December 5, 2006

The Thread Worth Reading

To All:

I have intended to post a new article but I have been quite involved in the thread below. The discussion has been primarily revolving around the discipleship passages: cross bearing, self-denial, and following.

It has been very worthwhile because it will help many of you to read for yourself some of what Lordship advocates believe, how they state their case, and this will especially help you in being able to detect Lordship Salvation for yourself when it is being presented in not so obvious terms.

In the article below about Phil at Pyro I have been in a discussion with several Lordship advocates, among them Jerry Morningstar. I had some interaction with Jerry at Pulpit Magazine and Pyromaniacs, but he has come to my site to get more involved in the discussion.

Before Jerry entered the discussion Paul E was involved in the salvation/discipleship debate. Unfortunately Paul was unwilling to answer even the most basic questions about his beliefs in regard to the discipleship passages. Paul tried to make the discussion a one-way street. When I pressed Paul to interact on an even playing field he disappeared. This is not uncommon among Lordship advocates. Many Lordship advocates will refuse to answer questions that get to the heart of the Lordship debate because they do not want to be pinned down on what they actually believe.

The same thing happened with Nathan Busenitz at Pulpit Magazine. He refused to discuss any issue other than repentance. He did not want to discuss discipleship passages, or any other chapter of my book.

Furthermore, there is a lack of unified agreement on their end. Because Lordship advocates have to keep redefining and clarifying what they believe you find some of them in contradiction to one another.

Look at MacArthur for example. He has written four major works on Lordship Salvation. The latter three were an attempt to clarify the original edition of The Gospel According to Jesus (1988). As I have shown, however, the disturbing statements in his original edition run like a thread through each of his books. His editors revise and rephrase, but the same impact and meanings are there. I give examples of this in my book.

Pastor Mike Harding, who is a Lordship advocate, repeatedly told Nathan Busenitz that MacArthur needs to clarify and explain himself because some of his (MacArthur’s) writing gives the wrong impression. Pastor Harding also wrote this to Nathan, “Some of Dr. Macs wording in Hard to Believe can unduly cause a true believer to be very uncertain of his justification. In my opinion the editors need to do a better job.” (Nov. 3, 2006, Pulpit Magazine: Lou & Lordship, (Part 5).

Because MacArthur keeps trying to redefine his position, and so many have been lead to a Lordship position because of MacArthur’s books, they are left confused and at times contradict him. Just as I showed how Phil Johnson (senior editor of MacArthur’s books) contradicts MacArthur, you will see more of the same in the thread that follows.

In any event, Jerry is interacting, but I want to point a few things out for you to look for.

Read through the exchanges that begin with Paul E well into the thread. You are going to see more evidence of how the Lordship advocates confuse and blur the lines of biblical distinction between salvation and discipleship.

You are going to see how (especially Paul E) Jerry either will not or cannot answer questions on whether or not the call for cross bearing, self-denial and following are evangelistic appeals directed to the lost for salvation. They will redirect the question to a discussion of faith or they will steer the discussion away from salvation and back to the results of salvation, which is an area I have little or no disagreement with Lordship advocates over. This is very common among Lordship advocates.

Watch for references to the regeneration before faith position. Watch for this comment, “Where genuine faith [supernatural God imparted faith] occurs - there will be a desire to follow."

Lordship advocates believe faith is the result of regeneration, meaning faith can only come from a man who has already been born again. Regeneration before faith is an extra-biblical, extreme position, which is a key component in the Lordship position. Understanding this is a key to understanding how Lordship advocates can make demands from a lost man that are impossible for him to make or keep and still claim they are not teaching a works based message. See my November article Lordship’s (Out of Order) Salvation article for more on this.

You will note how thin a tight rope they try to walk to maintain a message of salvation by grace through faith, but at the same time cling to the Lordship demand for an upfront commitment to the “good works” (Eph. 2:10) expected of a born again disciple for the reception of eternal life. Even here they cloud their meaning by using phrases like, “intentionality toward obedience,” “heart attitude to obey.”

You are going to see the false dilemma. That is when the two alternatives are presented, but not all the possibilities have been explored. This fallacy presents itself in the current debate. Those who advocate the lordship salvation position see only the Mental Assent or “Easy-Believism” position as an alternative. You are going to see this in Jerry’s comments.

Look for the quotes by Ryle. These are as revealing and extreme as you will read anywhere on the Lordship interpretation of the gospel.

You will see how I quote MacArthur again for Jerry to show the extremes of Lordship Salvation and ask Jerry to comment on the disturbing statements by MacArthur.

When you read the Lordship advocates you must read carefully and with discernment. They place the errors of Lordship Salvation alongside orthodoxy, which makes the error difficult to detect. I can read an entire chapter from one of MacArthur’s books and nearly all of it will be sound. However, you can almost always find some interjection of the works based Lordship message, but it is carefully and with subtlety inserted.

Finally, to you lurkers: I know many are hesitant to enter a public comment because you have seen at other sites how some of the Lordship advocates can be rough and harsh.

You have a safe place here! I treat people on both side of the debate with respect. I will not allow any bullying to go on at my site.

If you want to make a comment, but not in the public thread, feel free to e-mail me.

God bless you,



  1. Lou

    I just went to the bookstore and picked up your book, they had to order the book. I am going to read it in the following week. I have read your comments.

    Just to be up front, I like John MacArtur's preaching for the last thirty years. This doesn't mean that I at face value believe all he says, without first do my own research, fair and balance, as they say.

    Thus I enjoy the other side of the discussion without saying "no way" while I am reading the points of view.

    If I have to correct my position I am willing to. I might have to correct my threads that I address this issue in mind later, but as of now, I stand on my positon.


  2. Hi Charles:

    Thanks for the note. I trust you will find my book helpful. I encourage folks to treat it like a study guide rather than peruse it.

    I know pastors who have read through it twice highlighting as they go. Some have used portions in sermon preperation, not just on LS, but other doctrines they may preach on.

    By the way, I have made no secret of the fact that there is much from Dr. MacArthur that I appreciate. His treatment of the Charismatic movement and certain other subjects is outstanding.

    On this issue, however, he has erred. If it were not a major doctrine I would not have addressed it.

    By the way, I did not deal with LS because of Dr. MacArthur's writing on it, it is the doctrine itself that troubles me.

    It is not a personality clash, it is just that Dr. MacArthur is the best known and most prolific apologist for the position.

    I quote him liberally because he essentially defines the Lordship interpretation of the gospel for most, if not all, who hold to it.

    Finally, I, like you, am open to correction. I take very seriously what Lordship advocates say/write about what I have written. I have been back to the Bible and my notes several times to make sure that I have not is some way erred.

    Fidelity to the Scriptures should be our first allegiance.

    Please get back to me with your reaction as you read and/or once you finish.

    God bless you,


  3. lou, i would like to hear your thoughts on 'The Truth Wars" when the book is released.

  4. Hi Andrew:

    I read the editorial review at Amazon. It is a little vague. Then I read the intro and some comments at Pyromaniacs.

    From Pyro it seems like he is going to deal with ECM.

    I wonder if it might be broader than that. Maybe it is going to address revisionist history from and in the Christian perspective. Possibly issues like Bible versions and the church movements such as Hybels, etc.

    On this broad-reaching subject I believe it will be helpful. We'll see.


  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Cindy:

    Faith is not a gift from God.

    The idea that faith is a gift comes from Calvinism's extra-biblical position that believes regeneration must precede faith.

    I point to the Scripture and ask: What does Romans 6:23(b)?

    "...but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."

    Salvation, not faith, is the gift of God.

    Lordship advocates have it exactly backwards.


  7. Cindy,

    The article that you mentioned fails to deal with Philippians 1:29: "For it has been given to you on Christ's behalf not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for Him" (HCSB). The verb "to believe" in Greek (pisteuo) is the verb form of the noun "faith" (pistis). Paul says that this believing in Christ has been given (passive voice) to the Philippian saints. The context makes clear that the unnamed giver is God (v. 28). Thus we can conclude that believing (or faith) in Christ is a gift from God. Contrary to Lou's claim, the idea that faith is a gift from God comes directly from the text of Scripture.

  8. Brad:

    Thanks for the comment.

    Faith is occasionally rendered belief. Faith being a gift from God comes from the belief that regeneration has taken place and faith/believing follows. In my article Lordship’s (Out of Order) Salvation I show how this is an extra-biblical position based on reason rather than the revelation of Scripture.

    Where in the passage does the verse say faith is a “gift from God?” Quoting from Zeller here,

    In the New Testament the word “GIFT” never refers to saving faith, though we certainly recognize that apart from God’s mercy and gracious enabling and enlightenment, saving faith could not be exercised (John 6:44,65; Matt. 11:27; 16:16–17; Acts 16:14; etc.).

    Through the convincing and convicting work of the Holy Spirit a lost man may come to the place where he will by faith and believing receive Jesus Christ and be saved. The Spirit of God through the Word of God brings light and truth to a lost man. If faith is a gift, following regeneration, there is no need for the Holy Spirit to bring a lost man under conviction. There is no need for a lost man to believe and call upon the name of the Lord.

    But you see, that is the faulty logic of the position: faith is a gift because (Calvinism’s Total Inability states) lost man can’t believe, he can’t respond to the gospel; he can’t call upon the name of the Lord. So, he must first be regenerated (born again), and then faith, repentance and belief are given as gifts.

    Read Zeller’s article again. Note how he quotes MacArthur teaching that lost men must pray for faith rather than believe on Christ to be saved. Surely, you must find MacArthur has checked out on the Scriptures with that position. This is the kind of perversion of the gospel men go to when they follow Calvinism to its logical extremes.

    We must be careful not to force into or from a text that which it does not teach. To reiterate Zeller: No where in the Bible is faith shown to be a gift. The Calvinist believes regeneration precedes and enables faith he must, therefore, find some connecting Scriptural link to support the logic, which assumes faith is a gift, whether or not the position is actually being taught.

    You wrote, “The article that you mentioned fails to deal with Philippians 1:29.”

    I did not mention it because it does not teach faith is a gift.


  9. Lou,

    Apparently you didn't read my post very carefully. It was directed to Cindy, not to you. The article that I mentioned was not written by you. I was referring to the article that Cindy had read from the website of Middletown Bible Church. As I stated, this article, titled "The Danger of Teaching that Faith is the Gift of God," does not deal with Philippians 1:29 in any way. Yet this verse teaches pretty clearly that faith is a gift from God. The point of my short post was to demonstrate this fact. I really don't care all that much what MacArthur and Zeller think. My utmost concern is with the biblical text. Your recent post did not deal at all with the text of Philippians 1:29 or my brief exegesis of this verse. Until you do so, your statement, "No where in the Bible is faith shown to be a gift," is completely baseless. Simply stating that this verse "does not teach faith is a gift," when I have shown how it does, will not do.

  10. Brad:

    I appreciate your note and participation. As kindly as I can say it: This is my blogsite and I can comment wherever and to whomever I wish. I knew you wrote Cindy, and I was aware you were speaking about Zeller’s article.

    You appear to be new here. In earlier posts I noted that I am not going to allow my site to be used to promote Calvinism or Lordship Salvation to those who may be vulnerable to these positions. I will allow posts, but I am going to moderate and reserve the right to comment on and even delete if I feel there is a concerted effort to indoctrinate visitors at my site.

    The other thing I made clear is that I do not want my site to be turned primarily into a discussion of Calvinism and its related extremes. There are plenty of sites for that debate. I do, however, deal with the extra-biblical Calvinist position of regeneration before faith because it is one of the main contributors to the errors of Lordship Salvation.

    I wrote In Defense of the Gospel primarily for two reasons:

    1) To alert unsuspecting believers about the works based interpretation of the gospel that Lordship Salvation is.
    2) To equip anyone to first recognize and then be able to effectively, biblically resist the spread and advocates of this false gospel.

    I know that sounds tough, but I mean business about this. If you were to read my book you would find it comprehensive, balanced and charitable. The bottom-line, however, is that Lordship Salvation is a false, works based gospel and I am determined to ring the bells of alarm.

    I do have to reiterate that Philippians 1:29 does not teach faith is a gift from God. You have already moderated your position by rephrasing it. Earlier you wrote, “The context makes clear that the unnamed giver is God (v. 28). Thus we can conclude that believing (or faith) in Christ is a gift from God.”

    Now you back off with this, “Yet this verse teaches pretty clearly that faith is a gift from God.”

    As I said earlier: It is a mistake to force into or from a text that which is not there. Compare Scripture:

    “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God,” (Eph. 2:8).

    “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord,” (Rom. 6:23).

    In both passages salvation is the subject and the verse teaches that salvation is the gift. The Calvinist will reinterpret Eph. 2:8 to suggest faith is the gift because he believes faith, regeneration and belief are gifts, and only given to him after he has been regenerated (born again).

    Furthermore, I did refer to the working of the Holy Spirit (John 16:7-ff). It is through His convicting and convincing work that a lost man may respond in faith and belief.

    You have not demonstrated Phil 1:29 is teaching faith is a gift. It is not taught in the passage. You are trying to define a position from a verse that must be stretched to fit the logic you seek to validate.


  11. Lou,

    If you knew that my comment was directed to Cindy and that I was referring to Zeller's article, why did you write the following: "I did not mention it [Philippians 1:29] because it does not teach faith is a gift"? This statement was in response to the opening sentence in my first comment: "The article that you mentioned fails to deal with Philippians 1:29." Your response indicated that you understood the "you" in my comment to refer to you when it did not. It referred to Cindy. Of course you can respond to my comments. It's your website. I fully expected you to respond to me; after all, I pointed out that you were in error. But know that I will correct anyone who misunderstands or misrepresents my comments, as you did.

    Please show me where I have mentioned Calvinism or Lordship Salvation in my posts. You are the one who keeps raising these subjects. I am simply dealing with the text of Scripture, in particular that of Philippians 1:29. Your only response so far has been to claim that this verse does not teach that faith is a gift from God. You have not interacted at all with the text or my brief exegesis of it. Until you do so, your assertion is completely baseless, as I have already stated.

    Your claim that I have moderated my position is false. You again failed to read my comments carefully. What I said is clear is that "the unnamed giver is God." What I said is pretty clear is that "this verse teaches ... that faith is a gift from God." My intention in using the word "pretty" was to show that I felt slightly less certain about the second statement compared to the first. But these two statements are not one and the same. The first is more narrow and is a proof for the second, which is more general. It is perfectly legitimate to feel more strongly about a proof for a position than about the position itself as a whole.

    I agree with you that Ephesians 2:8 and Romans 6:23 do not teach that faith is a gift from God. But my focus is not on those passages. I am dealing with Philippians 1:29. Apparently you do not wish to. Contrary to your claim that I "have not demonstrated Phil 1:29 is teaching faith is a gift," I did so in my first post. Please deal with my exegesis found there before repeating your claim.

    I must take great exception with your final sentence: "You are trying to define a position from a verse that must be stretched to fit the logic you seek to validate." You don't even know me, much less my motives! I am most certainly not seeking to validate any logic. What I am seeking to do is interpret Scripture. I welcome your interaction with my exegesis and interpretation of Philippians 1:29. But I do not welcome false accusations such as the one that you have just made.

  12. Brad:

    Again, I was aware you meant the article, I did not want to delete and repost my comment over writing, “I” instead of “he.” You are making way too much of that. In any event, Zeller did not and I would not expect him to cite or avoid the Philippians passage because it does not teach faith is a gift.

    Please show me where I have mentioned Calvinism or Lordship Salvation in my posts.

    You didn’t. I am simply demonstrating for readers that a Calvinistic platform leads to the idea that faith is a gift even though the Bible does not teach this. As for Lordship Salvation, it is very common to find Lordship advocates stating, as you did, “faith is a gift.”

    This is part of my educating people how the Calvinist and Lordship advocate arrives at and presents a position so my readers can recognize it when they encounter it on their own.

    Would you identify yourself as calvinistic in your soteriology and/or sympathetic to the lordship interpretation of the gospel?

    As for the text you cite and your brief comments: I did interact with it. I did agree that faith can be occasionally rendered belief. I also offered some opinion of how your interpretation does not agree with other passages, and especially takes the work of the Holy Spirit out of the equation.

    However, I will continue on the text.

    And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God. For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake,” (Phil 1:28-29).

    Paul is writing to believers, those who are born again. In verse 28 he tells them that their salvation is from God. The Holy Spirit does His work, and the Bible says man is saved by God’s grace through faith in Christ. Lost man is not given a gift of faith, he must respond to the gospel in faith, as the Scriptures teach, and then he is born again.

    You are pulling the salvation of God (the One who gives the gift of eternal life) in verse 28 down to verse 29 and making faith/belief the gift when it is not.

    As I pointed out earlier: The only way one can conclude faith is a gift from God is by believing regeneration precedes faith. That is an extreme form of Calvinism and is found among most, if not all, who advocate Lordship Salvation.

    It is not my desire to offend or judge your motives, but you are forcing from this brief passage what it does not say. Your take is not consistent with the balance of Scripture on this issue.

    This is typical of some men who go to the Bible seeking to prove what he has come to believe. This is searching the Bible for a bow string.


  13. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  14. To All:

    Just as Phil Johnson at Pyromaniacs had to cut a participant from his thread on Lordship Salvation for rule violations I was forced to take the same action with Brad for his last post, which I have deleted.

    1) I warned Brad that I will not allow my site to be used in an overt way to influence my visitors to positions that I believe are antithetical to the Bible. Brad made a personal appeal to (who he named “Cathy,” which is) Cindy to accept the error of faith being a gift. I am happy to debate issues, but I am not going to allow my site to become a bully-pulpit for that with which I disagree.

    2) In the various exchanges above I asked Brad just one question and he refused to answer. This is yet again another example of men (Paul E & Jerry) who will not answer a simple question because it reveals more than they care to acknowledge about their theological moorings.

    3) His comments in the thread just deleted crossed the line for participation that I set from the Scripture (Colossians 4:6) found at the head of my site. Sarcasm and condescending tones are not acceptable, which Brad’s earlier comments have contained and escalated significantly with the final. I intended to caution him earlier, but decided to let him continue to see if he would moderate his tone, he did not.

    In the comments above I addressed Philippians 1:28-29 and Brad’s position. He does not agree with my interpretation, just as I do not agree with his.

    I suspect Brad has not read my book. If he had he would find chapters that fully exegete and define faith and believing. I have had to mention elsewhere that I do not intend to reproduce large portions of my book on line.

    To reiterate: I am dropping Brad primarily because he crossed the line by overtly trying to use my site to influence another member.


  15. To All:

    Brad wants faith to be a gift and takes for support a single brief passage, which does not clearly support his position. He does this in spite of the fact there is no other Scriptural support in the New Testament for faith being a gift.

    Furthermore, as I noted above, his position is inconsistent with other passages, and takes the convicting and convincing work of the Holy Spirit out of the equation.

    Brad’s response to this was to say that he does not want to look at the issue systematically. Brad dismissed my systematic approach to the Scripture because it raised serious issues and implications with his interpretation of the text.

    His contention is no small matter because to believe saving faith is a gift means man is saved apart from his responding to the gospel, the Word of God and the Holy Spirit. John MacArthur says,

    Faith is a gift from God…May God grant you a true saving faith… and if you desire it, pray and ask that He would grant it to you." (Transcribed from John MacArthur's tape GC 90-21 dealing with Lordship Salvation)

    Is MacArthur telling believers or the lost to pray for faith. The answer is in his reference to “saving faith.” Think of it, telling lost men, who are at enmity with God, to pray and ask God for the gift of faith. Zeller wrote,

    Notice carefully what MacArthur is doing. He is telling the sinner not to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 16:31) but to pray and ask God to grant the gift of faith. This perverts the gospel of Christ by making the condition of salvation prayer instead of faith. Sinners are commanded to believe on Christ. They are not commanded to pray for the gift of faith.” (See the link to The Dangers of Reformed Theology)

    These contrasts and troubling implications do not phase Brad because he has determined to force out of text that which it does not teach.


  16. Lou,

    I apologize for violating your rules. (1) I will remove the reference to Cathy in my post and resubmit it. It was not my intent to bully her or anyone else. (2) The answer to the question you asked me is "yes." (3) I don't believe I used sarcasm in my post at all. If you feel that any of my language was inappropriate, please let me know where it is. I will do my best to abide by your wishes.

    I have read portions of your book online. Unfortunately, I cannot afford to buy it since finances are currently very tight for my family.

  17. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  18. Brad:

    We have discussed our interpretations of Phil 1:28-29. We are not going to agree and I am not going to allow for an extended promotion of your position. I am not going to provide the bully-pulpit. Your previous posts remain, but these expanded treatments will not.

    I appreciate your getting past the reluctance to acknowledge you are Calvinistic and hold to a Lordship interpretation of the gospel. It is relevant.


  19. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  20. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  21. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  22. Brad:

    I am sorry, I am away from home and have to ask you to respect my wishes and please cease from these long posts on a subject we are not going to agree on.

    My site is dedicated to a discussion of my book and the Lordship debate it addresses.


  23. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  24. To All:

    Brad will not cease his attempts to hi-jack this thread. In his latest deleted post he acussed me of deceiving readers.

    I had to put up with that kind of thing at other web and blog sites, but I am not going to field that at my site.


  25. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  26. Brad:

    When you used terms like "deceive" and follow that with the suggestion I am a liar, you are not welcome to post here.

    To chide me or any guest here over a perceived "spelling" problem is not acceptable. Badgering is not acceptable.

    I am willing to discuss Phil. 1:28-29, which I have, and am willing to continue to a certain degree, but not without end.

    We are not going to agree on this matter, and we have both been plain on this issue.

    Elsewhere I stated that I do not want my threads bogged down by extended discussions over Calvinism or its related extremes, unless I deem it necessary.

    The regeneration before faith position, however, is a necessary discussion because it is important to understanding how the Lordship gospel is arrived at.

    I have never felt it necessary to block someone, but your tactics and portions of your comments forced my hand.

    I am going to give you one more opportunity. I would encourage you to read Colossians 4:6 once more before submitting a comment.

    Ask yourself, how would I (Brad) feel/respond if this were directed to me?


  27. I don't see the point of any further dialogue with you, Lou. May the Lord judge between you and me.

  28. Brad:

    I suggested we break it off, but you were determined to have it your way.


  29. To All:

    A few thoughts on faith in regard to Brad's believing faith is a gift from God.

    If faith is a gift it must be received. Brad, however, appears to believe faith is infused into the believer by God.

    "But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name," (John 1:12)

    Faith is a response of man to the convicting and convincing work of the Holy Spirit.