The question/issue of “Lordship Salvation” has stirred much debate, with entire books being written on the subject. We have read much of the literature/books regarding this “debate” and have decided that one of the best summary conclusions was penned by A.W. Tozer. As quoted in its entirety below, this passage appeared in the publication “The Root of the Righteous” published by Christian Publications.
“We must never underestimate the ability of human beings to get themselves tangled up.
Mankind appears to have a positive genius for twisting truth until it ceases to be truth and becomes downright falsehood. By overemphasizing in one place and underemphasizing in another the whole pattern of truth may be so altered that a completely false view results without our being aware of it.
This fact was brought forcibly to mind recently by hearing again the discredited doctrine of a divided Christ so widely current a few years ago and still accepted in many religious circles. It goes like this: Christ is both Savior and Lord. A sinner may be saved by accepting Him as Savior without yielding to Him as Lord. The practical outworking of this doctrine is that the evangelist presents and the seeker accepts a divided Christ. We have all heard the tearful plea made to persons already saved to accept Christ as Lord and thus enter into the victorious life.
Almost all deeper life teaching is based on this fallacy, but because it contains a germ of truth its soundness is not questioned. Anyway, it is extremely simple and quite popular, and in addition to these selling points it is also ready-made for both speaker and hearer and requires no thinking by either. So sermons embodying this heresy are freely preached, books are written and songs composed, all saying the same thing; and all saying the wrong thing, except as I have said, for a feeble germ of truth lying inert at the bottom.
Now, it seems odd that none of these teachers ever noticed that the only true object of saving faith is none other than Christ Himself; not the “saviorhood” of Christ nor the “Lordship” of Christ, but Christ Himself. God does not offer salvation to the one who will believe on one of the offices of Christ, nor is an office of Christ ever presented as an object of faith. Neither are we exhorted to believe on the atonement, or on the cross, nor on the priesthood of the Savior. All of these are embodied in the person of Christ, but they are never separated nor is one ever isolated from the rest. Much less are we permitted to accept one of Christ’s offices and reject another. The notion that we are so permitted is a modern day heresy, I repeat, and like every heresy it has had evil consequences among Christians. No heresy is ever entertained with impunity. We pay in practical failure for our theoretical errors.
It is altogether doubtful whether any man can be saved who comes to Christ for His help but with no intention to obey Him. Christ’s saviorhood is forever united to His lordship. Look at the Scriptures: ‘If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus and shalt believe in thine heart that Christ hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved…for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. (Romans 10:9-13). There the Lord is the object of faith for salvation. And when the Philippian jailer asked the way to be saved, Paul replied “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31). He did not tell him to believe on the Savior with the thought that he could later take up the matter of His Lordship and settle it at his own convenience. To Paul there could be no division of offices. Christ must be Lord or He will not be Savior.
There is no intention here to teach that the earnest believer may not go on to explore ever-increasing meanings in Christ, nor do we hold that our first saving contact with Christ brings perfect knowledge of all He is to us. The contrary is true. Ages upon ages will hardly be long enough to allow us to experience all the riches of His grace. As we discover new meanings in His titles and make them ours we will grow in the knowledge of our Lord and in personal appreciation of the multifold offices He fills and the many forms of love He wears exalted on His throne. That is the truth which has been twisted out of shape and reduced to impotence by the doctrine that we can believe on His saviorhood while rejecting His lordship.”
To the above we would like to also add some selected quotations from the writings of A.W. Tozer, "The Waning Authority of Christ in the Churches", excerpted from "God Tells The Man Who Cares":
"Let me state the cause of my burden. It is this: Jesus Christ has today almost no authority at all among the groups that call themselves by His name."
"It is a basic doctrine of the New Testament that after His resurrection the Man Jesus was declared by God to be both Lord and Christ, and that He was invested by the Father with absolute Lordship over the church which is His body. All authority is His in heaven and in earth."
"Among the gospel churches Christ is now in fact little more than a beloved symbol. "All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name' is the church's national anthem and the cross is her official flag, but in the week-by-week services of the church and the day-by-day conduct of her members someone else, not Christ, makes the decisions." "...it is now possible for the youngest pastor just out of seminary to have more actual authority in a church than Jesus Christ has. Not only does Christ have little or no authority; His influence also is becoming less and less."
"The idea that the Man Christ Jesus has absolute and final authority over the whole church and over all of its members in every detail of their lives is simply not now accepted as true by the rank and file of evangelical Christians."
Tozer explains how increasing numbers of people recommend Jesus, as a spiritual psychiatrist to straighten people out, deliver them from their guilt and help them solve their problems. "...this strange Christ has no relation whatever to the Christ of the New Testament. The true Christ is also Lord, but this accommodating Christ is little more than the servant of the people." "...Christ is desired as their helper, not as their Lord."
"We sing of Him and preach about Him, but He must not interfere; we worship our way..."
"For the true Christian the one supreme test for the present soundness and ultimate worth of everything religious must be the place our Lord occupies in it. Is He Lord or symbol? Is He in charge of the project or merely one of the crew? Does He decide things or only help to carry out the plans of others?"
In "That Incredible Christian", Tozer writes:
"The believer is intellectually convinced that Jesus is both Lord and Christ; he has set his will to follow Him at any cost..." "There is no craven division of offices whereby we may acknowledge His Saviorhood today and withhold decision on Hos Lordship till tomorrow. The true believer owns Christ as his All in All without reservation." "That we accept Christ in this all-inclusive, all-exclusive way is a divine imperative."