What is “Easy Believism”?

The expression “easy believism” is used by Lordship Salvation teachers (e.g. John McArthur, R.C. Sproul, Greg Laurie, etc.) to mean that more than believing in Christ for everlasting life is necessary. Lordship Salvation proponents insist that turning from sins, commitment, obedience, and perseverance in good works must accompany belief in Christ in order to obtain eternal life. If this is true, why would the Gospel of John, the only book of the Bible whose express purpose is to tell non-Christians how to obtain eternal life (John 20:31), repeatedly say that believing in Christ is the only condition necessary for receiving the gift of eternal life (e.g. 3:15-18, 36; 4:10-14; 5:24; 6:40, 47; 7:38; 11:25-27; 20:30-31)? Are Lordship Salvation advocates saying that God was making it too easy for people to get saved by emphasizing the word “believe” as the only condition for eternal life? 

Is the phrase “easy believism” even logical? The opposite of “easy believism” would be “hard” or “difficult believism”. How hard or difficult must believing be to be genuine or saving? How hard of a life must one have to avoid “easy believism”? 

Is the label “easy believism” even true? Is it easy to believe the contents of the Gospel? We are asking an unsaved person to believe in a man they have never seen before who lived two thousand years ago and claimed to be fully God and fully man. The written records we have about Him were preserved by His followers. There are no living eyewitnesses today who can attest to the accuracy of His claims. Is it easy to believe in an unseen Savior for the forgiveness of all your sins and the gift of eternal life on the basis of what He has done for you (His death and resurrection) and not what you have done for Him? On top of that, this is to be done in Satan’s world where all the forces of darkness are resisting the necessary change in the non-Christian’s mind (cf. 2 Corinthians 4:3-4). There is nothing easy about believing this especially when you consider that human nature tends to rely on one’s own efforts instead of the efforts of another person.

If believing in Christ for eternal life is easy, then why do the majority of people depend on something or someone else to take them to Heaven? Why do so many depend on believing in Jesus plus their water baptism, their good life, or turning from all their sins? Man by nature is very self-reliant. That is, man has a propensity to rely on his own efforts in order to gain acceptance before God.

Lot would be a likely candidate for the label of “easy believism.” Although Lot chose the easy path of living in the plain of Sodom and had little godly influence there, yet Peter says he was righteous before God (2 Peter 2:7-8)! While none of us would say a believer is to live a carnal life as Lot did, nor should we say a non-Christian must avoid that kind of life in order to be saved because that would contradict what the Bible says is necessary to get to Heaven (John 3:15-16, 36; 6:40; Acts 16:31; Ephesians 2:8-9)! We tell the non-Christian to trust in Christ alone for His gift of eternal life. After he comes to Christ in faith, then we instruct him to live a holy life in order to glorify God now and earn eternal rewards in eternity (Matthew 5:16; Colossians 3:23-24).

Are good works for rewards or for salvation?

“And he said to him, ‘Well done, good servant; because you were faithful in a very little, have authority over ten cities.’” Luke 19:17

As Jesus was drawing near to Jerusalem, He shared another parable with those who thought He would establish His Kingdom immediately when He arrived in Jerusalem. Christ’s parable here is intended to show them His kingdom arrival would be postponed (19:11). This parable was about a “nobleman” (Jesus Christ) who gave each of his ten servants (disciples) “ten minas” (mina = 3 months wages) to do business for their master while he goes away to a far country (19:12-13). “When he returned, having received the kingdom, he then commanded these servants, to whom he had given the money, to be called to him, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading” (19:15).

The first servant reported that his “mina earned ten minas,” and he received praise and rulership “over ten cities” from his master (19:16-17). The second servant said his “mina earned five minas,” and his master said he would rule “over five cities” (19:18-19). The third servant reported that he had not earned anything with his master’s mina because his fear of his master kept him from doing so (19:20-21). His master rebuked him, calling him a “wicked servant,” and took away what had been given to this servant (19:22-24).

Zacchaeus, who was listening to this parable, would be encouraged to follow through with his promise to give half of his possessions to the poor and reimburse fourfold those he had defrauded (19:8). By telling this parable, Christ is promising Zacchaeus and all believers, a great reward in heaven if they remain faithful to Him now.

This parable clarifies that the coming of Jesus’ kingdom is postponed. Christ was going away, and He would return later to establish His kingdom (19:12-15). The New Testament informs us that believers who live between Pentecost and the Rapture will receive their rewards at the Judgment Seat of Christ in heaven (I Cor. 3:8-15; 2 Cor. 5:1-10; I Thess. 4:13-5:11; Rev. 4-5) during the Tribulation period on earth (Rev. 6-19). The judgment in view in this parable, involves Old Testament and Tribulation believers who will receive their rewards when Christ returns to earth with His church at the end of the Tribulation period to start His thousand-year reign on earth (Dan. 12:1-3; Rev. 19:7-20:6). During His absence, Christ’s disciples (“servants”) are to invest what He has given them to expand His interests (19:13). Christ will reward them in proportion to what they produce with what He has given them. The fact that all the servants received “ten minas” (19:13) shows that all believers have equal opportunity to earn rewards for the glory of Jesus Christ.

This parable also shows that entrance into the kingdom does not depend upon our works. Only faith alone in Christ alone and His finished work on the cross is necessary to enter Christ’s kingdom (18:16-17; cf. John 3:14-15). But rewards in Christ’s kingdom depend upon our works (19:16-24; cf. I Cor. 3:8-15; Rev. 22:12). This distinction between the gift of salvation and rewards earned is very important. Many believers confuse conditions for salvation with conditions for rewards which undermines their assurance of salvation and their motivation to live for Christ now. Keeping these two things separate and distinct will lead to greater joy and peace for believers regarding their salvation, and to a greater longing to earn rewards for their coming King.

How do I share the gospel with someone who compares his own righteousness with those who seem worse?

“I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other.” Luke 18:14

Jesus told a parable about a proud “Pharisee” who trusted in his own righteousness and a humble “tax collector” who recognized his own lack of merit and trusted in God’s mercy to justify or declare him righteous before the Lord (18:9-14). Christ said both men “went up to the temple to pray” (18:10). The Pharisee prayed, “God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess” (18:11-12). He was comparing his own righteousness with that of other people to justify himself before God. But Jesus said the tax collector, “standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner’” (18:13). Christ concluded, “I tell you, this man [the tax collector] went down to his house justified rather than the other” (18:14).

Before a person can be declared righteous before God through faith alone in Christ alone, he or she must realize, like the tax collector did, that they are a guilty sinner before God who needs God’s mercy to save them. But like the Pharisee, many non-Christians compare their own righteousness with those who, in their opinion, live worse than they do. They conclude, “I am not as bad as him or her. I have not murdered anyone nor committed adultery.” 

But God is not asking them to compare themselves with other people. He is asking them to compare themselves with His own standard of righteousness, which is found in His perfect Son, Jesus Christ (cf. Matt. 5:17-18; John 316; Rom. 3:23; 2 Cor. 5:21; I Pet. 3:18). Even though Jesus was like you and me in His humanity (He got hungry and thirsty, and even had feelings), He never sinned because He was fully God (John 1:1, 14; Heb. 4:15). And when we compare ourselves to Him, we fall short in every area of life. Jesus never told a lie, but we often twist the truth to make ourselves look good. Jesus never stole from anyone, but we can steal peoples’ reputations by gossiping about them. Jesus never had a wrong thought, but we can have several lustful or hateful thoughts within seconds. Christ never uttered a harsh word, but we can quickly lose our patience and curse God or other people when we do not get our way. Jesus was God’s only perfect Son (John 3:16; Heb. 4:15). And none of measure up to His perfect standard of righteousness.

When we share the gospel with non-Christians, we must remind them to compare their own righteousness with God’s, like the tax collector did. This will reveal to them that they have sinned against God and fall short of His perfection (Rom. 3:23), so they can see their need to believe or trust in Christ alone whose perfect sacrifice for their sins on the cross and resurrection paid the penalty for their sins in full (John 3:16; 19:30; I Cor. 15:1-8). Then God can declare them totally righteous before God and accept them into His family on the basis of their faith alone in Christ alone (John 1:12; Rom. 4:5). 

What did Jesus means when He said, “It is finished”?

“So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, ‘It is finished!’ And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.” John 19:30

When Jesus was hanging on the cross to pay the penalty for the sin of the world, He triumphantly said, “It is finished!” What did He mean when He said this? The Greek word that is translated “finished” is tetelestai. Receipts in New Testament times were stamped with this word which meant that the debt had been paid in full.

All people have sinned against God with their thoughts, words and actions (Rom. 3:23) and deserve to be separated from Him forever (Rom. 6:23; Rev. 20:15). But God so loved the world that He gave His only perfect Son, Jesus Christ, to take the punishment for our sin when He was crucified in our place on the cross (John 3:16; Rom. 5:8) and rose from the dead, proving He is God and had finished the work of paying our sin debt in full (Rom. 1:3-4; I Cor. 15:1-8; I John 2:2).

No amount of our good works can change the fact that we are sinners before a holy God (Isaiah 64:6; Rom. 3:1-20, 23; 4:5; Gal. 2:16). Christ did not make a down payment for our sin when He died on the cross so that we must pay the remainder of our sin debt to God. God does not accept us on the basis of our good life, our keeping of His commandments, our water baptism, or the sacraments we have taken. We are accepted by God on the basis of the full payment for our sin debt to God when Jesus Christ died and rose again on our behalf. God was completely and forever satisfied with Jesus’ full payment for our sin. The verb tetelestai is in the perfect tense. This means Christ made the full payment for our sin debt when He died on the cross and it remains paid in full to the present.

When we communicate the gospel with non-Christians, we must be clear that all people have sinned against God and deserve to die forever in the Lake of Fire (Rom. 3:23; 6:23; Rev. 20:15). No amount of our good thoughts, words, or actions can change the fact that we are sinners before a holy God (Isaiah 64:6). Because Jesus finished paying the penalty for our sins when He died in our place, that means we do not have to work for our salvation (Rom. 4:5; Eph. 2:8-9). All God asks of us is to believe in Jesus and His finished work on the cross as sufficient payment for our sins (John 3:14-15; 19:30). When we do, He gives us everlasting life and forgives all of our sins (John 3:16; Acts 10:43).

Those who are trusting in their good works or in Christ plus their good works to get them to heaven, are telling God the Father that Jesus’ death on the cross failed to pay their sin debt in full. However, since God was forever satisfied with His perfect Son’s payment for the sin of the world (Isaiah 53:11; John 19:30; I John 2:2), we must also be satisfied with what satisfies God. God cannot accept anything we do as payment for our sins because He has already accepted His Son’s payment for all of our sins when He died in our place on the cross.

We can reflect this truth in evangelism by inviting non-Christians to believe or trust in Christ alone, not their good works, to give them a right standing before God (Rom. 4:5; Gal. 2:16) and everlasting life (John 3:15-16; 6:40, 47; 11:25-26) so they will go to heaven when they die.

No One Like Jesus Christ

“And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!’” Luke 9:35

Jesus’ identity was revealed through His authority and power to heal demon-possessed people (8:1-3, 26-39), to transform lives through His teaching  (8:4-21), to calm storms at sea (8:22-25), to heal what man could never heal (8:43-48), to raise the dead (8:40-42, 49-56), to change ordinary men into dynamic messengers of the gospel (9:1-6), to captivate political leaders (9:7-9), to miraculously provide food for the multitudes (9:10-17), to persuade His followers of His true identity (9:18-20), to predict the future (9:21-22), to demand sacrificial allegiance (9:23-26), and to reveal His future glory as King over all the earth (9:27-34). 

God the Father identified Jesus as His “beloved Son” (9:35a). Because of who Jesus is, we are to “hear [and obey] Him!” There is no one else like Jesus Christ. This is why more books have been written about Jesus and more songs have been sung about Him than any other person in history. Even Islam’s sacred book, the Quran, mentions the name of Jesus more than its founder, Mohammed. 

No one else can come close to matching Jesus’ credentials and influence. He is the God-Man (John 1:1, 14) who died for the sins of the world (John 1:29) and rose from the dead (I Cor. 15:1-6)! “Hear Him” when He says, “whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). He is “the truth” (John 14:6) and cannot lie. He always keeps His promises. 

When you believe in Him for His free gift (Rom. 6:23), He gives you everlasting life which can never be lost (John 10:28-29), He places you into God’s family forever (John 1:12; 6:37), and He comes to live inside of you forever through His Holy Spirit (Romans 8:11; Gal. 2:20; Heb. 13:5). He wants to be your best Friend. Spend time talking with Him in prayer (Phil 4:6-7) and learn to listen to Him as you read and study the Bible (2 Tim. 3:16-17). Find a church that preaches God’s Word and makes disciples of Christ, so you can grow with other believers in Jesus (Heb. 10:24-25). Let Jesus teach you how to share His gospel message with those you love and care for (Matt. 4:19). You will never be the same as you grow closer to God’s “beloved Son!”

Following Christ

The New Testament emphasizes that the only condition for receiving eternal life is believing in Jesus Christ (John 3:15-16, 18, 36; 5:24; 6:47; 11:25-26; 20:31; Acts. 13:48; I Timothy 1:16; I John 5:13). Salvation is absolutely free of charge and is a one-time event. However, the New Testament also teaches  that discipleship is costly and is a life-long process (Luke 14:25-33; John 8:31-32; Rev. 2:10, 25-27).

About a year after Jesus’ disciples believed in Him for eternal life (John 1:35-51; 2:11), Jesus called them to follow Him (Matt. 4:18-22). Peter, Andrew, James and John left their nets and followed Christ. From all four Gospels, we know that they had been familiar with Jesus’ ministry for some time and were willing to identify with His cause. This is a beautiful picture of discipleship when they left everything to have this intimate association with Jesus. In Matthew 9:9, Matthew, the tax collector is sitting at his office and Christ comes to him and says, “Follow Me.” Matthew gets up and leaves everything behind and begins to follow Christ. When Matthew left his post as a tax collector, he could not come back to it later like the fisherman who could always return to their father’s business. When Matthew left, there was no coming back. Following Christ is another condition for discipleship.

After Jesus and His disciples were rejected by a village of the Samaritans (9:51-53), Jesus clarifies the cost of discipleship in Luke 9:57-62. In these verses we discover the meaning of following Christ as His disciple.


“Someone said to Him, ‘Lord, I will follow You wherever You go.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head’” (Luke 9:57b-58). 

Jesus’ disciples had experienced these things while following Christ through Samaria (9:51-56). Are you willing to endure these things in order to follow Christ? How much of your security is based upon the things you possess?  Would you be willing to give up a comfortable home and salary and live on less in order to follow Jesus Christ? 


“Then He said to another, ‘Follow Me.’ But he said, ‘Lord, let me first go and bury my father.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God’” (Luke 9:59-60). 

It is not known whether this man’s father had already died or was dying. It is possible that this man’s father was still living since in Israel people were usually buried the same day they died. But what is clear is that this man wanted Jesus to approve the postponement of his obedience for an indefinite period of time. Christ’s reference to letting “the dead bury their own dead” refers to those who are spiritually dead (because they had not believed in Jesus) burying the physically dead. Following Christ requires immediate obedience to Him. Are you willing to put Christ ahead of family obligations? 


“And another also said, ‘Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.’ But Jesus said to him, ‘No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God’” (Luke 9:61-62). 

Saying good-bye to family would only take a matter of minutes, yet Jesus’ comments suggest that a disciple with divided loyalties is not fit for His Kingdom work. Just as a farmer who does not concentrate on his work is unfit for farming, so a disciple who allows himself to be distracted from following Christ is unfit for His Kingdom work. What are the biggest distractions in your life which keep you from being fully devoted to Christ? What will you do about this?

How do we overcome the fear of inadequacy?

“And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him, and said to him, ‘The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor!’ ” Judges 6:12

When God first approached Gideon, He addresses him as the man he would become (“you mighty man of valor”) by God’s grace in his life (“the Lord is with you”), not the man he was at that time (6:12). Gideon did not understand how God would use him to save Israel from the Midianites since his family “clan is the weakest in Manasseh,” and he perceives himself to be “the least in” his “father’s house” (6:14-15). Gideon perceived that his own background and position in his family disqualified him from being God’s instrument of deliverance for Israel. 

Do you ever feel like Gideon? You say to yourself, “I don’t think I can measure up to what God wants me to do. I’m insecure. I don’t have what it takes. I don’t know enough. I don’t have the right background. How could God use me?” Often when God says He has something for us to do, it seems much bigger than us! We don’t feel adequate. But listen closely! It doesn’t matter whether we feel adequate or not. What matters is God has chosen us. If God has chosen us, it is going to work whether we think we are qualified or not. Our life message is not about us. It is about what God chooses to do in our lives.  

How did God respond to Gideon’s fear and sense of inadequacy? He assured Gideon by telling him,  “Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat the Midianites as one man” (6:16). This is God’s answer to our fear of inadequacy. Because one plus God equals a majority. If God is near, we will lose our fear. Because of God’s presence in our lives, we can do anything He calls us to do! But the fear of inadequacy should not keep us from doing what God has called us to do because God says, “I will be with you.” God’s adequacy is the answer to our inadequacy and God’s presence is the answer to our panic.