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Lordship Salvation, A Biblical Evaluation and Response

Both sides of the Lordship debate believe Jesus is the Lord God of all.The conflict of opinion comes in how this applies to salvation, or more specifically, what must be the response of an unsaved person to the fact that Jesus is Lord.

After clarifying the issue surrounding Christ's lordship, this chapter will consider the Lordship Salvation position first lexically, then biblically. A response will be offered that evaluates the biblical evidence.

The Issue

The issue at the core of this controversy is not the deity of Christ, but the implications of His divine sovereignty in the application of salvation. Does the title and position of Jesus as Lord carry with it the demand for the unsaved person to submit his or her life to that authority in order to obtain salvation?The Lordship position argues that it does.

There are many examples of explicit Lordship statements to this effect.For example:

The Lord will not save those whom He cannot command. He will not divide His offices. You cannot believe on a half-Christ. We take Him for what He is...the anointed Saviour and Lord who is King of kings and Lord of lords! 1  

He is Lord, and those who refuse Him as Lord cannot use Him as Savior.Everyone who receives Him must surrender to His authority, for to say we receive Christ when in fact we reject His right to reign over us is utter absurdity. 2  

But we must also insist that any attempt to divorce Christ as Savior from Christ as Lord also perverts the gospel, for anyone who believes in a Savior who is not the Lord is not believing in the true Christ and is not regenerate. 3  

The astonishing idea is current in some circles today that we can enjoy the benefits of Christ's salvation without accepting the challenge of His sovereign lordship.Such an unbalanced notion is not to be found in the New Testament. 4  

Support for these assertions typically begins with a lexical study on the term "Lord."It is argued that this title implies not only deity, but also authority and rulership. The biblical arguments used by Lordship also attempt to show that the offices of Lord and Savior are so connected that the unsaved person must acknowledge both in a submissive faith.In this way the issue of Christ's Lordship is related to the Lordship Salvation understanding of faith and repentance. 5   Furthermore, it is argued that the proclamation of the gospel demands surrender to Christ as Ruler of one's life and outward confession of Christ as Master.These arguments will now be presented and evaluated.

An Evaluation of the Lexical Arguments

There is one major thrust to the lexical argument of the Lordship position. It is argued that the term for Lord, "kurios," denotes "ruler." From this Lordship adherents argue that submission to Christ as Ruler is essential to the gospel.

The argument begins with the recognition that Jesus Christ is called kurios 747 times in the New Testament (KJV), thus "there must be some special significance behind the employment of this particular term." 6   Lordship advocates believe this does not simply refer to Christ's deity, but to His sovereign authority and rulership. 6   They support this conclusion with a study of the term kurios in pre-New Testament usage and New Testament usage.

Pre-New Testament Usage

The LXX translates Yahweh (YHWH) with kurios 6156 times, 8   which is about 90% of the time.Miller asserts, "The special significance of the name YHWH that is crucial for Lordship supporters is the authority bound up in that name." 9   He relies on Bietenhard's understanding of kurios as a translation of Yahweh which emphasizes creatorship, lordship, covenant relation to Israel, and legal authority to control the world. 10   Likewise, the LXX translates AAD{n, which became the title substituted for the sacred name Yahweh, with kurios exclusively. The idea of rulership and control is argued from this translation as well. 11   Some rare occurrences of kurios in Classical Greek are also claimed to denote ownership, thus authority. 12  

Lawrence, however, argues that Yahweh denotes not God's rulership so much as His redemptive faithfulness.He writes,

God made a special revelation of His name at the time of the exodus which showed Him to be the Eternal Creator acting in a redemptive manner to deliver Israel from Egypt.This act became basic to God's revelation of Himself and of His name, Yahweh, with the result that whenever the name was seen or heard, it reminded Israel of God's redemptive deliverance. 13  

Lawrence agrees that the idea of rulership is also present, but in this way:

On the basis of His redemptive grace, God made certain sovereign demands (Exodus 20) and this is typical of the way God has chosen to act. First, He exercises His grace toward undeserving man, and then, on the basis of this blessing, He requires submission in order that this grace may be fully enjoyed.The New Testament follows this pattern. 14  

It seems restrictive to say that kurios before the New Testament was used exclusively to mean rulership. Its association with Yahweh involved the idea of deity and much of what was implied with that, i.e., creatorship, redemption, ownership, and rulership.

New Testament Usage

In the New Testament, it is agreed by Lordship supporters that kurios was used in a number of ways that denoted less than deity or sovereign rulership. 15   It was used to designate "owner" (Matt 12:9; 15:27; Luke 19:33; Acts 16:16, 19) and "master" as owner of slaves (Col 3:22).Jesus was called kurios 747 times, sometimes merely as a polite title of respect (John 4:11ff.; 5:7; 6:4; 9:36; 16   13:6), but also as a reference to His deity and rulership (John 20:28). Certainly, the context must determine the meaning of the term. 17   However, the conclusion of some Lordship proponents is that the overwhelming meaning of kurios is rulership:

The ascription of kurios as a divine appellation is properly understood only on the basis of this supreme rulership. Therefore, when either God the Father or God the Son is called kurios, it must be in recognition of the fact of sovereign rulership. 18  

The meaning of kurios in the New Testament cannot be dissociated from the influence of the LXX and its signification of Yahweh, the divine name.Turner's conclusion that "In Biblical Greek, . . . kurios is a divine title, the LXX rendering of JHWH (God's holy Name) and of adonai, (my Lord)" 19   is reinforced by Machen who says,

Thus when the Christian missionaries used the word "Lord" of Jesus, their hearers knew at once what they meant. n They knew at once that Jesus occupied a place which is occupied only by God...

...An important fact has been established more and more firmly by modern research...the fact that the Greek word "kyrios" in the first century of our era was, wherever the Greek language extended, distinctively a designation of divinity.The common use of the word indeed persisted; the word still expressed the relation which a master sustained toward his slaves.But the word had come to be a characteristically religious term, and it is in a religious sense, especially as fixed by the Septuagint, that it appears in the New Testament. 20  

Speaking of the influence of the LXX on the Apostle Paul, Warfield claims, "the title 'Lord' becomes in Paul's hands almost a proper name, the specific designation for Jesus conceived as a divine person in distinction from God the Father." 21   He also writes,

We should never lose from sight the outstanding fact that to men familiar with the LXX and the usage of "Lord" as the personal name of Deity there illustrated, the term "Lord" was charged with associations of deity, so that a habit of speaking of Jesus as the "Lord"...was apt to carry with it implications of deity. 22  

Even Boice, an ardent teacher of Lordship Salvation, agrees: the Greek version of the Old Testament, which was well known to the Jewish community in the first century and from which most of the New Testament writers quoted when citing Scripture, the word kyrios ("Lord") is used to translate the Hebrew word "Jehovah" and "Yahweh." This is why most of our English Bibles do not have the name Jehovah but use Lord instead. The disciples of Christ knew that this title was repeatedly used for God.But knowing this, they did not hesitate to transfer the title to Jesus, an act tantamount to saying that Jesus is Jehovah. 23  

Before and during the New Testament era kurios denoted deity before anything else. Of course, deity includes many things, including that God is Ruler, but also that He is Creator, Redeemer, Judge, etc. In light of the etymology of kurios it is questionable whether the issue can be settled on its objective meaning alone.The real issue is not the implications of the title kurios for the position of Jesus, but the implications, if any, in regards to the conditions of salvation.For this, a number of key Bible passages must be studied.

An Evaluation of Key Bible Passages

The significance for the title kurios in relation to salvation demands a study of key Bible passages in light of their contexts. Lordship proponents use a number of passages which link the term kurios to salvation in some way. First, this study will examine how the title kurios is used in relation to the position of Jesus as Lord.Second, the use of kurios in evangelistic proclamation will be studied to see if submission to Christ's rulership was a condition of salvation. Third, the confession of Jesus as Lord in relation to salvation will be considered.

The Position of Jesus as Lord

As cited above, it is argued by the Lordship Salvation position that Christ's rulership cannot be separated from Christ's saviorhood in the understanding of the unsaved person who desires salvation.Several passages which speak of Jesus as Lord and Savior are used to support this. The chief passages are Luke 2:11; Philippians 2:5-11; and 2 Peter 1:11 and 3:18.

Before considering the passages, it must be noted that the Free Grace position recognizes that Jesus is Savior because He is the Lord God. Ryrie states, other kind of savior can save except a God-Man. Deity and humanity must be combined in order to provide a satisfactory salvation...He must be God in order that that death be effective for an infinite number of persons. 24  

Christ's deity and sovereign rulership make His work of redemption provisional for all people, because His eternal nature, His sovereign power, and His authority invest it with eternal significance.

However, Lordship proponents press the significance of the deity and rulership of Christ not only in the work of redemption, but in the application of redemption.The coupling of Jesus' titles in passages such as these to be considered is used to argue that

...there was no disjunction between the Christian's relationship to Jesus as Lord and his relationship to Jesus as Saviour. 2 Peter 1:11 and 3:18 speak of 'our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ'...Peter apparently regards all Christians as sustaining this dual relationship to Jesus, and expects nothing less than instant recognition of this designation and whole-hearted assent to its content. 25  

Likewise, MacArthur says,

...Jesus is both Savior and Lord (Luke 2:11), and no true believer would ever dispute that."Savior" and "Lord" are separate offices, but we must be careful not to partition them in such a way that we end up with a divided Christ (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:13). Nevertheless, loud voices from the dispensationalist camp are putting forth the teaching that it is possible to reject Christ as Lord and yet receive Him as Savior. 26  

While it is agreed that the objective position of Jesus as Lord, Ruler, and God is essential to His work as Savior, it must be found whether the verses used by Lordship Salvation advocates address the personal application of redemption.

Luke 2:11

Luke records the announcement of the angels to the shepherds at Christ's birth with the declaration that "there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord" (Luke 2:11). Rather than Lordship, Luke appears to emphasize that the significance of Jesus' birth to these shepherds is that a Savior is born. After that is declared, the relative clause (hos este…) identifies Him as "Christ the Lord," the unique prophetic identity and position of this Savior as God. 27   Arndt writes, "In adding 'the Lord' to the title 'Christ,' 'the Anointed,' the angel announces the astounding fact that the Rescuer is God." 28   Warfield explains the use of kurios here:

But what can the term "Lord" add as a climax to "Christ"?In "Christ" itself, the Anointed King, there is already expressed the height of sovereignty and authority as the delegate of Jehovah.The appearance is very strong that the adjunction of "Lord" is intended to convey the intelligence that the "Christ" now born is a divine Christ. 29  

It would seem that the chief interest to men like the shepherds who need salvation is not that Jesus is the divine Ruler, but that He is the divine Savior, the apparent emphasis of the angelic announcement.

Philippians 2:5-11

In this passage, Jesus the Savior (vv 5-8) is exalted as Lord to Whom all creation will bow in the future (vv 9-11).Jesus is surely identified here as Lord and Savior, but only the confession "Jesus is Lord" (v 11) comes from the mouths of all creation, saved and unsaved. 30   This shows that the involuntary, objective, positional rulership of Christ can indeed be distinct from the voluntary, subjective, relational rule of Christ in a person's life.Calvin declares, "Paul is not speaking here of voluntary obedience." 31   Chrisope, whose work argues against Ryrie's understanding of the term "Lord" in relation to salvation, nevertheless admits the objective significance in the Philippians passage:

Since this acclamation will, at least on the part of those beings who are hostile to God, be made dutifully rather than willingly, the verb 'confess' (exomologew) should be understood to indicate an acknowledgement of fact rather than necessarily a confession arising from faith.The confession is, for those hostile beings, the recognition of the undeniable fact of their subjection to Jesus as Lord, and stands in contrast to the humble and adoring submission rendered by believers. 32  

Even MacArthur agrees:"Even those who die in unbelief will be forced to confess the lordship of Christ." 33   Miller cannot be right, therefore, when he says, "In Philippians 2:6-11 the confession of Lordship in view carries with it submission," if he means voluntary submission. 34   This passage clearly demonstrates the contrary: that Christ's position as Lord over all can be confessed in an objective sense apart from a willing personal submission.

2 Peter 1:11 and 3:18

Second Peter 1:11 speaks of "the kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" and 3:18 admonishes the readers to "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." The context and content of both passages give no indication that the subject is eternal salvation.It should be noted that Peter speaks as a Christian of Jesus as Lord in a personal and possessive sense ("our"). 35   In 1:11 the issue is not the condition for initial entrance into the kingdom, but the condition for abundant entrance into the kingdom.By use of the superlative term plousiws epicorhghqhsetai, "will be supplied to you abundantly," the emphasis appears to be the quality of one's entrance. 36   Furthermore, Peter is merely describing the kingdom as possessed by the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, for tou Kuriou and Swthros Ihsou Cristou are genitives of possession.In 3:18 Peter shows explicitly that the issue is Christian growth, or sanctification. Thus these verses are not applicable to the initial salvation experience of the unbeliever.

It appears that Lordship proponents, in their effort to make submission a condition for salvation, have failed to distinguish between the involuntary objective position of Christ as Ruler from the voluntary, subjective, relational submission to Christ as Ruler. Of course Jesus is Lord, and His lordship is essential in securing man's salvation, but voluntary submission to His rulership is not proved to be the issue in these passages.

The Proclamation of Jesus as Lord

A major argument of the Lordship position is that submission to Jesus Christ was demanded in apostolic preaching. Appeal is made to the record of Acts where the term "Lord" is used in evangelistic presentations, and to 2 Corinthians 4:5.Chrisope argues from the observation that "Virtually every evangelistic address found in Acts includes mention of the exaltation and lordship of Jesus." 37   Gentry concludes, "When used of Christ in the frequent Gospel preaching of Acts and the Epistles, kurios most certainly has to do with the acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord to be Savior." 38   This assertion will now be evaluated in light of the major passages usually cited.

Acts 2:36

This verse is quoted frequently to argue that submission to Jesus as Master is a condition of salvation. 39   In his pentecostal sermon, Peter concludes His presentation about the identity of Jesus with the words, "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ." Citing the verse, MacArthur argues, "The Christ Peter preached was not merely a Savior with open arms, but also a Lord who demanded obedience." 40  

It should be noted that there is no demand for obedient conduct or a promise to obey in the passage or context.One must infer this from either the title "Lord" in verse 36, or from the command to repent in verse 38.That repentance cannot be a demand for practical obedience was discussed in the last chapter. 41   Therefore the question is, does the declaration that God has made Jesus both Lord and Christ constitute a demand for obedience?

As already noted, the title "Lord" certainly includes sovereign rulership, but only because it first denotes deity.This is upheld by the context of Peter's entire sermon which begins with the promise that "whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved" (2:21).This quote from Joel 2:32 uses the title "LORD" to translate the Hebrew name for God, Yahweh.Upon quoting this, Peter immediately refers to Jesus as these Israelites had known Him in His humanity. Verse 22 calls Him "Jesus of Nazareth" and "a Man."

Peter then exposits the words of David from Psalm 16:8-11 (vv 25-33) to show that God has raised up and exalted Jesus Who has authority to bestow the benefits of salvation mediated through the Holy Spirit (vv 32-33), and Psalm 110:1 (vv 34-35) to show that Jesus has been installed as Lord at the right hand of God the Father at the present time.The cruciality of the argument from Psalm 110 must not be overlooked:

The conclusion to be drawn from this Psalm must have been felt by the Pharisees themselves, that the Messiah, because the Son of David and Lord at the same time, was of human and at the same time superhuman nature; that it was therefore in accordance with Scripture if this Jesus, who represented Himself to be the predicted Christ, should as such profess to be the Son of God and of divine nature. 42  

The conclusion of verse 36 springs from the theology of these Psalms and thus contrasts the previous understanding of Jesus as a mere man with the truth that He is indeed the Lord God: It is "this Jesus" (i.e., "Jesus of Nazareth," "a Man", v 22) that was crucified, but is now raised and exalted as "Lord and Christ" (the divine Messiah who rules).Ryrie comments:

Now the inescapable conclusion: Jesus is both Lord or God, and Christ or Messiah (verse 36). A Jewish audience had the greatest difficulty acknowledging these two claims for Jesus.To assert that the man Jesus was God and also Israel's Messiah and to ask the people to believe that was an almost insurmountable obstacle. 43  

The conclusion is as Bruce notes, that the title kurios here "represents the Ineffable Name of God." 44   The realization that they crucified the God-Man brought great grief to the Jews (v 37). Finally, it should be noted that Peter calls Him "the Lord our God" denoting the divine position of Jesus (v 39).

Mueller's argument that the quotation of Psalm 110:1 in verses 34-35 "denotes sovereign rulership" 45   could be correct in as much as this is a prerogative of deity. The Psalm certainly speaks of the authority and rule of the Messiah.But several observations must be made.First, it should be noted that God the Father made Jesus Lord over all—believers and unbelievers—regardless of whether that fact is believed or not.Properly speaking, no human can actually "make Jesus Lord" in the sense of bestowing upon Him the position. Second, Psalm 110:1 indicates this rule has a determinative time of realization: "Till I make Your enemies Your footstool."The future fulfillment indicates that the present objective position of Jesus as Lord does not guarantee the subjective submission of His subjects. Finally, Lawrence's comment is insightful:

The sovereignty of a Messiah cannot save. According to the Old Testament, Yahweh saves, and, as Jonah averred, salvation belongs to Yahweh (Jonah 2:9). Unless Jesus was Yahweh, it would do no good to depend on His name for salvation. For this reason, Lord in Acts 2:36 must refer to Jesus' deity. 46  

That Jesus is Lord certainly has moral implications. It is desirable that all people submit to Jesus as Ruler at the point of initial salvation, as well as after salvation. But it cannot be shown from this passage that submission to His rulership is a condition of salvation. 47  

Acts 10:36

The Lordship argument from this passage is much the same as from 2:36. 48   In preaching to Cornelius, Peter speaks of "The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ—He is Lord of all."It is inferred from this that Peter made submission to Christ's rulership a condition of Cornelius' salvation.

Three observations dispute this claim. First, the text does not show explicitly that Peter demands Cornelius' submission, but only that Peter makes an objective statement about the Lord. Rather, his explicit invitation is "whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins" (10:43). 49   Second, Peter's interjection "He is Lord of all" is contextually significant and should not be isolated. The evangelization of Cornelius marks a pivot point in the book of Acts as the gospel now goes from Jews to Gentiles. God's acceptance of Gentiles is a major motif of the narrative.The universal nature of God's salvation is emphasized in the vision (v 15), in Peter's initial explanation to Cornelius (v 28), and in the sermon itself (vv 34-43).In the sermon, Peter explains that God shows no partiality (v 34) but accepts those from every nation (v 35).Then in verse 36 Peter argues that the initial Jewish destination of the gospel ("which God sent to the children of Israel") is, through Jesus Christ, intended for all because "He is Lord of all."Thus the sermon concludes with a universal promise for "whoever believes," whether Jew or Gentile. 50  

The third argument that weakens the Lordship interpretation is one that has already been stated.The acclamation of Jesus as Lord is an acclamation of His sovereign position as God over all and not a demand for individual submission.The objective truth must be distinguished from the subjective requirement.

Acts 16:31

The Apostle Paul's answer to the Philippian jailer's question "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" (16:30) is concise: "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved" (v 31).Lordship teachers insist this condition not only demands faith in Christ as Savior, but also submission to Him as Ruler of one's life.MacArthur claims this passage proves that the lordship of Christ was a part of the gospel to be believed for salvation:

All these passages [Acts 2:21; 2:36; 16:31; Rom 10:9-10] include indisputably the lordship of Christ as part of the gospel to be believed for salvation.We saw that Jesus' lordship includes the ideas of dominion, authority, sovereignty, and the right to govern...[I]t is clear that people who come to Christ for salvation must do so in obedience to Him, that is, with a willingness to surrender to Him as Lord. 51  

Likewise, Stott asks, "Why does Paul tell the Philippian jailer that he must believe in 'the Lord Jesus Christ' to be saved if he must only believe in Him as Savior (16:31, cf. 11:17)?" (emphasis his). 52  

However, the Lordship argument from this verse depends on an unprovable inference.The title "Lord" may denote Christ's authority, but nothing is said of submission as an issue here.Lordship advocates might respond that submission is inherent to the concept of "believe," but it has already been argued that this is untenable. 53  

By pointing the jailer to "the Lord Jesus Christ," Paul is identifying the person who is the object of faith.He is called "Lord" because that is the title which most easily denoted deity to a Gentile.Bruce writes,

When the message of Jesus was carried into the Gentile world, the designation "Messiah" did not have the same relevance as it had for Jews, and Christ (the Greek equivalent of Messiah) came more and more to be used as a personal name and no longer as a title.But its synonyms "Son of God" and "Lord" not only retained but enhanced their relevance...The title "Son of God" bore witness to Jesus' divine being, and so did the title "Lord." 54  

Indeed, verse 34 says that the jailer "rejoiced, having believed in God."Deity naturally denotes ability to save.

This is no mere Jewish man whom the Philippian jailer is being asked to believe in for his eternal well-being.Instead, He is the Lord, with all the power and resources which this illustrious title implies. In the realm of salvation, He can deliver what it takes to meet the sinner's need (emphasis his). 55  

Furthermore, He is called "Jesus" because that was His human name that literally meant "Savior" (Matt 1:21; Acts 13:23). Finally, He is called "Christ" because of His role as the one anointed by God to bring salvation, or possibly, as Bruce suggests, simply as part of His name. 56  

In Lordship reasoning, the jailer would have to comprehend and concede to the implications of not only Jesus' lordship, but the humanity of Jesus as well as Jewish messianic theology in order to be saved.Of the latter concept in this verse, Ryrie asks,

Incidentally, why is it that those who teach that you cannot receive Jesus without receiving His personal mastery over the years of one's life do not also insist that we must receive Him as Messiah (the meaning of Christ) with all that the concept of Messiah entails?That would mean, for starters, that in order to be saved one must believe that Jesus is Israel's promised deliverer, the One who fulfills many Old Testament prophecies, and the One who is the coming King over the earth.Is the acknowledgement of all that Messiah means part of the necessary content of faith for a genuine salvation experience? 57  

Thus what Lordship adherents argue through implication does not encompass all that Christ is in the title "the Lord Jesus Christ."

It should also be apparent that to ask a pagan Gentile soldier to comprehend, much less submit to, the implications of Jesus Christ's Lordship could be considered unreasonable and theologically flawed.Submission of one's life is expected of believers on the basis of an understanding of God's grace (Rom 12:1; Titus 2:11-12).The jailer, as any unbeliever dead in sin, was incapable of making such a mature decision.

2 Corinthians 4:5

This verse is included because it is a description of the apostolic proclamation.Paul wrote to the Corinthians, "For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake."Gentry says of this, "the apostolic church directly affirmed their preaching was in the vein of Lordship preaching." 58  

Whether translated "Christ Jesus the Lord," (KJV, NKJ) or "Christ Jesus as Lord" (NASB, NIV, RSV), the words Criston Ihsoun K?rion may simply refer to Jesus Christ by His divine title. 59   Since neither translation determines the gospel's content or demands, it appears that Lordship proponents argue by implication that rulership is in the gospel's content and demands.

There are other significant nuances to Paul's preaching of Jesus as Lord.First, Paul is simply affirming that, in contrast to the false apostles, he and his cohorts do not advertise themselves, but Jesus Christ.He had said as much to the Corinthians in his first letter to them.There, he said, "we preach Christ crucified" (1 Cor 1:22) and "I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified" (1 Cor 2:2). Thus Paul was intent on keeping the redeeming work of the Lord Jesus Christ as the focus of his preaching and refuting the charges of egotistical motives. 60   Paul declares that when they do speak of themselves, it is as servants.Moreover, to preach "Jesus Christ the Lord" or "Jesus Christ as Lord" is simply another way of saying the apostles preach the gospel. 61  

Second, the emphasis on Christ's lordship in the context forms a contrast with "the god of this age" who keeps men from salvation (4:4) 62   and the inadequacy of the apostles themselves to effect salvation (3:5; 4:6-7). The title "Lord" signifies Christ's deity, and as such, His authority in salvation.Plummer comments, "To 'preach Christ as Lord' is to preach Him as crucified, risen, and glorified, the Lord to whom 'all authority in heaven and earth has been given'." 63   Therefore, it is not a demand for personal submission but a statement of His exalted position and consequent authority to save.

The Lordship argument from Acts and 2 Cor 4:5 does not seem viable. Only implication can make submission to Christ's lordship a condition for salvation.However, such a serious implication cannot be validated exegetically. Harrison's conclusion appears accurate: "A faithful reading of the entire book of Acts fails to reveal a single passage where people are pressed to acknowledge Jesus Christ as their personal Lord in order to be saved." 64  

The Confession of Jesus as Lord

Several passages associate, or appear to associate, confession of Jesus as Lord with salvation.The word translated "confess" (@omologew) means "agree, admit, declare, acknowledge" 65   or literally "to say the same thing" or "to agree in statement." 66   Lordship teachers also understand "confess" in a religious sense as "to make a solemn statement of faith" or "to confess something in faith." 67   Thus it is argued that one is saved by religiously confessing or swearing loyalty to Jesus as the Lord of one's life. As Irvin writes,

To really confess that Jesus is Lord and to call upon Jesus as Lord is to respond with our hearts and lives to one who is all the name "Lord" signifies that He is.To confess that Jesus is Lord is to respond to Him as very God to be trusted, as the supreme Master to be obeyed and as the exalted One to be worshiped (emphasis his). 68  

The chief passage—indeed a key passage for the entire Lordship Salvation debate—is Rom 10:9-10. 69   To some degree, John 20:28 and 1 Cor 12:3 are also used and will therefore be discussed.

Romans 10:9-10

This passage states the condition of salvation:

That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes to righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made to salvation.

Around this passage much controversy has swirled. Both the Free Grace position and the Lordship Salvation position find some areas of agreement, as indicated by Stott:

To confess Jesus as Lord, which in Romans 10:9 is so clearly made a condition of salvation, means more than "subscribing to the gospel announcement that a living Lord attests an efficacious death." It is that.It is also an acknowledgement of the deity of Jesus (emphasis his). 70  

However, Stott also shows that interpretations part company over the issue of Christ's lordship in relation to the one believing. He continues, "But it implies as much that Jesus is 'my Lord' as that He is 'the Lord'" (emphasis his). 71   Enlow states, "To confess Jesus as Lord surely means more than to admit that He is Lord: it means to submit to Him as one's own Lord." 72   Stott also equates confession with public baptism. 73  

The Free Grace position offers two different interpretations to refute the Lordship view.Each will be explained in relation to its interpretation of the meaning of salvation, confession, and "Lord."

Confession for eternal salvation

Those of the Free Grace position who agree that this passage speaks of eternal salvation include Ryrie, Harrison, and Chafer. 74   However, their view differs from Lordship Salvation in that the concept of confession does not include personal or subjective submission.Its meaning here is closer to acknowledgment or agreement that something is true; 75   "It is simply an admission of fact." 76   This definition is supported by Wuest who writes,

The word "confess" is @omologew, made up of homos, "same" and leg_, "to speak," thus "to speak the same thing," thus "to agree with some person with reference to something." To confess the Lord Jesus means therefore to be in agreement with all that Scripture says about Him, which includes all that these two names imply. 77  

Along with this understanding, some propose that the confession is silent to God, as opposed to a public display. 78   Confession to God is seen in 14:11 and 15:9.

More importantly, confession is considered identical to faith, not distinct from it. 79   It is inconceivable that after arguing for the exclusive nature of faith alone for salvation (3:21— 4:25) Paul would suggest another condition.Moreover, faith is prominent in the immediate context (10:4, 6, 11, 14, 17).The unexpected mention of confession is due to the previously quoted passage from Deuteronomy 30:14 which speaks of the word "in your mouth and in your heart" (10:8). The initial @oti in verse 9 shows that the quotation in verse 8 is being explained. 80   Verse 10 then shows support (gar) for the reference of mouth and heart to confession and faith in verse 9. 81   The inverted order (belief—confession) from verse 9 (confession—belief) shows that in Paul's mind faith and confession were identical. 82   The figures of mouth and heart are used to speak of obtaining salvation in verse 9, yet are melded back into one response of faith in verse 11, and again in the idea of calling upon the Lord in verses 12-13. 83   Contrary to the sense often given this passage by those of the Lordship Salvation perspective, the response of the heart and mouth are both used to represent the simplicity of faith as opposed to the strenuous effort required by those who try to establish their own righteousness (cf. v 3). 84  

The main argument of this first Free Grace interpretation of Romans 10:9-10, however, is the significance attached to the content of the confession, "Jesus is Lord." 85   Whereas the Lordship position holds that this indicates one's personal submission to the rulership of Christ, this Free Grace view argues forcefully that it primarily denotes the deity of Christ. "Jesus is Lord," as used by the early church, spoke of Jesus Christ's position, not His work. Harrison notes,

[T]he creedal statement before us pertains to the person of Christ rather than his redeeming work. "Jesus is Lord" was the earliest declaration of faith fashioned by the church (Acts 2:36; 1 Cor 12:3). This great truth was recognized first by God in raising his Son from the act then acknowledged by the church and one day to be acknowledged by all (Phil 2:11). 86  

Ryrie cites the agreement of those not usually amenable to the Free Grace position that deity is the focus of the confession< 87   and notes a similar meaning here as in Acts 2:36:

Jesus the Man had been proved by the resurrection and ascension to be Lord, God, and Christ, the Messiah. They had to put their faith in more than a man; it had to be in One who was also God and the promised Messiah of the Old Testament. 88  

Agreement also comes from Morris who says the phrase "Jesus is Lord" "points to the deity of Christ," 89   and Cranfield who notes, "Paul applies to Christ, without—apparently—the least sense of inappropriateness, the kurios of LXX passages in which it is perfectly clear that the kurios referred to is God Himself (e.g. 10.13; I Th 5.2; 2 Th 2.2). 90   Even Stott agrees that "Lord" here denotes Jesus is God. 91   Further support is found in the quotation of Joel 2:32 in verse 13:"whoever calls upon the name of the LORD shall be saved." The translation "LORD" represents the name of God, Yahweh, used by Joel.A Lordship advocate agrees: "Clearly they called Jesus "Lord" because they saw Him as God come from heaven to bring real salvation." 92  

It should be noted that though Rom 10:9-13 has universal application ("whoever," v 11, 13; "Jew and Greek," "all," v 12), confession of the deity of Christ had special significance to the Jews, who were the primary subjects in view. 93   Jesus' deity was particularly offensive to them, not His mastery (John 5:18; 10:33). To admit His deity was to acknowledge His identity as Messiah, Savior, and King of the Jews.

It seems only by implication that Lordship Salvation teachers find the condition of submission here. 94   As already acknowledged, rulership is implied in Christ's deity, but so are many other functions. Harrison properly notes that the distinction must be maintained between the objective position of Jesus as Lord, and the subjective response to Him as Ruler of one's life:

Paul's statement in vv 9, 10 is misunderstood when it is made to support the claim that one cannot be saved unless he makes Jesus the Lord of his life by a personal commitment.Such a commitment is most important; however, in this passage, Paul is speaking of the objective lordship of Christ, which is the very cornerstone of faith, something without which no one could be saved. Intimately connected as it is with the resurrection, which in turn validated the saving death, it proclaimed something that was true no matter whether or not a single soul believed it and built his life on it.< 95  

Confession for temporal deliverance

A different view of Rom 10:9-10 is held by some contemporary Free Grace supporters led by Hodges. 96   In it, the concept of salvation is key.It is argued that "salvation" in vv 9-10 is not justification (signified by "believes to righteousness" in v 10), but deliverance from the power of sin and its consequence of God's temporal wrath.They apply here the general meaning of swthria/swzw which is often used of temporal deliverance in the Bible. 97   Indeed, in 5:9-10 there seems to be a distinction between positional justification and practical deliverance from wrath in the believer's life.It is "through Him" that those who have been "justified by His blood" can be saved from wrath (5:9), or literally "the wrath" (ths orghs) which includes the wrath being presently poured out on mankind (1:18).The life of Jesus provides the power to deliver from sin and its effects (5:10). 98   This seems to anticipate exactly the theme of chapters 6-8.The power of sin is overcome in the believer's life by the resurrection life of Jesus Christ (6:5, 8, 11, 23; 7:25; 8:2, 10-11).

This idea of present salvation is then applied to Rom 10:9-10. While recognizing that faith brings God's righteousness here, confession brings deliverance, or "salvation" in the sense of God's help from some problem or danger.Confession and belief are thus two separate activities.In verses 12 and 13 calling upon the Lord is the same idea as confession. It is public identification with Him, living by faith in Him, and calling to Him for help or deliverance. 99   This seems to be supported by the reverse progression of v 14.One calls on the Lord after believing in Him. 100  

In conclusion, both interpretations of Rom 10:9-10 are convincing in their argumentation and attempt to be responsible in their handling of the Scriptures. However this writer prefers the first interpretation. 101   Still, both offer an answer to the Lordship interpretation which argues from implication that personal submission is demanded of the unbeliever.If there is any hint of submission, it is seen in Romans 10:3 which states that the Jews "seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God." Thus the issue of submission is related to the question of one's righteousness, not how one's life is lived. 102   When one believes in Jesus as the Lord Who secured and offers salvation, that person is trading personal righteousness for God's, and in this way submits to God's righteousness.

1 Corinthians 12:3

This warning to the Corinthians from Paul is also used by the Lordship Salvation position. 103   Paul says, "Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit."The Lordship argument takes this to mean that only a true Christian will confess that Jesus is ruler of his life.Gentry's argument is two-fold:First, the anarthrous construction Kurion Ihsoun is "qualitative" in the sense "Jesus is realized qualitatively as Lord or Master only by those indwelt by God's Spirit."Second, the pronouncement that Jesus is "accursed" points to those who would not have Jesus as their Master and are therefore unsaved. 104   Mueller also argues from the context that "Verses 4-6 demand that the term Lord connote sovereign direction." 105  

It seems doubtful that this warning is given by the Apostle Paul as a test of salvation.It appears in the context of spiritual gifts, especially tongues, and the problem of their misuse in the congregation.Evidently, the undisciplined and undiscerning fervor of some Christians in the church congregation allowed the influence of other spirits which cursed Jesus in other tongues, a possible carry-over from idol worship (cf. v 2). 106   Paul warns that there are two contrary spiritual sources for this supernatural speech. Only the Holy Spirit can say "Jesus is Lord."Thus the issue is not mastery of one's life as a test of salvation, but the spiritual authenticity of one's worship experience.

Furthermore, if the anarthrous construction does indicate a qualitative meaning, it seems more likely that it would denote the more fundamental quality associated with kurios, i.e. deity. 107   It could be said that "Jesus is Lord" denotes both humanity and deity 108   and all that is included, such as saviorhood and rulership. Indeed, "This brief formula expresses the whole Christian faith of the early Church." 109   Here, it is the recognition that Jesus is God, and Lord, and Savior, and Ruler, and all that He is, in contrast to the false security of false gods and "dumb idols" (v 2). Thus certainly vv 4-6 connote rulership in that Jesus as God is the sovereign ruler who directs His church, but there is no hint of personal submission demanded in this confession.

John 20:28

After seeing the resurrected Christ and being convinced of His reality, Thomas exclaims, "My Lord and my God!" MacArthur argues against the view that Thomas is simply ascribing deity to Jesus: "He was not saying, 'My God and my God'; he was affirming that Jesus is both God and Master." 110  

Again, it must be observed that the passage is not soteriological, for the disciples who were present had already been saved (John 2:11; 13:10; 14:7; 15:3; 16:27; 17:6-16) and had been taught as Christians (John 13-17). Thomas' exclamation only proves that he came to a fuller realization of Jesus' ministry after the resurrection. The personalization "my" may indicate the subjective submission of Thomas to the resurrected Christ as Lord, but this meaning comes through the pronouns "my" not the titles themselves. 111   Warfield recognizes the subjective response of Thomas, but concludes, "the two terms express as strongly as could be expressed the deity of Jesus." 112   "Lord," in particular, is a confession of the uniqueness of the resurrected God. 113   Boice, a Lordship advocate, agrees that kurios here denotes Yahweh. 114   Thus "Lord" denotes both deity and the positional rulership which is included, but in the term itself is no demand for submission.

A Biblical Understanding of Christ's Lordship

Though much has already been offered in response to the Lordship Salvation understanding of Christ's lordship in relation to salvation, more positive arguments can be developed.The arguments concern the issue in salvation, the subjective nature of submission to Christ, the distinction between the objective and subjective aspects of Christ's lordship, and examples of saved biblical characters not surrendered to Christ as Lord.

The Issue in Salvation

The greatest need of the sinner is salvation from the penalty of sin: "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners" (1 Tim 1:15); "We trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe" (1 Tim 4:10). The function of Jesus as Savior offers this and effects this when the sinner trusts Him as such.This in turn makes possible deliverance from the present power of sin through the function of Jesus as Master as the believer learns to submit to Him. 115  

As argued above, Christ's salvation is effectual because of His position as divine Lord.But His function as Ruler does not save anyone in itself. Hypothetically, Jesus can be Ruler and all men could go to eternal hell.

The crucial recognition for a prospective believer is not the lordship of Christ, but the deity of Christ. Lordship is only a subset of deity. God is always a master, but a master is not always God.Christ is the only master anyone can have, who is also God. 116  

The theology of salvation must not be based upon titles. Jesus is Lord, but He is also called Messiah or Christ, the Son of God, the Son of Man, and many other ascriptions. It would be absurd to ask the sinner to recognize and submit to the implications of each of Jesus' titles. 117   For example, Ryrie points out that the name "Jesus" focuses on the Savior's humanity which is important as an example for living, yet not even Lordship preachers focus on His example of life when preaching the gospel. It would be arbitrary to emphasize the role of Jesus' humanity in His saving work but not emphasize His humanity as an example for living. 118   So also, it can be argued about His functions, for not only is He Savior and Lord, He is Creator, Teacher, Judge, Prophet, King, and more.Though each may have implications to the work of redemption, Jesus as Savior is the object of faith that saves. This could be no clearer than in the commission of Luke 24:46-47:"Then He said to them, "Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning in Jerusalem. . ." Here the gospel proclamation is summarized in terms of man's response (repentance) and God's provision (remission of sins), which was accomplished by Christ's saving work.

The record of Acts bears this out, not only presenting Jesus as Lord, but as the Christ who saves.In Acts 8:5, it is said that Philip went to Samaria and "preached Christ to them." 119   This title sufficiently denotes Jesus' saving work as the Messiah.Furthermore, Philip brought the Ethiopian eunuch to faith by explaining the soteriological meaning of Isa 53:7-8 (Acts 8:32-35).Green notes, "Indeed, often enough the gospel is referred to simply as Jesus or Christ: 'He preached Jesus to him'." 120   Likewise, Saul "preached the Christ—that He is the Son of God" (9:20). His concern was to prove to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ (9:22; 17:3; 18:5, 28), which implies they must accept Him as such, not surrender to Him as Ruler of their lives.In what seems quite contrary to Lordship thinking, Paul also preached the gospel saying, "through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins" (13:38; cf. 17:31). 121   In Acts, therefore, the many uses of the title "Lord" are expected because that is who Jesus is and because that was a popular way of respecting His person and position.

Thus rulership is not the issue in salvation; it is the issue in sanctification.Showers states it clearly:

The functions of a "savior" and a "master" are not the same.A savior saves, but a master rules.When it comes to the issue of being saved from the penalty of sin and divine wrath, a person needs Christ's function as Savior, not His function as ruler over all areas of a person's life. 122  

Much is said in the epistles about submission and surrender to the rulership of Jesus, but this was written for Christians. 123   Christians are told to "sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts" (1 Pet 3:15). Therefore, the unsaved receive salvation as a result of believing in Jesus as Savior.

The Subjectivity of Submission

When one's focus is taken off of the person and work of Christ as the object of salvation and placed on the degree of one's own submission, the certainty of attaining salvation falls victim to the subjectivity of human experience. Some Lordship advocates speak of only the willingness to submit, 124   but this brings the same fate.When does one ever know when he has submitted enough, or is willing enough?Thus Stott teaches,

We must surrender absolutely and unconditionally to the lordship of Jesus Christ.We cannot make our own terms.What will this involve? In detail I cannot tell you.In principle, it means a determination to forsake evil and follow Christ (emphasis added). 125  

If Stott cannot tell what must be surrendered in the life of another, one wonders how he can in his own, and how he will know that he has surrendered fully.

The Distinction between the Objective and
Subjective Natures of Lordship

It has been suggested that the weakness of the Lordship argument for submission to Christ as Ruler of one's life is the failure to distinguish the objective position of Jesus as the divine Ruler of all from the individual's personal recognition of that position. One can agree with Stott who says,

[Jesus Christ] can only be our Savior because he is Lord. It is from that position at the Father's right hand that he justifies the believing sinner and bestows the Holy Spirit upon us; because he has the authority to do so (emphasis his). 126  

But it is saying more than can be biblically validated to claim that the use of the title "Lord" in salvation accounts or in reference to the gospel proclamation is therefore a demand for personal submission. Harrison argues,

When a convert proclaimed with his lips, "Jesus is Lord," he was subscribing to the gospel announcement that a living Lord attests an efficacious death (Rom 4:25).This is the objective aspect of Jesus' lordship. 127  

It seems likely that if submission was a requirement of salvation then the examples of apostolic preaching would declare it always and in no uncertain terms.But as has been shown, this is clearly not the case.That there is nothing inherent in the term "Lord" that demands personal submission is obvious from its use in Heb 1:10 where God the Father calls the Son "Lord."

The distinction between Christ's objective lordship and the subjective submission of the believer to that lordship corresponds to the positional relationship of the believer as under a new Master (God) and the more subjective practice of serving God as a slave. This is shown in Romans 6 where verses 1-10 declare the believer's positional union with Christ and his freedom from sin in principle (6:2, 5-7, 11).But this is immediately followed by the imperatives which seek to bring out this truth in experience.Thus Paul says, "do not let sin reign in your mortal body" (6:12) and "so now present yourselves as slaves of righteousness" (6:19). Though no time element is indicated, the logic of the passage demands that submission should begin at the start of the Christian life.Yet the fact that it is commanded implies the possibility that it may not. Therefore Paul must say later to these same Christians, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice" (Rom 12:1). 128  

While it may be conceded that recognition of Jesus as Savior and/or Christ carries an implicit recognition of his deity and sovereign rulership, this is far from making submission to His rulership an explicit condition of the gospel. One might go so far as to argue that placing faith in Jesus as Savior is implicitly a "lordship" decision in that the sinner is recognizing and submitting to Jesus' authority in this issue of personal salvation, an authority that must logically be God's.As Bock correctly argues,

...what one confessed was that Jesus was the Lord in that He was the divine Mediator of salvation with the total capacity and authority to forgive sins and judge men.He is the Lord over salvation to whom men come to find salvation because they have turned away from themselves or their own merit to the ascended Lord.He is the divine Dispenser of salvation. 129  

Nevertheless, it remains that the explicit focus of faith is salvation and the authority to forgive sins (Mark 2:5-12), not the subsequent life of the Christian.Besides, it is difficult to see how a commitment to submit to Jesus as Master could not be seen as a meritorious work that earns salvation. 130  

The Example of Uncommitted Believers

In response to Lordship Salvation, it will not do to simply argue that believers can be guilty of less than full submission. Lordship adherents agree that they can be.However, Lordship Salvation advocates would deny that a person can be less than fully or consciously committed at the time of salvation.

Against this view is the example of the Ephesian believers who burned their magic books up to two years after they had believed (Acts 19:10-19). 131   Ryrie observes,

It might be possible to imagine that the very earliest converts in Ephesus did not realize that Ephesian magic was incompatible with Christianity. But it would be very difficult, if not impossible, to say that someone who was converted twelve or fifteen months after Paul had been ministering and teaching there would not have known that if he became a Christian he should do away with amulets and books of magic.And yet apparently many did become genuine believers in Christ knowing that it was wrong to continue to depend on and be guided by their books of magic. 132  

Other examples have already been considered in relation to their expressions of faith in Christ.The believers in John 2:23-24 were not worthy of Jesus' confidence. It is also obvious that Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea delayed the public confession of their faith (John 19:38-39).Furthermore, Simon the Sorcerer appears to have been saved in spite of his moral flaw of greed and selfish ambition (Acts 8:13ff.). 133   The same seems to be true of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11). There is also little hint that Peter ever fully surrendered his self-will (cf. Acts 10:14).

Need more be said other than "Jesus saves sinners"? He saves sinners from the penalty of sin and in spite of sin.Then as believers they learn to overcome sin and grow in holiness as they submit to Jesus as Master.


Based on the study in this chapter, it is concluded that Lordship Salvation arguments about Christ's lordship do not prove a sinner must submit, or intend to submit, to the mastery of Jesus in order to be saved. Lexically and biblically the evidence appeared lacking.

One can see that there is agreement on a number of things between those who hold to Lordship Salvation and those who take a Free Grace view. Both sides agree that Jesus is God and that because He is God, He is also able to be Savior.Both sides agree that the term kurios denotes deity and that deity denotes rulership.Furthermore, both sides agree that as Lord, Jesus Christ has the position and authority to bestow salvation, and that one who comes to Christ for salvation implicitly submits to that authority in the issue of salvation.The division comes over whether the position and authority of Jesus as Lord demands submission of the sinner to Christ as the Master of the rest of his life as a condition of salvation.

In the lexical study, it was concluded that kurios denotes rulership, but only because it first denotes deity.As deity, kurios also denotes many other functions of Christ. The Lordship argument that insists on rulership as a condition of salvation to the exclusion of the other functions of Christ as God is inconsistent with the biblical data which also call Him Judge, Son of Man, Creator, Savior, Christ, etc.

But the main flaw of the Lordship argument is its insistence that the use of the title "Lord" in salvation passages demands the unbeliever's personal submission of every area of life.The leap from the objective significance of the term to the subjective is insupportable from the passages studied in this chapter.Jesus is Lord whether knees bow or not.

It is concluded that the passages that speak of Jesus as both Lord and Savior do not justify the subjective demand of a personal submission to Christ's lordship.Jesus must be the Lord positionally (as sovereign God) if He is also to be the Savior.Neither does the evangelistic proclamation of Jesus as Lord constitute a demand for the submission of one's life.It may simply refer to His title, or polemically to His deity, or to His sovereign authority to save. Likewise, the confession that Jesus is Lord can be a recognition of His deity and authority to save, but without explicit reason does not demand submission of one's life for salvation.

When a sinner trusts in Jesus as Savior, it can be affirmed that he implicitly submits to the authority of Jesus Christ to forgive sin. Thus it is not denied that the logical and biblical implications of trusting in the divine Savior for salvation should lead one also to submit to Him as divine Master.However, the issue in salvation remains salvation, not mastery.


1  Tozer, Heresy!, 18-19.

2  MacArthur, The Gospel, 210

3  James Montgomery Boice, "The Lord Christ," Tenth 10 (October 1980): 9.

4  Stott, Basic Christianity, 114.

5  MacArthur, The Gospel, 28; Chantry, Gospel, 60; Gentry, "The Great Option," BRR 5:54; ten Pas structures his entire Lordship Salvation argument around the issue of Christ's Lordship (ten Pas, Lordship, 3-18).

6  Gentry, "The Great Option," BRR 5:63.

7  Gentry, "The Great Option," BRR 5:66; Marc Mueller, "Syllabus," 17; Miller, "Christ's Lordship," 59.

8  Gottried Quell, s.v. "kurios," in TDNT 3 (1965): 1058.

9  Miller, "Christ's Lordship," 59.

10  Ibid., 59-60. See Hans Bietenhard, "kurios," in NIDNTT 2 (1976): 512.

11  Gentry, "The Great Option," BRR 5:64.

12  Ibid.

13  William D. Lawrence, "The New Testament Doctrine of the Lordship of Christ" (Th.D. diss., Dallas Theological Seminary, 1968), 43.

14  Ibid., 43.

15  For example, Miller, "Christ's Lordship," 60; Maurice Irvin, "His Name: Lord," AW 112 (September 7, 1977): 3-4. Interestingly, Carson comments, "In Jesus' day it is doubtful whether 'Lord' when used to address him meant more than 'teacher' or 'sir.' But in the postresurrection period, it becomes an appellation of worship and a confession of Jesus' deity" (D. A. Carson, "Matthew," in EBC (8:1-599): 192).

16  In John 9:36 the healed blind man obviously uses "Lord" as a title of respect because He did not yet realize that Jesus was the Son of God. When Jesus discloses that He is the Son of God, the man then says, "Lord, I believe!" and worships Him (v. 38). Contra MacArthur, the man's exclamation proves no necessary element of personal submission. He worships Christ because he now sees Him as God the Son (vv. 35-37). The issue is clearly his belief ("Do you believe?" [v. 35] ), not submission. See MacArthur, The Gospel, 75-76.

17  So Lawrence, "Lordship of Christ," 55.

18  Gentry, "The Great Option," BRR 5:66.

19  Nigel Turner, Christian Words (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1981), 257-58.

20  J. Gresham Machen, The Origin of Paul's Religion (New York: The MacMillan Company, 1921), 308.

21  Benjamin B. Warfield, The Lord of Glory (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1974), 226.

22  Ibid., 95.

23  Boice, "The Lord Christ," Tenth 10:3. Other Lordship teachers agree: See John R. W. Stott, "The Sovereignty of God the Son," in Our Sovereign God, ed. James M. Boice, 17-27 (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1977), 17-18; Irvin, "His Name," AW, 4.

24  Ryrie, Balancing, 175.

25  T. Alan Chrisope, Jesus Is Lord (Hertfordshire, England: Evangelical Press, 1982), 70.

26  MacArthur, The Gospel, 27. MacArthur accuses dispensationalists with an obsession for dividing the Scriptures and feels this is the result. As a dispensationalist, this writer would contend that "dividing" the Scriptures to get at the truth is not in itself wrong, but biblical (2 Tim. 2:15).

27  So Darrell L. Bock, Proclamation from Prophecy and Pattern: Lucan Old Testament Christology, Journal for the Study of the New Testament, supplement series 12 (Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1987), 81; Godet, Luke, 81; Marshall, Luke, 110; Geldenhuys, Luke, 111; FranHois Bovon, Das Evangelium nach Lukas, Evangelisch-Katholischer Kommentar zum Neuen Testament (Zhrich: Benziger Verlag, 1989), 125-26. Boice also recognizes the title "Lord" here to denote Jesus' deity (Boice, "The Lord Christ," Tenth 10:4).

28  William F. Arndt, Luke, Concordia Classical Commentary Series (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1956), 82. William F. Arndt, Luke, Concordia Classical Commentary Series (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1956), 82.

29  Warfield, Lord of Glory, 144.

30  Those who see this as a confession of both saved and unsaved include Ralph P. Martin, The Epistle of Paul to the Philippians, TNTC (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1959), 105; Jac. J. Mhller, The Epistles of Paul to the Philippians and to Philemon, NICNT (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1955), 88; John Calvin, The Epistles of Paul the Apostle to the Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians, transl. T. H. L. Parker, Calvin's Commentaries (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1965), 252.

31  Calvin, Philippians, 252.

32  Chrisope, Jesus Is Lord, 30. Mueller also recognizes that in this passage "Christ's Lordship extends far beyond the realm of just the 'saved,'" yet in the same paragraph he argues that "Lordship in the New Testament, as it applies to Christ, clearly means Sovereign Ruler, Master, etc., evoking the attendant nuances of obedient service and submission" (Marc Mueller, "Syllabus," 19). He either fails to see the flaw in his logic or fails to explain how the unsaved willingly render obedient service and submission.

33  MacArthur, The Gospel, 205.

34  Miller, "Christ's Lordship," 61. Such logic must lead to the implausible conclusion of Barth's that even the evil powers finally submit in voluntary humility and obedience. See Gerhard Barth, Der Brief an die Philipper, Zhricher Bibelkommentar (Zhrich: Theologisher Verlag, 1979), 44.

35  See Rich Wager, "Lordship Salvation: Another Gospel?," Signal (November/December 1986): 12.

36  So Michael Green, The Second Epistle General of Peter and the General Epistle of Jude: An Introduction and Commentary, TNTC (Grand Rapids: InterVarsity Press, 1987), 86; Hodges, Free!, 230-31.

37  Chrisope, Jesus Is Lord, 55.

38  Gentry, "The Great Option," BRR 5:66; See also, Stott, "Yes," Eternity 10:18; ten Pas, Lordship, 6.

39  See MacArthur, The Gospel, 217; Marc Mueller, "Syllabus," 18; Gentry, "The Great Option," BRR 5:67-68; ten Pas, Lordship, 5; Chrisope, Lordship, 33-37; Stott, "Yes," Eternity 10:18.

40  MacArthur, The Gospel, 217.

41  Especially pages 77-79.

42  C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, Psalms, Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1980), 185.

43  Ryrie, Salvation, 95-96.

44  Bruce, The Acts of the Apostles, NINCT, 96. So also, J. C. O'Neill, "The Use of Kyrios in the Book of Acts," Scottish Journal of Theology (SJT) 8 (March 1955): 161; Darrell L. Bock, "Jesus as Lord in Acts and in the Gospel Message," BSac 143 (April-June 1986): 148, and Lucan Christology, 273.

45  Marc Mueller, "Syllabus," 18.

46  Lawrence, "Lordship of Christ," 70-71.

47  Acts 5:31 is sometimes cited by Lordship advocates in much the same way as 2:36 (See MacArthur, The Gospel, 217; Stott, "Yes," Eternity 10:18; Gentry, "The Great Option," BRR 5:68), though the term kurios is not used but _Archg_n, or "Prince". The sovereign rule of the Messiah seems emphasized. However, the same argument applies as with 2:36. The assertion of Christ's position is no proof of a demand for individual submission as a condition for salvation.

48  See MacArthur, The Gospel, 217; Gentry, "The Great Option," BRR 5:68; Stott, "Yes," Eternity 10:18; ten Pas, Lordship, 6.

49  Lordship supporters might counter that Peter meant Cornelius must believe on Him as Lord of one's life. Yet contextually, the nearest acclamation of Christ is the preceding verse (v. 42) which says He was "ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead." To be consistent, Lordship supporters should also demand that one submit to Jesus as Judge, yet this is never heard.

50  Haenchen, Acts, 352; Marshall, The Acts of the Apostles, TNTC (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1982), 191; Jacques Dupont, Nouvelles Itudes sur les Actes des Ap^tres (Paris: Les Iditions du Cerf, 1981), 323-25; Lawrence, "Lordship of Christ," 73.

51  MacArthur, The Gospel, 207. In agreement is Kent, "Review Article," GTJ 10:69.

52  Stott, "Yes," Eternity 10:18; also Gentry, "The Great Option," BRR 5:68; ten Pas, Lordship, 6.

53  See chapter two, especially pp. 44-45.

54  F. F. Bruce, The Message of the New Testament (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1972), 112-13. The fact that Paul and Silas are also called "lords" (Kurioi) by the jailer out of respect (v. 30) shows the bearing of context on the meaning of this term. It would be absurd to suppose the jailer was submitting or promising to submit his life to Paul and Silas as his masters.

55  Hodges, Free!, 170. Also, see Bock, "Jesus as Lord," BSac 143:150.

56  Bruce, Message of the New Testament, 112-13.

57  Ryrie, Salvation, 106.

58  Gentry, "The Great Option," BRR 5:68. See also Marc Mueller, "Syllabus," 18-19, and ten Pas, Lordship, 7.

59  It is helpful to note that kurios is a predicate accusative in apposition to Criston Ihsoun. Robertson, WPNT, 4:225; Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Paul's First and Second Epistles to the Corinthians (Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1963), 965; Rudolf Bultmann, Der Zweite Briefe an die Korinther, Kritisch-exegetischer Kommentar über das Neuen Testament (G`ttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1976), 109. To preach Jesus Christ is to preach Him as deity.

60  So Ralph P. Martin, 2 Corinthians, WBC (Waco, TX: Word Books, 1986), 79; Philip Edgcumbe Hughes, Paul's Second Epistle to the Corinthians, NICNT (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1982), 130-31; Bultmann, Korinther, 109; Friedrich Lang, Die Briefe an die Korinther (G`ttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1986), 278.

61  So Lenski, Corinthians, 966; William Herbert Smith, Jr., "The Function of 2 Corinthians 3:7--4:6 in Its Epistolary Context" (Ph.D. diss., Southern Baptist Seminary, 1983), 135.

62  Maurice Carrez, La Deuxième Épitre de Saint Paul aux Corinthiens, Commentaire du Nouveau Testament (CNT), deuxieme serie (Genève: Labor et Fides, 1986), 109.

63  Alfred Plummer, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Second Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians, ICC (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1966), 118.

64  Everett F. Harrison, "Must Christ Be Lord to Be Savior--No," Eternity 10 (September 1959): 16. So also, S. Lewis Johnson, "How Faith Works," CT 33 (September 22, 1989): 25.

65  BAGD, s.v. "@omologew," 571.

66  Otto Michel, s.v. "@omologew," in TDNT 5 (1967): 200.

67  Chrisope, Jesus Is Lord, 61-62. He cites Michel, s.v. "@omologew," TDNT 5:209, as support.

68  Irvin, "His Name," AW, 5.

69  So Gentry, "The Great Option," BRR 5:66; Harrison, "No," Eternity 10:14; Blauvelt, "Lordship Salvation?" BSac 143:38.

70  Stott, "Yes," Eternity 10:18.

71  Ibid.

72  Enlow, "Eternal Life," AW, 3-4. This understanding is representative of Lordship proponents. See also, MacArthur, The Gospel, 28, 199, 207-8; Marc Mueller, "Syllabus," 17-18; Miller, "Christ's Lordship," 60ff.; Chrisope, Jesus Is Lord, 59ff.; ten Pas, Lordship, 6.

73  Stott, Basic Christianity, 117. Such an interpretation of confession in Rom. 10:9-10 is disturbingly open ended, as Stott shows when he goes on to say, "But the Christian's open confession does not end with his baptism. He must be willing for his family and friends to know he is a Christian, both by the life he leads and by his spoken witness. . . . At the same time, he will join a church, associate himself with other Christians . . . and start seeking by prayer, example and testimony to win his friends for Christ." It is difficult to not consider this an intrusion of works into salvation.

74  Ryrie, Salvation, 70-73; Everett F. Harrison, "Romans," in EBC (10:1-171): 112, and "No," Eternity 10:16; Chafer, Theology, 3:379-80.

75  This possibility is found in BAGD, s.v. "@omologew," 571. Cf. 1 John 4:15.

76  Harrison, "No," Eternity 10:16.

77  Kenneth S. Wuest, Wuest's Word Studies From the Greek New Testament, 3 vols. (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1944-55), 1:177-78. See also Charles Hodge, Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1967), 341, and the word study and conclusion of Wesley L. Uplinger, "The Problem of Confession in Romans 10:9-10" (Th.M. thesis, Dallas Theological Seminary, 1968), 26-37.

78  H. A. Ironside, Lectures on the Epistle to the Romans, 131; Howard, "Is Faith Enough?" BSac 99:91. Howard writes, "The heart believes but this faith is directed not toward man but toward God. Who then shall say the confession is not also God-ward? How can we introduce a thought foreign to Paul's concern of a heart confessing its faith to God and say that this is a confession before men? It is rather the transaction of a believing heart with God." This seems to be the sense of 1 John 1:9, also.

79  So Bultmann, s.v. "pisteuw," TDNT, 6:209; Nygren, Romans, 383-84; Morris, Romans, 386; William G. T. Shedd, A Critical and Doctrinal Commentary upon the Epistle of St. Paul to the Romans (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1879), 318; Howard, "Is Faith Enough?," 92; Paul L. Dirks, "The Biblical Doctrine of Confession" (Th.M. thesis, Dallas Theological Seminary, 1955), 32; Uplinger, "Romans 10:9-10," 50-51.

80  Cranfield, Romans, 2:526.

81  Ibid., 2:530.

82  Ibid., 2:527.

83  The verb epikalew, "call upon," signifies the act of faith as confession. So Robert Haldane, Commentary on Romans (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1988), 518-19; Heinrich Schlier, Der R`merbrief, Herdersf theologischer Kommentar zum Neun Testament (Frieburg: Herder, 1979), 248; Hans Asmussen, Der R`merbrief (Stuttgart: Evangelisches Verlagswerk, 1952), 215-16; Uplinger, "Romans 10:9-10," 46-48.

84  Langevin notes that Deuteronomy 30:14 quoted in verse 8 answers Deuteronomy 30:12-13 quoted in verses 6-7 which may have been a proverb used to express something that is impossible. This writer believes this is a strong argument against the Lordship view that one's salvation must be "confessed" by a righteous lifestyle if it is to be considered genuine. Like ancient Israel, Lordship Salvation appears to seek a salvation that is hard. But Moses and Paul both assert the simplicity and availability of faith. See P. E. Langevin, "La Salut par la foi. Rm 10, 8-13," Assemblées du Seigneur (AS) 14 (1973): 51-52.

85  The phrase Kurion Ihsoun is variably translated "The Lord Jesus" (NKJ), "Jesus as Lord" (NASB), or "Jesus is Lord" (KJV, NIV, RSV). The anarthrous construction favors the latter two. The fact that "Jesus is Lord" was the central confession of the early church (cf. 1 Cor. 12:3; James D. G. Dunn, Romans 9-16, WBC [Dallas: Word Books, 1988, 607; Chrisope, Jesus Is Lord, 61) argues for the last translation.

86  Harrison, "Romans," EBC, 10:112.

87  Ryrie, Salvation, 72.

88  Ryrie, Balancing, 175.

89  Morris, Romans, 385.

90  Cranfield, Romans, 2:529. See also, Wuest, 1:178; R. V. Foster, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans (Nashville: Cumberland Presbyterian Publishing House, 1891), 294; Robertson, WPNT, 4:389; Clifton Joe Barrow, "An Exegetical Consideration of the Doctrine of Lordship in Salvation from Three Passages: John 11:25-27, Acts 16:30-32, and Romans 10:9-10" (Th.M. thesis, Dallas Theological Seminary, 1977), 43-46. For an excellent extended discussion, see Paul-Émile Langevin, "Sur la Christologie de Romains 10,1-13," Laval Theologigue et Philosophique 35 (January 1979): 35-54, especially 48-53.

91  John R. W. Stott, "Jesus Is Lord," Tenth (July 1976): 3.

92  Irvin, "His Name," AW, 5.

93  See the argument of Blauvelt, "Lordship Salvation," BSac 143:39-40.

94  For example, in defending MacArthur's understanding of Rom. 10:9-10 Kent says, "After all, for a believer to trust Jesus Christ as God surely implies also an acknowledgement of his responsibility to his God" (Kent, "Review Article," GTJ 10:69). While this may be a true statement, it does not support MacArthur's view that this passage explicitly demands submission.

95  Harrison, "Romans," EBC, 10:112.

96  For a full presentation of this view, see Hodges, Free!, 193-99; Gordon Andrew Brunott, Jr., "An Interpretation of Romans 10:1-15 and the Problem of Faith and Confession" (Th.M. thesis, Dallas Theological Seminary, 1975); William LeGrange Hogan, "The Relation of the Lordship of Christ to Salvation" (Th.M. thesis, Dallas Theological Seminary, 1959), 36-42; Robert N. Wilkin, "Has This Passage Ever Bothered You? (Romans 10:9-10)," GESN (September 1987): 2.

97  See the discussion in Brunott, "Romans 10:1-5," 25-32.

98  The aspect of present salvation finds some support from other commentators. On Rom. 5:9-10 see Nygren, Romans, 202-06; W. Ian Thomas, The Saving Life of Christ (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1961), 13. On present salvation in Rom. 10:9-10, see Langevin, "Rm 10:8-13" AS 14:48-49. On present salvation in the book of Romans as a whole, see Daniel C. Esau, "Paul's Concept of SWTHRIA in Romans" (Th. M. Thesis, Dallas Theological Seminary, 1969).

99  Hodges, Free!, 193-95.

100  Hodges (Free!, 193-94) and Brunott ("Romans 10:1-15," 57-58) cite Acts 9:14, 21; 1 Cor. 1:2; 2 Tim. 2:22; and 1 Pet. 1:17 to show this is a Christian activity.

101  One reason for this is that the separation of faith and confession does not seem warranted for the reasons given on pp. 108-09. Another reason is that though the "Confession for Temporal Deliverance"view appears correct in finding some temporal significance for salvation in 5:9-10 and chapters 6-8, the salvation of 10:9-10 apparently has eschatological meaning in chapters 9-11 (cf. 9:27; 10:1, 13; 11:11, 14, and 26-27 where it is associated with New Covenant forgiveness). Also, in 13:11 Paul declares, "our salvation is nearer than when we first believed." The righteousness of God and Israel's failure to attain it due to unbelief seems to be the emphasis of chapters 9-11 (cf. 9:30-33; 10:3-6; 11:5-6, 20, 23). Still, Hodges's interpretation is persuasive and deserves further consideration and response. Thus far there has been no response from Lordship teachers other than a cursory treatment by Belcher (Belcher, Layman's Guide, 83-86).

102  The verb @?potassw in v. 3 has the basic sense of "subject oneself, be subjected" and in this sense implies obedience (BAGD, s.v. "@?potassw," 855). This may explain the phrase "not all obeyed the gospel" in 10:16. The Jews did not submit to God's demand to receive His righteousness through the gospel.

103  MacArthur, The Gospel, 95, 203, 209; Stott, "Yes," Eternity 10:18; Gentry, "The Great Option," BRR 5:68; Marc Mueller, "Syllabus," 18.

104  Gentry, "The Great Option," BRR 5:68.

105  Mark Mueller, "Syllabus," 18.

106  So Gordon Fee, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, NICNT (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1987), 579-81; Grosheide, Commentary on The First Epistle to the Corinthians, NICNT (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1953), 279-80; as well as Lordship advocates John MacArthur, Jr., 1 Corinthians, MNTC (Chicago: Moody Press, 1984), 278-81, 284-85; and Chrisope, Jesus Is Lord, 66-67.

107  For kurios as an ascription of deity here, see Fee, 1 Corinthians, 581-82; MacArthur, 1 Corinthians, 286; W. Harold Mare, "1 Corinthians," in EBC (10:173-297): 261.


109  Oscar Cullmann, The Christology of the New Testament, transl. Shirley C. Guthrie and Charles A. M. Hall (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1959), 216.

110  MacArthur, The Gospel, 208. So also, Marc Mueller, Syllabus," 17; Gentry, "The Great Option," BRR 5:68; Miller, "Christ's Lordship," 61.

111  Boice, "The Lord Christ," Tenth 10:10.

112  Warfield, Lord of Glory, 182.

113  Siegfried Schulz, Das Evangelium nach Johannes (G`ttingen: Vandenhoech & Ruprecht, 1983), 246.

114  Boice, "The Lord Christ," Tenth 10:4.

115  It is puzzling why a Lordship teacher like Stott would speak of his own salvation in terms of "a personal acceptance of Him as my Savior" (emphasis his; Stott, Basic Christianity, 123), yet demand of others submission to Jesus as Ruler.

116  William Johnson, "Jesus Is Lord," Signal (March/April 1987): 17.

117  See the logical arguments of Paul Holloway, "Evaluation of Some Evidences for 'Lordship Salvation'," JOTGES 2 (Autumn 1989): 28-32. Also, Lawrence, "Lordship of Christ," 181.

118  Ryrie, Balancing, 176-77.

119  Cf. also Phil. 1:15-18.

120  Michael Green, Evangelism in the Early Church (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1982), 150.

121  Cf. Luke 23:41-42 (UBS text) where the thief on the cross referred to Jesus as "this Man" and by His human name "Jesus."

122  Renald Showers, "The Trouble with Lordship Salvation," Word of Life: 1990 Annual 6 (1990): 19.

123  E.g., Rom. 6; 12:1; 2 Cor. 8:5; 10:5; Eph. 6:5-6; Phil. 2:5ff.; Col. 3:17, 23-24; James 4:7; 1 Pet. 4:2; 5:6.

124  E.g. MacArthur, The Gospel, 87, 139-40.

125  Stott, Basic Christianity, 128.

126  John R. W. Stott, "The Lordship of Jesus Christ," Decision 27 (May 1986): 26.

127  Harrison, "No," Eternity 10:16.

128  See the discussion of Rom. 6:17 and context on pp. 23-24.

129  Bock, "Jesus as Lord," BSac 143:151.

130  Lordship proponents would of course deny any merit in submission, as MacArthur states, "Surrender to Jesus as Lord is no more a meritorious human work than believing on Him as Savior. Neither act is a good deed done to earn favor with God. Both are the sovereign work of God in the heart of everyone who believes" (MacArthur, The Gospel, 209). His error, of course, is that the issue in salvation is faith not surrender. The 150 uses of faith or believe to describe the condition of salvation should supersede use of the unbiblical term "surrender." Elsewhere, MacArthur appropriately chides those who use unbiblical terms to describe the condition of salvation saying it dilutes the gospel (e.g., "ask Jesus into your heart," "accept Jesus as your personal Savior," "invite Christ into your life"; MacArthur, The Gospel, 21, 106).

131  The perfect tense in verse 18 indicates the Ephesians had believed before the occasion of book burning, most obviously during Paul's two year stay in Ephesus.

132  Ryrie, Balancing, 172.

133  See the discussion of "spurious faith," pp. 45-51.