Lordship Salvation

"This salvation is actually bestowed on none but those who obey Christ. It is not sufficient that we have some doctrinal knowledge of Christ, or that we make a profession of faith in him, but we must hearken to his word, and obey him. He is exalted to be a prince to rule us, as well as a Saviour to deliver us: and he will be a Saviour to none but to those whom he is a prince, and who are willing that he should reign over them; the rest he will account his enemies, and treat them accordingly. But to those who obey him, devoting themselves to him, denying themselves, and taking up their cross, and following him, he will be the author, aitios -- the grand cause of their salvation, and they shall own him as such for ever."

Matthew Henry on Hebrews 5:9

I wonder if my friend, Lou, would think Henry is a heretic on the gospel.

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Alex Guggenheim's picture

Many theologians err in their soteriological expression, either in part or in whole and many do not. Here it appears, in part, that Matthew Henry is no exception (with the understanding we are only immediately privy to this quote and no other qualifying comments). However, his case is not surprising seeing the predominant theological/denominational influence in his life was Presbyterianism and this peccant strain of justification has commonly found its way in the Presbyterian church. Of course this does not negate any true or accurate teachings Henry may have provided in the rest of his works.

But this is no less common (though much more grievous seeing the kind of injury it inflicts to potential believers and its consequences) than other theological errors on other topics that befall us all and of course even the most notable theologians down through the ages.

Bob T.'s picture

Todd,
the question is do you think what he said is the gospel of Jesus Christ? I would certainly hope not . Certainly you must understand the clearest doctrine of scripture? Surely you will take the clear declaration of God through Paul at Romans 3:21-26 over Matthew Henry or any other man.
Surely this verse has a better meaning. it is not that works enter into salvation. In context, and by comparing scripture with scripture, we see two clear points. First it is Christ's perfection that saves us not ours. Second, we obey Christ by faith in His perfection and work and applying that to ourselves. That is obedience to the gospel.The reformers saw believing or faith as involving knowledge, assent and trust. Trust was applying it ourselves so as to rely upon it. Was Matthew Henry an Apostate? No, there is no indication of that. Was he confused on some things? Absolutely! Eph, 2:8-9 is certainly clear and trumps less unclear passages and any errant interpretation. As is the entire book of Romans, Galatians, and the Gospel of John. Three full explanations of the Gospel.

pastorwesh's picture

Todd --

One must be very careful to throw around such a serious word as "heretic". As for me, I have not read one commentary cover to cover and agreed with the author 100% (Actually, I don't think I've ever read a commentary cover to cover, although I'd like to.)

When I graduated Bible College (and I came from one that is know for seperating itself into a corner), I had the mindset that I shouldn't read anyone who taught anything that I didn't agree with. As you can imagine I didn't do much reading at the time (only what was required for class work). Then I became an Associate under a man who forced me out of my comfortable box. Initially I though this man was liberal, because he had books on his bookshelf that I would never endorse. However, over time I realized that my college wasn't right about all things, my professors weren't right about all things, and that no commentator is right about all things (and even more importantly...I'm not right about all the things I think I'm right about).

Lordship salvaiton is a confusing topic because many people have their own understanding of what that means. If one means that I person must actively make the Lord the Lord of their life, then that is a works based salvation. If one means that a person must a complete theological understand of the Lordship of Christ before salvation is granted to them, I ask did they completely understand the Lordship of Christ at the time of their salvation, or has there knowledge of that theological concept grown over time? Also, how can a child grasp the complete theological understanding of the Lordship of Christ, and isn't that in direct opposition of what Christ Himself said in Luke 18:17, "Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein." Also, we see in scripture that Timothy was saved at a young age: 2 Timothy 3:15, "And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus."

My understading of how the Lordship of Christ plays in the salvation process is this...

  • A person must realize that he will not acheive forgiveness on his own terms/going his own way/in any way dependant upon his own merits (or however else a person may wish to word it)
  • That person must realize that Christ provided the only way.
  • That person must choose to go the way that Christ provided (this inherently speaks of a willingness to follow Christ)

I believe that without that submissive spirit, and spiritual understanding, a person is not saved. In Acts, Christians were called people of "The Way". They had changed directions, and were now going Christ's Way. Maybe a little elementary, or simplistic, but I think God is pleased in making Salvation simple to understand. Smile

Serving the Savior, Pastor Wes Helfenbein 2 Cor. 5:17

Pastor Harold's picture

The phrase "By faith" in this chapter always leads to some action. True faith is an action to obedience. The old hymn says " trust and obey for there is no other way...". Look at Heb 11:4 Cain and Abel both offered sacrifices in Gen 4 one was accepted and one was not. Why was this? Abel's was by faith "of his flock" (a lamb); Cain brought "Fruit of the ground" (his own work, not a blood sacrifice). Faith built an Ark. Faith left home. Faith walked with God. Faith forsook Egypt. Faith brought Isaac to be laid on the alter. Faith laid baby Moses in the Nile. Faith knocked the walls of Jericho down. "Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone" James 2:17.

I think this is what Mr Henry is trying to say in your passage.