Question: In your March 1999 issue of The Berean Call you favorably quote an excerpt from Sir Robert Anderson’s book, The Bible or the Church, in which he says, “Christianity makes salvation a...matter...of personal submission to the Lord Jesus Christ.” Is that salvation? Did Paul say to the Philippian jailer, “Submit your life to the lordship of Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved”...? Does it really make sense to imply that in order to become a spiritual baby you must demonstrate a higher level of spiritual maturity/dedication/submission than is demonstrated by many who by reason of time in the faith “ought to be teachers” but who, in reality, due to their spiritual negligence are still such as “have need of milk”?
Response: First of all, the way you cut up Anderson’s statement changes the meaning. Here is more of the quote we presented: “The Reformation was...a revolt...[against] ecclesiastical supremacy...the bondage from which those brave and noble men delivered us....Christianity makes salvation a personal matter between the sinner and God. It is not a question of subjection to ordinances of religion, but of personal submission to the Lord Jesus Christ....But...what men crave for is...a priest....Instead of Calvary, we have the ‘eucharistic sacrifice’ of the mass....”
Clearly Anderson is not discussing how “to become a spiritual baby,” as you suggest. Much less is he offering works to obtain salvation, as you imply. The “it” he refers to is not “salvation” but “Christianity”; not becoming a Christian, but living the Christian life after one is saved. And that involves submission to the Lord, not to a church.
Specifically, Anderson is combating Roman Catholicism’s “ecclesiastical supremacy” which subjects members to decrees and rituals of men instead of to the Lord. He is stating that salvation, whether in its inception or in the “work” of living it out (Phil:2:12), is between the individual and Christ and not in obedience to the rituals and regulations of the Church of Rome. We are followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, not of any ecclesiastical hierarchy.
Furthermore, one cannot be a Christian without acknowledging that Jesus Christ is God the Lord: “For if ye believe not that I AM, ye shall die in your sins” (Jn:8:24). Too many scriptures make this clear to list them all. Paul told the Philippian jailor, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts:16:31). He wrote to those in Rome, “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus...whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Rom:10:9-13). If, then, we come to Him as Lord when we are saved, thereafter we follow Him as Lord. Christ asked this solemn question, “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Lk 6:46). As His followers, we obey our Lord; not in order to be saved but out of love for the One who saved us: “If a man love me, he will keep my words...” (Jn:14:23).