September 14, 2008

Companion Articles on Lordship Salvation

Dear Guests:

I want to link you my blog partner JP’s Free Grace Free Speech blog. He has been doing a series on the errors of Lordship Salvation. Kevl, another blog partner at On My Walk, has been making valuable contributions to these discussions.

Kevl is also developing a review of John MacArthur’s latest edition of The Gospel According to Jesus, which I am looking forward to. The link is to my brief review. Once Kev begins posting his review I will link to it.

Please visit JP’s most recent contributions to the Lordship debate-

Free Grace vs. Lordship Salvation

Position vs. Condition

The Gospel According to John MacArthur, Part 1

At Kev’s blog read-

An Example of Lordship Salvation on the Street



  1. Hi Lou,

    Thanks for all the links. The reader who wishes to see this topic in real-time practice may be fascinated to follow the whole thing.

    Every time I think I've learned "enough" about this subject I'm amazed to see the onion peeled back yet again.

    There are matters of "form" in the language of Lordship Salvation argument that really stop mattering once the "function" is observed. Because the "form" is not reflective of what Scripture says it can be anything. The conversation you have linked to (and it's various parts) shows this beautifully.

    The conversation is exhaustive. Many many texts are discussed, logical arguments and implications are discussed in very frank ways. And we have been given a view into the way the LS proponent views Scripture.

    AND most excitingly, we get to see a couple of proponents do exactly what you and I have written about in the past - promote LS without being aware of what LS says.

    And where the conversation stands currently is this. After a month of discussion on the "form" of the argument the implications, the "function" of the argument is clearly seen.

    While the LS proponent often will not go so far as to say their works will save them, they require these works in the person who is about to be saved, and who will in the end be saved. The "function" of this is that one can not have assurance of their Salvation without the "evidence" of works.

    And since these works must continue as they "endure until the end" in order to prove that they are saved there is no moment in their life where they can stand only on the redemptive work of the Cross and both know and claim they are absolutely saved.

    This is the function. The form is like math.. it either adds up or it doesn't and everyone can spend hours and hours building their equations making them complicated or simple... but in the end does it add up or doesn't it?

    If the Gospel is the Power of God unto Salvation, then it better be powerful. If it leaves one unable to know they are saved for sure then I question the validity of the message. I have never ever once read of God being wishy washy either in His Word or in His action, and surely not in His function.

    Therefore, by form we see the error, and by function we see the devastating result.

    Sorry this is so long... I just started typing and it came out... :)


  2. Kev:

    Thanks for the note above. I’d like to see you further develop this theme of “form and function.”

    My experience with the writing and speaking of LS advocates is that they couch their theology in and around orthodox terms. With MacArthur’s TGATJ, for example, you can read ages of good sound teaching on matters pertaining to discipleship, but within those pages you will find the works message of Lordship Salvation. For the casual, non-discerning reader the error is usually missed and that is because it is woven in amongst truth.

    I have listed to sermons, in person and on tape, of an hour in duration. Within those sermons will be about two minutes worth of the LS man-centered, works based message. Most miss it.

    This is why we do all we can to educate, inform and warn a wide cross section of evangelical Christianity believers about this non-saving, works based message of Lordship Salvation. This is why I repeatedly post the most obvious statements by LS advocates that reveal what they truly believe is necessary for salvation. Those statements have never been edited, explained or eliminated. One of the most glaring examples in detailed my article, Summary of Lordship Salvation From a Single Page. I have added this to the revised and expanded edition of my book.

    One quickly finds that John MacArthur and all LS advocates condition salvation NOT on believing, but instead on believing and a commitment to behavior; the “good works” (Eph. 2:10) expected of a born again Christian. A commitment/promise to perform the behavior of a disciple FOR salvation is the Lordship interpretation of the Gospel, and this is works.

    If we help the unsuspecting to know the catch-phrases, how LS calls for commitment to the works of a disciple FOR salvation, they will better be able to recognize it on sight/sound and then refute it.

    Thanks again,


  3. Lou,

    Thanks for linking to my articles on Lordship Salvation. I would like to do more, as time permits. Readers can look forward to more articles in my ongoing series "The Gospel According to John MacArthur".

    As I have interacted with some Lordship Salvation proponents at my blog, it has become quite clear that Lordship Salvation stems from failing to "rightly divide the Word of truth" (2 Tim. 2:15), and is exegetically and contextually weak.

    Like you said, the error of Lordship Salvation can be hard to spot since it is often mixed with truth. This makes it all the more dangerous. We must continue to "contend earnestly for the faith once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3) as set down in Holy Writ.


  4. My thanks to you three gentlemen for addressing this so faithfully.

    JP, I would like to especially thank you for your treatment of important but neglected Dispensational truths regarding our position in Christ. (I suppose I could have just said that on your own blog! :/)

    I am looking forward to Kev's and the rest of JP's articles on MacArthur's newest edition. And, Lou, what's the word on your book? :)

    LS's errors are very hard to spot especially if one does not know about TULIP and how to recognize it when it is taught. Around my area most Christians are not what I would call well taught (though for the most part a lot of them they think they are.) There is not much hunger for doctrine, per se. They want their Christianity practical and immediately applicable to their current life issues. The ones that do want doctrine tend to find it in Reformed authors and "Covenantational" authors such as MacArthur. What they find there seems to address the issues that concern them in a satisfactory way so they just take it, and gladly!- assuming it is correct. And to a large degree it is correct, especially on big dog issues like Purpose Driven, Emergent/Contemplative, New Age, and New Apostolic Reformation. Unfortunately, what MacArthur, et al. counter these Goliaths with is TULIP/LS. Shamefully, even Dispensational men gravitate toward MacArthur even though they should know better. I think the reason for this is because Dispensational writing has become almost exclusively about eschatology. Don't get me wrong- this is a very necessary thing, especially in these times! But the gospel itself and the truth of our position in Christ and such related issues are largely being neglected. (Really, when was the last time you were told from the pulpit to set your mind on things above for you died and your life is hid with Christ in God?) Books that deal with soteriological issues, like Chafer's "Grace, the Glorious Theme" and other important Dispensational works are in short supply. In the mean time, it is primarily the Reformed/TULIP/LS crowd (with some exceptions in the Calvary Chapel churches and one or two AOG/moderate charismatics) who is addressing the major heresies of our day.

    I am almost beginning to suspect that it is only the die hard soteriological Dispensationalists who will remain standing against LS in the end. Who else would know there was even a problem?


  5. Jan, you closed with

    I am almost beginning to suspect that it is only the die hard soteriological Dispensationalists who will remain standing against LS in the end. Who else would know there was even a problem?

    I think this is most likely.

    I was sitting under one of the elder's teaching this morning and the subtle errors of LS were in his message.. I looked around and no one picked up on it.

    I actually had to whisper context into my wife's ear to ensure she was protected.

    He wasn't preaching LS, but the foundations of it were evident in his imagery. He was preaching on Jesus opening the eyes of people. And regeneration prior to salvation was in there, though not directly spoken. I had to remind my wife that the man who asked for his eyes to be opened already knew Jesus was the Son of David and was exercising faith by calling out to the One he knew could help him.


  6. JP/Jan/Kev:

    Thanks for the notes. I will have some thoughts for you in the morning.

    Jan, you are dead on about how the Calvinist/LS crowd is dominating the forum these days. That is one reason why I decided to write and publishing my book on the egregious errors of Lordship Salvation. A response was needed.

    Kind regards,


  7. Kev:

    I have had similar situations where I was hearing LS, but some did not catch it. The delivery is often very subtle and not easily detected.

    Years ago I was with a pastor at a fellowship. This pastor has an M.Div. rejects Calvinism and Lordship Salvation (LS).

    The main speaker wove LS into his presentation. It was obvious to me. We were driving home and I asked the pastor I was with, “Did you catch it?” He asked, “catch what?” I told him it was in the message and he reflected on it and thought maybe he had heard LS, but was not sure.

    We ordered the tape he listened again and was shocked at how LS was carefully woven in to the overall presentation. He determined to understand what LS is so that he would not be caught off guard again.


  8. Jan:

    You asked, “And, Lou, what's the word on your book? :)

    I am working through one subsection of one chapter and I will be done with the revised and expanded edition. Then it will be reviewed by three men.

    I did add my article Summary of LS on a Single Page to the appendix.

    I may change the subtitle. Presently, the subtitle is, Biblical Answers to Lordship Salvation.

    After all that it goes back to the publisher, a new cover design and it will be released.

    Hard to say how long the entire process will take, but it is coming along.

    Thanks for asking.


  9. That's great news about your book, Lou. I'm sure it will be very helpful and I hope it is widely read. I'm looking forward to it for sure!

    What you said about your pastor friend with the M.Div not catching LS- the thing is, he may not have caught the LS but you can bet if you hadn't said anything he would have been affected by it. People may not detect doctrines they don't agree with (or wouldn't if they knew what they were), but they still absorb them anyway. Especially when teaching those doctrines per se is not the main thing the person is trying to do, but are just assumed by the teacher to be true while he is teaching on something else. I guess you might call the effect I'm talking about "overtone." This is especially dangerous because it will be present and effectively swallowed when it is administered in conjunction with combating another error as is so often the case with Reformed works. If a person is receiving the teaching being presented, they might not know they are receiving LS or something else they disagree with, but they are receiving it just the same and it is influencing their beliefs. This is why I don't read MacArthur. I don't care that he has much that is good to say on any number of issues. I don't want to be influenced by him. He is the one accountable for what he is teaching, but I am certainly old enough to be responsible for which teachers I will sit under. Unfortunately, there is a great deal too much uncritical acceptance of Bible teachers these days even by highly trained men.


  10. Hi Jan:

    My Pastor friend would have caught and rejected that LS teaching soon enough. BTW, that incident was in 1997. The LS teaching eventually comes to the fore and then it is easily recognized by trained preachers.

    The problem for some, however, is that enough time goes by and enough subtle exposure could make one susceptible to being deceived. Many times Calvinistic theology, also introduced in a very subtle manner, paves the way for LS.

    One of my greatest concerns is for the Bible college young person who can in just one semester be tragically influenced to accept the works based teaching of Lordship Salvation. Think of it, an 18 year old away from home for the first time. In a Bible doctrines class where the professor and/or GA are committed to propagating LS in the classroom. The prof has impressive credentials and a compelling lecture style and next thing you know the young person is not listening with discernment. With that young person away from home and their local church's pastor, they can be deceived. Not to mention the dorm room theology that must surely go on most nights on the Bible college campus.

    I personally know three young people who went away to Bible college and within one year had their theology reshaped into a hardened Calvinism and Lordship’s commitment to obey FOR salvation. Furthermore, two of them had taken on an elitist attitude, and looked down their noses at their parents or any one who tried to recover them from what they had been drawn into. The parents were greatly saddened that 18 years of teaching at home and in their church was ruined in oneyear at Bible college.

    Anyway, all of this is why we must educate and equip unsuspecting believers with enough information so that they can first recognize the LS error and then refute it from the Scriptures. The latter is why I subtitled my book, Biblical Answers to Lordship Salvation.

    You are also right about the “overtone,” as you described it. I have rarely heard an LS advocate teach the Lordship interpretation of the Gospel, solely in regard to what they require for the reception of salvation. It is almost always introduced through the doctrinal terms of discipleship, which they confuse, and then LS is woven in. I have a good example of this from MacArthur’s 2007 Resolved Conference. Go to An Example of Lordship’s Man-Centered Message, and you will see this example.

    Thanks for the helpful comments. I’m sure my other readers are benefiting form this discussion thread with you, JP and Kevl making good contributions.


  11. "The problem for some, however, is that enough time goes by and enough subtle exposure could make one susceptible to being deceived. Many times Calvinistic theology, also introduced in a very subtle manner, paves the way for LS."

    Yes. It is truly sad to hear about the Bible College incidents. I have heard (not sure where, maybe from here? Or possibly David Cloud's site.) about that sort of thing happening at BJU. Kids go in there and come out Calvinists. I believe it was at Cloud's site where he said something about the "Young Fundamentalists" who are blogging nowadays. These young fundies are LS/Calvinist all the way. Vast departure from their parents.

    Astonishingly, there is a document from a Fundamentalist church in Canada where they had a series of camp meetings. They had invited a certain preacher from Georgia who preached a STRONG LS message- even plagiarized verbatim the first half of MacArthur's chapter on the rich young ruler- yet even in this doctrinally sound Fundamental church saved people- even pastors' wives!- were walking the aisle to get "resaved" because this preacher preached in such a way that they were made to doubt their salvation. Scary stuff!! The leadership was taken to task by a faithful member who was not at the meetings, but listened to the tapes and wrote an analysis of the messages. Apparently the leadership repented of the LS teachings, but the account of what happened and what was being taught is astonishing!!

    It can be found here if you are interested:

    In my own back yard, my pastor, who is a nice sound Dispensationalist and really knows better than this, has been preaching more and more LS sounding sermons (mainly perseverance of the saints stuff, but sometimes he will say things about faith and works going together and even once brought up James 2 as an example of when Abraham was made righteous! Hmmm. Who has he been reading?........

    This is what led me to your site and through you to Kev's and JP's sites. I am one of those you all are educating and equipping. :)


  12. Hi Jan:

    I am out of time for today. I may have something more later tonight or more likely tomorrow.

    For now, I have also heard LS sermons that were essentially trying to get young people lost again, and re-saved. Most of these sermons would leave you thinking the Apostle Peter was never born again.

    Heard one of the whole I was teaching at PCC. One other faculty member and I were on the elevator after that chapel, and fit to be tied. The administration took the right action and corrected the errors in subsequent chapels.


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  14. Jan,

    I am so thankful that you brought up that situation about the church in Canada & the Georgia revivalist. I have read all 142 pages of that at least 3 times from beginning to end & then many other snippets again to get the essence of it in my mind. I would encourage everyone to read it. Take your time, a little at a time. It is riveting. The reason it resonated with me so much is that is so much like my own past experiences. I could write books on it, but I won't obviously. Lou forgive my rambling, but I must say that I emailed the writer of that account, & asked him what had happened since, & I will only say that it is truly a sad account. Praise God for His grace in salvation. May the Lord bless you all.

  15. Forgive my posting again so soon, I meant to say that I had deleted my first post because I was so excited that I had about a million typos!
    Also, I wanted to make clear that I had seen that article about the canadian church many months ago & had the time to read it, I hadn't just now seen it; that is how I had the time to read it so many times. God Bless.

  16. David:

    Thanks for the reply you sent for Jan.

    I am wondering if you'd be willing to write a synopsis of your reading and reaction so that I may publish it here. Would you consider and pray about that?

    This may be something that would equip others to recognize and be protected from these things should they be exposed to them.

    This would go a long way toward what Jan noted about my blog, which was, "I am one of those you all are educating and equipping."



  17. Yes, Lou, I will pray & think about that. Thanks & God Bless.

  18. I have to say I have a great deal of respect for that author. He truly did what the Lord commanded by contending for the faith. It must have been a very grievous experience. I don't know how it ended myself. I saw a comment on another site that made me think things might have turned out alright in the end, but I can't be certain.

    I also wonder what would have happened had the church leadership known the preacher was plagiarizing MacArthur's work. Would they have understood then what it was they were hearing? And how would they have responded to a preacher who would commit such plagiarism anyway? Generally, MacArthur is warned about in some fundamentalist churches. I wonder if that church is/was one of them. They may not have read MacArthur and so didn't recognize it when they heard it. I had the advantage of two pieces of printed material so I could see for myself that it was a verbatim plagiarism. I wonder what MacArthur would think about that and if he would approve of what was done with it.

    David, I'd like to read your account as well.


  19. David:

    Sorry, but I am withdrawing my request for an article on Lordship Salvation (LS) from you.

    I have read recent comments by you that are supportive of articles and advocates promoting the egregious errors of theCrossless gospel. You have also commented positively on an article by one of the prime instigators of the GES’s reductionist heresy, Dr. Bob Wilkin.

    It serves no useful purpose to debate the teaching of LS when the one who is addressing LS is sympathetic to and/or supportive of the GES “Crossless” interpretation of the Gospel.

    Frankly, it is totally counter-productive in the debate against Lordship Salvation to have any cooperative effort with the advocates or the sympathizers with the GES “Crossless/Deityless” Gospel.

    I had hoped when you dropped out as a contributor at the pro-Crossless gospel blog Unashamed of Grace you might have ended any support of or sympathy toward the Crossless gospel. It seems clear, however, that you are still under the impression that the GES interpretation of the Gospel is an acceptable view.

    If I am mistaken, and you can clearly articulate that the Crossless gospel is a departure from a balanced biblical view of the Gospel, please advise.


  20. Bro. Lou,

    As I have already spoken to this issue at my blog, I will simply quote what I said as to the reason I stopped posting at Unashamed of Grace: "Bro. Lou,

    Hi. So as to keep this thread on topic as much as possible, I will only post this just this one time. I love my brothers & sisters at UoG & we have no ill feelings toward one another whatsoever, I simply believed it was best that I bow out since I do not post as often as I once did. We simply have a friendly disagreement over some issues & as I said I felt it best to bow out gracefully... May the Lord bless you brother."

    That is still my position. I appreciate the offer & fully understand why you have withdrawn it, & so as not to prolong this any further, I will say, may the Lord bless you.

  21. David:

    I appreciate your reply.

    In recent days I see you posting notes at pro-Crossless gospel blogs that are supportive of the teachings of Wilkin on the Gospel. Today, in regard to Wilkin’s latest article you wrote, “That was one of Dr. Bob's best ever, I believe

    THAT confirms for me that you are at the least sympathetic to their heresy if not in agreement with their views. THAT is why I do not want to be involved in cooperative efforts with you in debate against the equally heretical Lordship Salvation.

    IMO, you pulled out of Unashamed due to the absurd beliefs of the extremist in the GES that reject the necessity of belief in the deity of Christ for salvation. I can’t remember for sure, but I think your departure from Unashamed came just after the infamous statement, “the Mormon Jesus and Evangelical Jesus are one and the same.”

    Your break from Unashamed is not the major concern. Your continued sympathy toward the teachers the Crossless gospel is my concern, that main reason I withdrew my request for your review. I had hoped you had not only realized that these GES men have fallen into gross heresy and would have made a clean break from the teachers of the Crossless/Deitylessheresy.

    Kind regards,


  22. Lou,

    Thank you for your kindness in responding to me. I would like to make one final statement concerning this, & of course I don't need to tell you that you can & should have the final word at your blog.
    I don't want to draw this out, so I will say, as I have before, & as continues to be my position, I do not agree with some of my friends & brothers in Christ regarding what has come to be known as the crossless gospel. That is why I made a friendly departure from the UoG blog as a contributor. I am also in disagreement with bro. Hodges' latest article, almost to the same degree I was & am with his 2-part article from 2000 that begun this discussion. Yet I do appreciate the earlier positions & articles of GES & continue to appreciate some even from today, though not nearly as many. The article I mentioned from Dr. Bob I do happen to agree with much from it, hence my response on that other blog that you mentioned. My position is that saving faith has always, even from earliest OT mention, had to do with blood sacrifice from sin & faith in the Messiah for it. I thought that Dr. Bob's article brought that out as well as any from him in recent days.
    OK, I am done, & again I appreciate your allowing me to speak. I appreciate much of what you stand for as well, & I pray the Lord bless you.

  23. David:

    That is an acceptable response and I appreciate it.

    My opinion is that with the GES obvious corruption of the Gospel there is no way that any Christian who takes the Scriptures seriously could work in any kind of cooperation with or along side GES.

    There was a time when GES may have been more balanced in their theology, but not any more, which should be obvious t any objective observer. Hodges has continually slid into deepening levels of error and taken Wilkin, along with the GES, right down with him.

    There are small matters that do not necessitate that we “mark” and “avoid” (Rom. 16:17). However, the GES’s reductionist assault on the Gospel and Person of Christ coming from Hodges and Wilkin is definitely one that mandates our rebuke, warnings to the unsuspecting and our total departure from the GES.

    Kind regards,