May 12, 2010

AVAILABLE NOW: What to Expect, 4

Dear Guests of IDOTG:

The Revised & Expanded Edition of In Defense of the Gospel is now available for order. Most will order through Amazon. At Amazon, however, the original book cover design and description still appear. The new image, title and description can take up to two weeks to be updated at Amazon to reflect the new cover, description and title. The publisher assures me that any orders placed through Amazon will be filled with the new edition. Click on the book cover image to the left and you will be directed to Amazon for ordering information.

The church purchased by Jesus Christ must have a clear understanding of salvation by grace through faith. It is the very heart of the gospel message. Some have turned the grace of our God into lasciviousness or unbridled lust (Jude 4), thinking that since they are saved and going to heaven they can live any way they please. Others, rightly concerned about rampant carnality in the church, have distorted the simple gospel message and have burdened the sinner with additional requirements that extend well beyond simple faith in the crucified and risen One. The unsaved person is told that if he does not turn from sin, surrender, have a willingness to obey, fulfill the demands of discipleship, etc., then he cannot be saved. Sadly, the focus is turned away from the all sufficient, finished work of Christ which is the sinner’s only resting place. Lou Martuneac has presented the biblical balance between these two erroneous and extreme positions. In this confused theological climate, his book is like a breath of fresh air and deserves a wide reading.

Pastor George Zeller

A Note From the Author
What is more important than a proper understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ? Serious-minded Christians understand that the stewardship of the gospel is a great responsibility, and that the presentation of the gospel to the unsaved man must be based on a precise understanding of the biblical doctrine of salvation. History repeatedly demonstrates the tendency of well-intentioned men and women to react to false doctrine by embracing an equally heretical belief at the opposite end of the theological pendulum swing. First year Bible college students are taught to keep a balance in their theology, because once they lose their balance they will go off into extremes.

This is not a question of a weak gospel verses a strong gospel, but of the one true gospel standing apart from all other false gospels. If the weak gospel erred by omission, the strong gospel equally errs by addition. All witnesses for Christ desire true conversions. In my zeal to secure more genuine conversions, however, I do not have the liberty to alter the terms of the gospel. Any alteration of the gospel either by omission or addition must be rejected. In the evangelical community there are two polar opposites in the debate over what constitutes the gospel message that leads to eternal salvation. These extremes are commonly known or referred to as “Easy-Believism” and “Lordship Salvation.”

Many have been alarmed at the increasingly meaningless presentation of a gospel that seems to ignore the person of Christ, the sinfulness of man, the finished work of Christ and the pending judgment of God. This gospel calls men to salvation when they have been given only a vague idea of just what they need to be saved from, who Christ is and what He did to provide salvation. This is a reductionist interpretation of the gospel, i.e. the content of saving faith with which I strongly disagree. This is the so-called “Easy-Believism” gospel, which in one of its most extreme forms is propagated by the Grace Evangelical Society (GES) Dr. Bob Wilkin, Executive Director. The GES gospel is commonly known as the “Crossless” or “Promise-ONLY” gospel, which was originated by Prof. Zane Hodges (1932-2008). Later we will take a closer look at the teaching of Zane Hodges and Bob Wilkin.

While I do not hold to any reductionist approach to evangelism and would admonish those who seek quick uninformed decisions for Christ to repent of their error, this document has been produced to address the opposite extreme, Lordship Salvation. (IDOTG: Revised & Expanded Edition, pp. xiii, xiv.)

Errors in Off-Setting Pairs
The Grace Evangelical Society’s Crossless gospel and Lordship Salvation are two sides of the same counterfeit coin. From their respective ends of the soteriology pendulum swing, both deny the complete perfection and sufficiency of Christ’s work on the cross, demonstrated by His resurrection. The Crossless gospel excludes the Person of Christ, His finished work on the cross and bodily resurrection from the necessary content of saving faith. Lordship Salvation undermines the sufficiency of His cross and resurrection by front-loading faith in Christ’s atoning work with a commitment to what is expected of a disciple.

These doctrinal errors seem to always come in offsetting pairs. It is one of the Devil’s devices, which has the effect of throwing God’s children off balance in their understanding of the one true gospel of Jesus Christ. Of the two, however, Lordship Salvation is the more dangerous, as it is more subtle, not as easily recognized and more widespread. (IDOTG: Revised & Expanded Edition, p. 256.)

For additional endorsements and excerpts see the following links:

Very Soon Now, Dr. Robert Lightner

Very Soon Now: What to Expect, 1, Dr. Ron Comfort & Dr. Charlie Bing

Very Soon Now: What to Expect, 2, Evangelist John R. Van Gelderen

Very Soon Now: What to Expect, 3, Dr. Chris Shepler


  1. ::Of the two, however, Lordship Salvation is the more dangerous...::

    While the GES debacle is what drew me into awareness of Lordship in the first place, I have to agree that Lordship is the more critical threat. I have become pretty good friends with a man at our church who has recently come out of Lordship to Free Grace. While I am not his only influence, or even a main influence, he is the first person I've knowingly played an active role in discipling out of Lordship.

    I think LS is so prevalent and subtle because, after all, submitting to Christ's Lordship IS such a good and desirable thing. It's really hard, I think, for people to clearly distinguish between what 'ought to be' from what 'needs to be'.

    The distinction is so clear to me now, but I recall being kinda stuck in that rut myself only a few years ago. Thanks to you, Greg, Kevin, Zeller, and some of the other resources you link to my mind was changed on the matter.

    Even some early GES material was helpful in helping me see the mistake of LS. This, however, is what I think contributes to GES being a somewhat subtle threat as well. There is "some" truth in "some" GES material -- The most effective deceit is often that which is partially true.

  2. Stephen:

    Thanks for your comments. I’m pleased to know that some of us have been a personal help to you in these matters. You and Rachel have been a great blessing in the debates over and with the advocates of the Crossless gospel.

    The CG is so demonstrably absurd and anti-biblical it takes little to show the unsuspecting that it is a true heresy. Lord willing those who are still in bondage to that reductionist error will one day be delivered from it.

    LS’s spread, however, has been insidious. Having so many high-profile men propagating it makes it especially difficult to expose as error. Many look at the high-profile personalities who advocate LS and figure that surely they could not be wrong on the Gospel. Consequently they never dig deep into what they are teaching and compare it to Scripture.

    Just as with the GES Crossless gospel there is some truth in some LS material, which makes it at first glance appear sound.

    I’ll do what I can to expose what LS is, who is teaching it and how it is inconsistent with the plain teaching of Scripture.

    Thanks again,


  3. These doctrinal errors seem to always come in offsetting pairs. It is one of the Devil’s devices, which has the effect of throwing God’s children off balance in their understanding of the one true gospel of Jesus Christ.

    He does like to polarize, doesn't he? And this way, he can get two for the price of one. He also likes to make two extreme opposite views and then have them presented as though they were the only choices, so the real truth gets lost in defending against one (or the other) error.

    I like something I have seen in several places on the Middletown site: "The pendulum swings, ridiculous extreme, bypassing truth which lies somewhere between."

    I guess the devil doesn't care which side of the beam you fall off on, as long as you fall off.


  4. Lou,
    I have enjoyed reading your blog. I have been reading a number of articles and I am trying to get my head around a couple of things.
    In relation to repentance and salvation, in my own experience under the conviction of the Holy Spirit repentance was a necessary part of salvation, in that the need to turn from my own ways and accept the Good News went together. Not that repentance was something that I had to do in order to be saved, but was intrinsically part of saving faith. To say you have to repent to be saved is sought of redundant in that sense, as it is the nature of saving faith and is something we couldn't produce of ourselves if we tried.
    Having said that, I am not saying that upfront you have to make a decision forsake all unrighteousness in order to be saved. But when you are born again repentance is naturally present.
    Please let me know your thoughts.

    Thanks, Mark

  5. Hello Mark:

    Thanks for the kind remarks about how my blog has been a blessing to you. I do treat this as a ministry.

    You make interesting comments about the nature of repentance.

    This is a subject that I’ve written on extensively at my blog. In the new edition of my book the chapter, What is Biblical Repentance is the most heavily revised and expanded because of the importance of this subject in the debate.

    There are over 20 pages on repentance as it relates to the Lordship controversy. Here is a sample I trust you’ll find helpful.

    “Repentance is a change of mind where one recognizes he is a hopeless, Hell-bound sinner before a just and holy God. When he agrees with the convincing and convicting work of the Holy Spirit that he is a sinner (John 16:7-9) and transfers his dependence to the Lord Jesus Christ for his salvation—he has biblically repented. Biblical repentance is a change of mind that should produce the fruit of a change in direction from self and sin toward God. The fruit that should follow is distinct from repentance itself. In Acts 26:20, Paul summarizes his ministry to King Agrippa by indicating he calls people to a change of mind where they turn to God, and once they’ve turned to God, been saved, they should do the “good works” (Eph. 2:10) that are fitting of that change of mind and dependence on the Lord. This is distinct from Judaism which was teaching people should do works to get saved, but Paul also emphasized people should “have…fruit unto holiness” (Rom. 6:22) once they have been saved.” (IDOTG, pp. 145-146).


  6. Mark:

    Following are links to articles here, some of which appear in the book. These will provide additional material for you to consider on the subject of repentance. I trust you’ll find these helpful.

    Thanks again for stopping by and your helpful comment above,


    What to Expect, 3

    Lordship’s “Turn From Sin” For Salvation

  7. “Repentance is a change of mind where one recognizes he is a hopeless, Hell-bound sinner before a just and holy God. When he agrees with the convincing and convicting work of the Holy Spirit that he is a sinner (John 16:7-9) and transfers his dependence to the Lord Jesus Christ for his salvation—he has biblically repented."


    This describes my salvation experience exactly.


  8. Jan:

    My salvation (conversion) testimony culminated with the same event. I remember it vividly.


  9. Lou, 5/19/10
    I am sending this again now as germane to the passage in your new book cited above.
    Thank you, Tim V.P.
    Lou, 4/6/09
    In my earlier comment posted above "two sides of the same counterfeit coin" I was giving in a metaphor what I think Jimmy O'Rourk is saying about the diabolical dialectic manipulation by use of thesis-antithesis = synthesis. I.E. the basic error is only one, but wears two faces or presents two fronts. The whole coin or paradigm is false.
    Let me explain. Upon closer examination, it becomes clear that both the thesis (LS) and the antithesis (CG) are based on a false premise. The same false premise, in fact, which is that the recipient/subject of God's salvation must somehow be a participating contributor in it.
    In LS (thesis) the contribution is the commitment to one's performance as an all loving subject of his Lord. This is commendable (meritorious) but not as a condition of salvation. The strength/power/merit of his own "surrender" or "commitment is viewed as an indispensable adjunct to God's power/perfection/merit unto salvation in and by the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. A human work in the strength of a human resource (one's force of will, i.e.."sincere,determined dedication etc.) is premised as one of two bases, or supports, upon which a person's salvation rests, or is maintained. "Commitment" to Lordship (of Christ) is, unconsciously perhaps, presumed to have some indispensable meritorious value without which the saving work cannot go forward. LS lifts man while it limits God (He can only save "good people").
    Of course all this is false to God's Word and God's character, and the depth of man's need. The very reason that salvation must be entirely in/of God through Christ's finished cross work, is that we, in and by Adam's fall have NO strength, NO sincerity. This is the first step of agreement with God, of repentance, which LS's underlying premise completely sets aside.
    On the other hand, CG (antithesis)counters the effort/merit of "commitment" with a content less "faith alone". The hidden premise here is that "faith alone" has merit in and of itself, apart from any factual content. Such "faith'' is is seen solely as a humanly produced response apart from any significant or pertinent data. An extreme example of this is the view that a pagan who exercises a "sincere" but subjective (without objective historic Gospel content) faith in a "higher being" or deity is thereby "saved". A less extreme view(CG) would put the bare undefined name "Jesus" in the place of "an unknown god" as the object of faith, thereby maintaining the veneer of Christianity. The result is an undefined faith (credulity) with nothing to rest upon, nothing to support it or sustain it, but the person exercising it.
    Obviously there can be no truthful "synthesis" or balancing of these two views. Both are based on the same false premise that man can and must, in some meritorious way,contribute to his own salvation. Both look to a resource in man for a role in his salvation. Both are equally blind to the depth of human Adamic depravity and of the Cross as the true measure of that depth. To the question, "How far did the Son of Man come in seeking and saving the lost?", LS and CG would answer, "We must/can meet Him at least part way." while God's answer in the Cross is "HE CAME( ALL THE WAY TO THE DEATH of the CROSS ) to seek and to save SINNERS."
    I don't wish to be contentions or controversial for controversy's sake, but seek clarity under the light of God's word for myself as well as others. I would value your thoughts on the above observations.
    Thank you again for the book, the blog site and the way God has enabled you to bring these critical issues to light.
    Yours gratefully in Christ, Tim V.P.

  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. Tim-

    I think on the surface your idea really appears to work. The one problem I see, though, is that the LS crew, being generally TULIP, does not intend their teaching to be interpreted as man contributing anything to his own salvation. Even though they speak like it is all up to the man to measure up to God's standard, they actually believe the contrary. This is kind of a difficult thing to dissect because what they say and what they mean are so totally opposite.

    Behind the teaching of LS (for the most part) is the idea that God is the one doing all the working. John MacArthur has said that faith is a work. However, he sees it as a work that GOD does, not a work that man must do. Because they approach it with the underlying idea that God is the one working all things pertaining to salvation in the person, including faith, they have no problem packing any and all kinds of works into the equation. This is always the underlying caveat.

    What I find amazing is that they do not present the matter this way to the audience. To the audience (the sinner) they speak like it really is all up to the man, while simultaneously internally denying that the man can do anything because God must do it all. This “fact” is a game changer, but they keep it to themselves. (I also think it is one of the reasons why they constantly cry misunderstanding/misrepresentation, but I digress.)

    From the TULIP perspective, what they are doing is not so much preaching how a person acquires salvation and what a person must do to become saved/born again, but describing what a person who has been regenerated TO faith will look like. This, I think is why they will not invite a person to come to the cross without qualification. Demonstrating his classic dialectical doublespeak, John MacArthur has said:

    Now, let me say something that is very, very important for you to understand. I do not believe that an incomplete presentation of the gospel--in other words, if you just present the gospel that Jesus died for your sin and rose again and graciously offers you forgiveness by faith in his name; if that’s all you presented, and you didn’t talk about Lordship, and you didn’t talk about being a disciple, and you didn’t talk about repentance, and you didn’t talk about turning from sin-even an incomplete presentation of the gospel-now listen-could not prevent someone from being saved whom God was saving. Got that? Because if you didn’t talk about sin, they’d be feeling the conviction. And if you didn’t talk about submission, they’d be coming to that submission.

    What I am saying is that when we present a shallow gospel, we don’t prevent the elect from getting saved; we make people think they’re saved who aren’t. That’s the issue....

    I believe that when you present the gospel-now listen carefully to this-you can make it as difficult as possible! That’s what Jesus did. He made it as difficult as possible. Why? Because salvation is a work of God, not based on the cleverness of the one giving the gospel, but based on the power of God. So, if a person is being saved by God, then you want them to fully understand their salvation. And if God isn’t doing it, you want to make sure that they’re not coming in on some illusion.
    (Emphasis his.)

    (Quotes from:


  12. So the “incomplete” gospel is sufficient to save the elect and in fact cannot stop them from becoming saved. But God forbid there should be some supposedly nonelect person who believes the SAME THING as the supposedly pre-elected person and draws the false conclusion that they are actually saved! Because, since Jesus didn't really die for them, they are now “coming in on some illusion!” Because even though they did the SAME THING an elect person did, it will not have the same result as Jesus' blood is NOT FOR ALL MEN. So, since God is the one who does the saving by causing all these works to come about in the person anyway, it is perfectly OK and even recommended to preach this difficult gospel of works while denying it is a gospel of works since it is God and not man who is doing the works. The idea that God can only save good people isn't really their position. It is that God will only save some, and these will demonstrate their election by showing they have been regenerated UNTO belief, etc.

    I guess God is strong and honest enough to convict the elect of salvation by faith through Christ's blood even in an “incomplete” gospel, but is not strong and/or honest enough to keep the non elect from being deceived about their own eternal, unchangeable lostness unless a gospel of works is preached (which is not really a gospel of works because they mean God and not man is doing the works, even though they don't say so, so it's OK.) Neither is God strong enough to keep these unsaved believers out of His church. These unsaved saved people who only believe an incomplete gospel then come into a congregation of saved saved people and reek all kinds of havoc. So I guess we must do God's work for Him (even though He is the one who does all the work) and keep these unsaved saved people from thinking they are saved saved people by making the gospel as difficult as possible. But I digress again...

    Back to my point:

    Because of these things, most LSers do not hear the same thing everyone else hears when they speak of all these works, and so forth. What they hear themselves saying is that God's gospel works according to TULIP theology. Therefore, it is not quite fair to assign to them the motive of making man contribute to his own salvation. In fact, they would find such a concept repugnant in the extreme.

    But what those who have never been indoctrinated into TULIP and so do not know how to think TULIP hear is, God will only save good men and we must contribute to our own salvation, etc. We must be worthy of Christ. (!) Therefore, it is correct to say they form this thesis in a dialectic.

    Why they do not just say, "here is the TULIP, and in order to be saved God must do this, that, and the other in you, but don't worry because if He has elected you this is guaranteed to happen, but if He hasn't there isn't anything you can do about it anyway" I don't know, since this is what they believe.

    But because they don't, they do unwittingly form the thesis of a dialectical process.

    They have been “dialecticized” themselves, saying one thing while believing the opposite, never seeing the incompatibility, always denying the cognitive dissonance they create in others and live in themselves.

    It is a terrible mess.


  13. Jan, you've done a wonderful job summing up LS doctrine!

    I think at the root of their doctrine is their false concept of election (and also depravity of man). To LS, election means that God sovereignly decided to choose to create some elect, and some eternally lost, and which category one fell in was God's choice alone.

    It is true that God creates whom He will, but that doesn't mean that He has made their moral choices for them. Otherwise, that would make God the author of sin. God forbid!

    Those who are not elect cannot blame God, for He has eternally known that they would reject Him of their own free will. The fact that God choose to create them anyway does not mean that He made their choice for them. If the creature has the ability to morally choose, then the creature cannot question why God created them.

    To LS, using the excuse of election as they view it, they are free to preach a works Gospel, since as you pointed out, they view it all as a work of God. In fact, to LS, God regenerates the person so that they will then have the power to become saved, as if regeneration and salvation are not synonymous! Because of their view of election, they cannot have an unregenerate, totally depraved person free to choose to believe the Gospel unless God somehow supernaturally gives them the power to do so. This goes beyond and is distinct from the Biblical concept of the Holy Spirit convicting the sinner and drawing the person's heart toward God through the message of the Gospel.

    LS advocates are curious creatures indeed. While claiming to preach a Gospel of savation by grace through faith, they preach a works "gospel" cloked to appear as grace. Cloked so well, that the LS believe their own deception.

    And even if some of them have their eyes are open to this, that does not disuade them, for they feel they are justified in doing this based on their view of election primarily, and their view of the depravity of man as well.


  14. Phil:

    I appreciate your commentary to Jan. Many excellent points and how Lordship flows from Calvinistic presuppositions. I dedicate several sections to this connection in my book.

    One thing I’d like to address is where some might think you are suggesting all LS people hold to double-predestination. Some do, but very few. Most I have interacted with state God is “active” toward the elect, but “passive” toward the non-elect, which is highly disturbing in and of itself, but not double predestination.


    PS: I'm considering taking Jan's two comments and making an article out of it. I'll add your reply as an addendum.

  15. Phil-

    Pertaining to election, Laurence Vance provides the best summation of the TULIP gospel of works I have ever heard at the end of his chapter on Perseverance of the Saints, on page 596 of his book The Other Side of Calvinism:

    "So the only perceivable difference between a Calvinist and an Arminian when it comes to assurance is that the Ariminian requires holiness to prove salvation while the Calvinist demands holiness to demonstrate election, which then substantiates salvation."

    It is exactly this point of election that the TULIP LS crew do not preach openly in their evangelistic messages, even though it is the entire basis of their theology and their gospel.

    I find it greatly troubling that they are less than forthright about this factor, and it's twin, Limited Atonement, that are central to everything they believe, when they preach.

    I also wonder how many people who hold these LS men in high regard would continue to value their teaching so much if they were aware of the theology that underpinned it.


  16. Good point Jan, as I don't ever recall hearing MacArthur on the radio ever preaching limited atonement or Calvinistic election.

    He may have, but in the several times I've heard him, I didn't catch it.


  17. Thanks Lou, I appreciate it.

    I agree, not all LS hold to the hardened Calvinist doctrine of double-predestination. I argued with a Calvinist in person several years ago who believed this, but don't know if he was LS.

    In any case, Calvinism and LS are hand-in-hand, and on many faucets practically identical.


  18. "Errors in Off-Setting Pairs"...

    How true! Many Christian feel that if they must reject (and rightfully so)the traditional Arminian doctrine that one can lose their salvation, they feel that the only alternative is Calvinism, which supposedly upholds the Biblical truth of eternal security.

    To the contrary, one need not bounce to the other error.

    Calvinism distorts the concept of eternal security, for we do not remain saved because we persevere, or because God causes us to persevere in service to Him, as Calvinism's "Perseverance of the Saints" teaches.

    Rather, we remain secure because our debt of sin has been fully paid, and we are sealed with the Holy Spirit unto the Day of Redemption.