Spiritual Discipleship - page 1

From the Summer 2011 issue of Knowing & Doing


Spiritual Discipleship

by J. Oswald Sanders

Ye call me Master and Lord: and you say well; for so I am. —John 13:13 kjv
Jesus Christ . . . is Lord of all.  —Acts 10:36

The question of authority is one of the burning issues of our times. It is challenged in every sphere—in family, church, school, and community. This revolt against constituted authority has been responsible for the disastrous breakdown in law enforcement, with a consequent upsurge in crime and violence.

Without some central authority, society will disintegrate into chaos and anarchy. Every ship must have a captain, every kingdom a king, and every home a head if they are to function aright.

If this is true of society in general, it is no less true in the kingdom of Mansoul, as Bunyan termed it—in the lives of individual men and women. The crucial question to answer is, “In whose hands does the final authority rest?” For the Christian there are only two alternatives. The authority rests in the Master’s hands or in mine. Scripture leaves us in no doubt as to who should hold it—“[He] is Lord of all.” 

Lordship Salvation
In recent times in evangelical circles there has developed strident debate around what has been termed “lordship salvation,” a name that has been applied to the view that, for salvation, a person must believe in Christ as Savior and submit to His authority. Some, at the other end of the spectrum, go so far as to say that to invite an unsaved person to receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord is a perversion of the gospel, and is adding to the scriptural teaching about salvation. “All that is required for salvation is believing the gospel message,” says Thomas L. Constable.

On either side are godly men whose love for the Lord is beyond question, and each view aims to preserve the purity of the gospel presentation in our day. There must, therefore, be mutual respect, but both positions cannot be right.

In my view, it is defective teaching to divorce the Saviorhood of Christ from His lordship. Salvation is not merely believing certain doctrinal facts; it is trusting in and embracing the divine Person who is Lord of the universe and who atoned for our sins.

To suggest that a person can exercise saving faith in Christ while knowingly rejecting His right to lordship over his life, seems a monstrous suggestion. In salvation we are not accepting Christ in His separate offices. To deliberately say, “I will receive Him as Savior, but I will leave the matter of lordship until later, and then decide whether or not I will bow to His will,” seems an impossible position, and cannot be sustained by Scripture.

Having said that, I would concede that many have genuinely believed in Christ who, through inadequate teaching, were never confronted with Christ’s claim to lordship, and therefore they have not knowingly rejected it. The proof of the reality of their regeneration would be that as soon as they learn of Christ’s claim, they submit to His mastery.

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