A Different Gospel - Easy Believism

Easy believism is the idea people can receive salvation through Jesus Christ by having a type of “faith” which only believes in the truths or promises of God’s Word relating to salvation and which makes a confession of Jesus as Lord in words but hypocritically does not really want Him as their Lord. This type of so-called “faith” does not include a genuine though imperfect heart surrender to Jesus as Lord and is not accompanied by a sincere repentance (changed heart attitude) to sin and a turning from sin in the heart.

One easy believism author wrote: “The issue here is whether or not one can become a Christian simply by believing the gospel, or whether or not one must surrender to Christ as the Lord of one’s life. Part of the answer lies in a misunderstanding of Romans 10:9. Confession of Christ as Lord identifies Christ as deity; the issue is not concerning His Lordship. In addition, if surrendering one’s life to Christ as Lord is necessary for salvation, then there could be no carnal Christians, yet Paul makes it clear that the Corinthians whom he speaks of as being “in Christ” were indeed carnal (1 Cor. 3:1). Lordship is based on application of the knowledge of Scripture, and the knowledge of Scripture comes with spiritual maturity, which in turn follows salvation. Lordship is important, but it cannot be a condition for salvation; that is adding to the gospel.”

The above comments reveal a common problem found among easy believism followers. They do not understand that the New Testament Greek words for “faith” and “believing” include the idea of surrendering to the Person in Whom we believe. It is not a matter of being saved by faith plus surrendering to Jesus Christ. We are saved by a faith which includes a sincere though imperfect surrender to His Lordship. [1]

Here is another example of an Evangelical writer saying there is no place for Jesus’ Lordship in the preaching of the Gospel to unbelievers: “It is imperative to trust Christ as personal Saviour and be born again. But this is only the first decision. Acknowledging Jesus as Lord is made by believers…The decision to trust Christ as Saviour and then make Him Lord are two separate, distinct decisions. The first is made by unbelievers, the second only be believers. The two decisions may be close or distant in time. But salvation must always precede lordship. It is possible, but miserable to be saved without ever making Christ Lord of your life.”

In other words, the above writer suggests we can live a life totally ruled by self and full of sin every moment of every day without repenting or turning from sin in our hearts and still be saved. It is a wonder Satan and demons do not try to be saved in this way also! They could keep their sins and avoid eternal punishment at the same time. (I say these latter two statements in jest.)

A so-called “faith” that does not accept Jesus as Lord of one’s life is really unbelief dressed up in fancy religious clothes. Those who will not receive Jesus as Lord are in fact guilty of rejecting Him.

My heart bleeds for the many people who have been deceived by this false imitation of the Gospel. God loves them deeply. One of the reasons I wrote this book was because of my love for these people and heartfelt concern about their eternal salvation.

It is extremely difficult to publicly correct great errors in teaching and practice in the Church. For if I just say, “Some teach the error of…” or give quotes without providing their author’s names, it seems as though I am making up what I am saying. But if I name living preachers and teachers of such errors, this can create much bitterness and bad attitudes between fellow Christians. So I have decided to not publicly name presently alive teachers of such errors.

In a later chapter, I will name two fathers of easy believism because they are no longer living. But even then I do not wish to encourage any bitterness or hatred against the latter two men. They were sincere in what they believed in relation to being saved. But sadly in the history of the world and church, there have been many sincere people who had led others into great error. I would be held accountable by God for sinning against His commands in 2 Timothy 4:2-4 and Titus 2:15, if I did not rebuke and correct major errors about the Gospel of salvation. Such errors result in people imagining they are saved when they are not. James 3:1 reveals how seriously I need to take my own accountability to God for what I teach.

 

Another modern “Evangelical” version of easy believism

 

The teachings of a present-day Baptist theological professor from Texas in the United States is an example of an extreme easy believism “gospel”. He declares that submission to Jesus’ Lordship and turning from sin have absolutely nothing to do with salvation and as a result should never be included in Gospel preaching. He claims faith that saves is simply the belief in the truthfulness of certain Biblical facts or promises. He argues the only guaranteed result of faith is salvation from the eternal punishment. He says that just because a person is converted does not mean the person will ever begin to love God. He argues that when a person believes, that person has the assurance of eternal life and should never question his salvation even if he continuously has no evidence or fruit of Jesus Christ's Presence in his life. He states also it is possible for a believer to cease believing while still continuing to be a saved Christian. In other words, he suggests the church can be full of unbelieving so-called “believers” who are still assured of their salvation.

Such easy believism teaching here allows us to avoid all of the penalties for having Adamic sin and for doing actual sins while still living a very sinful life and having self and not Jesus Christ as our Lord. This so-called version of “salvation by grace through faith” allows us to live totally like fallen Adam or the Devil as long as we have at some time believed the truth of various promises in God’s Word about salvation through Jesus Christ. In fact, this false “gospel” makes it so easy to be saved that even Satan and demons can be said to have supposed saving faith. James 2:19 says, “Even the demons believe”. Satan and demons believe the truths of the Gospel, but they do not trust in Jesus Christ nor surrender to His Lordship nor turn from their sins. (I am not here, however, suggesting Satan and demons can be ever saved.)

This same theological professor argues 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and Galatians 5:19-21 describe born-again Christians who will still go to heaven even though they deliberately continually practise sins of idolatry, adultery, homosexuality, drunkenness, fornication, sorcery or witchcraft, murder and so on. He suggests these passages only refer to losing our rewards for our service to God and not to eternal salvation. But our inheritance in God’s kingdom is a part of salvation by grace (see Acts 20:32, Hebrews 1:14, 1 Peter 1:3-4 and 3:7). When 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and Galatians 5:19-21 mention not having an inheritance in the kingdom of God, they are referring to not being one of God’s subjects in His present and future eternal Kingdom.

 

The “Come in Jesus as Saviour, stay out Lord ‘gospel’”

 

Easy believism can also be called the “Come in Jesus as Saviour, stay out Lord” gospel. Romans 10:9 states: “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.” Here we see we must not only believe God raised Jesus from the dead. We must also confess Jesus as Lord. But God will not accept an insincere hypocritical confession of Jesus as Lord as a basis for being saved. The New Testament has many references saying how much God hates hypocrisy and religious insincerity (see Matthew 6:2, 5, 16; 15:7; 22:18; 23:13-15, 23, 25, 27, 29; 24:51; Luke 12:1 and 1 Timothy 4:2). So Romans 10:9 is referring to a real heart surrender to Jesus Christ as our Lord which expresses itself in what our mouths say about this matter.

The essence of sin is independence from God and His Lordship over our lives. So those who say we can be born again by accepting Jesus Christ as Saviour but not Lord, are illogically saying we can be saved from the sins of independence from God and rejection of His Lordship by accepting Jesus in a way that allows us to continue in such an independent rebellious attitude. Romans 6:15-16 reveals such a conversion is not possible: “What then? Shall we sin because we are not under Law but under grace? Certainly not! Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin to death, or of obedience to righteousness?”

Satan is the spiritual father of all those ruled totally by self and living independently from God. So if we try to receive Jesus as Saviour but not as Lord, this means we are still ruled totally by self and are therefore still children of the devil.

When we are born-again, we accept God’s kingdom into our hearts. A kingdom must have a King. So if I do not receive Jesus Christ as my King, I do not really have His Kingdom within me. If I am not a part of God’s Kingdom, I am not saved.

In Colossians 1:13-14, God relates having Jesus Christ as our King to having the forgiveness of our sins: “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and translated us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.” In Colossians 1:13, Paul refers to the fact that God had delivered all the Colossian believers, himself and Timothy from the power of darkness and transferred them into Christ’s kingdom. Paul does not say that sometime in the future God initially transferred the Colossian believers, himself and Timothy into Christ’s kingdom after they grew in Christ or after they went to heaven.

In the original Greek, the word “power” in the expression “the power of darkness” in Colossians 1:13 is a form of the word “exousia”. Bauer says that in the context of Colossians 1:13, the relevant form of “exousia” means “the power exercised by rulers or others in high position by virtue of their office” and relates to “the domain in which the power is exercised”. [2] Authority relates to dominion or rulership or lordship. So the expression “delivered from the power of darkness” means “freed from having Satan as lord or king”.

Colossians 1:13 reveals the Colossians’, Paul and Timothy’s deliverance from Satan’s lordship or kingdom had occurred previously. But note after conversion, they had to continue to not allow Satan to exercise any rule over them and to continue to submit to the Kingly rule of Christ. This is even though their initial changing of Lordship occurred at conversion.

One problem for many modern Christians is they have little or no understanding of what kings were like at the time the New Testament was written. At that time, kings were absolute rulers who were obeyed without question and were treated with enormous respect. They were not like the kings of present-day British and European democracies who have only limited power and who are subservient to their countries’ elected governments to a large extent.

 

The Gospel of grace and of Jesus’ Kingdom

 

Ephesians 4:7 reveals all of God’s grace comes through Jesus Christ: “But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.” But note Acts 8:12, 20:25, 28:23 and 28:31 reveal Paul's preaching of the Gospel of grace through Jesus Christ is also called preaching the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom. The New American Standard Bible uses “the kingdom” in Acts 20:25 and the New King James uses “the kingdom of God”. A kingdom must have a king. So if we wish to accept the Kingdom of God through Jesus’ grace, we must receive Jesus as our King.

Revelation 17:14 and 19:16 reveal Jesus is “the Lord of lords and King of kings”. Unless we have received Him as our King, we are not a part of His Kingdom but are still a rebel opposing His rule and have Satan as our king. It would be a case of total hypocrisy if a king pardoned a rebel of his previous opposition to the king’s rule, and then the person continued in his state of total rebellion against the king. A sign of such rebellion in the heart is manifested in a lack of any sincere desire to submit or surrender our will to God’s will.

In John 3:3 and 3:5, Jesus did not teach entering the Kingdom of God is merely an optional reward for service for a select group of super-spiritual believers. Instead, He taught that seeing God’s Kingdom is a normal result of our being regenerated by God’s grace. John 3:3 and 3:5 records: “Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.’…Jesus answered, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God’.” In John 3:3, the expression “he cannot” is present and not future tense.

Similarly, when in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Galatians 5:21 and Ephesians 5:5, Paul refers to not inheriting God’s Kingdom, he is not referring to rewards for service to God but to salvation by God’s grace through Christ.

Those who say the New Testament teaches believers to receive Jesus as Saviour first and as Lord later, contradict Paul's words in Colossians 2:6-7: “As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith…” Paul here says all the Colossian Christians, not just some of them, had previously received Jesus Christ as Lord. In Greek, the word “you” in verse 6 above is plural, not singular. Therefore, Paul is referring to all the Colossian Christians and not just one of them.

In Colossians 2:6-7, Paul also commanded all of them to walk and be built up in Jesus Christ more deeply and to be strengthened in their faith in Him. In the original Greek, the verb “rooted” is in the perfect tense and passive voice. The perfect tense signifies a completed action with continuing effects or a state resulting from a previous action. This means all the Colossian believers had been completely rooted in Christ at conversion, this having continuing effects in their lives or they are now in a state of being rooted in Him. The passive voice means God did the rooting of believers in Christ.

The Biblical view of the deeper life in Christ does not involve receiving Christ as Lord some time after conversion but instead relates to walking in Christ continuously in daily living after conversion. In the original Greek, the phrase “you walk” is in the present tense. In Greek, the present tense usually refers to a continuous action. So the expression “you…walk in Christ” refers to continuously living in Christ in our daily practical activities.

Some easy believism teachers say Jesus Christ is not ruling in any way as King during the New Covenant dispensation, so receiving Him as King or Lord is only optional during this period. But note Isaiah 9:6-7 predicted the following: “For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgement and justice from that time forward, even forever…” This verse reveals Christ would have the kingdom and government of David’s throne from the time He was born. Verse 7 here says this kingly governmental rule would continue to increase and there would be no end to it. This is contrary to the teaching of those who say Jesus does not rule as King in any way during the New Covenant period.

The idea Jesus Christ is not operating in anyway in His God-ordained role as King during the New Covenant dispensation is also shown to be false in Revelation 1:5: “And from Jesus Christ…the ruler over the kings of the earth.” This verse refers to Christ being the Ruler or King of the kings of the Earth during the New Covenant dispensation.

In Revelation 1:9, John also reveals believers are now a part of Jesus’ kingdom when he said he and the believers at the seven Asian churches (see Revelation 1:4) were already companions in the “kingdom of Jesus Christ”. A kingdom has to have a king, otherwise it is not a real kingdom.

 

Old Testament prophecies about Christ as King

 

There are many prophecies in the Old Testament that relate to the kingdom and rule of the Messiah or Christ. Examples are 2 Samuel 7:1-17, 23:5, 1 Kings 8:23-26, 1 Chronicles 17:1-15, Psalms 2, 45, 72, 89:3-4, 89:26-37, 132:11, 132:17-18, Isaiah 9:6-7, 11:1-16, 55:3-4, Jeremiah 23:5-6, 30:8-9, 33:14-17, 33:21, Ezekiel 34:23-24, 37:24-25, Daniel 7:13-14 and Hosea 3:4-5. Daniel 7:13-14 shows the Son of Man (Jesus Christ) would be King not just of the Israelites but of all nations: “I was watching in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed.”

 

The progressive stages in the manifestation of Christ as King

 

As stated earlier, Isaiah 9:6 reveals the Son of God would be born as a human child, with God already having delegated absolute Kingship and rule to Him from the beginning. But note Isaiah 9:7 speaks of “the increase of His government” referring to the fact that as the years passed, the outward manifestation of Jesus’ Kingship or government would increase until it was total. The increase of Christ's rule has six main stages:

         The moment Jesus Christ was conceived, He was appointed by God as the King of the Jews (see Matthew 2:2). He was the prophesied eternal King descended from David (see 2 Samuel 7:1-17).

         During the initial 30 years of Jesus’ life, He lived as a perfect human in total submission to God. By being perfectly surrendered and obedient to God the Father, Jesus Christ demonstrated He was suitable to occupy David’s Throne forever as Ruler of every human being.

         The second stage related to His three-year ministry and associated expression of the Kingdom of God’s authority over Satan, sin, sickness, physical death and the natural creation (see Matthew 4:23, 9:35 and Luke 10:9).

         The third was when Christ died and was resurrected. His death and resurrection was an awesome display of the victory of the Kingdom of God over sin, Satan and demons (see Ephesians 1:20-22).

         The fourth was when people began to receive Jesus Christ as Lord or King after His resurrection (see Colossians 1:13-14 and Revelation 1:9). Such people then had the Kingdom of God within them. In Luke 17:20-21, Jesus corrects the idea the Kingdom of God is merely an externally observed thing: “Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, ‘The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, ‘See here!’ Or ‘See there!’ for indeed the kingdom of God is within you’.” 2 Peter 1:11 refers to believers who have already received Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour during this earthly life entering the fuller expression of His Kingdom after their deaths: “for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” In Greek, the expression “will be supplied” is in the future tense.

         The fifth relates to when Christ sets up His rule during the Millennium (see Revelation 19:11-20:6).

         The sixth will be at the Great Final Judgement when Christ exercises His total God-given rule over every human.

 

Each stage involves an increase in the expression of His God-delegated Kingship or Lordship.

Daniel 2:40-44 contains a marvellous prophecy about how the Kingdom of God would be set up during the days of what was symbolically described as the fourth kingdom of iron with feet partly made of clay. This fourth kingdom was the Roman Empire into which Jesus Christ was born. Daniel 2:44 states: “And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever.” Here we see that those who say the Kingdom of God will not begin until the future are wrong.

 

Paul's conversion

 

Paul's conversion involved him receiving Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, not just as Saviour. This is indicated in verse 6 when Paul said, “Lord, what do you want me to do?” Paul did not just say, “What do you what me to do Saviour?” Note also Paul recognised the immediate connection between receiving Jesus as our Lord by faith and the resultant obedience which follows from such a decision. His words “What do you want me to do?” illustrates this.

Acts 22:16 reveals that Ananias told Paul to call “on the Name of the Lord” and not just call on the Name of the Saviour. In Philippians 3:8, Paul declared that everything else except knowing Jesus Christ as our Lord was like rubbish to him.

 

The progressive application of the initial receiving

 

We can receive Jesus as our Lord and Saviour without realizing at that point many of the specific areas in our lives that God will in the following months call us to let Him be Lord of in a practical sense. After being born again, Jesus progressively and continually reveals more and more things in our lives of which He desires to be Lord. 2 Corinthians 3:17-18 refers to this progressive transformation that occurs as we allow Jesus to be Lord of us more and more in practical areas in following years. But to say we can be born again without receiving Jesus as our Lord in a more general sense at conversion is totally unscriptural. [3]

 

Believers misinterpreting their experiences

 

Some Christians give testimonies saying they received Jesus as Saviour at a particular age and then years later as Lord. Such testimonies are based on misinterpretation of their experiences. Either they did receive Jesus as Lord in the first place, but then backslid to varying degrees almost immediately. Or they only had a touch from God, which did not involve full conversion, at the time they assumed they had received Him as Saviour only. Also, some preachers of easy believism may be born-again themselves, but they have been deceived and are deceiving others.

 

Lord means God, Master and Owner

 

Advocates of the easy believism “gospel” often argue that when the New Testament refers to confessing Christ as Lord, this merely means accepting the truth Jesus is God. They say confessing the Lordship of Christ does not relate to surrendering to Him as Lord.

It is true that in some verses, the word “Lord” or in Greek “kurios” means God (see Acts 2:47 and Romans 14:6). But to say it does not also mean “Master” is an example of reading into the Bible what you have already wrongly predetermined. In John 20:28, Thomas said to Jesus, “My Lord and my God”. If the word “Lord” is an exact equivalent of “God”, then Thomas was saying the silly expression, “My God and my God” to Jesus. Similarly, the expressions the “Lord my God” or “Lord God” used in Luke 1:68, Revelation 4:8, 11:17, 16:7, 18:8, 19:6, 21:22, 22:5 and 22:6 would not make sense if the Greek word “kurios” or “Lord” meant only God. These expressions would then mean “God my God” and “God God”.

Bauer says the Greek word “kurios” means “lord, Lord, master, owner of possessions. The meaning ‘owner’ easily passes into that of lord, master, one who has full control of something”. [4] Louw and Nida state “kurios” means “one who rules or exercises authority over others; one who owns and controls property, including especially servants and slaves, with important supplementary components of high status and respect”. [5] Note also in Matthew 6:24, Mark 13:35, Luke 16:13, Romans 14:4, Ephesians 6:9 and Colossians 4:1, God or Jesus Christ are referred to as “the Lord” or “Kurios” of slaves. This shows “Kurios” or “Lord” does not just mean God. In these contexts, “the Lord” means “Master”. When believers confess Jesus is their Lord, they are declaring He is their Master.

Philippians 2:9-11 shows Jesus’ Lordship also relates to Him being the Sovereign Master of every person, even to those who refuse to receive Him as Lord: “Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord…”

Acts 2:34-36 states: “For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself: ‘The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies You footstool.’ Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” These verses contain a quote from Psalm 110:1. The latter says: “The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.” Note the original Hebrew of Psalm 110:1 uses two different words for “Lord” – “Yahweh” and then “Adon”. The word “Adon” here according to Acts 2:34-36 refers to Jesus. “Adon” means “lord, master” [6] or “Lord, master, owner”. [7]

It is obvious from the original Hebrew meanings of the word “Adon” that Jesus Christ should be received by us from the point of conversion as our Ruler or Master. (We are not saved on the basis of our post-conversion service to God. But note a post-conversion fruit or result of receiving Christ as Master in our hearts at conversion is serving Him as a love slave.) As a result of Jesus Christ becoming our Ruler or Master, He also takes His rightful place as our Owner. He owns all our time, money, possessions and everything else about us (see 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, 2 Corinthians 1:22, Ephesians 1:14, Romans 14:8, John 10:11-12 and Acts 27:23).

Those who think Jesus’ Lordship refers only to Him being God should read His words in Luke 6:46: “But why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do the things which I say?” Jesus is here referring to the fruits or results of receiving Him as Master in our hearts. Those who receive Him as Master will evidence this by the fruit of beginning to do what He commands.

Note also Jude 4 distinguishes between churchgoers who are eternally condemned and those who have Jesus as their Lord: “For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” (N.A.S.B.) In the original Greek, the word “Master” used here in connection with Jesus Christ is a form of the word “despotes”. “Despotes” means “lord, master, owner” [8] or “one who owns and/or controls the activities of slaves, servants or subjects, with the implication of absolute…jurisdiction”. [9] “Absolute jurisdiction” means “unlimited legal and other authority over someone”. The word “Lord” in Jude 4 is a form of the previously defined word “kurios”.

In Acts 4:24 when the believers prayed, they all called God their “Lord” which in Greek is also a form of “Despotes” meaning “Master”. This verse does not say only the more mature believers called God their Master.

1 Corinthians 7:22 says: “For he who is called in the Lord while a slave is the Lord’s freedman. Likewise he who is called while free is Christ's slave.” This verse proves that all believers who were not the slaves of men became the slaves of the Lord Jesus Christ at conversion. Christ became their Master. In addition, this verse says all slaves to men who became Christians were “called in the Lord” and were “the Lord’s freedmen”. These slaves of humans were not just called in the Saviour and were not just the freedmen of Jesus as Saviour.

 

The main record of the early church’s evangelism

 

The Book of Acts contains a graphic account of the evangelistic outreach of the early church to the unconverted. Therefore, it indicates the main emphases of the early church in leading unbelievers to proper conversions.

It is very interesting to note there are about 110 usages of the word “Lord” in the Book of Acts. Nearly all of these refer to the Lord Jesus. A few refer to the Holy Spirit – the Spirit of the Lord (see Acts 5:9, 8:39) and a few to God the Father. (Acts 2:34 uses Lord firstly in relation to the Father and then a second time in relation to Jesus Christ.) But Jesus is only called Saviour twice in the whole Book of Acts (see Acts 5:31, 13:23). This does not mean the Book of Acts underemphasises salvation. The word “saved” is used 10 times and the word “salvation” 5 times throughout Acts. The word “save” is used in Acts 2:40. Also, Jesus’ Name means “Yahweh is salvation” or “Yahweh is the Saviour”.

The Holy Spirit led Luke, the author of Acts to only once call Jesus by the term “Saviour” without at the same time calling Him Lord (see Acts 13:23). In the only other verse in Acts in which Jesus is called Saviour, He is also called “Prince” – a title similar to “Lord”. Acts 5:31 calls Jesus: “Prince and Saviour”, not “Saviour and Prince”. Throughout the rest of Acts, Jesus is constantly emphasised as being Lord. For example, in Acts 2:36 when preaching to the unconverted, Peter said: “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”

Acts 9:42, 11:17, 11:21, 16:31, 18:8 and 20:21 speak of believing in the Lord, not just in the Saviour. Acts 9:35 and 11:21 refer to turning to the Lord, not just to the Saviour. Acts 5:14 and 11:24 refer to people being added to the Lord. Acts 15:11 speaks of the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, not just the grace of the Saviour Jesus Christ. Acts 15:17 refers to unbelievers seeking the Lord not just the Saviour. Acts 8:25, 13:48, 13:49, 15:35, 15:36, 16:32 and 19:10 refer to the Apostles preaching the Word of the Lord and not only the Word of the Saviour.

Acts 19:10 records Paul preached the Word of Jesus the Lord to Jews and pagan Greeks in the Roman province of Asia Minor for two years. Acts 11:20 says the disciples preached the Lord Jesus to unbelievers at Antioch, not only Jesus as Saviour. Acts 28:31 reveals Paul taught about God the King and Jesus Christ the Lord to pagan Gentiles and Jews for two years. This is what Paul regarded as relevant preaching to pagans who knew little or nothing about the Scriptures, the true God or Jesus Christ.

In Acts 2:21 when preaching to the unconverted, Peter emphasised calling on the Lord, not only calling on the Saviour: “…whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” In Acts 16:30-31, Paul told the Philippian jailor to believe in the Lord Jesus (not just the Saviour Jesus) in order to be saved.

If you think Paul spoke contrary to this in his epistles, think again! In 2 Corinthians 4:5, he told the Corinthians he preached Jesus Christ as Lord and not as Saviour alone: “For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord…”

Note when preaching to Cornelius and Cornelius’ relatives and friends, Peter emphasized Jesus’ Lordship. Acts 10:36-37 records Peter’s words: The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ – He is Lord of all…” This statement that Jesus is Lord or “Kurios” of all may not mean much to modern unbelievers, but it meant an awesome thing to a God-fearing Gentile convert to Judaism. Cornelius had previously accepted that God was his “Kurios” or Lord and Master. But now Peter was telling him Jesus Christ is to be received as his Lord, Master and Owner.

Also observe in Acts 16:15 that after she was converted through Paul’s ministry, Lydia spoke of being faithful to the Lord, not just to the Saviour. Some may argue that passages like Acts 8:4-13, 8:26-38 and 9:20-22 refer to evangelism which did not mention Jesus as Lord. But note these passages do not even say the early Christians preached Jesus as Saviour or anything about His death. The Book of Acts contains a summary of events and does not record many details about these events. This is similar to how Daniel 7:1 records Daniel wrote down only the main facts of his dream and John 20:30-31 reveals the Gospel of John records only some of the signs Jesus did. To suggest Philip, Paul or any others in Acts preached a “gospel”, which did not mention Jesus’ death and Him as Saviour and as Lord, involves attempting to read into summaries in the Scriptures things contrary to many other verses in the New Testament.

 

Carnal Corinthians had received Christ as Lord

 

1 Corinthians 3:1-4 is one of the most abused passages in the Word of God. It has been used to justify the idea people can be saved by receiving Jesus Christ only as Saviour and not as Lord. Easy believism teachers call supposed Lord-less believers “carnal Christians”. These teachers assume that these “carnal Christians” are totally fleshly believers who live like the Devil every day. So let us examine 1 Corinthians 3:1-4: “And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? For when one says, ‘I am of Paul,’ and another, ‘I am of Apollos,’ are you not carnal.” As shown in Chapter                  “Was Paul a Very Carnal Christian?”, Paul is saying here that these Corinthian believers were not totally carnal but were instead relatively more carnal than many other believers.

The context of 1 Corinthians 3:1-4 reveals Paul was referring to true believers. In verse 1, he addressed them as “brothers” and said they were “in Christ”. 1 Corinthians 3:16 says they had the Holy Spirit. In 1 Corinthians 3:9, Paul said they were “God’s field and God’s building”, and in 1 Corinthians 3:23 Paul told them: “And you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.”

 

But they had received Christ as Lord

 

But note by examining the Books of 1 and 2 Corinthians, we see all the Corinthian believers including those mentioned in 1 Corinthians 3:1-4 had received Jesus as both Lord and Saviour. 1 Corinthians 1:2, 7:22 and 9:1 reveal all the Corinthian Christians had received Jesus Christ as Lord at conversion. 1 Corinthians 1:2 records Paul’s words: “To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:” Note Paul said Jesus Christ was “Lord, both theirs and ours”. 1 Corinthians 7:22 reveals that when they were called by God, they were “called in the Lord” and became the slave of Christ the Master: For he who is called in the Lord while a slave is the Lord’s freedman. Likewise he who is called while free is Christ’s slave.”

1 Corinthians 9:1 indicates all the Corinthian believers including the relatively carnal ones, were “in the Lord” not just “in the Saviour”: “…Are you not my work in the Lord?” In 2 Corinthians 3:16, Paul wrote to the Corinthians about unbelievers turning to the Lord, not just turning to the Saviour: “Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.” 2 Corinthians 4:5 shows Paul always preached Jesus as Lord, not merely as Saviour: “For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord…”

 

The expression “Lord and Saviour”

 

Whenever the words “Lord” and “Saviour” referring to Jesus Christ are used together in the New Testament, the word “Lord” is used first. Refer to 2 Peter 1:11, 2:20 and 3:18. Similarly, Mary spoke of God as being her Lord first and her Saviour second in Luke 1:46-47. 2 Peter 3:18 says: “…our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ…” I believe the fact the expression “Saviour and Lord” is not used in the New Testament infers we cannot receive Jesus as our Saviour at conversion and then sometime later as our Lord.

 

Hypocrites misusing love, Jesus’ Lordship and discipleship

 

The Evangelical Dictionary of Theology records that in the 1960’s, most liberal churchgoers “held up love as the sufficient norm of ethical behaviour and reaffirmed the Lordship of Christ and his call to discipleship”. [10]

These liberals liked preaching about love but not about the other commands of the Bible against adultery, sex outside marriage, pornography, homosexuality, occult, immodesty, abortion and some other similar moral issues.

These liberals spoke about having Jesus as our Lord and we being His disciples. But these liberals had little emphasis on repenting from our sinful disobediences to God’s commands and teachings in relation to the above moral issues. Therefore, their talk about having Jesus as Lord was mere words and had little practical outworking. In Matthew 7:21-23, Jesus warned: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me you who practice lawlwssness!’”

Tragically in the 1990’s and 2000’s, numerous Pentecostals and Charismatics have abandoned part of their God-given Biblical heritage and followed the above hypocritical liberal attitudes and practices also.

 

A false “making Jesus master”

 

In the past, some liberal Protestants wrongly taught the notion of “making Christ Master” in the sense of a mere human attempt to copy the type of life Jesus lived. These liberals encouraged people, who had not truly received Jesus Christ as both their Lord and Saviour through the grace of God, to try to live by their own strength like Jesus did. Some Evangelicals over-reacted against the above heretical teaching and aimed at conversions supposedly involving accepting Jesus as Saviour but not as Lord. But this was just as heretical as the above liberal teaching.

 

The Samaritan woman

 

Some argue Jesus’ words to the Samaritan woman in John 4:4-38 was a complete presentation of the Gospel and show saving faith does not include surrender to God nor need to be accompanied by turning from sin to Him.

But note Jesus did not here even hint at the truths of His death, resurrection or substitutionary atonement. Neither did He mention the words “faith” or “believe”. So to suggest John 4:4-38 is a complete presentation of the Gospel is false. Also note Jesus drew the Samaritan woman’s attention to her sins about having many husbands, being divorced and living in a defacto marriage. John 4:16-18 records this: “Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You have well said, ‘I have no husband,’ for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly.”

Jesus did not say these words in John 4:16-18 for nothing. He wanted to reveal her sins and her need of turning from sin in her heart. Also observe Jesus told her in John 4:23-24 that God was looking for worshippers in Spirit and truth. Romans 12:1 reveals one included aspect of worship is surrendering our bodies as living sacrifices to Him.

In John 4:13-14, Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman of symbolically drinking of His living waters related to eternal life. In Isaiah 55:1 and 3-7, the prophet Isaiah spoke of drinking God’s living waters through the prophesied Davidic King – Jesus Christ: “Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat…Hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you – the sure mercies of David. Indeed I have given him as a witness to the people, a leader and commander for the people. Surely you shall call a nation you do not know, and nations who do not know you shall run to you, because of the Lord your God, and the Holy One of Israel; for He has glorified you. Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.” But see here how this drinking of God’s living waters, obtaining associated mercy and pardon for sins is linked to peoples’ hearts turning to Him from their sinful ways and thoughts. Those who try to participate in God’s river of grace without turning from their known sins are trying to obtain His glorious benefits contrary to His clear instructions.

 

Bible Study Questions

 

1.       Describe what the false easy believism “gospel” teaches.

2.       Is it possible to argue that even Satan and demons believe in the easy believism “gospel”?

3.       What verses reveal that we cannot receive Jesus Christ as Saviour without also receiving Him as our Lord or King?

4.       What does Isaiah 9:14 mean when it refers to “the increase of His government”?

5.       When New Covenant believers receive Jesus Christ as Lord at conversion, does this mean they will be perfectly submitted to Him and permanently sinless at this point?

6.       What does the New Testament word “Lord” mean when it refers to Jesus Christ?

7.       When the Book of Acts describes the evangelistic outreach of the early Church to the unsaved, does it reveal the Apostles and early believers just preached about Jesus as Saviour? Or did they emphasise Jesus as Lord also? Give verses to support your answer.

8.       Had the relatively carnal Corinthian believers received Jesus as Saviour but not as Lord at conversion? Provide verses to support your answer.

9.       When Jesus ministered to the Samaritan woman, did He minister to her the easy believism “gospel”? Give reasons for your answer.


 


[1] Refer to Chapter         “Faith is trust and commitment to a Person” and Chapter                “ Faith includes submission and surrender” for more details.

[2] Bauer, page 278.

[3] Refer to Chapter              “Conversion” and Chapter                 “Repentance” for a more detailed explanation of these matters.

[4] Ibid, pages 458-459.

[5] Louw and Nida, pages 478 and 559

[6] Brown, Driver and Briggs, page 11.

[7] Harris, Archer and Waltke, page 12.

[8] Bauer, page 176.

[9] Louw and Nida, page 559.

[10] Walter Elwell (Editor), “Evangelical Dictionary of Theology”, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1984, pages 634-635.

 

 


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