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Friday, October 29, 2010

Halloween Innocence?

By Justin Edwards

I think there is one very simple and honest question each of us must ask ourselves as born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ - is there one single thing that is good about Halloween? No doubt there is someone already thinking I am a legalistic party-pooper trying to take "the fun" out of this "silly, harmless" "holiday" - right? I mean, after all, the kids get to dress up in fun costumes with hopes to fill their bags with their favorite candies. What could be the harm in that? Or what about a night on the town going to any number of the adult costume-themed parties, where one night out of the year you can wear that mask and be someone you're not? A night to cut loose and dabble into the "dark side"? It's all innocent fun right?

The traditions and history of Halloween aside, have you ever considered this day to be a time to glorify evil, sorcery, witchcraft, the occult, and the horrors of life? I ask the question again, is there a single thing that is good about Halloween? Speaking from my own experience, as a child, I wasn't allowed to go trick-or-treating in the neighborhood, but we attended the fall festivals and the like at church. Of course, dressing up as innocent cowboys and other fictional characters made everything ok at the "harvest festival", but what this did, in my opinion, was desensitize me to the reality of Halloween and everything it truly represents. Once I became an adult, I loved to go to all the parties, bars, clubs, and events that hosted the various ghoulish festivities.

Of course, my wild escapades into the nightlife on Halloween night was not a result of bobbing for apples as a kid, but looking back into those reckless, young adult years I see that there was indeed nothing good about those nights as I drank the night away and celebrated what could be described as nothing less than glorified sin. And I professed to be a Christian.

One only has to pick up a local news magazine like Creative Loafing and browse through the October advertisements to see what I mean. The names of these events truly give weight to the depths of evil in society, and the worst part of it is, I have no doubt many of these people have any idea as to what they are promoting and taking pleasure in - events like "Feathers and Fetishes", "Gravediggers Ball", "Wicked Women of Wax", "Campground Massacre", "Sin City Halloween Party", and most revolting is "Sin Sunday Fangbangers Ball" at a local "men's club". Yet, on the other hand, we only have to go to John 3:18 to see why men and women take pleasure in such blatant wickedness:

And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

At the Carowinds theme park in Charlotte, NC, an event is held each year titled Scarowinds, and  they boast from the website (emphasis mine):

...for a deathly descriptive run down of our 11 attractions and scarezones, as well as our sinful stage shows and terrifying rides, visit People are DYING to get in are you? All you fear is here!

A brief look into the different attractions reveals "scare zones" such as "Camp Killauee", "Dead Inn", "Slaughter House", and the "Silver Scream Sinema". And to think that professing Christians can go to venues making light and fun of sin, the very thing that God hates, and have no sensitivity to such foolery. It's truly mind-boggling and a testament to the state of the professing church.

I can't put into words the advertisements I have seen through various media outlets over the last few years amplifying and glorifying these things God detests. I have come to the conclusion, however, that Halloween is the most evil day of the year and I want nothing to do with it as far as participation is concerned. The answer to the question I posed at the beginning of this post is clear to me - there is nothing good about Halloween. Another even more necessary question must be asked, what in Halloween brings glory to God? Surely you cannot answer in the affirmative there is anything about this day that glorifies the name of Jesus Christ.

As born again believers, each of us must ask these questions of ourselves. What are we doing for our children when we make light of this day and provide them with "less scary" alternatives? Obviously, a child isn't sinning for knocking on doors asking for candy, nor do I believe you as parents are sinning by allowing your children to do so (unless, of course, you are being convicted by the Holy Spirit to not do so). But what I'm asking you to consider is this:

All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify. Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor. - 1 Corinthians 10:23-24

Admittedly, it is not my place to judge anyone should they participate in the apparent innocence of trick-or-treating and the like. But we must ask ourselves what are the benefits? And are we playing a role in desensitizing our children to the weight of sin? As for me and my house, we have chosen to not compromise.

There is so much deception in the world today, and as we near the return of the Lord Jesus Christ, the deception will only increase. The less we compromise our Christian values and moral principles and the less we are conformed to the things of this world (Romans 12:2), the less ammunition we give the world to seduce our children into the ways of the world. We must detach ourselves from the crowds. We must make up our minds and be resolved to protect our families no matter the cost. God has a standard of holiness and we are to pursue it with all of our strength out of the abundance of love in our hearts for Him.

This world is passing away (1 John 2:15-17) and we as Christians have been called out. We have been set apart. We are, in fact, aliens in this world whose citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20). The line in the sand has been drawn, and within my power and ability I will choose the things of God, love the things He loves, and hate the things he hates, namely sin. Not only do I not want to offend God in this manner, but I no longer want to go along with the crowd or continue to do things because that's just the way we've always done it. And any time we take pleasure in the things God hates, we dishonor Him and relish in the very things for which He was crucified.

And speaking of Christ's death and glorious resurrection, God can and will take something that was intended for evil and turn it into something for good and His glory. What better time than to talk to somebody about the free gift of grace God offers to sinners? While sin and death are being celebrated in a way that distorts truth, we have the opportunity to reveal the reality of sin and the certainty of death. And all who do not recognize their sinful condition and gift of grace through repentance and faith in Christ will realize the wages of sin - eternal death.

If you're planning on handing out candy this weekend, I encourage you to add to your stash the Gospel. There's no time left to purchase Gospel tracts online at excellent sources such as Living Waters or Custom Tract Resource, but your local Christian bookstore should have at least a few options for you. And if you have access to a color printer, you can print my Urgent Message tract for free. Be sensitive to your surroundings and in your conversations this weekend and look for opportunities to talk about death. Styrofoam gravestones, zombies, caskets, death scenes, and the like provide us with great conversation starters - like, "what do you think really happens when you die"? Give the person you're talking to a chance to explain what they believe, and should they not understand the gravity of their sin and Truth found in the Lord Jesus Christ, share Law and Grace with them in truth and love. While many of these people are flippantly celebrating death, eternal death will be their fate should they continue along the wide path of destruction.

I hope this post has given you something to think about. We must examine everything we do to see whether or not it honors God and brings glory to His name. Those things in our lives that clutter and weigh us down or distort or compromise the truth must be cleaned out. At the very least, I hope this post leads you to pray about these things.

Please take a moment to watch the two short videos from Todd Friel of Wretched Radio and Chad Williams and Tony Miano from Living Waters. The first video will echo some of the things I've given you to consider, while the second will give you an example of taking the opportunity to share the Gospel in even the most "deathly" situations. :)

Be safe this weekend. 

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Charismania - When False Spirits Enter the Church (Kundalini)

By Justin Edwards

Making its rounds across the internet, a 3-part series on deceiving spirits from Andrew Strom, author of Kundalini Warning, gives us a shocking inside look into the world of Charismania™ (hyper-charismatic).  This firestorm of "strange annointing" or impartation began with Rodney Howard-Brown, known as the "Holy Ghost Bartender", who gave this annointing to none other than Randy Clark, "father" of the Toronto Blessing that began in 1994. This "annointing" continues to make its way around the world through ministries of apostates such as Rick Joyner and Todd Bentley, and many nondiscerning charismatics have been swept up in the movement thanks to major publications such as Charisma Magazine and CBN (The 700 Club).

As Strom explains in his video, this "annointing" is strikingly similar, if not identical, to the Kundalini Awakening of Hinduism (for more information, please see Comparison Between the Kundalini Practice and the so-called Toronto Blessing). In both spiritual experiences, practitioners experience joy, weeping, shaking, trembling, making animal sounds, chants, laughter, and chaotic movements or dancing. And most disturbing, over the last few years we have seen a movement that has reached blasphemous proportions through the antichrist ministry of "new mystic" John Crowder. Being "drunk in the spirit", "toking the ghost", or "drunken glory" are pop phrases for this blasphemy, and the same "manifestations" of chaos seen at such events as the Lakeland Revival of 2008 are seen in the gatherings like Crowder's "Sloshfest". To give you a peek into what John Crowder offers in his "Mystical Schools", here's this from his website:

Our Mystical School is an intensive, three-day course with in-depth instruction, activation and hands-on impartation with John Crowder. These deeper courses in contemplative, supernatural Christianity are geared for a smaller group environment, with limited registration, to foster an atmosphere of intimacy, personal prophecy and vigorous impartation. There will be ample time for questions and answers, with sessions running 6-8 hours each day and mornings free for prayer, soaking and reflection. In these courses you will:

Operate in Trances, Raptures & Ecstatic Prayer
Experience Physical Phenomena of Mysticism
Get Activated in Creative Miracles, Signs & Wonders
Understand & Access New Creation Realities
Gain A Historical Grid of Miracle Workers & Mystics
Be Activated in the Seer Realm, Prophecy, Spirit Travel
Receive Open Heavens & Revelatory Understanding
Access and Manifest the Glory Realm (emphasis original)

The deception is widespread among charismatic churches and its main targets are youth and young adults. Just down the road from me in Fort Mill, SC is "prophet" Rick Joyner's Morningstar Ministries, where nothing short of pagan idolatry and witchcraft takes place. Here's a prime example of children chanting and performing tribal dancing:

Perhaps you didn't think there was much wrong with the above video. Maybe they were just "making a joyful noise"? I don't think you'll come to the same conclusion in the following video. This is demonic possession and oppression, my friends:

More demonic possession and oppression:

And that brings us back to false spirits entering the church. Pagan and mystical practices have increasingly infiltrated the visible church in epidemic proportions. While much of this spiritual idolatry is taking place in pentecostalism, similar mystical practices have entered in through Emergence Christianity. While Bill Johnson, Rick Joyner, Todd Bentley, Peter Wagoner, Mike Bickle, Patricia King, Joshua Mills, Randy Clark, Rodney Howard-Brown, Sid Roth, Bob Jones, and William Branham have played significant roles to destroy the church from the charismatic extreme, emergent mystics such as Rob Bell, Dallas Willard, Richard Foster, Tony Jones, Brian McLaren, John Ortberg, and Doug Padgitt are seeking to destroy the Bride of Christ through interfaith mysticism, the occult, and relativism. Either way, the deception in the church is evident.

My brothers and sisters, the state of the church gives clear evidence of the soon return of the Lord Jesus Christ. During these times, the Aposle Paul warns in 2 Timothy 3:13,

But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.

We must put on the whole armor of God and submerge ourselves in the Scriptures. We must flee from this idolatry and give Satan no room to take a stronghold. The hour is late and the devil is working overtime. What we are seeing is a merging of religious ideas, mystical practices, and outright blasphemies of the character of God and a perversion of His everlasting truths.

Please take a moment to watch the three videos from Andrew Strom in order to gain understanding of this demonic infiltration into the church:

Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy." - 1 Peter 5:13-16

Emergent Church Pastor Rob Bell Praises New Age Author Huston Smith

By Justin Edwards

Thanks to the Sola Sisters blog for reposting this critical red flag from Ingrid Schlueter of Crosstalk blog. Rob Bell is one of the most dangerous men in the visible church today. Here's the story:

Reprinted in part from Crosstalk blog, by Ingrid Schlueter

Rob Bell’s 40,000 something followers on Twitter were treated to this tweet where Bell calls New Age Interspiritualist author Huston Smith’s book “great.”  See tweet here. And here Huston Smith holds forth on one of the world’s religions. YouTube is filled with Mr. Smith’s praise for Hinduism, Buddhism and other world religions and their “truth.” Christianity is just one of many choices, according to Smith.

Why should this be especially alarming? Because Rob Bell is a rock star among today's youth and church youth leaders.  His books (Sex God, Velvet Elvis, Drops Like Stars, etc.) have been bestsellers, and his NOOMA videos are shown in church youth groups all across the country.  Discerning, mature Christian adults may "get" why Rob Bell is dangerous, but it is the children and the youth who are being targeted and indoctrinated into Rob Bell's interfaith religious syncretism, sometimes right under their parent's noses.

We can thank Rob Bell for openly admitting what many of us have been warning about for years. He represents a version of Christianity that is, in fact, anti-Christ. While Bell roots around in the books of rank interspiritualists for “truth”, true Christians look to our only and final authority, the unchanging Word of God.

(HT: Sola Sisters)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Truth Hits the Streets!

By Justin Edwards

Saturday, October 23, 2010, was The Speak:Truth Project's inaugural event in taking the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ to the streets. As God would have it, we actually did not stage the event on "the street" as we had anticipated for two months, rather God closed a door and opened another one that placed us at the homecoming festival for Johnson C. Smith University.

Two to three months ago the Lord placed on the heart of my dear brother in Christ, Joshua Earl - founder of The Speak:Truth Project, to obtain 1,000 Gospel tract CDs from Reach Records featuring Christian hip-hop artist, Lecrae. Covered with the luring words, "Before You Die", these Gospel tracts take the reader through Law and Grace, concluding with the 10-track album. From the ReachLife Ministries website:

"And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." -Acts 4:12 Have you ever wanted a resource to help share the Gospel of Jesus Christ that is relevant to today's culture? 
"Before You Die" is written and designed to speak into the hearts of the urban and hip hop culture who are not followers of Christ. One of the challenges of sharing the gospel with others is presenting it in a culturally relevant way to the listener. This tract was designed to do just that.

By taking the reader through a graphic representation of the gospel with clearly written text, we pray that the Lord will be pleased to use this resource in a way that brings others to Christ and glorifies His name.

Also, a CD is attached in the back of each booklet with a collection of evangelistic songs and testimonies to share with the listener. Each song provides a great foundation to share further the good news of the gospel. Be sure to check out You can view the whole thing online!

These Gospel CD tracts provided us an avenue to reach the lost in the urban community. It's been truly amazing to see God prepare the way for us from bringing the men and women together to plan for the event, to raising the funds to purchase the tracts and water, to securing the perfect location just five days before the event. His fingerprints were all over this project and it was a testimony for me to witness, once again, that God equips His soldiers for the work He has prepared for them. He will never call us to service whereby He won't prepare us. We just need to trust that He will provide us with the means, the materials, and the spiritual fortitude to step into battle.

After setting up in the morning and following the homecoming parade, we began handing out water and tracts and witnessing around noon. We were set up right in the middle of the festival among all the other vendors and adjacent to the main stage for the post-game celebration. To be able to share the Gospel with so many people was incredible. By 8pm, we had distributed 820 Gospel tracts, 425 bottles of water, and had countless rich conversations with people from various backgrounds. Purposed with sharing the Gospel, each conversation pointed every person to Jesus Christ and I pray God waters the seeds that were planted.

I share this event to encourage you to get active in your own communities in sharing the Gospel. Some of you may have read about our Panthers tailgate event where we assisted a local church in distributing free food and proclaimed the name of Jesus Christ, and that served to "get our feet wet" for this event. The tailgate outreach was the first time I had participated in any kind of organized witnessing, and Saturday followed as my second participation. I cannot tell you how blessed and filled with joy I was after leaving the event around 4pm and for the rest of the day. There is so much joy in knowing we are being obedient to the will of God in fulfilling the Great Commission (Mark 16:15), serving with fellow believers to minister to the lost, and loving and touching the lives of so many people.

My brothers and sisters, the group of us who began this project are nobody special. None of us have theological degrees (to my knowledge ;) ), and none of us hold official positions in a church body (again, to my knowledge :) ). What I do know is that we are a group of faithful servants to the Lord with a desire to be earthen vessels for His workmanship. Jesus said in Matthew 18:11,

For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.

And the Apostle Paul affirmed in his letter to Timothy in 1 Timothy 1:15,

This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.

Yet how can they be saved if there is no one to take them the message? Paul tells us in Romans 10:14-15

How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written:

      “ How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace,
      Who bring glad tidings of good things!”

We must take the Gospel to the lost, there is no other way and Jesus did not give us an option. Many people I encountered knew of Jesus and some even believed He is God and died on the cross, but they did not understand the Gospel until we shared it with them. Too often we assume people already know about Jesus, but yesterday I found many of these are still depending on themselves to be "good enough" to go to heaven. It isn't until we show them through the perfect Law of God that they realize their depravity and condition, and it is then we can share the Good News of our Lord in the forgiveness of sin through faith and repentance.

It doesn't take a mastermind to put an organization or an event like this together because we have the Mastermind already taking care of everything. Sure we can and should use our God-given creativity to orchestrate outreaches, but it is God who makes everything happen and our part is to obey and trust His will be done. And you don't even have to wonder if this is something God would want you to do - because He's already told you His will through the Word of God.

So do you have any ideas for your area? Has God been pressing you to get off the bench and hit the field? Do you think it's time you stop watching from the sidelines if you have yet to get into action? I can't encourage you enough to put your minds together with fellow believers and see what God has in store for you. He doesn't need us to reach the lost, but we are His chosen vessels to accomplish His glorious will. If you would like more information or are looking for resources to equip yourself, please see airō's Evangelism page. And if you haven't joined The Speak:Truth Project's facebook group, you can do so here: The Speak:Truth Project.  I pray this short message will lead you to serve God in a manner He has perfectly designed for you.

I would like to thank my brothers and sisters who served alongside me on Saturday. I love each of you and I'm so thankful to God to give me an opportunity to serve Him through this ministry. I understand we bless many people through such outreach, but the work God is doing in me each time gives me overwhelming joy. Although the anxieties will likely never go away completely, the confidence the Lord empowers me with gets greater each time. We just have to get into the battle and trust that He will be with us every step of the way in seasoning our words with the truth, love, and grace.

If you are reading this and we had the opportunity to serve you on Saturday, I pray the Lord continues to guide you into the knowledge of His truth. No matter who we engaged yesterday, we love each of you and want you to know Christ loves you more than you can fathom. It was no accident that we met this weekend, and I pray you realize the gift of grace the Lord is offering you. Whether you are still on the fence or are already a sinner saved by grace, I hope you take advantage of the many resources on this website - and please don't ever hesitate to contact me here on the blog, facebook, or email. You can also reach us at The Speak:Truth Project's facebook group or email the address on the back of the "Before You Die" tract you received.

May the Lord of Glory be magnified in our service to Him, and may the Lord Jesus Christ receive all the glory, honor, and praise for the work He has done.

You can view more photos of Saturday's event on airō's facebook page here: Airo Follow

Friday, October 22, 2010

Set Your Mind On Things Above

By Justin Edwards

On petitioning God to help him heed to the calling of Colossians 3:1-4, which says,

If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory,

Jonathan Edwards penned in his Diary:

Lord, grant that from hence I may learn to withdraw thoughts, affections, desires, and expectations entirely from the world, and may fix them upon the heavenly state, where there is fulness of joy; where reigns heavenly, sweet, calm, and delightful love without alloy; where there are continually the dearest expressions of this love; where there is the enjoyment of this love without ever parting; and where those persons, who appear so lovely in this world, will be inexpressibly more lovely, and full of love to us. How sweetly will those, who thus mutually love, join together in singing the praises of God and the Lamb. How full will it fill us with joy, to think that this enjoyment, these sweet exercises, will never cease or come to an end, but will last to all eternity.

 May we all have a similar prayer as we heed to the Holy Spirit in being conformed to the likeness of Christ and no longer being conformed to the world. May we be cognizant of storing our treasures in heaven and not on this earth, knowing this:

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. - Luke 12:34

Diary entry taken from Dr. Steven Lawson's The Unwavering Resolve of Jonathan Edwards

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Cult of Personality

By Justin Edwards

The White Horse Inn blog posted an excellent reminder that pastors are to preach Christ and Him crucified. They are to be known for proclaiming the unadulterated Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and shepherding their flocks in godliness and Christian discipline, not to be primarily known for being hip or humorous. Here's the short article reflecting the postmodern trend: The Cult of Personality.

While we're on the topic of pastors, I'd also like to share a recent article based on a sermon by my own pastor, Loran Livingston, from a couple of weeks ago. If you missed it, I encourage you to read and listen - I think you'll be blessed and find it biblically refreshing: A Message on Pastors

Monday, October 18, 2010

'Lordship' Salvation - It's Just the Gospel

By Justin Edwards

As a follow-up to last week's post 'Lordship' Salvation - It Will Cost You Everything, I would like to provide you with the clear distinctives of this doctrine, which is nothing more or less than the Gospel according to the Lord Jesus Christ. There is a decades-long movement of easy-believism that seeks to dilute and pollute the Gospel whereby it hinges salvation ultimately on a decision to "ask Jesus into your heart" and leaves sanctification as an option for man to choose if he wants to be sanctified. Elements of easy-believism have taken root in certain ministries of late and its tentacles are serving to cause much confusion to the Body of Christ.

"Lordship" salvation is not legalism, works-salvation, or a works-centered doctrine, contrary to what you may hear (if it were, those who teach it would be heretics such as Charles Spurgeon and Jonathan Edwards). God's work in salvation does not stop at the legal transaction of justification; His work continues into sanctification and ultimately glorification of His children. When God saves you, He will sanctify you as Hebrews 10:14 says,

For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.

This is such an awesome testimony to the glory of God in our salvation and our sanctification. Easy-believism, on the other hand, has resulted in untold numbers of false conversions who never realize sanctification and rebukes the call for professing Christians to examine themselves against the mirror of the Word of God (2 Corinthians 13:5; 2 Peter 1:10-11).

Some of you may be confused concerning recent events in the past week that resulted from the original article above. The attack against this biblical doctrine has been enhanced in one arena, and I pray you ask God to give you discernment in this matter. Study the Word to show yourself approved, and ask the Lord to give you wisdom and guidance to determine if what is known as "Lordship" salvation is indeed the very Gospel itself.

Deception is rampant as we get closer to the Lord's return and Satan is doing everything he can to divide the Body of Christ and take as many victims as possible by compromising the unadulterated Gospel of Jesus Christ. Put on the whole armor of God and be resilient during this time of testing.

Please find the distinctives of Lordship Salvation below as provided by Grace Community Church, home of Dr. John MacArthur:

Lordship Salvation


The gospel that Jesus proclaimed was a call to discipleship, a call to follow him in submissive obedience, not just a plea to make a decision or pray a prayer. Jesus’ message liberated people from the bondage of their sin while it confronted and condemned hypocrisy. It was an offer of eternal life and forgiveness for repentant sinners, but at the same time it was a rebuke to outwardly religious people whose lives were devoid of true righteousness. It put sinners on notice that they must turn from sin and embrace God’s righteousness.

Our Lord’s words about eternal life were invariably accompanied by warnings to those who might be tempted to take salvation lightly. He taught that the cost of following him is high, that the way is narrow and few find it. He said many who call him Lord will be forbidden from entering the kingdom of heaven (cf. Matt. 7:13-23).

Present-day evangelicalism, by and large, ignores these warnings. The prevailing view of what constitutes saving faith continues to grow broader and more shallow, while the portrayal of Christ in preaching and witnessing becomes fuzzy. Anyone who claims to be a Christian can find evangelicals willing to accept a profession of faith, whether or not the person’s behavior shows any evidence of commitment to Christ. In this way, faith has become merely an intellectual exercise. Instead of calling men and women to surrender to Christ, modern evangelism asks them only to accept some basic facts about Him.

This shallow understanding of salvation and the gospel, known as “easy-believism,” stands in stark contrast to what the Bible teaches. To put it simply, the gospel call to faith presupposes that sinners must repent of their sin and yield to Christ’s authority. This, in a nutshell, is what is commonly referred to as lordship salvation.

The Distinctives of Lordship Salvation There are many articles of faith that are fundamental to all evangelical teaching. For example, there is agreement among all believers on the following truths: (1) Christ’s death purchased eternal salvation; (2) the saved are justified by grace through faith in Christ alone; (3) sinners cannot earn divine favor; (4) God requires no preparatory works or pre-salvation reformation; (5) eternal life is a gift of God; (6) believers are saved before their faith ever produces any righteous works; and (7) Christians can and do sin, sometimes horribly.

What, then, are the distinctives of lordship salvation? What does Scripture teach that is embraced by those who affirm lordship salvation but rejected by proponents of “easybelievism”? The following are nine distinctives of a biblical understanding of salvation and the gospel.

First, Scripture teaches that the gospel calls sinners to faith joined in oneness with repentance (Acts 2:38; 17:30; 20:21; 2 Pet. 3:9). Repentance is a turning from sin (Acts 3:19; Luke 24:47) that consists not of a human work but of a divinely bestowed grace (Acts 11:18; 2 Tim. 2:25). It is a change of heart, but genuine repentance will effect a change of behavior as well (Luke 3:8; Acts 26:18-20). In contrast, easy-believism teaches that repentance is simply a synonym for faith and that no turning from sin is required for salvation.

Second, Scripture teaches that salvation is all God’s work. Those who believe are saved utterly apart from any effort on their own (Titus 3:5). Even faith is a gift of God, not a work of man (Eph. 2:1-5, 8). Real faith therefore cannot be defective or short-lived but endures forever (Phil. 1:6; cf. Heb. 11). In contrast, easybelievism teaches that faith might not last and that a true Christian can completely cease believing.

Third, Scripture teaches that the object of faith is Christ Himself, not a creed or a promise (John 3:16). Faith therefore involves personal commitment to Christ (2 Cor. 5:15). In other words, all true believers follow Jesus (John 10:27-28). In contrast, easy-believism teaches that saving faith is simply being convinced or giving credence to the truth of the gospel and does not include a personal commitment to the person of Christ.

Fourth, Scripture teaches that real faith inevitably produces a changed life (2 Cor. 5:17). Salvation includes a transformation of the inner person (Gal. 2:20). The nature of the Christian is new and different (Rom. 6:6). The unbroken pattern of sin and enmity with God will not continue when a person is born again (1 John 3:9-10). Those with genuine faith follow Christ (John 10:27), love their brothers (1 John 3:14), obey God’s commandments (1 John 2:3; John 15:14), do the will of God (Matt. 12:50), abide in God’s Word (John 8:31), keep God’s Word (John 17:6), do good works (Eph. 2:10), and continue in the faith (Col. 1:21-23; Heb. 3:14). In contrast, easybelievism teaches that although some spiritual fruit is inevitable, that fruit might not be visible to others and Christians can even lapse into a state of permanent spiritual barrenness.

Fifth, Scripture teaches that God’s gift of eternal life includes all that pertains to life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3; Rom. 8:32), not just a ticket to heaven. In contrast, according to easy-believism, only the judicial aspects of salvation (e.g., justification, adoption, and positional sanctification) are guaranteed for believers in this life; practical sanctification and growth in grace require a post-conversion act of dedication.

Sixth, Scripture teaches that Jesus is Lord of all, and the faith He demands involves unconditional surrender (Rom. 6:17-18; 10:9-10). In other words, Christ does not bestow eternal life on those whose hearts remain set against Him (James 4:6). Surrender to Jesus’ lordship is not an addendum to the biblical terms of salvation; the summons to submission is at the heart of the gospel invitation throughout Scripture. In contrast, easy-believism teaches that submission to Christ’s supreme authority is not germane to the saving transaction.

Seventh, Scripture teaches that those who truly believe will love Christ (1 Pet. 1:8-9; Rom. 8:28-30; 1 Cor. 16:22). They will therefore long to obey Him (John 14:15, 23). In contrast, easy-believism teaches that Christians may fall into a state of lifelong carnality.

Eighth, Scripture teaches that behavior is an important test of faith. Obedience is evidence that one’s faith is real (1 John 2:3). On the other hand, the person who remains utterly unwilling to obey Christ does not evidence true faith (1 John 2:4). In contrast, easybelievism teaches that disobedience and prolonged sin are no reason to doubt the reality of one’s faith.

Ninth, Scripture teaches that genuine believers may stumble and fall, but they will persevere in the faith (1 Cor. 1:8). Those who later turn completely away from the Lord show that they were never truly born again (1 John 2:19). In contrast, easy-believism teaches that a true believer may utterly forsake Christ and come to the point of not believing.

Most Christians recognize that these nine distinctives are not new or radical ideas. The preponderance of Bible-believing Christians over the centuries have held these to be basic tenets of orthodoxy. In fact, no major orthodox movement in the history of Christianity has ever taught that sinners can spurn the lordship of Christ yet lay claim to Him as Savior.

This issue is not a trivial one. In fact, how could any issue be more important? The gospel that is presented to unbelievers has eternal ramifications. If it is the true gospel, it can direct men and women into the everlasting kingdom. If it is a corrupted message, it can give unsaved people false hope while consigning them to eternal damnation. This is not merely a matter for theologians to discuss and debate and speculate about. This is an issue that every single pastor and lay person must understand in order that the gospel may be rightly proclaimed to all the nations.

Adapted from John MacArthur, The Gospel According to Jesus (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994); John MacArthur, The Gospel According to the Apostles (Dallas: Word Publishing, 2000); and John MacArthur, “Getting the Gospel Right,” Masterpiece, Fall 1988, 6-10. For a fuller treatment of lordship salvation, consult these resources.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

What Is a Heresy Hunter?

By Justin Edwards

Chrystal Whitt of Slaughtering the Sheep poses the following:

There are a lot of charismatic followers and defenders out there who are calling solid, Bible-based, discerning Christians “heresy hunters.”  The people being targeted with this label (such people as  Ingrid Schlueter, Bud Press, Ken Silva, Mike Oppenheimer, Sandy Simpson, Justin Peters, and even little old insignificant me) are being accused of hating Jesus, God, and are looked upon as unsaved agents of Satan.

I want this to be a discussion thread.  Please weigh in and tell me exactly what a heresy hunter is, and what it takes to qualify as such.

Let’s talk about it!

It seems anyone these days with an ounce of discernment and desire to stand for the Truth and defend the faith at all costs might fall under the label "heresy hunter". Those ignorant of sound doctrine, those willing to compromise for the sake of unity, or those wolves donning sheep costumes crying "heresy hunter" have no qualms about labeling discerning brothers and sisters in Christ with the term (and by the way, wolves are not in the Body).

Those of us who contend for the faith should not consider the term derogatory, rather we should wear it as a badge of honor and challenge anyone accusing us of "heresy hunting" to back up their pet teachers or pet doctrines with the Word of God. It is Scripture we must always use as our compass to determine Truth in spiritual matters. God's Word is absolute truth and He has given us clarity of Scripture whereby we can know His will for each of us to come to saving faith, fulfill the Great Commission, pursue the holiness of God, love Him with all of our soul, mind, heart, and strength, and defend it against those who seek to ravage it and destroy its eternal truths - even unto death.

So check out the comments at Slaughtering the Sheep and I encourage you to participate in the discussion. 

To follow in the footsteps of my friend Mike Ratliff of Possessing the Treasure, in closing,

Soli Deo Gloria!

I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: 2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. 5 But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. 2 Timothy 4:1-5

(HT: Apprising Ministries)

Friday, October 15, 2010

More Background on the Mark Cahill "Situation"

By Justin Edwards

Yesterday I posted developing news in the evangelism community in the article titled Mark Cahill - Sad and Shocking News. This unfortunate situation hit the web a couple of weeks ago, but has seemingly been brewing since earlier this year. Tony Miano from Living Waters posted on his blog yesterday in response to a mischaracterization of Tony by Mark Cahill. Even more unfortunate, it seems Mark has withdrawn his affirmation of Tony as a brother in Christ, which we might assume, based on his own words, that Mark has withdrawn brotherly fellowship from anyone in the Body of Christ who adheres to the Doctrines of Grace, commonly known as Calvinism.

I share this to give you more of the "story" and as another plea to remain in prayer for Mark Cahill. At root, this issue is not about Calvinism or Arminianism, it is about Mark's continued and misguided damnable accusations of the brethren belonging to a different theological system than he. Please continue to pray for Mark's heart to be softened towards his brothers in Christ and that he would come to repentance and reconciliation.

Here is Tony's humble and compassionate response: In Response to Mark Cahill

The Reality of Hell

By Justin Edwards

Thanks to Mike Anderson over at  Let Us Repent and Believe for posting "Hell" by R.C. Sproul yesterday. I heard this message on the radio a few months ago and never got around to finding the transcript. If we truly understood the realities of hell, we would all the more tell people how to avoid it. Moreover, if we fail to mention the wrath of God and the wages of sin (spiritual death) when we share the Gospel, the message loses its weight for that would not be the complete Gospel. Charles Spurgeon said,

Diminish your idea of the wrath of God and the terrors of hell, and in that proportion you will diminish the results of your work. (Source)

And on the dread of hell, Spurgeon uttered,

Hell is horrible, for we may say of it, eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive the horrors which God hath prepared for them that hate him. (Source)

May we never diminish our idea of the wrath of God and the torments of hell.


by R.C. Sproul

We have often heard statements such as “War is hell” or “I went through hell.” These expressions are, of course, not taken literally. Rather, they reflect our tendency to use the word hell as a descriptive term for the most ghastly human experience possible. Yet no human experience in this world is actually comparable to hell. If we try to imagine the worst of all possible suffering in the here and now we have not yet stretched our imaginations to reach the dreadful reality of hell.

Hell is trivialized when it is used as a common curse word. To use the word lightly may be a halfhearted human attempt to take the concept lightly or to treat it in an amusing way. We tend to joke about things most frightening to us in a futile effort to declaw and defang them, reducing their threatening power.

There is no biblical concept more grim or terror-invoking than the idea of hell. It is so unpopular with us that few would give credence to it at all except that it comes to us from the teaching of Christ Himself.

Almost all the biblical teaching about hell comes from the lips of Jesus. It is this doctrine, perhaps more than any other, that strains even the Christian’s loyalty to the teaching of Christ. Modern Christians have pushed the limits of minimizing hell in an effort to sidestep or soften Jesus’ own teaching. The Bible describes hell as a place of outer darkness, a lake of fire, a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth, a place of eternal separation from the blessings of God, a prison, a place of torment where the worm doesn’t turn or die. These graphic images of eternal punishment provoke the question, should we take these descriptions literally or are they merely symbols?

I suspect they are symbols, but I find no relief in that. We must not think of them as being merely symbols. It is probable that the sinner in hell would prefer a literal lake of fire as his eternal abode to the reality of hell represented in the lake of fire image. If these images are indeed symbols, then we must conclude that the reality is worse than the symbol suggests. The function of symbols is to point beyond themselves to a higher or more intense state of actuality than the symbol itself can contain.
That Jesus used the most awful symbols imaginable to describe hell is no comfort to those who see them simply as symbols.

A breath of relief is usually heard when someone declares, “Hell is a symbol for separation from God.” To be separated from God for eternity is no great threat to the impenitent person. The ungodly want nothing more than to be separated from God. Their problem in hell will not be separation from God, it will be the presence of God that will torment them. In hell, God will be present in the fullness of His divine wrath. He will be there to exercise His just punishment of the damned. They will know Him as an all-consuming fire.

No matter how we analyze the concept of hell it often sounds to us as a place of cruel and unusual punishment. If, however, we can take any comfort in the concept of hell, we can take it in the full assurance that there will be no cruelty there. It is impossible for God to be cruel. Cruelty involves inflicting a punishment that is more severe or harsh than the crime. Cruelty in this sense is unjust. God is incapable of inflicting an unjust punishment. The Judge of all the earth will surely do what is right. No innocent person will ever suffer at His hand.

Perhaps the most frightening aspect of hell is its eternality. People can endure the greatest agony if they know it will ultimately stop. In hell there is no such hope. The Bible clearly teaches that the punishment is eternal. The same word is used for both eternal life and eternal death. Punishment implies pain. Mere annihilation, which some have lobbied for, involves no pain. Jonathan Edwards, in preaching on Revelation 6:15-16 said, “Wicked men will hereafter earnestly wish to be turned to nothing and forever cease to be that they may escape the wrath of God.” (John H. Gerstner, Jonathan Edwards on Heaven and Hell [Orlando: Ligonier Ministries, 1991], 75.)

Hell, then, is an eternity before the righteous, ever-burning wrath of God, a suffering torment from which there is no escape and no relief. Understanding this is crucial to our drive to appreciate the work of Christ and to preach His gospel.


1. The suffering of hell is beyond any experience of misery found in this world.
2. Hell is clearly included in the teaching of Jesus.
3. If the biblical descriptions of hell are symbols, then the reality will be worse than the symbols.
4. Hell is the presence of God in His wrath and judgment.
5. There is no cruelty in hell. Hell will be a place of perfect justice.
6. Hell is eternal. There is no escape through either repentance or annihilation.

Biblical passages for reflection: Matthew 8:11-12, Mark 9:42-48, Luke 16:19-31, Jude 1:3-13, Revelation 20:11-15.

What Is True Repentance?

Godly sorrow worketh repentance. (2 Corinthians 7:10)

Genuine, spiritual mourning for sin is the work of the Spirit of God. Repentance is too choice a flower to grow in nature’s garden. Pearls grow naturally in oysters, but penitence never shows itself in sinners except divine grace works it in them. If thou hast one particle of real hatred for sin, God must have given it thee, for human nature’s thorns never produced a single fig. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh.”

True repentance has a distinct reference to the Saviour. When we repent of sin, we must have one eye upon sin and another upon the cross, or it will be better still if we fix both our eyes upon Christ and see our transgressions only, in the light of his love.

True sorrow for sin is eminently practical. No man may say he hates sin, if he lives in it. Repentance makes us see the evil of sin, not merely as a theory, but experimentally-as a burnt child dreads fire. We shall be as much afraid of it, as a man who has lately been stopped and robbed is afraid of the thief upon the highway; and we shall shun it—shun it in everything—not in great things only, but in little things, as men shun little vipers as well as great snakes.

True mourning for sin will make us very jealous over our tongue, lest it should say a wrong word; we shall be very watchful over our daily actions, lest in anything we offend, and each night we shall close the day with painful confessions of shortcoming, and each morning awaken with anxious prayers, that this day God would hold us up that we may not sin against him.

Sincere repentance is continual. Believers repent until their dying day. This dropping well is not intermittent. Every other sorrow yields to time, but this dear sorrow grows with our growth, and it is so sweet a bitter, that we thank God we are permitted to enjoy and to suffer it until we enter our eternal rest.

Charles Spurgeon

(HT: Apprising Ministries)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Mark Cahill - Sad and Shocking News

By Justin Edwards

It saddens me to share some news I came across today involving recent comments made by Mark Cahill. After reading the following retweet from Lane Chaplin earlier, I was taken aback and proceeded to see what he was referring to:

Brothers, Mark Cahill's lack of understanding Calvinism is not unbiblical. His lack of love toward brethren is (Source). 

In the midst of welcoming my new son last week (healthy at 8lb 12oz! by the way :) ), I clearly missed a post from Ken Silva that shed light on the controversy. But before I share that, I'd like to take a brief moment to say that Mark Cahill has been such a great blessing to me. Since a brother in Christ shared him with me this past spring, I have read both of his books and listened to at least a dozen of his messages. I have also used him as an invaluable resource here on the blog as you can see in the videos to the right and on my Evangelism Page. So what I'm about to share with you is devastating news to me; not that he disagrees with the doctrines of grace (commonly known as "Calvinism"), but that he is vehement in doing so to the point of calling all those who adhere to these doctrines as false teachers and heretics.

The fact is, the Calvinism/Arminianism debate has been going on since the reformation, and actually could be traced back to Augustine and Pelagius. I myself am still studying these doctrines, and though I am finding myself more and more in the reformed camp, I would never consider my brothers and sisters in the middle of the road or unapologetic Arminians (the non-Pelagian kind) to be heretics. Unfortunately, Mark Cahill has gone as far as to place an anathema on the reformers and those adhering to the doctrines of grace, or those leaning toward these doctrines as heading toward the anathema of Galatians 1:9.

I share the following information not to stir up a debate about Calvinism, but to bring this to your attention so you can be in prayer for Mark. I can only wonder if he has been influenced by the heretic Charles G. Finney and modern "evangelists" who espouse his poison such as Jesse Morrell and Kerrigan Skelly of Pinpoint Evangelism, both of whom deny original sin and teach open theism and sinless perfection. Does that sound familiar? This is all rooted in the heresy Pelagianism - that man has a choice not to sin because man was born without sin (read about Rick Warren and this heresy HERE).

I question these men having influence on Mark Cahill because Kerrigan Skelly has an extensive collection of Cahill's videos on youtube, and in some cases (if not all), has "specific permission" to upload Mark's material such as this video. Further, Mark Cahill's comments as you will see in the articles below reek with Pelagianism in that man can choose God though he is dead in his sins. For example, Mark says,

We have the ability and responsibility to choose God or not to choose God. (Source)

But again, it's not that Mark has a misunderstanding of the grace of God and His sovereign work in salvation (if indeed he has not gone so far the way of Pelagian as Morrell and Skelly - this has yet to be determined). The issue for now is the manner in which Mark disagrees with these doctrines and his unbiblical attacks against the brethren. So with that, please allow me to share some things with you.

The first article I read was from Ken Silva of Apprising Ministries, where he offers the following in his post titled "The 'Different God' of Calvinists and Mark Cahill Announcement":

"Pastor Randall Easter, whom I am pleased to call my friend, sent me the link to Mark Cahill Announcement and John Speed is a member of his church:

The Lost Cause Ministries has long considered Mark Cahill to be a brother-in-arms in evangelism. We have linked to his ministry on our website, recommended and given away his books, recommended his ministry in “Evangelism in the New Testament” and had him as the speaker for our first Texas Revival Series meeting. His zeal and love for the Lord has been an encouragement to us. He has blessed our ministry with his books and teachings on evangelism.
However, it came to our attention this past week that Mark believes some pretty radical things about those who hold to Reformed Theology. Mark does not believe in the doctrines of grace. That, in itself, does not have to be an issue as far as we are concerned, although we do steadfastly believe in these doctrines. We have never regarded adherence to these doctrines as a test of fellowship if: 1) we can focus on the gospel when we are on the streets and 2) those who differ from us have not slipped into some outright heresy (denial of original sin, openness of God theology, etc.), in which case we would have to break fellowship. (Online source)

"I agree completely, because this is a good statement regarding proper Christian fellowship despite our disagreements. While I don’t self-identify as a Calvinist, largely because I don’t have time to study everything that term entails, I do hold to the doctrines of grace consistent with e.g. Phil Johnson or Dr. Jame White. That said, there are many I work closely with in the ministry field of online apologetics and discernment who do not.

"Since we all agree on the Gospel of repentance and forgiveness of sins in Jesus’ Name; salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in the finished work on the Cross of Christ alone, we have common ground. As the late, great apologist Dr. Walter Martin would say, upon exactly how one ends up regenerated, we can “agree to disagree agreeably.” However, there has been a growing anti-Calvinist—actually aimed at the doctrines of grace—backlash, which in my opinion is a result of years of relentless propaganda from EC circles.

"For these reasins I think it was important to draw your attention to this developing story because allegedly Mark Cahill:

asserts that we “worship another god” and “another jesus”, we take exception. We do not make this charge of him because of his doctrines, and yet he makes them of us.

In fact, Mark has been covertly questioning ministries that he once had close ties with regarding Reformed theology and if they either have “Calvinists” on staff or hold to these doctrines, he has been breaking fellowship with them."

Ken is referring to the following open letter from Lost Cause Ministries concerning Mark Cahill and calling him to repentance: Mark Cahill Announcement. I encourage you to read the whole letter, and it concludes with the following admonishment to Mark:

Your actions and words are not the actions and words of a man who loves his brother. Your refusal to offer correction to what you presume to be lost men does not exhibit the love you claim for the lost, much less brothers. We must conclude that your hatred for the truths of the doctrines of grace have blinded you to the love you should have for the brethren. We hope and pray that you will repent.

The above letter went out October 1st, and at some point Mark Cahill responded with the following 9-page rebuttal (I am unclear if this was written before or after the Lost Cause Ministries' open letter): Calvinism and the Bible. In reference to the reformers and those in the reformed camp, Mark makes the following statement:

There are fables being taught and false prophets everywhere in our world. Are you sure you haven’t been captured by one of them?

This followed shortly after his quoting Charles Spurgeon, of whom Mark quotes at the beginning of every chapter in his book, One Thing You Can't Do in Heaven:

And what is the heresy of Arminianism but the addition of something to the work of the Redeemer? Every heresy, if brought to the touchstone, will discover itself here. I have my own private opinion that there is no such thing as preaching Christ and Him crucified, unless we preach what nowadays is called Calvinism. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else.

To which Mark immediately replied,

This is one of the saddest statements I have ever heard. Calvinism is not the gospel or the good news. 1 Corinthians 15:3-6 tells us what that good news is!!

Now again, this issue is not about the merits of Calvinism per se. However, it is about Mark's unbiblical reaction to it and marking its adherents as rank heretics:

But now truthfully, it is time for you to choose. Choose which side that you are on. Don’t sit on the fence any longer. It’s time to make a stand. If you believe Calvinism is unbiblical, stand strongly against it. The character of God is at stake here. I have made my choice.

Mark goes on to quote Galatians 1:6-9,

I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.

And following shortly after that, Mark states while calling for the 2 Corinthians 13:5 examination:

If you believe in the god and jesus of Calvinism, you are either in Galatians 1 territory, or you are heading straight toward it.

This is so unfortunate. Either Mark Cahill is in grave ignorance of the doctrines of grace, or he has fallen for the deception of Pelagianism. In either case, he is handling this very unbiblically and my heart breaks for him.

Shane Dodson over at Sword of the Spirit posted an important article yesterday refuting Mark Cahill's comments and his disingenuous quotation of Dr. R.C. Sproul. I hope you take the time to read it so to further understand where Mark has gone wrong: Mark Cahill's Calvinism Critique Weighed and Found Wanting (Part 1).

We all need to be in prayer about this. Mark Cahill has done so much for the Kingdom of God and has blessed many, many people - including myself. It is never pleasant to see a brother trapped in sin, and it is even more disheartening if a brother refuses to heed the call to repentance. It is one thing to debate the issue of Calvinism and Arminianism, it is quite another to call your brothers in Christ damned heretics, including the Reformers used by God to destroy the religious bondage that Rome had on the church.

If you feel led to contact Mark Cahill about this, letting him know you are praying for him and urging him to reconsider his position and repent from his false accusations of the brethren, then you can contact him through his website at Mark Cahill.

'Lordship Salvation' - It Will Cost You Everything

By Justin Edwards

Having now twice-listened to Dr. Steve Lawson's It Will Cost You Everything in full, I must say this is undoubtedly the most important message one might ever hear. Some of you have seen the epic-like video excerpt of Dr. Lawson's message put together by I'll Be Honest (HERE), and if you have yet to listen to the complete message from the 2007 Resolved Conference, then you must do so when you get the chance. No doubt this is one you will want to share with as many people as possible.

Why is this message so important? Dr. Lawson presents the Lordship of Jesus Christ and the call to supreme devotion to Him like I have never heard before. He powerfully declares the cost in following Christ by resounding the words of the King Himself - and contrary to what the modern message teaches, discipleship will cost us everything.

This article will serve as an introduction of sorts as I cannot possibly address every issue revolving around this doctrine. Lord willing, future posts will cover this topic in more detail and I hope this write-up will be a point from which we can discuss this issue with the common goal to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ.

I share this message and write this blog with a humble heart and knowing what it might cost me. What has now become known as "lordship" salvation (thus coined by opponents) has become an extremely controversial and divisive doctrine over the last few decades. Many of you reading this will have never heard of the Lordship of Christ, much less the phrase "lordship salvation". I myself was not familiar with it just over a year ago, although my studies and understanding of salvation at the time indeed showed acknowledging and subjecting one's self to the Lordship of Christ was an essential element of saving faith.

So why is this so controversial? Why is it that brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ are at such odds with this doctrine? I wholeheartedly believe my brothers and sisters who disagree with me and this doctrine do so because there is a misunderstanding of what "lordship" salvation means. I have seen "lordship" salvation and those who teach it be accused of teaching works-based salvation or they might suggest it borders works-righteousness. I have seen some accuse the adherents to this doctrine to teach one must be completely repentant or change their lifestyle or behavior before they can come to the cross and be saved. And most unfortunate, I have seen "lordship" salvation be declared heresy and those who teach it declared to be heretics.

To suggest the latter is to condemn these teachers and place an anathema  (a curse of damnation) on them (Galatians 1:8-9). Some of these accusers of heresy are within the Body of Christ, so what can we conclude from these accusations? To be frank, there is a grave ignorance of what this doctrine teaches, and most importantly, what Scripture clearly teaches to be the call to salvation. Yet others who cry heresy are not part of the Body of Christ, and by placing an anathema on this Gospel, they place an anathema on themselves by rejecting the Gospel according to the Lord Jesus Christ and by preaching a gospel that is powerless to save.

Obviously, I am not able to discuss this topic at great length in a single blog piece, but I hope to explain a few things and encourage you to search your hearts and the additional resources I will provide so that you can judge these things for yourselves. It is important to go directly to the source to see if what is being taught is Scriptural instead of relying on others who may still be confused and perhaps ignorant of the issue. One thing is certain: "lordship" salvation is not a new doctrine. It has been around since the Lord Jesus Christ set His terms of salvation and has been carried through as church orthodoxy since then (excluding the centuries leading up to and including the Dark Ages). The only reason why it is controversial now is because the modern message has polluted and diluted the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Fundamentally (to the fault of misunderstanding or ignorance), to reject "lordship" salvation is to reject the teachings of the greatest theologians and preachers of church history, notably since the Reformation. If you believe in the Gospel as taught by Martin Luther, John Calvin, the Puritans, Jonathan Edwards, Matthew Henry, George Whitefield, John Bunyan, Charles Spurgeon, J.C. Ryle, B.B. Warfield, R.A. Torrey, W.H. Griffith Thomas, Leonard Ravenhill, A.W. Pink, and A.W. Tozer, then you believe in the Gospel according to the doctrine of lordship salvation. If you are a born again believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, even if you did not understand the full implications of His lordship or have never heard the term before, you submitted to His Lordship on the day of your salvation. It is impossible to be justified by God without submitting to His authority over your life. You cannot accept Him as Savior but reject Him as Lord. This idea is absurd really, and is the result of the modern message plaguing the church in the last century.

What is known as "lordship" salvation is either the Gospel or it is not. It is either a work of God or a work of man. If it is a work of man, then salvation requires works. If lordship salvation teaches works-based salvation or if it is works-centered, and indeed it does not and is not, then it is heresy. If it is heresy, then those who teach it are heretics. If they be heretics, then the godly men above are heretics, so too are John MacArthur, Paul Washer, Al Mohler, John Piper, Phil Johnson, Alistair Begg, James MacDonald, Ray Comfort, Steve Lawson, Kirk Cameron, David Platt, Justin Peters, Todd Friel, Jack Chick, Mike Ratliff, Ken Silva, and James White. Now, I ask you: what do you truly believe? If you are to be consistent in your accusations against what is known as "lordship" salvation, then you must also be willing to declare all of these men heretics. Are you willing to do that? If you are not, then I urge you to study this doctrine closely, lest you continue to declare biblical truth heresy, even if out of ignorance. 

What else can explain the potential millions of church goers who have not been born again? These Christians-in-name-only continue to live a lifestyle of habitual sin or depend on their own righteousness to be justified. These false converts have a false assurance of salvation simply because they rely on a one-time response to an altar call, said a prayer once to "ask Jesus into their hearts", they might go to Bible study, they may have filled out a "decision for Christ" card, or they think by doing stuff they are making God happy. But they have never come into right relationship with Christ by submitting to His authority to rule and reign in their lives. No doubt God can and will save people despite the message they responded to, but the danger of the repentant-less message of "cheap grace" or "easy-believism" is that it gives people a false security in salvation. It leads people to believe they are saved when they are desperately lost. And oftentimes, as illustrated in Jesus' Parable of the Sower, many fall away from faith because their "decision" to be saved was based on an emotional high or a desire to be saved from their troubles or for their felt-needs to be met. This rash decision led to a shallow root, and the only explanation for why these fall away or that they never go on to bear fruit or be sanctified is that they never counted the cost and they never submitted their lives to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

Let it be clear - salvation comes by the grace of God alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. No amount of gold, no amount of good works, no amount of anything can earn your way to heaven. We are justified by faith alone, and it is only by the righteousness of Jesus Christ that we gain access to the Father in heaven. Moreover, salvation is a sovereign work of God, and because it is His work in Christ through the regenerated, surrendering to the Lordship of Christ is no more a work of the believer than is faith and repentance. The Holy Spirit will bring about repentance, sanctification, and submission to the Lordship of Christ in all who truly have faith in Jesus.

Coming under the Lordship of Christ is merely responding to the call of Jesus to be His disciple. Subjecting yourself to the Lordship of Christ is coming to saving faith. It is committing your life to Him. It is surrendering your life to God. It is being born again. The Bible makes no distinction between being a believer and a disciple - they are one in the same. Contrary to popular and modern teaching, one does not become a believer then at some point down the road become a disciple of Christ. Discipleship is not a call to some higher level of Christianity. It is Christianity and it is based on the work of Christ and our following Him. When one is born again, they become a follower, or a disciple, of the Lord Jesus Christ.

We see the call to discipleship (the call to salvation) most emphatically by Jesus Christ Himself in Luke 14:25-35. In verse 33, we see that following Christ will cost us everything,

So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.

What is He saying? You might ask, "I thought salvation was a free gift from God"? It is, most certainly! Jesus Christ humbly submitted Himself to the will of the Father and went to the cross. There, God transferred our sins to the innocent Lamb of God and God crushed His own Son under His wrath. Jesus Christ atoned for our sin through His shed blood on the cross, and God showed the world He accepted this as payment in full by raising Him from the dead three days later. There is nothing more we can contribute. It is finished. He has already paid the price for you. It is free.

But it will cost you everything. How can something be free yet be so costly? It's simple - while Christ has already made the payment for your soul, the only way you can receive this gift is to totally commit your life to Jesus Christ. Does that mean no one can be saved unless they consciously count the cost to follow Christ at the time of conversion? Here is John MacArthur on the matter:

A person might be truly born again without explicitly considering the cost of following Christ, but no one can be saved who counts the cost and is unwilling to pay it. Again, I am certain that no one understands the full implications of Christ's lordship at the moment of conversion; in fact, none of us ever reaches full knowledge of such spiritual realities in this life. But the work of the Holy Spirit in the heart of a true believer prompts some degree of surrender to Christ's authority even at the inception of the new birth (Source).

Going back to Luke 14:26, this is what Jesus says,

If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.

Jesus is not saying you must hate anyone, but compared to your love for Him, it would seem like you hate them, even your own life. Christ says it in another way in Matthew 10:37,

He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.

Of course, you cannot love someone you do not know, so by submitting your life to Christ, you are vowing to follow after Him to know Him, to love Him, and to live for Him. In Luke 14:27, Jesus says,

And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.

The cross is a symbol of death. By carrying your cross, you are proceeding with the death march to execution. Jesus says in Luke 9:24,

For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.

The Apostle Paul tells us in Romans 6:7

For he who has died has been freed from sin.

We must die before we can live. Unless we are crucified with Christ, we cannot walk in newness of life. There can be no resurrection unless there has been crucifixion of the old life. Jesus will not begin in you until you end. You must be broken in your sins (2 Corinthians 7:10), and you must submit to Him as Lord of your life (Romans 10:9-10), for He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords, and He demands your allegiance. By acknowledging that He is Lord, you are fundamentally professing and trusting that He is God and He alone has the power to forgive your sins and save you from eternal destruction. Nothing short of the Sovereign Lord can do this.

You must go through the Narrow Gate (Matthew 7:13-14). Only few enter through this gate because only few are willing to lay their lives down for the Lord Jesus Christ. Only few are willing to forsake everything for Christ. Only few are willing to submit to the rightful rule of the Lord over their lives. Only few desire to pursue God, to be conformed to His image, to be transformed, to obey Him, and to become holy as He is holy. And Jesus knew how easy it was to just be a part of the crowd, so much so that He raised the bar by demanding total commitment. He did not manipulate decisions or induce the crowd. He did not sugar coat His message or soften the requirement. He asked for nothing less than complete surrender.

As Dr. Lawson says, these terms of salvation are nonnegotiable, absolute, fixed and set, and unalterable, and they are the same for all of us. He calls for radical submission and surrender or we cannot be His disciple. Christ must be worth more to us than anything else. We must consider Him more valuable than everything else as we see in Matthew 13:44-45. We must surrender our will, and we will continue to surrender our will for the rest of our lives. He is asking for supreme devotion. We cannot serve Christ and ourselves. He calls for absolute allegiance to Himself, even though we will never hit that mark perfectly nor might we understand the full implications of this surrender on the day of salvation.

The One who died on the cross and offers you life has made the conditions of surrender. We do not get to choose how we come to God for salvation. We must not let the myth of the modern message cloud what Christ has demanded. We must come to the understanding that God will not justify those He will not sanctify. He always finishes the work He started (Philippians 1:6), and it starts when, by the grace of God, we submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. As we too often see, those who make easy decisions for Christ, without having counted the cost of being a disciple, are not able to finish and go all the way. God does not finish the work because He never began in that person's life. And it is because they refused to humble themselves, confess their sinfulness, and trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

This salvation will cost you everything. It will cost you popularity and maybe even promotion. It will cost you an easy life and you will have to discipline yourself. You will have to say no temptation, no to the world, and break from the crowd - even if no one else follows. You will have to be willing to suffer persecution, and it may even cost your life. And here is the bottom line as Dr. Lawson puts it,

You must transfer ownership of all that you are and all that you have to all that He is...your life is no longer your life, it is His life. Your time is no longer your time, it is now His time. Your possessions are no longer your possessions, they are His possessions. Your future is no longer your future, it is His future. Your treasure is no longer your treasure, it is His treasure. And you have transferred all that you are and all that you have to all that He is. That's what it means to meet His terms of peace.

It is the end of yourself. And when it becomes the end of you, God will give you rest, free from the bondage of sin and from the bondage of the world:

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. - Matthew 11:28-30

You may not have understood all of this when you were born again. But do you see a progression in your life since you made a profession of faith? Have you seen the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit in your life? Do you now have the desire to obey Him and follow in His steps? Have you examined yourself as instructed by the Apostle Paul (2 Corinthians 13:5)? Many of us can affirm these truths in ourselves and are thus submitted to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. But others, who fail to see a change in themselves after they made a profession of faith, at the least cannot claim assurance, and at worst, cannot truly claim salvation.

If that is you, do ever wonder why you profess to be a Christian but have no genuine and intimate relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ? Do you wonder why you don't like to fellowship with other believers? Do you wonder why you don't have a burning desire to know and love God more by studying His Word? Do you wonder why your prayer life is basically non-existent? Do you wonder why you have nothing to show for your faith? Do you wonder why you have no desire or make any effort to share your faith? Do you wonder why you are just like your unbelieving friends? Do you wonder why you love the things of the world, but have no evident love for Jesus Christ other than you saying so? Do you wonder why your life is continuously marked by a habitual lifestyle of sin? You must examine yourself, and I ask you to please do so by listening to the most important message you will ever hear: It Will Cost You Everything.

Because this blog piece attempted to address two issues, opponents of lordship salvation and a call to examination, I was unable to speak at length on either issue. No matter where you are, including those who wish to further subject themselves to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, please take the time to listen.

To my brothers and sisters who are in disagreement with this doctrine, I hope and pray this has opened up the door for discussion and we can work this out together. I pray that God will be glorified in our search for the truth and coming to a biblical understanding of salvation. It is imperative that we have the Gospel right. Should I be in error in anything I have shared or presented, I pray the Lord reveals this to me.

If you would like to learn more about this doctrine and how it is presented in Scripture, I challenge you to read John MacArthur's The Gospel According to Jesus You may also find the following to be beneficial in understanding what this doctrine actually teaches:

The Lordship Controversy (stream or download mp3).

Common Questions about Lordship, Part 1

Common Questions about Lordship, Part 2

Lordship Salvation

A 15-Year Retrospective of the Lordship Controversy

Other Resources on Lordship Salvation from Grace to You

Lordship Salvation (short video from James White)

I ask anyone who opposes Lordship Salvation to take a look into these resources, especially Dr. Lawson's message and MacArthur's book. I would love to continue this discussion as necessary with the goal to edify one another and bring glory and honor to our Lord Jesus Christ. Until then, I leave you with this from A.W. Pink in 1937 on the failure of modern evangelism:

The terms of Christ's salvation are erroneously stated by the present day evangelists. With very rare exceptions, he tells his hearers that salvation is by grace and is received as a free gift. That Christ has done everything for the sinner and nothing remains but for him to believe, to trust in the infinite merits of his blood. And so widely does this conception now prevail in orthodox circles, so frequently has it been denned in their ears, so deeply has it taken root in their minds that for one to now challenge and denounce it as being so inadequate and one-sided as to be deceptive and erroneous, is for him to constantly court the stigma of being a heretic and to be charged with dishonoring the finished work of Christ by inculcating salvation by works...

Salvation is by grace, by grace alone. Nevertheless, divine grace is not exercised at the expense of holiness. It never compromises with sin. It is also true that salvation is a free gift, but an empty hand must receive it and not a hand which still tightly grasps the world. Something more than believing is necessary to salvation. A heart that is steeled in rebellion against God cannot savingly believe. It must first be broken. Only those who are spiritually blind would declare that Christ will save any who despises authority and refuse his yoke. Those preachers who tell sinners that they may be saved without forsaking their idols, without repenting, without surrendering to the lordship of Christ are as erroneous and dangerous as others who insist that salvation is by works and that heaven must be earned by our own efforts (Source).

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