To Repent and Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ (Easy Believe-ism vs Lordship Salvation)

1 10 2007

I became aware the the debate about lordship salvation around the time that John MacArthur and Charles Ryrie wrote their respective books on the issue. John F. MacArthur, Jr. wrote The Gospel According to Jesus (Zondervan:1988) supporting the concept of lordship salvation, while Charles C. Ryrie wrote So Great Salvation (Victor Books:1989) in general opposition to the idea. Following is a comparative review of the two books (leaning toward MacArthur it has to be fairly noted)

Lordship Salvation — Two Views

By that time I had been a christian for about a decade, but not really mature enough in my christian life to understand the consequences of and focus upon the issue. However, I was aware of a situation in a local evangelical church where a teacher associated with a parachurch ministry was disciplined for having an extreme view of lordship salvation. The details were sketchy, but evidently in his evangelistic efforts this person was heavily focusing upon the lordship and personal sacrifice aspects of a person’s conversion to Christ in a manner that was unacceptable to the leadership of the apparently biblically sound evangelical church in the community.


My theological leanings at that time were toward a “vigorous support and loyalty toward” the doctrinal positions of Dallas Theological Seminary in general (Drs. John Woolvord, Dwight Pentecost, Howard Hendricks, Ron Blue, Lewis Sperry Chafer, etc., etc.) and Dr. Charles Ryrie in particular. Whatever Dr. Ryrie stated in his study bible notes was my first choice in this and almost any theological matter at that stage in my christian life. So without critical examination of this issue and with strong loyalty to Ryrie’s study Bible notes (whose bible interpretations ministry I am still largely thankful for to guide me in my christian walk during the 1978-mid 1990s), I cast a “wary, critical eye” toward the positions of John MacArthur and others regarding lordship salvation.

During that time and up until 2-3 years ago, I also heard of very valid criticisms of “easy believe-ism“, the idea that people could come to faith in the Jesus Christ but not have to repent of sin in their lives, i.e., not live in accordance with His Lordship. The “bad fruit” of “easy-believe-ism” is in evidence where and when-ever anyone claims the be a believer in Jesus Christ but either shows no evidence of growth in Christ-like purity of life, or even worse, out-right denies or refuses to deny and separate themselves from sinful habits and acts in their life.

I believed in the Lord Jesus Christ for the salvation of my soul in November 1978. As honestly as I can relate it to anyone, at that time I acknowledged that Jesus Christ is Lord – however I was woefully naive about the amount of “house cleaning” the Lord was about to begin doing in my sinful life given that now He was may Lord and Savior. First, I was convicted by God about the “shadiness” and in many cases sinfulness of my motives for going to bars, drinking alcohol, and engaging in common worldly forms of entertainment. Then came God’s work upon the purity of my thought-life and my language, and the acceptability before God of other attitudes (pride, covetousness, etc.) and actions in my life. So for me, I believed on the Lord Jesus Christ in November 1978, upon which the Lord immediately began an ongoing project (continuing to this day) of dealing with the sin in my life – working, working, working to build me up into the image of Jesus Christ (Colossians 3:9-11). The extension of His Lordship over my life has been an issue of growth over time – I acknowledged without resistance His Lordship at my conversion, but the process of sanctification to realize His Lordship over me has been on going all these years.


So, I understand that it is not possible to have saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ for your salvation and yet show no evidence of sanctification and abandonment of sin in one’s life. The Scripture speaks clearly of the need for and expectation that christians will forsake sin and seek to live holy pleasing lives before the Lord Jesus Christ. For the person who has placed his or her faith in Jesus Christ for their salvation, conscious denial of His Lordship over all aspects of their life is a grevious sin and perilous state to be in before God. As His child, He will not allow us to harbor sin – either secret or public – without His initiation of a process of sanctifying purification. Brethren, we do not want this to occur to us! If there is sin in our lives, let us repent of it and seek God’s forgiveness – and forsake such sin with the Lord’s enablement (1 Corinthians 10:13).


Following are some scriptures that may be of help to you in understanding the issue and in helping each of us to live in a more pleasing, less sinful manner before God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Walk-Live by the Spirit’s Enablement in a Manner that is pleasing to God

Galations 5:16-26 “(16) But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. (17) For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. (18) But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. (19) Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, (20) idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, (21) envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (22) But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, (23) gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (24) Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (25) If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. (26) Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.”


Repentance and Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ in Salvation

Acts 20:21 solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Romans 13:14 “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.”

Phillipians 3:7-9 “(7) But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. (8) More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, (9) and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith,”

Colossians 2:5-7 “(5) For even though I am absent in body, nevertheless I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good discipline and the stability of your faith in Christ. (6) Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, (7) having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.”

1 Thessalonians 5:22-24 “(22) abstain from every form of evil. (23) Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (24) Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.”

2 Peter 2:20For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first.”


The Call to Holy Living by Jesus Christ to Those Who Would Follow Him

(At issue, is this only for disciples, or for every Christian. Brethren, how can it not be the call for every Christian to follow Christ in this manner?)

Luke 9:23-28 “(23) And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. (24) For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. (25) For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself? (26) For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”

Luke 17:33 “Whoever seeks to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.”


MacArthur’s Website ( has a number of references to this issue of Lordship Salvation that can be found via their website search function. My hope is that you will rely on God’s grace in your life with the Lord Jesus Christ, seeking to please Him in all respects.


Colby in Western Kansas





One response

15 08 2008


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