November 21, 2006

Confusion & Contradiction: Phil Johnson at Pyromaniacs

Dear Guests::

At PyroManiacs I was engaged in a discussion with Phil Johnson on the Lordship interpretation of the gospel. It is my understanding Phil Johnson is the senior editor for John MacArthur’s books. Most of Dr. MacArthur’s books are not actually written by him. They are primarily transcribed sermons compiled, edited and reproduced in book form. Phil is in charge of the editing process.

There were two main areas of discussion at Pyro between Phil and myself. One was in regard to regeneration before faith issue, which is an extreme extra-biblical error found among most Lordship advocates. The second was a discussion surrounding Luke 9:23-24. I am going to address the latter now, the former later.

I began the short exchange on Luke 9 by using the following post:

And He said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it,” (Luke 9:23-24).

Does Luke 9:23-24 state conditions man must satisfy to receive God’s free gift of salvation? Luke 9:24 is a conditional verse. Twice it says “for whosoever will . . .” Do you view the demands of Luke 9:23-24 as a part of the gospel of Jesus Christ to be believed for salvation?

You can see I asked Phil if Luke 9:23-24 states conditions or demands for salvation. His response was, “Nope.”

Later Phil wrote,
“I believe Luke 9:23-24 is a call to salvation; but it's still not proper to regard it as a set of ‘conditions’ by which someone can merit salvation.”
So, he believes Luke 9:23 is a salvation passage, but the commands for cross bearing, self-denial and following, which appear in the verse, are not conditions for salvation. Phil further substantiates his salvation interpretation of the passage by criticizing me for believing Luke 9:23-24 has to do with the daily life of a disciple.

Shall we review (which I provided for Phil) what Dr. MacArthur says about cross bearing, self-denial, and following in regard to the reception of salvation. He writes,
Let me say again unequivocally that Jesus’ summons to deny self and follow him was an invitation to salvation… (The Gospel According to Jesus [Revised & Expanded Edition], p. 221).

Half-hearted people who were not willing to make the commitment did not respond. Thus he turned away anyone who was reluctant to pay the price, such as the rich young ruler,” (The Gospel According to Jesus [Revised & Expanded Edition], p. 222).

Anyone who wants to come after Jesus into the Kingdom of God, anyone who wants to be a Christian, has to face three commands: 1) deny himself, 2) take up his cross daily, and 3) follow him.” (Hard to Believe, p. 6.)

Dr. MacArthur says to become a Christian one must face three commands found in Luke 9:23. They are, “…deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.”

Dr. MacArthur says anyone who is unwilling to make the commitment to the conditions of discipleship will be turned away. According to Dr. MacArthur the rich young ruler was “turned away” because he would not “make the commitment” to give up that he had. Dr. MacArthur says the lost man was turned away, not because of his sin (covetousness), rather because he would not make a commitment to discipleship. That is what Dr. MacArthur believes and he states it expressly. There is no misunderstanding of his meaning!

Dr. MacArthur is calling for lost men to make a commitment to the conditions of discipleship found in Luke 9:23. He believes the calls for cross bearing, self-denial and following are salvation appeals. He is, therefore, demanding these conditions be committed to for the reception of eternal life.

Phil sees the conditions of discipleship in Luke 9:23 as evangelistic in nature. In spite of this Phil wrote,
I don’t think the word ‘conditions’ is appropriate here…. Luke 9:23-24 is a call to salvation; but it’s still not proper to regard it as a set of ‘conditions’ by which someone can merit salvation.”
The Luke 9:23-24 passage is a conditional passage. Dr. MacArthur cites the three elements in Luke 9:23 as conditions for the reception of eternal life. Phil, however, says they are not conditions.

Just like Dr. MacArthur, Phil contradicts the Scriptures by redefining passages meant for a disciple of Christ, as though they are salvation appeals. Then I have shown how Phil unwittingly contradicts and compromises Dr. MacArthur’s message of commitment to the terms of discipleship for salvation.

In Luke 9:23-24 Jesus is speaking about discipleship, not on how to become a child of God. No one is saved because he takes up the cross and follows Jesus. No one is saved who makes, as Dr. MacArthur demands, a “wholehearted commitment,” to take up the cross and follow Jesus.

Confusing discipleship with salvation is one of the most serious errors in Lordship Salvation. A chapter in my book is dedicated to this doctrinal error. The chapter is titled, Salvation & Discipleship: Is There A Biblical Difference?

Dr. Joel Mullenix said,
Salvation is free, discipleship is costly. Salvation comes by simply believing in Christ. By receiving by faith the free gift of salvation through His work on the cross. Discipleship is evidenced by daily submission to the will of God. They are two separate things. The Bible makes a distinction between salvation and discipleship.” (In Defense of the Gospel, p. 72.)
Apart from redefining the biblical plan of salvation to suit the Lordship system there is no way Luke 9 can be construed as an invitation to salvation. Confusing discipleship with salvation leads to a works based gospel, which Dr. MacArthur and Lordship advocates propose. It also leads to the confused and contradictory statements we have seen from Phil Johnson.

Lordship Salvation, as defined by Dr. MacArthur, is a message of faith plus commitment to the conditions of discipleship, and this is a false, non-saving message that frustrates grace (Gal. 2:21).

Later we will look at the regeneration before faith position and Phil’s defense of it. I will also address a few other note worthy items that came out through Phil’s comments and reactions.


LM

112 comments:

  1. Cindy:

    Thanks for getting back to me about my book. I picked up on this comment,

    "There are some things in your book that I do not agree with, one being the depravity of man. I do believe that we are so depraved that only God can call with His efficacious grace."

    I do believe the Bible teaches the total depravity of man. See Jer. 17:9; Rom. 3:10-ff. I think the differcne you are alluding to is how the Calvinist takes total depravity to what they call "Total Inability." That position leads them to the rationalized view that regeneration must precede faith.

    Hope that helps clarify for you.

    LM

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  2. Cindy:

    I am grateful to know that my book did provide some helpful information and was a blessing to you.

    Yours in Him,

    LM

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  3. Hello Lou, Cindy et al --

    Cindy that was a great comment and a blessing to me as well.

    Regarding "conditions" and non-conditions, "merit" and non-merit, I think it is a good place here to bring forward the habit-of-mind that attempts to skirt the issue of merit and extra conditions.

    Suppose someone says "you don't need $49.99 before you get the garment, but in order for the garment to be actually yours, the store will have been paid $49.99 + tax by cash or acceptable instrument of promise."

    In other words, there is an attempt to distinguish something beforehand, with something that must happen at the time. In that way, the claim that no "pre-salvation" payment for salvation is being asked for, all the while requiring xyz for salvation to have occurred.

    A condition does not stop being a condition simply because it is not a pre-existing condition. This is the reverse form of Zeno's paradox, and pretty humorous. Lordship Salvation says that to receive salvation, no previous conditions need be met. Well and good, but not really.

    Five years before conversion, does a person need to fulful Lordship Salvation's conditions in order to be saved? No. Five minutes? "No." One fifth of a minute? "No." One fifth of a fifth of a fifth? No.

    At the time of conversion? "Yes."

    This is complete bunk. All purchases are like that. To say that no pre-salvation works of righteousness are required, then to require them at the point of salvation, is salvation by purchase.

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  4. Larry:

    Thanks for the note and analogy.

    Phil affirmed LS believes the Lord's commands for discipleship in Luke 9:23 are meant to be salvation messages. Those are conditional terms. Therefore, the conditons must be met or at least agreed to in exchange for the reception of salvation.

    To then claim there is no merit in their system is completely absurd.

    We have to remember these nmen come to their conclusions through reason and logic, not the Scriptures. They have a system and they do what they can to justify it in the Bible. This is why they have changed passages meant for the born again disciples into passage meant for the lost.

    Furthermore, we must remember they believe regeneration precedes faith, which means they can make any demand they want because they believe they are dealing with someone who has been born again in advance of expressing faith, repentance or belief in Jesus..

    So, in their minds, any act or commitment they call for is not a work for salvation, because they believe he is saved already.

    LM

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  5. Thank you Lou.

    You identify a good problem in the use of regeneration as a pretext for demands.

    In a very real sense, this set of doctrines attracts people not as interested in how to become Christians, as much as how to "manage" salvation, in the American business management sense.

    This set of doctrines is a projection onto the theological axis of a standard American business management paradigm. Let's call it "salvation management." Think of it in the following way:

    "You made a commitment to the company when I hired you. Your performance makes me question that commitment. I can understand an occasional lapse. But this pattern is unacceptable and indicates a lack of initial commitment. Goodbye."

    Our task for helping out our fellow believers should include showing them that their "itch," often unexpressed, is to have a tool by which they can say "[so-and-so] is not a Christian." They want salvation management.

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  7. Larry:

    You made a commitment to the company when I hired you. Your performance makes me question that commitment. I can understand an occasional lapse. But this pattern is unacceptable and indicates a lack of initial commitment. Goodbye.

    These men came to a LS position largely because of the obvious problems and fruitless results of the equally wrong Easy-Believism evangelism.

    To your point, however, they do base salvation on results, but they rightly acknowledge there can be lapses and differing degrees of spiritual growth. They hold to Calvinism's Perseverance of the Saints.

    Where they have another problem is in regards to the "carnal Christian." Both Walter Chantry and John MacArthur have issues here. For example,

    "The tragic result is that many people think it is fairly normal for Christians to live like unbelievers. . . . As I noted. . . . contemporary theologians have devised an entire category for this type of person--the “carnal Christian.” (The Gospel According to Jesus [Revised & Expanded Edition], p. 135.)

    Chantry wrote, "In a panic over this phenomenon [of worldly Christians], the evangelicals have invented the idea of “carnal Christians.” (Today's Gospel: Authentic or Synthetic, p. 54.)

    So, if a professing Christian is not living up to the commitment he was told is necessary at salvation, the Lordship advocate looks at him and says, "Never saved in the first place."

    LM

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  9. Lou - you continue to make the claim that LS confuses discipleship passages with salvation [such as the self denial passages - Mark 8:34-38, etc.].

    You speak of this as self evident but I've never heard you address the fact that Jesus speaks of forfeiting one's soul in this context and the fact that these words were spoken to a multitude with His disciples [Mark 8:34].

    If you want to accuse people of adding works to the gospel - that's your business - but I think you should at least show that your own handling of these texts reflects an honest acceptance of Jesus' words with intent to interpret them in their context.

    I think it makes more sense to see these passages as clarifying the nature of saving faith. Notice - no actual works are done - it's all attitudinal and of the heart.

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  10. LM, you were saying:

    So, if a professing Christian is not living up to the commitment he was told is necessary at salvation, the Lordship advocate looks at him and says, "Never saved in the first place."

    Right, and that is a point stated right in the system, according to the very beginning of one of the books of its advocates, advocating that "millions" of Americans are surely deceived in thinking they are born again. This promise to sweep away the non-performers is one of the psychological appeals of that system, in my opinion, and that psychological appeal functions to bring various presuppositions into handling of many texts of Scripture.

    (Cindy, in deference to you, I'll try to avoid "clarifying" analogies this post!)

    But what is that up-front commitment? Not to repeat your careful documentation for one author, it is, in a few words, "total" surrender. Therefore, what failures in the subsequent time period count as not living up to the commitment? Any failure whatsoever.

    Here I would like to point out a side-effect of the backpedalling that these authors do, I think -- please correct me if I'm wrong. These authors require different "total commitment" for different people.

    Someone hearing a message who is cognizant of a particular sin, must be willing on Christ's account to give it up. But someone who is blithely unaware of it, even because of personality type, need do nothing about it, even if the same sin is present. "Total surrender" is a different set of conditions depending on whom the demand falls upon. It's salvation on a sliding scale, with preference given to those who know the least about their sins.

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  11. Jerry:

    I think it makes more sense to see these passages as clarifying the nature of saving faith. Notice - no actual works are done - it's all attitudinal and of the heart.

    I have always maintained that I do not find the LS men demanding the performance of works for salvation. Not demanding things such as the RCC sacramental system being performed over a lifetime in the hope the result will be Heaven.

    LS, however, does insist and demand a commitment to the "good works" (Eph. 2:10) expected of a believer in "exchange" for salvation. That position I have documented in my book from the writing of John MacArthur.

    No matter how many times Nathan and Phil claim I don't or can't understand the position it does not change the clear, incontrovertible evidence of the position espoused of their employer.

    You picked up on the same buzz words of those men: "attitudinal of the heart...nature of faith." A Baptist pastor I know said, “Saving faith includes the intentionality toward obedience.” These are vague terms to deflect attention away from the crux of the issue, which is: what LS believes are the requirements for salvation.

    "Attitude"- still means a decision, a commitment to the conditions as found in Luke 9:23, which Phil acknowledges are in the LS system evangelistic.

    "Nature of Faith"- another phrase to cloud the distinction between the requirements for saving faith and the results of saving faith. Surely you saw how many times Nathan kept trying to blur the distinction and my repeatedly having to refocus him.

    As for Mark 8 I told you once I finish with PM and Pyro I will post for you shortly.

    I also recommend that you read my book, at least the chapter called Salvation & Discipleship: Is There A Biblical Difference? It is very thorough and fully documents the Lordship use of the terms of discipleship as conditions for salvation.

    In all honesty, you have to acknowledge that Luke 9:23-24 is conditional. Phil says the passage is about salvation. Therefore, the conditions there are for LS system requirements to be agreed to, committed to for the reception of eternal life.

    LM

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  12. Hi Cindy,

    Welcome to the "I don't understand Larry's analogies" club: fastest growing club on the planet!

    CB, just kidding! Cindy, hang in there: his contributions are worth the untangling!

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  13. Thanks for the reply Lou. I think that given the language Jesus uses and the things that He says are at stake [forfeiting ones soul] it is best to understand these passages as talking about eternal salvation.

    Because I also believe sola fide is biblical - my understanding of these passages needs to be able to be reconciled to that reformation view in much the same way James 2:14ff must be reconciled with it. I.e. - I don't think Scripture contradicts itself when properly understood.

    However - I don't want to do injustice to the words of Jesus - just to fit some preconceived ideas. We need to let His words stand in their own right.

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  14. Jerry:

    I have only a few moments for now.

    "Because I also believe sola fide is biblical - my understanding of these passages needs to be able to be reconciled to that reformation view..."

    Justification by faith alone is biblical. Now this points back to a problem I have addressed: Calvinism's regeneration before faith. LS advocates believe regeneration precedes and enables faith. What need is there for faith when justification resulted from regeneration before faith was expressed?

    Now, let's look at another concern. You believe in justification by faith alone and that is good. How do you reconcile that faith alone with the belief that cross bearing, self-denial and following is evangelistic messages to the lost?

    Remember what Phil wrote, “I believe Luke 9:23-24 is a call to salvation; but it's still not proper to regard it as a set of ‘conditions’ by which someone can merit salvation.”

    I ask Phil, “Why not?” They are conditions, you said it is evangelistic, but the conditions do not apply. Phil's comment is representative of LS advocates. He finds the commands in Luke 9:23-24 (and related passages) to be salvation messages.

    These are conditions, but he conveniently dismisses that away because it would then become the merited salvation he claims LS is not. He (LS) wants to maintain orthodoxy, but cannot without changing the terms and blurring lines.

    LM

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  15. Thank you jerry for you tone and content of your post here of "11/23/2006 11:15 PM."

    I realize it was not me you asked about "Mark 8:34-38, etc." so to soften any irritation at possibly considering this post (only as the Lord leads, of course) I offer a broad listing of the synoptic passages which are the same or similar to Mk 8:34-38. We can all then have a pretty comprehensive look at this passage and similar sayings in the gospels.

    In sequential order, we have

    Mt 8:19-22
    Mt 10:32-33
    Mt 10:37-38
    Mt 16:24-26

    Mk 8:34-38

    Lk 9:23-26
    Lk 9:57-62
    Lk 12:8-9
    Lk 14:26-27
    Lk 17:33

    Jn 12:25-26


    First of all, I would like to comment on method. I will attempt to speak as accurately as I can, so tell me if it is too difficult to understand me (sorry if so).

    If a person thinks that a passage is not being interpreted correctly, that opinion does not become invalid simply because the person does not provide an alternative. All kinds of things have been refuted by people who do not provide a substitute position at the same time. If you think about it, it has to be that way. If we don't have a good idea, it doesn't mean a bad idea wins by default. If it's a bad idea, we should throw it out, whether or not we have a replacement for it.

    The truth is even stronger than that. Someone may well have an idea that the text means something, say, xyz. Whoever comes along and shows that the text does not show that xyz is true, has helped us in our understanding of the Scripture. It's called exposing non-sequiturs.

    I suppose the most famous examples of non-sequiturs are the allegorical interpretations of the parables common in the Middle Ages, where characters "stood for" various things in the medieval church. The bandages were something. The coin given to the innkeeper was something. The robbers were something else. The inn was something else, i.e., various institutions of the time.

    This type of error, called by some people "reading into" a passage, is so very common, because when people are looking for ideas congenial to the ones they already have, someone who does that for them sounds "oh-so-good!" To fight that, I try to remember to call it "itching ears." I try to remember NOT to be convinced that something is supported, if the support is just that it happens to coincide with what I want to believe.

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  16. Larry - you said: "If a person thinks that a passage is not being interpreted correctly, that opinion does not become invalid simply because the person does not provide an alternative."

    I think these passages are hugely significant in the teachings of Christ and must be given some kind of honest interpretation.

    Lou - I don't think the issue is simply a matter of Calvinism. Some have pointed out that there are Arminians who hold to a LS gospel.

    Arminians and Calvninists both hold to some degree of work of the Holy Spirit in the sinner to prompt faith - the difference is a matter of degree. [Calvinists believe the sinner is totally dead - Arminians - not quite dead]I believe that what must occur is that the Lord must open the eyes of the sinner to respond to the things spoken [Acts 16:14]

    I think in the end - we won't thank ourselves for being smart enough to believe - we'll thank God for opening our blinded eyes to see the truth.

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  17. Dear Lou,
    Thanks for your hard work and desire to teach clear revelation rather than "man"-ipulated ideas about the gospel.
    Don't you think that MacArthur's use of the gospels, and Hodges' use of John is a large part of the cause of imbalance? The "pre-cross, resurrection" statements and "pre-Pauline revelation" emphasis in their gospel messages gives much room for potential distortions. The FG even say it is unecessary to have even heard about the cross or resurrection because of certain texts in John. There seems to be a great lack of understanding of the principle of progressive revelation. This has led to many heresies. No wonder cults love the gospels and hate Paul. Romans puts these errors to quick flight if taught in context. LS and FG would have a very torturous time proving their positions from Romans. It is hard to imagine the way that good men are used by satan. Are they really good in the end? I would not want to be walking in the shoes of LS or FG teachers. Neither is the gospel delivered to, and received by the Galatians prior to their "bewitching."

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  18. Blu/Larry/ Jerry/Cindy:

    I appreciate all of your input. I'll have some notes for you later today and tomorrow.

    Any lurkers are welcome to participate, you will not be treated badly by me even if you don't agree wih my position on LS.

    Blau- You are right in expressing concern about man-ipulated ideas. With LS this comes from Calvinism's rationalistic-fatalism.

    As far as the gospels are concernd, one point for now: MacArthur believes the Sermon on the Mount is "the way of salvation."

    You are also correct in seeing Hodges dismissing the cross. I have some quotes by Hodges on that disturbing position.

    I am also working on some new posts to further explore the issues in the LS debate.

    LM

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  19. To All:

    Please re-read he article this thread follows. It is very significant and identifies some of the most serious problems and inconsistencies in the Lordship system.

    LM

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  20. I guess that's one way to deal with the 'self denial' passages. They are in the gospels so we can just sweep them under the hyper-dispensational rug. Who cares what Jesus said? We have Paul now.

    Do we really have Christianity without the teachings of Christ? Did He really waste His time teaching material to the disciples that would expire in less than 3 years?

    Paul really does not contradict Jesus when considered carefully.

    Romans 6:1,2 - 'What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace might increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?

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  21. Jerry,
    Is it really fair to throw the word "hyper" at the simple distinction of the different content of faith pre, and post resurrection?

    Paul did say that "his" gospel was revealed to him by a special revelation of Jesus Christ, and that the detailed outworking of that gospel had been given to him as a privileged deposit from the Lord.

    That isn't hyper, it is sensible.

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  22. Hello Jerry --
    I must be fair to Lou and not use his blog to interact with you alone. I hope you saw a post I made concerning Peter's failure in Nate's blog in the More ... Pt 2.

    I will also look for any comments you have on Mk 8 in the corresponding sections of my own blog going through the synoptics on an Easter-based schedule. I think that passage is somewhere around October 22 in the 2005 blogs.

    One methodological blunder that modern exegetes of the LS variety make is taking an exclusionary rule and turning it into a "how-to" rule. They take the Lord's "cannot be my disciple" rule (Lk 14:27) and turn it into a "how to become a Christian" rule. They also ignore the "daily" of Lk 9:23. This is a daily rule.

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  23. Of course Paul does not contradict Jesus. Jesus gave Paul the gospel of grace personally. The Romans 6 passage logically explains the relationship the christian has with sin, not a 'how to' for justification. He is dead, and now alive and accountable to reckon himself as such. None of this was known or believed in the gospels.

    Romans 4 and LS do not go together. But, neither does FG go together with Romans 6.

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  24. Larry:

    One methodological blunder that modern exegetes of the LS variety make is taking an exclusionary rule and turning it into a "how-to" rule. They take the Lord's "cannot be my disciple" rule (Lk 14:27) and turn it into a "how to become a Christian" rule. They also ignore the "daily" of Lk 9:23. This is a daily rule.

    It is not just methodology problem, it is a theological error. As I write in my book and have said in the various debates: LS reinterprets passages meant for the born again disciple of Christ as though they are salvation messages meant for the lost.

    This is exactly what Phil acknowledged at Pyro in regard to Luke 9:23-24. Then he dismisses the conditional aspect of the passage.

    When you read MacArthur's statements I quoted in regard to the conditions of cross bearing, self-denial and followng he is speaking in terms of the reception of the eternal life.

    If one believes "self-denial" is part of the gospel (required, not a result) he then must acknowledged his message means the reception of eternal life is conditioned on the self-denial.

    LM

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  25. Lou - I'm not sure why self- denial must be seen as a work. To me it is a call to turn from our sinful selves. i.e. - it is Jesus' way of calling us to repentance, which call is reiterated in the apostolic gospel. [Acts 26:20, Luke 24:47, Acts 2:38, etc.]

    Repentance is not a work - the fruits of repentance would be the works. [Matt. 3:8]

    Self-denial would not be a work - the fruits of self denial would be the works.

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  26. Jerry:

    I'm not sure why self- denial must be seen as a work. To me it is a call to turn from our sinful selves. i.e. - it is Jesus' way of calling us to repentance, which call is reiterated in the apostolic gospel. [Acts 26:20, Luke 24:47, Acts 2:38, etc.]

    Self-denial would not be a work - the fruits of self denial would be the works.

    As you are aware and as Nathan (at Pulpit Magazine) acknowledged I do believe repentance is necessary for conversion.

    The problem is that LS calls for a commitment to as you say, "the works of repentance." I explain it as the "good works" described in Eph. 2:10 expected of the born again child of God.

    Here is MacArthur again:

    “Half-hearted people who were not willing to make the commitment did not respond. Thus he turned away anyone who was reluctant to pay the price, such as the rich young ruler,” (The Gospel According to Jesus [Revised & Expanded Edition], p. 222).

    “Anyone who wants to come after Jesus into the Kingdom of God, anyone who wants to be a Christian, has to face three commands: 1) deny himself, 2) take up his cross daily, and 3) follow him.” (Hard to Believe, p. 6.)

    MacArthur is conditioning salvation on an upfront commitment that is impossible for a lost man to make or keep.

    When one demands a commitment of man to anything, he has made that a man-centered gospel.

    LM

    (Bears game about to start, more later)

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  27. Hi Jerry, Lou et al --

    Lou, I agree with you on the methodology being also a theological error. Now, how do we convince Jerry?

    Jerry, you were saying,
    Self-denial would not be a work - the fruits of self denial would be the works.

    This reminds of a TV commercial where the used car salesman says "Come to our showroom, where all you need to drive off in one of our clean cars is your job."

    Only if, and only as long as, your job produces the fruit of a job, which is on-time car payments, in their case.

    It's time we expose this "the only thing we require is a job" sales pitch, it least its equivalent when it comes to our evangelism.

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  28. Larry - how would you define saving faith?

    Is it bare intellectual assent to the facts of the gospel? Or does it include a measure of trust in the person of Jesus? Does it involve a desire to turn from one's sin? [Repentance]

    The Scriptures are clear that people who hear the word and nod approvingly [intellectual assent] but do not act on it - or display any kind of commitment to Jesus are deluded. James 1:22, James 2:14ff, Titus 1:16, I Cor. 6:9, I John 2:3

    We can say, 'I believe in Jesus - I believe in Jesus' all we want - but if we turn around and live like we don't care what He says - that denies the claim to faith.

    The bottom line is I have seen no exegetical argument made against the 'self-denial' passages. They are dismissed because they don't fit the system

    My original point I made to Lou:

    "Lou - you continue to make the claim that LS confuses discipleship passages with salvation [such as the self denial passages - Mark 8:34-38, etc.].

    You speak of this as self evident but I've never heard you address the fact that Jesus speaks of forfeiting one's soul in this context and the fact that these words were spoken to a multitude with His disciples [Mark 8:34].

    If you want to accuse people of adding works to the gospel - that's your business - but I think you should at least show that your own handling of these texts reflects an honest acceptance of Jesus' words with intent to interpret them in their context.

    I think it makes more sense to see these passages as clarifying the nature of saving faith. Notice - no actual works are done - it's all attitudinal and of the heart."

    In my mind - the LS issue is not over up front demands for commitment to Jesus. To me the issue is: 'Does a person's faith result in a changed life?' Is there evidence that the faith is real?

    If no self denial ever occurs - then there is no faith. It's not the self-denial that saves anymore than any work or baptism or following of Jesus. But if our faith does not result in following, self denying, etc. it is spurious.

    Of course - when you analyze why some people's faith proves to be spurious - you have to conclude that their faith was lacking something vital

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  29. Jerry:

    First, let me say that there is no way that the calls for cross bearing, self-denial, and following in any of the Gospels can be construed as invitations to salvation.

    If one concedes that the Lord’s demands for following are salvation messages meant for the lost, then you have admitted to a gospel that bases salvation on a commitment to meeting the conditions of discipleship: bear the cross, self-denial, following.

    It is unnecessary to repeat this, "Notice - no actual works are done - it's all attitudinal and of the heart." I have stated LS is not asking for the works to be performed for salvation. LS, however, does demand a commitment to the conditions of discipleship for the reception of eternal life. Dr. MacArthur’s numerous quotes and Phil Johnson also acknowledges these verses are calls for salvation, which means eternal life is conditional, because the passages are conditional.

    You are trying to minimize the obvious impact by claiming it is an "attitude." This does nothing to change the fact that LS expects and demands a commitment to discipleship for salvation followed by the performance of good works. Whether you call it “attitude” or “intentionality towards obedience,” LS demands a decision/commitment to the terms of discipleship. This is a false gospel because it has been made man-centered by the advocate of such a position.

    In my mind - the LS issue is not over up front demands for commitment to Jesus.

    The upfront demand for commitment to the terms of discipleship is exactly the issue! It is the issue that drives the whole debate. It is the issue that defines the works based message of LS. It is the issue that Nathan repeatedly tried to avoid. I have always agreed that the results of salvation should be evident. A genuine conversion should be evidenced by some degree of genuine discipleship. The argument is not there. You do not need to debate that with me.

    To me the issue is: 'Does a person's faith result in a changed life?' Is there evidence that the faith is real?

    What you do in that statement is make behavior, not believing the condition for salvation and the test of a genuine conversion.

    LM

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  30. Lou - I said: "To me the issue is: 'Does a person's faith result in a changed life?' Is there evidence that the faith is real?"

    You say:
    "What you do in that statement is make behavior, not believing the condition for salvation and the test of a genuine conversion."

    Would you accuse the apostle John of making the same mistake?

    I John 2:3 - 'By this we know that we have come to know Him if we keep His commandments'

    I John 3:10 - 'By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother.'

    I Jn. 2:29 - 'If you know that He is righteous you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him.'

    That is essentially the entire thrust of the book of I John.

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  31. Jerry:

    You wrote, "To me the issue is: 'Does a person's faith result in a changed life?' Is there evidence that the faith is real?"

    I replied, "What you do in that statement is make behavior, not believing the condition for salvation and the test of a genuine conversion."

    Earlier I stated that I am OK with the need to see some genuine results, behavior, growth.

    My reply above is two-part: requirement for and result of salvation. LS makes behavior, a commitment to the terms of discipleship, the requirement for salvation.

    As for post-conversion: Behavior, some level of a changed life, should be the result and in evidence.

    You are beginning to need the same kind of refocusing that I had to do with Nathan. Are you willing to acknowledge that I am in agreement with the necessary evidence of a genuine conversion?

    You must acknowledge this fact, which I have frequently stated here and at other sites. Nathan and other pro-lordship men have acknowledged that I am right-on in this area.

    If, as I trust you will concede this, then we must stay focused on what LS sees as the requirements for salvation. That is where the debate and issue lies.

    Now, let's get back to the "Issue." A commitment to the terms and/or conditions of discipleship, which MacArthur and LS call for, makes behavior the requirement for salvation.

    LM

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  33. Antonio:

    Go to Rich Young Ruler for the reply you seek.

    LM

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  34. Lou - I wrote:

    "To me the issue is: 'Does a person's faith result in a changed life?' Is there evidence that the faith is real?"

    To which you said, "What you do in that statement is make behavior, not believing the condition for salvation and the test of a genuine conversion."

    Now - you are saying, "As for post-conversion: Behavior, some level of a changed life, should be the result and in evidence."

    That sounds like a little bit different of a perspective. I would agree with your second statment as I think it is more in line with Scripture.

    I think i understand your position. My question has been, 'How do you do what you do with the self-denial passages?'

    i.e. - Do you form your opinion from the text or do you come to these particular texts with your opinion already in hand? What hermeneutical principles are at play in this handling of Jesus' statements?

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  35. Jerry/All:

Earlier I wrote, “As for post-conversion: Behavior, some level of a changed life, should be the result and in evidence.”

You replied, “I would agree with your second statement as I think it is more in line with Scripture.”

So, that is settled.

Now we move on the real issue, which is how LS defines the requirements to be born again.

    As you, and other LS advocates have indicated, you find the calls for cross bearing, self-denial, and following evangelistic appeals. This means the conditions the Lord states for the disciple are the requirements for salvation. Now, please do not repeat this, “Notice - no actual works are done.” We have settled that too.


    You wrote, “I think I understand your position. My question has been, 'How do you do what you do with the self-denial passages?'”



    Luke 9:23-24 (Mark 8; Matthew 16) the Lord is setting out the conditions for the born again disciple of Christ. He is not conditioning salvation on what should be the results of salvation. However, you (representing LS advocates) believe the conditions of cross bearing, self-denial, and following are evangelistic appeals. Luke 9:23-24 is conditional, therefore, your interpretation of the gospel is based the conditions being met/agreed to.



    Any reader can go back to the article this thread follows and see MacArthur’s very clear statements to that effect. He is irrefutably conditioning the reception of eternal life on the upfront commitment to cross bearing, self-denial, and following.

    Attempts to sanitize that position by suggesting it is merely an attitude change or heart issue does nothing to diminish the demands being made of a lost man for the gift of eternal life. 


    Think this through- you say it is “attitudinal.” So the lost man has to have an attitude toward obeying the Lord’s commands set out in Luke 9:23. “Attitude” has to do with the mind. This means he must make the decision to obey the Lord’s commands to meet the conditions set out in these passages. 



    Jerry- no matter how you try to present it, once you state Luke 9:23 (and the parallels) are salvation messages; you have a works based gospel. Salvation conditioned on any action or attitude of man to do or become something is a man-centered gospel and it is therefore, false through the addition.



    What Does Jesus Mean When He Says, Follow Me? The Gospel According to Jesus. The title of MacArthur’s book should raise concern even before one opens the cover. John MacArthur and those who advocate Lordship Salvation believe the Lord's words Follow Me are a necessary component of the gospel that must be committed to for the reception of eternal life.

    LM

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  36. Hello Lou --

    While the explanation of what the requirement(s) for salvation that various teachers have written continues, I'd like to pause for a second and do some rambling with you about what it's like to encounter intransigence in ourselves and others, in the spirit of "we too were once ...."

    We don't know this ahead of time, but just suppose that despite all our documentation and patience and answering of relevant questions, the dialogue stops at a certain point. Even under the best (most ethically conducted) disagreements, it's frustrating, isn't it?

    It can happen not only on this issue, but on a whole spectrum of issues that, in climbing some difficult terrain with our fellow believers who love the Scriptures, either we, or those we are with, just cannot proceed. At some particular feature, like some rock, the arms or legs just won't pull that xx feet to a closer agreement with someone.

    Experienced leaders of hikes deal with this kind of thing all the time. What do they do? Of course, harming the hiker is not an option.

    Sometimes a pause is all that's needed.

    Sometimes a word of encouragement, and sometimes a technical observation.

    Sometimes a funny story from the past.

    What if there is anger directed at the hike, and the leaders of the hike? What if a person blames others for the problem?

    All these images have corresponding realities in the area of discussion of differences in doctrine.

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  37. Lou - you state: "no matter how you try to present it, once you state Luke 9:23 (and the parallels) are salvation messages; you have a works based gospel. Salvation conditioned on any action or attitude of man to do or become something is a man-centered gospel and it is therefore, false through the addition"

    I see this is your point. My question is: 'how do you find these passages to not be talking about salvation?' The issue at stake seems to be eternal life [forfeiture of ones soul]. Is forfeiting ones soul - something less than eternal perdition?

    Also - in Mark's account - the words are spoken to the multitude with His disciples. What would cause those non-disciples to think that He wasn't talking about eternal life?

    Or - is this a salvation message that expired at the cross? Did Jesus preach a different gospel than Paul?

    My approach to Scriptures is that they are to form my theology and I am to come in line with them. I don't base my beliefs on John MacArthur or Lou Martuneac or John Calvin. I base them on the Scriptures. To me the Scriptures point to these being calls to salvation and I see no exegetical arguments pointing in the other direction.

    On another note - I would mention that this is not how I generally preach the gospel. I call people to believe in Christ - His atoning death and resurrection. I also tell them that if they genuinely believe - there will be some fruit. That fruit - i believe will include the aspects of self-denial and cross bearing. As mentioned - this is something that Jesus calls for daily.

    Grace and Peace

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  38. It is evident that one cannot substitute words that we want into a text. What the Lord says in Mk 8:35 is about wishing to save one's life and losing one's life.

    Here's the text: "whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it."

    Here's what we (sometimes) "want" the text to say, that is, to fit it in with other presuppositions: "whoever is willing to sacrifice his life ...."

    We see that this is actually a double insertion: on the first part, of sacrifice instead of loss; and on the second part, of willingness instead of the actual act.

    That is a common pattern: instead of Christ, making something from the Law a requirement, in a watered-down form.

    Loss is something we do not engineer for ourselves in order to go to heaven: it is something that we suffer to happen, when it happens. We do not go to heaven, jihad-style, by arranging for a self-sacrifice. Evangelists in Christianity are not people who are arranging for the self-sacrifice of their hearers so that their hearers can go to heaven. It is wholly Christ's sacrifice, not the self-sacrifice of what is at best imperfect, through which God accepts us.

    The simplest way of interpreting the calls of the Lord to follow Him in cross-bearing and self-denial for what they are is to put them in direct answer to our question, and see if they answer our question: "how must my salvation come?" Answer: "By grace you have been saved, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God...." (This, from Paul's Eph 2:8). This is a direct answer to the question we pose to the text. Try it now with Mk: "how must my salvation come?" "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must take up his cross and follow me." It doesn't even address the same question.

    What about the forfeiting spoken about in Mk 8:36? The presupposition is to take whatever the Lord says about forfeiture of one's life or soul and make the avoidance of that sin into a partial condition of salvation! And that, in watered-down form!

    But what is it that makes the soul subject to forfeiture? Any single sin, even, any from the entire record of sins, from the biggest to the smallest (Jm 2:10).

    What exactly does Jesus ask in 8:37? When He asks what can a man give in exchange for his soul , because we do not have this image of the soul that has been sold into slavery in our minds, we forget how silly it is to conceive of the soul buying itself back! The soul, the very thing that has been forfeit, cannot offer itself in exchange for itself! Redemption has to come from outside!If the soul itself has been forfeited, nothing from it can be given to save it.

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  39. To All:

    In Luke 9:23-24; Matthew 16:24-27; and Mark 8:34-28 Jesus is giving instruction. The question must be asked: To whom and for what purpose is Jesus giving instructions on how to live as one of His disciples?

    Part of the answer comes from the section immediately preceding the passages in question. A good rule in interpreting passages is to read within their context. Read a little before and a little after the passage we are trying to understand, this way some important context may reveal itself.

    In each of the three gospels we find the event immediately preceding the Lord’s instruction to His inner circle of disciples is Peter’s Great Confession. This event and the subsequent instruction to His disciples happened in a space of time and in a chronological order. From the text we see Jesus is alone with His disciples.

    In each of the parallels we read the Lord’s instructions to His disciples were to deny self, take up a cross and follow Him.

    In Matthew 16:21-ff Peter takes the Lord aside. Then we read, “But He turned and said unto Peter…Then said Jesus unto His disciples…” Jesus is speaking only to His disciples and giving them instruction.

    Luke 9:18, “…as he was alone praying, His disciples were with Him.” No mention of speaking to anyone other than the disciples.

    The crowds were never far away. Only in Mark’s account do we find the crowd that followed Him was within ear-shot. We, therefore, conclude each of the three gospel accounts, although Matthew and Luke do not mention the crowd, would essentially be consistent with one another. Mark 8:34 “And when he had called the people unto Him with His disciples also…”

    The presence of a crowd of onlookers does not change the fact that in each passage Jesus is instructing His inner circle on how they might live wisely as His disciples. The teaching of Jesus about the cost of discipleship, and that following Him will come with a price, is a message for the masses. It is, however, never presented as conditional for salvation as Lordship advocates contend. There is no cost to become a Christian. There is no call for a promise; no demand is made on the lost to pay the price or agree to the terms of discipleship to become a Christian.

    Jesus is not putting down conditions for salvation. Jesus is stating the position and responsibility of those who are saved, not what must be done or committed to for salvation.

    The following two quotes appear in my book: In Defense of the Gospel, p. 76.

    “The term ‘disciple’ is a synonym for ‘Christian’ (Acts 11:26). However, the challenges of this great chapter (Luke 9) cannot be construed as an invitation to salvation. These men were already disciples when Christ called them. By definition they were already believers in Him. . . . That passage (along with its parallels in Matthew 16:24-28 and Mark 8:34-38) follows Peter's great confession of Christ's deity and Christ's first announcement of His coming death. Those words, like the words in Matthew 10:37-39 were spoken to people who were already disciples. There is no way they can be construed as invitations to salvation. This is not to deny the need for discipleship. Believers should be willing to surrender their wills to Christ and to follow Him wherever He leads them, whatever the cost may be. But that decision cannot be construed as part of the salvation experience. We believe Scripture presents a better answer than demanding lifelong obedience to Christ at the time of salvation.” (Dr. Fred Moritz, Preach the Word, October-December 1999.)

    “He . . . made a public declaration about a cross for every disciple. . . . Keep in mind that Jesus is talking about discipleship and not sonship. We are not saved from our sins because we take up a cross and follow Jesus, but because we trust the Saviour who died on the cross for our sins. After we become children of God, then we become disciples.” (Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, Vol. 1, p. 207.)

    I am going to come back later (possibly tomorrow) with a discussion of “…gain the whole world and lose his own soul,” (Mark 8:36).

    LM

    Later I hope to compile several of my posts in this thread along with other non-published notes I have on this important subject. Lordship advocates misinterpret instructions meant for the born again disciple of Christ as though they are gospel appeals to the lost. This subject is thoroughly discussed and documented in my book, but I’d like to expand on that discussion here with a new article.

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  40. Greetings Lou,

    Lou said:
    Mark 8:34 “And when he had called the people unto Him with His disciples also…”
    The presence of a crowd of onlookers does not change the fact that in each passage Jesus is instructing His inner circle on how they might live wisely as His disciples."

    The text does not refer to this group as a crowd of onlookers. Neither does it infer that Jesus positioned himself such that He was instructing His inner circle on how to live wisely as disciples. The text says: "And He summoned the multitude with His disciples". Clearly He had something to tell the multitude! Let's not bring presuppositions into the text.

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  41. Hello Lou,

    Lou said: "The teaching of Jesus about the cost of discipleship, and that following Him will come with a price, is a message for the masses."

    That is an interesting statement. What do you "specifically" mean by it "is a message for the masses"? In what way?

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  42. Hello Paul:

    I want to assure you that when I use the phrase "a message for the masses," I am not suggesting that meeting/agreeing to the conditions of discipleship is the way to receive eternal life, which is the Lordship gospel.

    Read Wiersbe above, "Keep in mind that Jesus is talking about discipleship and not sonship." There is a difference!

    I am simply acknowledging that in this passage, a crowd was gathered, made up of people outside His inner circle of disciples, who were listening. “And when He had called the people unto Him with His disciples also…,(Mark 8:34). It is pretty clear that the text shows two different groups: “the people…his disciples.” The text draws a distinction.

    Incidentally, I find it noteworthy in the two parallels to Mark 8 (Matthew 16; Luke 9) there is no mention of any one other than the disciples who were alone with Him during Peter’s Great Confession. Matthew and Luke show the Lord teaching the conditions of discipleship ONLY to these disciples.

    Jesus made no secret that following Him as a disciple would come with a price. Jesus was not preaching on how a lost man can receive eternal life. He was not teaching lost men how to become a Christian.

    Salvation is a free gift, discipleship is costly. Jesus was not teaching how one must be saved; He was teaching what should be the natural result of salvation.

    Since the terms of discipleship are not salvation appeals then it becomes apparent Jesus was teaching His disciples, that is Christians, how to live as disciples, and that there would be a cost to follow Him in discipleship.

    May I ask if you view the conditions the Lord sets down for the disciple of Christ (cross bearing, self-denial and following) as a salvation message? Is this an evangelistic appeal?

    LM

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  43. Larry:

    I did read and appreciate your notes to me earlier.

    On balance you will find my posts on this and other sites have contained a balance of charity and graciousness.

    When necessary I will write in matter-of-fact, to-the-point terms. I trust no one is interpreting emphatic, passionate writing as though they are frustrated/angry expressions.

    The one element that is missed in on line discussions is the personality and emotion that can be seen in a personal meeting. I have had several personal and phone conversations with various LS advocates. I never did or plan to succumb to raw emotion of enflamed passions.

    I will, however, note that I have been on the receiving end of some very harsh, vitriolic posts and e-mails and phone calls. Some men have maligned my character and motives.

    Again, thanks for the note; I did take it to heart.

    LM

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  45. Cindy:

    I had to look that up:
    verbal abuse or castigation; violent denunciation or condemnation.

    LM

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  47. Cindy:

    Thanks for checking in.

    I included that appendix entry because it really hits home. Pastor George Zeller has much to offer on the problems with Calvinism and Lordship Salvation.

    I have a link to one of his site's pages. Click on The Dangers of Reformed Theology.

    I am interested to lean whether or not Jerry and Paul will reply to what I posted for them. I responded to their various questions and left a question for Paul.

    LM

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  49. Good evening Lou,
    Thank you for your reply. I look forward to answering the question that you asked, but before I do I feel that we still need to get a clearer understanding of context then what you have supplied so far. Since I intially asked two questions I think it will be best to keep the questions seperate so that our dialog on a specific question will be clear.

    As to one of my questions, you answered what you didn't mean, but you neglected to answer what you did mean. So I will ask it again:

    What do you "specifically" mean by "(it) is a message for the masses"? In what way?

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  50. Hello Lou,

    The following is regarding my second question/statement regarding Mark 8:34 which I want to pursue.
    You said: “I am simply acknowledging that in this passage, a crowd was gathered, made up of people outside His inner circle of disciples, who were listening.”

    The way that you state this Lou, gives the impression that you are minimizing the importance of the presence of the crowd and creating the impression that Jesus was really just focusing on the “inner circle” (as you put it), with the crowd on the periphery. This is simply not the case.

    Look how different translations put it:
    KJV Mark 8:34 And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also,
    NAS Mark 8:34 And He summoned the multitude with His disciples,
    NIV Mark 8:34 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples
    NKJ Mark 8:34 When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also,

    These translations bring out the fact that Jesus summoned the crowd (primarily), along with his disciples. The two groups were called together, with emphasis on the crowd. The Greek verb used here: "proskalesamenos" means “to call or summon to oneself” just like the above translations have it.

    Based on the above, we must conclude that Jesus wanted to teach the crowd that He had summoned along with His disciples. Do you agree?

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  51. Paul:

    Taking a cue from Phil's conditions- your turn.

    Do you view the conditions the Lord sets down for the disciple of Christ (cross bearing, self-denial and following) as a salvation message? Is this an evangelistic appeal?

    LM

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  52. But you never clearly answered my questions. :)

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  53. Hello Paul, Lou, Cindy, jerry, et al --

    Thanks for your comments Cindy, and I hope to dialogue more with you as well. Let me take one of your comments under strict advisement, especially since I think that it's sin to accuse someone of something without cause. Such things happened at the mock trial of the Lord Jesus.

    I love that word vituperation. My junior year in college I tried to use it in an essay, in the form "vituperative," which the professor circled, and sure enough, I couldn't find it in that form.

    Paul, Lou jerry morningstar had been saying,

    "Jesus speaks of forfeiting one's soul in this context and the fact that these words were spoken to a multitude with His disciples [Mark 8:34].

    If you want to accuse people of adding works to the gospel - that's your business - but I think you should at least show that your own handling of these texts reflects an honest acceptance of Jesus' words with intent to interpret them in their context.

    I think it makes more sense to see these passages as clarifying the nature of saving faith."


    This last paragraph is of course something that jerry brings in from outside the text, and that is the source of the problem, not whether Jesus summoned the crowd or not.

    Let's make the presuppositions that I believe are faulty explicit, so, even if the belief that they are faulty is incorrect, at least they can be brought out into the open.
    Does everything Jesus say to the multitude consist of one or more requirements for salvation?

    We sometimes think that whatever Jesus commands is also part of His requirement for salvation. We should look at that presupposition, to see if that is true or false.

    Here's the way Lou said it:

    "there is no way that the calls for cross bearing, self-denial, and following in any of the Gospels can be construed as invitations to salvation."

    Jesus has every intention of speaking about conditions of following Him, and speaking to the multitude about these conditions.

    Our common incorrect presupposition is that if the Lord speaks to an unbeliever, or to a crowd containing unbelievers, then whatever He demands must be thought of as a condition of salvation!

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  54. Paul:

    If you insist on being evasive then we are done.

    Do you view the conditions the Lord sets down for the disciple of Christ (cross bearing, self-denial and following) as a salvation message? Is this an evangelistic appeal?

    LM

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  55. Larry:

    You are correct in mentioning how Jerry and LS men bring presuppositions into a text. Phil, Nathan, Jerry and many other LS advocates I dealt with over the years use phrases such as "the nature of saving faith" to legitimize their reinterpreation of the discipleship passages.

    Pastor Mike Harding says, "saving faith includes an intentionality towards obedience." The attempts to disconnect a commitment to the works of a disciple for the reception of salvation is an on-going project for the advocates of LS.

    Because they blur and see no distinction between discipleship and salvation I continually have to steer the discussion into discerning between the requirements for salvation (saving faith) and the results of salvation.

    Using expressions like, "the nature of saving faith" is one of the ways they blur the lines of distinction between salvation and discipleship.

    LM

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  56. Hello Larry,

    You said: “Our common incorrect presupposition is that if the Lord speaks to an unbeliever, or to a crowd containing unbelievers, then whatever He demands must be thought of as a condition of salvation!”

    I can not speak for anyone else but I do not bring that presupposition to the texts. I do desire for the text to speak for itself. So, I make observations and ask questions in the exegetical process, such as:

    1) Jesus clearly and unequivocally states what those who want to continue to follow Him must do and what they must be like.
    2) He teaches this to crowds of unbelievers as well as the twelve that He specifically called (Mark 8:34-38; Luke 14:25-35).
    3) What do those terms that He commanded of true followers mean to those He spoke to, and what does it mean today?
    4) Upon Jesus teaching of Him being the Bread of Life, why did many disciples defect (John 6:66)?
    5) Since the Church is commissioned to go to all the world and make disciples, then I need to understand what a true disciple is.

    It appears to me that Lou and others bring the presupposition to these texts that: since salvation is by grace through faith apart from works (which Reformed soteriologists strictly hold to by the way), and since their is cost in order to be a true follower, then these texts can not have any reference to a faith that leads to salvation.

    Applying this presupposition then, forces the text to apply only to believers. That is a bias that creates huge problems in interpreting these texts.

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  57. Good morning Lou,

    I believe that it is very important for us in this discussion to bring out as clearly as possible the results of applying the normal, literal, grammatical, contextual approach to understanding these passages before we answer the question that you have put to me. If you for one reason or another do not wish to go through that process, than I suppose, as you say, we are done.

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  59. Hi Cindy,

    I realise that your last entry was to Larry, but would it be ok if I shared something with you?

    It is very hard for me to think that anyone over at the pulpit blog hates you. Just because at this time in your understanding you have a difference of opinion isn't reason for anyone to hate you. I really think that you are mistaken to think that they do. I am a Calvinist as well as most over at the Pulpit blog, and I surely don't hate anyone who differs with me, even if they come across harsh or unloving. Without being able to see a persons face or hear the intonation of their voice, it is hard to discern where they are coming from. So most of the time I do not even try. I stick with the facts of the discussion with the objective of understanding truth.

    There are times though were one needs to be very pointed and even tough. Phil over at Pyro has had to deal firmly with a quite a few.

    For 15 years I use to believe the way that Lou does right now. Upon continued study I came to different conclusions about 13 years ago. As students of the Word of God we will be studying until He comes for us or we go to Him. Let's have patience and pray for one another as we blog our way to a deeper understanding of our Great God and Saviour Jesus Christ

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  61. Cindy:

    What you experienced or witnessed at Pyro is the intellectual elitism of some of the Calvinists there. They look down their noses in disdain at any who have not theologically arrived like they believe they have. That is why they are often harsh.

    They have accepted the rationalistic fatalism of Calvinism and as far as they are concerned those of us who reject Calvinism’s TULIP are just not getting it.

    Be very careful if you are going to interact with these men, they will do all they can to present as orthodox what is antithetical to the Bible.

    They typically push their Calvinism to open the door for Lordship Salvation. That is likely how people like Paul have been deceived and adopted these extra-biblical views: Lordship Salvation and Regeneration before Faith.

    Finally, ask: Why is Paul unwilling to answer the one question I have posed to him? That should raise a red flag of warning about him, and those like him, who do not want to be pinned down on the Lordship gospel.

    LM

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  62. Paul:

    The only reason I am not deleting your posts from my site is that you are demonstrating for everyone the standard operating procedure of most Lordship advocates when they do not want to be pinned down on their beliefs. Nathan did the same thing at Pulpit Magazine.

    You are hiding behind the veil of seeking more information from me to avoid answering a simple question. You do not want to answer this question:

    Do you view the conditions the Lord sets down for the disciple of Christ (cross bearing, self-denial and following) as a salvation message? Is this an evangelistic appeal?

    When Phil answered a similar question that lead to his revealing how LS confuses discipleship with salvation. Furthermore, he contradicted the statements in MacArthur's books, which he (Phil) is chief editor of. The article that this thread follows irrefutably demonstrates this.

    When that question is answered it is usually twisted the way Phil did by claiming these are not conditional passages. That is a defense mechanism to maintain the appearance of orthodoxy.

    Lordship places their error alongside orthodoxy, which is why some unsuspecting believers are swept up into the error. They can't discern the error because it is couched in orthodox terms.

    I answered your questions, I could provide more, but you are determined to duck the simple question I have posed to you.

    LM

    PS: I do reserve the right to end your involvement here and delete your posts for refusing to answer a question and attempting to dictate the terms here.

    Furthermore, If I detect even the slightest attempt to use my site to indoctrinate people like Cindy to Calvinism or Lordship, you are done.

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  63. Cindy:

    Go back to my book and read the sections on Calvinism and especially regeneration before faith. You will then have a good idea of just how out of touch with the Bible the extremes that flow from Calvinism can be.

    LM

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  64. Hi Paul et al --

    paul e and Lou, are you all quitting before having hardly started? When the disciples (since we're talking about disciples) didn't understand, the Lord didn't pitch them over the cliff, but explained it some other way. More often than not, we forget that in the body of Christ, a disagreement should be a lot less like pushing pigs over a cliff to be drowned, but more like the hand saying, "oh, my foot hurts!" We can recognize that our feet hurt without having to throw them over.

    I'm glad Paul E. that you say that "whatever Jesus demands must be thought of as a condition of salvation" is not a presupposition you bring to the text.

    (I'm going to abbreviate presupposition as presupp, for brevity. May I point out some presupps which you made (perhaps -- correct me if I'm wrong) bring to it?)

    Let's remember, by the way, that a presupp is not necessarily wrong or right, just because we make it. It is taken for granted, sometimes wrongly, sometimes rightly. For example, we all presuppose that Jesus spoke these words loudly enough to be heard.

    When someone disagrees with us, often they disagree with something in our presupps, what for us is often "obviously" already there in the text, and when people question the presupp, we go, "of course it means that! Anybody would be daft to deny it!" or "what else could it mean?" Mark my words!

    One presupp you bring in -- I noticed this when you thought of John 6:66 -- is that regardless of what has transpired before, "those who want to continue to follow Him must do" what "Jesus clearly and unequivocally states" here.

    This presupp leads us to assume that Jesus is inviting his hearers to consider themselves in regard to one of only two groups: those who want to continue to follow Him, or those who don't want to continue to follow Him.

    Simple, no? Obvious, no? And it is all in the realm of presupposition.

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  65. Larry:

    Thanks for your concern, but these discussions are not meant to be the one-way street that Paul is on.

    LM

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  66. Larry:

    This presupp leads us to assume that Jesus is inviting his hearers to consider themselves in regard to one of only two groups: those who want to continue to follow Him, or those who don't want to continue to follow Him.

    That is an interesting approach. I am going to contemplate it.

    LM

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  67. Hi Cindy, Lou et al --

    No Cindy I don't think you accuse me of anything (perhaps too hard to understand, maybe). And I love your posts and your tone. I'm sorry that both you and Lou have been victims of insults and ridicule, and I'm in big debt to you Cindy for bringing up vituperation. Not the fact of it, but the word to describe it.

    As for discussion, there are umpteen reasons why people do not answer a direct question. Maybe he considers the question a trap. Maybe he wants to resolve something else first. Maybe he just wants to put a little comment in here and there so we don't forget him, but mainly just wants to listen for awhile. Or maybe things are more devious. I certainly don't know.

    For example, I'm not ignorant that jerry morningstar has asked me for a definition of saving faith. I'm looking for the right way to tell him that we need to settle a lot more definitions of words and phrases that are actually in the Bible, before we get to constructs that we try and make that are not in the Bible. See, I said it. Hi, jerry. If you're still reading this, see! I was listening to you....

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  68. Lou --

    I don't know what paul e has said elsewhere. I am going to assume that there is a carryover, wrongly or rightly, from previous posts that I haven't seen. But he can go step-by-step with me, with the promise by me myself that I'm going to count myself as open to correction on anything, from whatever source.

    Jesus, incredibly, even though He rebuked him, allowed an officer of the high priest who struck Him on the night of His trial, to back up his actions by an explanation if he could. It is one of the most amazing things I think Jesus ever said -- just an offhand remark, to a man who struck him, inviting him to back up his action if he could (Jn 18:23).

    Regardless of all these procedures regarding blog comments, I'm thrilled that the issue of how God saves someone is of interest to so many people, and I'm glad that your book has come to be noticed.

    Just think, if those who have worried about the purity of the gospel over the centuries could have predicted that someone in the future could join in a debate about the gospel with those from all over the world, by typing a few words on a keyboard, into a search engine, and interact with people of all stations in life, about the purity of the gospel -- wow! Wouldn't they say their trials were worth it?

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  69. Hi Larry, Lou, Yes - presuppositions are extremely relevant to how one approaches the Word of God.

    My guess is that if any one of us came to the passage being discussed with no presupps: 'If anyone wishes to come after Me - let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me' - we would see Jesus laying out the terms of being a follower of His. Then when He throws in the consequences of clinging to our life - that it leads to forfeiture of soul - that would seal the deal.

    It actually is a pretty straight forward passage.

    The presuppositions i believe you gentlemen bring to this text are that this cannot be a salvation passage because it sounds like works and we are not saved by works. Therefore it must be a reference to discipleship.

    How would a first century Jew understand Jesus' comments?

    'If anyone wishes to come after Me'
    A disciple by definition is a learner, follower

    Jesus is speaking to followers and would be followers saying - 'this is what following Me involves'

    Jesus also said, 'If you abide in My word then you are truly disciples of mine' [John 8:31]

    i.e. - continuance was the mark of genuine discipleship

    I believe the self denial passages give us the character of discipleship. i.e. - if you believe - your faith will lead you in this direction. If it does not - you are not a disciple, etc.

    And - if you have no desire to go in this direction - don't bother signing up - salvation is not for you

    Can a person be a Christian and not a disciple?

    Why did Jesus tell us to go and make disciples if what He really meant was that we need to go and make Christians first - and then call people to discipleship?

    J. I. Packer addresses this issue:

    “in our evangelistic presentations Christ appears not as the center of attention and himself the key to life’s meaning, but as a figure- sometimes a very smudgy figure- brought in as an the answer to some preset egocentric questions of our own . . . The necessity of faithful discipleship to Jesus, and the demands of it are not stressed (some even think as a matter of principle they should not be), and so the cost of following Jesus is not counted. In consequence our evangelism reaps large crops of still unconverted folk who think they can cast Jesus for the role of P.G. Wodehouse’s Jeeves, calling Him in and making use of him as Savior and Helper, while declining to have Him as Lord.’ [Keep In Step with the Spirit, p. 69]


    J.C. Ryle also sees the clarity of this passage:
    ‘The command of the master is clear and plain: ‘If any man will come after Me let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.’

    “Now what do we know of all this? Surely this is a question which ought to be asked. A little formal church-going, and a decent attendance at a place of worship, can never be the Christianity of which Christ speaks in this place. Where is our self denial? Where is our daily carrying of the cross? Where is our following of Christ? Without a religion of this kind we shall never be saved. A crucified Savior will never be content to have a self-pleasing, self-indulging, worldly minded people. No self denial, no real grace!” [Expository Thoughts on the Gospels – Luke vol. 1, p. 310]


    Grace and Peace

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  70. Jerry:

    The presuppositions I believe you gentlemen bring to this text are that this cannot be a salvation passage because it sounds like works and we are not saved by works. Therefore it must be a reference to discipleship.

    Cross bearing, self-denial and following are not “sounds like works,” they are the works expected of a born again disciple of Christ. They are the God ordained “good works” (Eph. 2:10) that should be the result of a genuine conversion (Eph. 2:8-9), not requirements to be committed to for salvation. Furthermore, the Lord is speaking to His disciples.

    I believe the self denial passages give us the character of discipleship. i.e. - if you believe - your faith will lead you in this direction. If it does not - you are not a disciple, etc.

    Here you are speaking of discipleship, meaning that which follows salvation. The lost man comes to Christ and receives Him by faith, believing, and then follows Him in discipleship. A lost man cannot follow or deny-self to become a Christian because that is works salvation.

    Can a person be a Christian and not a disciple? Why did Jesus tell us to go and make disciples if what He really meant was that we need to go and make Christians first - and then call people to discipleship?

    This is a classic example of how Lordship confuses/blurs the distinction between salvation and discipleship. Lordship demands an upfront commitment to the conditions of discipleship in exchange for salvation. This interpretation of the gospel was once known as “Discipleship Salvation.” You have just defined why it was known as that. You are demanding the terms of discipleship for salvation- to become a Christian. The Bible teaches a lost man does not become a disciple to get saved; he becomes a disciple if and when he has been saved.

    J. I. Packer’s quote (from your post above) is a prime example of the false dilemma. This fallacy occurs when the two alternatives are presented, but not all the possibilities have been explored. This fallacy presents itself in the Lordship debate. Those who advocate the lordship salvation position see only the mental assent or Easy-Believism position as an alternative.

    Packer presents a false dilemma to portray a scenario as if everyone else is preaching a weak, Easy-Believism gospel. There are many Bible believing Christians who reject Easy-Believism. Packer, MacArthur and Piper have reacted to Easy-Believism by changing the terms of the gospel to the other unbiblical extreme which is Lordship Salvation. Lordship advocates seek a commitment from a lost man to live as an obedient disciple of Christ in exchange for salvation. Lordship advocates somehow believe if they gain the upfront commitment to obedience, surrender and following Christ the problem of carnal Christians will go away.

    J.C. Ryle also sees the clarity of this passage:
    ‘The command of the master is clear and plain: ‘If any man will come after Me let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.’


    The Lord’s command is “clear and plain” to believers, it is not a gospel message for salvation.

    To reiterate: a lost man comes to and receives Christ (Jn. 1:12) through faith (Eph. 2:8) and believing (Jn. 3:16) in Him. Then he comes after Christ, taking up a cross and following Him as a disciple (Luke 9:23).

    Lordship Salvation puts is exactly backwards, because they are trying to correct the errors of the Easy-Believism gospel by changing the terms of the gospel.

    Ryle wrote, “Where is our self denial? Where is our daily carrying of the cross? Where is our following of Christ? Without a religion of this kind we shall never be saved. No self denial, no real grace!”

    Here again you can see that Lordship Salvation says, “For by grace are ye saved through self-denial.” Ryle is conditioning salvation on the works of a disciple. He says no one can be saved without self-denial, carrying the cross and following.

    I am glad you quoted Ryle. Had I found that quote it would have been in my book alongside MacArthur’s similar extreme statements. Ryle’s statement is blunt, unvarnished and clearly shows the Lordship position is basing salvation on a commitment of man to the works of a disciple for the reception of eternal life. That is a gospel of faith, plus works.

    In his review of The Gospel According to Jesus Dr. Ernest Pickering wrote:

    “Salvation is free; discipleship is costly. Salvation comes by receiving the work of the cross; discipleship is evidenced by bearing the cross (daily submission to the will of God). Christ here is not giving instructions about how to go to heaven, but how those who know they are going to heaven should follow Him.”

    LM

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  71. When we see people trying to adjust and defend their definitions of concepts, even changing them and re-tweaking them, we should not chalk it all up to polemics.

    Sometimes it is plain polemics. For example, to be honest, many of these discussions of what repentance "is" and what repentance and faith "include" are what a linguist would call inside-out discussion.

    By "inside-out," what I mean is that the disagreement is like when two sisters argue over a certain piece of clothing. One says "that cloth is you," and the other says, "no, that is not me, that is my mother." The words they use make it sound like they're talking about the clothing, but what they are talking about, inside-out, are the ramifications of the decision to wear one, vs. the other, down the line.

    But not all of the discussions about faith and repentance are votes for ramifications of the various definitions. Sometimes it is genuine confusion.

    Here is an example of the systemic confusion I think I've noticed in the debate about what repentance and faith do or do not include. This sample sentence indicates the problem using a different domain, so you see the problem's structure without trying to "vote" on ramifications.

    1. To read the book thoroughly involves two steps: understanding each paragraph, and using your mind. You can't understand each paragraph without using your mind. Those who haven't used their minds have not read the book thoroughly. Those who omit this important step are throughly mistaken about reading books thoroughly. There are many proofs we hereby produce about the necessity of using your mind.

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  72. Hi Lou, et al --

    Just because I anticipate that Cindy is already mad at me again for being obtuse in my last post, I'd like to offer, in humor, an aspect of Lordship Salvation which I think is very humorous to those who look at it from the outside.

    Lou, I know you're a very serious person, as your friends have already testified on the blogs, and this is your blog, after all. I do not intend to ridicule the verse I'm using, but to draw attention to what it really says, by pointing out what it doesn't say.

    The aspect of Lordship Salvation which I would like to point out is the constant "clarification" all over their books, to the effect: "of course, we're not saying that true Christians don't sin occasionally...."

    Therefore let us all avoid the following change to Hebrews 4:16, as if it said (which it does not): "let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help when we need it occasionally."

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  73. Larry:

    "...the constant "clarification" all over their books, to the effect: 'of course, we're not saying that true Christians don't sin occasionally....'"

    Yes, and on several levels they have to clarify, explain, rephrase and come up with new terminology. I was planning to catalog the many recurring and new terms I have encountered in the recent debates.

    Therefore let us all avoid the following change to Hebrews 4:16, as if it said (which it does not): "...and find grace to help when we need it occasionally."

    The implicatioins of their system and attempts to clarify leads to so many problems with various scriptures.

    By the way, I am very light-hearted and have great sense of humor.

    The serious side of me dominates in the Lordship debate because the gospel is at stake. I find it hard to lighten up when the Lordship advocates are frustrating grace (Gal. 2:20) and corrupting the simplicity that is in Christ, (2 Cor. 11:3.)

    LM

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  74. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  75. Cindy:

    I want to keep this focused on LS, but I will address Predestination for you.

    This word Predestination appears in only two chapters of Scripture: Romans 8:29-30; Ephesians 1:5, 11.

    "You will note that there is no reference in these four verses to either Heaven or Hell, but to Christlikeness eventually. Nowhere are we told in Scripture that God predestinated one man to be saved and another to be lost…Predestination means that some day all the redeemed shall become just like the Lord Jesus…God has predestined you to be fully conformed to the image of His Son. (Dr. H. A. Ironside: Full Assurance, pp. 93-94.)

    Predestination is for those “whom He did foreknow”
    "For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate [to be] conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren," (Romans 8:29).

    We are chosen in Christ to share His glory for eternity, but predestination is always to some special place of blessing.

    Predestinated to what? Predestinated “to be conformed to the image of His Son.” (H. A. Ironside: In The Heavenlies, Expository address on Ephesians, pp. 34-35.)

    "Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ…:,(1 Peter 1:2).

    God from the beginning, predestinated that every believer should be made like Christ. This is the essence of the doctrine of predestination.

    C. H. Spurgeon wrote, "Mark then, with care, that OUR CONFORMITY TO CHRIST IS THE SACRED OBJECT OF PREDESTINATION. (Treasury of the New Testament, Vol. II, p. 72, capitals his.)

    Pastor Mark G. Cambron wrote,
    "Scripture teaches that God has predestinated those who have believed (and those who will believe) to be conformed to the image of His Son. In other words, it is the plan of God, determined beforehand, that every believer is going to be made like unto the Lord Jesus Christ…God has determined that those who are saved are going to be like His Son." (The New Testament- A Book-by-Book Survey, pp. 200-201.)

    Dr. Herbert Lockyer:
    "Predestination is the exercise of divine sovereignty in the accomplishment of God's ultimate purpose…What must be borne in mind is the fact that predestination is not God's predetermining from past ages who should and who should not be saved. Scripture does not teach this view. What it does teach is that this doctrine of predestination concerns the future of believers." (All the Doctrines of the Bible, p. 153.)

    "In the matter of God’s sovereignty and man’s free will and/or his responsibility to say that there is a balance at the center would not be appropriate. Both divine sovereignty and human responsibility are truths found in the Word of God. They are not competing truths they are truths! They are truths that cannot be reconciled. Our finite minds cannot comprehend every truth found in the Word of God. Once you try to reconcile these doctrines you are going to go off into a theological ditch and quite possibly land in the quagmire of heresy. Only in the mind of our infinite God can these two truths be reconciled." (In Defense of the Gospel, p. 249-250.)

    There is an article titled, The Fruits of Calvinism by Dr. Ron Comfort. Here is the site address:

    www.ambassadors.edu/
    PresidentsCorner/default.asp

    LM

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  76. Lou - you're starting to sound like Antonio. Spurgeon was a 5 point calvinist. He would never endorse your view of election.

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  77. Jerry:

    1) I am aware that Spurgeon was a Calvinist. This doesn't change the force and meaning of his note on Predestination.

    2) In any event, God does NOT predestine anyone to Hell. Read my note,

    "You will note that there is no reference in these four verses to either Heaven or Hell, but to Christlikeness eventually. Nowhere are we told in Scripture that God predestinated one man to be saved and another to be lost…"

    Predestined to Heaven or Hell is the result of Calvinism's rationalistic fatalism- reason rather than the revelation of Scripture.

    3) I am miles away from Antonio/Hodges on the FG/LS position. I have not read much by either of them on Calvinism.

    4) I do not necessarily seek or need Spurgeon's endorsement. He was fallible just as all us are. On predestination, his quote is clear. One reason I rarely quote Spurgeon is because he can often be found on both sides of any number of theological debates.

    End of discussion on Calvinism. I was giving something to Cindy.

    LM

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  78. Jerry:

    Earlier you wrote,

    "I believe the self denial passages give us the character of discipleship. i.e. - if you believe - your faith will lead you in this direction. If it does not - you are not a disciple, etc.

    And - if you have no desire to go in this direction - don't bother signing up - salvation is not for you
    ."

    You are stating that it is necessary to "sign up" to the conditions of discipleship for salvation.

    This means a lost man must make an upfront commitment to bear the cross, deny-self, and follow Jesus in order to be saved.

    This what I have demonstrated from MacArthur's books as the Lordship interpretation of the gospel.

    The addition of a commitment to "good works" expected of a believer from a lost man for the reception of eternal life.

    Would you please share with me how your position is not a man-centered gospel when you are basing salvation on a commitment to do the works of a disciple.

    LM

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  79. Lou - I would first approach your question from another angle.

    Can a person who has heard the words of Jesus which say: 'If any man wishes to come after Me let deny Himself, take up His cross and follow Me' - say, 'no - i'm not interested' and still express saving faith in Jesus?'

    Imagine the scene - Jesus gives this general call fo follow Him and some begin to walk away saying that they are not sure they really believe that much. Enter Lou Martuneac who pulls them aside and says, 'you don't need to deny yourself. That's optional - you just need to believe that Jesus is the Savior.'

    Would Jesus appreciate that 'clarification'?

    The reality is that this is what Jesus calls people to. To say we 'believe' in Him is to have a heart that is open to His commands. I agree with pastor Harding who said that saving faith includes an intentionality towards obedience.

    We are not saved by our faith. We are saved by the substitutionary, atoning death of the Savior being applied to our lives thru the instrument of faith. We can do no good works to merit salvation. We find in all sincerity that where true belief exists it leads to action and intentionality to obey. Look at Hebrews 11 for example.

    Suppose I say, 'I believe in gravity'. How do I show it? I stay away from high precipices - i.e. I act on that belief. There is no way to truly separate genuine belief from action.

    If i say, 'I believe Jesus is the Son of God who died for Me.' I will not thumb my nose at His words and calls to follow Him.'

    Calvin: 'Faith alone saves but the faith which saves is not alone.'

    Ultimately this passage is calling for a renunciation of self and sin - a vivid picture of repentance

    Cranfield: ‘to deny oneself is to disown not just ones sins, but one’s self, to turn away from the idolatry of self centredness’ [The Gospel According to Mark, p. 282]

    If having an attitude of obeying this call is a work - then so is repentance

    However - I believe that repentance takes place as a change of mind, will, etc. - then leads to the fruits of repentance where genuine.

    Where genuine faith [supernatural God imparted faith] occurs - there will be a desire to follow. When faith is merely a human effort to get out of hell but continue living as a rebel against God's kingdom - then that should not be seen as grace or belief.

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  80. Jerry:

    Can a person who has heard the words of Jesus which say: 'If any man wishes to come after Me let deny Himself, take up His cross and follow Me' - say, 'no - i'm not interested' and still express saving faith in Jesus?'


    No responsible soul-winner would continue the plan of salvation with a lost man who stated his intent to live in rebellion.

    Furthermore, Jesus did not condition (as Lordship does) the free gift of salvation on a commitment to do the works of a disciple.

    That is an extra-biblical invention of the Lordship advocates to counter the Easy-Believism message.

    LM

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  81. Jerry:

    Where genuine faith [supernatural God imparted faith] occurs - there will be a desire to follow.

    Without stating it plainly, you are asserting the regeneration precedes faith position. The lost man is regenerated, born again, before he can express faith in the Savior.

    That position is an extreme form of Calvinism, which I have dealt with in another article: Lordship's (Out of Order) Salvation

    When faith is merely a human effort to get out of hell but continue living as a rebel against God's kingdom - then that should not be seen as grace or belief.

    If someone knowingly intends to live in rebellion his faith is not real or genuine. Furthermore, he has not repented either.

    Do you believe the call for cross-bearing, self-denial and following is directed to a lost man and must be committed to by him for the reception of eternal life?

    LM

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  82. Jerry:

    Earlier you wrote,

    I believe the self denial passages give us the character of discipleship. i.e. - if you believe - your faith will lead you in this direction. If it does not - you are not a disciple, etc. And - if you have no desire to go in this direction - don't bother signing up - salvation is not for you.”

    Allow to remind you (and others who are reading this thread) of the question, which you have thus far avoided answering.

    Would you please share with me how your position is not a man-centered gospel when you are basing salvation on a commitment to do the works of a disciple?”

    LM

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  83. Jerry:

    Enter Lou Martuneac who pulls them aside and says, 'you don't need to deny yourself. That's optional - you just need to believe that Jesus is the Savior.'

    There are some men that would fit that mold, but I do not. You can't produce any such statement from my book or any comment in any thread to that effect. You have created a straw man and have intentionally misrepresented my position.

    As kindly as I can ask: Please do not attribute to me what is not part of my doctrine or practice. Its not right to do that to make a case for your own position. If you quote something from my book that you disagree with, then have at it.

    My position has always been that a genuine conversion should evidence itself in genuine results: some level of discipleship. If no evidence is there, then any one of us would have to question the decision for Christ.

    My book and my articles demonstrate the biblical difference between salvation and discipleship. You appear to see them as one-in-the-same. Are you conditioning salvation on a commitment to discipleship: self-denial?

    LM

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  84. Lou - would you be comfortable saying that a person could be a genuine believer but never show any desire to deny themself or to follow Jesus? Can a person be saved who shows blatant disregard for this call of Jesus?

    Maybe this would help clarify what I believe: I don't think a person has to even be aware of these passages [self denial] to get saved. I think they need to see their sin, desire to be delivered not just from sin's penalty but its enslavement, see Christ as the Savior who died and rose again - put their trust in Him.

    They may not hear of Jesus' call to self denial until months later. However - my contention is that if that person has what the Bible calls faith - their belief will already be leading them in the direction of this statement. After all - it is a picture of repentance.

    Also - I would ask if you think a person can truly embrace Christ as Savior with no desire or intention to turn from their sin? I believe you feel that repentance is a part of the gospel. If that is the case - does that not lead to an intent to obey by default. If we turn from our sins - there is no neutral zone where we neither sin or follow to some degree. If a desire to turn from sin comes with saving faith - an intent to obey is there by default.

    I used to believe that I could believe in Jesus and live however I wanted to as a teen - and lived a life of wanton sin [drugs, drinking, sex, etc.]. Around 20 I began to read the Bible afresh and was convicted that I never truly repented or had anything remotely resembling saving faith. For me - this is no mere academic issue. It's something that strikes pretty close to home.

    There are plenty of straw men in the debate. One is that LS people don't believe in a need for grace, etc. That is not true at all. They believe that where grace operates it instructs us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires, etc. [Titus 2:11,12]

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  85. Lou --

    I'm a couple days behind on your and Jerry's dialog, so while I catch up, let me address some comments to the same side of the aisle (all the while asking the other side for their patience and prayers, that the Lord may very well use even comments to minister to many concerning this dispute and resolve many things).

    You were saying what looks like at "12/01/2006 9:07 AM" on my screen,

    Using expressions like "the nature of saving faith" is one of the ways they blur the lines of distinction between salvation and discipleship."

    Yes. One of the ways to use weapons of unrighteousness in debates, which God sees, in every case, and condemns, is to try and define things so that all the conclusions flow from the definition once accepted -- all the while stuffing the definition with everything that can be snuck in.

    For example (to take a "neutral" example), "have you been baptized in the Spirit which is evidenced by the gift of tongues?" Here, the evidence is built right into the definition, so that anyone without the gift of tongues is immediately categorized as not having been baptized by the Holy Spirit.

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  86. Jerry:

    Lou - would you be comfortable saying that a person could be a genuine believer but never show any desire to deny themself or to follow Jesus? Can a person be saved who shows blatant disregard for this call of Jesus?

    Also - I would ask if you think a person can truly embrace Christ as Savior with no desire or intention to turn from their sin?

    Why are you asking me these questions again? I have answered these more than once for you alone, not to mention the numerous times elsewhere.

    There are plenty of straw men in the debate. One is that LS people don't believe in a need for grace, etc.

    That is not an argument I make with LS. Nevertheless, you grossly misrepresented me with a claim that cannot be supported in any of my writing.

    Either acknowledge you misrepresented me or be ready produce something I have written to substantiate your claim.

    LM

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  87. Hello Jerry --

    Just a reminder that your words from 11-28,

    "My question is: 'how do you find these passages to not be talking about salvation?' The issue at stake seems to be eternal life [forfeiture of ones soul]. Is forfeiting ones soul - something less than eternal perdition?

    Also - in Mark's account - the words are spoken to the multitude with His disciples. What would cause those non-disciples to think that He wasn't talking about eternal life?"


    were what I addressed my 11-28-06 9:xx am post to. May I assume that you agree with what I said there? Was everything I said there clear? What specifically did I say there that you disagree with or did not think I supported successfully? Would you like me to say instead, what specifically you said, that I was not convinced by or thought was wrong? Those two posts address the meaning of the text, which I think where everyone can start and look at the text with us, apart from all subjects. We could all pretend it's on the One Year Bible plan for today....

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  88. Jerry:

    Maybe this would help clarify what I believe: I don't think a person has to even be aware of these passages [self denial] to get saved.

    Thanks for the note, but this is not an answer. You are moving away from my questions about the interpretation LS puts on the discipleship passages by addressing the sinner. My question is over what LS does with the passages that call for cross bearing, self-denial and following. Let me repeat these questions and offer you another opportunity to deal squarely with them.

    You wrote, “I believe the self denial passages give us the character of discipleship…. And - if you have no desire to go in this direction - don't bother signing up - salvation is not for you.”

    You are stating that no one can be saved unless they have/express the desire to do the works of discipleship.

    My question(s):

    There is a biblical difference between salvation and discipleship. You appear to see them as one-in-the-same. Are you conditioning salvation on a commitment to discipleship: self-denial?

    Would you please share with me how your position is not a man-centered gospel when you are basing salvation on a commitment to do the works of a disciple?

    Are the passages on discipleship salvation appeals? Are they evangelistic?

    LM

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  89. Hello Jerry --

    I am happy to agree with you that repentance is not a work, but the fruits of repentance, although not all of them, include works. Yet biblically we should avoid those agglomerating definitions of repentance that put works, and the kitchen sink, into it.

    In the medical world, there are some poisons that if they are eaten once, you will die. That example of the man who was poisoned in England shows that the man knew he was going to die, and time passed enough for him to comment upon it, even its etiology, before he died. All the while nothing was able to be done to save him.

    Similarly, in the medical world, there are some medicines (may God give us more) that if they are taken once, you will be cured, although the cure takes time.

    Not all cures are dependent upon chronic daily doses. For example, when penicillin is given for an infection, it does not become necessary to take penicillin all your life, and indeed, taking penicillin all your life is considered a horrible misuse of a cure, with grave side-effects.

    The unbeliever has a sin problem, but this sin problem is not just that sin affects today. The sin problem of an unsaved person, et ceterus paribus, without a cure, will eventually kill him or her in every way, leading to the eternal state that Revelation calls "the second death (2:11; 20:6).

    Conversely, "whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst, but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life (Jn 4:14)." Therefore we can say that this water that becomes a well is a cure that is not of the chronic daily dose variety. It is taken in, and from there, and as time passes, this water becomes a well on the inside. The very image of the well precludes that we would have to fill it from the mouth. That's not how you can fill a well, from its spout! Besides, Jesus also says something about the subsequent thirst not being there.

    In Luke 9:23 Jesus describes a path, His own. He says to the hearers, "whoever wishes to come after Me." That is the path He is about to describe, the one that leads to His crucifixion. However we understand "deny himself," when it comes to taking up the cross, He says that it must be daily. It must be chronic. It is not at all like the water becoming a well. He is talking about something else completely.

    What is He then, talking about? What is taking up a cross? In the debate about the requirement(s) of becoming a Christian, this element has been watered down. Taking up a cross is a far more severe thing than some "being willing to die" idea. It is the last stage of the humiliating task -- work -- given at that time to a condemned criminal who is found guilty of a crime deserving death.

    To take up your cross out of a wish to come after Christ is not some "I'm willing to die for you" boast like Peter's in Jn 13:37. Jesus rebuked that, in Jn 13:38.

    Remember the time in which Jesus spoke about whoever wished to come after Him. It was not in His final week, but during the time when He was being followed by large crowds because of His activities of healing and feeding, with crowds even wanting to make Him king immediately. During His time of popularity and recognition, Jesus startles His hearers with a far different scenario -- the scenario of His death. It is His -- "sobering" is too weak a word for it -- perspective on what coming after Him entails. It's as if He said that coming after Him means following Him to that death, and then He paints the shocking contrast of what His death would be, compared to their shallow concept of following Him they had during those times of popularity.

    Indeed, one of the lessons of the gospels is just how the disciples forsook Christ and fled during the time of His own taking up of His cross.

    In sum, let's not water down taking up the cross. It's a far more severe requirement than some kind of "willingness" today.

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  90. Lou - I would say that saving faith is inevitably linked with a desire to turn from sin and to follow Christ. Following Christ is essentially a definition of discipleship.

    If you were to ask me: 'Are we saved by the following?' I would say, 'absolutely not'

    Is someone saved by the intent to follow or to do the works of a disciple, as you put it?

    I would say that we are saved by putting our trust in Christ and His shed blood. If no intent to follow exists with that 'faith' - then that is not true faith. I think the self denial passages clarify the nature of saving faith.

    Faith in Scripture acts on the propositions it believes. Whether instaneously or over time. I don't think we can sever the intent to obey from faith even at the outset because it is the flip side of repentance.

    You have stated [I believe] that repentance is part of salvation. My question would be: 'How can one repent of sin without also having a desire or intent to obey?' i.e. - I don't see there being some sort of neutral zone where repentance can occur without a corresponding desire to follow Christ. If one truly repents - they have turned their hearts toward obedience. To turn from sin is to follow Christ - it is to deny oneself.

    The same disciple who repents and has an intent to obey also understands that he is not saved by his own works but rather solely thru the finished work of Christ.

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  91. Jerry:

    I would say that saving faith is inevitably linked with a desire to turn from sin and to follow Christ. Following Christ is essentially a definition of discipleship. 



    I need to redirect back you to the specific subject we are discussing. The subject is: what is the LS interpretation of the requirements for salvation. Genuine saving faith should result in following Christ, which is a mark of discipleship of the born again believer. I appreciate your position on what should be the results of salvation, I have little or no disagreement with the Lordship advocates there.

    You are doing what Nathan Busenitz did at Pulpit Magazine on the salvation/discipleship debate. He continually kept moving toward the results of salvation and avoided a discussion of how Lordship defines the requirements for salvation. I repeatedly had to redirect him to a discussion of how a man is born again.

    I do understand why you cannot or will not answer the questions I posed to you. Lordship advocates have problems with focusing on the difference between salvation and discipleship because they do not see a distinction. Here is what MacArthur wrote for Pulpit Magazine on September 29.

    Those who teach that repentance is extraneous to saving faith are forced to make a firm but unbiblical distinction between salvation and discipleship…. Most who hold this position discard the evangelistic intent of virtually every recorded invitation of Jesus, saying those apply to discipleship, not to salvation.”

    MacArthur believes there is no difference between the two doctrines. I am going to show you below that John MacArthur believes the call for cross bearing and following are evangelistic and have to do with what is required of man for the reception of eternal life.

    To head off another redirect: Let me state again that any lost man who has the intention to live like a rebel and states it, can’t be saved. So, we are not talking about a lost person who is determined to live like the Devil, and thinks some prayer is going to make him right with God. We are talking about someone who has come under the convicting and convincing power of the Holy Spirit, sees himself as lost and on the way to Hell, and realizes his only hope for salvation is through faith in Jesus Christ.

    If you were to ask me: 'Are we saved by the following?' I would say, 'absolutely not'



    I did not ask you that question. I have made clear that I understand LS does not demand doing the actual works to merit salvation. I have defined the problem with LS in its demanding an upfront commitment to forsake all, deny self as a requirement for salvation.

    You asked, Is someone saved by the intent to follow or to do the works of a disciple, as you put it?

    Jerry- I don’t put it that way; I am citing MacArthur who puts it that way. Allow me to quote John MacArthur, who defines the Lordship gospel.

    “Anyone who wants to come after Jesus into the Kingdom of God- anyone who wants to be a Christian- has to face three commands: 1) deny himself, 2) take up his cross daily, and 3) follow him.” (Hard to Believe, p. 6.)

    In the original edition of The Gospel According to Jesus, in regard to the Rich Young Ruler, he wrote:

    “Our Lord gave this young man a test. He had to choose between his possessions and Jesus Christ. He failed the test. No matter what he believed, since he was unwilling to forsake all, he could not be a disciple of Christ. Salvation is for those who are willing to forsake everything. (p. 78.)

    From his book Hard to Believe MacArthur wrote:
    “And he needed to be willing to submit to the Lord Jesus, even if it meant he had to give up all his earthly possessions. He might not ask, but the requirement for eternal life is the willingness to give it all up if he does.” (p. 9.)

    In the Revised & Expanded Edition, MacArthur wrote:
    Let me say again unequivocally that Jesus’ summons to deny self and follow him was an invitation to salvation, not . . . a second step of faith following salvation. . . . This calls for full-scale self-denial--even willingness to die for His sake if necessary.

    Remember, we are talking about how a man is born again. LS as defined by MacArthur, is seeking the upfront commitment to forsake all, deny self, be willing to die for Jesus, for salvation.

    Let me ask you to comment on MacArthur’s statements above.

    Is salvation, “the requirement for eternal life,” based on “denying self, following Him, a willingness to forsake everything”, as John MacArthur states?

    LM

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  92. Jerry:

    You wrote,

    You have stated [I believe] that repentance is part of salvation. My question would be: 'How can one repent of sin without also having a desire or intent to obey?'

    This is a fair question.

    Repentance is part of salvation. The problem with LS, as I have demonstrated from MacArthur’s own writing, is that a commitment to the results of repentance is demanded for the reception of salvation.

    Pastor George Zeller wrote, “Do not turn the results into requirements! Don’t turn the grace of God into legalism [adding unbiblical requirements to the gospel message].”

    LM

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  93. Jerry:

    I have to ask you a closed ended question. Did I ever state anything like the following position you attribute to me?

    Enter Lou Martuneac who pulls them aside and says, 'you don't need to deny yourself. That's optional - you just need to believe that Jesus is the Savior.'”

    Yes or No?

    LM

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  95. Cindy:

    Thanks for checking back in. I felt Dr. Comfort's message titled The Fruits of Calvinism would be helpful.

    LM

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  96. Lou - you state: "Let me state again that any lost man who has the intention to live like a rebel and states it, can’t be saved. So, we are not talking about a lost person who is determined to live like the Devil, and thinks some prayer is going to make him right with God."

    Lou - in this statement, are you not making the lost man's intention to leave off his rebellion a condition or requirement for salvation? i.e. - a lost man who is unwilling to deny himself cannot be saved.

    I would agree with you here - and call it repentance

    Also - I think you are jumping the gun to declare evasiveness on my part. I have in good faith expressed my understanding in language that I am comfortable with. I'm sure you appreciate the fact that theology uses precise language and the use of qualifications is not an evasive tactic but a necessary part of making oneself clear and remaining faithful to the truth.

    What I am comfortable saying is that I believe the calls to 'self denial' are evangelistic as they are ultimately calls to repentance and to a commitment to Jesus. They were addressed to a crowd and the forfeiture of one's soul is at stake. Where saving faith occurs - so will these attitudes be present to one degree or another.

    The reason I positioned you in the scene telling people they don't need to deny themself, etc. was to try and show you how your argument comes across to me.

    Self-denial is either optional or it isn't in relation to saving faith.

    I believe that it is not optional but a necessary part of saving faith, like repentance.

    As far as the MacArthur quotes, I don't even own the book, 'Hard to Believe'. I came to a lordship understanding of salvation ultimately thru reading the Bible - not by reading John MacArthur and I am not really interested in trying to defend his statements.

    However - I do find myself in general agreement with most of what he says.

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  97. Jerry:

    What I am comfortable saying is that I believe the calls to 'self denial' are evangelistic as they are ultimately calls to repentance and to a commitment to Jesus.

    Since we are talking about the reception of salvation, not results, you believe an upfront commitment to discipleship, defined by Christ in Luke 9:23 for example is, is a condition that must be met/agreed to for salvation.

    In the Revised & Expanded Edition, MacArthur wrote: "Let me say again unequivocally that Jesus’ summons to deny self and follow him was an invitation to salvation, not . . . a second step of faith following salvation. . . . This calls for full-scale self-denial--even willingness to die for His sake if necessary."

    Your find the call for commitment to discipleship to be evangelistic. That puts you in agreement with MacArthur's statements to the same effect. I did not ask you to defend MacArthur, just if you agree with his stated position, which you do.

    "Self-denial is either optional or it isn't in relation to saving faith. I believe that it is not optional but a necessary part of saving faith..."

    You are saying that self-denial expected of a born again disciple is a necessary component of saving faith, that is for the reception of eternal life.

    But you can't stop with "self-denial," because the Lord also demands cross-bearing and following in the same verses.

    Since the passage is conditional and the conditions are threefold then you are claiming the conditions of discipleship must be met/agreed to, and without that, there is no salvation.

    LM

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  98. None of us, however dogged, should be treated merely as exemplars of a system. We hope for the best from the love of the truth, and encourage it in ourselves and others.

    Jerry, here's how I would phrase an idea, or a similar idea to yours. The three sentences below are my attempt to phrase one of your concerns. The first two are actually verses, of universal applicability, and the third is the modus tollens syllogism from the second.

    1. A good tree produces good fruit.

    2. Every tree that does not produce good fruit is thrown into the fire.

    3. Every tree that is not thrown into the fire produces fruit.

    Let's not, however, misidentify fruit. A good litmus test for a bad definition of fruit would be whether it can cover the statement of the Lord which says "a good tree cannot produce bad fruit."

    Lou --

    Jerry is saying two things that we would do well to consider: first, his questions that take the form, "if it doesn't mean that, what does it mean?"

    This question is actually two questions, possibly. It is the objective question ... "it's an important verse about something -- you tell me what that something is." Fair enough.

    The second question is the subjective question. It can be paraphrased too, something like "... I've heard over and over again an interpretation of these verses, so much so that when I read those verses, that interpretation, and nothing else, springs to my mind. Do you have anything strong enough and convincing enough to dislodge this habit of mind, that actually is not able to think about these verses in any other way?"

    When you've heard a certain interpretation over and over again, and it has become second nature for you to read the verses that way, it is hard, even when you hear something that MIGHT possibly be different or even better, to clear your mind of the song running in your head.

    The second thing that Jerry is beginning to talk about is the history of the changes in his thinking and behavior over the years. This candidness is to be commended, and thanked. I think all of us, including Jerry, would be ready to admit that we should not base our theology on our experience, although it is very, very difficult not to.

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  99. Hi Jerry --

    Earlier you were saying, evidently first quoting Lou,

    "Let me state again that any lost man who has the intention to live like a rebel and states it, can’t be saved. So, we are not talking about a lost person who is determined to live like the Devil, and thinks some prayer is going to make him right with God."

    Lou - in this statement, are you not making the lost man's intention to leave off his rebellion a condition or requirement for salvation? i.e. - a lost man who is unwilling to deny himself cannot be saved."


    This is a fallacy, Jerry, and for lack of a better name, I'll call it the fix-by-doing-the-opposite fallacy. It is the fallacy that to fix something, do the reverse. For example, to fix your fall from a cliff, climb up a cliff.

    To fix our sin, the cure is not good works, the doing of acts of righteousness, or the first step of doing good works, which is the willingness to do them. That's what the non-biblical religions teach.

    To espouse a cure for sin different from good works is not to be against good works as such or the doing of good works. It is just not to make them the fix for sin.

    The intention to leave off rebellion is not the only alternative to the intention to rebel. There is the intention to be saved from your rebellion -- by the Lord -- to consider. That's different from either one.

    This is a very important distinction: when a person hears the gospel, in believing in Christ a person is intending to be saved from his or her rebellion by the Lord. Is this the same intention? Is intending that God save you from your rebellion the same as intending to rescue yourself from it?

    Unbelievers make all kinds of promises and intentions and resolutions, even sometimes to God. But hearing the gospel is something different.

    It is different from the Law of God. The Law's response to sin is the condemnation of it, and the command to cease from it. However, the ceasing of sin does not exempt the person from the judgment of that sin, however fully ceased! The gospel directs our attention not to our own works, but to that of Another, in order for there to be something else -- not our sins, and not our virtues, including the sins we stop doing -- to grasp, for our cure.

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  100. Larry/Jerry:

    I appreciate the interaction with you men.

    I will get back to you men tomorrow. I have to head out for a Christmas program at my children's Christian school.

    LM

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  102. Hello Lou et al --

    I'm still not finished responding to what paul e said just a few days ago, actually five or six. I want to show more of the things that paul e said that were presupposition: whereas the text says "whoever wishes to come after me," paul e translated that to "those who want to continue to follow Him." Notice the "continue" presupposition.

    Just as in English: when we read "whoever goes to the stadium must be Jerry's friend" we have to figure out if it means whoever happens to repeatedly go, whoever keeps making it a habit of going, whoever starts the habit of going, whoever goes once, etc. That is, we have to decide the meaning of the present tense from the context.

    We also have to figure out if the sentence is advocating that we not go, or go. Does the sentence occur in a context encouraging being friend of Jerry, staying away from Jerry, or something more complex, like our verse -- a warning, intended to bring out consequences, saying that we should only go to the stadium if we understand the cost of being Jerry's friend?

    In sum, when we read Mk 8:34, "if anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me" there are plenty of that often go under the radar, and they are things that should be looked at. We should not jump to conclusions about any of them.

    Lou, while we are looking at this verse, I would like to point out that we should not x-out the last three words of the verse: "and follow Me."

    People read the verse as if it said, "whoever wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross."

    Because self-denial (in our culture), and taking up your own cross (in our culture) have become widely understood, proverbial, timeless concepts, we presuppose that Jesus is giving a universal here, a timeless, always-to-be-done task. But that is a presupposition. (Remember, that doesn't make it wrong or right, but we keep forgetting that there may be other presuppositions to consider).

    Jesus did not always give imperatives that were timeless, always-to-be-done tasks. The idea that Jesus sometimes gave ethical commands of limited scope is shown by Matthew 23:2-3, although this is by no means the same as "situation ethics." At any rate, the scope of the Lord's words should be brought out of the realm of presupposition and should be addressed.

    There are things that "and follow Me" brings out that make what we are trying to do with the verse -- even as innocent a thing as make it a principle of the Christian life -- something we should recheck.

    Namely, the "and follow Me" could be the actual point.

    In other words, the imperative would be directed at those who would want to come after Him in His shepherding and leadership role but not necessarily follow Him to self-denial and crucifixion.

    In modern parlance, Jesus could very well be doing "leadership training" as much or more than "follower training!" "And follow Me" becomes the startling imperative for any would-be leader.

    There is another instance where Jesus provides "follow Me" as the point of His instruction, and that is the rich young ruler.

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  103. Hello Jerry et al --

    You were saying "11/24/2006 6:08 AM,"

    However - I don't want to do injustice to the words of Jesus - just to fit some preconceived ideas. We need to let His words stand in their own right.


    Amen.

    Here is another presupposition all of us often read the text with, contrary to even its grammar: we say 'here are the conditions of following Christ: self-denial and cross-bearing.'

    Before we even get to the discussion about salvation or discipleship, we have separated the third condition off.

    The structure of the sentence is that there are three conditions. To show how silly the presupposition is, we could paraphrase the presupposition as this: 'here are the conditions of following Christ: self-denial, cross-bearing, and following Christ.'

    The Lord is describing the standard for coming after Him, which even the disciples failed at (Mk 14:27,50).

    We have forgotten to make a distinction between conditions and standards. As I said recently at Pulpit, we are constantly looking for things that talk about ourselves, telling us about ourselves, whether we're "in," or whether we're "out," or a how-to that tells us about what it takes for anyone to go from in-to-out or out-to-in.

    This would be an equivalent attitude as the attitude of a student in a high-school math class who said, "don't tell me what a parabola is -- tell me what is on the test." Jesus might say "everything is on the test," because everything is (Mt 12:36).

    When we look at the standards of Christ as conditions of becoming or of being a Christian, the discussion degrades into a recursive spiral:

    1. "how much failure makes it so that I didn't fulfil the condition(s)?";

    2. "what are the conditions of rectifying the failure in step 1?";

    3. "how much failure to rectify my failures means that I didn't fulfill the conditions of rectifying my failures in step 2?";

    4) "what are the conditions of rectifying the failure in step 3? Go to step 1."

    That's where Lordship Salvation gives up, and says "as long as you're a pretty good Christian, it's OK," and ends up denying Mt 5:48 and the applicability of that verse to the Christian. When there are conditions that must be fulfilled, perfect standards that cannot be fulfilled have to go, and be replaced by another standard, the "pretty good" standard.

    It's not helpful to lower standards, and it insults both the Lord's standards and His work.

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  104. Larry:

    I am enjoying reading your comments.

    The Lord is describing the standard for coming after Him, which even the disciples failed at (Mk 14:27,50).

    I often point out that lost man must come to Jesus for salvation and then come after Him in discipleship.

    As you point man is going to find out he can’t live up to the standard of discipleship. He may become frustrated and discouraged. I mean that primarily in the sense of a man who was told that to be saved he must commit his life to Christ.

    John MacArthur (for LS) conditions salvation on, "whole-hearted commitment, unconditional surrender, willingness to die for Jesus..."

    Lordship Salvation is a man-centered interpretation of the gospel. LS causes man to look to himself and the commitment to discipleship he was told would bring him eternal life. LS mixes faith in Christ with a commitment to the works expected of a believer: faith, plus works.

    By the way, I am very involved with some business matters, which why I have not interacted recently. I will be back in here very soon.

    LM

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  105. Jerry was saying "11-23-06 10:15 PM"


    I've never heard you [Lou] address the fact that Jesus speaks of forfeiting one's soul in this context and the fact that these words were spoken to a multitude with His disciples (Mark 8:34]).


    Let's see what has caused him to think about faith and salvation when he reads Mark 8:34ff.

    1. Jesus says that a person who "loses his life for My sake and the gospel's shall save it (8:35)."

    Tomorrow I want someone to try and experiment. Go out and deliberately lose your keys on the road. Come back and read this when you've deliberately lost those keys, on purpose, at the nearest road.

    You can't. Losing your keys is different than sacrificing your keys. I love the fact that he uses the word "loses" in this verse, since it makes us unable to turn this into another "how-to" that we're so fond of. In this verse, Jesus doesn't say "sacrifices his life" or "gives up his life." The word here is "loses" and we can't change it to what we want. When you lose your keys, you don't do it by deliberately choosing to lose them.

    Note the deliberate asymetry in the contrast. In the first part, the result, that he "will lose it" is due to the fact that "he wishesto save his life." That part is under his control.

    But what about the other possible result, in which he "will save it?" In that part, He doesn't say "wishes to" but, asymetrically, "whoever loses His life for My sake and the gospel's."

    The previous thoughts are just the same whether you consider the translation correct when it says "life" in 8:35, or the alternate, "soul." It's still wishing to save it versus actually losing it.

    What then is the connection between this verse and the previous? After all, at the beginning of the verse is the word "for," to explain 8:34.

    Here's one possible thought about it.

    The assumption is that no one wants to lose his life or soul, and that everyone wants to save his life or soul. That's what makes the paradox so strong a paradox. If Jesus had said "he who wishes to save his life will save it, and he who loses his life will lose it" perhaps no one would have remembered the saying or written it down, because that's a tautology.

    The connection is that whoever takes up his cross is about to die and lose his life ignominiously. What is Jesus telling anyone who wishes to come after Him? "Take up his cross."

    He is telling that person what to choose. As far as what to choose is concerned, in order to even wish to come after Jesus, you must choose the under-compulsion, last action of a person about to die, taking up your cross, which is hardly even a choice as much as a forced choice, as a person about to die the shameful death of an accused criminal, and follow Him, because that's exactly where Jesus was going and how He was going there.

    How many of those who wanted to come after Jesus would like that exhortation? Any kind of final day would seem preferable than the day forced upon a cursed criminal headed to a crucifixion. And that's where Jesus was going and how He would get there.

    Every religion has the concept of dying a noble death. The noble death of the Lord Jesus was considered by the Romans, by the Jews, and by God, who "made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf" (2 Cor 5:21) to be the death of a sinner.

    You see, Mark 8:34 was not a garden-variety invitation. This invitation was not an invitation at to live the godly life that God requires, although God does require a godly life and the invitation to it is more than an invitation.

    This "invitation" -- more like a sentry than an invitation -- is to the specific path and the specific death that in order to come after Jesus you would undergo.

    Death is the loss of life. There is nothing more lost than a life lost under accusation by both man and God, and that is how Jesus, for our sake, died.

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  106. Lou, you were saying on "12/07/2006 01:27 PM",

    Lordship Salvation is a man-centered interpretation of the gospel. LS causes man to look to himself and the commitment to discipleship he was told would bring him eternal life. LS mixes faith in Christ with a commitment to the works expected of a believer: faith, plus works.

    Absolutely. There are many ways in which LS is man-centered. I think you have documented very fully the dovetailing of "commitment to discipleship" and a faith plus works system.

    Let's take the "commitment to discipleship" criterion for eternal life and bring it out in to the open, and not be afraid to look at it, instead of sweeping it into the final words of some sinner's prayer (which I find pretty funny/sad, especially in some tracts that are otherwise pretty good.)

    Sometimes a tract (or preacher, or book) will be very eloquent about the need for the work of Christ, its great provision for sin, the inability of man to save himself, etc., but when it gets down to the end, right at the discussion about how to actually receive salvation from God, without mentioning it at all until then, it throws in some phrase like "I totally give you my life" or "I give you control of everything" or something like that. This is where man-centeredness comes in very disturbingly.

    The life of the sinner is not the sinner's to give. The sinner is slave to sin and the devil. In vain would the slave in the ancient world yell to passers-by, "all I have is yours" -- because all the slave has is actually someone else's. The slave cannot "give control" because the slave is not in control. The slave cannot save himself. It is the illusion -- and pride -- that you are in control that fuels the illusion -- and pride -- that when God saved you, it was partially because you "gave Him control." You didn't pass God the ball, because you didn't have the ball to pass.

    This is not the same as your concern Lou about prior regeneration. This is just to say that God is the one who saves; He does not save by some "prior regeneration" followed by some demand that the person make patently false and unkeepable promises, but He addresses the sinner in the person of Christ, in the call of the gospel, saying "Come; for everything is ready now" (Lk 14:17).

    Or is it "give me all you got; my part's ready for the exchange"?

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  107. Larry:

    Sometimes a tract (or preacher, or book) will be very eloquent about the need for the work of Christ, its great provision for sin, the inability of man to save himself, etc., but when it gets down to the end, right at the discussion about how to actually receive salvation from God, without mentioning it at all until then, it throws in some phrase like "I totally give you my life" or "I give you control of everything" or something like that. This is where man-centeredness comes in very disturbingly.

    I have also wondered and meant to ask some of the LS advocates how they might structure/incorporate their demand for commitment to discipleship into the “sinner’s prayer.” I wanted to ask Nathan at Pulpit Magazine, but it slipped my mind during those busy days of discussion.

    However, I can provide an example of a sermon where the Evangelist conditions salvation throughout his message on allowing Christ to rule in your life. Here is a sample from that message which I quote in my book.

    “The relationship with God starts always by acknowledging His supremacy, His Lordship. And this morning there is someone in here that needs to give God the throne and let Him rule. And when you do you will have from God exactly what you need to have, a relationship with Him…. You’ve got to have innocent hands and a heart empty of sin, and the only way is to have the righteousness of Christ, and that is a gift from God, when you admit, ‘God you rule in my life. The man who is willing to make an entrance for God is the man into whom Christ will come and rule.” (Evangelist Mark Kittrell: The Salvation of a Seeker.)

    This was one of most extreme, categorical and exegetically unsound Lordship sermons I have ever heard. It does, however, reveal the true nature of the Lordship gospel.

    LM

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  108. Hello Lou --

    You were saying, "11/24/2006 10:28 AM",

    Remember what Phil wrote, “I believe Luke 9:23-24 is a call to salvation; but it's still not proper to regard it as a set of ‘conditions’ by which someone can merit salvation.”

    I ask Phil, “Why not?” They are conditions, you said it is evangelistic, but the conditions do not apply. Phil's comment is representative of LS advocates. He finds the commands in Luke 9:23-24 (and related passages) to be salvation messages.

    These are conditions, but he conveniently dismisses that away because it would then become the merited salvation he claims LS is not. He (LS) wants to maintain orthodoxy, but cannot without changing the terms and blurring lines.


    Consider the following logic:

    1. Faith is a the condition for salvation.

    2. Faith is not a meritorious condition, i.e., people with faith do not and should not say that because of their faith they deserve salvation.

    3. If faith is not a meritorious condition, then why can't we make other things conditions for salvation and just say they're part of faith?

    4. That way we can have any kind of condition we want and call it non-meritorious, because it's "part of" faith.

    This is stuffing things into faith. Of course the answer to this is that you can't make something a part of faith because you want to.

    I believe that we typically, with exceptions of course, will not succeed in pointing these errors out over and over again, because there is another dynamic that is going on behind the scenes that is of more interest to Lordship Salvation advocates than any interest in clarifying the nature of faith.

    Why do Lordship Salvation advocates stuff things into faith? Is it because of exegesis of Hebrews 11:1? No. Another agenda is at work. Stuffing things into faith is attempt to square with sola fide, while they really want to give up sola fide, and indeed they have.

    They truly want there to be various praiseworthy acts required for salvation, and have salvation not be sola fide.

    I remonstrated with Pulpit last month about requiring love for salvation, and showed Nate from his own words that he was requiring the chief commandment of the Law for salvation.

    His response was that he doesn't require it previous to salvation, but he requires it for there to have been salvation.

    Since that kind of statement is also very common, may I start addressing it here with you?

    How would you answer this general statement, that LS advocates often make, almost to the point of not caring what the condition of becoming a Christian is, as long as you allow them to tell you a thousand things that are necessary "for there to have been" salvation?

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  109. I better document that assertion I made about the "thousand things": this article says "If conversion includes love for Christ. And if love for Christ includes a willingness to obey Him (John 14:15), to follow Him (John 10:27), to love Him preeminently (Matt. 10:37), and to worship Him wholeheartedly (Mark 12:30) … then there is no theological problem with interpreting the hard sayings of Christ in an evangelistic light."

    I had responded with the following words: "When we use the word “conversion” to make it a requirement that we must love God in order to be saved, we have required not only work, but the doing of the greatest commandment of the Law and the greatest work. To require faith for salvation is not the same thing as to require a pre-eminent love for God."

    Later in the 13 Nov 5:03 pm comment on that same page, the same author says the following:

    It seems you have misunderstood my statement, as though I was saying that a person must first love Christ after which he will be granted salvation on the basis of his love for Christ. This is not at all what I meant. And I apologize if this is how it came across.... The lordship position ... does teach that anyone who has been truly saved, at the very moment of salvation, is given by God a supernatural love for the Savior (John 8:42)....

    The faith of the New Testament, however, is ...a repentant faith that comes to God on His terms through His enabling, with an empty hand and an open heart. To forsake our sin (which 1 John 3:4 defines as “rebellion”) is to be willing to submit to Him. To forsake our pride (as the Publican of Luke 18 did) is to also forsake our own selfish, rebellious agendas and self-worship. And to forsake idols to serve the living and true God (as the Thessalonians did [1 Thess. 1:8-9]) is to cease from false worship and begin worshipping God (cf. Exod. 20:3; Mk. 12:30). It necessarily includes love and devotion."


    Here you see the attempt to find a thousand things and place them back into faith. It "includes" not only various forsakings but love and devotion.

    The intellectual sloppiness of the LS definition(s) of faith center on the use of "includes" for the relationship of faith to other things. It is the source of many exchanges of the type "I don't mean these things are requirements for salvation, but they are included in faith."

    Lou, you have had to remind the advocates of that position many times that they are advocating requirements for salvation.

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  110. Larry:

    As you noted, which I had to repeatedly do with Nathan Busenitz (MacArthur's personal assistant) is to remind and keep them discussing what they are requiring for salvation.

    Nathan frequently tried to divert the debate at Pulpit Magazine away from this. Paul E would not even address it, and Jerry could not refute the disturbing implications.

    MacArthur says salvation is, "A full exchange of self for the Savior." (The Gospel According to Jesus: Revised & Expanded Edition, p. 148.)

    LS demands upfront commitments of surrender, cross bearing, following in exchange for salvation. It is very clear that this is their position on the gospel.

    This is a barter system, and therefore, a works based gospel.

    LM

    PS: Still busy, more later or tomorrow.

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  111. One glaring self-contradiction in saying that so many things are "included" in faith -- love, surrender, devotion, willingness to do anything, etc -- is that if such things as those are included in faith, why ask for them separately?!

    Scripture itself, in 2 Peter 1, asks for them separately, which seals the indictment. The very things that Lordship Salvation states are included in faith, the apostle tells the believer to supply, and, again contrary to Lordship Salvation, states that the one who lacks these qualities -- is unsaved? -- No! "has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins!" Such things as love and perseverance are explicitly stated by Scripture as things which are in to be supplied or added.

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  112. Larry:

    Sorry I have not interacted with you much lately. I had an issue in another thread here on my blog.

    You have made several important contributions.

    Thanks,

    LM

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