November 2, 2006

Lordship Salvation’s “Barter” System

To All:

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. (Dr. John MacArthur: The Gospel According to Jesus: [Revised & Expanded Edition], p. 148)
Dr. MacArthur says the reception of salvation is based on an “exchange.” That is how he defines the way in which a man must come to Christ to be born again. His terms for salvation are: “wholehearted commitment, a desire for him at any cost, unconditional surrender,” in “exchange” for the gift of eternal life.

Exchange is defined this way in the dictionary: To give up (something) for something else; to part with for some equivalent, change for another. Barter: to exchange goods….

Barter is defined this way: As to exchange in trade, as one commodity for another.

Therefore, we see “exchange” and “barter” are essentially interchangeable. Dr. MacArthur says salvation, the reception of eternal life, is an “exchange.” Dr. MacArthur believes if there is no “exchange” there is no salvation. What is the exchange Dr. MacArthur calls for? He says the gospel requires an exchange of “wholehearted commitment, surrender, self-denial, cross bearing, a willingness to die for Jesus’ sake” for the reception of salvation, the free gift of God.

During my on line debates with Nathan Busenitz (Dr. MacArthur's personal assiatant) he wrote,
In fact, John MacArthur flatly denounces any type of ‘barter’ salvation. In chapter 13 of The Gospel According to Jesus, John explains: ‘We need to understand that this [the lordship view] does not mean that we barter for eternal life. We do not buy salvation by surrendering our lives.’”
Dr. MacArthur contradicts himself. He denounces what he says is necessary for conversion. He demands the sinner make promises for obedient Christian living in “exchange” for the free gift of God. Dr. MacArthur says “a full exchange of self for the Savior” is the response Jesus calls for, without which man cannot be saved. Yet he says, “We do not buy salvation by surrendering our lives.” Later we are going to see that John MacArthur does indeed put a price on the reception of salvation.

Lordship Salvation is a system that demands an exchange, and this is bartering. When man is told he must do or even promise to become something to receive God’s free gift of eternal life, it is no longer free, and it immediately ceases to be the gospel. The Lordship interpretation of the Gospel is a man centered message that frustrates grace (Gal. 2:21).

Any system that says man must offer something to God in “exchange” for eternal life becomes a works based message and corrupts the simplicity that is in Christ. Lordship Salvation frontloads faith with a necessary promise for the “good works” (Eph. 2:10) of the believer in “exchange” for salvation.

Dr. MacArthur wrote,
Thus in a sense we pay the ultimate price for salvation when our sinful self is nailed to a cross. . . . It is an exchange of all that we are for all that Christ is. And it denotes implicit obedience, full surrender to the lordship of Christ. Nothing less can qualify as saving faith. (The Gospel According to Jesus, p. 140.)
Earlier Nathan referred us to Dr. MacArthur saying, “We do not buy salvation by surrendering our lives.” Here we read salvation can only be attained (purchased) by paying the “ultimate price” of “full surrender.” To imply that receiving the free gift of God requires that man “pay the ultimate price” is a gospel of faith plus works! There is no doubt that Lordship Salvation, according to John MacArthur, is a barter system, an “exchange” of what man must offer Christ to receive His free gift of salvation.

You can call it submission or allegiance; but an “exchange” for salvation is trying to merit what cannot be earned. No upfront promise for “allegiance” or godly Christian living brings a lost man any nearer to Heaven than keeping the Law!
Disconnect from your mind that any offer of surrender, even the desire to pay the high price of discipleship, will open the gates of Heaven. If man comes to the Savior seeking salvation and forgiveness of sin, he better come with empty hands and an open heart, because that is all he has. Man has nothing to offer, nothing to bring in 'exchange.' If there is a price to pay it is infinite and man cannot afford it. He is hopeless, helpless, and Hell-bound! When through the ministry of the Holy Spirit and God’s Word he sees himself in that condition and recognizes Jesus Christ as his only hope for salvation he is ready to be born again. Once that man (biblically) repents and places his faith in the finished work of Christ he is born into the family of God.” (In Defense of the Gospel, pp. 234-235.)


But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him,” (2 Corinthians 11:3-4.)


  1. It is a pretty wretched system.

  2. We mustnt insult God with saying we have exchanged or given anything. We insult Christs finished work and although well meaning with an intent to help God out..God is insulted in the same way the troops have been insulted by John Kerry just recently. Hopefull this will become clear to some.

  3. Guys:

    Thanks for he notes. This exchange gospel does add a promise of works to simple, child-like faith in Christ.

    It complicates, clouds and confuses the gospel.