8f: What is the correct Biblical teaching concerning Lordship salvation?
ISSUE: Jesus is called Lord throughout the New Testament. Those who would advocate Lordship salvation, teach that true salvation rests not only on believing in Christ as your Savior but that believing includes committing to obeying Him as Lord. Opponents to this teaching would claim that “obeying Jesus as Lord” is works-based salvation and therefore in error since salvation is fully a work of God.
Understanding the correct answer to this question is crucial if we are going to teach people how one comes to be truly saved. It has eternal consequences for people. It can mean the difference in someone living a pagan life, believing that they are a Christian and saved, when indeed they aren’t and are bound for hell. Therefore, one must have a gracious but yet firm attitude when conveying what God’s word teaches about this topic, doing so with all gentleness and respect.
A key presupposition is what does it mean for Jesus Christ to be Lord?
The Greek word “kurios”, κύριος, is from kuros (supremacy). It occurs 748 times; the Authorized Version translates it as “Lord” 667 times, “lord” 54 times, “master” 11 times, “sir” six times, “Sir” six times, and translated miscellaneously four times. Strong’s Concordance defines the word as: “1 he to whom a person or thing belongs, about which he has power of deciding; master, lord. 1a the possessor and disposer of a thing. 1a1 the owner; one who has control of the person, the master. 1a2 in the state: the sovereign, prince, chief, the Roman emperor. 1b is a title of honor expressive of respect and reverence, with which servants salute their master. 1c this title is given to: God, the Messiah.” As can be seen, the majority of times the word provides us with the understanding of “possessor, who has control; master”. Only in the gospels do we see Jesus called “sir” or “master”. Although the most emphatic time Jesus is called Lord is when he is also called God, by Thomas, after the resurrection in the gospel of John 20:28. In the epistles we see the title Lord given to Jesus Christ numerous times, e.g., Romans 1:4, 7. It is also clear that Jesus is being referred to as deity or God. And again, according to the Greek definition in the most basic form means one who is in control or possessor or master. So if Jesus Christ is referred to as Lord for Christians this implies that we are His possession and He is master over us. This means if we lay claim to Him as Lord we would then obey Him as one who is our possessor and owner.
Must one believe in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord to be truly saved?
Now that we have established what the meaning of “Lord” is when used in regards to the title given to Jesus Christ, we must determine what God specifies as how we are to be saved by Jesus Christ.
1) To be saved and become true believers Jesus must be Savior and Lord. Romans 10:9 states, “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation”. Here we see that believing is in conjunction with confessing Jesus as Lord. They can not be separated.
2) Although Christ did not use the word “believe”, He made it clear, as recorded in the gospels, that if you were to be a true follower, (and therefore a true believer), of His you must deny yourself and everything else. In Matthew 16:24, Mark 8:34, and Luke 9:23 all state this. In Luke 14:26 He makes it crystal clear when Jesus says, “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.”
What does it mean to have Jesus Christ as Lord?
Having established how one is saved, we now show what scripture says about a Christian who demonstrates Jesus Christ is Lord in his life. To answer this question one must understand who we are as believers in Jesus Christ.
1) All true believers were baptized into the body of Christ and are individual members of His body i.e. His church, (I Corinthians 12:13, 27), and Jesus Christ is head or rules over the church, therefore, we conclude that He rules over us.
2) Ephesians 1:22 reads; “And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church.” Since God put all things in subjection to Him, which includes the church, we must therefore be obedient to Him.
3) If we are saved, our faith will be evident in our obedience to Christ as seen in I John 2:3 “By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments.” And conversely the test of a non believer is in the verse that follows, I John 2:4, The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in Him.”
The Bible is clear:
1) To be saved one must have faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and this faith implies submission to Christ as Lord. Romans 10:9.
2) A true follower (disciple) of Christ must deny himself and put Christ above all. Luke 14:26. This means Jesus Christ must be our Lord as well as Savior.
3) As members of Christ’s body, the church, we are to be in submission to Him because He is the head of the church. The test of whether or not we are true believers will be evident in our obedience or disobedience to Christ. I John 2: 3, 4.