SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS
In this book I have emphasized the fact that we can have complete confidence in God's faithfulness to hold a believer once he is in Christ. This does not mean that undisciplined Christian-living is O.K. Surely the book strongly opposes this conclusion. But, relative to spirit salvation, I believe the scriptures we've covered clearly teach that Christ is willing and able to save and keep those who have come believingly to Him — the wise, the simple, the unskilled, the untrained, the floundering, even the wayward, and certainly, the faithful. (See John 10:28.)
In the writings of both Paul and John, we see the plain, Biblical portrayals of how bad some believers performed in the early Church, yet clearly no indication that they weren't heaven-bound Christians. I believe these passages show that the 'lordship' teaching is flawed. Let me re-emphasize again what I mean by that:
As I see it, there are two main errors of lordship teaching: (1) the demand that discipleship, and a host of other disciplines, must always be coupled with faith in Christ in order to be a saving message of initial salvation; and (2) the necessity that guaranteed-good-works must absolutely follow those who have exercised saving faith. Again I say, God forbid that any Christian should rebel after God's new birth has been extended to him/her. But the fact is, the Bible clearly teaches that this does sometimes occur, even to the point of God’s judgement of allowing physical death to be the consequence.
I believe that a lot of the confusion which exists in the Church and among many of its leaders is based on the fact that they simply do not understand the difference between spirit and soul salvation.
The point is, eternal security and destiny of Christians rests with God, for those who Christ has called to Himself, even those whose lives may have become as undisciplined and ungodly in appearance as the unsaved. Two such Biblical cases were discussed in the text: 1 Corinthians 5 & 1 John 5.
Sharp theological and doctrinal differences tend to bring out cutting remarks in those of us who disagree. To temper anything I've said that might be taken offensively, let me say that the 'lordship' teachers whose works I've studied seem to love Christ and are dedicated expositors of the Bible. However, certain aspects of our views differ relative to the heart of the Christian faith and I felt the need to address the issue. Apparently, these men are motivated by the desire to see a purer Church, but I think their 'diagnosis' is wrong. They have obviously looked for reasons to explain the present shallowness in the Church, but by embracing all the prerequisites involved in the lordship teaching shakes the very foundation of true, initial, saving faith, which is simply to behold, trust and receive the beautiful gift God has sent — His only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus' call to surrender, obedience, discipleship, righteousness, etc., cannot be denied. Clearly, He taught all this. So must we. However, initiation into the faith which saves is not as dependent on these acts as some teachers would have us believe. I'm convinced that in their zeal to see Christians appear more Christ-like, lordship lauders make the requirements to experience Jesus’ salvation more stringent than does the Bible.
We must realize that acts of surrender, obedience, dedication, discipleship, lordship, etc., are all holiness characteristics. However, one cannot show personal holiness until he/she is made holy! It seems to me that lordship theology has the tendency of putting the proverbial cart-before-the-horse. The Holy Spirit makes one holy when He implants and seals the new man into one’s spirit who has trusted in Christ. From that point onward, pastors and other teachers should definitely present lordship and soteriazation principles to their hearts' content. All this is needed for Christian maturation, but should not be thought of as mandatory steps necessary to be saved initially.
I agree that a cleansing is needed in the Church. But let's not try to help God do it by making it tougher to lay hold of the only foundation which will insure success. Christian leaders who really want to improve the Church's image should spend their time loving the sinners and laying their lives down for believers, as Christ did, rather than spending so much precious time making the new life more difficult to enter. The entrance is narrow, but only in the sense that Jesus is the only way. It is not restrictive in the sense of complicated entry criteria, as the lordship teaching imposes.
God is complex and there are perhaps many things way beyond our ability to grasp and understand. But God has so-designed initiation into His eternal Kingdom that even a child can comprehend it. Surely we never want to forget that if you believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, you will be saved:
“...Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” Acts 16:31
I am against complicating a passage to make it say, figurative or otherwise, what it plainly doesn't. I also love to see truth clarified and broadened, but I'm unimpressed by some of the so-called, expositional preaching heard today, especially when it distorts clear and plain truth. Does one believe the Gospel that “Jesus died for our sins” or not? If you believe it, according to the above scripture, you have everlasting life. If you don't, you still remain in your sins and will be held accountable at Judgment Day, without the seal of Christ upon you! God calls and saves willing believers.
To whom did God's salvation come?
"Therefore as by the offence of one (i.e., Adam's sin), judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one, (i.e., Jesus) the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life." Romans 5:18
Question: How many people inherited Adam's sinful nature? This verse says everybody. And when Jesus died on the cross, to whom was the "free gift" offered? This verse says it "...came upon all men unto justification of life." Now this doesn't mean that all will be saved but it does clearly indicate that the "free gift" is placed before all! It would be good to remember this verse as you ponder what election means.
Note that when we put an "s" on the word election, the word then becomes selection. I like to think of this "s" as representing the saved election. Practical, Christian evangelism should operate based on the belief that anyone can be saved as we proclaim the Gospel and leave the election and selection parts to God, lest we be tempted to think we know who God will save.
In Luke, chapter four, Jesus said He had been sent to preach the Gospel to the poor. Those who understand they are poor in spirit and in need of a Savior may come to Him with the assurance He will save them. In order to be healed of their snake bites in the wilderness, the Jews had to merely behold the serpent Moses had put on a rod. (John 3:14.) That was an Old Testament foreshadowing of Christ on the cross. In like manner today, sinners must by faith behold Jesus on the cross and believe the sacrifice He made there is God's full payment for their sins, and God will save them. That's the simplicity of the true Gospel of initial salvation.
The 'cost-accounting' for salvation has already been done — by Almighty God. Our task is to behold, believe and receive the free gift. The proudful hate this simple Gospel message. But then, they always have. However, the fact is, this is the only true, saving Gospel in existence!
Lastly, even though we Christians can be totally confident in our eternal, spiritual security in Christ Jesus, we need to work vigorously on improving our personal purity of life. This involves seeking God with all our heart, developing holiness characteristics, being involved in sincere Bible study, devoted prayer life, helping others and evangelizing. Now these actions have nothing to do with our spirit salvation, i.e., our entrance into new life in Christ and our guarantee of going to heaven when we die.
The new birth is a total gift of God based on the Person and work of Christ Jesus and one's faith in Him and His work. However, scripture clearly demands that we do need to put good works upon the foundation of our faith. In doing this, we please our Master and shall reap the benefits of His rewards when we meet Him. Whereas, saved, disobedient servants, whose carnal lives produce only poor fruits, will see part of their soul benefits destroyed at the Judgment Seat of Christ. So, although the new man is a perfectly created being, he will be responsible to the Lord Jesus for how he has maintained and directed his own soul and body (the “temple”) to act during the course of his life here on earth.
Seeing the difference between spirit and soul salvation is likely the most startling, and yet perhaps the most important understanding which has been presented in this book. The lordship folks have missed the boat here. It appears to me that they have taken post-re-generational works, which are designed to raise the soul to a higher level of performance, and made it a part of the initial spirit salvation message. If only they could get hold of the truth of this basic distinction, I believe the light would dawn revealing the main error of lordship salvation.
Born-again Christians really need to get hold of the idea that what we do after the new birth actually becomes part of our own soul life! Soul salvation is not a guaranteed part of spirit salvation as many Christians seem to think. To repeat, spirit salvation is totally based on God's work. Soul salvation is based on our work done in the power of the Holy Spirit after the new man is born into our spirit.
As we saw in our study, our soul salvation (under the direction of our new spirit man) works very much like the way Jesus functioned in His early days here on earth. The understanding becomes easy to grasp when we realize that we are created as spirit, soul and body beings from the start. Until the three-sided aspect of what we are is understood, salvation in all its dimensions will remain obscure.
A FINAL WORD:
I’m sure you have observed that what I have referred to throughout this book as soul salvation is really sanctification. I have used the term soul salvation rather than sanctification for several reasons. Most Christians already have certain convictions on what sanctification means. I think what is generally believed about sanctification actually has the tendency of masking what needs to be considered. I believe that seeing soul salvation as distinctly different-and-separate from spirit salvation allows sanctification to be understood at a much higher level of true meaning and application.
These thoughts are not new at all. Again I refer you to the apostle Paul’s words, that believers are to “...work out your own salvation with fear and trembling”. As Christians, we are under command to be busy doing something to improve our soulish man by listening to and responding to the input of our saved-and-sealed spirit man who is under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. In essence, after the new birth, we should try our best to be outwardly, what we already are inwardly.
My prayer is that the Holy Spirit will bear witness with your spirit that these are indeed eternal truths, not new or perverted ideas.
The words from a hymn by Fanny Crosby seem fitting to close these thoughts:
Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God.
Born of His spirit, washed in his blood.
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior, all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior, all the day long."
My saved or unsaved friends, may I leave you with an impressionable thought which I heard as a young lad. It was spoken by a visiting speaker in the country school where I grew up in Georgia. It’s a simple piece of advice, but the goodness of the principle is everlasting. It has stuck with me for many years now:
"Do the best you can, with what you have and do it now".
Lance B. Johnson, O.D.
COME & SEE Ministries
606 Cleveland Street
Davis, California 95616 530-756-2451