“For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus sake.” -2 Corinthians 4:5
The centrality of the doctrine of salvation to the Christian faith is undeniable in the infallible, inerrant pages of Scripture. However, while the means to salvation are almost universally agreed upon within the Christian church, by grace alone- through faith alone- in Christ alone, what the life of a disciple of Christ is to look like after conversion is still heavily debated today. The controversy over Lordship Salvation has spanned several decades now and continues to be a point of contention for many in the church today.
The doctrine of Lordship Salvation emphasizes that genuine salvation is exemplified through a profession of faith in Jesus Christ as savior, salvation only comes through faith in Christ’s atoning work on the cross for our sins (Ephesians 2:8), and will always be followed by repentance and submission to the will of Christ in an individual’s life (John 3:36). True salvation, beginning with a sincere trust in Christ as our personal savior, always goes hand in hand with an acknowledgement and submission to Christ as Lord (Acts 2:21, 36; Romans 10:9-10). So while there are no prerequisites in coming to saving faith in Christ, true biblical salvation is a supernatural working by God in the heart of man (John 1:12-13) and will always result in a heart transformation. This heart transformation will in turn produce repentance, visible behavioral changes, and spiritual growth in an individual’s life. However, the reason that there is even a need for this article is because there are views regarding salvation that stand in stark contrast to this teaching.
One of the most pervasive and widely accepted concepts in the church today is the idea of what we will call “easy-believism.” This shallow and watered down version of the gospel hinges on the ideal that salvation is by faith alone. While this statement is biblically accurate we must also understand that it is incomplete if we are referencing an orthodox view of salvation. Yet, this partial statement is exactly what Free-Grace and “Easy-believism” would claim the Gospel is exclusively defined by. The “Easy-Belief” ideology is rooted in the belief that faith is merely an acceptance of a series of facts, a prayer, and an acknowledgement of God’s promises and that once those things are acknowledged you have received salvation and will spend eternity in heaven with our creator. This is widely practiced in American churches today and is especially seen among the children’s and youth ministries. This often times turns into church leaders and other believers proclaiming that “just because someone is saved it doesn’t make them perfect”, “we can’t judge their heart by their actions necessarily”, and “I know they are saved because I was with them when they accepted Jesus into their heart” in response to people living nominal Christian lives, living in known habitual sin, and especially at funerals of individuals who have died and left little or no evidence of genuine salvation during their life time.
When we look at some of the warnings that Scripture gives us against those who will not enter into the Kingdom of God, there is reason to take a closer look as to whether those who hold to a simple prayer based system of salvation are doing so out of ignorance, willful compromise to earn converts, or both. This “Free Grace” or “Easy-Believism” standpoint is not only a weak view of what Scripture teaches in regards to salvation, but it can also be dangerous by blurring the lines of the rock of offense (1 Peter 2:8) in an attempt to make the gospel seem inclusive (Romans 9:15-22). This type of thinking when given to new believers or yet unsaved people can only assist in sowing seeds of doubt and confusion.
The Bible is overtly clear in the depiction of Biblical Salvation through Jesus Christ. We are saved by grace through faith in Christ Jesus our redeemer. Submission to him as Lord and Savior is a characteristic of a man who is truly saved (Acts 2:38; 2 Peter 3:9). Repentance from sin will follow conversion (1 Thessalonians 1:9; Luke 3:8; Acts 26:18-20). The object of our faith is Jesus Christ alone and nothing we can do of our own merit (John 3:16, 36; 2 Corinthians 5:15; Hebrews 5:9). We are therefore disciples of Christ once receiving salvation (Mark 8:34; Luke 14:33). Real faith will inevitably produce a regenerate heart which in turn yields a transformed life (2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 2:20).
Those who endure until end will be saved and those who endure partway through before aborting will not (Colossians 1:21-23; Hebrews 3:14). The proof of whether someone is truly saved or not is not found in how emphatically they claim the name of Christ. Rather, the test of whether someone is truly saved is exemplified by how they live their life in submission to the Father (Matthew 7:21-23; 24:13). This is not teaching that we are able to obtain eternal life through our ability to please God by our works or that there will be an absence sin in the believers life. This is teaching that those who are truly saved do the will of God through the power and strength of the Holy Spirit. Truly regenerate converts of the Gospel of Christ will not be able to live in unbroken, unrepentant sin (1 John 3:9-10). The true Christian is saved through believing in Jesus Christ; however, we know that one is a true Christian by the obedience (1 John 2:3) that one has in their life in accordance to the Lordship and will of Jesus Christ.