What is Lordship Salvation? A Christian Study

by Dr. Michael L. Williams · Print Print · Email Email

Since the beginning of time, salvation has been about God providing a Savior to die for the sins of humanity. However, despite God’s simple plan of salvation, like Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, man insists on doing things his own way. One such way is the idea of Lordship salvation, which has permeated churches and discouraged the masses from really understanding God’s simple plan of salvation. What is Lordship Salvation? A short Christian study will help us to understand this dangerous doctrine.

What is Lordship Salvation

What is Lordship Salvation?

Lordship salvation is the belief that in order to be saved, one must make Jesus the Lord of their life. It is seen in many forms and expressions, but the main premise is that it always combines trusting Christ with works. For example, it might be trusting Christ and baptism. Or trusting Christ and praying a specific prayer. No matter what the case, it teaches that God’s grace alone is not enough to save you, that you must do something else too.

Another aspect of Lordship salvation is that you must perform certain works to stay saved. As some people like to say, “If Jesus is not Lord of all, He is not Lord at all.” This teaches that if you are not living a perfect sinless life as a Christian, then you are not saved or cannot keep your salvation. The problem with this teaching is that the Bible defines anything not done in faith as sin (Romans 12:22-23). This means that our own little commandment system that we set up for ourselves as our barometer of sin is worthless when compared to God’s standards. This begs to ask then, if we can lose our salvation by sinning, how many times a day did the Apostle Paul lose his salvation (Romans 7:7-25)? Likewise, what did he do to get it back?

Lordship Salvation has been around since the beginning of time

It was no surprise that man would make the choice to disobey God in the Garden of Eden despite having an intimate fellowship with God and everything that man could ever need. However, this was not good enough, man wanted to be like God. Man wanted more. Therefore he set about to be like God on his own terms and in his own way. In doing so, he changed the course of human history and set up the struggle for man to want to do things his own way, even in the provision that God has given for salvation.

When Adam and Eve sinned, they immediately knew that things were different. Not only did they know they were different, they knew that they were accountable to God and aware that He had said that if they ate from the tree they would die. Therefore, the first thing they tried to do was cover their sin by hiding it and doing what they could to cover it up as follows:

And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. (Genesis 3:7-8)

We know from the continuation of the story that God was not unaware of their sin and had in fact provided not only a solution for their sin, but a temporary covering as well (Genesis 3:14-21). The point to be made here is that it was not the fig leaves that Adam and Eve made to temporarily cover their sin that made them right with God. It was God’s grace demonstrated through the death of a coming Savior and symbolized by the killing of animals to obtain skins to cover them.

What does Lordship Salvation say about God’s grace?

Lordship salvation takes God’s grace alone out of salvation. For example, sometimes I hear people tell an unsaved person that you have to make Jesus the Lord of your life to be saved. The theological problem with this is that an unsaved person cannot make Jesus the Lord of their life because to have victory in your life over sin, you must have the Holy Spirit in you. You do not receive the Holy Spirit until after you trust Christ as your Savior (Ephesians 1:10-14; Ephesians 4:30). No man can say that Jesus is Lord without the Holy Spirit, so how can an unsaved person have the ability to make Jesus the Lord of their life (1 Corinthians 12:3)?

Another example is when someone tells a person that they must come forward and walk an aisle to be saved. This is based on the mistaken interpretation of Romans 10:9-10 as follows:

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. (Romans 10:9-11)

Many people teach that you must confess with your mouth to be saved. In teaching this they totally deny what verse ten teaches, with the heart man believeth unto righteousness. It is with the mouth confession is unto (to, of) salvation. The moment God knows that we believe the gospel in our heart, we are saved because God sees our hearts (1 Samuel 16:6-7). It is with our mouths that we confess that we ARE saved. Telling others about our salvation demonstrates in their eyes we already are saved. God sees the heart, man sees our words and deeds.

Where do works come in?

Finally, when it comes to salvation, Titus 3:5-8 gives us a perfect understanding of where our works stack up when it comes to salvation:

Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men. (Titus 3:5-8)

Notice it says, not by works of righteousness which we have done. Works of righteousness are works generated by faith (Romans 4:5; Philippians 3:9). This is reinforced in Ephesians 2:8-9. The point that is being made is that although works are very important as we can see in the following verses, it is God’s mercy that He did by cleansing us of our sins and renewing us by the Holy Spirit, In other words, God forgave us and put His Spirit in us. Our works have nothing to do with receiving God’s mercy. Instead, our righteous works should be a product of our salvation that demonstrates what God has done.


Lordship salvation is the belief that in order to be saved, one must make Jesus the Lord of their life. Lordship Salvation has been around since the beginning of time. Lordship salvation takes God’s grace alone out of salvation. God forgave us and put His Spirit in us. Our works have nothing to do with receiving God’s mercy. Our righteous works should be a product of our salvation that demonstrates what God has done.

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, King James Version

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

DocReits July 2, 2016 at 12:58 am

So Good Dr Williams. I attended a church in my travels last week where the pastor was speaking on James. His heart knew the truth I surmised from talking to him after church but he kept using the “got to” words regarding the demonstration of our faith that we “have to” do as a believer.

It drove me nuts. We”ought” to do works of righteousness to demonstrate our faith but we don’t “got to”(sic). Man attempts to help God out in order to be saved as you pointed out so well. It is in our nature. So sweet and sublime is God’s plan: He provided the lamb(Jesus)… we believe. The Bible tells us that is the work of God…that we simply “believe on Him whom He has sent”(Jn 6:29).

Do we behave as sons of the devil after we believe? No, God forbid, we demonstrate our love for God with acts of righteousness. We will continue to fall down(sin) but cling to the Cross each day, asking forgiveness and forsaking our sins and going on with God.

Thank you for speaking the truth. It is so simple, yet, so hard to find.



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