Lordship salvation (a term coined to represent the view that before someone can be saved they must accept Jesus as Lord of their life which is proof of their genuine repentance hence, qualifying them to be saved) wishes so much to be correct but it is not. It is zealous, sincere and rather heavy in gravity but still erring and it's greatest misstep is its misunderstanding of the gospel itself.
What is the Gospel?
The gospel is not about our promises to God but His promise to us. As Peter says we have an inheritance "kept for you in heaven". God does the doing, we do the receiving. Lordship salvation makes a demand on a person that the gospel does not, namely making a commitment of some sort to God before believing it. What commitment, pray tell, are you going to make to God that will qualify you to believe the gospel? Certainly not one you can keep.
That is not what the gospel is, my friend. The gospel is God's promise to us. He says to us "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved...". It is the promise that if, today, this very moment, you will believe what you have been told God will automatically, immediately and eternally save you and secure you in Christ.
The Shorthand Gospel Needs Explaining
Now it is true one must have the gospel, itself, explained. In the books of Act it states, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved....". Some have issues with this, questioning whether it is this simple and whether or not that all I have to do is believe this to be saved. Their concern is with those who respond, rather abruptly, with, "Okay, I heard the words you said and I believe them". Does that make one saved by saying they believe it? No, saying you believe something and believing it are not the same. But in reality this is not the core of the issue, rather it is the expression, "Lord Jesus Christ".
If I gave you a mathematical formula and you did not know what any of it meant but responded that you believe it is true, what have you done? You have stated you believe something that you do not understand which makes your claim disingenuous.
In the book of Acts, the expression "Lord Jesus Christ" is shorthand for the gospel, hence it must be explained. That is, the titles and their properties, Lord, Jesus and Christ, must be defined so that someone may understand the gospel. Believing the gospel is not merely responding by uttering words of agreement if one does not genuinely understand the meaning of the words, particularly here with the title or expression, Lord Jesus Christ.
The title, Lord, refers to the Divinity of Christ. In other words it means God Himself. The word here is κύριος which is also translated master. It is in reference to Christ not merely being of God but indeed, God himself. This is His Divine person. One must be informed that Jesus was not just a human or a nice person from heaven or some angelic form but God Himself. Therefore when we say Lord we mean God. And why is this necessary? Because our Savior, the one who would be our innocent representative, must possess Divine righteousness and only God does.
This is the humanity of Christ. Because of the first Adam we are all born in sin. And (forgive the reference here) as Dr. Phil has said, "this situation needs a hero". But in the human race no one, not even ourselves, can save us since we are all born condemned from birth in sin. Therefore, God formed a plan in eternity past and determined that it would be Himself via the Second Person of the Trinity, who would come to earth and be born in the form of a man acquiescing to all of its conditions, yet without sin. So not only is He Lord but He is also Jesus, our second Adam, our brother in the flesh yet our God in embodiment. Our brother and our God is here to represent us and serve our greatest and most desperate need.
This is the reference the reality that He is "the anointed one" or Messiah . In other words He is not just Divine and He is not just human but He is the anointed one who is both God and man, the Christ, the Messiah or as is termed theologically, the hypostatic union. This was prophesied in varying forms from the fall, onward, and this prophecy of God coming to earth and His embodiment as a man, though not always fully understood, was fulfilled and with clarity we now can identify and describe in the full light of God's revelation the Savior of the world, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Explaining the Gospel to Others in Light of This
What value and and application does this have to us in sharing and receiving the gospel as well as challenges it presents to Lordship salvation? Fundamentally this, that when we present the gospel as we should, we present it that God Himself (Lord) came to earth and was born a human being (Jesus) and this was God's ordained means by which an innocent, sinless and perfect Savior could save us from the penalty of our sins (Christ). He did this by living without sin and in fact being Divine, by suffering not just a physical death but separation (a form of spiritual death) from God the Father of which He never experienced, then being resurrected into His eternal state which has given us the power to receive forgiveness of sins and eternal life through faith in this work.
The Lord Jesus Christ stands ready to be your Advocate and the moment you believe that He, God Himself, paid for your sins and God Himself judged this death sufficient for all mankind and whoever will believe shall be saved from being judged of their own sins, he or she may do so by just this means, faith or believing and believing alone.
Believing on the Lord Jesus Christ is Accepting Jesus as Lord
The assertion of Lordship salvation, that before one can be saved they must accept Jesus as Lord of their life, is their greatest misstep because what they do not understand is that to believe the gospel is to accept Jesus as Lord since it is the Lord who is giving them forgiveness and eternal life. If the gospel is explained as it should be, "the Lord Jesus Christ" then anyone believing it has done just this, accepted Jesus as Lord since only the Lord can forgive.
I believe one of the fundamentally greatest problems with gospel presentation are the erring additives that many theologies wish to impose upon the promise of God. God says to the world, "you are condemned and in sin, you face eternal judgment and cannot save yourself". But then God says, "but if you will not trust in yourself but believe My plan and My means, which is the Lord Jesus Christ, your sins will be forgiven and you will have eternal life". It is His promise to us. However, so often Lordship and all other kinds of schools of theology, wish to impose its proprietary additives to the promise of God and in reality they create stumbling blocks to faith in Christ.