November 2, 2006

Lordship Salvation’s Submission Gospel

Dear Guests:

In the Lordship Salvation debates there are somes areas of agreement. In my discussions with Nathan Busenitz (Dr. John MacArthur’s personal assistant) at Pulpit Magazine we shared some areas of agreement, but not on the essentials.

In past discussions I have stated I try to stand where the Bible stands whether or not that stand identifies me with a particular group or system. Was I shocked or surprised that Nathan finds me in some level of agreement with view of soteriology? Not really, and it did not embarrass me to be found in some level of agreement.

I want to let readers know that in my book of nearly 300 pages there are ample examples of clear cut differences I have with Lordship Salvation. Several chapters, which Nathan never mentioned or addressed, in our on line debates (Fall 2006), draw out these distinctions. For example Nathan wrote,

But Lordship sees repentance as more than just a change in dependence. It is also a change of allegiance. It includes a willingness to submit to the authority of Jesus Christ.”
That statement does define a major point of departure. For a discussion of how Lordship Salvation interprets repentance please read How Does the Lordship Advocate Define Repentance?

Earlier Dr. Mike Harding wrote,
In defense of Lou’s book let me say the following. I believe that Lou points out over-statements and sometimes irresponsible comments made by some of the Lordship writers. Lordship writers must be warned of frontloading faith which gives the impression that a person is a completely mature disciple at conversion.”
Pastor Harding is right in regard to Lordship advocates frontload faith with a requirement for a commitment to begin living like a mature disciple from the inception of salvation. Some of the following are examples of the kind of “over-statements” that Pastor Harding and I have discussed.
Forsaking oneself for Christ’s sake is not an optional step of discipleship subsequent to conversion; it is the sine qua non of saving faith.” (The Gospel According to Jesus: [Revised & Expanded Edition])
Sine qua non defined means: an indispensable condition. We see that Dr. MacArthur says “forsaking oneself for Christ’s sake” is not subsequent, does not follow conversion. Therefore, the “sine qua non” (indispensable condition) of saving faith is “forsaking,” and Dr. MacArthur requires an upfront commitment to this for salvation.
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 and Expanded Edition], p. 148.)
Open the gates of the kingdom” can have only one meaning: How a lost man is born into the family of God. Dr. MacArthur says, “wholehearted commitment, a desire for Christ”, and “unconditional surrender,” is the “only response” that will result in salvation.

I have a major chapter dedicated to a discussion of the Rich Young Ruler. One well known theologian read my book and said this chapter was among the two “best in the book and right on biblically.”

This episode is a hallmark of Walter Chantry’s polemic and a key point in Dr. MacArthur’s apologetic. In his discussion of the Rich Young Ruler, Dr. MacArthur 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.” (The Gospel According to Jesus, p. 78.)
In 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.”
Can there be any doubt that Dr. MacArthur is conditioning the “reception of eternal life” on the “willingness to give it all up?” The willingness to surrender possessions, forsaking everything is, according to Dr. MacArthur, the requirement for salvation. If the young man had surrendered his riches to the poor on the spot, or promised to do so later, would this have guaranteed for him eternal life?

Nathan Busenitz wrote,
I believe biblical repentance includes surrender. You (Lou) assert that it does not.”
There is a fine line of difference, but it is a sharp and clear difference in this matter of submission. Submission is to the conviction of the Holy Spirit; no more, no less. A lost man cannot submit to anything else!

I do not believe repentance includes the type of surrender for salvation as Dr. MacArthur defines it in the quotes above.

Lordship Salvation, according to Dr. MacArthur, frontloads faith with commitments for submission and surrender in “exchange” for the gift of eternal life.
I do not frustrate the grace of God: for is righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain,” (Galatians 2:21).
Lordship Salvation frustrates grace!


LM

13 comments:

  1. Very right, Lordship Salvationism, like Calvinism, frustrates the grace of God. Calvinists speak much about grace but believe so little in it.

    Salvation is by grace, not by works!

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  2. Hello:

    Good to have a guest from Germany. I'm please to see you speak of grace, which Lordship Salvation frustrates.

    Ironically, the Calvinists are trying to relabel their position as, "The Doctrines of Grace." One only needs to examine Calvinism's Irresistible Grace to see that it is not grace at all.

    Thanks for visiting.


    LM

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  3. I totally don’t understand how you can say that Calvinism “frustrates grace”. In fact it does just the opposite. A correct understanding of total depravity causes a person to be fully impacted and aware of the magnitude of God’s grace towards them. Further, they know that it is only by the amazing grace of God that they are saved. They truly know they have done NOTHING to gain it, not even their “choice” to follow is theirs, but from God.

    You may disagree with this belief, but to say that it “frustrates grace” is being completely un-objective, to say the least.

    Neither does a belief in Lordship Salvation “frustrate grace”. This view completely ignores that to hold Lordship Salvation one must believe in the immense sanctifying grace of the Holy Spirit at work within the believer. Grace is extended to the believer far beyond bringing them from death to life. In fact, this is only the beginning of grace. More grace (James 4:6) is extended to the believer to provide them a will and ability to act out good works (Phil 2:13). Additionally, God has prepared these works in advance for us to do (Eph 2:10).

    All Lordship Salvation is saying is that if these two things are correct (and they are because they are scripture) then those who have passed from death to life and have the deposit of the Holy Spirit guaranteeing salvation (2 Cor 1:21-22) will have the desire, will, and ability to carry out the works that God appointed for them. Based on that, it is not conceivable to have faith (and thus the Holy Spirit working within you) and have no works. It just can’t happen. This is BECAUSE of grace! It doesn’t frustrate it.

    If anything, those who hold the Lordship Salvation point of view have a broader and deeper understanding of grace. Many who oppose this view think of grace as simply God forgiving sin. They are quick to say the lordship camp denies God’s grace because they believe salvation necessitates good works. They think the lordship camp believes their own works are needed for salvation. What they don’t understand is that they really believe that those works are really God’s. They are grace. It isn’t works based righteousness. It is grace based.

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  4. To Whomever:

    Thanks for posting your thoughts. I rarely allow my blog to go the debate route any longer. It has become a resource for believers world wide primarily for the Lordship Salvation and Crossless interpretations of the Gospel. I share that to let you know I won’t invest much time debating and refuting Calvinism, which IMO fails the test of the whole counsel of God.

    For the record, I wrote, “Lordship Salvation frustrates grace.”

    Furthermore, I need to clarify for my guests that when you, representing Calvinism, speak of “total depravity,” you actually mean, Calvinism’s “total inability,” and there is a distinction. No balanced Bible believing Christian rejects the fact of the total depravity of man (Jer. 17:9). Calvinism’s Total Inability is, however, an extra-biblical error. Calvinism’s total inability negates the universal convicting and convincing work of the Holy Spirit (John 16:7-11).

    And still furthermore the Calvinist must make another extra-biblical leap to arrive at LS. That extra-biblical view is the error of teaching that regeneration precedes faith. Calvinism teaches that regeneration, i.e., being born again occurs prior to and apart from faith.

    I’ll post some links below to additional articles that address these matters. To reiterate, however, I won’t be entertaining a protracted debate on Calvinism. I just don’t want that for this blog and I trust you understand. The Calvinism debate has been going on for centuries and it won’t be settled this side of Heaven.

    Kind regards,


    LM

    Lordship’s (Out-of-Order) Salvation

    Impossible Decision

    The Danger of Teaching that Regeneration Precedes Faith

    Summary of Lordship Salvation From a Single Page

    Can God-Given Faith Be Defective?

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  5. Lou,
    Thanks for posting my comment. I can certainly understand you not being willing to debate Calvinism here. I also would not attempt to. In fact, I am not myself a “Calvinist”, as there are tenants of that theology to which I do not hold. I was merely responding to the claim by “a helmet” that Calvinism frustrates grace (ludicrous), to which you did not appear to disagree. In fact, you seem to state this yourself in your comment that Calvinists calling their doctrine “The Doctrines of Grace” is in error.

    Regardless, I respect your position, and I will limit my comments to Lordship Salvation. To state that lordship as a condition of salvation is “extra-biblical” seems a very unjust accusation. I could see the argument that you interpret the scripture differently, but there are certainly clear biblical passages that show this idea. If I were to just name a few I would cite:

    Matt 3:10,
    Matt 5:20,
    Matt 7:19,
    Matt 10:37-39,
    Matt 13:3, 5-6, 20-21,
    Matt 18:8-9,
    Luke 3:9,
    Luke 14:25-33,
    Luke 18:18-30,
    John 14:15,
    John 15:5-6, 8, 10, 14, 16
    Rom 8:5-8, 16-17,
    1 Cor 6:9-10
    2 Cor 5:17,
    Ephesians 5:5,
    Heb 5:9,
    Heb 12:14,
    Jam 2:14,17,
    1 Pet 1:10,
    1 John 2:3-6, and
    1 John 3:6-9

    In fact it is a clear consistent theme throughout the whole New Testament, actually the entire bible. It spans multiple authors and includes Jesus’ own words.

    I, myself was not raised being taught this idea of lordship being key to salvation. I have been persuaded by the Word itself. Through my study of the scripture I just found it impossible to reconcile my belief with scripture. The belief that you can just pray a prayer and “ask Jesus into your heart” and you’re saved (regardless of how you live your life from then on or whether you give up everything to follow Him) just doesn’t jive with what I see in black and white in the bible. I wish it did, but it just doesn’t. Unfortunately, it isn’t “extra-biblical” at all.

    Even the passage the “Free-Grace” contenders use to argue that all you need to do is “believe in Jesus’ and “Confess with your mouth” is twisting what Paul actually says there.

    “If you confess with your mouth that JESUS IS LORD and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” ~ Rom 10:9 (emphasis added)

    Paul just doesn’t say “confess Him as savior”.

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  6. To Whomever: (Can I call you “Fritz”? That is the name I use for my anonymous guests.)

    Thanks for coming back with a response.

    You caught me at a bad time. I am leaving work right now, and one of my daughters and her husband are arriving from China this evening. So, it is highly unlikely I can reply in any depth this evening.

    I’ll come back at my earliest opportunity. If you haven’t already you might click on the e-mail follow up button for this thread to know when I’ve replied. You might even subscribe. Just a suggestion.

    I the meantime keep reading my polemics on LS, there are many here.

    Kind regards,


    Lou

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  7. Fritz:

    Thanks again for your return comments. I’ll share two separate comments.

    In this first I’d like to paste a small paragraph from the revised and expanded edition of my book (to be released in early 2010). This paragraph will define the crux of the Lordship Salvation controversy as I see it.

    As you read through the pages of this book please bear in mind that the Lordship Salvation controversy primarily revolves around the requirements for salvation, NOT the results of salvation. A genuine conversion should evidence itself in genuine results. New believers will vary in levels of growth, but growth should be evident to some degree. The primary focal point of controversy, however, is Lordship’s requirements for the reception of eternal life, i.e. how to become a Christian.

    I am absolutely committed to the idea that a genuine conversion to Christ should result in the new believer seeking to follow Christ in obedience to His Lordship.

    I’ll end this note with a quote from the late Dr. Ernest Pickering who was a Calvinist. This except is from his review of MacArthur’s The Gospel According to Jesus (1988).

    John MacArthur is a sincere servant of the Lord, of that we have no doubt.... We believe in his advocacy of the so-called lordship salvation he is wrong. He desperately desires to see holiness, lasting fruit, and continuing faithfulness in the lives of Christian people. This reviewer and we believe all sincere church leaders desire the same.... But the remedy for this condition is not found in changing the terms of the gospel.”


    LM

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  8. Fritz:

    You wrote, “ Even the passage the ‘Free-Grace’ contenders use to argue that all you need to do is ‘believe in Jesus’ and ‘Confess with your mouth’ is twisting what Paul actually says there.

    I’d like for you to read a few of the links I am posting below. Many are becoming aware that there is a huge chasm in the Free Grace camp. The teaching of Zane Hodges and Bob Wilkin is an aberration of the Free Grace position on the Gospel. If you have perused my blog you’ll find scores of articles here on the Crossless or Promise-ONLY gospel of the Grace Evangelical Society (GES).

    I know many FG men who have a balanced view of the Gospel. The GES membership is a cell of reductionist extremists to the far left of a balanced soteriology.

    FWIW, I have entire chapter in my book on the Romans 10:9 passage. I demonstrate, from their own writing, how Lordship advocates have forced the passage into conformity with their LS interpretation of the gospel rather than letting the passage say what it says without the trappings of Lordship logic being forced into it.

    Anyway, here are those links.


    LM

    Is "ReDEFINED" Free Grace Theology- Free Grace Theology?

    Free Grace Theology: What Every Advocate of LS Should Know

    GES Reductionist Affirmation of Faith

    Zane Hodges: Drifting Far Off the Marker

    The "Christ" Under Siege: The New Assault from the GES

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  9. Lou,
    Sorry for not telling you before. My name is Jake McWhirter. After reading much of the material you linked above, I think we are more in agreement than not. I think the majority of confusion is coming from your use of the term “Lordship Salvation”. Based on your comments it sounds like you are equating Lordship with works. It seems like you think the LS camp thinks that works are necessary for conversion.

    This is not at all what is meant by Lordship. Lordship is just what is says…confessing and believing that Jesus Christ is Lord. You cannot accept Jesus for anything other than what He is. He is Lord. You must agree and affirm that He is who He claimed to be in order to be saved. You must make the good confession like Peter did in Matt 16:15-16.

    This is implied and encompassed by repentance. Repentance is realizing and admitting that your way is wrong and agreeing to go God’s way. This is the U-turn. It is giving control over to Him. You hand Him the drivers’ keys. This act of turning over your will to God’s is placing Him in the position of Lord of your life.

    You seem to agree this is necessary to be saved because a chart you show in your links above says as much. . .

    “Repentance is a necessary requirement for salvation. The lost need to change their minds about: 1) Sin, 2) Self, and 3) the savior . . .To believe in Christ’s substitutionary death is to change your mind about your own sinfulness and your ability to save yourself.

    What I am saying above does not require good works at conversion. It is all about what is believed (changing your mind as it says in your chart). The decision of turning over the keys is a statement of trust, faith, and control…not action. The action of good works comes later as a result of God working in the driver’s seat.

    The distinction I am making is that many have prayed a prayer, believing Jesus is God and died on the cross for their sin, but never agreed that He is Lord…of their life. They never turned over the keys to Him. They never stopped going their way and agreed to let Jesus have control.

    If you prefer a different term than Lordship, then let’s try this…They never truly repented. They may have even been “sorry” for their sin. This is what Paul calls “worldly sorrow” that leads to death in 2 Cor 7:10. Why does it lead to death? Because it isn’t repentance. There is no transfer of leadership from them to God.

    “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.”

    While I agree with you that works are not a condition of conversion but the result, I do take some issue with something you said above. You said, “I am absolutely committed to the idea that a genuine conversion to Christ should result in the new believer seeking to follow Christ in obedience to His Lordship.” It is the word “should” that I take issue with. I would replace it with “will”. Works are absolutely the result of salvation, but if there are no works, then there was no conversion. This is what the whole point of James 2:14-26 is. Faith without works is dead (i.e. it is not faith at all). Your use of the word “should” just sounds too soft on this point.

    I see the relationship like smoke and fire. Works are like the smoke and salvation is like the flame. If there is no smoke, there was no flame. If there is a flame there will be smoke. You can’t have one and not the other. Flame always causes the smoke, the smoke never causes the flame. Similarly, salvation causes a heart change that results in good works, good works never are a causing force in salvation.

    When I am leading someone to Christ I do stress Lordship precisely because I don’t want anyone to have the misconception that they can pray a prayer and just keep going about their life the way they did before. I believe many people will be in hell who honestly believe they are saved because they accepted Jesus as their savior.

    Hopefully this helps clarify what I am saying. Thank you for continuing this discussion.

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  10. Lou,
    Sorry for not telling you before. My name is Jake McWhirter. After reading much of the material you linked above, I think we are more in agreement than not. I think the majority of confusion is coming from your use of the term “Lordship Salvation”. Based on your comments it sounds like you are equating Lordship with works. It seems like you think the LS camp thinks that works are necessary for conversion.

    This is not at all what is meant by Lordship. Lordship is just what is says…confessing and believing that Jesus Christ is Lord. You cannot accept Jesus for anything other than what He is. He is Lord. You must agree and affirm that He is who He claimed to be in order to be saved. You must make the good confession like Peter did in Matt 16:15-16.

    This is implied and encompassed by repentance. Repentance is realizing and admitting that your way is wrong and agreeing to go God’s way. This is the U-turn. It is giving control over to Him. You hand Him the drivers’ keys. This act of turning over your will to God’s is placing Him in the position of Lord of your life.

    You seem to agree this is necessary to be saved because a chart you show in your links above says as much. . .

    “Repentance is a necessary requirement for salvation. The lost need to change their minds about: 1) Sin, 2) Self, and 3) the savior . . .To believe in Christ’s substitutionary death is to change your mind about your own sinfulness and your ability to save yourself.

    What I am saying above does not require good works at conversion. It is all about what is believed (changing your mind as it says in your chart). The decision of turning over the keys is a statement of trust, faith, and control…not action. The action of good works comes later as a result of God working in the driver’s seat.

    The distinction I am making is that many have prayed a prayer, believing Jesus is God and died on the cross for their sin, but never agreed that He is Lord…of their life. They never turned over the keys to Him. They never stopped going their way and agreed to let Jesus have control.

    If you prefer a different term than Lordship, then let’s try this…They never truly repented. They may have even been “sorry” for their sin. This is what Paul calls “worldly sorrow” that leads to death in 2 Cor 7:10. Why does it lead to death? Because it isn’t repentance. There is no transfer of leadership from them to God.

    “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.”

    While I agree with you that works are not a condition of conversion but the result, I do take some issue with something you said above. You said, “I am absolutely committed to the idea that a genuine conversion to Christ should result in the new believer seeking to follow Christ in obedience to His Lordship.” It is the word “should” that I take issue with. I would replace it with “will”. Works are absolutely the result of salvation, but if there are no works, then there was no conversion. This is what the whole point of James 2:14-26 is. Faith without works is dead (i.e. it is not faith at all). Your use of the word “should” just sounds too soft on this point.

    I see the relationship like smoke and fire. Works are like the smoke and salvation is like the flame. If there is no smoke, there was no flame. If there is a flame there will be smoke. You can’t have one and not the other. Flame always causes the smoke, the smoke never causes the flame. Similarly, salvation causes a heart change that results in good works, good works never are a causing force in salvation.

    When I am leading someone to Christ I do stress Lordship precisely because I don’t want anyone to have the misconception that they can pray a prayer and just keep going about their life the way they did before. I believe many people will be in hell who honestly believe they are saved because they accepted Jesus as their savior.

    Hopefully this helps clarify what I am saying. Thank you for continuing this discussion.

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  11. Jake:

    Thnaks for the comment. Blogger is acting up. Your full comment obviously made it. It may be until late Friday or even Saturday before I can reply in detail, but I will asap.

    Kind regards,


    Lou

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  12. “Forsaking oneself for Christ’s sake is not an optional step of discipleship subsequent to conversion; it is the sine qua non of saving faith.” (The Gospel According to Jesus: [Revised & Expanded Edition])

    Does the use of CCM demonstrate a denial of self for Christ and a mature, submitted allegiance to God's command to "Love not the world..."?

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  13. Randy:

    We are not going off the prime topic in this thread, which is Lordship Salvation.

    I suggest you post in an article like The RAP on Mark Dever: What is the “Militant” Separatist to Do?

    Thanks,


    LM

    ReplyDelete