Lordship Salvation: Is Zeal Toward God Enough?

By johninnc

Romans 3:26: To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.

When the Apostle Paul was giving his testimony in Acts 22, he acknowledged his listeners’ zeal toward God. He was trying to appeal to his common ground with them, including their respect for the law.

Acts 22:3: I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day.

There are also several biblical encounters in which Jesus acknowledges various unbelievers’ familiarity with the law. We’ll look at two of them.

The first is with a certain ruler (sometimes referred to as “the rich young ruler”).

Matthew 19:16-22: [16] And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? [17] And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. [18] He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, [19] Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. [20] The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? [21] Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. [22] But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.

As verse 16 indicates, this certain ruler believed he could earn eternal life by some work of righteousness. It is clear from verse 17 that the man did not know who Jesus was. In verse 18, Jesus tells him he will enter into life (have eternal life) if he will just keep the commandments. The man asks “which ones,” and Jesus mentions six of the commandments. The man makes the ridiculous claim, in verse 20, that he has kept all of these commandments. Jesus, playing along with him, asks him to sell his possessions and give the money to the poor. At this point, the man realizes that he has not kept all of the commandments perfectly, is not willing to, and therefore goes away sorrowful and unsaved.

The certain ruler does not go away unsaved because he is unwilling to sell his possessions, give the money to the poor, or follow Jesus in discipleship. No, he goes away unsaved because he does not know who Jesus is, and he was hoping to justify himself by keeping laws.

The second encounter is with a certain lawyer.

 Luke 10:25-29: [25] And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? [26] He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? [27] And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. [28] And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live. [29] But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?       

This certain lawyer, like the certain ruler, asked Jesus what he could do to earn eternal life. Again, Jesus tells him to just keep the law, knowing that no one (besides Jesus) has ever kept the law perfectly. Here, the Bible is clear that the certain lawyer was willing to justify himself (verse 29).

The certain ruler and the certain lawyer are indicative of the mindset that Paul references in Romans 10:1-4: [1] Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. [2] For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. [3] For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.

In a similar manner, Lordship “salvation” has assumed the mantle of the Pharisees – trying to become justified, stay justified, or prove one is justified by keeping rules.

The ardent believers in false gospels of works will often cloak their departures from the truth of the gospel by parsing scripture. These people often think they are being Bereans (see Acts 17). In reality, they are misusing scripture to corrupt the gospel. In so doing, they are leading people away from Christ.

Ron Shea sums this up fairly succinctly:

We acknowledge that believers may fall into error or confusion regarding salvation and works after their conversion, as happened to the church of Galatia (Galatians 1:6-7. 3:1).  We further acknowledge that the believers of Galatia were regarded as “brethren,” (Galatians 1:3), having fallen into this grievous error subsequent to their coming to an authentic faith in Christ (Galatians 3:1-3).  We note, however, that the authors of this grievous error, who had never believed on Christ alone, having simply added Jesus Christ to a pre-existing confession of salvation by works (Acts 15:1) were regarded as “false brethren.” (Galatians 2:4).  To this end, we affirm that a lost sinner must, at some time in his life, believe on Christ alone, apart from the works of the law, for his salvation, and that apart from such an authentic moment of saving faith, there is no hope of salvation.

The Bible is clear that zeal for God, knowledge of the law, and searching scripture are not sufficient for eternal life. Eternal life is received by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.

If you would like to know more about how to have eternal life, please click here: THE GOSPEL

22 responses to “Lordship Salvation: Is Zeal Toward God Enough?

  1. Johninnc – I pray that some might tell them the truth and the might hear. What a religion without hope. Thank the Lord there is Biblical hope.

  2. We are having a major PGA golf tournament in my city this week. Another group of false prophets with a zeal for God, the Jehovahs’s Witnesses, are out in farce (not a typo) to proselytize the golf fans.

    Please join me in praying for these deceived people.

  3. The fact that these Lordship Salvationists, who set themselves up as preachers of holiness, would mock somebody else’s death is just another indictment against them. That is shameful behavior.

  4. Google, “Top Prosperity Theologians Puzzled Over Death Of Jan Crouch”, it’s from a satire site of someone who supports Piper and MacArthur. It’s gotten some pushback but it’s just wolves fighting wolves.

  5. RAS, Google, “Top Prosperity Theologians Puzzled Over Death Of Jan Crouch”

    The source is run by Adam Ford, who follows LS teachers of the Calvinist persuasion. There’s been some pushback on it.

  6. @socalexile No, but you have peaked my curiosity. Should I round up (google) the usual suspects or do you have specifics in mind?

  7. On a side note, have you guys watched how the LS teachers are using Jan Crouch’s death to puff themselves up? They’re using ridicule and derision, which doesn’t bring shame to Crouch’s deceived followers, but themselves.

  8. Guido, one thing you might consider is that Romans is a letter. The chapters and verses are not a part of the original inspiration of His Word, and weren’t even added until 6-800 years ago (chapters first then verses later). So really we need to look at a bigger picture. Continue into Romans 7. Look at the word dominion. Break down what is being said. The law had dominion over a man for his whole life (rule – lordship – master). But we are dead to the law and are married to another and have been set free. The sin had dominion over us, it no longer does (meaning the wages of that sin being death). Death had dominion over us because of that sin, it no longer does because Christ was our first fruits and had victory over the grave.

    Why doesn’t sin have dominion over us? It is answered in vs. 14, because we are not under law but under grace (and also in 10:4 as John mentioned).

    Why doesn’t death have dominion over us? Because Christ had victory over the grave (Rom 6:9; 1 Cor 15:54-57).

    Why doesn’t the law have dominion over us? Because we are dead to the law by the body of Christ, we have been delivered from it (Rom 7:1-6).

  9. This really helped me understand Romans and Grace.

    “Paul is stating that on the basis of the finality of the Cross of Jesus Christ that Christians are free from the power of sin. We are dead to sin, and alive to God. Does that seem possible? Well, Romans 6 says it is the absolute Truth.
    But why doesn’t it seem true? Two reasons: First, we don’t believe it – at least not enough to be able to live it out. And secondly, some Christians don’t obey it. They do let sin reign. Perhaps not because we want to sin. But because we have given up to sin.
    Most of our Christian life is going to be spent learning the Truth. This Truth of Romans 6 is basic to Christian living – and yet it takes such a process wherein God must reveal it to us in a way that sets us free. Many Christians don’t believe they are set free from the power of sin for one reason – they still sin. But this is proof of nothing. The finality of the Cross is eternally in place. We must stand by faith in it, and open ourselves to God that He might make this reality a living reality for us.”

    When I understood that last line and what Romans 6 was saying my Christian experience/walk was taken to another level.

  10. Guido,

    Romans 1 is a chapter explaining who Paul is, what his mission to the Romans is (to preach the Gospel) and then highlighting the sin nature.

    Romans 2 is Paul showing the Romans that they are sinners themselves, and reminding the Jewish people in Rome that they who judge others are condemned by the law also.

    Romans 3 – none are righteous…salvation is by faith because it’s the only way salvation can be granted to sinners incapable of fulfilling the holy requirement of the law (perfection).

    Romans 4 – Paul shows that Abraham and David were justified by faith, not the law. Jesus paid for all our sins, was raised to declare us righteous (if we believe).

    Romans 5 – Salvation by grace through faith because of Jesus’ work.

    Romans 6 – Paul addresses a thought he knew the Romans would have “so if it’s by grace through faith and grace triumphs over sin, then should we just continue to sin so grace can abound?” Paul says no. Paul explains that the old man is dead (in Christ’s eyes) and the new, sinless nature is in us (in whom we can choose to walk). He tells the Romans to identify themselves in the new nature, not the old. Walk in the new, don’t let sin abound.

    Guido, please actually read what we are posting to you. We have been through this in a previous post and I don’t believe you even replied to it? I understand what it’s like to have doubts and fears that salvation isn’t actually by faith alone (or that is MUST be accompanied by some sort of change – it does not), but one of the mistakes I constantly made was to overlook what people were clearly showing me.

    Your emotions are a horrible guide. Listen to the logical (because they’re Biblical) explanations people are giving you – or live in misery until you do.

  11. SoCal, I agree with your view.

  12. socalexile

    Another view on Romans 6 is that while we are positionally justified before God by faith, Paul here is encouraging his readers to experience that justification by denying the old nature and walking according to the new. Given how Paul gives a logical progression in Romans (I’ve heard it called the “Romans Road”), where he’s already addressed justification by faith in 3-5, he’s now transitioning to addressing the Christian life.

  13. Guido, once a person becomes a believer in Christ, he is forensically declared righteous in God’s eyes. He is no longer subject to the law and the condemnation that breaking the law brought. God sees the believer as sinless, based on Christ’s imputed righteousness. From the point of belief forward, the believer is no longer under the law.

    Given that reality, we are instructed to walk in the newness of life (verse 4). Walking in the newness of life is not possible for an unbeliever, because he has no spiritual life.

    Sin does not have dominion (jurisdiction) over the believer. The believer is under grace. The believer is to reckon himself dead to sin (verse 11).

  14. Guido Arbia

    But verse 14 begins with for, yet doesn’t make sense as a reason or explanation of the previous, at least not as far as I understand.

  15. socal, I think you’ve given a good synopsis of those three chapters.

  16. socalexile

    Seems to me that Romans 6-8 is a big chiasm, with 6 teaching what the believer’s attitude should be towards the old nature, 8 being the what the attitude should be toward the new, and 7-14-8:1 being the centeral point, that of the dichotomy of the two natures.

  17. Guido, doing a verse-by-verse exposition of scripture is beyond the scope of this site.

    However, we will address your questions regarding Romans 6:14-15, in light of Romans 6:12-13.

    Romans 6 is an explanation of the believer’s identification with Christ, and an appeal to live in the reality of that identification.

    Romans 6:14 – a believer is no longer under the jurisdiction (dominion) of sin. Romans 10:4: For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. A believer will never come into condemnation. All of a believers sins have been forgiven. In addition, prior to becoming a believer in Christ, a lost person has only the flesh. He is bound to it. He has not been reborn, and therefore cannot walk in the newness of life. Once he becomes saved, he has a choice.

    Romans 6:15 – because a believer is under grace, and not the law, he should not choose to indulge his fleshly tendencies. It is not God’s will that a believer would continue to live in sin, just because he is no longer subject to the law.

    Romans 6:12-13 – this is an appeal to believers to not let sin reign in their lives. Verse 12 says not to let sin reign in their mortal bodies, because the believer’s new nature is not capable of sin (see 1 John 3:9).

  18. Guido Arbia

    I still don’t understand Romans 6. Verses 14 and 15 seem to not make sense with verses 12 and 13. Verse 14 in particular is confusing me.

    Can you do a post going through Romans 6?

  19. socalexile

    Bottom line is that the only way anyone is saved is by grace.

  20. It is a privilege to witness the last couple of times i got to witness to the un churched biblical illiterate who are aware of religion One of them thought smoking cigarettes would keep him out of heaven along with his behaviour . I could sense the load lifting from him when stated Christ Died for the ungodly and that there is not one sinner in Hell because they are sinners ,
    The religious moral and carnal moral are the hardest souls to reach . Just like the rich young ruler . I had the passage hammered into me for discipleship and yet that is not what it is about . it is about the Law keepers working their way into Hell on a heavenly highway .

    Christ died for the ungodly. , the unsaved and saved alike do not like to hear that We all are naturally averse to Grace . The publicans and harlots know their need or rather see their need before the up and out .
    Grace is good news in the gutter

    Christ died for the ungodly.
    That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.

    Mat 21:31 Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.

    for the ungodly
    1Ti_1:9 Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,

    Rom_4:5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

    Rom_5:6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

  21. Angela, I know what you mean about people who are really vested in LS. We have already received a contradictory comment to this article from someone who several of us tried to gently correct back in March.

    We don’t allow people to use this site as a sounding board for teaching, or defending, false gospels.

    Following is a pertinent excerpt from one of Tom Cucuzza’s sermons entitled “It’s All of Christ”:

    Minutes 3:35-3:52

    We must protect the gospel. Now, what is the gospel? It’s the good news that God sent His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to die on the cross to pay for all of our sins and that He came back from the dead to prove it was done, and that all who would simply put their faith in Christ and Christ alone receive eternal life.

    Minutes 4:07-4:35

    Now, if there is only one plan of salvation, which the Bible says that is true, if there is only one gospel, which the Bible says that is true, then the truth needs to be protected.

    We cannot give false teachers a place – and you’ll notice what he said – not even for an hour. Now, that’s not being mean-spirited, that’s just standing our ground. That’s having the courage to say: “Excuse me, not here. That message is not welcome here.”

    Minutes 4:49-5:34

    There are those who are saved and yet are confused about this issue. And they are -many times – just because they haven’t learned, they haven’t been taught better – they are saying things that aren’t true, but it hasn’t occurred to them that what they are saying is not true. What do we do with them? We teach them. We kindly teach them. We take them alongside and we show them the way of God more perfectly. Alright? There is that ministry. Every man is a ministry. We need to see that.

    However, there are those, though, who are fixed on preaching error and teaching error. And when they are approached with the truth – and we try to make that clear – they say: “That’s not true! I don’t believe that. I believe you’re the one who’s teaching falsehood.”

  22. Thank you for this message, very helpful indeed.

    What sometimes confuses me is when people persist in this error in such a dogmatic way. Yet I have come to realize that there is a certain psychology (for lack of a better word) for some people that want to add works to salvation.
    It is so true about people who add Jesus to a pre-existing salvation of works.

    The sad thing is so often they cannot let go of their works ….because their works (justifying themselves) is what gives their life meaning not Jesus.

    Angela Lina