Does true repentance lead to Lordship salvation, or making Jesus lord of your life? In other words, is it possible to come to a place of true repentance of your sins and a saving faith in Jesus without making Him Lord of your life? For clarification I do not mean simply acknowledging that He is the sovereign Lord but also a surrendering of your life to Him.
Or, is an “easy-believism”, intellectual belief and a repentance enough to be considered a saving faith?
Looking at only my journey through life it seems to be a head versus heart issue. I attended Sunday school for a few years as a child and so believed in a distant, intellectual way that Jesus came to die on the cross for my sins and was raised from the dead three days later according to scripture. It was head knowledge. I always assumed that I had a saving faith because I believed in Him. But is that enough? I have to say that a few years ago when something in my faith changed, I believed that all of those years I was not a Christian or therefore have a saving faith. At first I couldn’t pinpoint what was different. I still believed the same things. What had changed? Using a Bible study I was doing at the time, God showed me through a verse.
“You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe-and shudder!” James 2:19
I realized, through the Spirit, that I had believed and that’s where it ended. “Even the demons believe” so at that point in my life I did not have a saving faith. If demons believe, what don’t they do? In the moment when this verse spoke to me, the first thing that came to mind was worship. They don’t worship Him. And at that point I realized it was a heart issue. I had grown up with head knowledge of Him, I did not have heart knowledge. Which brings me back to the question, is it possible to have true repentance without making Him Lord of your life? Or first, can you have true repentance without some sort of heart knowledge? Meaning, is it really possible to be truly repentant without being broken and heart sick over your sins? And is it possible to be broken and heart sick over your sins without a true, worshiping realization of who He is and subsequently who you are in relation to Him?
“And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” Luke 5:31-32
So wouldn’t it suffice to say that in order to come to repentance you have to truly see and accept that you are a sinner? And isn’t the only way to see that as heart knowledge, as opposed to just head knowledge that you have been taught, to have a glimpse of who He is and therefore your identity in relation to Him? I am not talking about your identity in Him as right now I am speaking of before an initial repentance. At the very least an acceptance of His character as the creator, the Sovereign and the Savior of the world, which shows, in the very least, in relation that we are His creation and sinners in need of a savior.
“Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?
But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.” Romans 2:4-5
By having a strictly intellectual belief or “easy-believism” aren’t we presuming on His kindness? That the knowledge only reaching our head would indicate an impenitent or remorseless heart?
Paul wrote, “As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.” 2 Corinthians 7:9-10
In order to feel a godly grief over your sin would require heart knowledge instead of just head knowledge, as grief is an emotion and requires our heart, as in our emotional center.
Jesus told the parable of the sheep, “So he told them this parable: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” Luke 15:3-7
In respect to the subject at hand, something hit me from this passage. Would someone arriving at an intellectual belief of Jesus, or “easy-believism”, which does not penetrate the heart leading to true repentance and eventual Lordship salvation, spur joy and rejoicing in heaven? Could the hosts of heaven look on and be joyful over someone accepting an intellectual belief?
Now I am in no way saying that making Jesus Lord of your life is an instant surrender when coming to Him in true repentance. I know I didn’t. But, that if you are coming to Him out of heart knowledge, or revelation of Him, and truly repenting, that from there progression and growth would lead to seeing Him even clearer, as you seek Him, and therefore a realization that He already is Sovereign over your life but a need to make Him lord of your life by surrendering it to Him and His will. One of my favorite passages when I need reminding that He is in control is Job 38, I won’t include the whole chapter here, but how is it possible to see God, with your heart, as the omnipotent Ruler and also the Savior of the world, as read in Matthew chapters 27 and 28 and not make Him lord over your life? So, if saving faith requires true repentance, and true repentance requires a heart knowledge of Him, does saving faith and true repentance lead to surrendering lordship over your life?
Do over. Since my last blog post I have been continuing to research the debate between lordship salvation and decisional salvation, or “easy-believism”. I believe through my further research that I was on the right path but somehow ended up just left of it and missed the mark. The problem was, in viewing in black and white, I agreed that one was not enough and therefore the opposite option must be correct. I never took into consideration that both options missed the mark. I was so against that decisional salvation was enough that I added works to His grace without realizing it.
“The good news is that Christ has done something about sin and that He lives today to offer His forgiveness to me. The direction is from Christ to me. It is never from me to Him. I do not offer Him anything. How could I? What could I possibly offer that would help meet my need? To offer the years of my life is to offer something very imperfect and something which can do nothing to forgive my sin. To vow my willingness to change is to affirm something I will not consistently keep; and even if I could, it would not remove the guilt of my sin. Of course, when I receive eternal life from His hand, I bow before an infinitely superior Person. But I bow as one totally unable to do anything about my sin. I bow as a recipient of His grace and never as one who donates anything to Him. In salvation I am always the recipient, the donee, never the donor. If I try to donate anything with respect to becoming a Christian, then I have added a work, and salvation is no longer solely and purely of grace. Keep the direction straight, and keep His grace unmixed with any work.”~Charles C Ryrie
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9
I still believe it is a head versus heart issue. Decisional salvation, or accepting a head knowledge of Christ is far from believing in Him with both your heart and your mind. Heart knowledge is infinitely different than head knowledge.
“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.”
Charles C. Ryrie posed a series of questions in response to lordship salvation that included the following:
“1. Can I accept Jesus as my Savior without acknowledging Him as the Lord God?
2. Can I accept Jesus as my Savior without acknowledging Him as Lord/Master of my life?
3. Can I accept Jesus as my Savior without being willing to place my life under His control?
4. Can a dedicated Christian take back part or all of his commitment?
5. If so, does he (or she) lose his salvation?”
Just in answering these questions in respect to my acceptance of Christ, I know that I did not acknowledge Him as lord or master of my life at the time of accepting Him as my Savior. And I was definitely not willing to relinquish control of my life to Him, that was actually a struggle that came a few years after my acceptance. And of course because I am a sinner I take back, in some form, my commitment to His will being supreme and obeying Him as lord of my life. Since the Bible teaches we are sealed at the time of our acceptance then I believe the Bible teaches we cannot lose our salvation.
“What makes the difference between those who believe and are not saved and those who believe and are saved? Apparently those who believe and are not saved know the facts of the Gospel and may even give assent to it’s truthfulness, but they are unwilling to trust the Savior for their personal salvation. Knowledge and assent without being willing to trust cannot in themselves save.” ~Charles C Ryrie
So in reference to my accepting lordship salvation, I believe it is because what I was saying was that there would be proof, or fruit, of someone genuinely accepting Christ. Where I missed the mark in this is that lordship salvation requires this proof, or fruit, before salvation, when really after our genuine acceptance we are given the Holy Spirit, which is truly what leads to fruit. We cannot produce fruit apart from God, therefore the fruit would be after the genuine acceptance of Christ versus being a prerequisite.
“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:4-5
“Today the Lord Jesus, the God-man, offers His feast of salvation freely, and He can do so because He is God who became man. The same Lord Jesus through many New Testament writers asks those who have believed to submit to His mastery over their lives. Some do to a great extent. No one does it fully and always. Some do to a lesser extent. But He was, is, and always will be Lord whether He is acknowledged as the God-man Savior or whether He is acknowledged as Master of the believer’s life. He is Lord.” ~Charles C Ryrie
All of this brings me back to the original start of this question and research, which was differentiating saved from unsaved. Granted, I have accepted that only God can truly know and it is not for us to judge, but to instead be a testimony for Him when He places someone before us and prompts. But, why is it possible for unsaved to believe they are saved, whether that is through decisional salvation or following religious legalism? Meaning, why isn’t there a noticeable difference between those who truly have salvation in Christ and belong to Him and those who do not? Why does the Spirit-led church not stand out more in contrast to a church of religious works and legalism, one that does not point to Christ as the way? Has Christ’s church become so internalized that it hinders the unsaved from recognizing the difference and causing a delusional belief they are saved?