Is it True that Lordship Salvation Proceeds from Calvinism?
Updated: Mar 8
I believe the only salvation found in Scripture is that of Lordship salvation. I don’t believe there is any other kind. The evidence for this is overwhelming, found everywhere including in the salvation testimonies. I’ve heard and read articles meant to expose Lordship salvation as false, that say it proceeded from the Calvinism of 17th century post-Reformation Puritanism. Puritanism also brought the Westminster Confession of Faith. When I think of the five points of TULIP, I don’t get the connection. Lordship Salvation is what I read in the Bible. Before I dig into that, I want to clarify some points.
No one is saved by works (Rom 11:6). Scripture not only does not teach salvation by works, but it instructs against salvation by works (Rom 3:20, Gal 2:16). The Bible does teach salvation by grace through faith alone (Ephesians 2:8-9; Eph 2:8-9). The Bible teaches that when one adds even one work to grace, Christ becomes of no effect unto him. He also becomes a debtor to do the whole law (Gal 5:2-4). On the other hand, “believing” must be what scripture shows is “believing.” “Jesus Christ” must be who scripture shows is in fact Jesus Christ. These aren’t arbitrary, “believing” and “Jesus Christ.” Both must be what scripture teaches.
I’m really not attempting to be difficult. “Believing” and “Jesus Christ” are both simple to understand. They go wrong when someone adds to or takes away from what the Bible says. Also, when someone professes to believe in Jesus Christ does that mean he is truly saved? Is that what scripture teaches about the assurance of salvation? It doesn’t. The Bible teaches the opposite. Merely professing to believe in Jesus Christ does not mean that someone has believed in Jesus Christ. Just because someone even continues to profess faith in Jesus Christ does not mean that he is saved.
I divide the salvation issue into two parts, “believing in” and “Jesus Christ.” “Faith in Christ” four times, “faith in the Lord Jesus” once, some form of “believe on” Christ, fifteen times, and “believe in” Christ, eleven times. There are more examples than these, but “believing” must be believing and some faith does not save (Jam 2:17-26; Jn 2:23-25). Saving faith includes more than intellect, more than knowledge. Repentance also means something more than just sorrow (2 Cor 7:8-11). Intellect and sorrow without volition falls short of believing. Taking in all the parallel passages, saving faith must include repentance, which must be volitional.
One could say that saving repentance must include faith. Jesus said that if anyone comes unto Him or wants to follow Him, salvation language, he must deny himself, which means losing his life or his soul (Lk 9:23-25). Scripture describes salvation as the restoring and converting of the soul (Ps 23:3). To be restored or converted, a sinner relinquishes his soul to the Lord. This is repentance. Jesus said, I am the way (Jn 14:6). Someone relinquishes his own way, if he believes in Jesus Christ. He surrenders to Jesus Christ, Who is King, Lord, Saviour.
The second half says, “Lord Jesus Christ.” If someone believes Jesus is the Christ, which is necessary for eternal life (Jn 20:31), then he must believe Jesus is King. This fits with Jesus’ and John the Baptist’s preaching to “repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” One could say the meaning of this is “repent because the King is here.” The NT presents Jesus as King. Someone does not believe in Jesus as the Christ, as the King, and remain in rebellion against Him, in non-submission. He relinquishes His will, becomes subject to the King. This can be proven over and over in the NT, practically every chapter in every book.
Just as an example, one should read the parable in Lk 20:9-13. It’s obvious, God the Son was sent to people, having authority over them. His audience was to receive His authority and ownership, Lordship, if they believed in Him. They didn’t. They despised the idea of Him reigning over them. So they killed him, and were in big trouble. The proceeding chapter tells of a similar account (read Lk 19:12-27). The citizens hated the idea of a reigning authority. The end for those is a bloody and eternal tormenting death (v. 27). This kind of teaching is all over the NT. I understand the popularity of non-Lordship teaching. People walk after their own lusts and don’t want a Boss (2 Pet 3:1-4).
Everything that I’ve written about believing in Jesus Christ does not require being a Calvinist or Reformed. I haven’t come across anything that makes that connection. It’s an assertion without proof. Just because Calvinists did believe it doesn’t mean it originated with them. It is what the Bible teaches. When one reads the early Baptist confession, the Schleitheim Confession (1527) written by Michael Sattler, not a Protestant confession but a Baptist/Anabaptist, though not a full confession of faith, one sees the distinctions between the Baptists and those not, who claim salvation by faith.
Sattlers statement does not disagree with Protestants on what is “faith in Christ.” One of the statements in the Confession, however, is the following: “Baptism shall be given to all those who have learned repentance and amendment of life, and who believe truly that their sins are taken away by Christ, and to all those who walk in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and wish to be buried with Him in death, so that they may be resurrected with Him, and to all those who with this significance request it [baptism] of us and demand it for themselves.” This defined for Baptists who believed in Jesus Christ. Repentance and true faith in Christ, including Lordship, did not arise from Calvinism.
Here is one of many statements that could be shared by the Baptist minister Menno Simons (The Complete Works of Menno Simons, 1537) who was NOT a Protestant:
“My dearly beloved reader, take heed to the Word of the Lord and learn to know the true God. I warn you faithfully to take it, if you please. He will not save you nor forgive your sins nor show you His mercy and grace except according to His Word; namely, if you repent and if you believe, if you are born of Him, if you do what He has commanded and walk as He walked. For if He could save an unrighteous carnal man without regeneration, faith, and repentance, then He did not teach us the truth. But He is the truth, and there is no falsehood in Him. Therefore, I tell you again that you cannot be reconciled by means of all the masses, matins, vespers, ceremonies, sacraments, councils, statues, and commandments under the whole heavens, which the popes and their colleges have made from the beginning. For they are abominations and reconciliations, I warn you. In vain, says Christ, do they honour me, teaching commandments of men.”
Wow, how good is that preaching! it’s not difficult to see why that great preacher was hated by Rome. He also knew true conversion, including Lordship salvation. Menno’s message in a nutshell:
"Repent without delay! For nothing avails before God except the new creature, a faith which worketh by love, and the keeping of God’s commandments."