Dear Guests of IDOTG:
Following is John MacArthur’s definition of saving faith from the original edition of The Gospel According to Jesus:
“Saving faith is a commitment to leave sin and follow Jesus at all costs. Jesus takes no one unwilling to come on those terms.”In his Revised & Expanded Edition, John MacArthur reworked the above statement as follows,
“Saving faith does not recoil from the demand to forsake sin and follow Jesus Christ at all costs. Those who find his terms unacceptable cannot come at all”In the 20th Anniversary edition of The Gospel According to Jesus the section appears this way,
“Saving faith does not recoil from the demand to forsake sin and self and follow Christ at all costs. Those who find His terms unacceptable cannot come at all. He will not barter away His right to be Lord”The message MacArthur conveys is consistent in all three editions of The Gospel According to Jesus. Only in the third edition, however, does the final sentence appear as shown above. The Lord most certainly will not “barter away” His lordship or sovereignty. Neither is eternal salvation something that can be gained through barter, but is Lordship Salvation’s interpretation of how a lost man is born again a barter system? We will see if it is.
In each of the quotes above notice Dr. MacArthur is speaking in terms of coming to Christ. The obvious implication is of a lost man coming to Christ for salvation. You can read those quotes, apply them to a personal evangelism setting, and you have a lost man being told that he must come to Christ with a promise to “leave (stop committing) sin,” and follow Jesus at any cost to receive the gift of eternal life. These quotes, which appear in all three editions of The Gospel According to Jesus, remove any doubt that MacArthur conditions the reception of eternal life on a definition of “saving faith” that includes an upfront commitment to performance. That theme, which runs like a thread through each of his three major Lordship apologetics, is a works based message that frustrates grace (Gal. 2:21).
Again from his original edition, MacArthur writes,
“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.”
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. Lordship’s terms for salvation are: “wholehearted commitment, a desire for him at any cost, unconditional surrender,” in “exchange” for the gift of eternal life.
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.
Does the Bible call on the lost to, “pay the ultimate price FOR salvation?” (emphasis added) Is receiving the gift of eternal life based on “an exchange” of “obedience” and “surrender?” Dr. MacArthur’s saving faith not only implies, it demands the “exchange” of a commitment to life long obedience and submission to the Lord, to receive His free gift of salvation. At salvation there only has to be surrender to what the Holy Spirit is convincing and convicting of at the moment. Future issues may not even be on one’s mind.
Lordship Salvation, according to John MacArthur’s definition of saving faith, is a barter system. In my book, and in my on line debates with the advocates of Lordship Salvation, I have documented from Dr. MacArthur’s own books that his interpretation of the Gospel does indeed demand an “exchange” of “obedience” and “full surrender” for the reception of eternal life. Lordship advocates are, however, quick to cry, “straw man.” The straw man argument is a logical fallacy based on misrepresentation of an opponent’s position.
To set up a straw man or set up a straw-man argument is to create a position that is easy to refute, and then attribute that position to the opponent. The call for upfront promises to stop sinning, for “obedience” and “full surrender” in “exchange” for salvation is found in Dr. MacArthur’s books, which I have cited. Lordship’s exchange/barter system does not need to be artificially attributed to Dr. MacArthur because it is his position.
For related reading see, Lordship Salvation: “The Great Exchange”