Helpful Sinners, Helpless Sinners and Help for Sinners

Below is an insightful article, written by John, an occasional writer and frequent commenter on this web site. John is a successful gentleman with a wonderful family who was trapped in the Lordship “salvation” mess for many, many years — but finally, about a year ago, it dawned on him that God’s salvation “is a Gift!” He then trusted Jesus Christ alone as his Savior.


 Romans 3:23  For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God
When we are confronted with the fact that we are guilty sinners, accountable to God for our sins, there are a variety of common, inappropriate responses that stand in the way of salvation.  Among them are attempts at denial, rationalization and compensation.  Each of these responses inhibits the receipt of God’s provision for salvation, set forth clearly in Romans 3:24  Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

 Helpful Sinners

Perhaps the most beguiling of these is compensation.  Compensation is the attempt by the helpful sinner to restore his broken relationship with God.  I will use the following definition of compensation from
3. something given or received as an equivalent for services, debt, loss, injury, suffering, lack, etc.; indemnity: The insurance company paid him $2000 as compensation for the loss of his car. 
Compensation, not Christ, is the cornerstone of the faith for much of the professing Christian community.  The forms of compensation range from the performance of works, to the promise of works or to the evidence of works being brought into the equation of eternal salvation.
But, the Bible tells us that God will not accept our help in saving us:
Isaiah 64:6  But we are like an unclean thing, and all of our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.
Following is some of the non-Biblical compensation jargon of false gospels for the helpful sinner:
  • The Lord helps those who help themselves
  • Salvation is free, but it will cost you everything
  • Surrender all or not at all
  • Repent of your sins to be saved
  • Accept Jesus as Lord and Savior
  • Turn your life over to Jesus
  • Put Christ on the throne of your life
  • Turn from your sins to God
  • Get on the straight and narrow
  • Confess Christ publicly
  • Make a personal commitment to Christ
  • Count the cost
  • Give your life to Jesus
  • Take up your cross and follow Jesus to be saved
God does not want our help in saving us.  He does not need our help.  He will not accept our help.  Neither does he want, need, require nor accept our help in keeping ourselves saved.
Helpless Sinners
The only appropriate response to the conviction that we are alienated from God by sin is to realize that we are helpless sinners.  The jailer in Acts 16 knew he was helpless:
Acts 16:29-30  Then he called for a light and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, and brought them out and said.  Sirs, what must I do to be saved?
Note that in their response to the jailer, neither Paul, nor Silas introduced any of the false aphorisms set forth above.  Instead, they told the jailer only this:
Acts 16:31  And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.
Until one realizes that God does not require, want, need, nor accept his help in saving or keeping him saved, he does not apprehend God’s Free Grace.

 Help for Sinners

Once we realize we are helpless sinners, there is help.  Everything necessary for our salvation has already been done.  We need only to trust in Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross.

The Only Way of Salvation in its Simplicity << Click

39 responses to “Helpful Sinners, Helpless Sinners and Help for Sinners

  1. Jack, I am very thankful for His Word. How many years of being accused by these type of people. It kept me from Him, kept me from church for sure. I just couldn’t ‘do’ what they said, and I kept failing. Praise God that He showed me through His Word that He is the one who delivers me.

  2. Thanks Holly,

    Yes, “He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”

    Whether we win or lose a skirmish, the battle belongs to the Lord as we remain faithful to His Word.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  3. Yes, that’s exactly right, they glory in dragging others into their deception boasting in their own flesh.

    Makes me also think of 1 Cor 1:30-31

    But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: that, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.

    Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity. Matt 23:27-28

  4. Holly, I also think about this:

    Galatians 6:12-13:

    [12] As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ.
    [13] For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh.

  5. Jack…

    So true what you said here: It is easy to become weary and discouraged in preaching the clear Gospel of God’s Grace.. but as we pray together for wisdom and strength, we have wonderful encouragement in Scripture:

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

    For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: 1 Peter 2:15

    They are really sowing to the flesh, although they do not see that at all. But your quote from 2 Thess 3 made me think of this.

    For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For every man shall bear his own burden. Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things. Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith. Gal 6:3-10

  6. Searching for something else, I ran across this great article, thank you John for writing this.

  7. John,

    You are exactly right — The Gospel is NOT ambivalent — there is no justification for Biblical error if we study and grow in Grace..
    But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen. 2 Peter 3:18

    It is easy to become weary and discouraged in preaching the clear Gospel of God’s Grace.. but as we pray together for wisdom and strength, we have wonderful encouragement in Scripture:

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

    For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: 1 Peter 2:15

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  8. Jack, from your post above, you said:

    “And I have heard folks justify some of these perverted messages by saying something like, ‘It may not be entirely accurate but he meant well.’

    No. The Gospel of Salvation in Jesus Christ is not “either/or” nor ambivalent — it is unchangeable, precise, accurate and, as Scripture says, “Wherefore he [Jesus Christ] is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him [Christ], seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” Hebrews 7:25 ”

    Thanks for standing firm for the Gospel. Let’s pray for one another to stand firm for the Gospel! The false teachers have always tried to undermine the message by changing it. Their apologists and equivocators too often “go along to get along.”

  9. Dear John,
    I agree with you 100%. Our line of defence is the Gospel of Christ. We should be as bold as Paul, not be intimated by those who preached another gospel. There are too many out there being deceived by the Lordship Salvation gospel waiting for us to preach the Gospel of Christ to them.

  10. Whether people have fallen from Grace or have never received Grace, they need to hear the Gospel – clear and unadulterated. I see scores of people teaching the Galatian error, and very few people correcting it.

    Just try a random search on the internet on salvation and you will find that almost everyone messes up the Gospel message with some kind of add-on – usually related to “repenting from sins” for salvation.

    There is only one Gospel. We need more people like Paul, who will tell it like it is.

  11. Dear Pearl,
    Thanks for correcting me. I just realized that the book of Galatians is an epitle Paul wrote to the church in Galatia. We do not know their response to Paul’s epistle. I would not be able to use the Bible to support my argument that the Galatians agreed with Paul. Hence, it is still possible that an LS defender is a “foolish Galatian”. Although in my own opinion base on my past observations, such case would be very rare.
    Your point is well taken.

    Dear Faith,
    Base on the article Brander Nick wrote in response to my letters, I don’t think she changed her position on LS. I think her definition of LS is much narrower in scope than our definition of LS. She would not count repentance of sin is LS. That is why I don’t think she has changed her view on LS since she wrote “The Grip of Lordship Salvation”.

  12. Right again, Eddy:

    However, If after multiple admonitions, they still refuse to give up their position on supporting LS, we should dissociate ourself from them… We should not give them the impression that they are still part of us, the saved.

    A very hard truth. I myself have only ventured to broach the subject to one or two persons; the response of one was cordial enough but we don’t fellowship anymore. The other response was mildly curious, respectable, and then dropped only because he was mired in a very difficult writing project. Fellowship there has since been reduced to rare, well-wishing emails. As for keeping up with these aforementioned discernment ministries, I have reluctantly withdrawn from the bulk of them, both in readership and referencing. I know I must go ahead and just make a clean break. 😦

    When Paul warned the foolish Galatians, they did not argue with Paul. They knew they were wrong right away.

    Do we know that they were favorably responsive to Paul’s rebuke? The only recorded inference of a turn around I’m aware of resulting from one of his rebukes (apart from Peter) is the man who was shunned and cast out for having his father’s wife (I Corinthians 5:1 & 5 – II Corinthians 2:4-8).

  13. FYI, for those who are not subscribers to our web site.

    New post on Peace on Earth without the God of Peace?

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  14. Faith, Eddy, John, Jack, Pearl:

    Excellent insightful comments one and all!


    “Galatianitis” . . . . Fascinating term. I might quote you some time.


  15. That is why I do not read much from other people.
    Thanks Eddy and Jack for your insights.

  16. “The Grip of Lordship Salvation
    Lordship Salvation was always a confusing term to me. It was explained as the believer’s enablement and obligation to follow Jesus as Master and Lord. Knowing that Jesus is indeed Master and Lord, the case for making obedience the criteria for evaluating true faith was easily made. If one cannot obey, then one must not be saved is how the reasoning goes. In the mire of this doctrinal confusion, no allowance is made for serious sin by the true believer. Hence lordship salvation sets up a deadly legalism that robs its follower of forgiveness, hope and joy. It convinces the believer there is no assurance even though Christ provided everything the believer needs for the abundant life. For those in the grip of lordship salvation, the way of freedom is right before them, but the pathway out is blocked by wrongly interpreted verses which send the believer back to Calvinism.”
    an excerpt by Brenda Nickel based on My Journey into Calvinism

    Maybe she has since changed her views because I do not know when this was written and it is still on Caryl Mastriscianas website. I do not know what is going on with people these days- they always seem to be changing their views on things. It is quite confusing out there. 😦

  17. Eddy, you bring up a good point. An ardent supporter of LS is an ardent denier of the doctrine of Grace. For a believer, this is an unspeakably bad place to be:

    Galatians 5:4 NKJV “You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.”

    If a professing believer tells us he believes LS (that is, denies the doctrine of Grace), we should evangelize him as we would a non-believer.

  18. Dear Pearl,

    Thanks you sharing your experience with us. I agree with you that we do not know for certain that those LS supports are not saved, that is why I said their souls were at stake. However, If after multiple admonitions, they still refuse to give up their position on supporting LS, we should dissociate ourself from them and preach the Gospel to them like we preach the Gospel to the unsafe souls. We should not give them the impression that they are still part of us, the saved. Otherwise, they would have thought that although they did not agree with us on the Gospel of Christ, they were still saved. The “foolish Galatians” will likely recognize they error of drifting toward LS when one points out their error. When Paul warned the foolish Galatians, they did not argue with Paul. They knew they were wrong right away. My mother from time to time would tend to drift closer to LS. But every time I pointed out to her of her error, she would quickly turn back to the free grace position. It is very valuable that we would be able to share our different experiences on this board. Thanks again.

  19. All good comments.. I read Brenda Nickel’s answer to Eddy and it seems she is an apologist for LS. She seems almost unable to discern the problems therein.

    I commented about my tangle with LH Trails Editor Debora Dombrowski and Caryl Matrisciana a few months back. If anyone would like, let me know, I’ll search my archives or re-tell the incident.

    Thanks to all of you for your great discernment and comments.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  20. Dear Faith,
    I agree with you that Brenda Nickel is a very strong opponent of Calvinism, she even wrote a very good assay on the subject of Calvinism. However, her position in support of Lordship Salvation is very clear, as reflected by her response to the emails I wrote to Caryl:

    Google: “Q&A: Repentance and Lordship Salvation”

    Please do not let the title of the above article confuse you. If you read the content of the article, I am sure you will not have any doubt that she is supporting Lordship Salvation.

    Since Caryl delegate the response to my emails to Brenda, and Caryl allowed Brenda’s response to be published on Caryl’s ministry’s web site, I have to infer she agrees with Brenda’s position on Lordship Salvation.
    Please also read the earlier posting concerning the Lordship Salvation on Caryl’s Yoga DVD:

    Since Lordship Salvation is the most insidious lie, and is masquerading into different forms, we have to be extra careful.

  21. Eddy,

    I totally identify with your concerns. I have made a few dear friends in the discernment blog realm (and I will never suggest that I know whether they are truly saved or not). Just a year ago, I was walking right alongside them and affirming their calls and laments about the lack of discernment and overt complacency washing over the church landscape. Many of them, like us, don’t have a church home because of the mysticism making its way into too many churches to count.

    But, as I learn more and more about LS, I am truly astonished by how just about every single discernment ministry, whether large or merely a lone blogger, adheres to either reformed theology and/or a slightly skewed understanding/presentation of the gospel. What an amazing device of the devil, that sincere Christians, in an attempt to research/confront the strange happenings in their own churches, should find their websites and be led farther away from grace into the minefield of works to prove/give assurance of salvation. I realize there are a few here who believe that among all professing Christians, there may be as little as 5% which are truly saved. I don’t know, and I pray that’s wrong. I hope it’s just a terrible case of Galatianitis, strain 1:6,7 (“I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.”). Regardless of their standing before God, they are casting bad seed (a false gospel), possibly producing armies of false converts. And, no, we mustn’t merely assume they are saved, but lovingly, graciously, prayerfully, present them with the One, True gospel in hopes they, too, may recognize the counterfeit they’ve been parroting all along and “repent” from the false to the True.

    Regarding Caryl Mastriciana’s refuting Calvinism (and even LS? This is surprising to me taking into account Jack’s reported exchange with her ministry which seemed to reject the Free Grace stance), I would attach to her ministry the label “approach with caution” lest anyone here be lulled into embracing her as “safe”. I have an Arminian friend who has written extensively and effectively against Calvinism, as well as other false movenments (namely the Alpha program), yet himself mirrors LS beliefs (though was completely unaware of “LS” before I brought it to his attention).

  22. To Brenda Nickel and Caryl Matrisciana’s credit I think they have refuted Calvinist and LS thinking. If you go on Caryl Matrisciana’s website she has a whole section on Calvinism and its false teaching. Might want to check it out.

  23. John,
    Very good advice indeed.

  24. Bruce and Jack,

    Thanks for exposing the LS teachings by Roger Oakland and James Barker. We are really facing a very serious issue here. Both of them, together with Crayl Matrisciana, Branda Nickel, and many of the Light House Trail writters, are supposed to be part of the faithful remnant of believers, yet they are preaching another gospel. They have so much certainty in their faith that it would be very difficult to convince them that they are wrong. These “faithful watchmen” are the most dangerous. They are being deceived and deceiving others. Many of our brothers and sisters in Christ are following them and giving out their books. Please understand that I am not questioning their intentions, I believe they are sincere. However, their souls are at stake.

  25. My advice is this: If you can’t tell it’s a Grace message, it is probably not.

  26. Hi Eddy,

    I listened to about seventeen minutes of the James Barker sermon. That’s about all I could take. He did say a few good things about the necessity to be born again and he quoted Ephesians 2:8-9. He then said that a lot of people in America claim to be Christians but they don’t possess genuine faith—agreed, but he then makes the standard Lordship Faith error of demanding that every true believer will necessarily clearly display visible works as evidence of salvation, or that would prove that that person was never saved to begin with. This is pure Lordship Salvation teaching through and through. He said, “Being born again WILL result in good works.” He quoted James chapter 2 to bolster his case, just as any Lordship Faith advocate would do. What he fails to realize is that James is speaking to BELIEVERS about the QUALITY of their faith, NOT the REALITY of faith! ITS NOT ABOUT PROVING THAT YOU’RE SAVED. These people were already saved! James was simply admonishing them to live lives befitting the rich spiritual heritage that they already possessed as believers in Christ. See James 1:2, 1:9, 1:16, 1:19, 2:1, 2:5, 2:14—Each of these verses clearly indicates that James is speaking to believers, brothers in the faith.

  27. Dear Jack,
    What do you think about this sermon given by the pastor of that IFB church at which Roger Oakland gave his talk. I just listened to the first half of the sermon.
    Google: “Saved by Faith Not Works Pastor James J. Barker”

  28. Eddy,

    Never read or listened to Oakland before now. I listened to enough of the audio to know that Oakland’s message is false. He stated that the Gospel is: “repent of your sins” and “ask God for forgiveness for your sins.”

    We are never asked, instructed or demanded to do either in order to be saved. Terrible!!

    These are the lies we try to expose here on this web site. I think that message (no matter how “good” the rest of the talk may be) is a works-accursed message — I could never recommend Oakland, his talks or his books.
    Do you agree?

    Thanks for the heads-up on Oakland.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  29. Dear John, Jack and Bruce,
    Thanks for tirelessly defending the faith.
    I just listened to the first ten minutes of the talk given by Roger Oakland in a IFB church in NY.
    Google: “Audio of Roger in Elmont, New York”
    He spent few minutes on describing the Gospel starting at around the six minute and forty five seconds into his talk. Do you agree with the him?

  30. I like it! So true. Salvation has already been accomplished for us by the LORD Jesus Christ, so as bro. Bruce rightly said, any puny declaration from me isn’t going to alter who He is! In fact, my puny attempts at declarations just get in the way. Thanks so much for this. The older I get, the more I see that I am helpless & He is everything!! God Bless you all.

  31. Thanks John for your simple but concise view of the sinner.

    Ephesians 2:8-9
    8For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

    For BY GRACE you are saved through FAITH; and YOURSELF has nothing to do with it, because this GRACE is a GIFT (nonrefundable and irrevocable) of God. It is sad that we feel that we have something better to give God back then accept the gift that in no way we could ever repay.

    9Not of works, lest any man should boast.
    NOT OF WORKS -( means ANY works). Because WHY?- man will have opportunity to boast on what they could do to achieve salvation or maintain salvation. Sorry its not going to happen even with the best of mans efforts. Man will always come up short.

    10For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

    Now here are the works that are created in us BY CHRIST JESUS which God ordained that we should walk in them. So these works are not of our own invention, but created in us to do, if we are so willing to choose to do them. Christians do not always do what Christ create in them to do and then miss out on the blessings and rewards that come along those who freely by faith want to do for the Lord.

  32. Christian Lawyer,

    Welcome to our web site.. Long time since hearing from you.

    Your statements are Biblical and right on target — just exactly what we have been preaching since we started the web site in 2006.

    Come back and visit often.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  33. If salvation cannot be earned by good deeds, then it cannot be lost by bad deeds.

    Our works play no part in earning or keeping salvation.

    A true gift requires no repayment.

    Good works are extremely important but do not save us.

  34. Great article, John beginning with a very thoughtful, catchy title!

    From the previous thread, I very much like your idea, John, of doing away with the term repentance entirely when presenting the gospel (except to clear up existing confusion). Today, it carries with it an entirely different meaning. I would no more use it than the word “gay” to describe my kids on Christmas morning! 😯

  35. John,

    Precisely!!! We find a few who are still holding forth and contending for the Truth of the Gospel. Thanks… that is encouraging.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  36. Jack, I think there are a lot of people making justifications and compromises regarding presentation of the Gospel. I think it is very dangerous. Lordship “salvation”, denial of eternal security, perseverance of the saints and public confession/baptism as requirements for salvation each constitute denial of the doctrine of Grace.

    I think the following quote from Clear Gospel Campaign is right on point:

    “We believe that the more ardently and regularly a pastor or teacher holds forth any of the above perversions of the gospel of grace as a necessity for salvation, the more firmly a pre-existing grid of salvation-by-works is fabricated in the hearts and minds of the congregants, progressively shackling the lost sinner more hopelessly behind a veil of deception, making it less and less likely that any forthcoming profession of faith has meaningfully grasped the message of salvation.”

    Christians should consider whether they are promoting compromise of the Gospel with their church membership. I agree with the following advice, also from Clear Gospel Campaign:

    “We believe, however, that any area of doctrine even remotely affecting the integrity of the gospel is inherently serious (Galatians 2:11-14), that Scripture calls us to draw the line at the earliest point, and to yield not one inch on matters that jeopardize the integrity of the gospel, a compromise that jeopardizes the eternal life of every man, woman and child on this planet who has not yet heard the gospel message (Galatians 1:6-9, 2:5).”

  37. Welcome Jim,

    Yes, we must be careful not to say or write anything that would suggest any “works” that might imply a Lordship “salvation: message.. That does take care — but I fear many do so purposely and some inadvertently.

    Thanks Bruce,

    Your statement quoting Jim Scudder is so true — “You can’t make Jesus Lord. How can you make Jesus Lord? He IS Lord!! You can’t make Jesus anything.”

    Jesus Christ IS The Lord God Almighty – always has been, always will be.. We can’t change that, as you say, by “any puny declaration that I might choose to make.”


    Thanks. This is indeed an insightful article — and I would suggest many of us have heard and been presented with even more of a list of invalid statements about salvation — dreamed up by the “works” crowd religionists.

    And I have heard folks justify some of these perverted messages by saying something like, “It may not be entirely accurate but he meant well.”
    No.. the Gospel of Salvation in Jesus Christ is not “either/or” nor ambivalent — it is unchangeable, precise, accurate and, as Scripture says, “Wherefore he [Jesus Christ] is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him [Christ], seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” Hebrews 7:25

    Secure in Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  38. John,

    Great article and thanks to Jack for presenting it here. I think I have heard all of the jargon lines that you quoted over the years. You really have a solid grasp of Free Grace theology.


    Thanks for joining us today. I have to agree with you that the line “Accept Jesus as Lord and Savior” is the one that I, too, have probably heard the most often from the Lordship Faith camp. Lordship authors just love to slander and mischaracterize Free Grace theology by labeling it “no lordship.” This term is a misnomer and a caricature of free grace teaching. I really like the response that I heard once from Dr. James Scudder, Senior Pastor of Quentin Road Bible Baptist Church in the Chicago area. He said something to the effect, “You can’t make Jesus Lord. How can you make Jesus Lord? He IS Lord!! You can’t make Jesus anything.” And if I might elaborate in my own words, Of course Jesus is Lord, by definition—he is Lord of Creation, Lord of the Universe, Lord of Heaven, Lord of Redemption, in short, he is LORD OF ALL, in spite of any puny declaration that I might choose to make.

  39. The most common one I hear is something like “Accept Jesus as Lord and Savior.” Repenting of your sins is also popular. I just believe that we must be careful not to present a “Lordship” works oriented view of salvation or the gospel.

    Jim F

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