October 4, 2010

Salvation and Discipleship by Dr. Rick Flanders, Part 2

Dear Guests of IDOTG:

We are continuing with the series by Dr. Rick Flanders. If you are new to this series you might begin with Part One for the groundwork.

One of the most hotly debated issues in the Lordship Salvation (LS) controversy revolves around the doctrines of salvation and discipleship. Most LS advocates see these as one and the same. LS advocates blur the lines of distinction, which creates an evangelistic message that conditions the reception of eternal life on a lost man’s upfront commitment to what should be the results of a genuine conversion in discipleship.

Dr. Rick Flanders wrote an article in 2007 titled, Salvation and Discipleship that addresses this vital issue in the Lordship Salvation controversy. The article first appeared at the Baptist College of Ministry website and with the author’s permission it is being reproduced here as a multi-part series. I am hopeful every guest will read this series with discernment and prayerfully consider the plain teaching of Scripture as Dr. Flanders presents it now in this second in the series.

Actually the distinctions between salvation and discipleship are significant:
1) Christ’s invitation to salvation is, “Come unto Me” (Matthew 11:28); His call to discipleship is, “Come after Me” (Matthew 16:24).

2) Salvation is about the cross of Christ (Matthew 16:21); discipleship is about your own cross (Matthew 16:22-24).

3) At salvation, you receive a gift, eternal life (John 4:10 and Romans 6:23); in discipleship, you give a gift, your body (Romans 12:1).

4) The salvation decision (putting faith in Christ for eternal life) must be made but once (John 5:24, 6:37-40, 10:27-28); the discipleship decision (commitment to obey Christ) must be made again and again (Luke 9:23).

5) Salvation is a sure thing (Romans 8:1, 8-11, 28-30, 33-39); discipleship is always in danger of failing (Luke 14:25-35).

6) Salvation is about grace (Ephesians 2:5-9); discipleship is about works (Revelation 22:12).

7) Eternal life is the result of salvation in Christ (John 3:16); eternal rewards are the result of successful discipleship (Matthew 16:27).
Salvation (eternal life in Christ) and discipleship (dedication to Christ) are simply not the same. When Jesus came preaching the Kingdom of God, He called people to follow Him as disciples (see Matthew 4:17-5:1). The term “disciple” means a learner. A disciple commits himself to his teacher, as an apprentice does, in order to learn how to do what the teacher does. As the term “student” is used of a learner in relation to his subject (as a “student of history”), the term “disciple” is used of a learner in relation to his teacher (as a “disciple of Socrates,” or of John the Baptist). Many answered the call of Jesus to discipleship (as we see in the first books of the New Testament), and some continued to be faithful to that commitment, although the majority failed to keep it. Successful disciples somewhere along the trail came to understand Who Jesus really was, and trusted Him for their salvation. Peter is an example of a disciple who, although he often failed in his discipleship commitment, eventually came to believe on Christ and was eternally saved. Judas Iscariot was a disciple who not only failed at discipleship (he “fell” from apostleship according to Acts 1:25) but also failed to believe on Christ and was eternally lost. The end of the chapter that records the desertion of so many of the Lord’s disciples brings relation between discipleship and believing very powerfully before us.
“From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve.” (John 6:66-71)

Please continue to Part 3 of the series.

Dr. Rick Flanders has an itinerant preaching ministry for revival. He can be contacted at drrickflanders@gmail.com. Dr. Rick Flanders Revival Ministries


  1. Thanks Lou, It is a very important distinction that needs to be clearly understood in this debate.

  2. Following the use of the word "disciple/s" through the gospels is very much a key to understanding the difference/distinction between salvation and discipleship. John 6, Judas Iscariot are excellent markers showing that difference/distinction.
    Thanks for posting of this, Bro. Lou.

  3. Ps. Brad:

    Thanks for the link.


  4. I disagree with Dr. Flander. I see Christ's call to salvation as synonymous to discipleship. When we divorce the two we inadvertently cause a confusion of what Christ proclaimed. His call to salvation through Himself includes an obedience to His teachings. The example given by Dr. Flander in Matthew 11:28 excludes the next verse in which Christ commands us to take His yoke upon us, and learn from Him. We have never been called to just "believe", but to believe and obey.

  5. The way to understand Dr. Flanders position and recognize the errors of Lordship Salvation is to recognize that salvation and discipleship are two separate and distinct doctrines. No one is and no one can be saved by making an upfront commitment to obedient discipleship for the reception of eternal life. Yet, that is what LS demands of the lost man. A commitment to perform the "good works" (Eph. 2:10) expected of a born again disciple of Christian to BECOME a born again disciple of Christian.