Great question, but one you have to be careful with when answering it.  Sometimes we can end up violating Matthew 7:1 {wrongly judging} by looking at the externals.  God is the only one who can see into another person’s heart, He is the only one capable of judging someone’s motives and heart actions.

Generally speaking, some seem to take the principle of spiritual growing and learning and totally skip it, moving to spiritual maturity at the point of salvation.  However, spiritual babyhood is a biblical principle and spiritual maturity does not come all at once.

“Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, AS NEWBORN BABES, desire pure milk of the word, that you may GROW thereby,”  (I Peter 2:1-2, emphasis added, NKJV).

Notice that it is the spiritual newborn babes that need the pure milk of the Word of God.  It is the spiritual newborn babes that need to grow {mature spiritually}.  Spiritual growth [maturing] is done by the Word of God under the supervision and teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 2:13).

There is a danger that some new Christians do not want to leave babyhood and so they need the nourishment of the Holy Spirit.

“For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.  For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe.  But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Hebrews 5:12-14, NKJV).

“These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.  But the natural man DOES NOT receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.  But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one.  ‘For who has known the mind of the LORD that he may instruct Him?’ But we have the mind of Christ.”  (I Corinthians 2:13-16, emphasis added, NKJV)

Now notice how the Apostle speaks to these Corinthian folks who have not grown spiritually [matured] as they should have.

“And I brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ.  I fed you with MILK and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal.  For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?”  (I Corinthians 3:1-3, emphasis added, NKJV)

Lordship Salvation emphasizes that submitting to Christ as Lord over your life goes hand-in-hand with trusting in Christ to be saved.  It also focuses on a changed life as the result of salvation.  Those who believe in Lordship Salvation have serious doubts about a person who claims to believe in Christ but does not have good works evident in his or her life.

FACT: The Bible does teach that faith in Christ will result in a changed life.  (II Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 5:22-23; James 2:14-26)

One who accepts Christ becomes, as Paul points out, a new creation and immediately points out that God has given to the new believer a ministry of reconciliation, and points out that the believer is now an ambassador for Christ (see II Corinthians 5:17-18, 20).  Both of these two concepts would seem to indicate spiritual maturity.  However, we must be careful with this since other parts of the Bible indicate that there has to be a pattern of growth from being spiritual babes to a spiritually maturing Christian able to handle the meat of the Word.

There are other factors that perhaps should be considered:

  1. For some, depending on the person and his circumstances, spiritual growth sometimes occurs very quickly and for others, as we have seen, there is a need to push for continued growth.
  • One of the criminals who was crucified with Christ said to Jesus, “…Lord, remember me when you come into your Kingdom”  (Luke 23:42, NKJV).
  • Also, Paul and Silas indicated, “…Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household” (Acts 16:31, NKJV).
  • Point to remember:  For a person to be saved they must recognize that Christ is God (John 1-4).  It would be natural for a person who has just accepted that fact could easily refer to Christ as “Lord.”  However, as we have seen, even that person would require time and instruction to begin the maturing process.

The truth that the Bible teaches clearly is that salvation is by faith alone, apart from works (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8-9).  The Bible also teaches that a life changes after salvation (Ephesians 2:10).  So it is  a difficult balance to find.  Again, we must be careful not to attempt to do God’s work for Him and judge another Christian incorrectly.

KEY:  The part that gives us trouble from time to time is that God only knows who His sheep are and He has a timetable for their spiritual growth.  He will mature each of us according to His time table, not ours.

So, is Lordship Salvation biblical?

  1. It cannot be denied that faith in Christ produces a change (II Corinthians 5:17).
  2. A person who has been delivered from sin by faith in Christ should not desire to remain a babe or in a life of sin (Romans 6:2).
  3. If we are biblical, we must admit that spiritual growth can vary with different people.  So, submitting to the Lordship of Jesus Christ is an issue of spiritual growth and not salvation.
  4. A person should not be expected to have to submit to God in every area of his or her life in order to be saved.  The criminal on the cross is an example.  He didn’t have even hours as a Christian, but minutes, before He called Jesus Lord.
  5. The Christian life is a process of learning and submitting to God in increasing measure (II Peter 1:5-8).
  6. A person does not have to submit to God in every area of his or her life in order to be saved.  But certainly to believe that Christ is God will also bring with it a certain knowledge that He is our Lord and Master.
  7. To be saved, a person simply has to recognize that Jesus is God and that he or she is a sinner in need of Jesus Christ for salvation (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8-9).  He also must by faith accept God’s free gift of salvation which only comes through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (John 14:6; Acts 16:31; Romans 10:9-13).
  8. Jesus Christ is Lord and it may take some growth time for the new Christian to understand that biblically (Philippians 2:10-11).
  9. There can be no doubt that true Christians will submit to Him (James 4:7).

Finally, let it be clear, a changed life and submission to Christ’s Lordship are the result of salvation, not a requirement for salvation.  But a recognition that Jesus is God is required for salvation.