Mission Impossible “salvation”: Lordship “salvation” — Demanding the Impossible!

By Jack Weaver

Occasionally we are asked why we concentrate on exposing the awful and un-Biblical  theory called, Lordship Salvation [LS] or, as I prefer to call it, Lordship Probation. This false message is advancing at lightning speed through too many modern churches today.

Simply put, Lordship Probation (“salvation??”) demands the impossible from an individual who may sincerely be searching for God’s Amazing Free Gift of salvation. Our number one goal is to make the clarity and simplicity of God’s plan of salvation easy to understand and believe.

Our secondary goal is to expose the lies of false Bible teaching — whoever they are and wherever they be, especially the devious tragedy of Calvinism and Lordship “salvation.”

Before we go into detail, I would say that our number one reason for contending against LS is that it contradicts all of God’s Biblical teaching about His salvation by Grace alone through Faith alone in Christ alone by His Word. LS adds and demands good works for one to procure their version of salvation and then they add even more works for keeping one’s salvation. Tragedy!!

We have quoted many LS proponents in previous articles. I will mention some newer ones here to illustrate my point that LS is a growing menace. If you have some LS proponents to expose here, please do so in your comments.

We are thrilled to get to know some of our readers who have wonderfully come out from under the horrible yoke of LS into the Freedom that IS IN Jesus Christ through God’s Grace. You are welcome to comment upon your experience with LS or Calvinism.

Some LS/Calvinist names of disrepute are: Francis Chan, Paul Washer, John MacArthur, John Piper, RC Sproul, Rick Warren, John Calvin, Charles Spurgeon, Arthur W. Pink, George Whitefield, John Knox, Martin Luther, AW Tozer (from Charlie Bing),  etc.  (and we could name more and more).

Pearl, one of our long-time contributors and commenters found that Dave Ramsey (Practical Financial guru) and one of his “Team” members, Jon Acuff  (who recommends Francis Chan) fit into the same camp as those mentioned above. That is a shame because Ramsey and his folks have a great common sense method of helping rescue a family from financial burden. But, in the back reaches of the Ramsey domain, they preach a false doctrine to babes in Christ and the unsaved. So, as we do with others who preach a false message, we cannot recommend them. Please use extreme discernment if you use their services.

Some time back I questioned Dave Hunt at Berean Call Ministries about his recommendation of quotes from Calvinist Gresham Machen. Ed McMahon (Hunt’s assistant) answered me by justifying Machen and many other questionable LS and Calvinists. He declared that their quotes could apply to us today. (I prefer God’s Word that applies to us today!!)

It is nonsense to recommend a teacher, who preaches lies, in order to “enlighten” believers in any area. I recently received a newsletter from Berean Call. At one time they were a great resource against Calvinism. This newsletter article warned against believers getting involved with the politics of today. The article, “Influencing The Culture” was a wholehearted endorsement of an excerpt from one of John (Calvinist guru of Lordship Probation) MacArthur’s articles. No doubt Berean Call would justify such an endorsement in the exact same manner as they defended their endorsement of Machen and other Calvinists. One of Ed’s statements in his note to me reads, “Further, some of the resources we offer or have offered are authored by Calvinists such as C.H. Spurgeon, John MacArthur, Jay Adams (addressing psychology), Mike Gendron (former Catholic), and William Webster.”

This philosophy seems contradictory to Biblical Doctrine and a far cry from Dave Hunt’s excellent book exposing Calvinism, “What Love Is This?”

We believe none of these mentioned have any redeeming qualities worth recommending for study, even though they may occasionally speak or write “a truth.” The lies they propagate otherwise spoil the entire true issue of God’s Grace. As God’s Word says, A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” Galatians 5:9

The rules and dictates of Lordship Salvation and Calvinism or any other false teaching will never cure carnal Christianity — Their teaching only offers confusion.

What is God’s Real Salvation? << Click

59 responses to “Mission Impossible “salvation”: Lordship “salvation” — Demanding the Impossible!

  1. Jack, in addition to these individuals, it is important to note the additions to the Gospel being made by some other major ministries and mainstream denominatons. I have linked a previous post of yours below:

    http://expreacherman.com/2007/03/14/who-makes-these-errors/

  2. lukasaurus

    My question to the LS believers is this

    If the change of life will happen, then why place so much emphasis on it? It seems to me that to place so much emphasis on works and an outward change is to neglect the work of the Holy Spirit of Grace in people’s lives, instead forcing them to attempt to sanctify themselves through fleshly efforts.

    If easy believism won’t stop the elect getting saved, why preach against it? If Calvinism is true, then the non elect can’t get saved, so what does it matter if they are comfortable in their “false assurance” or not.

    To me, the LS lie has no understanding of the work of the Spirit, instead ascribing him some mysterious power that we cannot explain, rather than a compassionate teacher of grace.

    If it is grace that teaches us to deny ungodliness (Titus 2:12) and not law, why is there such emphasis on law keeping, on outward expression of “true faith” and a lack of real preaching of grace.

    I always come back to my original question – If LS were true, and it’s proponents actually believed in the grace of God, there would be no need to constantly preach fear.

    I believe a change will occur. And because I believe it will occur, I see no purpose in preaching to make sure people try to do it (does that make sense?), because the more they are aware of the change occuring, the more they try to make it occur, which only results in fleshly efforts, instead of the Spirit guiding us. I also don’t measure the change in others, nor have I taken to trying to measure a tangible change in myself, but simply behold the love, joy and peace that Jesus has given me since leaving the LS lie.

  3. Hi Jack, good post as always. It clarifies your position on posting guidelines.

    Hi Lukasaurus, you make many strong points about LS and Calvinism; I’m grateful that you were freed from such bondage. You ask some some potent questions directed at Calvinists. I, too, have often asked Calvinists, “If God’s got everything already predetermined as to who is going to heaven and who is going to hell, and the individual has absolutely nothing to say in the matter, then why should we waste time with missions?” To date, I have never received any logical answer to that question.

  4. Greetings all,

    I think it is that many LS proponents can’t truly let go of the law. They try to hang on to some form of merit for salvation. The ones I hear most in fundamental Baptist circles is “turning from sin for salvation,” “your life will show evidence of a change,” “call upon Jesus to be you Savior and Lord”, and “ask Jesus into your heart.” These are usually presented with idea of supporting costly grace or Lordship salvation.
    As for some of my story, I was raised in a Baptist church and had trusted Christ at a young age. The church was decent for the most part. A few years after graduating from Northland Baptist Bible College, now Northland International University, I was asked by a friend to help out with a nearby church plant. Things started out well but over the course of a few years it became clear to me that my friend was going the route of LS. At one point he suggested that I read MacArthur’s “The Gospel According to Jesus.” I didn’t know much about it at the time, but since he had begun talking about things like “making Jesus Lord of your life,” then I supposed that I had better find out why. I began reading the book and was taken back by the contadiction to my own beliefs. I barely made it through the first couple chapters. I perused the rest but didn’t spot any redeeming qualities. I noticed that the book could easily be plenty well deceptive to those who did not already know better. To me, JMac mixed some truths in places with some straight out error. This is usually how it is done. The pill is easier to swallow that way.

    The church began to promote things like Together for the Gospel and Way of the Master along with peple like Paul Washer, Jim Cymbala, Mark Dever, John Piper, and CJ Mahaney. I refused to go with the guys to the T4G meeting. Sad to say the church didn’t last and the people ended up not supporting the Pastor. It wasn’t a total loss for me because I was awakened to the state of modern day Christianity. I am now more aware of the dangers of false teaching especially the kind that can filter right into even the best of churches. I have also grown to be more bold in the faith and have learned a few things along the way. I always look at myself as needing to continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord. God has been faithful to me despite anything that has happened that would challenge my faith.

    I would encourage any out there learning from legalists, law oriented believers, LS proponents, or Calvinists to put aside their books, sermons, and videos etc and go to God’s word on your own to see what it is saying. Let the Holy Spirit be your guide to the truth. Do this for a time and see if it makes a difference. After a while you can seek guidance or tutoring if needed but get it from someone with a solid untarnished stance on salvation and the gospel. The men running this site can make some good recommendations.

    There are far too many people who are not learning to discern the truth of God’s Word for themselves. Things like LS can gain traction because people largely don’t have the grounding needed to resist it. I say LS because it seems to be a prominent flavor of the day, but there are other things that can come along and take people astray. The battle for truth continues on. Take care to never lose hope. God is with you even if you feel alone in standing for the truth.

  5. Jim F, what an outstanding post!

  6. Great article, Jack. For me in deciding whether or not to keep a teacher’s book on my shelf is the foundation (which isn’t always easy to discern): the gospel. What are some other issues which would be deciding factors?

    It does get lonely, doesn’t it? Not only not having a church fellowship, but watching the ever dwindling extra-biblical sources for consulting on doctrinal dilemmas go by the wayside.

    Btw, did anyone read in Bing’s article (embedded above mentioning Tozer) the part where Charles Price (amazing timing, huh?) relates in one of his books a witnessing encounter he participated in where a man was on the verge of accepting Jesus’ pardon but thought twice of it because of the heavy burdens later added onto the supposedly “good news”?! Woe! Heartbreaking! Religous Pride is the backbone of LS.

    I agree, John. JimF’s comment was outstanding. And I also appreciated Lukasaurus’ questions to a Calvinist. Makes perfect sense to me!

  7. Jim F,

    As others have said, that is an excellent comment about your experiences in and out of false teaching — and it serves several purposes:
    * Encouraging to those who are beginning to understand God’s Word and are removing themselves from those churches and folks teaching false doctrines.
    * Encouraging to those of us who have been contending for the Truth of God’s Grace against the LS and works based religions.
    * Instructional to all, proving that false doctrines can be defeated as we study and yield ourselves to the Truth of God’s Word.

    Your story about Northland Bible Baptist College, now Northland International University (NIU) is particularly poignant to me. A couple of distant relatives of mine have graduated and one is currently attending NIU. One of the graduates came out of NIU as a flaming radical Calvinist and is now a youth leader in a church where he spreads his poison.

    Also disturbing is this: About a year ago, NIU welcomed a couple of recruiters from John MacArthur’s Masters Seminary promoting JMac’s Lordship/Calvinist teaching and his “seminary.”

    Just as disturbing is the Independent Fundamental Churches of America’s (IFCA) Executive officer Les Lofquist’s recent visit and speech to students at NIU. Worth noting is that IFCA supports and promotes John MacArthur (LS/Calvinist) who is a member in good standing of IFCA. IFCA advertises JMac’s “seminary” in at least two glo$$y page$ in every issue of the IFCA publication, The Voice. So it appears they are all tied together into one big circle in some way — supporting the ecumenical furtherance of false teachings. That is shameful.

    Jim F I reiterate your closing statement — for all of us to remember:

    The battle for truth continues on. Take care to never lose hope. God is with you even if you feel alone in standing for the truth.

    Thanks Jim F also for your mentioning other false teachers. We need to be aware of them.

    2 Thessalonians 3:13
    But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  8. Pearl,

    On determining whether or not to reject a book, work, teacher, etc, you asked,

    “What are some other issues [beside the Gospel] which would be deciding factors?”

    I don’t mean to be simplistic but since the entire Bible is ultimately about our Savior, Jesus Christ and the Gospel of God’s Grace that IS the issue. I have been called “narrow minded,” but I believe that anything which distracts, contradicts or takes away from those Bible truths should be avoided. I could write a book. (No I can’t) 8-) Maybe we could create and manage a web site to illustrate problems to avoid (we are doing that thanks to you, Pearl, and all of our commenters and contributors).

    Thankfully the Lord has allowed us to share the Truth, warn of error and pray for each other. We pray this ministry will continue and grow in Grace, Truth and clarity.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  9. RebeccaAarup

    I have a lot of friends who just get a big kick (I don’t mean this in a good way) out of Paul Washer, John MacArthur and many other LS guys. They will say many of the above things you listed about having a changed life as evidence, etc. Everytime I tell them the same thing:
    “If what you believe is true, then I am not a Christian at all.”
    You see, my testimony is a problem for them. I was saved when I was 4 (which most of them don’t believe is even possible) and grew up in church. When I was 16 I walked away from my faith for about 8 years, and was involved in many unsavory activities. I eventually came back, and was more motivated then ever (because of the love and forgiveness and grace of Jesus I experienced) to live a life pleasing to Christ. Problem is, if I had known any of those people during my 8 years of sin, they would have had no problem saying I was not a “real” Christian. I have never asked Jesus into my heart except for that one time when I was 4. I remember it clearly, and I know it was genuine. Now, if what they say is true, I cannot be a “real” Christian. Every sense of the Holy Spirit I experience, every soft word spoken to my heart by my Savior is all a figment of my imagination. Ironically, though, these people (who are my “friends”) say without a doubt they know I am saved. I just shake my head, because it makes no sense. If they want to stand by their beliefs they need to say that I cannot be saved due to my lifestyle choices. Round and round we go! I’ve since given up trying to reason with the unreasonable.

    One of my favorite books is “Absolutely Free” by Zane Hodges. I can’t seem to get any of my LS friends to read it….

  10. Rebecca,

    Welcome back.

    Yours is an interesting testimony and you are right that it is often impossible to “reason with the unreasonable.” Your friends need to understand the simple Gospel of Grace in God’s salvation by Jesus Christ without the works of behavior. I have not read the Hodges’ book you mention but I understand it is an excellent refutation to Lordship “salvation”/Probation. It was written and first published in 1989 which, I’ve been told, was before he sadly, along with GES and others, fell into what has been termed the “crossless” gospel.

    Rebecca, it is very encouraging to hear from you and many others who have thrown off the shackles of the false teaching of LS — and doing so by concentrating on what God has to say in His Word. That is the key, the Biblical way.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  11. Not simplistic at all. You’re right!

  12. Jack and others,

    Thanks for the kind words. I am glad that my story can be of help to some.

    Sadly I’ve just come to find out that the church I grew up in has progressed right along with the rest in the direction of things like repentance = turning from sins etc. I may be that one day I will have much further drive to find a church. Hopefully by that point it will be feasible.

    To the issue of Northland, I have noticed their change in direction. It seems that they are determined to go long with JMac’s crowd. I have written Dr Olson about my concerns and I know where he stands and some of where he intends to go with the school. I can’t say that I am supportive of their direction even though there are people there that I will always respect.

    I have also noticed some now praising people like Jonathan Edwards. I took some time just the other day to read some of his sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” and I found it to be distasteful much in the same way that JMac’s book was, imagine that. Just be wary of those who are now gushing over people like this. I’m sure that Edwards was just as controversial and misleading in his day as JMac is today. Things can go round n round but not really change much over the years.

  13. Lukasaurus, be careful being too logical with Calvinists. You might just evoke the glassy eyed thousand yard stare. (My personal favorite) :) That or the deer in the headlight look.

    You do make some good points. I’d love for someone to try to answer your questions.

  14. Hello
    This is my first time to post on this web site. I understand the concern of LS/Calvinist… yet in one of the comments Zane Hodges name was mentioned. His teachings are based on “promise only” and you do not have to know the person of Jesus Christ (i.e. Jesus is God) to be saved. Is this also an error?

  15. Hi Levi; We’re glad that you found our site. Thanks for posting. Please come back often.

    Your concerns about Zane Hodges and what has been called “the crossless gospel” are certainly justified. Jack rightly pointed out that while some of Hodges’ early writings may have been biblically reliable, nevertheless, his teachings and writing toward the end of his life drifted far out into left field. So intent was he to protect the “grace gospel” that he sanitized the gospel down to a point in which there was virtually no saving content left (1 Corinthians 15:1-8 was basically jettisoned)—hence the nomenclature, crossless gospel. This site does not promote GES or Zane Hodges.

  16. Part of the problem is also that most Calvinists hold to the idea that man must first be regenerated in order to have the capacity to repent and believe the gospel. I’ve spoken with some who actually think that “non-lordship” proponents teach works salvation because they say that faith is a work added to God’s grace. (It is not however). Be careful of those who say salvation is all of grace. It sounds good but be sure that they don’t mean regeneration before faith, in other words, God sovereignly chooses you and at some preordained time grants you new spiritual life that then allows repentance and faith. The way then that you would know this is by the “proof” that would exist in a now changed life. And, since it was necessary to prove salvation to yourself at conversion, why not just go onto daily searching yourself (testing your works daily to see if you are in the faith). I’ve found that the very nature and meaning of repentance and faith become something else in the Calvinist’s system.

    Pearl, to answer your question, yes, Jack is right that much of what you need to know about person’s theology is revealed in their level of accuracy concerning salvation and the gospel. If works are being added to the gospel then perhaps the person is coming at scripture using a different lens. If salvation is related to an earthly kingdom level then maybe a certain theological framework dictates it. If a person is saying, as above, that man does nothing and salvation is just bestowed upon him then perhaps that person is working from a flawed theological system. I’ve personally found that it greatly helps to view the Bible dispensationally remembering that the church started at Penetecost (Acts 2). Be careful also of those who overreact to error and themselves begin to promote error. Such could be said of those who take dispensationalism to the extreme of Mid-Acts or Post acts, those who teach universalism (all are saved), and those who teach the cross-less gospel as mentioned earlier. Sometimes the most damage from false teaching is not from the initial teaching itself but from the over corrections to that teaching.

    We must remember Paul’s instruction to Timothy:
    2Ti 3:13 But evil men and impostors shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.
    2Ti 3:14 But abide thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them.
    2Ti 3:15 And that from a babe thou hast known the sacred writings which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
    2Ti 3:16 Every scripture inspired of God is also profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness.
    2Ti 3:17 That the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work.

    Have a great day all,

    Jim F

  17. Jim F., I don’t know what mid-Acts or post-Acts dispensationalism means. What error should I be on the lookout for in these areas?

  18. Jim F,

    Thanks. That’s a great analysis of the “Calvinist mystique.” I have found their devilish (if I may use that term) pre-salvation regeneration theory is one that they love. They wrongfully say, “I don’t have to make a decision, salvation just happens as God elects, chooses and ordains.” That is why I press Calvinists with, “Have you ever made the decision to believe in Jesus Christ as YOUR Savior?” Most will dance around that with something like, “Well, I came to the knowledge of Christ at an early age.” My answer would be something like, “OK, then after you came to that knowledge of Christ, what did you do with it? When did you make the decision to believe on or trust in Christ as your Savior?”

    Calvinists are a tricky bunch when discussing their “faith.” I know — I was raised among them and, disappointingly, I still have a family full of them now. Calvinism and its twin LS seem to be an easy sell to proselytize Christians who know little of God’s Word.

    Therefore we preach, study and proclaim the the simplicity that is in Christ, the Truth of God’s Word and expose the errors we see perpetrated.

    But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” 2 Corinthians 11:3

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  19. John, I suppose you would have to do a search on Mid-acts dispensationalism, post-acts, ultra dispensationalism, or even Bullingerism. I heard of people negating the teaching of baptism to reducing God’s Word to only being applicable if it is a prison epistle to advocating some form of universalism stating that all will be saved. There is much to it though and some of it is murky because there may be some things they say that you might agree with but it is filled with errors as well. If I have time I might be able to shed more light on it or wait possibly for a different post to do it under.

  20. Jim F., I looked it up and read a little bit about it. I think I get the gist of it.

    Thanks. John

  21. Jim F., you said:

    “Be careful of those who say salvation is all of grace. It sounds good but be sure that they don’t mean regeneration before faith, in other words, God sovereignly chooses you and at some preordained time grants you new spiritual life that then allows repentance and faith.”

    Is this the concept that faith, rather than eternal life, is the gift of God in Ephesians 2:8?

  22. John,

    Yes, basically some at my current church support the idea that faith itself and thereby salvation are the gift of God. Some say faith is the gift other say all of salvation including repentance and faith are the gift but the still end up at the point as most Calvinists do where God has to impart life first for man to actually excercise faith. When I object to these kinds of things I usually get blank stares like something didn’t register or looks that say they don’t want to tell me what they really think.

  23. Jim F., you might be interested in the attached link, from Clear Gospel Campaign, on Grace. It might help you get through to some of your friends at church. The footnotes to the first page discuss the Grace as eternal life vs. faith issue. It basically comes down to whether one thinks man has free will to believe in Christ. Please see link below:

    http://www.cleargospel.org/topics.php?t_id=8

  24. Hi John and Jim,

    Dr. Charlie Bing has a good article on “faith” in Ephesians 2:8-9. He argues convincingly that the Greek disallows the LS/Calvinist notion that “the gift” in those verses refers to faith.

    See: http://www.gracelife.org/resources/gracenotes/gracenotes42.pdf

  25. Thank you for the welcome and the response.
    Levi

  26. Bruce, the Charlie Bing article is a good one – very concise. Bing does not state directly, as does Shea, that the error of interpreting faith as the gift of God constitutes another gospel, but he does say this:

    “Finally, if we cannot be saved unless and until God gives us faith in the gospel, then God could not hold us responsible for not believing the gospel. But he clearly does (John 3:18, 36, 5:40)

    Shea states:

    “Firstly, it creates “another gospel.” The Gospel is no longer “Christ Died for your Sins.” The requirement of God in the salvation of man is no longer “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” The cross fades into the background. Man’s saving response to the gospel message is not to believe that Jesus died for His sins, and to accept His offer of eternal life as a gift, believing it is Christ alone, apart from the works of the law. NO, the fundamental meaning of belief ceases to be reliance on Christ alone, apart from man’s works. Rather, the gospel of such ilk becomes “Believe that faith comes from God.”

  27. Hi John,

    Thanks for the excellent quotation from Shea. The last line is especially significant.
    Thank you for blessing this site with your insights.

    Bruce

  28. Hello
    Does Lordship Salvation demand the impossible? We know the answer to this question. “The rules and dictates of Lordship Salvation and Calvinism or any other false teaching will never cure carnal Christianity—Their teaching only offers confusion” sheds some light on the reason why they impose these impossible demands.

    Not only do they (Lordship) want to create confusion, they also want to place self doubt. This is done to place one under the yoke of the law. And we know that no one is saved by the law or justified by it. A study of Romans proves this fact.

    The rules part of the statement is interesting. The forever pushing the bar back with the forever changing doctrine is how this is done. With all these lost souls looking for some type of approval from these teachers. A Christianity you can be proud of (Paul Washer). When I study their doctrine or hear of a new doctrine, I often wonder if anyone under these teachings ever study 1 Timothy 4.

    Trust in Jesus
    Levi

  29. Hello again Levi,

    Thanks for your insightful comments.

    I, too, have pondered about the motivation of these Lordship Faith teachers who seem to want to destroy Christians’ assurance of salvation through the imposition of all of these added demands placed on top of salvation. Your citation of 1 Timothy 4 is certainly fitting as a strong warning against false doctrines infiltrating the modern Christian churches.

  30. Alan Harstone

    It seems to me that those of you who deny the truth of Lordship Salvation need to re-read the book of 1 John. Let me throw out a few pearls for you. “By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments.” (2:3) Jesus commanded many things, not just to love. The evidence that we are born again is that we are growing in our obedience to Him.

    “You may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of Him.” (2:29)

    “Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.” (3:10) I tell my congregation that these are the two great footprints (which are clear evidence) of the Holy Spirit’s walk through my life: LOVE and HOLINESS. If they’re missing, I’m not born again. Where there is no holy living there is no Holy Spirit. “By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us His Holy Spirit.” (4:13)

    “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before Him.” (3:18,19) Evidence that I’m born again is that I am not just professing faith in Christ but also actively, even pro-actively, practicing it in what I do.

    “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.” (5:13). And what has John written? Clear evidences that a man or woman is born again! To be our Savior Christ also must also be our Lord. You can’t have one without the other. John makes that quite clear in this letter

  31. Hello Alan,

    Thanks for writing. Sorry for the delay; I’ve been out of town and I just now found your entry.

    The book of 1 John has been dealt with extensively within many posts on this site. If you search for “1 John” on the site search space you will find quite a number of discussions of various verses in 1 John. Keep in mind that 1 John was written unmistakebly to believers: He refers to them as “my little children,” “little children,” “my brethren,” “brethren” and “beloved.” Just as in the Book of James, John is addressing believers regarding the quality of their faith, NOT the reality of their faith. I trust that this is helpful to you.

    Refer to Gracelife.org, Gracenotes #37
    Interpreting 1 John no. 37 – Dr. Charlie Bing
    ——————————————————————————–
    Interpreting 1 John is troublesome to some because of statements that appear to be tests or conditions. The prevailing view among commentators is that the purpose of these tests is to determine if someone is saved eternally or not. Another view, not as common, is that the tests do not determine one’s eternal salvation, but one’s experience of fellowship with God. Are the tests of 1 John intended to examine one’s eternal relationship to God or examine one’s intimate fellowship with God? The answer has important ramifications for one’s understanding of the gospel and consequently, one’s assurance of salvation.

    The tests stated

    The tests are spread throughout the epistle. Here are some examples of the conditions stated in these tests:
    2:4 He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
    2:9 He who hates his brother is in darkness.
    3:8 He who sins is of the devil.
    3:10 Whoever does not practice righteousness or love his brother is not of God.
    3:14 He who does not love his brother abides in death.
    4:8 He who does not love does not know God.

    The purpose of the epistle

    Our understanding of the tests must agree with the purpose of the epistle. A number of times in 1 John we read “these things I [or we] write [or have written] to you…” (1:4; 2:1, 26; 5:13). It would be natural for any author to put the purpose statement for the entire book at the beginning (The references in 2:1, 26, and 5:13 seem to refer to what immediately precedes each of those statements). If so, then 1:4 declares that the purpose of the book is to bring the readers into the full joy of a shared fellowship with the apostles and with the Lord (1:3). Fellowship (literally “sharing”) refers not to the establishment of a relationship, but to growing more intimate in that relationship. In other words, John’s purpose is not to establish a new relationship, but to enhance an existing one. It seems obvious that the readers already had established a relationship with John and the apostles, just as they also had established a relationship with God. It appears John wrote to protect the readers’ experience of fellowship with him and his apostolic circle and with God because false teachers among them denied that the readers possessed eternal life (cf. 2:25- 26; 5:13), which of course would undermine any existing fellowship with the apostles and with God. The experiential tests then address the quality of this horizontal and vertical fellowship. But for assurance of their eternal life, John directs the readers to the promise and testimony of God (2:25; 5:9-12).

    The readers addressed

    The existing relationship of John to the readers and their relationship to God are demonstrated in how John addresses the readers in endearing Christian terms. He calls them little children (e.g., 2:1, 18), children whose sins are forgiven (2:12), children of God (3:1-2), and fathers (2:13-14). John also includes himself with the readers in their common Christian experience (“we” in 3:1, 2; 5:14, 19, 20). The readers also had the anointing from God (2:20, 27). They already had a relationship with God because they had believed in the Son of God (5:13). Even in the statement of some of the tests, the saved state of the readers is indicated by the use of the Christian designation “his brother” (e.g., 2:9; 3:10, 14, 15).

    A theological concern

    If John was making his readers’ conduct the test of their salvation, then there is an unavoidable theological problem in that faith alone in Christ alone would not be the condition for salvation. It would instead be faith in Christ plus confirmatory good conduct. This of course compromises the gospel of God’s free grace clearly taught in the Scriptures (Rom. 3:21-25, Eph. 2:8-9; Titus 3:5). Salvation is either by grace through faith or it is by works, not by any mix of the two (Rom. 4:4-5; 11:6; 1 John 5:1) Salvation conditioned on tests of conduct destroys the possibility of one’s assurance of salvation. When we look at the tests, we recognize that none of us keeps them all, or keeps any of them perfectly. As long as that is true, then doubts will remain about whether we are saved or not. Doubts in any relationship are incompatible with deeper intimacy in that relationship. For example, intimacy in marriage is built on the security of unconditional love and acceptance which encourages each spouse to open up to know the other and to be known. If John were posing reasons to doubt one’s salvation, he would be defeating his purpose stated in 1:3-4 to enhance deeper fellowship with the apostles and with God.

    References to intimacy

    When one recognizes John’s purpose for writing, there is a rich reward. The epistle leads believers into a deeper more intimate knowledge of God. The terms which some regard as references to salvation (“in the light/in darkness, knows God/does not know God, of God/of the devil, abides in God/abides in death”) should better be seen as references to a source or an orientation rather than an absolute state. It describes believers experientially rather than positionally. The tests let the readers know whether they are growing toward God in intimacy or heading away from Him. A more detailed explanation of these references must await a future study.

    Conclusion

    The tests of 1 John address a believer’s experience. If properly understood, they lead the readers into a more intimate relationship with God Who is already known through their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. The book’s purpose is not to establish their relationship with God, but to deepen the relationship that they already have. Taken in this way, 1 John does not lead believers into insecurity about their relationship to God, but enhances their desire to be more intimate with Him.

  32. RebeccaAarup

    I love Charles Bing. I went through his study, Living in the Family of Grace, it was amazing. Brilliant. Understanding scripture in that light harmonizes many passages that appear contradictory on a surface level. For instance, the book of John and Romans seem opposed to 1John and James, yet when understood in proper context they gel in perfect harmony. Zane Hodges is another great scholar of GRACE.

  33. RebeccaAarup

    Woops I just saw the earlier mention of GES and Hodges….I have never read any of the “crossless” gospel things mentioned, and have seen Robert Wilkin speak and never heard anything “odd”, nevertheless I apologize for mentioning it on this site, as you have stated clearly you do not support these men.

  34. Hi Rebecca,

    Thanks for your comments. Yes, Charles Bing (he likes to be called “Charlie”) is indeed a wonderful man of grace and a brilliant theologian. He wrote the dissertation for his PhD from Dallas Seminary on Lordship Salvation, so he is quite an authority on the subject from a grace perspective. Regarding Zane Hodges, his early writings are probably fine, but be cautious about reading some of his writings near the end of his life as he proposed some doctrines which have been considered aberrant from biblical grace teachings.

  35. To all of our wonderful grace friends:

    Please consider attending the Annual Grace Leadership Conference in July. It is held at Quentin Road Bible Baptist Church near Chicago. The food, the fellowship and the messages about the grace of God are all outstanding!

    Below is a promotional video with details about this event.

    http://vimeo.com/43074900

  36. Bruce,

    Thanks for that excellent and complete expository essay on the truth of 1 John. Surely that should be sufficient for those who would deny God’s free Grace salvation by promoting an erroneous Lordship faith (probation).

    Rebecca,

    We discussed the crossless gospel in an article with a comment link here:

    http://expreacherman.com/2012/02/25/calvinism-moderate-lordship-salvation/#comment-12996

    It appears the link to the PDF file explaining the problems with that message is broken. I will try to place the PDF file in a place where you may download it and read it. It is an interesting, yet disturbing article.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  37. Bruce,

    Thanks for the mention of the Grace Conference in July. Sure would like to be there — I personally know Dr. Scudder and many of the speakers. I can vouch for their solid Grace Bible teaching. Be there!!! You will not regret it.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  38. Alan, welcome and thank you for your post.

    You said: ” I tell my congregation that these are the two great footprints (which are clear evidence) of the Holy Spirit’s walk through my life: LOVE and HOLINESS. If they’re missing, I’m not born again.”

    I would recommend that you customize your sermon into two components: one for non-believers and one for believers.

    For non-believers – salvation is by Grace through faith in Christ alone. Salvation is not a call to reform one’s life. No one would be able to do it. Salvation is not an attempt to gain some measure of holiness. One must be perfect to enter heaven, and the only way to obtain perfect righteousness is to receive it from God by Grace through faith in Christ – alone.

    For believers – exhortation to growth in spiritual maturity, including exhortation to holiness.

    Neither group should be told that they need to conduct an inventory of personal love and holiness to determine whether or not they believe in Christ.

    I would heartily recommend that you listen to a couple of Dr. Tom Cucuzza’s sermons, including the most recent one entitled “What’s that you say?”. See link below.

    http://www.northlandchurch.com/

  39. Alan,

    As a retired Pastor, I wholeheartedly endorse and recommend John’s suggestion for sermon division. If you mix grace and works in your salvation message, you mislead your congregation. (Romans 11:6) They need assurance because of their one time faith decision in Jesus Christ alone (their eternal standing), not to be mixed or confused with their behavior (changing state).

    We have several ex LS folks who comment here regularly. Incidentally John is a fifty year old successful businessman who spent most of his life shackled to Lordship “salvation” church doctrine. That was until about a year and a half ago when he suddenly realized that Salvation is God’s FREE gift — impossible to be earned but may be freely taken by faith as offered by God Himself. John trusted Jesus as his Savior that moment in his own home. He speaks Biblical Truth reinforced by his own personal experience, his excellent Bible knowledge and understanding.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  40. Hi Alan,
    I did take time to read I John again and I don’t see support for LS. Also, why should we be so concerned about the evidence proving our salvation if we firmly know in Whom we have believed? Aren’t there plenty of promises in God’s Word assuring those who have believed in Christ? There are even some in I John 5. No matter what happens in my life my faith always looks to the cross.

  41. Hi folks,

    It looks like Pastor Alan has left the room. Not sure he ever subscribed to comments to keep abreast of our opinions — but he was sure upset we did not get his note approved immediately. He is apparently a hit-and-run commenter.

    Alan, if you are still there and want to engage in reasonable Biblical and contextual dialog, you are certainly welcome to respond.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  42. Rebecca,

    You may download a free PDF file copy of the Stegall article on “The Crossless Gospel” by clicking the link below on my other personal Gospel web site:

    http://www.weaverclan.com/CrosslessGospel.pdf

    You will need a PDF reader on your computer. I do not use or recommend Adobe Reader as they are insecure and put too much stuff on your computer.

    I use Foxit the very versatile and more secure Free PDF Reader (was free last time I downloaded it)

    http://www.foxitsoftware.com/downloads/

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  43. Dear brethren
    Greetings to you in the mighty and blessed name of our lord jesus
    christ.Iam nathan nyabuto from kenya,..Iam a servant of the truth
    and the gosple.Brethren! its today that i have been brevelleged and
    blessed to have visited you web site and i have found it teaching and
    so much touching in spritual matters up to have reached the point that
    iam filling to partner up with you so as to teach me this truth deeper
    and also to expand the kingdom of God to other brethrens.
    Hope to hear from you as soon as you are able.
    Yours in the lord.
    Nathan nyabuto

  44. Jack, I am surprised Alan didn’t mention some of the other passages, such as Galatians 5:19-21, that LS advocates, and many others, generally misinterpret.

    Common interpretations:

    LS – a person who claims to be saved, but persists in a lifestyle of sin, was never truly a believer

    Arminian – a believer who practices these sins will lose his salvation

    Fence rider – a believer typically doesn’t live like this, as contrasted with unbelievers who typically do

    Below is a quote from Dr. Constable’s Expository Bible Notes on this passage:

    “Paul seems to have been contrasting unbelievers whose lives typically bear the marks of these vices with believers whose lives typically manifest the fruit of the Spirit (vv. 22-23). He said that those who practice these vices will not inherit the kingdom to warn his Christian readers away from them. I do not believe the Scriptures teach that genuine Christians are incapable of committing these sins (cf. Rom.13:13). However, I believe that there will be differences in rewards for believers depending on our faithfulness to God (1 Cor. 3:10-15).”

    I think the last interpretation is almost as deadly as the first. I call the last interpretation “fence rider”, because it is confusing. While it allows for Grace, it invites fruit inspection and introspection. People do not go to Heaven by virtue of their comparative righteousness.

  45. Dear Nathan,

    Thank you for joining our site today. We are all about bringing the simple straightforward truth of the gospel of Christ Jesus to the many viewers. Please check out the many articles and comments at the site. I think that you will find them informing and refreshing.

  46. John,

    Your statement, “People do not go to Heaven by virtue of their comparative righteousness” is vital — and totally misunderstood by LS folks.

    Nathan,

    Welcome. We pray you will find much inspiration from God’s Word as you study our writings and comments here.

    Thanks for visiting.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  47. Welcome Nathan,

    It is always a joy to come across those who are learning and continuing to take a stand for the truth of God’s Word. The true gospel has many enemies and there is always a need for more people like you to help spread the clear gospel. Feel free to participate in our discussions.

    God bless.

  48. Not a “hit and run” commentator at all. Just a very busy man. It appears some of you misunderstood my comment on the “footprints of the Holy Spirit”. As was already mentioned, the majority opinion among scholars of 1 John is that the apostle (and God through him) was outlining evidences that one has been born again. With that I agree. In fact John clearly states it: “if not this, and that “, then “you’re a liar, etc.”, and the love of God is not within you. Never once in my ministry have I ever suggested to anyone that they can earn their salvation. And to split grace and lordship into two separate camps is your doing, not mine. We are saved by God’s grace…period. Not a soul on this thread can earn his own salvation. With that I fully agree (as do most Lordship theologians). But as the Bible makes so clear, there are CLEAR EVIDENCES within the new man (the new creation, etc.) that the Holy Spirit is present. As one great old scholar once put it: “where there is no holy living there is no Holy Spirit.” My point, and John’s, is that we are wise to examine our lives in the light of this truth. My works don’t save me one whit….but they are clear evidences that I AM saved, and that God is present and at work in me. “Faith without works is dead, being by itself”, and a corpse has no life as we all know. Paul said: “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?” (2 Cor 13:5). 1 John supports that test, and actually dares to give key markers to look for in a living faith. And BTW, Preacherman, that was a low blow telling the others on this thread that I was impatient. As you saw, I quickly apologized for my error once I discovered it. Do you always keep a record of wrongs and then publish them?

  49. Alan,

    Thanks for dropping back by. Yes, you did apologize after the fact and I apologize for the “low blow” after the fact also. No we don’t keep a record of “wrongs” but we generally let acerbic comments go by the wayside. But as you explained about yourself, so likewise for us, we are also busy men, hence the delay.

    You said, “Are you not willing to consider a little more balance on this blog?”

    No !! We are not here for “balance” but for proclaiming Truth. We don’t accept Lordship “probation/salvation” (LS) as valid truth, yet Bruce, Jim F and others very kindly discussed the topic thoroughly with you, which you obviously rejected.

    You said, “the majority opinion among scholars of 1 John is that the apostle (and God through him) was outlining evidences that one has been born again.”

    Maybe the majority of LS teachers would agree with you, but certainly not dispensational, non-Calvinist, fundamental Bible teachers. Alan, why do you not simply take numerous passages which declare the Truth that “if you believe, you HAVE everlasting and eternal life?” Or you may simply claim, 1 John 5:13 as evidence,These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may KNOW that ye have eternal life, ….
    Is that verse alone not clear enough without you having to impose your living standards on others? I KNOW I have eternal life, not by my behavior or others’ approval but by believing Scripture that says if I believe, I may KNOW.

    You further say, “John clearly states it: ‘if not this, and that’, then you’re a liar, etc., and the love of God is not within you.”

    Alan are you implying here that a liar cannot have eternal life as you equate “the love of God” with salvation? Or are you mixing the believer’s standing (by Grace) with the believer’s state (by works)? Believers still sin and when you set an impossible “Lordship salvation” mark you make an impossible behavioral goal for your congregation. Has no one in your congregation ever sinned after they believe your Lordship salvation message? “If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. 1 John 1:10 — BTW, just for your information, the phrase, “his word is not in us” does not mean we are unsaved.

    You said, “ But as the Bible makes so clear, there are CLEAR EVIDENCES within the new man (the new creation, etc.) that the Holy Spirit is present.”

    But Alan, are you saying the CLEAR EVIDENCE must be evident to you or your LS teachers, your elders or deacons? Who sets the standards of conduct that you impose and think are acceptable to God’s test of salvation? Surely you know that the Holy Spirit of God seals and permanently indwells every believer regardless of one’s behavior.

    You said, “As one great old scholar once put it: where there is no holy living there is no Holy Spirit.” Now, that “old scholar” sounds like that could be from the “Turn or Burn” sermon by Spurgeon, the man who could not decide whether he was Calvinist, LS, or a Turner and Burner or whatever…

    Your “old scholar” would therefore have condemned as unsaved (without the Holy Spirit?) the Corinthian church whose behavior was sinful and despicable, yet they were brothers in Christ to the Apostle Paul. Carnal believers, yes, yet still Christians !!! Your “old scholar” is simply misinformed and wrong!!

    You said, “My works don’t save me one whit, but they are clear evidences that I AM saved,

    I feel sorry for you, Alan… How will you ever know how much or how many good works are sufficient to be “clear evidence” to God? Or does it have to be clearly evident to me or other men? And if you don’t measure up to someone else’s standard, are you thus condemned?

    BTW, you misquoted and misinterpreted 2 Cor 13:5. But of course, you quoted the NIV which itself misquoted the original texts.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  50. Here are some questions for the Lordship “salvationist”:

    1. Do you think Solomon is in heaven? Was he holy when he devolved into idolatry?
    2. Do you think Lot is in heaven? Was he holy when he got drunk and impregnated his daughters?
    3. Do you think Samson is in heaven? Did he live a holy life by your standards?
    4. Why did Paul exhort believers to holy living if it is automatic?
    5. Why did James write his epistle if works are automatic?
    6. Were the epistles just “field guides” for identifying believers, or did they include instructions for Christian living and church governance?
    7. Even if I am really holy today, how can I be sure I will be tomorrow?
    8. If I’m not really holy today, does that mean I’m not a believer?
    9. What if I was holy last week, but not this week? Does that mean I was a believer last week, but not this week?
    10. If I don’t pass the holiness test today, what should I do? Should I go back and believe in Christ again and see if it “works” this time? Or, should I work on my holiness so that it proves I am a believer?

    I quit trusting in myself to keep myself saved when I trusted in Christ. The two are mutually exclusive.

  51. One more thing:

    If you think that an examination of your holiness and works are necessary to prove that you are trusting in Christ, then you are not trusting in Christ.

  52. John,

    You make some good points. It would be like saying that King David’s faith was somehow defective when he committed adultery, murderer, and lied about it. Did he have to get saved for real after all that? I’d have to think that an LS advocate today would strongly doubt his salvation.

    Alan,

    If I believe in Christ and His work for salvation then I am assured. Works to me is just icing on top. I do think that those who follow after Christ in obedience after conversion do grow in fellowship, sanctification, boldness of faith etc. There is though a problem or limitation with evidences because they involve fallible human judgment. I’d rather prefer God’s judgment of me based on His Son’s righteousness. I don’t think it is wise to counsel a believer struggling with a particular sin to try to somehow test himself with works oriented tests to see if he is a believer. I fear that too many misuse that verse.

    Also, the evidences become less important if you let go of the more Reformed idea that regeneration precedes faith. I know some who hold to what I just mentioned and they suggest the same as you. I think we should follow God’s example in that He looks at His Son’s righteousness and knows we are saved and does not judge us eternally based on our actions. We should do the same. Our works eternally relate more to fellowship and one day rewards with which to glorify God.

  53. Hi John,

    Those were all excellent thought-provoking questions. I trust that many readers will give them honest thoughtful consideration. I can give you three quick responses to questions 1-3: Yes, yes and yes. Solomon declared his love for God and his commitment to him in 1 Kings 3; God affirmed him in his declaration. His backsliding came near the end of his life. Peter confirmed Lot’s righteous standing with God in 2 Peter 2:7, in spite of Lot’s dubious backslidden adult life. Hebrews declares Samson to have been a man of faith in God, in spite of his wayward life; he is listed in the great “hall of faith” in Hebrews 11.

  54. To all:

    Lordship salvation teaching has foisted a terrible legacy upon the Christian community—namely, for many, a guilt-ridden existence. Please see the new article entitled, “Guilt-Free Christianity.

    http://expreacherman.com/2012/06/08/guilt-free-christianity/

  55. That is an excellent list of questions John! When I think of LS teachers a verse keeps coming back to me. It is Matthew 23:4 For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.
    Is this a fair description of LS teachers?

  56. Jon, that is true of some of them. Others are simply victims themselves. LS is a false gospel with no power to save. It can deter believers and keep unbelievers in the dark.

    LS appeals to the natural belief that one can attain salvation by works. For believers, it is a return to the fleshly focus on the law. For unbelievers, LS messages confuse the terms of salvation, and may thereby frustrate Grace.

  57. Note to Alan,

    Thank you for participating on the ExPreacherman site. While the site does allow discussion and honest inquiries regarding Calvinism and Lordship probation/salvation as well as a variety of other theological issues, nonetheless, it is the policy of the site administration to disallow comments which seek solely to further an agenda of promoting viewpoints contrary to the stated Free Grace views of the site’s administrators and its frequent commenters.

  58. I am linking to Jack’s comment on T.A. (Tom) McMahon’s letter to him, via my blog today.

    http://redeemingmoments.com/2014/01/15/berean-call-are-you-bereans-any-longer/

  59. I will be very honest about what lordship “salvation” did for me…@ a Church of Christ

    I had just had my oldest daughter and after a miracle like that I wanted her to believe in God and Jesus as I did. My family always believed and prayed. Well I say down and talked with the preacher who the “gospel” to me and explained I needed to repent by ” from my sins?” Okay…I loved Christ and believed Him to be the Son of God. Things should be good. Then I was told I needed to be baptized “for the remission of sins.” Uhhh okay sure. No problem. Then I was told I needed to either move out of my home cause the father of my oldest daughter and I weren’t married or marry him. Okay. I stayed with my mother and married him shortly after at the church. Things were great at first. I was going strong. Learning and growing so I thought. Then EVERYTHING fell apart. I stopped going there, my grandmother started slowly dying, my husband said to console me “that’s what happens people die”, I helped my mother take care of her and started sleeping on my couch. I met another man had left my husband had a child with this man who started abusing me, divorced my husband, my grandfather died, I lost primary custody of my eldest daughter, I started drinking excessively and became promiscuous, I screamed at God asking what I had ever done to make Him hate me and why I was, basically, a failure. I since have gotten remarried and met you all. Along the way I have met two Christians who talked of God’s love for me even though I was extremely angry. Now I have met the real Jesus and trusted in Him. They took 10 years of my life and it was horrible. I had no peace and worst of all God seemed no where to be found as I thought I had lost my salvation and God hated me so why bother.

    That was NOT what God wanted for my life and I’m thankful He somehow used a brother and sister in Christ to pull me out from Satan’s grasps.

    Sorry as this is very personal but I felt compelled to share it as it shows what these teachings do to people who just want to know God and be with Him in eternity.

    I hope I haven’t offended any or made anyone uncomfortable. I simply felt I’m a prime example of what happens and the despair felt when someone exposes themselves to a satanic doctrine. Save yourselves heartache and stay away and don’t let them lead you astray. There is NOTHING they can offer you. Believe in Christ as your Savior. There is freedom there as He loves you and doesn’t want these things for your life.

    Thank you for reading this

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