Note to Lordship Salvationists: Absence of Evidence is NOT Evidence of Absence of Eternal Life

By johninnc

Please note: This article is intended to promote and defend the gospel by comparing the incontrovertible word of God to shifting scientific claims. It is not intended to pick sides in suggesting what the proper public health responses are for COVID-19. 

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.

In the ongoing development of pseudoscientific theories about how to best deal with the public health threat from COVID-19, a trite phrase has come into common usage: The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

In the absence of solid scientific evidence to compel whatever the desired universal behavior du jour that public health officials, newly-ordained media experts, and political opportunists are promoting, the phrase the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence is somehow seen as sufficient. In other words, the absence of evidence that something is helpful is of little consequence if there is the chance that it might be. Guidance often changes frequently, with little consideration given to any possible negative consequences.

In diametric opposition to the pseudoscientists, we have Lordship “salvationists” (LSers) – religious “experts” who create false gospels by teaching that the absence of evidence IS the evidence of absence. That is, if the promise of good works, the performance of good works, or evidence of good works do not accompany faith in Christ, then that is evidence that a person does not have eternal life.

Unlike their perhaps well-meaning pseudoscientific counterparts, these religious “experts” override absolute, incontrovertible  proof to promote their false gospels.

The Bible does not teach that there is any evidence of salvation. Rather, the Bible teaches that anyone who has believed in Jesus as Savior has eternal life that can never be lost or forfeited.

Lordship “salvation”, on the other hand, involves the endless search for evidence of salvation – even while explaining away the proof of salvation.

Here are some examples in which LSers override biblical proof in search of evidence:

Soil number 2 in the parable of the Sower

Luke 8:13: They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.

The Bible CLEARLY and unambiguously says these people believed. As such, they have passed from death unto life (John 5:24).

This is is not good enough for many LSers. Consider the following quote from J.D. Greear, pastor of the multi-campus Summit Church in Raleigh, North Carolina:

They remain in the church for a period of time. But, they do not endure when the sun of persecution comes out and will not in the end be saved. 

Believers who do not confess Christ

John 12:42:  Nevertheless among the chief rulers many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue:

The Bible says these people believed. What other evidence should we need?

But, that’s not good enough for LSers.  For example, another huge North Carolina church – Calvary Church in Charlotte – has something contradictory to what the Bible says.

Calvary says that one  must confess Christ in order to be saved.  From their “Articles of Faith”:

We believe that all who receive by faith alone, Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and who confess Him before their fellow men, are born again of the Holy Spirit and thereby become children of God. 

Demas

Philemon 1:24: Marcus, Aristarchus, Demas, Lucas, my fellowlabourers. 

2 Timothy 4:10: For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia.

Paul describes Demas as a fellow laborer, but later says Demas has forsaken him for the world. Demas is a Christian who did not persevere.

What would the Southern Baptist Convention – a group of 50,000 cooperating churches – have to say? Following is an excerpt from”The Baptist Faith and Message”:

All true believers endure to the end. 

What does “endure to the end” even mean? Did Demas “endure to the end”? Was Demas a “true believer”?

LSers are so hung up on works providing evidence of salvation that they will deny irrefutable PROOF from scripture that someone has eternal life.

I will give you a couple of takeaways from the above:

Science

The argument that the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence has no place in science. It is a refuge for those who expect you to accept their “scientific” claims without having met the scientific burden of proof.

Science involves the scientific method. From Wikipedia: the scientific method is an empirical method of acquiring knowledge that has characterized the development of science since at least the 17th century. It involves careful observation, applying rigorous skepticism about what is observed, given that cognitive assumptions can distort how one interprets the observation. It involves formulating hypotheses, via induction,  based on such observations; experimental and measurement-based testing of deductions drawn from the hypotheses; and refinement (or elimination) of the hypotheses based on the experimental findings.

Please note: rigorous skepticism is inseparable from true science. It is not a sign of moral weakness, lack of virtue, or irresponsible citizenship.

Eternal life

The argument that the absence of evidence is NOT evidence of absence is completely appropriate in terms of eternal life, since God’s word says that anyone who has believed in Jesus as Savior has eternal life, without reference to any confirmatory evidence.

Therefore, the argument that the absence of evidence IS the evidence of absence of eternal life is wholly inappropriate, and contradicts God’s clear word. This statement is at the heart of the false gospel of LS.

If you would like to know more click here: THE GOSPEL

34 responses to “Note to Lordship Salvationists: Absence of Evidence is NOT Evidence of Absence of Eternal Life

  1. Sierra, glad you are reading here. No, we’re not misunderstanding Ray Comfort or John MacArthur. I remember first listening to his charming accent and thinking the same. Those are teachers I also have gone over in the past 15 years. Some subtle teachings in some areas, and other areas they out right say things like you must stop sinning. You must surrender all. You must deny yourself etc. to be given the free gift of eternal life. This is a lie, and if someone has never understood that Jesus Christ has done it all on His cross, and that what He asks of us is to believe upon Him to save us apart from any works, then they will remain lost. Please I beseech you, get into His Word and avoid these men.

    I really recommend starting with the beginning of the church in Acts and reading through and see what the disciples taught. How they repeat Christ’s work over and over again. They sometimes use the word repent (change your mind), but men like Comfort and MacArthur often teach it means turn from sin. No one anywhere has turned from all sin, and God’s standard is perfection. I am sure you yourself know you have not turned from sin. We learn as we grow in Christ to put off these things, but it is a part of our daily growth. I sure hope you can come to a clear understanding. Read through the book of John again and again if necessary. Underline believe, and see where there were disciples who did not believe. And see over and over what you must do to receive eternal life.

    Praying you will put His Word first above all else. Pray and ask Him to show you as you study with His approval as your desire.

  2. Sierra, we have only had one comment about that film, and the commenter did not recommend it due to subtle Lordship “salvation” influences. I haven’t watched it and don’t intend to.

    Regarding Ray Comfort, we do not “just misunderstand him.” We have myriad articles referencing Ray Comfort that document his false teachings that undermine the gospel. Ditto for John MacArthur.

    Sierra, thanks for stopping by. Once you have read our articles on Ray Comfort and John MacArthur, as well as the booklet I linked earlier, I hope you will see that we are right and that you will warn the people in your bible study about Comfort and MacArthur. Please remember that the Bible warns us that appearances of false teachers can be deceiving. Also, please remember that even if Ray Comfort seems kind and loving, and even if he is well-meaning, we must not value his word above the word of God.

    In the meantime, I will not be spending any more time trying to reconcile the false gospels of Ray Comfort and John MacArthur with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

  3. Sierra knelsen

    Hi its me again:) what are your thoughts on the american gospel movie? I would be so sad if ray comfort was a false gospel teacher, he is so kind and loving his videos sometimes make me almost cry:( are you sure you dont just misunderstand him? Im sure he would love to talk to you about it:) the people in our bible study trust in Christ alone to save us, and we are using a book by john macarthur and we just dont see problems with his teaching. Thankyou for your time:)

  4. Sierra, anyone who has ever believed in Jesus as Savior has eternal life that can never be lost or forfeited. If any of those “other steps” (works) are presented as being required to receive eternal life, and a lost person believes that, they haven’t believed in Jesus as Savior, only as “helper.” Ray Comfort teaches a false gospel of works that is likely to lead a lost person to believe in Jesus as “helper” rather than as “Savior.” No one receives eternal life by trusting in whole, or in part, in their own works. Having said that, if someone already has come to believe in Christ as Savior, doing “the other steps” would not annul that.

    I am not familiar with either of the schools that you referenced, and therefore do not endorse them. If you are unable to discern that Ray Comfort teaches a false gospel of works salvation, I think you need to get better grounded in the gospel before you ever consider going to any Bible school. To that end, please see the booklet linked below:

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

  5. Sierra knelsen

    Hi there:) im just wondering if you believe people who get converted with lordship salvation are unsaved? What if someone is fully trusting in Christ and still went through the steps? Also do you recommend ei bible school north carolina?

  6. Sierra knelsen

    Hi there:) im just wondering if you believe lordship salvation always damns people? I dont think ray comfort preaches a works salvation, he tells people to trust alone in Christ:) i dont think people who have done the other steps are unsaved:( also, do you recommend e i disciplship school in greenville south carolina?

  7. Jason, besides the ones you mentioned, the Masons and such come to mind. But ‘secret church’ and they charge for it? Hmmmm….

  8. Keith, excellent take. I always think of Luke 6:26 when they have the hearty approval and their church is growing and they become popular. Yes they do (make twice the sons of hell).

    Alan, they must have kept those ‘secret church’ meetings in the dark for a reason. They don’t want to come to the light. They don’t know that ‘light’ they think in them is darkness, a great darkness (Matt 6)

  9. Jason, “secret church” does sound nefarious and creepy.

    Secrecy is a common tactic of malevolent actors.

  10. Secret church sounds like secret society. Secret agents are sabotaging every peaceful movement. Free grace is no exception. Independent Fundamental Baphomets are planted agents, using KJV extremism to cause more divisions. The NAR is a secret society.

  11. John, I think you’re right. Maybe those who attend are the elect and those who don’t are “not really saved”.

  12. Keith, I guess “secret church” is where god reveals his “secret false gospel.”

  13. Alan, I agree completely. The church I mentioned has hosted “Secret Church” several times, but I have never attended one.

  14. Alan, I would quickly tire of LS “Plattitudes.” 6 hours would be way too much.

  15. Keith, several years ago I attended a church where the pastor turned out to be a big David Platt fan. At the time I had never even heard of David Platt. It always seemed to me that the people who paid the big bucks to attend his Secret Church video conferences (which if I remember correctly lasted about 6 hours) did so in order show everyone that they were “serious” Christians. Those poor, dumb sheep were just being manipulated and indoctrinated into a false gospel. Knowing what I know now, I can’t see how anyone could endure 6 minutes of David Platt, let alone 6 hours!

  16. Keith, wow! The blind leading the blind.

  17. Hobbs, most of the prominent religious “leaders” are bad news.

  18. Some time ago, I attended a service at a large Southern Baptist church in my city. Toward the end of the sermon, the pastor boldly proclaimed these exact words, which also appeared on the video screen at the front of the sanctuary:

    “If your life has not been changed since you were born again, you are not born again”.

    This was followed by hearty “amens” from several people in the congregation.

    Since this pastor began his tenure at this church, several new buildings have been built and the church is more missions-minded than ever before. When David Platt was president of the International Mission Board of the SBC, he was invited to speak at this church several times.

    All of this reminds me of what Christ said of the Pharisees:

    “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves”. -Matt. 23:15

  19. Yeah, it’s often the “religious leaders” that create a lot of the guilt and condemnation that makes people scramble for evidence that they are saved. Jesus alone is the Saviour, and that really gets their goat.

  20. Phil, teaching that life change and turning from sin is automatic in the life of a believer undermines the gospel, much in the same way as the Calvinist tenet of “perseverance of the saints.”

  21. Holly, absolutely clear!

  22. I have heard people say that after they were saved they had lost and were repulsed by their former sinful behavior and had changed and were in a new direction as a result of being saved-as though this were a natural outcome of being saved. IOW, Faith plus behavior change, a false gospel.

  23. I didn’t write that well. I was trying to contrast how they use works as proof of life, and then I likened them to the people in Matt 7. I should have qualified that it is the people in Matthew 7, that justify themselves by their works. That justification by works is the evidence that they did not believe as Jesus said to depart from Him that He never knew them.

    I absolutely understand that one can become bewitched and have their gospel corrupted. I never judge a living person’s salvation, but I do try to find out if they understand the gospel. If they don’t seem to, then the remedy is to share it with them.

    Hope that is clearer.

  24. Hobbs, those verses make it clear that we can identify false prophets from their words, which contradict the gospel or make prophecies that don’t come true. And, they teach that there will be many who trust in their good works and who have never believed in Jesus as Savior, who will appeal to their own works to justify themselves at the judgment.

    We know that some people stop believing, and that others have their faith shipwrecked, so hearing someone espouse a false gospel is not definitive proof that they lack eternal life.

    To me, it is not God’s word that makes people look to put confidence in their works. It is really people looking to scripture to justify their preconceived notions and valuing the word of men (specifically “religious leaders”) over the word of God.

  25. Yes according to those verses, using works to prove you are saved could be the very thing that proves you aren’t. Bit absurd perhaps, but If God had left works out of the Bible would people have more easily understood salvation by grace alone?

  26. Holly, it is true that people who are trusting in their works are not simultaneously trusting in Christ. However, it is possible that some such people have believed in Christ as Savior. We shouldn’t assume that people who contradict the gospel have eternal life, but we can’t know.

  27. They always use Matthew 7:13-23; the very passage that shows they do not understand who is the Narrow Way. Their fruits are the very proof that they have not believed. And that is because their fruits are that they justify themselves by the evidence of their ‘many wonderful works’ rather than having believing upon Him only to save them.

  28. Andrew, we are glad you are here and that you find the site to be a blessing!

    You are right that much of what people take in with the hope of spiritual growth is poison. It is great that you are free from it now.

    Thanks for your prayers for this ministry and those who may be led here.

  29. Just want to say thank you and God bless you for maintaining and contributing to this site.

    I was saved at a very young age. I understood I was a sinner and my need for a savior. I understood there was nothing I could do. I understood God sent his son Jesus to pay the price that I couldn’t. That he died on the cross for the sins of the world and rose three days later. It made perfect sense and I believed.

    As an adult, for a time, I struggled with doubt. Everywhere you turn it seems the water of life has been muddied. Lordship salvation seems to be all the rage. I was taking that toxic pill multiple times daily via commentary, radio, study guides. Poisoning my faith with what I thought was strong supplement. I became confused, unsure, angry, scared.

    I’m so thankful for an oasis like this site and a few others where the simple, true Gospel is proclaimed. There is nothing more beautiful.

    I pray that men/women who are grasping in the dark find this site.

  30. Note: I received an e-mail expressing some confusion over a couple of points from this article, so I have made a few revisions in an attempt to clarify.

    1. The phrase absence of evidence IS NOT evidence of absence is not appropriate scientific proof, but is often used by people trying to assert their hypotheses without subjecting them to the scientific method. In such a case, they attempt to convince people that they are promoting science, when they haven’t met the scientific burden of proof.

    2. The phrase absence of evidence IS NOT evidence of absence is completely appropriate in terms of eternal life, since the Bible teaches that anyone who has believed in Jesus as Savior has eternal life, without reference to any confirmatory evidence.

    The opposite phrase, absence of evidence IS evidence of absence of eternal life is the crux of Lordship “salvation,” which conditions eternal life on man’s works.

    Sorry for any confusion.

  31. LD, you are right – there is no good reason to look to works for evidence of eternal life. Focusing on life change for assurance could never provide an honest person with any assurance.

  32. Agreed! If works are proof of salvation, then NO one would know if they have done enough works to prove that their salvation is genuine. To be blunt, those who claim to KNOW that they have true salvation BASED on their changed life are hypocrites and self-righteous (knowingly and unknowingly). It is unfortunate that LS teaching has remain popular along with Calvinism and Arminianism deceiving many.

  33. Brian, LSers are really chasing their tails by trying to make scripture fit their pre-conceived false notions of salvation by works.

  34. “Lordship “salvation”, on the other hand, involves the endless search for evidence of salvation – even while explaining away the proof of salvation“

    “LSers are so hung up on works providing evidence of salvation that they will deny irrefutable PROOF from scripture that someone has eternal life.”

    Good point!

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