A week ago I called another pastor not in our area to check him out for the purpose of other people attending church there. I have found that I tend toward questioning a man about the gospel very first. I want to know what he believes about salvation. In order not to set off any buzzers with him, I asked whether he believed repentance was necessary for salvation. He answered something like: "Repentance is an issue people are discussing and I'm looking at it very, very closely." I didn't like that reply. I quoted to him Luke 13:3, 5. He hesitantly agreed that repentance was necessary, but then he gave it a definition that was very close to "changing your mind about belief." I don't like that definition. It leaves out the will. That led me to the crux of this issue, regarding the identity of Jesus Christ. I inquired: "Must someone receive Jesus as Lord in order to be saved?" He responded: "I have a problem with what people call Lordship Salvation." I have a problem with his view of the Gospel. That doesn't mean he can't change. I hope he will.
A man is justified by faith (Rom. 5:1). A man is justified by faith in Jesus Christ alone (Gal. 2:16). We must believe in Jesus Christ for eternal life (John 3:16, 36). The Jesus we believe in and receive must be the one and only Jesus, the Jesus of the Bible. If He isn't, then we haven't believed in Jesus. Jesus is Lord. Lordship is the biggest issue in the identity of Jesus Christ. Men may want Him as Savior, but the same men often do not want Him as Lord. In Acts, Jesus is Lord one-hundred ten times and He is Savior twice. What do you think the emphasis of the apostles was in their preaching? It was Lordship.
Lordship and repentance dovetail. We turn from our way to His way. We give up our life for His life (Jn. 12:25). We get off the throne; He gets on it. No one can remain in rebellion against Jesus Christ and be saved. You haven't received the Jesus of the Bible if you haven't received Him as Lord. What I am describing is Lordship salvation. We turn from idols to serve the living and true God (1 Thess. 1:9). We confess with our mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in our heart that God has raisedHim from the dead (Rom. 10:9).
The thorny ground wants to do what He wants in the world, not what the Lord wants (Mt. 13:22). One who keeps that attachment to the world will not receive the goodness of God (Rom. 2:4), does not sufficiently see God as a rewarder (Heb. 11:6). His friendship with the world is enmity with God (James 4:4). Lordship is a problem to those who even recognize that God has bought them (2 Peter 2:1). They like Jesus as Savior but not as their Boss. They want to keep charge of their lives. God resists that proud person (James 4:6). The meek shall inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5).
Here's how non-Lordship advocates support their view. They define Lordship salvation as surrendering to the Lord every single area of your life. In their definition someone must give up every disobedient act and every sin in order to be saved. I've never even heard that taught anywhere. It's a straw man. No one who believes in Lordship salvation believes that someone must frontload works in order to be justified. They believe that we must frontload allegiance. God is God. We must believe He is God and that we are not. True Lordship salvation is about an accurate knowledge of Jesus Christ. Someone won't follow Jesus Christ Who doesn't know Who He is nor trusts Him. A person can't believe in Him and not want to follow Him (Jn. 10:27).
So I openly and gladly profess to believe in Lordship Salvation. I do. Lordship and salvation are mutually inclusive. You can't have the one without the other. Anyone who preaches otherwise is preaching a false gospel. And if you keep believing in it, we won't be in fellowship either (Galatians 1:6-9).