At his blog site Tim Challies was doing what I might call a play-by-play from the Resolved Conference held Feb. 16-19 and sponsored by John MacArthur’s Grace Community Church. I had no particular reason for visiting Tim’s site Sunday evening, just clicked on it and found the Resolved Conference (VI) report.
The VI report is a review by Tim Challies of a sermon by Pastor Steve Lawson (Christ Fellowship Baptist Church).
The text Pastor Lawson chose to speak from is Luke 14:25-33 and the title of his message was The Cost of Discipleship (It Will Cost You Everything).
At face value that title is direct and can be supported biblically. The problem is that Pastor Lawson is not only talking about the cost of discipleship for a believer, he teaches, just like John MacArthur, that there is a cost FOR salvation.
In the Bible Luke 14:25-33 is a message directed to those who are born again. This sermon is an example of taking a passage, such as Luke 14:25-33) meant for instructing the born again child of God on how to grow as a disciple of Christ, and reinterpreting it as though it is a gospel message directed to the lost.
Remember the problem with Lordship Salvation is not in regard to the results of salvation. I am in agreement with any Lordship advocate who believes that a genuine conversion should evidence itself in genuine results: a desire to live for Jesus Christ.
It is what Lordship advocates insist are the requirements for salvation that is the error in their system. In Pastor Lawson’s text when he speaks of following Christ, self denial and cross bearing in the context of a born again believer needing to make those commitments to his Lord and Savior he is on biblical ground. When, however, he takes those same commands and presents them as conditions which must be agreed to in exchange for salvation he has checked out on the Scriptures and is preaching a works based message that frustrates grace (Gal. 2:21).
Here are three excerpts from Lawson’s sermon:
“If you want to receive this gift it will cost you the total commitment of all that you are to the Lord Jesus Christ. There are many here who think they are saved, but are not; they have never really done business with God.”
“I want to single you out in the midst of this crowd. Have you taken up a cross in order to follow after Christ? Have you recognized your own sinfulness, acknowledged that God's judgment is true, have you acknowledged Christ's right to rule your life? Have you submitted to the Lordship of Christ? Have you really come to the end of self? Because Jesus does not begin until you end.”You can read how Pastor Lawson conditions the reception of “this gift” (the gift of eternal life) on an upfront “total commitment” from a lost man. In the second quote Pastor Lawson is saying that a relation with Christ cannot begin until the lost man has come to the end of himself. That sounds pious, but that is not the gospel.
And then this astounding statement:
“You need to make terms of peace with this king or you will be subjected in damnation forever. Christ has made terms of peace and you need to settle out-of-court with him. You do not want to go into that final day of conflict with Christ, for He will be ruthless in the execution of justice. He offers mercy today. He will agree to terms of peace and surrender, but they are His terms of peace, not ours. His terms are this: you must love Him more than anything. If you cannot do this, you will meet Him in the final judgment and glorify God in your destruction.”Whether Lawson is speaking to the believer or the lost the quote above (in context with the balance of the message) is probably one of the most biblically unsound I have heard in the last ten years.
Tim Challies confirms that Lawson’s sermon was an evangelistic appeal meant to reach the lost. At his site this is the final paragraph of Tim’s review of Pastor Lawson’s sermon.
“I was glad to see an evangelistic message, even three days into the conference. I think it is wonderful that the speakers are not simply assuming that everyone here is saved, but are continually pushing, continually asking people to examine their hearts and to determine if they are truly saved. Lawson's message was as convicting an evangelistic appeal as I've heard in a long time. And what's more, it was a call for Christian commitment as well.”Lordship advocates see no distinction between salvation and discipleship. That is one of the ways in which they wind up in what is the false gospel commonly referred to as Lordship Salvation. In my book there is a chapter dedicated to this specific issue. The chapter title is- Salvation & Discipleship: Is There A Biblical Difference?
Pastor Lawson’s gospel is a man-centered message and thereby frustrates the grace of God (Gal. 2:21). Pastor Lawson’s sermon is a stark example of the extreme to which the Lordship advocates have twisted the Gospel of grace into a works based message.
“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,” (2 Cor. 11:3).