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Sunday, 5 May 2013

Lordship Salvation - Fact Or Fallacy?

There was always that time of day Mary particularly feared. That was at the dinner table in the evening with her father, mother and her siblings. Thus the dinner table should have been the one place where the whole family gets together after a typical day, a time to chat and share how each member spent their time. Instead, Dad would often fly off the handle, banging his fist on the table so hard, that everything on it would jump into the air, and utter an expletive of angry words to any member of the family, but mostly directed at his wife, Mary's mother.

As the young girl trembled at yet another of her father's explosive tempers, she vowed to herself:
I'll never marry a man who is like my father!

Some years later, Mary met Bill, who treated her with kindness and love. He too seemed to have a high moral standard, but this did not bother Mary during their courting days, because he kept on showering love and affection, by which her own love for him was engendered. When he at last proposed, she joyfully accepted and wedded him. But it took some weeks later, well after their honeymoon ended, that one morning, as she cooked breakfast, she burned the toast, and the room filling with smoke stirred her husband's ire. He banged his fist hard on the table and shouted aloud to her what a damned fool she was.

Mary reeled back, and thought:
Oh my God, I married a man who is just like my father!

That morning, something inside her died. She could no longer see her husband in the same way she saw him during their courtship. As time went on, she bore him children, and their father developed a pride of his own parental status, yet she stayed around to make sure that her children had a good start in life.

Then one day, while the kids were at school, she met Mike at the office where she worked part time. With her own love for Bill long dead, she saw Mike as a possible means of escape from a loveless, fear-bound marriage, in which she felt imprisoned. Eventually, she falls in love with Mike, and files a divorce from Bill. It was a messy affair, what with the Court case on who will have custody of the kids, but watching their parents separate brought much fear and insecurity within them.

The characters in this tale are fiction, but they are based on a true story involving living people. If Mike turned out to be a far better husband than Bill had been, chances would be that her second marriage will endure to old age. But supposing Mike too had a ferocious temper and a high moral standard she was not able to keep? The most likely scenario would be a second divorce, followed by a vow that she would resist any further attempt to be wooed by another man who comes her way, and may even join a feminist group or club. In turn, if she had won custodial rights of her children Bill had fathered, she would end up as one of many single mothers living in the land.

Rather like the Samaritan woman who crossed paths with Jesus Christ while he sat at the well. She has had five husbands, had divorced them all and she was already living with another man. Back in those days, as within the Middle East to this day, a wife was looked and treated as a man's property. This Samaritan woman fell in love and married five different guys at different times, and each of her husbands treated her like scum. When she met Jesus, not only did he tell her everything she had ever done, but he loved her, and loved her in a way that was to change her life forever. He loved her as she was, and by her own choice and the thrill in wallowing in such love, she went out to her city and invited them to see this man who she believes to be the Jewish Messiah.

And this, I think, is what following Christ is all about. I have read blogs on this site as well as books on the Lordship of Christ, which may bear what looks like an admirable slogan: If Christ is not Lord of all, He is not Lord at all.

It this sense, Jesus is looked upon as a kind of employer or leader rather than who he really is. To the one who teaches Lordship salvation, first I must renounce all my sins, deny myself of any pleasure that is looked upon as unwholesome, take up the cross and follow him. I think that there just might be a problem about renouncing of sin. Talking of sexual sin, for example, I have found it okay to refrain from sex which is outside of marriage. But just looking at another person with a degree of lust is classed by Jesus Christ as adultery as well, but I'll be lying if I were to say that had not happened since conversion. And calling someone a fool without a proper cause is classed as murder, yet I've been angry many times. So is snobbery or snootiness is classed as murder also, according to the Apostle James. Then going back to the sin of adultery, marrying a divorcee is adultery, according to Jesus. By divorcing Bill and marrying Mike, Mary becomes an adulteress along with her second husband. Yet I recall not that long ago when I attended a housegroup, and one of the female members was going through a painful divorce. The leader of the group declared this to be condemned by some Christians on the basis of adultery. She burst into tears as she stormed out of the meeting. How could she love a God with such a picky nature? Yet that is what Lordship Salvation seem to demand.
And music, one of many I should deny myself from if I am to take up the cross to follow Jesus. Most Christians would feel smug for not liking the punk group Sex Pistols of the seventies, or the rock  band, Iron Maiden with their 1982 album Number of the Beast. But I happen to like and enjoy listening to George Harrison's hit, My Sweet Lord, which is a reverence to the Hindu Hare Krishna Mantra. Or listening to Enya with her smooth New Age songs and instrumentals. But then again, I ought to take full delight in Christian songs. The snag with that is I must love such spiritual songs, or else if I don't, it might be proof that I'm not saved after all. Yet there were a number of songs which, to my mind, seemed totally naff, such as the one which contains the line, I am richer than a king - not exactly inspiring if I struggle week by week to keep our budget afloat. Or that other song which has the words, Let it rain, let it rain, let the rain fall...when I was forced to remain housebound for much of the working week due to atrocious weather! It makes me wonder about the mind-thought of these songwriters. Then another song, These are the days of Elijah...Yea, indeed. When I visualise a man in a suit leaving his detached home in a leafy Surrey suburb to climb into his saloon car for a short drive to the office - it's as close to the days of Elijah as it would get. Seriously, since I have a preference for George Harrison and Enya over some spiritual songs, Jesus must be scowling at me, according to Lordship Salvation.

But here, on the subject of spiritual songs, I am aware of the songwriter's sincerity in producing such music. I am richer than a king is a referral to our Heavenly heritage and that we as believers are already seated there despite our daily struggles and gross unfairness in this life. And Let the rain fall on us is about the Holy Spirit filling us as a corporate body so we would have an impact among unbelievers around us, particularly at work. The issue with Elijah is still to me somewhat of a mystery, but the point here made is that according to Lordship Salvation, Jesus can't be very happy with me in preferring secular music, and may even question my salvation.
Another example maybe, is riding on a nail-biting roller-coaster yelling at the fast, downhill drop when I should be spending my time praying, meditating or reading the Bible. Or forbidding to watch television. Around 1976, I had gotten involved with a Pentecostal group which met weekly at the leader's home, and this guy had visited the homes of members to ensure that there were no TVs present. I had left that group before he had the chance to visit my apartment. He also insisted that men had short hair and women met with their heads covered, and salvation was lost if anyone don't tow the line, loses or renounced their faith. In such an environment, I may indeed "take up my cross and follow him" but God also seemed to present a callous nature which is easy to fear but difficult to love.

And I think this was the main problem with the house of Israel, particularly during and after the Exodus. I read about the almighty power of God as Moses defeats Pharaoh, then opens up the Red Sea so that the Hebrews can cross on dry land, watch the sea close back in to witness the pursuing Egyptian army drown, feed them with manna and deliver the Decalogue from the summit of a high mountain. But in reading these pages, together with the whole book of Leviticus, I felt very little of God's love to the Hebrews. Very demanding? Yes. Perfect? Yes. Holy? Yes. Just by reading the Law I could see a lot of goodness and fairness for each other, but being executed for collecting sticks on the Sabbath? Or just for swearing at my parents in frustration? Or for having sex with a woman not my wife? Or even one person who questioned the leadership of Moses. For me personally, in these pages I can't visualise God as a loving Father who understands my weak frame yet accepts me for who I am, but rather as someone who is constantly looking out for any mistake I make and clobber me for it.

This, I believe, was how the house of Israel viewed God as well. The rest of the Old Testament is a melancholic record of the rebellious nation who had a golden calf made soon after the Decalogue was delivered. When the calf was destroyed, the people drank from a nearby stream and worshipped, but I tend to sense that it was through fear of punishment rather than true contrition borne out of love. The nation rebelled right through to the exile to Babylon, with only short periods of revival, such as under King David and Solomon. By the time of the prophet Jeremiah, the nation was in such a bad state that repentance was out of the question and the exile was the only means of discipline.

Yet God knew of all this from before history. In Romans 5:20 Paul writes that the law was added so that sin might increase. In other words, although the law of God was perfect in itself, it brought the wrath of God, as sin within myself caused me to kick back in rebellion. And I should know. During my teenage years I was an atheist, after failing to keep the law of the Roman Catholic Church in order to enter Heaven after death. In the synoptic Gospels (i.e. Matthew, Mark, Luke) where the true meaning of the law was revealed, most of the teaching of Jesus was directed to Jews, who thought that by keeping the law of Moses will receive eternal life. Many believed that they were doing okay. The rich young ruler was one of them, although he was aware that he missed out on something. When Jesus exposed his love of his own wealth which brought him security, it was then that his failure to keep the commandments lay mostly with his sin of worshipping his riches instead of God. As one who believed in Lordship Salvation myself in the 1980s, I failed to read what Jesus concluded: That what is impossible with man is possible with God. In other words, without a special working of God in our hearts, it is impossible to keep the commandments perfectly to the level of inheriting eternal life.

In the beginning, God created us with a free choice to love him. He didn't want automation. Instead, he desired a true relationship of love. Because God himself is love. This perfect eternal love flowed unhindered between Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Throughout the whole of eternity there was no hint of disagreement within the members of the Trinity. The whole Godhead agreed to create the earth and put humankind on it with the purpose of sharing in this love within the Trinity. When sin entered the world, the culprit for this was Lucifer, and the battle for men's hearts was between God and Lucifer, not with man himself.

God didn't say that he will defeat the Devil by giving man a set of laws to keep. Instead he declared that a descendant of Adam will bruise his head, and he in turn will bruise his heel. Jesus Christ did just that - when he died on the cross, Lucifer was defeated. Jesus Christ is the incarnation of the Second Person of the Trinity. He is God becoming flesh, a necessity to redeem humankind and restore the love relation between them and himself. Because Jesus is God incarnate, he is Lord. In fact, that is precisely why he is Lord - because Jesus Christ is God Almighty! When Paul wrote that no one can say Jesus is Lord except through the Holy Spirit, he was referring to him as being God, not merely a leader, employer or teacher.

One way God likens his relationship with the believing saint is likened to the husband/wife relationship. Jesus had referred to his Church (universal body of believers) as his Bride. As a believer, I am part of that Bride. So are you. But it wasn't by any effort on my part or yours. Any effort on our part would have been utterly impossible, simply because Jesus Christ is God and we are not! Therefore to believe, I did not throw all my secular music records away into the trash bin, neither did I promise never to visit the cinema, amusement park or even from watching television, yet neither did I give my life unconditionally and unreservingly to Jesus Christ, promising to take up the cross and follow him daily in order to secure my salvation. Yet I have read and listened to Lordship Salvationists teach precisely this! By the end of the day I wondered just whose grace saves; God's grace - or my own?

Poor Mary. Her husband had a very high moral standard, high enough to pass judgement when she burned the toast. The result was that something in their marriage died. She was a loyal female who believed in both keeping her marriage alive and making sure her children were taken care of, yet it lacked that vital spark of life. Mike was the easy way out.

But supposing on that morning, while smoke was filling the kitchen, Bill had put his arms around his wife and gently whispered,
Darling, don't worry about the toast. You can heat another slice of bread, or if you wish, I'll do it. Oh Mary, I love you so much. You are everything to me, and you will always be.

How much more would the marriage have blossomed! She would have felt secure, revelling in her husband's love. One thing for sure, Mike at the office would have had absolutely no appeal to her. Her steadfast love for her husband would have drowned out any desire Mike would have tried to engender. Just to make Bill happy would have been her best interest, eager to pursue.

And that's how Jesus is to us, and if believed to be true, our response would be in love, knowing that his love for us is unconditional. He has taken all our sins, all our imperfections and all our shortcomings on the cross. God the Father will never ever see us as sinful or falling short ever again, as he has removed our sins as far away is east is from the West and our sins he will see no more.

Lordship Salvation? Into the bin along with the burnt toast. After all, both taste awful.


  1. Hi Frank,
    I can't imagine anyone on earth having the love that matches the love of God in Christ Jesus. Once He started to reveal that love through the teachings of the Holy Spirit, there was no question of turning from Him to find something better. Knowing Him makes relationship with people better too.

  2. Unfortunately, many who teach Lordship salvation have the picture of God as an abusive husband, rather than a loving father. They don't understand that while the Christian wants to please God, there are times when they don't succeed. We are kept by the power of God, not by our own efforts.

  3. Praise God that He gave us free will, and that He offers us matchless, infinite love. We would be fools not to freely choose that love, and to want to do all we can to please Him. But praise God that when we fall short, He loves us anyway, and waits for us with open arms to return to loving fellowship with Him. We did nothing to earn our salvation and there is nothing we can do to lose it.
    Thanks for the great post & God bless,

  4. This is my first time hearing of, "Lordship Salvation". It seems like everyday somebody concocts a new doctrine.I tend to be a bit longwinded in my replies to bloggers post's, this time I will try to be a succinct as possible for me.

    There is no way to justify the behavior of the Israelite's in the wilderness, after they saw things we never saw and may never see in this side of life, yet still their hearts lingered back to their day's in Egypt. How many do that these days? Many. God is not a tyrant as some gather Him to be after reading certain scriptures. He is loving and just. Because of His love and justice He repays those according to their works, rightfully.

    The Israelite's got what they justly deserved. Whether a person believes their rebellion was warranted because they were maybe provoked, because some didn't see God as loving when He punished those according to what they deserved. "But in reading these pages, together with the whole book of Leviticus, I felt very little of God's love to the Hebrews. Very demanding? Yes. Perfect? Yes. Holy? Yes. Just by reading the Law I could see a lot of goodness and fairness for each other, but being executed for collecting sticks on the Sabbath? Or just for swearing at my parents in frustration? Or for having sex with a woman not my wife? Or even one person who questioned the leadership of Moses. For me personally, in these pages I can't visualize God as a loving Father who understands my weak frame yet accepts me for who I am, but rather as someone who is constantly looking out for any mistake I make and clobber me for it." If that is truly what you saw after reading what happened in that wilderness, It's kind of troubling, but it is your perspective and opinion. I saw God fairness and Love all over everything He did.

    God later says, "For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dies, says the Lord GOD: therefore turn yourselves, and live" Ezekiel 18:32. There is a way that seems right to a man...." by the way that's the way which most take, "but its end is the way to death." Proverbs 14:12. If God feels somebody should be punished for questioning Moses athority which was rightly given by God, yes that person should be punished. If a child flips out and curses their parent out of frustration, yes that child should be punished, it is right. We are to be grateful though for God's grace and mercy we have these days, especially by sending His only begotten son to receive what we deserved. In days of old, like in the wilderness, God displayed much God His wrathful side, all of which was a warning for us, yes God is love, but He does have a side nobody should want to experience.

  5. God indeed loves us and want us to love Him from a sincere heart, not out of compulsion, reluctance, or a hidden bitterness of any kind.
    The scriptures that sum all up for me is this, "Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God's slaves." 1 Peter 2:16. How many are doing this though, have been set free, but yet still indulge knowingly in things they ought not to. By saying, "Oh, I'm free, and God will not punish me for this or for that, He will have mercy on me". Yes, He extends is mercy on each of us daily, the just and the unjust, that's why we aren't struck with lightning the second we do something wrong. We must remember though, all will be paid according to their works, eventually.

    To be frank, Frank, I think that the entire idea of "Lordship Salvation" was a creation from a person who does not want to deny his/herself anything. A person who simply wants to continue in the "old man" yet receive the just rewards of the "new man". A person cannot put old wine in new wineskins. Like I said over in my post, denying yourself of anything is hard for a person to do, but it is required that we deny ourselves certain things, especially things that will make us unclean. For one, it may be a certain type of music, for another it maybe certain movies and tv shows etc etc. Jesus never said you have to stop listening to music all together, if that's what a person gathers from His message on self denial, I am concerned that person misunderstood what Jesus was saying big time. Here it is in a nutshell, "For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it." If you decide to choose to cleave onto certain vices that you feel bring you joy, but in actuality are destroying you spiritually, you will lose your life, but if you cast away those things you will find true irrevocable perfect joy, in Jesus Christ. We must remember to count the cost, and if there is a cost to count that means we gave somethings up.

    Greta post Frank, again I am longwinded, it's a bad habit perhaps. Very interesting topic like I said in the beginning. If you feel I misunderstood anything you said forgive me. God Bless you brother.

  6. Great post Frank, and much food for thought. I hadn't heard of Lordship Salvation before to be honest so this is new to me. I can say this that there are thing in the OT that I think about me and puzzle me, lots of things in fact; the Israelites are commanded to take the Promised Land in the pursuit of that to destroy completely some of the tribes in their way. How does this fit with the image of a lovig God?

    '...that other song which has the words, Let it rain, let it rain, let the rain fall...when I was forced to remain housebound for much of the working week due to atrocious weather!' All this pondering and you still have time to crack a funny too! Worth the price of admission alone!