Questions from the Mailbag on Grace vs. Lordship Salvation (part III)

(Following are some questions we have received from a reader via e-mail to ExPreacherman, along with our responses.  We chose to publish some of these questions in a series of articles, since they are both good questions and similar to questions we have gotten from other visitors to ExPreacherman.  In some cases, we have changed comments into question form and have expanded our original answers.)

Are faith and belief the same thing? If I believe and have no action to back up that belief, aren’t I in a delusion?

Faith and belief are the same thing.  What you are asking is whether faith and faithfulness are the same thing.  They are not.  If we had to be faithful to have eternal life, then our salvation would be dependent on our works, not on Christ’s faithfulness to us.

Works are not the automatic result of faith.  They take WORK.  That’s why they are called works.  That’s why believers  receive rewards for works done with the right motivation.

1 Corinthians 3:14:   If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.

We are set aside for good works that we SHOULD walk in them.  Tom Cucuzza put it nicely in the following sermon excerpts:

Now, shouldn’t Christians live right?  Yes!  Yes, Christians should live right.  That’s what James is all about.  But, not to get to heaven.  It’s because we have the gift of salvation, and we’re going to heaven.  That’s grace.

And

Grace.  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.   Not “must” – that would be works.  Not  “will” – that would be Calvinism.  No, it’s should.  We should. 

If I believe that gravity will kill me at free-fall off a skyscraper, and I still jump, I’m either insane or I never really believed. Similarly, if I believe that eating healthy is good for me, and only eat cheeseburgers all of my short life, am I insane or do I not really believe?

These analogies don’t really hold up.  You may jump off the skyscraper, knowing it will kill you, but still desiring the exhilaration of the fall.  You may eat unhealthily, not because you think it will result in good health, but because it feels good.  The presence of sin in the lives of believers does not invalidate their belief.

Analogies like the ones above are often the tools of false teachers who want to twist scripture to fit their false religion of salvation by faith PLUS works.  They sound reasonable, and even compelling sometimes, but they are not Biblical.  Beware of preachers and teachers who rely heavily on yarns and analogies and are light on scripture.  Salvation is found in Christ alone.  Remember, our ways are not God’s ways.  When we try to fit God into our perceptions of the world, we get off track.

Am I granted grace simply because I think I believe? Or does belief go deeper than words and thoughts?

What you think is what you believe.  If you understand and believe that you are a sinner in need of a Savior, that Jesus is God in the flesh, that Jesus took away the sins of mankind on the cross, that He was buried and raised from the dead, and that salvation is a free gift, offered to anyone who will honor Jesus by trusting in Him alone for eternal life, then you are saved.

14 responses to “Questions from the Mailbag on Grace vs. Lordship Salvation (part III)

  1. Curtis, I appreciated your post, and smiled about the brick…

    Jack and John, it made the point by letting the comment through, it showed his lack of mourning over the sexual immorality along with as you said, his girlfriend has a lack of understanding regarding the gift by grace.

    I’d like to challenge those who base their salvation, (not on the fact that they believed God’s testimony of His Son), but by believing they were chosen by God to be given a “gift of faith” (misunderstanding Eph 2:8-9), to examine Romans 5 more closely.

    If the gift spoken of in Eph 2:8-9 is faith, then we’d have to say, the free gift OF FAITH came upon all men unto justification of life. Or what do we do with the phrase, the “gift of righteousness”? We’d have to change it to the “gift of faith”….

    People need to start asking themselves some questions, especially when their teachers are preaching a gospel with ‘repent from sins’, ‘turn from sins’, ‘submit to him fully’, ‘confess Him as Lord’ and never even use the gospel message or the word believe.

    I suspect with you all, that the new Christian may be one that adheres to Lordship salvation, and despises those that teach rightly that by God’s Grace, the gift of righteousness has come to ALL men…

  2. John,

    Thanks — Excellent observations.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  3. Jack and others, I am the one who let “New Christian’s” comment through without first moderating it. I hope that you haven’t been offended.

    Like some of you, I am suspicious that the comment from “New Christian” is a carefully-crafted comment intended to contradict the views of the ExPreacherMan website and to create doubt in the tenets of salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone among readers and contributors to this website.

    But let’s assume, for a moment, that the comment is legitimate. Under that assumption, I would like to make some additional points:

    1. “New Christian’s” girlfriend is complicit in his sexual sin. This is critically important, because she questions his salvation due to some of his other behavior. This is what Lordship “salvation” is all about.

    2. “New Christian” has a seemingly cavalier attitude about sin. This is possible in the lives of believers. It is not necessary for one to desire to have a relationship with Jesus in order to know Him as Savior. In fact, the prodigal son abandoned his relationship with his father to engage in riotous living (Luke 15:13). I think this is representative of a believer who goes his own way. We must not fall into the trap of questioning the salvation of someone who testifies to faith in Christ, but does not “live like a Christian”, even if they don’t seem to care.

    I think the following from Calvary Community Church’s “Statement of Faith” is helpful:

    We believe the only evidence of salvation is revealed in whom a person is
    trusting in to get him to heaven. We believe it is heresy to teach that a person can know he is saved or lost because of his behavior, or for others to believe a person is saved or lost because of his behavior. (Galatians 2:16; Romans 4:5; 11:6).

    3. “New Christian” gives the content of his faith. I realize that he simply copied the words from the post to which he was responding. However, if “New Christian” has trusted in Christ as his Savior, he has eternal life. “Intellectual assent” might be simply believing that Christ died and was raised from the dead. Christ died for me – that is salvation! Consider the following quote from “What is Bible Hope?”:

    Remember and believe this:

    Jesus died — That is history. Jesus died for ME — that is salvation.

  4. Curtis,

    Well said.

    I agree with you about “New” christian’s rude and unnecessary comment and will edit out that blatant insult to our Savior.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  5. First things First , I am offended by New Christian’s Post for the sake of the Ladies and Gentleman on this blog. For my marriage to my Wife of 20 years if I talked like that I would wake up with a brick on my forehead and I would deserve it.
    I am concerned for your soul NW you know all the words BUT I don’t sense that Personal relationship with Jesus as your personal Savior. You are basically doing the same thing to Jesus shed blood for you . That you publicly declare outside of marriage shamming your girl friend.

    I myself went through a deep suicidal depression for mis handling God’s Word and not heading His Call . The Thought of the Judgement seat of Christ for loss and reward still brings tears over 3 years later. Johns post about the consequences for sin at the Judgement seat of Christ reminded me once again of my loss. Yet NW you openly admit your willful sinfulness ?

    Unless you have a Medical Marijuana Card it is Illegal for you to use it.
    The short answer to the text below you are Asking for correction.

    Rom 13:1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.
    Rom 13:2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.

    This is my Prayer for you and a Text I felt prompted to give you it applies to myself as well

    Hag 1:5 Now therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways.

    God is not one to be messing around with . God does Love you as you are BUT His desire for all of us is to Change into the person in Christ Jesus He designed us to be.

    Curtis

  6. Christian, I’d like to ask you, have you believed on Jesus Christ as YOUR Savior? I saw that you recited the gospel, and yet it was odd, as if you spoke in the third person and you personally did not believe upon Him to save you.

    Granted one will still sin, and yet to say it will not really matter? In what regards? Does a child say, I am my father’s child, but it doesn’t matter if I do wrong? Won’t that father discipline you, and will He not be hurt to see His child do wrong, as well as defame His name in front of others? Also is there not consequences if your girlfriend does not know Christ? Doesn’t Titus 3:8 tell us that we should affirm constantly, that those who have believed might be careful to maintain good works. Why? Because they are good and profitable unto men. It is simple, it affects us personally, and affects others.

    Do you love your girlfriend? You call it ‘making love’, really? What kind of man speaks of these things so cavalierly in public? Disrespectful to her, and also to other women, I will tell you, if you are my brother-in-Christ, it was offensive to me for you to speak of these things. When you sleep with your girlfriend, you know you are an adulterer. This sexual immorality is grievous and 1 Cor 5 says we have to judge within the church. It should be grievous to you, but doesn’t seem to be. Churches are to mourn this kind of sin and expel the unrelenting person from among them. They are still saved, but out of fellowship with God and others and there will be consequences. You think it’s no big deal, but trust me, it is. Damaging to you, damaging to your ‘girlfriend’, damaging to the name of Christ, and damaging to others in the body of Christ…

    You assume that we think it’s no big deal. You put words in our mouth, and like Bryan, I find your story suspect.

    We each need to look at our own walk with Him, considering what He has done for us. We have instructions as believers, to learn from Him, to hide His Word in our heart so we might not sin against Him. We have the epistles which give us instructions, exhortations, guidance, rebuke, etc. His Word is truth which will sanctify us if we will incline (or bow down) our ears to hear the words of the wise, if we will apply our heart to His knowledge. Will we fail? Sure, but should we not confess our sins? Take heed to His Word so we can be cleansed?

    I hope you are in the faith, but like I said, your recounting of the gospel was a third person (as Loadship proponents like to call it), was seemingly an ‘intellectual assent of the facts’. So now I’ll ask you again, have you personally believed upon Christ and His work on the cross for you? If so, you need to start spending time in His Word for time is short here on the earth, refresh yourself in the gospel, what He has done for you so freely, with such great love. Whether your story is true or fake, these things are not worth joking about, being sarcastic about, or to be taken lightly.

    It is a matter of life and death.

  7. Bryan,

    I got that feeling to about the post by “New Christian”. Either way, salvation is one issue but living for God as a believer is another.

    And yes, we should live for Christ – not to stay saved but because we love Him and are motivated by His love and grace.

    Jim F

  8. “New Christian”, John is right, if you are JUST worried about salvation, then yes, trusting in Christ is all you need. However, God will discipline those that are his. He will chasing you for your open rebellion. I know, I speak from experience. However, I’m a little suspect about your post. I don’t mean to judge but I sense that you are just a person who disagrees with this blog and made the story up in order to be “cute”.

  9. New Christian, welcome to ExPreacherMan and thanks for your comment!

    I am deeply concerned for you, but even more concerned for your girlfriend.

    You said: “She was asking why I think I’m going to heaven even though I still get drunk sometimes and smoke pot occasionally.”

    My comment: She apparently thinks that your bad behavior somehow negates your profession of saving faith in Christ. This indicates that she does not understand the gospel message. You should share the source of your Hope with her and pray that she will understand the truth of the gospel and either turn or return to faith in Christ alone.

    You said: “And that’s all that matters.”

    My comment: You are correct that one receives eternal life by grace through faith in Christ alone. You are incorrect that nothing else matters.

    Sin has serious consequences in the life of a believer, both here and hereafter. Each of us must give an account at the Judgment Seat of Christ for how he has conducted his life. Please carefully consider the following scriptural passage:

    1 Corinthians 3:13-15:

    [13] Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.
    [14] If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.
    [15] If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

  10. New Christian

    I was just talking to my girlfriend about this last week {Removes offensive and rude comment.} She was asking why I think I’m going to heaven even though I still get drunk sometimes and smoke pot occasionally. She’s been going to church sometimes,.but I don’t really want to go. I think most people who go to church are stupid hypocrites. I told her that I believe that I’m a sinner in need of a Savior, that Jesus is God in the flesh, that Jesus took away the sins of mankind on the cross, that He was buried and raised from the dead, and that salvation is a free gift, offered to anyone who will honor Jesus by trusting in Him alone for eternal life. And that’s all that matters.

  11. Maree, I think context is helpful here.

    Matthew 3:8-9:

    [8] Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:
    [9] And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.

    The object of repentance here seems to be that these people thought that they were going to heaven because of their Jewish heritage. We see in verse 9 – “and think not to say within yourselves, we have Abraham to our father…”

    Following is a good explanation from Clear Gospel Campaign:

    In view of this, what is the “fruit” meet for repentance in Matthew 3:6 [sic] (should be Matthew 3:8)? Unfortunately, too many Christians hammer a figure of speech into some preconceived notion, such as Paul’s reference to the “fruit of the Spirit” in Galatians 5:22-23 or Ephesians 5:9, both of which depict good works and godly character (“love, joy, peace, patience, kindness” . . . etc.). But to impose this interpretation of the word “fruit” in Matthew 3:5-9 would be to contravene the very point of the passage. It is not our good works or our religion that saves us. It is our Redeemer. Fruit, quite simply, is whatever the context suggests. And what would be the fruit of repentance in this case?

    In Genesis, each plant, and each animal species, was to produce offspring “after its own kind.” Seed begets seed of the same kind! Apple trees don’t produce fig trees, they produce apple trees.

    If you want to know the doctrine that a church teaches, don’t ask to read the doctrinal statement. It may be gathering dust! Meet several members of the congregation who have been there for at least three years. Ask them what they believe about certain topics of theology. These men and women are the real fruit of the pastor’s labors! And by them, you will know what he really believes. Their emphasis will be that which he has emphasized. Their ignorance on certain topics is simply a reflection of their pastor’s failure to address those topics with clarity and accuracy. Trees beget fruit after their own kind!

    And what was the fruit of the Pharisees whom Jesus addressed above? What does Scripture teach us? “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.” (Matthew 23:15) Their fruit was to proclaim salvation by the works of the law to their disciples, to root their disciples in that doctrine that they became more a child of hell then their teachers! This was the “fruit” of the Pharisees. The term “fruit” is a figure of speech, and does not have a fixed meaning. As with any metaphor or figure of speech, its meaning is determined by its context. And to look to Paul’s words in Galatians 5:22-23 or Ephesians 5:9 for the meaning of the figure of speech “fruit” in this dialoge in the Gospel of Matthew is just plain nonsense.

    The fruit of the Pharisees and Sadducees was the seed(s) of false doctrine that they planted, and the converts that sprung up from those seeds.

    When I meet believers who are unclear on the gospel, and they tell me they have a very good Bible preaching pastor, and a solid doctrinal statement, but they are confused on the message of the gospel, and the doctrines thereof, I need not see the doctrinal statement, or meet their pastor. I have seen the fruit of his preaching in his disciples. This tells me more about their church than I could ever learn from a printed doctrinal statement, or a face-to-face meeting with their pastor!

    Regarding the phrase “every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down”, I have seen this in three places:

    Matthew 3:10, Matthew 7:19, and Luke 3:9. I believe that Matthew 7:15-19 adds helpful context:

    [15] Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
    [16] Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
    [17] Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
    [18] A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
    [19] Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

    Note that it says in verse 18 that a good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit (the new man) and that a corrupt tree (old man) cannot bring forth good fruit.

    Please note that many people change the words of John the Baptist and use the phrase “fruits of repentance.” I believe this is a serious error that implies that good works automatically emanate from repentance. Notice that the Bible NEVER uses the term “fruits of repentance.” The Bible uses “fruits meet for repentance” (Matthew 3:8), “fruits worthy of repentance” (Luke 3:8), and “works meet for repentance” (Acts 26:20).

    If you look to Luke 3:10-14, each group of people that came to be baptized asked John what they should do. If there were automatic “fruits of repentance”, they would not have needed to ask him what to do. The fruits would have just manifested themselves naturally.

  12. hi Wondered if anyone had any light on what john meant when he said bring forth fruit worthy of a change of mind talking to the pharasies etc
    and later on the tax collectors etc asked what they could do to show they
    believed. And mentioned every tree that does,nt produce good fruit will be cut down. Salvation is free whether you produce fruit or not so what is john trying to get across. any thoughts maree

  13. Good point Max,

    Our faith by through which we receive salvation by grace is not analyzed by God for it’s quality. The important thing is having the proper object of faith. We have to place our trust in the Christ who can save us based on His atoning work.

    Jim F

  14. Early in my Christian life, I once asked a friend how much faith in Christ does it take? He said, “Look, suppose you were in the frigid north and came across a frozen river. You HAD to get across due to an emergency. You feared that you may fall through the ice and be lost, pulled by the current into a cold watery grave. So, you lay down and began to inch your way across… spread out to distribute your weight over the ice so as to not put a “pressure point” on the ice. Half way across you hear a thundering noise. You turn your head to see a team of horses plodding along at a full gate, hauling a driver and a load of wood. At that point, first you feel a little foolish, then you stand up and continue on your way. You had a little faith that the ice would hold you. The sleigh driver had a lot of faith. But BOTH of you trusted the ice to hold you.” My question to anyone who asks the same question I did, “Do you believe that the death that Jesus died on the cross was sufficient to pay for you sins? If so, trust Him and accept that it was enough.”

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