Monday, February 11, 2013

Grace vs. Lordship Salvation

I know I am going to get some new haters after this blog post. I wasn't sure whether to address it or not because my heart is to teach the Word--- not evaluate the latest wind of doctrine blowing through the Church. 
(I want to make it very clear that this is only an examination of doctrine... not attack against a man. If we can't objectively evaluate teaching, we can get in trouble.)
Because I feel like I am watching a tsunami of false teaching pour into the Church, I decided to speak. I am sure other people are addressing this who are much more qualified than I am. I am just a stay-at-home momma who loves the Word of God. 
Yet, God's Word is like a fire in my bones. 

A sweet blog reader sent me this video to watch...

Click HERE to watch.

(Reader, thank you so much for being so sweet. 
I hear your heart. 
I hope you hear mine.)

That link is the promo video for David Platt's new book "Follow Me".
I didn't know he had a new book coming out. I am pretty much out-of-the-loop in the Christian book world.  I watched the video and spent time thinking and praying through what he just said... ignoring the emotionalism and examining the Scriptures to see if what he says is true. I will tell you right now I have no emotional ties to David Platt. A lot of people seem to. If you do, please try to hear what I am saying about HIS WORDS, not his character. I don't know his heart. But, I do know his words. 
"Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers."
1 Tim 4:16

He says in this video he has "a friend" who watched Tom and Jerry and had his first exposure to heaven/hell and became scared.  
(that is a really ridiculous example but fine, if he wants to go there, lets do it.)
God can use anything to draw people to Himself.
 The Bible says that it is the Word and the Spirit that come together to draw someone to Christ. 
"For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God." 
1 Peter 1:23

So, if this were me, and one of my children was watching Tom and Jerry and had questions about hell/heaven, I would open God's Word with them and show them what Scripture says. If they wanted to pray to receive Christ Jesus as Lord, then I would definitely pray with them. Praying with my children to receive Christ has been one of the most awesome, sacred, holy, supernatural things I will ever be a part of this side of heaven. Their salvation experiences have all been different. The Spirit drew them, the Word showed them... they received the free gift of salvation... and they were born again. Just like their dad who received Christ when he was 5 after his dad shared the plan of salvation with him and drew a picture of what Romans teaches about salvation.

So, the Tom and Jerry example? Could it have been genuine? (I am kind of wondering why it was the guy's first exposure to God since he was in Church... but whatever.) 
So, what just happened?
 It sounds like he wasn't in a Bible-believing Church, a missed opportunity to lead someone to Christ, or a heart that wasn't ready.  
But, because we have a "story" with few details we can only assume.
God can use ANYTHING he wants to draw men to Himself. He uses dreams in Muslim countries. He uses missionaries. He uses His Word. I was all by myself with the Word of God when I was born again.  

But, what bothers me THE MOST and has kept me up at night since watching this video is the doctrine of LORDSHIP SALVATION.

"Lordship Salvation is the idea that an unbeliever must commit all areas of his life to Christ as a condition for being saved."
Lordship Salvation is rooted in Calvinism. (Which is very ironic to me.) It was a doctrine developed to try and get carnal Christians moving. 
Problem is legit. 
Solution isn't.

Lordship salvation changes the very heart of the gospel... which is child-like faith
Lordship salvation demands works to be saved. Lordship salvation is not dependent on the saving power of God's grace in our lives but on our ability to FOLLOW.

Lordship salvation means you can never really know whether you are saved or not... because it is dependent on your ability to perform or repent. 
Lordship salvation is IMPOSSIBLE for a non-believer because they haven't asked Jesus to come into their hearts (yep, that's right) and so they have no power over sin. It is the Spirit that gives us the ability to repent and live for Jesus.
"'Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says the LORD Almighty."
Zec 4:6

DP not once mentions in this video the power of Christ (the Spirit) living inside the believer Who enables Him to live a life of fruit and repentance. 
The Word "Repent" means "to change one's MIND".
 How do we change our minds?
By having the Holy Spirit wash and renew them with 
 the Word of God.
Changed actions follow a changed mind.
Platt's doctrine of lordship salvation is setting everyone up for failure. 

Here are some notes I took from a retreat I went to this weekend...

"You will NEVER be good enough for God".
"The Christian life is not about Him reforming me, it is about Him REPLACING me."
"If I believe I CAN, then I live according to my own resources/strengths".
"It is not proving how much you love God by how hard you TRY."
"The problem with performance-based spirituality is that you perform, you blow-it, you HIDE it".
"The power of radical Christianity is that it doesn't rest with YOU".

"God wants to live in us so that, He in us, can be what we CAN'T BE".
"It won't be until heaven that there is no sin in our lives, but we can make progress."
"There is only one driver in the driver's seat in the Christian life".
"If we could do it on our own, the cross was a waste of time".
"Who are you trusting to live this life?"
"Real fruit is the EFFORTLESS consequence of our union with Christ".
"How many grapes you produce depends on how tightly you are hanging on to the vine".
"We were made to demonstrate Who we are connected to."
"Fruit is not GOOD WORKS, it is the life of Christ in us."
"Our prayer life reveals whether we are dependent or not".
"Stop trying to earn grace".
"Our fleshly efforts have no place."
"When we are faithless, He is faithful."
"Failure of devotion does not cause God to withdraw His grace".
"God knew every one of our failures beforehand"
"One of the most humbling things you can do is to let God love you even thought you don't deserve it."
"The life that God created for the believer is not inactive but it is walking in relationship with God."
"The Christian life is not an arrival, it is a pursuit."
"We will never graduate from simply spending one-on-One time with God".

"Lordship Salvation" destroys assurance of salvation which the Bible clearly teaches...
"I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you 
1 John 5:13

"I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life."
John 5:24

"I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life."
John 6:47

If you buy into Lordship salvation, how in the world will you ever know if you have met the standard? Everyone of us could be doing more no  matter how sold out we claim to be. And if we are doing it in our own strength, it is filthy rags and COMPLETELY WORTHLESS. The Bible says our sacrifices/efforts are only acceptable THROUGH JESUS CHRIST.
"you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God THROUGH JESUS CHRIST."
1 Peter 2:5

David Platt calls the sinner's prayer a trite prayer that doesn't save. So according to his doctrine, 
the thief on the cross would be in hell 
and Judas ( a disciple who worked with the poor) would be in heaven. 
One passage he quotes is...
"Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’  Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’"
Matt 7:22
The people referred to in this verse were obviously DOING STUFF. It CLEARLY isn't a lack of works that causes Jesus to send them away. (Maybe they had bought into Lordship Salvation yet never received Christ as Lord and Savior trusting in His grace to save.)

What saves us? 
Asking Christ to come into our lives/hearts gives us the SEAL of the Holy Spirit (our hope of glory). He is our deposit GUARANTEEING our inheritance!

"And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spiritwho is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession--to the praise of his glory."
Eph 1:22,23

Now, I do believe the Bible teaches we can forfeit blessing and rewards by our lack of service. We were created to serve him and to do the good works He has prepared in advance for us to do.  I do think there is a lack of zeal and service in the body of Christ. That part is true. But I disagree with him about the cause and the solution. I think the real cause is the number of books Christians in America are reading instead of reading and studying the Word... and I think the solution will result if the cause is addressed.
That is why I believe with all my heart our Christian Church is weak.
We have too many books, they are a distraction.  
I believe books like these LITERALLY HAVE "WEARIED THE BODY". (The Body of Christ)
 "Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body."
Ecc 12:12
We have overcomplicated everything. Especially the simplicity of the gospel. We are being conformed to the world by human thinking.
We are discouraging children from entering into a relationship with Jesus Christ  (thanks to books like this).
Lordship salvation will DESTROY a believer's fruitfulness. 

Lordship salvation is not the message of Christ...
"For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
Matt 11:30

"After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: “Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believeGod, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us.  He made no distinction between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith.  Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear? No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved"
Acts 15:7-11

"I would like to learn just one thing from you:
 Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? 
Are you so foolish? 
After beginning with the Spirit, 
are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?"
Gal 1:2,3

He says in this other video  that the Bible never teaches us to "accept Jesus into our hearts or invite Jesus into our lives" and that the sinner's prayer is nowhere in the New Testament.   He also says (in that video) that "God is a loving Father but he is also a wrathful judge who 
Wow. Wow. Wow.
My God is not going to damn me.
Why? Because I was hidden in His Son when I believed. (Romans 8:1)

He says the Bible doesn't teach that we are to receive Christ Jesus as our Lord.
Is that true?

"And now, just as you accepted/received Christ Jesus as your Lord, 
you must continue to follow him."
Col 2:6

After watching his latest promo video, I can see that there is confusion about 
salvation vs. sanctification.
Or accepting Christ vs. discipleship.

"They confuse spiritual birth with spiritual growth. There is a difference when a baby is born and when that baby starts to learn and grow. And just because we don't like how fast that child is learning or growing, we can't argue that they were never born! That's nuts! All of us who have a relationship with Jesus Christ will one day become like Him, through progressive sanctification and ultimately through glorification--when we get to heaven."

then we have the power to follow.
We cannot strive to earn our salvation through works. We cannot repent ourselves into heaven. Lordship salvation is not biblical.

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, 
it is the GIFT of God--"
Eph 2:8

We HAVE to examine whether what we believe comes from human thinking and the philosophies of this world rather than from Christ.
"Don't let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ."
Col 2:8

 "Let us hold out... genuine cures for carnal Christianity rather than embrace the false cure of Lordship Salvation. Such a false cure fundamentally alters the Gospel, 
which is the best news that God ever gave man."

Stay in the Word.
Repentance changes our MINDS.
My concern is that man is taking away the simplicity of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Simple enough for a child to understand. It is the children who should be teaching the adults because their minds have not been tainted by the writings of man. 
They simply BELIEVE.
I will take the lashings I will get for writing this if only to get one person to examine DP's words in light of Scripture.
What are you depending on? Your works or God's grace?

"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. 
Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery."
Gal 5:1

"In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence."
Eph 3:12
"For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image."
2 Cor 3:17,18

My sweet (and normally reserved) husband even had to write after we watched this promo video.
You can read his thoughts here...
Hey everyone, it’s Tim.  Steph has allowed me to jump on board for a minute to provide an example of what her last post was addressing.  She has been trying to stay away from naming specific authors and pastors, but since we’re getting down to it today we need an example, and exhibit A is David Platt.  He rocked the boat at the SBC convention by stating that we need to do away with “the sinner’s prayer.” His rationale is that people pray “the prayer” insincerely and walk away with a false security that they are right with God. Here we will look at the promo video for his soon-to-be-released book which is apparently the same idea in book form.
Biblically, being “saved” means being in a right relationship with God, where you have confessed with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead (Rom 10:9). You also must confess your sins (1 Jn 1:9) and repent (do a mental u-turn toward God).  Nobody can do this without the prompting of the Holy Spirit, who draws us to God – at which point we decide if we will receive the gift or not (John 1:12).  If we do, we are immediately indwelt by the Holy Spirit, who is our guarantee of eternal salvation (2Cor 1:22) and who performs many functions in and through us while we’re still here (The Bible).
There is no ritual that you can perform to be saved. It is a matter of the posture of your heart. If your heart isn’t right, you can sing, pray, take communion, get dunked, get sprinkled, serve, give, sell everything you own, dance like David….and it’s not enough.  All these things are “works” that you perform and Eph 2:9 is very clear you can’t earn your salvation. BUT if your heart is at a point where you realize you’re not right with God and you want to be right with him you need to confess with your mouth.  Jesus gave a great example of a guy who gets saved in Luke 18:13 – the guy SAYS, “God have mercy on me, a sinner”. 
We agree with Platt that there are many in the Church that name themselves as Christians, but aren’t. Somewhere along the line they were either misled (given unbiblical information about what salvation is), or they are just going through the motions and trying to do “the right thing” or what their family is doing…and there are a host of other reasons why someone may call themselves a Christian when they’re not, but those are probably the two most common.
Let’s get to Platt’s video and see how he addresses the issue:
1.  "John” gets exposed to the reality of hell.  It happens to be a cartoon that gets the wheels turning…
2. He is apparently in a church already and hasn’t been taught anything about it…let’s call his church to the carpet for not teaching kids that our relationship with God has eternal implications.
3. So he talks to an older man about it who apparently doesn’t give him much info, but tells him it’s possible that he doesn’t have to worry about going to hell (true) if he prays a prayer.  Half true.  If John’s heart is right, it’s true. Confessing and surrendering your heart to Christ is necessary in being right with God. If John’s heart isn’t right, he just performed a ritual that won’t help. So it’s not the prayer’s fault if he’s not saved, which is where I disagree with Platt completely.
4.   1:10 – “ that true?..” So Platt starts setting up his straw man so he can knock it down, pay attention…Yes. If his heart was right he has no need to fear.  “…is this really what it means to become a disciple of Jesus? This really what it means to follow Him?” Here Platt makes a subtle jump to another track.  He is saying that being a disciple and following Jesus is the same as salvation, which is not true Biblically.  Being saved is one thing, your walk with Christ is another (Col 2:6)
5.       He points immediately to an invalid comparison between us and the original 12 disciples.  We are saved by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, who is the Spirit of Christ working to build His Church. He empowers us to this end.  Of course Jesus wasn’t calling them to pray a prayer, the Holy Spirit wasn’t available to them because Jesus hadn’t made the atonement yet, and there was no Church (Matt 16:18). Jesus was calling them to be disciples.  They didn’t even believe until John 16:31. Later, at Pentecost, they got the Holy Spirit and were sealed unto salvation. 
6.     1:30 – “…it was a summons for these men to lose their lives…” wait, at this point they were saved and right with God? Hold on. The whole point of this book and promo video is to push the idea that living like a disciple is true salvation, to follow Jesus is how you know you’re saved. Think. Judas was in the group. He was one of the people sitting in the pews going through the motions. He was in charge of the money, outwardly compassionate to the poor…and yet so far from God that Satan was able to enter him (Luke 22:3).  Peter was in the group, he denied Jesus. Thomas was in the group and didn't even believe in the resurrection until he stuck his finger in the nail holes... and the list goes on.  We're not supposed to be like any of this...  Platt’s theology on this is really breaking down…
7.   1:42 - “…somewhere along the way…we have virtually missed that call…” again saying that Jesus’ call to follow him was a call to their salvation, which it wasn’t.  He’s really setting up a salvation that is dependent on your works.
8.    2:05 – “…replaced it with a watered down version of the gospel that’s so palatable it’s not even real…”  the gospel is literally the “good news” that we can be right with God through faith in Christ.  It’s so simple you can’t water it down.  Platt obviously disagrees and thinks our works (which can be watered down) have something to do with our salvation.  If you agree with Platt stop reading this right now and pick up your Bible, start reading in John and don’t stop. You’ll read passages that explain that our salvation is evidenced by our actions, or “fruit”, but you won’t find anything that suggests our actions help us get right with God. In fact much of the New Testament is refuting this idea, as many (then and now) struggle with the innate desire to impress God by doing “good” deeds.
9.       “…scores of men, women, and children culturally identify themselves as Christians today who Biblically are not followers of Christ.  Is that possible? Absolutely it is.” And it’s because of the sinner’s prayer? Of course not. Remember Judas? Sure there are scores of people who say they’re Christians but aren’t – but many of these think they are because they’re living a certain lifestyle on their own good intentions, which looks like the stuff Christians do, so they assume they’re right with God.  Looking like a Christian is not the same as being one! These people get tired, burned out from their own efforts, and because they don’t have the Holy Spirit to fuel them, they never experience God.  Many of them leave the church tired and bitter.
10.   2:30 – Matt 7:21-23 describe people who have been “disciples” of Jesus, DOING really great things…driving out demons? Prophesying? Miracles?  C’mon!!! if anyone was doing what Platt is suggesting it was these guys! How can he use them as an example? Being not-saved but living like a disciple (these guys and Judas) is the situation that Platt is creating!
11.   If those words are so frightening, and it keeps you up at night to realize that people who have been living “like” a Christian apart from Christ aren’t saved, why are you suggesting that we nix the prayer that embodies confession and repentance, the prayer that can inaugurate our Christian life?  Paul likens our Christian life to a race (1 Cor 9:24) – every race has a very definite starting point, it is necessary.
12.   Eternity is dependent on how we answer the question, “are we really, Biblically, personally, following Jesus?” I agree, sort of. His example from the Bible of the disciples isn’t valid concerning us and our salvation, but  certainly if we’ve confessed with our mouth, repented and exercised the faith made possible through the Holy Spirit, our lives will produce the fruit Jesus promised in John 15 if we stay connected to the vine.
It's important that we always examine the scriptures to see if what's being taught is true.  Platt's example of how Christianity "happens" is a great example of taking the Bible in pieces and out of context to build a's confusing and incorrect.  As we consider any aspect of the Christian life, we have to consider what the whole of scripture teaches about it and consider those passages in their context.

I have a friend, we’ll call him “James” who read this book.  After years of striving to be good enough to be called a Christian, he came to me tired and frustrated.  I showed him a Veggie Tales cartoon, he realized he was trying on his own and that he needed Christ, so I prayed with him, and he got saved.


Erin Southwell said...

thanks Steph and tim, for your faithfulness in fighting for the precious gospel of Christ.

Andy W said...

Interesting thoughts. My first question is, Have either of you actually read the book? I have not. I just ordered it and am looking forward to it. I think it would be beneficial to all if after reading the book and having the opportunity to hear his deeper explanation, you came back and interacted with this post.

This whole concept scares me. I work with elementary kids at my church and this whole idea is very weighty. I believe there are many who sit in pews on Sunday mornings that believe they are saved because they prayed a prayer when they were 6 or 7. I think we all agree that we have put too much weight on the sinners prayer (which is not in scripture).

Your made the statement: "He says the Bible doesn't teach that we are to receive Christ Jesus as our Lord.
Is that true?" That's actually not what he says. About 1 minute into the video, he states,"the Bible never uses the phrases accept Jesus into your heart or invite Jesus into your life." True. Neither are in Scripture.

I really believe that you and David Platt are actually saying the same things.

Your other comment that states, "God is a loving Father but he is also a wrathful judge who "MAY DAMN US". You are correct...if you have trusted in Christ for your salvation, then no, God will not damn you. We are promised forgiveness of sins and salvation through the life and work of Christ. If you are an unbeliever, then yes, He will. It seems that you think he is talking to Christians, but I believe this comment was not specific to believers.

Yes, the Gospel is simple. Jesus himself even says that the kingdom of God belongs to children (Matt 19:14). Child-like faith, right? I agree we do not need to make things more complex than they need to be. But, even on the level of a child, there must be more to it than knowing the facts, reciting the ABC's of salvation, or saying a prayer.

I also agree that there are two issues at play here. One deals with salvation by faith alone, in Christ alone. The other deals with life after salvation.

I don't believe that Platt's issue is with the sinner's prayer. You feel that he is blaming these issues on the sinner's prayer, and i don't get that from the two videos. I think his point is that we have watered down the gospel and reduced it to a couple of steps we take and phrases we say.

Sitting under David in seminary classes, hearing him preach, and reading his books, I do not believe that he believes in works-based salvation. I do not believe that is even what he is saying in these videos. Again, both videos are pieces or introductions to an entire book, in the first, and an entire sermon, in the second.

It is dangerous to pull things out of context and attempt to read between the lines. I truly believe that the two of you and David would actually agree on these points and are actually trying to say the same things.

Our life and works are a response to the Gospel. If our life and works do not follow Christ, then there are tough questions to ask. He is not suggesting we take prayer out of the salvation experience. He is saying that if our salvation is based on the fact that we prayed "the prayer" then we are missing the truth and power of the gospel.

Not sure what the last paragraph is about from Tim. Probably wasn't necessary. Also, there is no gospel in Veggie Tales. Even Phil Vischer has addressed that.

Would love to know your thoughts on my comments. I think it is very helpful to measure all we hear and think against the word of God.

Stephanie said...

Hey Andy W it's Tim. Thank you sincerely for your articulate and thoughtful response. The issue of false security in the Church is one that deserves dialogue, and certainly we as believers should do what we can to help those in and outside the Church understand what it means to be right with God, or "saved", and what it means to live the Christian life. I'm glad we share the burden of wanting our children to understand what being a Christian is, and not wanting to set them up for a false security, but hopefully we agree that scripture teaches clearly that we must confess with our mouths both who Christ is and our sins (who we are) as integral in being saved. Of course it doesn't stop there, and thank you for making sure the children of your church understand that.

Sure, there are unsaved pew-fillers because of insincere prayers, but some think they're saved because they've always been sitting in that pew doing the right thing, and some because they're "covenant kids", and some because they took a class, and goes on and on bro.

I guess the exact phrases "invite Jesus into your heart/life" may not be in scripture, but certainly it says "receive" and there is much on the indwelling Christ, and much on His effect on the heart, so as a practice certainly it is Biblical to receive/accept Christ into your heart. To dismiss the practice because the phrase isn't in the Bible is to miss a clear scriptural truth.

You're right about us not having all the info and the complete book or transcript of the message, we're just going on what he said, for which he needs to be responsible. We have had several people tell us how great this sounds, but then when you break it down and consider it scripturally and logically, it doesn't really hold water.

Our "life and works" are the fruit of the Spirit who indwells us at salvation. I guess maybe you could say they are a response to the gospel, but if we try on our own to do anything apart from Christ (even the good stuff, which many attempt) it doesn't count in God's economy - which is why the imbalance in this promo vid is so bothersome. Again, just going on what he said. If it's not what he means, not sure why he said it.

OK, OK - you busted me I'm a smart alec. The last paragraph is of course a response to his opening example. The gospel isn't in Tom and Jerry, either...but God can use it if He wants, right? You can't get saved by someone else praying for you when you're insincere and you can't get saved by living like the disciples who left their stuff. We agree with the problem, but the proposed solution, living a certain life, is causing just as much false security as the "sinners' prayer", and has been since before Romans was written. You're right it wasn't necessary :)

Thanks again, Andy. Keep teaching those kids, bud.

Anonymous said...

PRIDE is concerned with who is right
HUMILTY is concerned with what is right

Anonymous said...

Just revisit the final six words of Col 2:6, which you quoted in this post.