The fact that Lordship Salvation proponents interpret the sayings of Jesus in a way that puts them at odds with the writings of Paul should be a huge red flag. When Paul specifically uses the word “gospel” (Greek – euaggelion, or happy word), he says it is the power of God for salvation, not a “call to discipleship”:
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith,as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” Romans 1:16-17 (NASB)
I think it is a fair question to ask: why is it so difficult to allow the gospel to truly be a message of strong forgiveness? Why can’t it primarily be a message of salvation and not of sanctification? Why must it become a message of behavioral transformation, of personal change? Change will come, and it may come quickly or it may come slowly, and there may be value or there may be pride and self-promotion in discipline and personal holiness, but there can be no doubt that the primary message of the gospel is a message of forgiveness. It is a message for trapped helpless unholy people who cannot personally transform themselves to receive a great mercy from outside of their own abilities. What is at stake here is most fundamental: is the gospel a message where God saves us, or the gospel a message where we transform ourselves for God’s sake? Jesus and Paul are both clear on this: the gospel is a message of salvation for sinners.