November 19, 2006

Crucial Turning Point in the Lordship Debate with Phil Johnson

Dear Guests:

Phil Johnson is the senior editor of John MacArthur's books. He, along with Nathan Busenitz (Dr. MacArthur's personal assistant), are the point men for Dr. MacArthur. Phil and Nathan speak for him on matters of doctrine and especially in this debate his books on Lordship Salvation.

As you know I have been in a weeks long debate over Lordship Salvation and my book with these men at Pulpit Magazine and Pyromaniacs. A host of others joined Nathan and Phil in support of Lordship Salvation and against my book on the subject.

Following is an important post I just filed for Phil at his site, and I filed it at Pulpit Magazine as well, under Nathan's Nov. 10 article, A Few More Thoughts on Lordship, Part 2. I also posted this at SharperIron.

My post Follows...

Earlier I asked, “Does Luke 9:23-24 state conditions man must satisfy to receive God's free gift of salvation?”

Phil's reply, “Nope. Even faith, strictly speaking, is not so much a 'condition' as the instrumental means of our justification.... I would say, however, that Luke 9:23-24, Jesus' own call to discipleship, reveals the character of true faith.”

Dear Phil:

If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me,” (Luke 9:23).

You just said these are not conditions man must satisfy to receive salvation. I understand you mean man does not have to go through some ritual or process of discipleship and eventually become a Christian. I would agree with that. Also, I happen to believe Jesus’ calls to discipleship are directed to those who are already born again disciples of Christ.

I have to point out that you are in contradiction and at odds with Dr. MacArthur. He writes:

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. . . . Those who are not willing to lose their lives for Christ are not worthy of Him. . . . When Jesus called disciples, he carefully instructed them about the cost of following him. 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. He wants disciples willing to forsake everything. This calls for full-scale self-denial--even willingness to die for His sake if necessary.” (The Gospel According to Jesus [Revised & Expanded Edition], p. 221, 222, 226).
Without any doubt, Dr. MacArthur is speaking of what he believes are the requirements for salvation: How to be born again. He interjects discipleship in what otherwise would be a sound way, but the main theme is in regard to the reception of eternal life. Denying self and following are invitations to salvation? The way to be saved is by agreeing to deny self? The rich young ruler, a lost man, was turned away because he would not pay the price? Let’s read more examples:
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.)
Similarly Dr. MacArthur wrote,
That is the kind of response the Lord Jesus called for: wholehearted commitment. A desire for him at any cost. Unconditional surrender. A full exchange of self for the Savior. It is the only response that will open the gates of the kingdom.” (The Gospel According to Jesus [Revised & Expanded Edition], p. 148.)
Phil- There is no misunderstanding of Dr. MacArthur’s meaning, no other way to spin or redefine it. He is conditioning salvation on upfront commitments to keep commands, pay a price, bear the cross, to follow, unconditional surrender, etc. Dr. MacArthur demands an exchange of these commitments for salvation.

I am going to repeat this important point: Once you enter a commitment of man into the gospel, the message becomes man-centered and no longer the biblical plan of salvation.

There is no spin, no straw man, only a message that clearly frustrates grace (Gal. 2:21), and furthermore confuses, clouds and complicates, “the simplicity that is in Christ,” (2 Cor. 11:3).


LM

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