Lordship Salvation: A Case Study

By johninnc

Galatians 2:21: I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.

Below is a rather lengthy exchange from an internet article I read today. I would have generally relegated this to a comment under “The Gospel According to Internet Comments,” but I have made it a separate post because it is very instructive as to the subtlety of works for salvation that so many people confuse with grace.

The first commenter (varnuke) seems to be upholding grace, though he has some error mixed in. The other commenter (Frank Zimmerman) has serious Lordship “salvation” error.

The commenter’s names are highlighted in bold. I have also interspersed my comments in bold parenthesis.

varnuke Jim James • 2 days ago • edited

No matter how much I try to abstain from sins, I find that actually impossible as long as I live. “The thought of foolishness is sin.” Proverbs 24:9 (KJV). “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” James 4:17. (KJV) My only way out was Jesus Christ dying for ALL of my sins, past, present, and future. Nothing I can do to add to that at all! PERIOD!

Frank Zimmerman varnuke • a day ago

Christ’s life needs to be in you though…otherwise you are frustrating His grace. “How shall we that are dead to sin live any longer therein?” Rom 6:2. “Awake to righteousness and sin not; I speak this to your shame.” 1 Cor. 15:34.

(My comment: This is a strong indication that Frank objects to the grace of God. Varnuke gave a comment that should not need to be qualified or rebutted. Frank seems uncomfortable with it. Frank also seems to confuse instruction for Christian living with believing in Jesus as Savior.)

varnuke Frank Zimmerman • a day ago • edited

When Jesus Christ died for my sins (as well as everyone else), He paid the price for my sins (past, present and future) so that I could become a member “of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones” Eph. 5:30 (KJV), by placing all my God-given faith and trust in His sacrifice for my sins, which I definitely did not deserve at all, “. . . whereby [I am] sealed unto the day of redemption.” Eph. 4:30 (KJV). “And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” Eph. 2:6 (KJV).

I understand it the other way around. I need to ‘be in Him.’ not personally “working” my way into a false sense of being saved by claiming that I don’t sin anymore after ‘being saved,’ as if what He did was not perfect enough, and thus requires me to do something else (like trying not to sin, which is absolutely impossible in the flesh).

Eph. 2:8-9 (KJV) says it all. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it [faith] is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” And that “gift” of faith is a “free gift” of God. Rom: 5:15-16, 18 (KJV). Gifts are already “free,” by definition. And that ” . . . faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Rom. 10:17 (KJV).

Problem is, if a person claims to have “Christ’s life” in him, or her, that person still sins after such claim. Even a lie is enough to send one to hell. “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” Rev. 21:8 (KJV)

Not trusting what Jesus Christ did 100.00%, without the addition of righteous personal ‘works,’ wherein a person mistakenly thinks he or she no longer sins is nothing less than total self deception – usually misleadingly taught to them by some false so-called “Christian” religion.

Working to keep from ‘sinning’ is nothing more than evidence one has not placed their complete trust in Him, thinking their own “filthy rags” righteousness is also required for salvation. “. . . all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags . . .” Isaiah 64:6 (KJV)

(My comment: varnuke’s comment requires a very important clarification: Working to keep from sinning is not evidence that one has not placed their complete trust in Christ. Working to keep from sinning is evidence that someone is not currently trusting fully in Christ only if someone thinks they must do that to earn, keep, or prove that they have received eternal life. And, even if someone is not currently trusting in Christ alone for eternal life, that does not mean that they never have. Anyone who has ever trusted in Christ alone as Savior has eternal life that can never be lost or forfeited.

Varnuke has also referred to faith as “God given” and has quantified faith with 5 significant digits (100.00%). Our ability to have faith in anything is God-given, however we must never confuse that with God giving us the faith to trust in Christ as Savior. And, it is the object of our faith – Jesus Christ – not the quality of our faith that is the only distinction as to whether or not someone has eternal life.)

Frank Zimmerman varnuke • 21 hours ago • edited

I know what you are saying is a popular version of the gospel, but what is missing is the death of the old man. There are two deaths required to save anyone: Christ’s death, and the death of your old man of sin.

“I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me.” Gal. 2:20

“Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin.” Rom. 6:6-7.

According to Romans 7:1-4, Christ will not marry you (i.e. you will not be “in Him” and He will not be “in you”) unless the old man has died first…otherwise He would be an adulterer.

(My comment: Believing the gospel that Christ died for our sins and was raised from the dead results in the death of the old man. No one needs to turn from sin, or do anything to make that a reality. The Bible makes it clear that it is possible for a Christian to continue to let sin reign in his life, even though that is not God’s will. See Romans 6:12. Further, even knowing that the old man is dead is not required to receive eternal life. It is a forensic fact!)

Check also the object lesson of redemption in the deliverance from Egypt: the death of the lamb was required, and also the death of the firstborn of Egypt, before the Israelites were free from the land of bondage. We need to be likewise free from the bondage to the power of sin.

(My comment: Believing the gospel that Christ died for our sins and was raised from the dead results in a new birth of the Spiritual Man that does not even have the capacity to sin. Yet, the flesh is still with us in this lifetime, which is why we still sin. One is therefore free from the bondage to the power of sin by virtue of having a new nature. That does not mean that there is any inevitable change in the nature, extent, nor degree to which any believer in Christ will sin in this lifetime. Otherwise, the instructions to believers in the Epistles would be unnecessary.)

Your charge, that someone who trusts in Christ to keep him from sinning, is somehow “trusting in his own works” is foolish. Do you suppose that the Israelites celebrated their stepping into the Red Sea as the cause for their victory? They well knew it was the power of God working in their behalf. So will it be with the truly righteous man…he knows it is the power of God working in him, and not of himself.

(My comment: Believing the gospel that Christ died for our sins and was raised from the dead does not require trusting in Him to keep from sinning.  This is Lordship “salvation” 101!. If we were required to trust in Christ to keep from sinning in order to have eternal life, then we would need to examine whether we had turned from sin (which is a work) to determine whether we had eternal life. The presence of ANY SIN would negate the evidence supplied by the absence of all other sin.)

In Romans 4, the promise to Abraham is set forth as an example of the power of the gospel. Abraham and Sarah were dead within, they had no power to bring forth the son that God had promised. But they trusted that what God had promised, He was able to perform (in them). God gave them His life, and they were enabled to do the impossible.

(My comment: Believing the gospel that Christ died for our sins and was raised from the dead is not about “our doing the impossible” by turning from sin!  Abraham and Sarah were not enabled to do the impossible. God did the impossible. This is about our believing that God has taken away our sin, and that He is able to accomplish what we could not – our eternal salvation.)

You say it is impossible for the life of Jesus to be manifest in us. Therefore, you do not have the faith of Abraham. You are in high danger of accepting “a form of godliness” but “denying the power.”

(My comment: varnuke never said that it was impossible for the life of Jesus to be manifest in us. Frank simply put those words into his mouth. Then, Frank said that varnuke didn’t have the faith of Abraham, which means Frank has assumed the position of God. Finally, Frank has intimated that varnude is “denying the power” by asserting that sinless perfection is not attainable in this lifetime.)


We have received lots of comments and e-mails with doctrine similar to that set forth above by Frank. To summarize Frank’s error:

  1. Frank falsely implies that trusting in Christ to keep us from sinning is necessarily included in, or is the same thing as believing in Christ as Savior.
  2. Frank falsely teaches that to assert that life change and less sinning are not inevitable in the lives of believers is to “deny the power.”
  3. Frank confuses the fact that the “old man” is forensically dead the moment someone believes in Jesus as Savior with what one must believe in order to have eternal life. One does not have to know that the “old man” is dead in order to receive eternal life, and one need not do anything to manifest that understanding in the way he lives his life in order to demonstrate that he has received eternal life.
  4. Frank falsely insinuates that Christ died for our sins and was raised from the dead in order to enable us to earn eternal life.

If you have made, or heard, similar “frank arguments”, and would like to know the truth about how to have eternal life click here: THE GOSPEL

34 responses to “Lordship Salvation: A Case Study

  1. You might ask them, how they know for sure they are God’s Elect? They can’t know for sure IF they are God’s Elect, because they CAN’T know if they will persevere until the end of their life. Ultimately they are looking at their performance for proof of their salvation. I am so thankful that God made a promise that whosoever would trust in His Son alone as their savior, apart from works, He would give them, as a free gift, ETERNAL LIFE!!!

  2. LukeNC, I have prayed for God to help you with wisdom and discernment in interacting with this group, and if necessary separating from them.

    Dyed in the wool Calvinists/LSers can be very resistant to the truth, often because they have so much “sunk cost” in terms of time and treasure hewing to their false religion.

    For the Calvinist, I would suggest using Ephesians 2:8-9 and Romans 6:23 in conjunction. If faith were bestowed by God, why does it say ‘by grace are ye saved through faith”? Why wouldn’t it just be “by grace are ye saved”?

    Also, John 3:18. How could a non-believer be condemned, if God has chosen him to become a believer later? Since no one is born a believer, everyone who is a believer came to faith at some point.

    You might also ask him how he might feel if God hadn’t chosen him to be saved. How would he choose to relate to such a god?

  3. I’m in a small group bible study where I’m the only free grace adherent. The others are LS-ers/calvinists. Whenever we get to salvation issues, I’m steadfast on the free pure grace message and we definitely get into heated discussions. I hope and pray I get through to them. This site has helped me immensely in doing that. Of of the guys always goes on about how he is so glad God chose him to be saved, typical calvinism. How would I respond to that?

  4. Thank you, Johninnc.

  5. Hellsbells39, I have prayed for you and asked God to give you peace and rest.

  6. Hellsbells39, any comment that contains links generally goes to my spam folder.

    Based on what you have told me about the videos you linked to your last post, I would avoid them. I haven’t watched them, and don’t intend to.

    It doesn’t surprise me that you are having trouble finding a church that is clear on the gospel and grace-oriented in your locale. That is a common problem among our readers and commenters. That is why we are so adamant to keep the Expreacherman site focused on advancing and defending the gospel, and avoiding peripheral issues.

    I would like to recommend that you read “The Gospel” booklet, linked below, every day for a month. That will help to ground you in the truth of the gospel and to be better at spotting false doctrine.


  7. hellsbells39, thanks for your interest.

    We welcome short questions and comments, but we generally do not allow promotion of, or links to other ministries or blogs, and we like to keep comments focused on advancing and defending the gospel message.

    We are not equipped to deal with extensive personal concerns, nor to evaluate extensive written documents or any audio and video messages.

    For more detailed guidance, please read “Goals” and “Guest Rules – Disclaimer,” linked below:



  8. Hello. I have tried to leave a comment, but I’m not sure they are being published. Please could you help, as I really want to be involved with this site. I have commented elsewhere on other blog posts, but yet again they were not published.

  9. John, thank you.

  10. Hobbs, I’ve prayed for your brother as well.

  11. Thanks, Holly. My bro and I both grew up in an open brethren in the UK and I think we would at times have heard the clear gospel but at others the commitment version, much like most mainstream churches, so goodness knows what he ended up with. I try to delve a bit but he’s cagey about church things now, quite cynical, seems to be favouring evolution. He did say he’s confused now and doesn’t know if he’s going to heaven, hell or if there’ll be ‘just nothingness’ when he dies. I played him a Yankee Arnold clip re. 2 Tim 2:13, but he says he doesn’t believe that either, that one would need to keep believing… like he wants to damn himself. He can be a bit negative at times, in the past he often used to say he was going to hell, perhaps precisely because he got duped by a works message and felt he couldn’t measure up. As you say I should keep praying for him and try to give the gospel again. Thanks for prayers.

  12. So much confusion out there, I try to avoid it as Rom 16:17 says. We contend, but I don’t give them much time, because they distract us from what is important (Gal 2:4-5; Lk 10:38-42).

  13. Hobbs – do you know what your brother initially believed? It’s good to continue to share His Word and trust it to work, as you have the opportunity, and keep praying for him. If he believed the wrong gospel, he needs to be assured of the right one, one without works to be saved or stay saved. Praying for both of you.

  14. Jason, that is a funny way of explaining it.

    The way I understand it, His payment was effectual for all my sin – past, present, and future.

    Tom Cucuzza has a great explanation of this in his booklet “The Permanence of Salvation.” Please see below:

    1. Salvation is permanent because Christ paid the price for all sin–past, present, and future.

    “Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this Man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: And by Him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses” (Acts 13:38-39).

    The word “forgiveness” means “to cause to send away” as in “to release one’s sins from the sinner”. All of our sins were in the future when Jesus died. Therefore we know that if He has paid for any of them, He has paid for all of them. “All” means “all”! This is not a concept confused in translation. “All” in the Greek means 100% of all there is.

    “When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost” (John 19:30).

    The payment required for all sin for all time was paid in full. If the penalty for all the sins of your entire life has been paid, and you have placed your faith in Christ alone, what could send you to hell? The answer is, nothing. That perfect, one time payment that our Lord Jesus Christ made for each of us purchased our eternal redemption! If it is eternal redemption then, once you have been redeemed, it must certainly last forever.

    “Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us” (Hebrews 9:12).

  15. One of my friends, ikev, has been sound on the gospel, and I have been following him for a year. I think he goes by Vooke on YouTube. He had one video in which he was clear on eternal security, and he recommends Ron Enroth’s book “Churches that Abuse”. I had read half of that book in the past and cannot recall having any issues with it. ikev leads a group called, Exposing the Heresies and Deceptions of Owuor, or something similar. The group has been shut down twice.

    Recently, ikev has expressed doubts about eternal security. Today, he posted a large text comment:

    “God forgave you all your past, present AND FUTURE sins”


    A free grace versus lordship debate ensued in which I was not a major participant.

    There were several Georges. One of them said: “Friends, without the shedding of blood theres no forgiveness of sins. Sadly, Jesus shed his blood only once. He is no longer shedding blood. Either His once shed blood obtained for us eternal redemption (that is forgiveness for all sins of all time) or it didn’t work”

    The other George said: “Michael you are running away from my point. I have given you sufficient scripture to prove that the death of Jesus was for the forgiveness of sin!!!! Now the question is which sins!!! Committed on not yet committed; It can only be those already committed! This means that by the time u committing it the blood of Jesus is already washing it away!!!!
    Thats basically what I understand! Whats your opinion”

    That’s a funny way of explaining it. Otherwise, he was clear that forgiveness is for all sins. He was the main one opposing the repent of sin gospel, which Michael was promoting. Most of us would say that future sins are forgiven. His comment may have been sarcastic. One of the verses he cited was Romans 6:10.

    I hearted this comment from Nelly: “alleluia meaning we are going to heaven ,we don’t need to even repent any sin”. Just what we have been saying.

  16. LD, I agree that we have to be vigilant in defending the gospel. There are so many ways to distort it.

  17. Great article! We can never let our guard down when it comes to carefully listening and pointing out what people who profess to be Christians (ex. Lordship Salvationists) say regarding what they believe about how one gets to heaven.
    Hope all is well in Christ.

  18. Ok, thanks John, glad it’s not just me!

  19. Hobbs, interesting. I can’t really understand his reasoning.

  20. My brother says he’s not sure he believes anymore, but he also doesn’t believe a person would still be saved if they used to believe but stopped believing… “because it’s all about believing”. Huh? Can anyone figure that out? I think he might be a bit of a moron.

  21. Ed, you are correct to point out that error in Varnuke’s second comment, and clarifying that eternal life, not faith is the gift of God in Ephesians 2:8. For anyone who would argue that, I would refer them to Romans 6:23, among others.

    I tried to address Varnuke’s error in my comments, in which I said: Varnuke has also referred to faith as “God given” and has quantified faith with 5 significant digits (100.00%). Our ability to have faith in anything is God-given, however we must never confuse that with God giving us the faith to trust in Christ as Savior.

  22. John, Thanks for the article. Like Kathy, I faithfully read them.

    Just one point of clarification that I could not let slide. I noticed that when varnuke quoted Eph. 2:8-9 (KJV) he commented that “faith” is the gift. I believe that is a Calvinist spin on that verse, because as I understand that verse, “salvation” or (eternal life) is the gift – not “faith” according to Romans 6:23 which says: The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life.”

    Romans 10:17 also says: “So, then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” So it is Gods word that quickeneth us through the hearing of his word from a preacher (or a saved person speaking and explaining his word). This is also explained in Romans chapter 10 and a lot of other places in the New Testament.

    Calvinists like to make faith the gift because they believe God regenerates you before you believe, (whatever that means). They will preach that it is God from beginning to end and that your election is unconditional (i.e. no need to place your faith in Jesus that he made the payment for our sins, because God gives you the faith.) Very confusing. I was mixed up in a Calvinist preaching church for years until I got saved by listening to Dr. Tom Cucuzza. I emailed back and forth with him a few times and I finally understood the gospel while I was reading one of his emails to me.

  23. Jason, going from Pentecostalism to Spurgeonism/MacArthurism is to go from the strange fire into the strange frying pan. Both teach salvation by works.

  24. Nina, I hope that Frank has trusted in Christ alone as Savior at some point, and if not, that he will. Also, that he would quit confusing people with his misuse of scripture to pervert the gospel.

  25. They need to start humbling themselves and drop the pride along with those unfit fig leaves.

  26. Some of my African friends find MacArthur refreshing because his Strange Fire conference addressed the pentecostal fake pastors. Little do they realize that MacArthur is a Calvinist fake pastor. They clearly teach that there is no need, under grace, to whip oneself into remorse. Yet that is the essence of MacArthur and Spurgeon. One of them asked me what is wrong with the book Charismatic Chaos.

  27. Jason, it’s really sad that so many people have objections to the concept that eternal life is a free gift without cost or obligation to the recipient.

    LS adherents never really have a good answer to clear verses such as John 5:24.

    They almost always resort to irrelevant comments or twist scripture to fit their narrative. There is seemingly no end to it.

  28. Some commenters on Ralph Yankee Arnold’s video, “Jesus vs John MacArthur”, were similar to Frank’s. They were playing shell games and always coming back with works. The fact that they must always change the subject and can never end the conversation with a hearty amen is very telling.

    I made the comment that being in Yankee’s presence makes me feel cheated. It was inspired by a comment that Adeola Fayehun made about coming to America and discovering 24 hour electricity. I do not come from Nigeria, but the lights went out in most churches because of corruption of the gospel, and I have suffered the result.

    When I made that comment, the lordshippers showed up with their impertinent remarks. 30 lurkers silently agreed.

  29. Holly, I agree.

    These guys think that denying the power is the same as saying that life change and cessation of sin are not inevitable in the lives of believers.

  30. Really good article Johninnc. Thorough and well thought out.

    Frank must not be married, for if he were, I am sure he would have a witness to the fact he has not stopped sinning.

    As far as the ‘form of godliness’ but ‘denying the power’, I believe this is exactly what these types are guilty of. They deny the power of the gospel and like the silly women they lead astray they are unable to come to a knowledge of the truth.

    For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to >>every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. Rom 1:16

  31. Chas, I agree that the legalistic spirit of LS is the same as that of Roman Catholicism and that they will increasingly coalesce.

    Frank’s false theology leaves no way for one to know whether or not he has eternal life. Any assurance would need to include an assessment of whether it was evident, based on one’s works, whether or not the old man was dead.

  32. Johninnc…

    Your 4th point–about the idea that Jesus died to enable us to earn eternal life–is what a Roman Catholic admitted to me in an online discussion a couple years ago. When I put that exact idea to him, the person said “Well, that’s an odd way to put it, but…” and then went on to say the same thing in different words.

    The legalistic spirit of LS is the same as that of Roman Catholicism. No wonder that Rome is finding it so easy to “reunite” with the “lost brethren”.

  33. Kathy, we are glad you are here.

    Frank tipped his hand in his first comment with the word “though.” It’s another qualifier – “I believe that we are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, (but, and, however, though…).”

    People like Frank misuse scripture to confuse people.

  34. Excellent clarification. The error is often so subtle it is difficult for me to pick up. However, when I start questioning if I’m really saved, have I done enough, etc., then I realize I am back in error and go back to the Truth: Christ has set me free, not me, but Jesus Christ. (Through believing He paid it ALL.) Even though I mostly lurk on this site, please know that I am soaking up every word, and I greatly appreciate the work you do to put the Truth out there!

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