Friday, April 04, 2014

The Historic Baptist Doctrine of Receiving Christ as both Savior and Lord and the So-Called Lordship Salvation, or the So-Called Free Grace Gospel

What have Baptists historically believed about how a sinner receives the gospel?  Have they thought that repentance and faith involve turning from sin to Christ and receiving Him as both Lord and Savior, or have they believed that one receives Him first as a Savior from the penalty of sin alone, only becoming free from the power of sin later at the time of a post-conversion consecration when one for the first time surrenders to Christ as Lord? Have Baptists boldly preached and taught that surrender to Christ's Lordship is part of coming to Him for salvation, or have they denounced this idea as salvation by works?  Let us see.

“Unfeigned repentance is an inward and true sorrow of heart for sin, with sincere confession of the same to God, especially that we have offended so gracious a God and so loving a Father, together with a settled purpose of heart and a careful endeavor to leave all our sins, and to live a more holy and sanctified life according to all God’s commands.” (The Orthodox Creed, Baptist, 1679)

"This saving repentance is an evangelical grace, whereby a person, being by the Holy Spirit made sensible of the manifold evils of his sin, does, by faith in Christ, humble himself for it with godly sorrow, detestation of it, and self-abhorrancy, praying for pardon and strength of grace, with a purpose and endeavor, by supplies of the Spirit, to walk before God unto all well-pleasing in all things." (London Baptist Confession of Faith of 1689)

“This saving repentance is an evangelical grace, whereby a person, being by the Holy Spirit made sensible of the manifold evils of his sin, doth, by faith in Christ, humble himself for it with godly sorrow, detestation of it, and self-abhorrency; praying for pardon and strength of grace, with a purpose and endeavor by supplies of the Spirit to walk before God unto all well-pleasing in all things.” (Philadelphia Confession of Faith, Baptist, 1742; as illustrated here, many later Baptist creedal statements simply reproduce the statements found in earlier statements such as the London Baptist or New Hamphsire Baptist Confessions.)

"We believe that in order to be saved, sinners must be regenerated, or born again; that regeneration consists in giving a holy disposition to the mind; that it is effected in a manner above our comprehension by the power of the Holy Spirit, in connection with divine truth, so as to secure our voluntary obedience to the gospel; and that its proper evidence appears in the holy fruits of repentance and faith and newness of life . . . We believe that repentance and faith are sacred duties and also inseparable graces, wrought in our souls by the regenerating Spirit of God; whereby being deeply convinced of our guilt, danger and helplessness, and of the way of salvation by Christ, we turn to God with unfeigned contrition, confession and supplication for mercy; at the same time heartily receiving the Lord Jesus Christ as our Prophet, Priest and King, and relying on him alone as the only and all-sufficient Saviour. . . . We believe that sanctification is the process by which according to the will of God, we are made partakers of his holiness; that it is a progressive work; that it is begun in regeneration . . . real believers . . . endure unto the end . . . their persevering attachment to Christ is the grand mark which distinguishes them from superficial professors." (New Hampshire Confession of Faith of 1833).

Baptists have historically taught that coming to Christ involved repentance, and repentance includes "a settled purpose of heart . . . to leave all our sins, and to live a more holy and sanctified life according to all God's commandments."  They taught that "saving repentance" includes "a purpose . . . to walk before God unto all well-pleasing in all things." They confessed that saving faith involves "receiving the Lord Jesus Christ as . . . King," that "sanctification" begins at "regeneration," not at a post-conversion crisis where one for the first time receives Christ as Lord, and that "real believers endure unto the end" in "their persevering attachment to Christ."  No Baptist statements of faith ever denounced these extremely widespread and widely adopted confessional statements as teaching works salvation, as front-loading works to the gospel, or anything of the sort.

Thus, it is very clear that Baptists have historically believed that coming to Christ for salvation involves receiving Him as both Lord and Savior. Baptists have, of course, also historically believed grace is free and undeserved, but the so-called "free grace" or anti-Lordship position invented in modern times is a historical deviation and corruption of Baptist teaching.

While the point of this particular study is a an examination of Baptist historical theology, not Biblical exegesis, the Baptist confessional statements above are entirely Biblical;  they correctly define and defend repentance and faith, as the Biblical studies of these ideas here and here demonstrate.

Individuals and congregations that repudiate the historic Baptist doctrine that conversion involves receiving Christ as both Lord and Savior for the modern-day corruption of gospel in the so-called "free grace" movement ought to either repent of their sinful perversion of the gospel or ought to be honest and repudiate the designation "Baptist." If you, dear reader, call yourself a Baptist, but you cannot give a hearty "Amen!" to the confessional statements above, you ought to repent of your error and return to the gospel proclaimed by your forefathers in the true churches of Christ. If you are unwilling to do so, but prefer to continue within the so-called "free grace" movement, please stop confusing people by calling yourself a Baptist. Either leave your Baptist church, or if the entire church has been infected with your views, please re-name your religious organization. Become "Another Gospel Assembly" or "New Teaching Congregation" or "Dallas Seminary Memorial Community Church" or "Ryrie and Hodges Memorial Chapel" or "Curtis Hutson Community Church" or "First Church of Hyles." You aren't a Baptist, and you don't preach the Baptist gospel.  Why pretend that you are what you are not? Admit that you have repudiated the historic Baptist and Biblical gospel, leave the true churches of Christ alone, and go on your own separate way in your new and false perversion of the blessed gospel of Jesus Christ, the Lord and Savior.



KJB1611 said...

We have signficant numbers of proponents of the so-called "free grace" position who read this blog. Why is there no response here? Why no "you are incorrect; most Baptists objected to the definitions above and said they were works salvation, a false Lorship gospel, etc., and here is the evidence"? Or if that is impossible, why no "yes, there is no evidence historically for our position among Baptist churches, so we will cease calling ourselves Baptists"? Or why no "Yes, you are right--we will change"? Is not the silence in response to this blog post most eloquent--yet tragically so?

Kent Brandenburg said...


I was thinking of writing a similar comment.

Anonymous said...

Maybe we are just stunned to actually have it stated that being a Baptist is equated to being saved. I always thought the jokes about Baptists thinking they were the only ones in Heaven were just that- I guess not.
I suppose by the use of these confessions that if we do not espouse to the heresy of Calvinism then we are not a true Baptist either. Very interesting.

Kent Brandenburg said...

I would stay anonymous too with that insight, but I printed it because I would like to hear Thomas's response. I would say that he published several confessions of Baptists. And you call the confessions, ironically, heresy. If a bunch of people are confessing something from the Bible, lots of churches signing on to the same belief, the people opposing the confession are the heretics. If you're not a heretic, it would seem that you could produce a confession that has your point of view. Someone that has a new view, not at all historic, would have the factious position.

Being Catholic wouldn't connote with being saved. One would think that salvation would be represented by a group that divided from the works perversion of the gospel of Catholicism, and let's see, who would that be? Let's start with those who opposed infant sprinkling and baptismal regeneration. Who would that be?

Anonymous said...

I did not say the confessions were heretical, but that the tenants of Calvinism are, of which the London and Philadelphia confessions subscribe. Do you really believe that God chooses some to hell and others to heaven?
"By the decree of God, for the manifestation of His glory, some men and angels are predestined, or preordained to eternal life to the praise of His glorious grace; and the rest are foreordained to everlasting death, in just condemnation for their sin, to the praise of glorious justice. 

4.These angels and men thus predestined and foreordained, and particularly and unchangeable designed, and their number so certain and definite, that it cannot be either increased or decreased. 

5.Those mankind that are predestined to life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid, according to His eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of His will, has chosen in Christ unto everlasting glory, out of His mere free grace and love, without any other thing in the creature as a condition or cause moving Him thereunto. 

6.As God has appointed the elect unto glory, so He has, by the eternal and most free purpose of His will, foreordained all the means thereunto; wherefore they who are elected, being fallen in Adam, are redeemed by Christ, are effectually called unto faith in Christ, by His Spirit working in due season, are .... justified, adopted, sanctified, and kept by His power through faith unto salvation; neither are any other redeemed by Christ, or effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only. "

Kind of hard to have your cake and eat it too. If churches do not subscribe to LS and based on these confessions definition of repentance then they need to take down their signs and change their names, then should you not do the same since a number of the baptist confessions recognize the existence of the church invisible?
Of the Church

1. The catholic or universal church, which (with respect to the internal work of the Spirit and truth of grace) may be called invisible, consists of the whole number of the elect, that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one, under Christ, the head thereof; and is the spouse, the body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.

(Heb. 12:23; Col. 1:18; Eph. 1:10, 22, 23, 5:23, 27, 32)

2. All persons throughout the world, professing the faith of the gospel, and obedience unto God by Christ according unto it, not destroying their own profession by any errors everting the foundation, or unholiness of conversation, are and may be called visible saints; and of such ought all particular congregations to be constituted.

Could we then say that you are not a true baptist because you do not believe in an invisible church. Now that would not be very gracious would it?
The point is that you will never find a confession to which every baptist then or now would subscribe to in every particular and to say that one is not a baptist because he doesn't agree with one part of a confession is shortsighted and illogical.

Anonymous said...

By the way I tend to agree with you on the posts you have had concerning the proper emphasis on the Gospel, I just think that posts such as this one will drive away rather than help (imho).

Kent Brandenburg said...

Baptist is historic. You are a Baptist because you are historic. What have Baptists believed? They believed what is reported here for salvation. There is no other historical position, Calvinist or otherwise. The new position, the FG position, didn't arise from Baptists.

Tyler Robbins said...

I agree with your point. You have to trade your autonomy, your self-lordship, for something else when you're saved. It must be the Lordship of Christ.

My copy of Lumpkins' Baptist Confessions of Faith is at church, but I am not sure the various General Baptist, not to mention Free Will Baptist, confessions agree with the Lordship position. Do they? I'm honestly asking, not trying to be snide!

I'll check tomorrow. Be interested in your response.

Kent Brandenburg said...

I'm surprised Thomas never commented. He must be very busy. Maybe he'll get to it tomorrow. This is not a priority (as it shouldn't be).

Thomas Helwys said this in his confession and he was Arminian: "That every Church is to receive in all their members by Baptism upon the Confession of their faith and sins wrought by the preaching of the Gospel, according to the primitive Institution (Matthew 28:19) and practice (Acts 2:41)." I can't call his position on salvation biblical or orthodox, and it is no wonder the General Baptists quickly did go apostate, despite his warnings, but even he said something different than FG, as an Arminian.

Smyth, who didn't believe in original sin, wrote: "That men, of the grace of God through the redemption of Christ, are able (the Holy Spirit, by grace, being before unto them grace prevement) to repent, to believe, to turn to God, and to attain to eternal life; so on the other hand, they are able themselves to resist the Holy Spirit, to depart from God, and to perish for ever." FG would repudiate that as well.

Kent Brandenburg said...


I'm not saying that being a Baptist means Calvinism. I've not said that. But no Baptist said what the FG say.

KJB1611 said...

Dear Anonymous,

Could you please quote the part where I said only Baptists are in heaven? Thanks.

Dear Tyler, Anonymous, and everyone else:

Please note that I did not site only TULIP Confesions. The Orthodox Creed, for example, affirms unlimited atonement, while the London Baptist Confession teaches limited atonement. Both General and Particular Baptist views were in agreement on repentance and Lordship. I also didn't site only confessions that affirm a universal church or that confess only a local church, but both; the New Hamphsire Confession confeses only a local, visible church, while other Baptist confessions I cited teach both the universal and local position.

There were debates among Baptists about the universal church (or lack thereof); debates about the points of Calvinism; debates about lots of things, but there is no historical evidence of the anti-Lordship or so-called "free grace" positoin that I am aware of among any significant group of Baptists, whether General, Particular, unaffiliated, etc. Of course, there are some confessions of faith that are less detailed on some issues than others, but as I stated in my post, "No Baptist statements of faith ever denounced these extremely widespread and widely adopted confessional statements [on repentance] as teaching works salvation, as front-loading works to the gospel, or anything of the sort." That includes General, Particular, European, American, etc. Baptist confessions. The anti-Lordship or so-called "free grace" position does not exist in Baptist confessional history. So if it is the true gospel, then Baptists have all follwed a false gospel for centuries, and advocates of the "free grace" position ought to denounce Baptists as false teachers proclaiming a false gospel rather than claiming to be Baptists. To claim that Lordship salvation has been recently introduced into Baptist churches, or is a new thing somehow starting to spread in them, is a radically ahistorical and revisionistic view of history. On the contrary, the statements on repentace above represent the historic Baptist--and historic old evangelical, by the way, that is, the historic evangelical Protestant view also--on the response to the gospel. The "free grace" gospel is a new religion, and its advocates ought to be honest and admit it is so.

In case anyone reading this doesn't know, I reject Calvinism. I also reject new-evangelicalism and would never have fellowship with John MacArthur, and I have never read a book by him in my life. This debate is not about whether MacArthur is a great guy, a bad guy, or anything like that. It is a question of the true gospel historically confessed and defended by Baptist churches and old evangelicalism versus the new "free grace" corruption and perversion of the gospel.

KJB1611 said...

BTW, please pardon the typos in my comment above. I didn't pour over my comment as carefully as thousands of Baptist churches have poured over the careful and precise language of their confessions. :-)

Bill Hardecker said...

It's times like these I wish I had access to Lumpkin's Confessions. If you know where I could access it online or a digital version of it or perhaps on CD-Rom, please do tell.

Here is a 1524 confession by Balthasar Hubmaier:

1. Faith alone makes us pious before God.

2. This belief is recognition of the mercy of God, since He hath redeemed us by the sacrifice of His only-begotten Son, and this excludes all nominal Christians who have only an historical belief in God.

3. Such a faith must not be idle, but must reach up toward God in thankfulness, and toward men in all good works of brotherly love. And all works of penance must be abandoned, such as the burning of candles, the use of palms and holy water.

In point #1 he believes in faith alone for Salvation. in point #2 he recognizes the difference between true believers and false believers (or mere professors). And in point #3 he describes saving faith (i.e. faith alone) as a faith that is not idle, but a faith that (of necessity) produces good works.
A free grace proponent would have issues with points #2 and #3.

ALSO, as an aside, I am noticing something historical here. Tom replying in just a few short paragraphs! Wonderful. I love Tom's points on the differences between the confessions (local church vs. universal church). More please.

Tyler Robbins said...

Just read a review of another "Four Views of . . ." book. This one was on the role of works at the final judgment. The reviewer takes the Grace Evengelical Society (the Free Grace folks) to task for their dangerous twisting of Scripture.

The review is worth reading for that alone, and it ties in with your article here. Thought I'd pass it along -

Kent Brandenburg said...

Thanks Bill.

Thanks Tyler.

I appreciate your reading and participation.

Brendon said...

Thanks for this and the other posts exposing the "Free Grace" position as both unscriptural and ahistoric among true churches.

A while ago I read Benjamin Keach's "Catechism of the Principles of the Christian Religion" (1702). Here are his entries relating to Repentance:

Qu. What is true Repentance?
Ans. True Repentance is a saving Grace, wrought in the Soul, by God's Spirit, whereby a Sinner comes to have a true Sight and Sense of Sin, and of his own lost and undone condition by Nature, and also apprehendeth by the Illumination of the Holy Ghost, the tender Mercy of God in Christ; which worketh in him Godly Sorrow and Grief for his Sin, causing him also to hate and loath it, and to turn from it unto God, Acts 5:31; Psalm 51:3,4; Acts 2:37; 2 Cor 7:10; Psalm 112:59

Qu. How may a weak and doubting Christian know that his Repentance is true?
Ans. He that hath true Repentance wrought in him, doth leave or turn from every Sin; his secret Sins, as well as open and scandalous Sins; the same Sin which before seemed sweet and profitable to him, yet now he hateth it, because he is so convinced of the great evil which is in it, and how hateful and contrary it is to the pure nature of God, Psalm 19:12,13; Prov 9:17; Psalm 11:2,9,16 Psalm 51:4; Jer 44:4

Qu. What other signs do you give of a Christian who is justified, having true Repentance wrought in him?
Ans. He desires as much to have his Sins mortified as pardoned; to be freed from the filth of them, as well as from the guilt of them; in a word, to be sanctified as well as saved, to be made holy here, as well as happy hereafter, Psalm 51:6,7,10; Matt 5:6

Qu. What think you of that Faith which an ungodly person hath, some Men that are very wicked, who love, and live in Sin, say they believe and rely upon Christ for Salvation?
Ans. A wicked and impenitent person, who loves and lives in Sin, hath not one dram of true Faith; and though such say they believe and rely upon Christ, yet 'tis presumption in them. The nature of Faith is to cleanse and purifie the Heart and Life of him that hath it, Acts 15:9; 1 John 3:3

KJB1611 said...

Good point. Thanks.

Michael S. Alford said...

I always try to give a writer the benfit of the doubt, especially when I enjoy their writing so much. I sit and think and ponder and wonder to myself 'Is he saying what I think he's saying?'. I hope people would extend the same courtesy to me, especially ince my writing os so poor on occassion.
Having said that, I'm naturally reluctant to endorse arguments that begin with Baptist history as one of their pillars. I attend a independent Baptist church, but consider myself primarily a Bible believer. It is interesting to see what the historic Baptist position appears to be, but that doesnt, in and of itself, make that the correct position.
Secondly,most of my experience with people that espouse 'lordship salvation'(their term) was when I was a young Christian. I had lived a horribly sinful life, and it took time for the Holy spirit to show me how vile some of my habits were, and to give me the victory over them. The LS peopel were quick to condemn me as possibly unregenrate because I still had an appetite for sin. I assume that is not the position you are taking. I am assuming that you are not saying that a believer who still struggles with sin is lost.

KJB1611 said...

Dear Mr. Alford,

Please note that the article above referenced exegetical evidence; it did not begin with Baptist history, but it did demonstrate what Baptist history teaches.

Please note also that Romans 7 and Galatians 5 indicate not only that it is possible for believers to struggle with sin, but that all believers will continually struggle with sin their entire lives – however, none of them are under the dominion of sin.

Thanks for the comment.

JimCamp65 said...

Thomas, If I may go somewhat off topic...

I agree with that Romans 7 & Galatians 5 plainly state that believers still have the old man, the law of sin indwelling them. This leads to the
great problem in our day of professing believers involved in all sorts of open disobedience & claiming these passages as their excuse for rebellion. I mean specifically shacking up (fornication), liquor, & general un-Christian conduct.

My question is, could you describe the difference between being under the dominion of sin (the lost man), as opposed to having the law of sin in our members (the saved man)? At what point is a person not changed internally (new man), & at what point is a babe Christian struggling with his past life?

Thanks ahead of time,
Jim Camp

Michael S. Alford said...


Thanks for the clarification. we are in agreement , then.

KJB1611 said...

Dear Bro Camp,

I don't believe Scripture gives a specific point that is not "fuzzy" to an extent. What we do see in, e. g., 1 John, is both that belivers still sin (1 John 1:8-10) and that believers characteristically practice righteousness (1 John 3). The unbeliever, by contrast, cannot practice righteousness (1 John 3). Someone who is involved in the sins of, say, 1 Cor 6:9-11 needs to be challenged about the plain testimony of the passage. If he is deeply convicted, repents, and starts living like a Christian, we can treat him like a believer (like the guy who was put under church discipline in 1 Cor for terrible immorality and then repented by 2 Cor). If he keeps on going in his way, he must be treated like an unbeliever. God alone sees the heart, but we have to go by the outward appearance, and we can treat as believers those who live like believers. If a believer is very backslidden, he will not be able to have Biblical assurance of salvation until he gets right with God. I believe that someone who is not sure if he is saved, who honesty studies the book of 1 John, will be enabled by the Holy Spirit to discern his spiritual condition.

Thanks for the comment.

JimCamp65 said...

Bro. Thomas,

I think that is a very solid answer & helpful. Thanks.

Jim Camp

JimCamp65 said...

Bro. Thomas,

Thanks for the answer. IMO, that is very well put & helpful.

Jim Camp