Lordship Salvation: Salvation by Works

(Following is an e-mail we received from a reader, along with our response.  We chose to publish this, since this question gets to the heart of the purpose of the ExPreacherman ministry.  The gentleman who wrote this is more honest than most Lordship “salvationists” in that he admits that he believes that our works are inextricably linked to the gospel message.  Please note that we have removed the individual’s name, as well as the NKJV biblical text of James 2:14-26.  The e-mail is in italics, and our response is in plain text.  We have added bold to parts of each for emphasis)

Comment: So, I don’t really get the point of an entire blog built around the idea of fighting something called “Lordship salvation.  I mean, don’t like seriously ALL your arguments about taking things out of context fall apart when you read stuff like this (James 2:14-26) in the Bible?

 I mean… it’s like reiterated over and over in that passage. It takes two to tango, so why are you so concerned about it that when I Google Francis Chan, I find all these articles talking about how awful he is here on your blog? I mean, dude… how is that even remotely helpful to folks? You blog about how he’s scaring people because he’s focusing too much on the works part of the gospel. Aren’t you doing the same thing by scaring people by focusing on another aspect of the gospel?

 Why don’t you just write him a letter or something if you think he’s taking things too far? Like this… because frankly brother, I think you’re missing the forest for the trees, or some other relevant metaphor.

 Anyway. Maranatha! God bless

Thank you for your comment to Expreacherman.com.

We are very familiar with the passage from James 2 that you cited.  In fact, I have been listening to a sermon series on James for the past few weeks.  Following is a link to a booklet on this topic that I think you might enjoy reading.

https://expreacherman.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/cucuzza-faith-without-works-is-dead.pdf

You said something in your comment that underscores why we think it is essential that we proclaim the gospel, and clear up some of the false conceptions people have about how to receive eternal life.

You said:  “You blog about how he’s scaring people because he’s focusing too much on the works part of the gospel. Aren’t you doing the same thing by scaring people by focusing on another aspect of the gospel.”

My comment:  There is no “works part” of the gospel.  People who never realize this are going to miss out on eternal life.

The gospel is that Jesus Christ – God in the flesh – died for our sins, was buried, and was raised from the dead.

Whoever believes in Christ alone as Savior has eternal life, which can never be lost, forfeited, or taken away.

However, trusting in Christ plus one’s works for salvation means that one is not trusting in Christ.  The Bible makes this very clear:

Ephesians 2:8-9:

[8] For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

[9] Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Romans 11:6:  And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.

 We are not trying to scare anyone by our focus on the gospel.  We are trying to help people who may have never heard the gospel, or have not heard the gospel explained clearly know how they can have eternal life through Christ Jesus.

I am going to provide a link to a booklet called “The Gospel” that I think will help explain things further.

https://expreacherman.files.wordpress.com/2014/06/the-gospel.pdf

Thanks.  John

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If you would like to know how you can receive God’s free gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ please see the following:  Eternal Life For You

44 responses to “Lordship Salvation: Salvation by Works

  1. Wretched, I am so glad the epistles were written so that believer’s might know how they should act.

    Obviously in James, it is spoken to believers who have the Spirit dwelling in them (James 4). The references to brother/sister/brethren beloved/Spirit in you, over 20 times in James. But these were Christians who were not behaving as they should, not maturing, or showing respect to those who had, and ignoring those who were in need.

    I think until people understand the difference between justification before men which benefits others as we are exhorted in Titus 3:8, and justification to eternal life (before God), they will still have the Catholic/Calvinist blend of understanding that most do not realize they have.

    Was Abraham justified unto eternal life by his offering of Isaac, or was it proof to God that he was a true believer? Did God not already know his heart the minute he believed? So the justification spoken of in James 2, is justification before men, as it is spoken to believers. If we do these things unto Him, we will be blessed in our deeds.

  2. You are correct John. The verses there in James regarding faith without works is dead are referring to the lack of usefullness of our faith, in this life. It isn’t a warning about a “kind” of faith that was useless to save us at conversion.

    Jim F

  3. Thank you for replying 🙂 In this case we can agree to disagree, buuuuttttt……I do look forward to sharing other opinions.

  4. wretchedshekels, welcome to ExPreacherMan!

    You said: “..however James 2, the “disputed” verses here are referring to what happens when you believe”

    My comment: Not true. James 2 is an appeal to believers to put their faith in action. Believers do not automatically do these things, hence James’ exhortation. If this passage were referring to what happens when people believe, it need not have been written.

    Regarding your quote from Calvin: Calvin was a Calvinist. Just think of the odds! Calvinism is a false doctrine, which we have spent much time and energy to expose. Please see article on Calvin and Calvinism linked bellows:

    https://expreacherman.com/2013/02/11/notes-on-calvin-and-calvinism-was-john-calvin-really-a-calvinist/

  5. wretchedshekels

    The article is good, the comments were too long and disjointed for me to read/follow. So here goes. I completely and fully understand and believe that works do nothing for the gaining of salvation. however James 2, the “disputed” verses here are referring to what happens when you believe. Not that you do things to receive salvation but that if you are truly saved you are compelled to do things. So in thinking this thru, if you are not compelled to do, i would question if you are truly saved. While I am not a pure Calvinist, I do read Calvin and find his commentary to be superior:

    From Calvin:
    15 If a brother, or, For if a brother. He takes an example from what was connected with his subject; for he had been exhorting them to exercise the duties of love. If any one, on the contrary, boasted that he was satisfied with faith without works, he compares this shadowy faith to the saying of one who bids a famished man to be filled without supplying him with the food of which he is destitute. As, then, he who sends away a poor man with words, and offers him no help, treats him with mockery, so they who devise for themselves faith without works, and without any of the duties of religion, trifle with God. [114]

    17 Is dead, being alone. He says that faith is dead, being by itself, that is, when destitute of good works. We hence conclude that it is indeed no faith, for when dead, it does not properly retain the name. The Sophists plead this expression and say, that some sort of faith is found by itself; but this frivolous caviling is easily refuted; for it is sufficiently evident that the Apostle reasons from what is impossible, as Paul calls an angel anathema, if he attempted to subvert the gospel. (Galatians 1:8.)

  6. Sam2 – have you noticed as you accuse others of somehow removing Scripture, you have not used any, nor referenced one citation. Just something to examine in your own self maybe?

  7. thanks johninnc dont want to confuse you guys cause im not sure what this other guy was getting at and I didnt want you thinking that was me

  8. Sam, I’m sorry – I should have checked more carefully.

    You do not need to change names.

  9. johninnic i just want to let you know this poster called Sam is not me.I go by sam also and have posted guite a few times.I dont want his comments being taken as me even though you dont know me. Do I need to change names or what.

  10. Sam2, the scripture is in no way offensive. I removed it, because it added 261 words to the article, bringing it to 863 words overall. I try to keep posts somewhat shorter than that. The inclusion or exclusion of the scripture was not the main point of the article, and I thought that people could look it up. For those who haven’t, here goes:

    [14] What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?
    [15] If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,
    [16] And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?
    [17] Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
    [18] Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.
    [19] Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.
    [20] But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
    [21] Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?
    [22] Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?
    [23] And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.
    [24] Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.
    [25] Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?
    [26] For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

  11. I’m curious why the scripture text in James was removed from this question? Is that scripture offensive somehow?

  12. Another good one by Ron Shea, he reminds me of you all in clarity of speech

    I left this out for the unregenerate, because I see it also with groups that have understood the gospel but in other matters, stubbornly cling to their previous beliefs about some other matters in the gospel.

    Ron said they “ approach Scripture determined to justify the beliefs they already hold…”

    …any group who believes in salvation by Christ-plus-works) must not only cite as evidence Scripture they allege to support their position, they must face down and explain away between one and two hundred verses that teach the “faith alone in Christ alone”.

    This is so true below, and sends fear for them down my spine… I see them on one hand state they are seeing the truth, but go straight out to share another article, that makes their case for them, and then sum up that they then are somehow vindicated by another person’s truth. Only His truth is right.

    Every man must face this controversy honestly, without an agenda of defending a cherished doctrine of salvation-by-works in which they have already invested their tithe, their time, their intellectual labor, their emotion, or which they have believed from their youth. For if a man is unwilling to do so, and the teaching of grace is indeed the message of Scripture, they will stand self condemned before the great white throne on judgment day.

  13. John, the obvious, the fact that Paul said this was the gospel he declared the one they believed, received were saved by stood in and that all the apostles preached that same gospel, just sadly eludes her. At one time she agreed that was the whole gospel…

    Good analogy by Hosler. There are any things I learned, and learning and also unlearning as I spend time in His Word and with other sound believers.

  14. Holly, a couple of additional quotes on the subject of misusing scripture to prove one’s preexisting beliefs. This time the quotes are from Ron Shea:

    Rather than coming to Scripture to learn the mind of God, some unregenerate men approach Scripture determined to justify the beliefs they already hold…

    Not surprisingly therefore, those who believe that they, rather than Jesus Christ, are the Savior of their own souls, have, for centuries, sought from Scripture proof-texts to justify this conclusion.

    and

    Those who believe that baptism by water is required for eternal salvation (or any group who believes in salvation by Christ-plus-works) must not only cite as evidence Scripture they allege to support their position, they must face down and explain away between one and two hundred verses that teach the “faith alone in Christ alone”. (See, e.g., Titus 1:9. An elder must not only to exhort in sound doctrine, but to refute those who contradict. Even apart from Titus 1:9, intellectual honesty demands this.) Yet in 2,000 years of church history, no salvation-by-works advocate has ever even tried to give a serious answer the galaxy of verses teaching salvation by grace through faith alone. A few have tried to dismiss the hundred plus verses by the wave of a magic wand, mumbling some idiotic and lexically untenable statement, such as “the word ‘faith’ actually implies works in the root meaning of the word.” (For discussion, see the section on FAITH on our home page). Most, however, don’t even try to answer Scripture. They simply play the “you’ve got your verses, and I’ve got mine” game. This is what the cults do, placing their hands over their ears, closing their eyes, and repeating their proof texts at the top of their lungs so that nothing else can penetrate the barrier. And that is not theology. In contrast, only a few verses in all of Scripture can be reasonably interpreted (in isolation) as teaching that some human work is necessary for salvation. And when scrutinized, those passages invariably yield to alternative interpretations that are consistent with the doctrine of grace.

    The method is described in Titus 1:9. Not only exhorting in sound doctrine, but refuting those who contradict. And the jury is every man’s conscience. Every man must face this controversy honestly, without an agenda of defending a cherished doctrine of salvation-by-works in which they have already invested their tithe, their time, their intellectual labor, their emotion, or which they have believed from their youth. For if a man is unwilling to do so, and the teaching of grace is indeed the message of Scripture, they will stand self condemned before the great white throne on judgment day.

  15. Holy, no matter how clear something is, someone who is trying to interpret it through a preexisting belief system of salvation by works is going to interpret it that way.

    Just a couple of thoughts:
    1. 1 Corinthians 15:1-8 does contain the gospel in it’s entirety.
    2. The gospel of Christ is unique, in that it is THE power of God unto salvation to every one who believes (Romans 1:16)

    There is an interesting quote from J.O. Hosler regarding the inappropriate attempt to make additional truths from scripture part of the gospel. I have added the bold for emphasis:

    Think of the gospel as a set of terms within a prescribed set of boundaries. Not all biblical truths are contingencies which belong inside these parameters. Though all scriptural truths are profitable (II Tim. 3:16), there are those which are more profitable, those that are less profitable, and those which are, or are not, essential to receiving the gospel. For instance, one’s positions on the millennium, the rapture, or the length of days in creation do not fall within the parameters of what is essential to personal salvation. If we take a biblical concept that is important and profitably true and make it a contingency of the gospel when it is not, we have changed the gospel (Gal. 1:6-9). Remember, they of the circumcision believed in the shed blood, death, burial and resurrection of Christ, but then added ritual and personal righteousness to the back of the equation. Paul wrote that doing this constitutes a different gospel,as he said of Peter and Barnabas:But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel…(Gal. 2:14a).

  16. By the way the article was by a ‘ministry’ of the reformed got-questions…

  17. John, thank you for trying, I was noticing my friend shared a link with another, saddened to see her comment was:

    ” I was very glad to come across this article because it expresses in much better terms what I have tried to communicate with some friends who were Very insistent that 1Corinthians 15:1-8 Was the gospel in it’s entirety rather than a general description.”

    I do understand there is more depth to what happens when we believe, and more counsel, but this passage is just a general description and does not share the gospel in “it’s entirety”?…

  18. Jack, when I was looking up the hymn the other day on youtube, I just wanted to ‘hear’ it, and there were some ‘contemporary’ guys singing it (cringe especially seeing Hillsong) and so I picked one that had a ‘still’ of an older man holding a guitar. I started to play it, and there is this small group of Indian believers, the woman in her Sari, the plugs all over, wiring terrible, the curtain behind the keyboard, their church…. Was a precious video, their voices may not have been beautiful by music standards, but I am sure by God’s, they were heavenly, and for me, tears (as usual) 🙂

  19. Max, I appreciate that verse too, that passage, and then the next chapter, the free gift (that John brings up often here) how often it is mentioned, and yet like Jack said, how often they brush off or totally ignore what you say, and bring up their next proof text. I know it may seem harsh to some, but I wonder if they are who He may be speaking to in Psalm 50.

    16 But unto the wicked God saith,
    What hast thou to do to declare my statutes,
    or that thou shouldest take my covenant in thy mouth?
    17 Seeing thou hatest instruction,
    and castest my words behind thee.

  20. Thanks Holly,

    For those wonderful words of Bible doctrine in a classic hymn. We just don’t hear those old Bible hymns enough in the clamor and din of what is called modern “contemporary” church music and lyrics.

    Good thoughts for today! (And every day)!

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  21. Max,

    So good to hear from you!! It has been a long time since Palmetto Bible Church here in S. Fl, right? Thanks again for your dedicated help in building up our fellowship of believers.

    Yes, Romans 4:5 is a powerful verse to counter the “add works to salvation” folks.

    For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

    We can count on the Scriptures to be effective when properly applied but, even so, some diehard Lordship “salvation” pushers will brush off that clear Romans 4:5 verse with other verses pulled out of context. Yet we continue to “contend for the Faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” (Jude 1:3)

    Thanks again for stopping by and sharing your Bible wisdom. We look forward to hearing from you again soon.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  22. Debbie, thanks for sharing your wonderful testimony with us!

  23. Max, that is a great verse to bring the focus back to Christ’s righteousness and how it is imputed to believers.

    This verse is also a great verse to help someone who is confused by 2 Corinthians 7:10. The “Godly sorrow” referred to in that verse applies to believers, and is not the model for repentance unto eternal life.

  24. I hope it’s o.k. to post this song, it’s been running through my head for the past few days.

    HEAVEN CAME DOWN AND GLORY FILLED MY SOUL

    O what a wonderful, wonderful day – A day I will never forget;
    After I’d wandered in darkness away, Jesus my Saviour I met.
    O what a tender, compassionate friend – He met the need of my heart;
    Shadows dispelling, With joy I am telling, He made all the darkness depart.

    Chorus:
    Heaven came down and glory filled my soul,
    When at the cross the Saviour made me whole;
    My sins were washed away –
    And my night was turned to day –
    Heaven came down and glory filled my soul!

    Born of the Spirit with life from above into God’s fam’ly divine,
    Justified fully thru Calvary’s love, O what a standing is mine!
    And the transaction so quickly was made when as a sinner I came,
    Took of the offer of grace He did proffer – He saved me, O praise His dear name!

    Chorus:
    Heaven came down and glory filled my soul,
    When at the cross the Saviour made me whole;
    My sins were washed away –
    And my night was turned to day –
    Heaven came down and glory filled my soul!

    Now I’ve a hope that will surely endure after the passing of time;
    I have a future in heaven for sure, there in those mansions sublime.
    And it’s because of that wonderful day when at the cross I believed;
    Riches eternal and blessings supernal from His precious hand I received.

    Chorus:
    Heaven came down and glory filled my soul,
    When at the cross the Saviour made me whole;
    My sins were washed away –
    And my night was turned to day –
    Heaven came down and glory filled my soul!

    Heaven came down and glory filled my soul!

  25. Debbie – tears of joy to read your testimony of the grace I have seen in you. Glad to see you here.

    What is man that He is mindful of us?…

    What a wonderful, lovingkind, merciful, gracious God we serve joyfully because He first loved us.

  26. Hello Jack. One of my favorite verses that I bring up when someone is confused with James 2 (and that is not quoted enough) is Romans 4:5… “but to him that WORKETH NOT (let me interpret from the greek: DOES NOT DO ANY WORKS) but BELIEVETH on Him that justifies the ungodly, HIS FAITH IS COUNTED FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS.” Sorry for the all caps… it was just important to me.

    Regards,

    Max, a sinner saved by the Grace of my beloved God.

  27. Debbie,

    Welcome..

    I realize your note was addressed to Holly but I could not help but be excited by your comment.

    Excited to see that you understand God’s free Grace, excited that you removed yourself from those who demanded or implied works must follow a salvation decision (forced discipleship, or else).

    Your testimony DID make sense and we appreciate you. We know you will continue to:

    “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 2 Tim. 2:15 KJV

    And as Holly so frequently quotes, “Prove all things” by His Word.

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  28. Holly, I never understood my entire life that there was a difference between being saved… and after we are saved is about discipleship.

    My entire life, until just a couple of years ago, It was not that they did not teach OSAS..because they did. But then would say things like,” if they were really saved..”. Or then the pastor would come up with a new phrase during what they called the Alter Call every few years..Did you really…” Did you make Jesus Lord of your life over everything? Where you sincere in your heart that moment you asked Jesus into your heart..?

    And so not comparing my sins to anyone else, but if then they quoted… the lists, of who could not inherit.. liars.. anyone ever tell a lie after they were saved? Even if it was so you would not hurt someones feelings… or let your temper get away from you? So even when I was trying my best to be GOOD enough. Because my own thoughts condemned me.

    I knew what I believed Jesus died for my sins. but then.. could I tell someone they were saved FOREVER if they just believed, what if there was no change in their life? No, I could not because I was not sure my own self. So many years wasted. Because what if I told them that and then there was no change. Worse yet.. I did not know what the Gospel was. I knew Jesus was God, that He died on the cross for my sins, if I would believe that I was saved.

    I think people just get tired of wrestling with the ‘Question’ sometimes. And maybe, just maybe, that is why we see people end up in the Word of Faith and all these other things. In, Word of Faith there is no condemning (except of you don’t send them your money) or a problem UNTIL you are told you did not have enough Faith for your loved one to be healed by God OR your loved one died as a result of them not having enough Faith in God is why they were not healed.

    It is easy for people to see the things wrong with the Word of Faith, but it is so hard for them to see what is wrong with what you all are trying to show them about Calvinism and Lordship Salvation. And the blending of Salvation and Discipleship. I probably have not made much sense, though I did try. 🙂

  29. Cyndi, as I was reading through cleargospel.org’s presentation of the gospel on page 10, Ron Shea says, “The phrase, “It is finished” was actually an expression used in Rome in the time of Christ when a debt had been paid in full (Kittel, vol. VIII, pp. 57-60). When Jesus shouted this just before He died, He was indicating that He had made a perfect, complete, and final payment for sin. (Also see Colossians 2:13-14).

  30. Thank you Jack, I am praying with you for her, and for you and John and this ministry. She comes from Assemblies of God and is having difficulty reconciling eternal security among some other things, namely the gospel I believe. I think a lot of people cannot seem to understand the gospel stands by itself and not with anything else. Many have not understood that redemption is eternal the moment we believe (Heb 9:11-14). That we were perfected forever (Heb 10:10,14) and the moment we believe, no longer are we condemned (John 3:18; Rom 8:1).

    Thank you all so much for your patience and love to continue to preach the Word, to answer questions in public, to be willing to give an answer for each honest question.

    I am sorry you were named, but I do believe you stand for the truth, and I continue to search the Scriptures as His Word tells us to, and as you and John expect us to, regarding anything you share.

  31. Holly,

    Even though she mentioned my name, you and John have answered her perfectly.

    She is obviously terribly mixed up between Ephesians 8-9 (the Gift of salvation) by Grace through faith in Jesus and Ephesians 2:10 (“should do” for fellowship).

    Praying for you and your friend,

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  32. Holly, I think you gave your friend solid biblical answers.

  33. John, Thank you very much for taking the time to answer my friend. I did answer her this way regarding agreeing that our behavior has nothing to do with our salvation: (I do appreciate any correction if something is not standing up to His Word that I shared with her)

    No, our behavior has nothing to do with our salvation before, during, or after. Behavior is works. Period. Look up Jonah 3:10. He say their ‘works’ that they turned from their evil ways. This is not what we do in receiving the gift of eternal life.

    But our behavior has everything to do with our fellowship with Him after we are saved.

    We SHOULD maintain good works (Titus 3:8) because we love Him and it’s beneficial to us and others. I want you to understand this; because the front loading, back loading or top loading of the gospel will cost people. You CANNOT put parameters, i.e., “a state of rebellion”, if so, how much? How long is acceptable?

    God is perfect and His standard is perfection, our behavior has nothing to do with our salvation. I cannot judge if someone is living licentiously and somehow does not grow in grace whether they have been saved, I can only point them to the gospel, and if they seem to believe it, then point them constantly to His Word, disciple them, because if we love Jesus, we will feed His sheep.

  34. Duane, you said, “I personally try to pursue a course of simply stating the Gospel, using the words of the Gospel whenever possible. I believe the Scriptures speak for themselves and have been inspired by God and invested with the power to change men’s hearts and minds.

    Thank you! It is exactly what is going on today, too many men with clever and misleading quotes and daily ‘inspirations’ that may use a Scripture but not properly in context, or it may even be, but it draws people in to check out there teaching. Or they write a multitude of books and people believe they are sound because they have their own Bible, or college, or huge church….

    The Word is powerful, His Gospel is the power of God unto salvation… Good reminder for us all to use the Sword of the Spirit.

  35. Duane, in addition to the LS belief that “fruit” is the same thing as “works” is their errant belief that “fruit of the Spirit” is automatic in the life of a believer.

    Of course, the Bible teaches that fruit of the Spirit comes from walking in the Spirit, which a believer must choose to do. Therefore, “fruit of the Spirit”, just like any works that may ensue, is not automatically manifested in the life of a believer.

  36. Holly, following are my responses to your friend’s two comments:

    Comment 1: Your friend said: “Example: The teaching that our “behavior has NOTHING to do with our salvation Before,During, Or Afterward” And teaching as long as one believes (decides) that Jesus died to give us Eternal Life – we Have it regardless if you remain in a Rebellious lifestyle or not – all you have to lose is some rewards and maybe a shortened life here.”

    My comment: Your friend is right that I believe that our behavior has nothing to do with receiving or keeping eternal life, either before, during, or after we trust Christ as Savior. This is entirely consistent with scripture. As Christians, we should obey God and do good works. Not to earn or keep our salvation, but because we are saved.

    Ephesians 2:8-10:

    [8] For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
    [9] Not of works, lest any man should boast.
    [10] For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

    Note: “Should” in verse 10 is consistent with Grace. Tom Cucuzza put it this way in one of his recent sermons on the book of James:

    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.

    Don’t put the cart before the horse! You’ll end up in hell!

    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.

    Comment 2: Your friend said: “I just am still deeply troubled with this new system of doctrines you have become deeply immersed in …”

    My comment: If your friend is referring to the teaching that salvation is by grace through faith in Christ alone, this is not a “new system of doctrine.” It is biblical Christianity. See above passage from Ephesians 2.

    Your friend said: “So I am fearful about telling any one that they shall not surely die when Scriptures say if any one Practice certain things they shall not inherit the Kingdom of Christ.”

    My comment: Anyone who is guilty of any sin will not inherit the Kingdom of God. The only way that someone can have sinless perfection is to have Christ’s sinless perfection imputed to them by Grace, through faith in Christ.

    If your friend still sins (and everyone does – believers and non-believers alike), then her interpretation that people that “practice certain things” do not have eternal life would disqualify her. After all, James says that if you break any part of the law, that you have broken all of it:

    James 2:10-11:

    [10] For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.
    [11] For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law.

    Your friend said: “How much sin??? That is not up to me to judge so specifically – God knows what is really going on with people and in their hearts. Not that we are not to discern with people sometimes But we are to declare what God’s word says regardless and especially examine our Own selves – but even in that we can’t totally do correctly – we need to fix our eyes on the Lord as our Lord and Savior – The good shepherd, our Beloved Savior … whose workmanship we are.”

    My comment: Please see above. I would like to end this with the following lengthy excerpts from part 12 of Tom Cucuzza’s sermon series on the book of James:

    11:25 -13:18

    What drives people to have that theology? It’s pride. It’s pride. For them to be able to say “I’ve got it.” How do you know you’ve got it? “Well you know, I used to have these thoughts, I don’t have those thoughts any more.” Yes you do, by the way, but… “ I used to think this way, I used to have that habit, I don’t have that habit any more. I used to…” Wait a minute. Do you still sin? “Well, yeah I still sin.” Well, then, you know what? You’re disqualified.

    If you’re basing whether you’re saved or not on the way you live your life, or what your life looks like, friend the day’s going to come when you’re going to doubt you’re saved, because you will fail. If you’re honest, you’ll fail. “ Oh no, I never, I know I’m saved because my life is all cleaned up now. “ I’m sorry. According to 1st John, God says you’re a liar. God says you’re a liar. We still all sin. That’s why we need to confess, OK, to come back into fellowship with God. Not eternal relationship, but fellowship with God.

    But, you see, what drives that kind of mentality, that Lordship salvation message that leads people into despair and darkness and frustration and uncertainty? What drives it? It is pride. And can I tell you folks, the seminaries and Bible colleges and churches in this world today are dripping with this stuff.

    Salvation comes to the person that understands there’s not one thing I can do of myself to deserve heaven. I am a lost, perverse, wicked sinner. And if it wasn’t for what Jesus Christ did on the cross when He paid for ALL of my sin, I would have no hope at all. But, now I have the assurance of salvation, based on the finished work of Jesus Christ. Isn’t that beautiful? That’s grace.

    36:21-37:22

    Now you might say “a saved person surely is going to live for the Lord, aren’t they?
    Not automatically. Not automatically. Just like you had the choice whether you were going to trust Christ, you have the choice whether you’re going to submit to Christ as a Christian. Not automatic. I got news for you friend. If it was automatic, the Bible would be a whole lot thinner than it is. You’d just need a one page job. How’s that for a handy, handy Bible. You know, forget the idea of this Bible with thousands of pages on it. All these people that make all these Bibles, they would just be frustrated to no end. You just put it on the front page of one page, you just “here’s how to be saved” And, OK you trust Christ as Savior, and there you are. Automatic. You’re on the assembly line of the Christian life now. You’re going to automatically do the right thing and say the right thing and not do the wrong thing. It’s just going to be automatic. You’re going to love everybody and you’re going to love everything that’s right and hate everything that’s wrong, and everything’s going to be perfect. Right?

    Well that’s not the way it is. See, it’s because we have a will that God, through the scriptures, reasons with us. And you know what? That takes space.

  37. I realize comment #2 has several parts that she is missing, i.e., the ‘practicing’ of certain things, so you two decide how best to divide up the answers to the comments, I know you like to keep the posts in here briefer so they are easier to read. Thank you both. In Christ’s great love, Holly

  38. Duane Hawkins

    Dear Concerned Reader,

    Thank you very much for your post to expreacherman. I personally try to pursue a course of simply stating the Gospel, using the words of the Gospel whenever possible. I believe the Scriptures speak for themselves and have been inspired by God and invested with the power to change men’s hearts and minds (See 2 Timothy 3:16-17, Hebrews 4:12, Romans 10).

    Having said that, Francis Chan is one of the most prominent speakers in the evangelical community today and wields tremendous influence throughout the world. I believe it serves us well to sift the words of such prominent speakers to see if they are true – as did the Bereans, whom Paul commended for their diligence.

    Many, many people are confused by the debate over so-called “Lordship Salvation,” because those who teach it use language that is not so very different from the language you would hear from a Bible-believing preacher holding to a free grace position. The differences are small and easy to miss, or to dismiss as “semantics.” Let me give you an example:

    Most teachers holding the Lordship Salvation view (really a modern name for the “P” in the reformed TULIP – “Perseverance”) will, when calling for their listeners to be “saved” use words like “commit to Christ,” “commit your life to Christ,” or “give your life to Christ.” If confronted with the question of why they don’t use the specific terms found in the Bible, like “believe,” “trust,” or “place faith in,” they will generally respond with some analogy regarding a boat, airplane, chair or some other inanimate object and try to illustrate their point by saying that if you don’t get in the boat or plane or sit on the chair, then you don’t really trust it. So, they reason, the language difference is merely one of semantics. Nothing could be further from the truth:

    If I say that I trust you, or that I believe in you (a person), that is entirely different from saying that I commit to you. In the first instance, the focus is YOU. I trust you because of what I perceive about YOUR character and behavior. YOU are trustworthy. In the second instance, the focus is ME. I am stating that I believe that I am the one that has the strength to act in your best interests. Now it is I who is the one that is “trustworthy.”

    See? Not semantics. The point is not that I give my life to Christ, but that He gave His life for me. We MUST look with skepticism on ANY teaching that seems to diminish the importance of Christ’s work and emphasize the importance of our own, regardless of how popular or respected the teacher is that brings it.

    In fairness, Lordship Salvation advocates themselves frequently paint those opposed to their teaching with a broad brush, declaring that we teach that you can be saved simply by “going forward,” filling out a card, or saying a simple prayer. I know of no one on this blog that teaches those things and does not teach repentance (properly defined as a change of mind and heart that causes us to recognize our pitiable state and the magnificent person work of the Lord Jesus Christ and to come to the point where we are willing to rely on Him and Him alone for redemption).

    A few points to ponder as you study James 2 are that:

    1) Paul’s letters to the Romans and Galatians state very clearly that man is justified / saved by faith alone, and can be so, even in the absence of visible works (Romans 4:5).
    2) God does not change His mind or contradict Himself, so James cannot be in conflict with Romans.
    3) The law James refers to in his epistle is the “law of liberty,” namely that of grace, contrasted in Galatians with the “law of slavery” which was given on Sinai.
    4) Even the reformers admitted to being confused by the language in James.

    I have read various explanations of James; the one that makes the most sense to me is that James is written to the “brethren,” that is, BELIEVERS, and is primarily emphasizing our conduct as our testimony before men, not instructing unbelievers on how to be saved.

    In short, my disagreement with the Lordship Salvation camp is that they:

    1) Change the language of Scripture with regard to salvation, using words like “commit” or “give” that are in no way synonyms to the word “believe.”
    2) Insist on defining “fruit” as “works.” The two words are not synonyms and most of the discussion of the fruit of the Spirit we find in Scripture denote things that are internal – the root of works, rather than the works themselves.
    3) Insist on defining repentance as “turning from sin” and living a sanctified lifestyle. As H.A. Ironside rightly pointed out, this is reformation; not to be confused with repentance unto salvation. Neither reformation, nor regret, nor restitution, nor any or all of them together mean the same thing as repentance, which is more accurately defined as a change of mind – in the case of salvation, a change of mind about our own worth and about who Jesus is and what He did, and whether or not to trust Him and Him alone for eternal life.
    4) They declare that the primary source of assurance for the believer is in a life of consistent obedience (usually defined as living a “holy” lifestyle). The more honest of these teachers admit that, as a result, no believer can have complete assurance in this life. Ironically, they turn the first epistle of John, written to strengthen believers in faith and assurance, into a tool for undermining assurance. True assurance comes not from our feeble attempts at “consistent” obedience, but from Christ’s COMPLETE obedience.

    May God bless you in your search for the Truth.

  39. Here is comment #2. Bold below is my emphasis, not hers

    I just am still deeply troubled with this new system of doctrines you have become deeply immersed in …

    I still think it is lopsided – to the right or left *shrug? …but that too much emphasis has been put on the “Free gift” so much so that things are seriously askew and people are not warned at all about the dangers which the Apostles in the Scriptures so often speak of as well – Thus Paul says he had not failed to give the Whole counsel of God – Warning.

    So I am fearful about telling any one that they shall not surely die when Scriptures say if any one Practice certain things they shall not inherit the Kingdom of Christ.

    How much sin??? That is not up to me to judge so specifically – God knows what is really going on with people and in their hearts. Not that we are not to discern with people sometimes But we are to declare what God’s word says regardless and especially examine our Own selves – but even in that we can’t totally do correctly – we need to fix our eyes on the Lord as our Lord and Savior – The good shepherd, our Beloved Savior … whose workmanship we are.

  40. To give her credit, she said, “I believe if any person is charged with something – it is Very important that it should be done with as much integrity as possible and in a way where the person charged could and would say if confronted – ‘yes this is what I believe and here is why …”

    So here is comment #1

    I think Jack Weaver and others of that particular persuasion are dangerously off balance – Over emphasizing God’s free gift of Salvation – to where it ends up a different and sometimes ends up bearing a contradictory message from what God’s word says when taken within the whole context of God’s message to us.

    Example: The teaching that our “behavior has NOTHING to do with our salvation Before,During, Or Afterward” And teaching as long as one believes (decides) that Jesus died to give us Eternal Life – we Have it regardless if you remain in a Rebellious lifestyle or not – all you have to lose is some rewards and maybe a shortened life here. I have tried to get the idea across very briefly, but I believe that is true to what I have read and heard taught by your current teachers – and This doctrine scares me and I worry for you and others too.

  41. I thank the Lord you all do stand against error for many reasons.

    I have a couple comments to share from a friend, who has read some of your things and takes exception to your doctrine. She feels you ought to be able to answer these things, and so I thought you two might answer each of these comments.

  42. John,

    One more enlightening thing about the comment from our LS-Friend is his statement: “so why are you so concerned about it that when I Google Francis Chan, I find all these articles talking about how awful he is here on your blog? I mean, dude… how is that even remotely helpful to folks?”

    It is wonderful that he got so many hits on Google referring folks to ExPreacherMan.com. We thank the Lord for that!!!

    Dear LS-Friend, it is always helpful to expose error. We are here to proclaim the Gospel of Salvation by God’s Grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone and to expose those who would pervert it by adding works to the Gospel (Chan et al).

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

  43. John,

    Excellent answer to a very blind, confused person. We pray he will read this and understand that “there is NO works part of the Gospel.”

    In Jesus Christ eternally, Jack

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