternal Age.
Therefore, only in the here and now, may we experience and exhibit for all eternity the witness of the truth of salvation in the victory wrought by Christ. As His gift works in us and it comes to pass:
"Thus may we gather honey from the weed, And make a moral of the devil himself."
The primary question to be answered by either Free Grace "in Christ" or Lordship Salvation is: How can the individual 'know' they are saved?
Copyright 2008 by David Coulon. All rights reserved.
* Please visit ( bible.org/page.php?page_id=536 ) and review the essay by Dr. Lehman Strauss, "Why God Became a Man."
** For a synopsis of the many different "gospel" invitations, please visit ( bible.org/page.php?page_id=321 ) and read the short article produced by the AWANA Clubs International.
*** For a general discussion of "Lordship Salvation," pros and cons, please visit: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lordship_salvation
**** For a balanced (historical and theological) discussion, please visit: bible.org/page.php?page_id=347
1. C. Hodge, Systematic Theology, II, 630–34, cited in: (www.blueletterbible.org); Title: Resurrection and Ascension of Christ; Author: John F. Walvoord; Date: 1963-1964; Source: These articles were excerpted from the series, "The Person and Work of Christ," published in Bibliotheca Sacra during the years 1960-1966. This shortened series has been entitled herein as "Resurrection and Ascension of Christ." Used by Persmission: Bibliotheca Sacra and Dallas Theological Seminary.
i this writer
ii Systematic Theology, Dr. Lewis Chafer, Vol 5, p 249
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