The Lordship of Christ Concerning Genuine Saving Faith

by Mike Ratliff

First indeed I give good grace to my God through Jesus Christ concerning all of you that your faith is broadly declared throughout the whole world. (a personal translation of Romans 1:8 from the Greek text)

In these broadly apostate days of the visible church the good biblical words such as ‘faith’ and ‘belief’ are thrown around and used in such a loose way that it is important for us dig into what God’s Word says about πιστεύω or pisteuō, “to have faith in, trust; particularly, to be firmly, persuaded as to something” and πιστός or pistos, an adjective meaning “faithful, trustworthy, reliable, dependable” instead of relying on what our modern translations give us for these words, for if we do not “dig” we remain in a shallow understanding of these things. On the other hand, God will use our hard work in these things to teach us, train us, and grow us into more mature Christians who do glorify God in our walks and perhaps other disciples will marvel and report to others and then our faith will be “broadly declared throughout the whole world.” You see, for Paul to make that statement about the Romans’ faith meant that there must have been something remarkable about it. What was it? 

Paul said something very similar to the Thessalonian church in 1 Thessalonians 1:8, “For from you has been sounded out the Word of the Lord not only in Macedonia, but also in Achaia; but everywhere your faith in God as gone out, so that there is no need for us to say anything.” (a personal translation from the Greek text) Here is our clue to why the faith of Romans was commendable as was that of the Thessalonians. What was the commonality? These churches were obeying the commands of the Lord in making disciples, in spreading the Gospel. Genuine believing means obeying. Here are the first 7 verses from Romans 1 from the ESV, “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ,To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” The bold section is v5.

Here is v5 from the Greek, “δι᾿ οὗ ἐλάβομεν χάριν καὶ ἀποστολὴν εἰς ὑπακοὴν πίστεως ἐν πᾶσι τοῖς ἔθνεσιν ὑπὲρ τοῦ ὀνόματος αὐτοῦ” Here is my personal translation of v5, “through whom we receive grace and apostleship into obedience of faith in all the nations on behalf of His name.” The words translated as “obedience of faith” are ὑπακοὴν πίστεως. Yes, the word ὑπακοὴν does mean “obedience.” It is the accusative, singular form of ὑπακοή or hupakoē. This is talking about lordship because it has the underlying foundation of obedience, commitment, and submission.

Some have called this “lordship salvation” a heresy and I have defended it here before, but with more and more pressure coming to bear here lately to focus more attention away from God and His sovereignty and all His other attributes including His wrath, I decided to focus on what genuine salvation will look like beginning with saving faith. As we have seen above, it means that saving faith is an obedient faith. The adjective that should describe the walk of those that have this faith should be πιστός or pistos, which describes believers who are faithful, trustworthy, consistent, constant, reliable, and, of course, obedient. God not only demands faith; He also demands fidelity.

Genuine Christians are called to be faithful to to the Word of God and their service to God. The true believer will remain faithful whereas, the false believer will eventually fall away. True faith is evidenced by practice. No where does the Word of God tell us that works are part of salvation and I am not saying they are either or that works keep us saved. Instead, works and how a believer lives is what God uses to prove the genuineness of his or her salvation. Faithfulness is a fundamental part of Christian living. The faith that is remarkable enough that the Apostle Paul would say that it is spoken of all over the world is obedient, faithful, trustworthy, consistent, constant, reliable and that belongs only to those under the Lordship of Christ.

Soli Deo Gloria!

13 thoughts on “The Lordship of Christ Concerning Genuine Saving Faith

  1. Hi Mike, thanks for the clarity.
    This reminds me of a probably well told story ( I don’t know if it is true) of a tight rope walker who had his tight rope stretched over a deep ravine and an audience stood waiting so as to watch him walk the rope. To warm up the crowd he told them he was going to walk across the rope alone once and then come back and push an empty wheel barrel across for the second time, then after that he was going to push the wheel barrel with a man inside across the ravine and back. The tight rope walker went through the first phase of walking the rope alone and back to the cheering crowd. Then he asked, ” How many here believe I can push the wheel barrel across and back? ” Everyone cheered and said they believed that he could. So the tight rope walker pushed the empty wheel barrel across and back to the crowds cheering. Then the tight rope walker asked, “How many people believed he could put a man inside the wheel barrel and push him across the ravine on the wire and all the way back?” Everyone cheered and said they ‘believed’, so the tight rope walker asked for one of the cheering ‘believers’ to get in the wheel barrel and the crowd fell silent because no one really ‘believed’.
    They thought they ‘believed’ but really it was ‘easy believism’, a mere ‘word’ because there was not any cost to themselves to ‘believe’.

    To ‘truly’ ‘believe’ is to ‘obey and be committed to’ and be ‘faithful’.

    Luke 6:46 (Amplified Bible)
    46Why do you call Me, Lord, Lord, and do not [practice] what I tell you?

  2. Dear Mike,

    Many years ago, a dear Pastor was giving a sermon on the Israelites being given the Manna when they were stuck in the desert and made several points to ponder. One was God dispensing the Manna in such a way (daily and would not keep to the next day) that it forced the Israelites every single day (with the exception of being able to collect for two days when the following day was the Sabbath) to have to trust God to sustain their very life. In the New Testament, Jesus says “Give us this day our daily bread” Matthew 6:11 We must turn to God’s Word every day to receive our heavenly portion of sustance to spiritually thrive. It is a long, slow, arduous process to grow in obedience, faithfulness, to be consistent. There is no such thing as a “One Hit Wonder” ie: The Prayer of Jabez or The Celebration of Disciplines in a walk with Christ. These quick fix methods are fads designed to distract (ultimately discourage) us from the hard work of utterly depending on Christ alone for our salvation and daily bread. Christ is the bread of life. Do we hunger for the very Word of God daily? Do we believe that He will sustain us? May God be gracious to us and draw us to Him so that we may be blessed to be salt and light to a world that is perishing. May God continue to bless your ministry. Kept only by His grace, charisse

  3. Amen, Mike – thank you for your stand for the truth. Another Scripture to add would be 1 Peter 1:1-2, where we see our election leads to salvation that leads to obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ:

    “1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,

    To the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2 elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ:

    Grace to you and peace be multiplied.”

    We are elected for obedience. Those who deny “lordship salvation” profess great ignorance as to what this doctrine teaches, and more importantly as to what Scripture teaches of our commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ. Saving faith obeys, to teach otherwise is to teach another gospel, even if out of ignorance.

    “True faith is evidenced by practice.”

  4. Hi Mike,

    Thank you for this wonderful lesson, Mike. All of the follow-up comments are great too.

    I’ve been struggling to teach my pre-teen daughter what it means to be a true follower of Christ without being overly complex or too simplistic. Unfortunately, I’ve seen a tendency for the discussion of “lordship salvation” to be a divisive subject on a number of fronts as “works” often enters the fray of debate. At times, even I’ve been confused myself but I think I have finally gotten it after reading this article and the comments posted.

    Based on the numerous discussions I’ve come across about this topic and your article, would it be fair to say that:

    Works is often associated with an attempt to be righteous or gain favor with the Lord – and we all know that our righteousness can never be enough to earn any kind of favor with the Lord.

    Obedience (as a lifestyle) is done purely out of a desire to present ourselves as pleasing the Lord. This may come through works, refraining from certain choices, and a motivation that always seeks the Lord’s will in our lives over our own wants and desires.

    In short, it appears to be a condition of one’s heart and the motivation driving one’s works. Hopefully, this explanation will be easy enough for a 12 year-old to digest. Any comments or suggestions would be appreciated. ;)

    Thanks again. I find your ministry to be a true blessing and very timely! :)

    Markus

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