Lordship Salvation: Talking Turkey

By: johninnc

Romans 6:23:  For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

With the Thanksgiving holiday upon us once again, I found myself musing about the origin of the idiom “Let’s Talk Turkey” and thought I would look into it.

Here’s what I found at the website writingexplained.org:

Let’s Talk Turkey Meaning

Definition: To engage in a frank and practical discussion about a matter (usually a business matter).

Origin of Talking Turkey

This expression was in use by the first half of the 1800s. Its origin story is said to come from an apocryphal tale about a white man and an Indian hunting.

In the story, a Native American and white man are trying to divide some game from a hunt. The white man offers that he (the white man) can take the turkey while the Native American man can take the buzzard. Alternatively, the Native American can take the buzzard and he (the white man) can take the turkey.

These two offers sounded different because the white man reversed the order. However, in both instances the white man would walk away with the larger prize. The Native American realized this and said to the white man, “Now talk turkey to me.”

There is no evidence that this exchange actually happened. However, this story appears in multiple first hand sources throughout the 1800s. This seems to mean it was a popular origin story for the idiom.

This origin story, whether true or not, reminded me of two of the ways in which Lordship “salvationists” (LSers) misrepresent the gospel, and in so doing, serve to keep lost people lost and to confuse believers.

Lordship “salvation” (LS) is the unsupportable and unbiblical belief that the PERFORMANCE of good works, the PROMISE of good works, or the EVIDENCE of good works MUST accompany faith in Christ in order to establish, or provide evidence, that such faith has resulted in eternal life.

First, LSers present the gospel as some sort of business transaction that entails a lost sinner giving something to God in exchange for the receipt of eternal life. The variations on this are endless, but examples include:

  • “Repent of your sins”
  • “Turn from your sins”
  • “Be willing to turn from your sins”
  • “Put Christ on the throne of your life”
  • “Give your life to Christ”
  • “Commit to follow Christ”

Consider the following quote from the late Billy Graham:

Giving up something to follow Christ is not earning salvation; it is giving up what keeps you from salvation. When we hold on to something that is dearer to us than receiving the greater gift of salvation in Christ, we lose.

Graham subtly changed salvation from a “free gift” to “a greater gift.”  In this way, Graham suggests that what man “brings to the table” in exchange for salvation is but a pittance, compared to the greater gift of salvation that he receives in return (kind of like “I’ll take the turkey, you take the buzzard”).  This view denies the work of Jesus as being sufficient to save us, and changes the nature of Grace from being a gift to being a trade.

Here is a less subtle example from Steve Lawson:

If you want to receive this gift it will cost you the total commitment of all that you are to the Lord Jesus Christ. There are many here who think they are saved, but are not; they have never really done business with God

He will agree to terms of peace and surrender, but they are His terms of peace, not ours. His terms are this: you must love Him more than anything. If you cannot do this, you will meet Him in the final judgment and glorify God in your destruction.

Like Graham, Lawson denies the sufficiency of Christ and misrepresents the gospel .

These would be “evangelists” may have thought they were “talking turkey” to their audiences with these false messages, but they were really just teaching false gospels of salvation by works.

Second, like the white man in the idiom, LSers say the same thing in two different ways. This takes the form of either front-loading or back loading the gospel with works.

The following quote from prominent pastor David Chadwick is an example of this double-speak:

(note that Chadwick writes as though he is Jesus giving first-hand information)

Through my obedience, my Father has given me the final authority to execute judgment over all humanity. One day, everyone will hear my voice and appear before me in final judgment. Don’t marvel at this saying. It is true. This judgment will solely depend on those who have believed in me. John’s gospel repeatedly states this truth (3:16;5:24,25; 14:6). However, good and bad deeds will prove an individual’s faith. If good deeds aren’t there, it proves faith isn’t present. These people face eternal judgment. If good deeds are there, it proves faith is present and they are granted eternal resurrection life.

This pastor is encouraging his audience to look to their works for assurance of eternal life. The Bible does not teach this. In fact, the Bible is clear that one can have assurance of eternal life without waiting around to see if good works manifest themselves.

John 5:24: Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

The above examples of false gospel messages remind me of another Turkey-related idiom: Jive Turkey.

From Dictionary.com: A jive turkey is someone who is unreliable, makes exaggerations or empty promises, or who is otherwise dishonest. The phrase is so associated with 1970s culture.

Whether or not they intend to, LSers are unreliable because they run afoul (pun intended) of the gospel.

If you have been exposed to false gospel messages and would like to know the truth about how to have eternal life click here: THE GOSPEL

34 responses to “Lordship Salvation: Talking Turkey

  1. Alan, I have prayed for your brothers and for you to find the right words in your conversations with them.

    I would focus on three unassailable truths from the Bible:

    1. Eternal life received by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.

    2. Eternal security.

    3. Assurance of eternal life, based solely on God’s promise.

    You might ask them if they would be willing to read either “The Gospel” booklet by Ron Shea:

    Click to access English-Display-Pkg-2014.pdf

    Or, “How To Be Sure You Are Going To Heaven,” by Tom Cucuzza:

    Click to access how-to-be-sure-you-are-going-to-heaven-with-cover.pdf

    You might even offer to go through those with your brothers.

    It is great that you have a cordial relationship with your brothers, and I have also prayed that God would open doors for your discussions with them.

  2. i was thrilled to see the Kansas City Chiefs win the Super Bowl for the first time in 50 years. But it also got me to thinking about where I was 50 years ago. In January, 1970 my father passed away. I was 9 years old at the time, and with his passing, my siblings and I began our unfortunate association with Herbert W. Armstrong’s Worldwide Church of God. My mother had been involved with the group for about a decade, but my father had steadfastly refused to allow her to take us with her once they began holding services in Jackson.

    By the late 70’s my mother began to realize that something wasn’t right and left the church. Sadly, she never joined another church, but spent many years reading books by people like Norman Vincent Peale (along with Bible). In her final years she developed Alzheimer’s and I would read to her every morning from the New Testament. I firmly believe that it was at this time that she finally understood that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. The Lord can bring good out of the worst situation.

    I bring up all this because I need your prayers and your advice. Two of my older brothers are still associated with one of splinter groups of Armstrongism. I have a very cordial relationship with them both, but I feel that in my desire to maintain this closeness with them these many years, I have failed to confront them and warn them about Herbert Armstrong’s wicked, false teachings. Both have diabetes and other health issues related to this horrible disease. Recently, I had a very spirited doctrinal discussion with one of them, but I felt very exasperated after that encounter. I pray every day that the Lord will shine His light and expose the lies of false teachers and set free those that are in bondage.

  3. Mrs. N, glad you’re here to fellowship and have started with listening to Pastor Cucuzza. Praying you might find some good time together with your husband to study His Word together. Ask the Five ‘W’s’ and the ‘how’ and John has a good comment, he’ll probably say it better, but view all Scripture in light of His grace and ask if your understanding is consistent with the plurality of other Scripture (if it seems off). Better than commentaries most times. Or come here and ask the multitude of counsel.

    Look forward to talking to you.

  4. Thank-you. I understand.

  5. Mrs. N, welcome and thanks for your question.

    I’m sure there are some good grace expositors out there with whom I’m unfamiliar.

    Having said that, we are exceedingly careful in recommending ministries here. We simply do not have the resources to evaluate and keep up with the myriad of teachers and ministries that our readers ask us to evaluate. Please be aware that the overwhelming majority of people purporting to teach God’s word introduce works into the gospel equation, some more subtly than others.

    We are comfortable with ministries that are crystal clear as to how one receives eternal life, which is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone.

    We are comfortable with Dr. Cucuzza, Ron Shea at Clear Gospel ministries, and a couple of others that we have linked, due solely to their clarity as to how one receives eternal life.

  6. What commentaries, authors are good to study from? My husband and I have started to listen to Dr.Cucuzza. Looking for more.

  7. D Taylor, just one clarification:

    We teach that believing in Jesus as Savior includes believing that He died for our sins and was raised from the dead.

    I know that some people disagree – some think one needs to know and believe more and some think that one need not even know this much – but we no longer entertain comments that debate this.

    Please see article below:


  8. d taylor, you bring up a good point.

    Jesus did not die for us so that we could qualify for heaven by our own works. You are right that many people “believe in Jesus,” but do not believe that eternal life is received by grace through faith.

  9. The cross (which is a main salvation area for lordship salvation) gives Eternal Life to no one. The cross was the means that Jesus took away the sin of the world making every person eligible to receive Eternal Life. Not that every one will receive Eternal Life because, there is one condition (and only one) to receive the gift of Gods Eternal Life.

    But back to the cross, the cross and resurrection is one of of the miracles that Jesus did. That is a witness (a major witness) to the fact that Jesus is who He said He was. And that is, He is the only begotten/unique Son of God the promised Messiah from Old Testament prophecies.

    So when a person understands and believes that Jesus is the promised Messiah. Then to receive Eternal Life they must believe, trust, have faith in Jesus for the Gift of His Eternal Life. Eternal Life is found in The promised Messiah and His offer of Eternal Life, and nowhere else.

    See many do believe that Jesus is the Messiah, but that is where they stop. They then, do not look to the Messiah for Eternal Life. They look back to themselves and actions that they have done or doing. That could be repenting, baptism, obedience, confessing or confession of Christ, inviting Jesus into their heart, praying a sinners prayer, walking a church isle, joining a church, keeping the commandments, etc..

    But never looking to and trusting in The Messiah for Eternal Life they have a life full of works.

    You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.

    Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

    She said to Him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

  10. Jason, yeah, some people will use anything they can to try to keep the gospel from spreading.

  11. I remember when MS Word used to think Obama is a terrorist. Now my tablet thinks Sowell is a political prisoner. Computers think weird things. If AI can get the gospel right, it’s scary, because AI will be used against us.

  12. John 6:47, it does seem that a computer program understands salvation a lot better than many theologians!

  13. On another note, I was very encouraged today when I was typing up something from Microsoft Word. I had used the word “free gift” when referring to salvation and the program decided to offer a suggestion to shorten it to the word “gift.” It’s just like God does in Romans 5 where the term “free gift” is mentioned. God could’ve just put gift and it convey the same meaning, but because He knew man would not accept it, He made sure to put the word “free” with the word “gift” to emphasize a point. Even a computer program knows what salvation is a lot better than many theologians!

  14. Chas,

    I’m with you, it’s so frustrating that so many use ‘Grace’ in their name now and yet are not truthful. They say they believe salvation comes by faith alone (all the while believing either that they were gifted the faith, or that they have better working faith than another). They speak Grace but what they mean is something totally different than what the Word teaches.

  15. chas, it is extremely ironic that ministries who don’t really teach grace put it in their names. “Grace to You” is one of the most ironic.

  16. Some LS-preaching ministries do use the term “grace” in their name and their programs, such as J-Mac’s “Grace To You” outfit.

    Sometimes I think it would be instructive to come up with an “Irony Award” for the LS pushers’ latest statement or ministry name. I betcha the word “grace” would pop up all the time. I just don’t think I could stand reading through all their hypocritical glop long enough to find the money quote.

  17. Jason, I know what you mean. Some people think unless one’s life is changing in a sufficient, demonstrable way, that one must not be indwelled by the Holy Spirit, and as such, does not possess eternal life. It’s just more fruit inspection.

  18. To make matters worse, they associate all that junk with the Holy Spirit. Unless you have those things, you are none of his. They speak gibberish even when they speak English.

  19. Jason, I agree. I am uncomfortable with churches that focus their testimonies on those things.

  20. Also, almost everyone smuggles in works somehow. It’s become a freak show worse than the DNC. Everyone wants to call their ministry Changed Lives, Discipleship Training, Christian Bootcamp, Healing and Deliverance, Repentance and Holiness, and everything else but Grace. Why anyone makes anything else their “theme”, I will never understand.

  21. Luke, very well said!

  22. One of the things that brought me to finally reject LS was the realization that most everyone in the world has ‘good works’. There are countless people doing ‘good things’, handling their responsibilities, assisting the less fortunate, etc. Everyone, including the self righteous LSers, have also done bad things. But the Bible says there is NONE righteous, that tells me that Gods standard is way higher than they want to admit. You have no choice but to rest on what Christ did.

  23. Holly, it is hard to believe that Jack went to be with the Lord almost five years ago. It will be great to see him in full vigor.

    You are right about Steve Lawrence’s claim sounding like the rich young ruler’s specious claim. It’s amazing that he can’t see it.

  24. Great article Johniinc. So thankful that you have faithfully maintained this for the Lord and in love for Jack. He won’t just have one eye that day we see him. I remember him talking about hunting and pecking to try to type something.

    What Steve Lawson said just gave me the chills:

    “He will agree to terms of peace and surrender, but they are His terms of peace, not ours. His terms are this: you must love Him more than anything. If you cannot do this, you will meet Him in the final judgment and glorify God in your destruction.”

    Steve Lawson CANNOT and never has done this. They are the Rich young ruler that they declare was never saved, but they are the same. They think they have kept the two greatest commandments since they’ve surrendered….

    I want to love Him more than anything, and I learn all the time when I think I am, I am failing, because I’m being selfish, or I’m loving another. They are so terribly deceived. Deceiving and being deceived…

  25. Aristotle, we’re glad you found us!

    The late Jack Weaver created this site back in 2006. He went to be with the Lord almost five years ago. We miss him, but strive to continue his work in advancing and defending the gospel.

  26. Aristotle L Vargo

    Thanks for making this website

  27. John 6:47, thanks for your reminder for us all to be thankful for God’s complete provision for our salvation on a daily basis.

    We are also very thankful that you found the expreacherman site and that it is a blessing to you.

  28. Interesting phrase, and even more interesting story of origin.

    As Thanksgiving is fast approaching, I am reminded of how grateful I am for this site, for it was almost 3 1/2 years ago that I finally understood the clear Gospel and trusted in Jesus Christ alone as my Savior. For all my life up until that point, I was trusting in my good works to some degree to get me to Heaven. I wore the Christian label, but was never really saved. May we all always be thankful about our salvation and what God did for us to provide the free gift of eternal life every day of the year. May we never take that for granted.

    1 Thessalonians 5:18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

    Colossians 3:17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

  29. chas, yeah, I really don’t know how Lawson could ever think he would qualify.

    Channeling Jesus in the first person is creepy, in poor taste, and confusing to the intended audience. Interestingly enough, Chadwick is an icon in the Charlotte religion biz, having played basketball at the University of North Carolina and officiating the funeral for legendary UNC basketball coach Dean Smith.

  30. Another great article, John. I was familiar with the expression “talk turkey” but never heard the background on it. Interesting.

    I can’t help wondering if Lawson has really given “the total commitment” of all that HE is to the Lord Jesus Christ. Talk about delusions. But if he doubts his own salvation at all, he probably regards that as “humility”. Roman Catholics sure do.

    Out here in L.A. there’s a guy who hosts a Sunday morning call-in radio program called “The Jesus Christ Show”. (No, I’m not kidding.) The host talks to callers as though he–the host–reallyis Jesus, giving them advice on all kinds of things. So this Chadwick is another guy using the same schtick? I find it blasphemous, not to mention way creepy.

  31. Mark, it’s good to hear from you.

    As the late Jack Weaver used to say of false teachers “the woods is full of em.”

  32. LD, I have prayed for you to grow in grace, that you would keep an eternal perspective, keep from being distracted, and be bold in sharing the gospel.

    Thanks for the reminder to be thankful for God’s gracious gift of eternal life in Christ Jesus and to be thankful in all things.

  33. Amen! This was excellent, John– you nailed it on the head. The Church is filled with jive turkeys pretending to be evangelists. They should all be marked and avoided, Romans 16:17

  34. Hope you are well Johninnc and all my brothers and sisters! Great article as always. I may have heard of the phrase long ago, but haven’t given much thought since I was very young. Interesting story of its origin.
    I want to make personal prayer request. I have been getting distracted a lot more than before (in carnality) and, therefore, stunting my spiritual growth. My prayer request is that I daily and firmly set my eyes and affections on the things above and discipline myself to do what God wants me to do (one of which is sharing the gospel). To finish the race in faith well as a good soldier of Christ is my desire (and all of ours too).
    I want to say that as we approach the day of Thanksgiving (and something that we ought to do everyday in love), may we give thanks to our God who has given us the precious free gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ. In addition, let us be thankful for everything (in the good and bad times) because God is for us and with us and in us as we live our lives for the Lord.
    I thank you Johninnc for being faithful and taking the time in posting edifying articles.
    I wish you all Happy Thanksgiving in Christ.
    – 1st Corinthians 10:31 – Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.
    – 1st Thessalonians 5:18 – In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

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