This is one of the most harmful doctrines preached in evangelical Christendom. It’s a reflection of our impatient, intolerant, self-willed “instant society,” another expression of sinful flesh preserving itself, finding a face-saving way to placate God, survive, and appear righteous before men. It is grossly harmful because it gives a false sense of security. It is a doctrine of devils.
This doctrine has people deluded into thinking they’re saved. And it’s a concoction of devils to draw more people into religious circles. Because many people believe this lie, others are persuaded it must be true. The notion goes, “Many are invariably right and few are most certainly wrong because they are few.” But God never worked, doesn’t work, and never will work that way. (Read Counterfeit Christianity.)
If all these formal churches in the world depended on truth and the cross to add to their numbers, they wouldn’t be around. To draw the crowds, they must make what they offer palatable, even delicious. “Swallow this sweet-flavored pill, follow it with water (baptism), and all your problems will be solved instantly.” It’s an easy gospel for the carnal man to accept; after all, he doesn’t have to repent, as God defines repentance.
Nowhere do the Scriptures even hint that we simply “accept” Jesus Christ as Savior and we’re automatically saved. That notion leaves the carnal man in the driver’s seat, which is exactly his nature and unregenerate desire. How presumptuous and arrogant the thought that we, not God, call the shots! True conversion isn’t acceptance, it’s death.
When Saul of Tarsus was on his way to Damascus, He was stopped in his tracks by whom…the Savior? No, it was the Lord. Saul immediately said, “Who are You, Lord? And when he realized Who was speaking to him, his next words (note them) were, “Lord, what will You have me to do?” Salvation is of the Jews and they know whereof they speak. They understood that the primary aspect of man’s relationship with God was one of submission and obedience to Him as Lord.
Is Jesus Savior? Of course He is, and He’s the only Savior there is. There is no other. But there is only one way He can ever save us, and that is not if we “accept Him as Savior” (He is Savior whether we accept Him or not); it’s only if we believe Him, that is, put our entire trust in Him. And that faith in Christ will always be manifest in obedience – submission to His Lordship, the sign of the cross at work.
Faith isn’t the mere verbalization of a few pious words, as many interpret in passages like Romans 10:8-10. It isn’t the mere intellectual and verbal assent that Jesus is Savior or Lord that changes one’s status with God. If a vain profession changes anything, it’s for the worse, because people take on themselves His Name in vain, bringing more damnation to themselves than they had before professing Him.
The first thing Saul of Tarsus had to do when the Lord appeared to him (Acts 9) was to obey. He didn’t simply get down on his knees (not that many get on their knees before Him anymore, either), “receive Jesus as Savior,” and proceed to confess Him to others. Nor was Saul required to demonstrate his sincerity by going forward at an “altar call.” No, the Lord gave him a command, which he obeyed, thereby not only confessing Jesus as Lord with his lips, but with his life. Suddenly gone was his religious mission of obedience to his superiors. And note that Romans 10:8-10 also speaks of confessing Jesus as Lord, not as Savior:
“Because if you confess the Lord Jesus, and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth one confesses unto salvation” (Romans 10:9-10 MKJV).
When by faith with the mouth of our lives we confess Jesus Christ is Lord, following through by obedience to His will (otherwise it isn’t genuine faith), Jesus then continues the process of saving us. Salvation comes by submission to the authority of God, by the whole-hearted acknowledgment of His sovereignty in all things through His gift of faith. In obedience we are saved, even as Paul, Peter, John, James, and others consistently declare.
As it is written, “He gives the Holy Spirit to those who obey Him.” Three days after his conversion, Saul was given the Holy Spirit. Didn’t Jesus say, “He that has My commandments and keeps them, he is the one who loves Me… and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and make Our abode with him”?
“And we are His witnesses of these things. And so also is the Holy Spirit, Whom God has given to those who obey Him” (Acts 5:32 MKJV).
What of Cornelius, who was a pious man (Acts 10)? Was it enough to believe in the simple way taught today in the name of “simplicity in Christ”? No, when he received instruction from Heaven, he was given a command: “Send men to Joppa and get Peter.”
And what of Naaman, the Syrian (2 Kings 5)? Did Elisha tell him to simply believe, or was he commanded to go wash in the Jordan seven times? What faith would it take to simply “believe”? But it took faith for him to obey, and he had difficulty doing so. The work of the cross was “crucial” to salvation, the cross being a requirement in a point of obedience.
What of the widow who had to share her last meal with one who asked it of her, though there was no hope of another meal thereafter (1 Kings 17)?
Even those to whom Jesus said, “Go your way, your faith has made you whole,” acted in some matter of obedience by faith.
“Take up your bed and walk!” Jesus commanded the lame man, even though Jesus and the man knew there would be trouble with the religious authorities, seeing as how they forbade such activity on the Sabbath.
What of Abraham and his son, Isaac (Hebrews 11:17-19)? Didn’t he believe God would raise Isaac from the dead? Was it enough to “believe” and leave it at that? No, God gave him a trying command, and Abraham had to offer Isaac up in obedience to God. I know of no harder a task than that a father should offer up his only beloved son.
James rebukes all those who think they can merely “accept Jesus as Savior” and walk away wiping their mouths as though they had eaten to the full. Martin Luther preached sola fide (faith alone saves), and it’s no wonder Luther, in all his knowledge and “wisdom,” wouldn’t include the Book of James in his Bible. (He also had a problem with Jude, Hebrews, and Revelation.)
Luther went from Catholic works of sacrifice, self-abuse, and acts of penance for salvation, and swung in the opposite direction, believing in mere lip service, calling it faith. Out of one delusion and into another. And the false church accepted his teachings and called in “reformation.”
Foolish children, looking for the easy way, I tell you that nothing but the cross will do. Nothing but the death sentence suffices. False preachers water down the requirements of God in order to seduce souls into their organizations. And people love them for it. These preachers say to the simple, “I’ll prey for you,” and the simple are predated. The conscience is salved, the flesh is spared, and the sin is permitted to remain.
“Why do you call Me ‘Lord’ and don’t do what I say?” asks Jesus Christ (Luke 6:46), though emphasis on His Lordship is also in question with these people. But to put it another way, He asks, “Why do you accept Me as your Savior and don’t acknowledge Me as Lord?”
He is the Lord Jesus Christ and not only the Savior Jesus Christ. But the rebel man doesn’t want to hear about lordship over him, about submission and obedience. Many are ignorant of needing to obey Christ in personal matters. They think they do His will by telling others about Him, going to church, and reading some Scripture.
The Scripture declares, “Every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is LORD,” not Savior (Isaiah 45:23; Romans 14:11). Lord of all, especially of himself, the one bowing.
A true conversion is marked by a point of obedience. The rich young ruler wasn’t simply permitted to “accept Jesus as Savior” (Matthew 19:16). Something very applicable and practical was required of him. Only when he obeyed could one know the man trusted God.
Is water immersion a sufficient sign of obedience? Many hold the mistaken belief water baptism is sufficient proof of faith, obedience, and salvation. Some believe something mystical and saving occurs at this ritual. But was water baptism enough for Judas, for the 70, for Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5), or for Simon (Acts 10)? Is it enough for Mormons, Seventh Day Adventists, followers of Armstrong, and Jehovah’s Witnesses? No, physical elements avail nothing. (Read from our section on Water Baptism.)
When people came to him to be baptized, John the Immerser called for fruits of repentance. He was asking for evidence to back up people’s lip service and willingness to be immersed in water:
“But seeing many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said to them, O generation of vipers, who has warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance; and do not think to say within yourselves, We have Abraham as our father. For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones” (Matthew 3:7-9 MKJV).
Are confessions under duress of Christ as Savior or even Lord of any value to God? The deathbed and crisis conversions one witnesses or hears of are almost all, if not all, spurious. Was the thief on the cross saved at the last moment? Read The Book of Luke Corrupted – A Deathbed Conversion Tale.
Do you believe your aging mother or wayward son, who lived resisting the will of God all their life, was saved because they confessed Jesus at the point of death? Don’t count on it – the Lord doesn’t save under duress, and he doesn’t honor one who is merely hedging his bets. He also doesn’t persuade by fear of Hell. Nowhere do we find such devilish doctrine in Scripture.
God doesn’t save one who seeks to save his carnal life, one who cries, “God, get me out of this mess, and I’ll do anything You say!” But if in troublous circumstances, one cries, “Thy will be done!” in all earnestness and sobriety, there may be an indication of something good happening; the Lord may have been working in that person for some time prior to the crisis. But they won’t die externally; they will die internally, called to obedience and living in, and for, Christ.
Furthermore, the notion that one must be saved only in this life is another doctrine of devils.
Those of you who think to be saved, better you seek to be Lorded by the Lord of Lords and Him alone. Your fruits and, more accurately, His fruits in you, or lack of them, will tell your true status with God.
Consider the alternative to believing this doctrine: What harm can there be in your seeking to submit to the complete Lordship of Jesus Christ? Is this not far better?