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You need more than a Lord – you need a savior!

So, an article from a fellow named John Bevere came to my attention, and I was asked to comment on it. I am just responding to the content of the post – I don’t know anything about Mr. Bevere and I mean nothing disparaging about the man.

First, I want to say something about these posts where I refute what someone is teaching. I’ve been asked to stop doing this. I really want to respect that. I want to say that I really do feel compelled from the Holy Spirit to make a response to these things. I could certainly at times do so with a much kinder attitude – and I will acknowledge my error in that and try to do better. It is easy to be graceless about grace. However, the rampant teaching that is out there which undermines the gospel really demands a response, and although my ministry is small and my reach is limited, I believe that my voice is important and I believe something should be publicly posted which defends the good news of redemption through Jesus’ blood, the gospel of lavish grace. So I am compelled to do this, but I want everyone who has asked me to stop doing this to know that I mean no disrespect at all. For better or worse, I feel that I must obey God rather than men, and so I am following my conscience to post this.

3 For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, 6 being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.

So back to John Bevere’s article — YOU NEED MORE THAN A SAVIOR. Here is an excerpt:

If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
Romans 10:9–10 NKJV

Stop right there.

Do you see it?

These verses are familiar to most of us, but there’s something in this passage many have overlooked. It’s a single word: lord. The word lord is the Greek word kurios, which means “master, owner, supreme in authority.” This is significant because people often unconsciously substitute another word in place of this one. Paul states we must confess the Lord Jesus—not the Savior Jesus. Herein lies a fundamental flaw prevalent in the Western church.

Contrary to popular belief, confessing Jesus as merely Savior doesn’t bring freedom or new life. I realize this is a strong statement that cuts against the grain of our accepted appeals to the lost, but it is true to Scripture.

The word savior is found 36 times in the Bible. The word lord occurs over 7,800 times. Where do you think God places the emphasis? Lord declares the position He holds in our lives, whereas Savior describes the work He’s done for us. We cannot partake of the benefit of His work unless we come under His position as Lord and King! (emphasis mine)

First, Mr. Bevere has cherry picked Romans 10:9 way out of context with Romans 3,4,5,6,7, and 8. And the other letters of Paul, such as 1 Corinthians 15:

3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.

It’s all important. Of course it is useless to believe in the crucifixion alone. Anyone including real criminals could have been crucified and we don’t think of them as a savior.

Then this post has especially thrown out Romans 3:

21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.

You can’t interpret Romans 10:9 out of context with these verses! It’s crazy. I could make the same opposite statement that he is saying like this:

“15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.” 1 Timothy 1:15

See? Did you see what he said there? Christ is a savior. Only. Rightly, it could be said that I am cherry picking the verse out of context. Context matters and everyone thinks so.

Ironically, when Paul says that we are to confess him as Lord in Romans 10:9, he is in the middle of a discussion about the role of the Jews now that the gospel has come to the Gentiles. And he says, The Jews have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. They think by their deeds they can save themselves, but the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law. It is through faith in Christ and Him crucified. They think they are “Lord” of their salvation, but believers have given up that control and hope. The believer thinks that Jesus is their savior, that He is Lord of their salvation. If you pit the idea of Jesus as Lord against the idea of Jesus as savior, you utterly miss this passage.

So ironically Mr. Bevere is correct. We cannot partake of the benefit of His work unless we come under His position as Lord and King. We must give up our own ability to “make” Him Lord. We must give up our false notion that we can obey the law. We must acknowledge what God has spoken forth so powerfully in the cross: we need a savior. We are sinners. We are terrible at obedience. We still need NT imperatives. We still need Romans 8:1. We need to know that He is Lord of saving us, and that we ourselves cannot save ourselves. Every hour we need the cross of Christ.

Mr Bevere actually does make reference to our salvation through Christ’s blood in his article, which is great. But he does so only in order to marginalize it and distance our Christian walk from it in favor of his wrong and out-of-context exegesis of Romans 10:9. He makes the classic mistake many churches make, in that the gospel of Christ and Him crucified becomes a necessary checkmark on a doctrinal statement, just one more needful law. He says that we cannot partake of the benefit of His work unless we “come under” Christ’s position as Lord and King – as opposed to considering Him a savior! He says, you must choose, is Christ your savior or is Christ your Lord? If Christ is merely your savior, you cannot partake of the benefit of His work. This is wildly different than Paul’s overall message in the book of Romans and Paul’s writings in general. It marginalizes the cross of Christ and there is no way even Jesus Himself could be in agreement with this. It seems obvious that true Christianity puts the cross of Christ as salvation to sinners front and center. Mr. Bevere seeks to change that and I am certain that is wrong.

If you are interested in Biblical accuracy and you want to press Lordship salvation you will need to do much better than this. It is a lofty speculation that has been brought down.

Contrary to what he says in the article, the majority of the Western church has turned away from the gospel of real salvation and lavish grace to a gospel of works and “Lord, Lord didn’t I” salvation. He is making the exact same error. It’s not even unusual – we are swimming in a complete ocean of this kind of teaching. On Facebook there are a huge number of excited glowing comments from people that delight to see someone cherry pick this verse and throw out so great a salvation! The article has 852 shares at last count! People love to think they can save themselves! Lack of belief in Christ and Him crucified is utterly pandemic.

The good news is, in Christ you have more than a Lord who demands obedience. You have a savior, who is Lord over your persistent sin. He is Lord over your salvation. You can trust His kindness. He has been thinking about how to save you literally forever. He chose to die for you. He rose from the dead to prove He is faithful to your welfare. He forgives you! If that is some dumb outdated message then hallelujah! I still choose it anyway.

“how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?”
Hebrews 2:3

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5 Comments

  1. Jim, just so you know. Those Jesus reaches through your ministry, thank God deeply that he is urging you to be a voice calling in the desert for the simple, pure Gospel. God uses you to encourage me immensly in my life. I consider you a dear friend even though we only communicate through e-mail and over the website. God bless you as you continue to boldly proclaim the unconditional gospel.

  2. I’ll second that. “Unconditional Gospel” describes it perfectly. Is it grace, or grace PLUS something?

    I’ll take grace, please!

  3. Thanks Jim
    I love the way you remove the clouds of mans circumcision in your writing to reveal the Sonshine of Gods scandous Grace
    Please do not ever grow weary as you continue to be obedient in proclaiming Holy Spirits message to a lost and dying world. May Jesus bless you and yours as you keep steadfast and with Joy …. allow The Father to use you through your ministry.
    Godbless and keep on writing and preaching the Gospel.

  4. I’m sorry but I gotta point something out. That verse says “if you confess with your mouth The Lord Jesus…” So yes He is Lord” but doesn’t jesus mean Savior so you could say “if you confess with your mouth The Lord Savior.” And I wonder how many times His name appears in scripture. I’m guessing more than 36 but I wouldn’t use that argument anyway. You still have to interpret that correctly. Like I believe someone pointed out the word law appears more than grace but that doesn’t mean we’re under law. Anyway just saying knowing that Jesus translates to Savior is a HUGE deal to me. Thank you Jim for preaching when others tell you to stop. Like others here and I’ve been really encouraged and blessed.

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