Expositional commentary on Scripture using an inductive exegetical methodology intent upon confronting the lives of Christians with the dogmatic Truths of God's inspired Words opposing Calvinism and Arminianism, Biblical commentary, doctrine of grace enablement, understanding holiness and wisdom and selfishness, in-depth Bible studies, adult Bible Study books and Sunday School materials Dr. Lance T. Ketchum Line Upon Line: Did Jesus Teach Lordship Salvation?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Did Jesus Teach Lordship Salvation?

Expanding the Bubble of Our Existence

23 And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. 24 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. 25 For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away? 26 For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels” (Luke 9:23-26).

          As we look at the text before us, the first question we must answer is whether the text is a salvation text or a text that lays out the qualifications for becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ.  If the text is a salvation text, we have before us a very strong evidence of what is known as Lordship Salvation.  In fact, most of the proponents of Lordship Salvation would tell us this is indeed a salvation text.  Of course, to make this a salvation text, those purporting a Lordship Salvation position must inject their presupposition on the text and take the text completely out its context.  Clearly, Jesus is addressing the text to His disciples.  Clearly, Jesus is defining the difference between salvation and discipleship. 
There are many who receive the gift of salvation “by grace through faith,” but who never become disciples of Jesus Christ.  We have the same pattern in most of our local churches today.  A very small percentage of “born again” people ever become true disciples of Jesus Christ as defined by the criteria of Luke 9:23-26.  To force Lordship Salvation upon this text, and others like it, is to make the gift of salvation conditioned upon works, rather than mere faith
          How do you begin your day?  What is your normal morning routine?  Get out of bed, shower, brush teeth, comb hair, shave unwanted hair from your body, eat breakfast, drive to work, . . . and etc?  Where does our relationship with Christ fit into our morning and daily routine?  Answering this last question defines what we believe to be Christianity.  It certainly defines our Christian life and whatever expectations we have about God’s involvement in our lives on a daily basis.  The fact is, most professing Christians do not think about these things at all, let alone consistently. 
The common word for a person who is a disciple of Jesus is the word Christian.  Christianity that is not Christ-centered is not Christianity.  If your life is mostly about you and little about Christ, what you have is better described as You-ianity.  Christ gives a threefold command to anyone wanting to be His disciple (a Christian).  Unless all three of these commands are your daily objectives in life, you are not a disciple of Jesus.  You may be saved, but you are not a Christian!

1. “let him deny himself”
2. “take up his cross daily”
3. “follow me”

Trusting Christ for the gift of salvation “by grace through faith” is not the same as becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ.  These are two separate decisions in a believer’s life.  The vast majority of people who trust in Christ and receive the gift of salvation never become disciples.  Those who never become disciples do not deserve to be called Christians.  A Christian is a disciple of Jesus Christ.  The reality of the name Christian is defined by the reality of the three commands of Christ in Luke 9:23.  If those three commands are not part of your reality, you may be saved, but you are not a Christian.

19 Now they {this does not refer to the Apostles, but to those that were saved in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost and the next eight years following the stoning of Stephen under the increasing persecution by the Jews} which were scattered abroad {the Diaspora} upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice {150 miles West to a 20 mile wide by 120 mile long stretch along the Mediterranean coast}, and {250 miles West to the island of} Cyprus, and Antioch {about 300 miles North of Jerusalem}, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only. 20 And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus. 21 And the hand of the Lord was with them {they manifested the power of God through their lives and ministry}: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord {pagans became believers with radical changes in the way they began to live their lives}. 22 Then tidings {the news or spoken reports} of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch. 23 Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God {the evidence of God’s grace in the fruit of those won to Christ and who became disciples of Christ}, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord. 24 For he {Barnabas} was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord. 25 Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul: 26 And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians {the Greek term for the followers of Christ, not for a religion called Christianity} first in Antioch” (Acts 11:19-26).

As we read Acts 11:19-26, we should ask ourselves a simple question.  Why were “the disciples  . . . called Christians first in Antioch”?  The nomenclature Christians carries much greater significance than merely believing in the teachings of a man named Jesus.  It also carries a higher significance than merely following Jesus as in the sense of loyalty to Him as a person with political loyalty to a leader or a great teacher.  To be a follower of Jesus, and therefore a Christian, was to think, live, and do what Jesus did.  To be a follower of Jesus involved COMPLETE self-denial, COMPLETE self-sacrifice to the point of willing to die for Him and His mission, and an attempt towards COMPLETE obedience to doing everything He commanded His disciples to do missionally.  These three qualities of commitment are what define the word Christian.  Therefore, these three criteria of commitment also define Christianity.  We do NOT define Christianity as merely orthodoxy of beliefs.  Although there must be orthodoxy in beliefs, we define Christianity by the reality of practicing what Jesus practiced.  Christianity, as a practical reality, cannot be separated from its missional purpose.  The three criteria of Luke 9:23 are the fundamentals of true discipleship. 
          There is no doubt that the Word of God establishes these three fundamental criteria for defining a person as a true disciple of Jesus Christ.  Secondly, there is no doubt that the word Christian was only used of those who manifested the reality of these three fundamental criteria in their lives.  Since these two things are historical facts, how have the terms disciple and Christian come to carry such watered-down meaning?  The terms disciple and Christian have come to carry such watered-down meaning because the abnormal has become the normal.  It is almost like calling the fans in the football stadium players because they are faithful to every game and cheer with great enthusiasm. 
          When a baby is conceived in the womb, his first nine months of existence, growth, and experience comes from that little bubble of existence.  He knows no other existence and can imagine nothing beyond it.  As far as he is concerned, the womb is the only existence there is and he is the only thing in that existence. 
When a baby is born, he is born into his own little bubble of existence.  He sees everything else in life as existing outside of his little bubble of existence.  Naturally, he sees himself as the center of the universe with everything else existing merely to serve him and meet his needs.  The world gathers around his little bubble of existence and looks at him with oohs and aahs.  He need only cry or whimper and someone immediately comes to meet his every desire.  Even though he is unable to communicate in words, those outside of his bubble seem to be able to read his mind.  They know when he is hungry, when his diapers need changing, and when he is not feeling well.  What a life! 
Few people ever escape this view of their existence even if they believe in God or even after they are “born again.”  Those who continue with this self-centered view of existence live every moment of life to protect their existence and to make their lives easier.  Christ calls His disciples to step out of the center of their existence and put Him and His missional purpose as the new reason for existence.  That is the threefold call to discipleship:

1. “let him deny himself” – death to selfish ambitions

          Paul explains this statement with considerable expansion in numerous epistles.  There must be a practical reality to this.  Practical means a change in practice, not just a change in perspective. 

11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; 13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; 14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works” (Titus 2:11-14).
24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26 Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another” (Galatians 5:24).

1 Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; 2 That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God” (I Peter 4:1-2).

2. “take up his cross daily” – a daily willingness to die for the missional purpose of Christ

          So often, this statement is taken completely out of its historical context.  The historical context is that of a person condemned to die.  On the morning of his crucifixion, he was flogged with thirty-nine stripes.  Then, the cross upon which he was to be crucified was put upon his back and he carried it to the place of his death.  The phrase “take up his cross daily” does not mean to carry the burdens of life.  The phrase “take up his cross daily” means the willingness to face each day with the resolve that you may be killed that day for your witness for Christ.  We must remember this command follows in the context of Christ’s statement, “Saying, The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day” (Luke 9:22).
          Again, there must be a practical reality to this and we cannot separate this practical reality from the previous criterion, “let him deny himself.”  You cannot have one without the other.  The practical objective of these two criteria is advancing the Kingdom of God by taking any risk necessary to win souls and make disciples. 

31 I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. 32 If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die. 33 Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. 34 Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame” (I Corinthians 15:31-34). 

19 For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. 20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:19-20).

3. “follow {present, active, imperative - continually following or keep following} me” – live what Jesus taught, live like Jesus lived, do what Jesus did 

          The emphasis in salvation is not upon Christ merely giving a believing sinner new birth.  The emphasis of Christ giving a believer new birth is the New Life that begins the moment we are saved.  The New Life is the Christ-life.  To “follow” Christ is to replace your life with His life.  To “follow” Christ is total, absolute, complete surrender of your will to His divine imperatives. 

7 For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. 8 For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s. 9 For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living” (Romans 14:7-9).

14 For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: 15 And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again” (II Corinthians 5:14-15).

6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. 7 For he that is dead is freed from sin. 8 Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: 9 Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. 10 For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. 11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. 13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God” (Romans 6:6-13).

          These verses of Scripture are three portions that give us the fundamental basics defining what it means to “follow” Christ.  Obviously, the practice goes far beyond being faithful to Sunday School, preaching services, and prayer services.  We scarcely see the practical reality of true discipleship that defines true Christianity.  The practical reality of these three criteria of discipleship define fundamental Christianity.  It order to “follow” Christ, correct doctrine is presumed.  However, correct doctrine is only the springboard for correct practice.  Even God cannot bless something you never do.  “And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23). There is no such thing as marginal Christianity!

24 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. 25 For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away? 26 For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels” (Luke 9:24-26).

          Once the three fundamentals defining true discipleship are established, Christ begins His explanation of purpose for these three fundamental necessities.  Each of the three sentences following Luke 9:23 begin with the word “for.”  “For” is translated from the Greek word gar and assigns a reason or intensification of the connecting statement.  Why do you think additional explanation is necessary?  Why is it that Christ must explain and apply the three fundamentals of discipleship to people professing complete dedicated to Him?  The reason for this extended explanation is because the vast majority of dedicated people are dedicated only philosophically, not practically.  Christ reveals this to us in the example of Peter right after the Last Passover and just before His betrayal and crucifixion.

31 Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad. 32 But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee. 33 Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended. 34 Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. 35 Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples” (Matthew 26:31-35).

Platitudinal promises are mere words until they are tried by the crucible of persecution.  Until our statements of faith are proven by application in the reality of life, they are nothing but words.  The Phoenix of true faith arises from the fires of real testing.  There are few professing Christians today willing to walk into the fire like Peter did in Acts chapter two and like Stephen did in Acts chapter seven.  If you are going to walk into that fire, you better realize that you are going to live in that fire the rest of your life.  You are going to die in that fire one day. 

20 Then came to him the mother of Zebedee’s children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him. 21 And he said unto her, What wilt thou? She saith unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom. 22 But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able. 23 And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father” (Matthew 20:20-23).

The first statement of explanation or intensification is vs. 24.  “For whosoever will save {deliver or protect his earthly} his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.”  Jesus is not speaking about the salvation of the soul here.  He is speaking about the salvation of a life.  This is what Paul refers to as “redeeming the time” (Ephesians 5:16 and Colossians 4:5). Jesus is speaking here about the difference in outcome between a life of selfishness or sacrifice; a life lived for self or a life lived to God’s glory fulfilling God’s missional purpose.  Anyone who keeps his life for selfish purposes will lose that life.  In other words, that life will be wasted.  That life and its accomplishments will be nothing more than garbage.  There will be no eternal blessings or fruit from a life kept for one’s self. 
          Is Jesus your Lord?  If Jesus is your Lord, He has a plan for your life.  Jesus has planned certain spiritual accomplishments through your life.  Those accomplishments will never be realized until you are fully yielded to Him in every decision of your life.  That is what Jesus means by the words “whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.”  There is a saying, “Of all the words of tongue or pen, the saddest of these are ‘it might have been.’”  Life is short, brutal, and filled with pain, sickness, and death.  “And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again” (II Corinthians 5:15).  This is how you escape a wasted life.  Sadly, the vast majority of professing Christians think their lives are dedicated to the Lord.  The vast majority of professing Christians think they are living for Jesus.  They are not trying to bring their friends and neighbors to Christ, but they think they are living for Jesus.  They are building their own little empires on earth rather than the Kingdom of God, but they think they are living for Jesus
          Every choice in life is a choice between a life saved from waste and a life lost to waste.  Every moment of life that is not lived with God’s missional purpose in view intent upon advancing the Kingdom of God is a wasted moment that we can never recover. 
The next explanation or intensification is vs. 25, “For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away” (Luke 9:25)?  To what spiritual benefit is it if we use our life to get wealth, fame, or position in this world?  The idea here is the investment of our time on earth.  We must see our lives as drops of water in the ocean of eternity.  Can we afford to waste any of our lives on selfish, carnal pursuits?  This is a hard saying when it is spoken to the vast majority of professing Christianity who think that they are dedicated Christians.  There are two primary things in view in the statement “gain the whole world.”  There is the pursuit of pleasure and the pursuit of wealth.  A preoccupation with these pursuits in life will lead to the disastrous outcomes listed - “lose himself, or be cast away.”  Is there any radical distinction between professing Christianity and the world in the priorities of pursuit? 
It is easy to lose your purpose in life.  I have seen many men gain great wealth only to be lost in their wealth.  I have seen other gain great positions in life only to lose themselves in those positions.  The intent in comparison here is exchanging life, which in its very essence is spiritual, for mere material gain.  I do not believe the intent of the comparison is salvational, although there are some who would reject Christ because they will not accept what comes along with being a Christian.  I think the intent of comparison here is between spiritual riches and material riches.  This is the lesson it too Solomon a lifetime of waste and carnality to learn.  If you want to learn Solomon’s lesson, read Ecclesiastes chapter two.  He wasted his life.  He got everything he wanted and lost everything that was valuable.  That is a wasted life.  It took him a lifetime to find out what was really of value.

1 I said in mine heart, Go to now, I will prove thee with mirth, therefore enjoy pleasure: and, behold, this also is vanity. 2 I said of laughter, It is mad: and of mirth, What doeth it? 3 I sought in mine heart to give myself unto wine, yet acquainting mine heart with wisdom; and to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was that good for the sons of men, which they should do under the heaven all the days of their life. 4 I made me great works; I builded me houses; I planted me vineyards: 5 I made me gardens and orchards, and I planted trees in them of all kind of fruits: 6 I made me pools of water, to water therewith the wood that bringeth forth trees: 7 I got me servants and maidens, and had servants born in my house; also I had great possessions of great and small cattle above all that were in Jerusalem before me: 8 I gathered me also silver and gold, and the peculiar treasure of kings and of the provinces: I gat me men singers and women singers, and the delights of the sons of men, as musical instruments, and that of all sorts. 9 So I was great, and increased more than all that were before me in Jerusalem: also my wisdom remained with me. 10 And whatsoever mine eyes desired I kept not from them, I withheld not my heart from any joy; for my heart rejoiced in all my labour: and this was my portion of all my labour. 11 Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 2:1-11).

The next explanation or intensification is vs. 26, “For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels” (Luke 9:26).  There will be many professing Christians of whom Jesus will be ashamed at His second coming.  The word shame is directly connected to pride of reputation.  The idea here is pride of reputation in the world taking precedent over our relationship with Christ and our responsibility to His teachings. 
When what men think of us is more important to us than what God thinks of us, we have moved to a place that is almost beyond hope for recovery.  When what men think of us is more important to us than what God thinks of us, we have already denied everything we profess to believe.  The “words” of Christ define Christianity.  To be ashamed of Christ and His words is to be ashamed of everything that is Christian.  Should we even consider that somehow Jesus would not be ashamed of such contrary behavior?  Can we even imagine such a person professing to be a Christian while denying and being ashamed of everything that is Christian?  The point is simple.  Such a person is delusional. 

1 And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. 2 And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. 3 And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever” (Daniel 12:1-3).

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. 17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:16-17).

6 Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands. 7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 8 Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God; 9 Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, 10 But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel: 11 Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. 12 For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. 13 Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.14 That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us” (II Timothy 1:6-14).

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Numerous studies and series are available free of charge for local churches at: http://www.disciplemakerministries.org/
Dr. Lance Ketchum serves the Lord as a Church Planter, Evangelist/Revivalist.
He has served the Lord for over 40 years.

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