November 21, 2006

Confusion & Contradiction: Phil Johnson at Pyromaniacs

At PyroManiacs I was engaged in a discussion with Phil Johnson on the Lordship interpretation of the gospel. It is my understanding Phil Johnson is the senior editor for John MacArthur’s books. Most of Dr. MacArthur’s books are not actually written by him. They are primarily transcribed sermons compiled, edited and reproduced in book form. Phil is in charge of the editing process.

There were two main areas of discussion at Pyro between Phil and myself. One was in regard to regeneration before faith issue, which is an extreme extra-biblical error found among most Lordship advocates. The second was a discussion surrounding Luke 9:23-24. I am going to address the latter now, the former later.

I began the short exchange on Luke 9 by using the following post:

And He said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it,” (Luke 9:23-24).

Does Luke 9:23-24 state conditions man must satisfy to receive God’s free gift of salvation? Luke 9:24 is a conditional verse. Twice it says “for whosoever will . . .” Do you view the demands of Luke 9:23-24 as a part of the gospel of Jesus Christ to be believed for salvation?

You can see I asked Phil if Luke 9:23-24 states conditions or demands for salvation. His response was, “Nope.”

Later Phil wrote,
“I believe Luke 9:23-24 is a call to salvation; but it's still not proper to regard it as a set of ‘conditions’ by which someone can merit salvation.”
So, he believes Luke 9:23 is a salvation passage, but the commands for cross bearing, self-denial and following, which appear in the verse, are not conditions for salvation. Phil further substantiates his salvation interpretation of the passage by criticizing me for believing Luke 9:23-24 has to do with the daily life of a disciple.

Shall we review (which I provided for Phil) what Dr. MacArthur says about cross bearing, self-denial, and following in regard to the reception of salvation. He writes,
Let me say again unequivocally that Jesus’ summons to deny self and follow him was an invitation to salvation…
(The Gospel According to Jesus [Revised & Expanded Edition], p. 221).
Half-hearted people who were not willing to make the commitment did not respond. Thus he turned away anyone who was reluctant to pay the price, such as the rich young ruler,” (The Gospel According to Jesus [Revised & Expanded Edition], p. 222).
Anyone who wants to come after Jesus into the Kingdom of God, anyone who wants to be a Christian, has to face three commands: 1) deny himself, 2) take up his cross daily, and 3) follow him.” (Hard to Believe, p. 6.)

Dr. MacArthur says to become a Christian one must face three commands found in Luke 9:23. They are, “…deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.”

Dr. MacArthur says anyone who is unwilling to make the commitment to the conditions of discipleship will be turned away. According to Dr. MacArthur the rich young ruler was “turned away” because he would not “make the commitment” to give up that he had. Dr. MacArthur says the lost man was turned away, not because of his sin (covetousness), rather because he would not make a commitment to discipleship. That is what Dr. MacArthur believes and he states it expressly. There is no misunderstanding of his meaning!

Dr. MacArthur is calling for lost men to make a commitment to the conditions of discipleship found in Luke 9:23. He believes the calls for cross bearing, self-denial and following are salvation appeals. He is, therefore, demanding these conditions be committed to for the reception of eternal life.

Phil sees the conditions of discipleship in Luke 9:23 as evangelistic in nature. In spite of this Phil wrote,
I don’t think the word ‘conditions’ is appropriate here…. Luke 9:23-24 is a call to salvation; but it’s still not proper to regard it as a set of ‘conditions’ by which someone can merit salvation.”
The Luke 9:23-24 passage is a conditional passage. Dr. MacArthur cites the three elements in Luke 9:23 as conditions for the reception of eternal life. Phil, however, says they are not conditions.

Just like Dr. MacArthur, Phil contradicts the Scriptures by redefining passages meant for a disciple of Christ, as though they are salvation appeals. Then I have shown how Phil unwittingly contradicts and compromises Dr. MacArthur’s message of commitment to the terms of discipleship for salvation.

In Luke 9:23-24 Jesus is speaking about discipleship, not on how to become a child of God. No one is saved because he takes up the cross and follows Jesus. No one is saved who makes, as Dr. MacArthur demands, a “wholehearted commitment,” to take up the cross and follow Jesus.

Confusing discipleship with salvation is one of the most serious errors in Lordship Salvation. A chapter in my book is dedicated to this doctrinal error. The chapter is titled, Salvation & Discipleship: Is There A Biblical Difference?

Dr. Joel Mullenix said,
Salvation is free, discipleship is costly. Salvation comes by simply believing in Christ. By receiving by faith the free gift of salvation through His work on the cross. Discipleship is evidenced by daily submission to the will of God. They are two separate things. The Bible makes a distinction between salvation and discipleship.” (In Defense of the Gospel, p. 72.)
Apart from redefining the biblical plan of salvation to suit the Lordship system there is no way Luke 9 can be construed as an invitation to salvation. Confusing discipleship with salvation leads to a works based gospel, which Dr. MacArthur and Lordship advocates propose. It also leads to the confused and contradictory statements we have seen from Phil Johnson.

Lordship Salvation, as defined by Dr. MacArthur, is a message of faith plus commitment to the conditions of discipleship, and this is a false, non-saving message that frustrates grace (Gal. 2:21).

Later we will look at the regeneration before faith position and Phil’s defense of it. I will also address a few other note worthy items that came out through Phil’s comments and reactions.


November 19, 2006

Summation of the Debates with MacArthur’s Staff

To All:

Over the next few days I will prepare and then post a summation of the recent discussions/debates with Nathan Busenitz and Phil Johnson.

In the meantime, please read many, if not all, of the posts I have written this and last month. There is much here that will help define the issues in the Lordship controversy.


Crucial Turning Point in the Lordship Debate with Phil Johnson

Dear Guests:

Phil Johnson is the senior editor of John MacArthur's books. He, along with Nathan Busenitz (Dr. MacArthur's personal assistant), are the point men for Dr. MacArthur. Phil and Nathan speak for him on matters of doctrine and especially in this debate his books on Lordship Salvation.

As you know I have been in a weeks long debate over Lordship Salvation and my book with these men at Pulpit Magazine and Pyromaniacs. A host of others joined Nathan and Phil in support of Lordship Salvation and against my book on the subject.

Following is an important post I just filed for Phil at his site, and I filed it at Pulpit Magazine as well, under Nathan's Nov. 10 article, A Few More Thoughts on Lordship, Part 2. I also posted this at SharperIron.

My post Follows...

Earlier I asked, “Does Luke 9:23-24 state conditions man must satisfy to receive God's free gift of salvation?”

Phil's reply, “Nope. Even faith, strictly speaking, is not so much a 'condition' as the instrumental means of our justification.... I would say, however, that Luke 9:23-24, Jesus' own call to discipleship, reveals the character of true faith.”

Dear Phil:

If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me,” (Luke 9:23).

You just said these are not conditions man must satisfy to receive salvation. I understand you mean man does not have to go through some ritual or process of discipleship and eventually become a Christian. I would agree with that. Also, I happen to believe Jesus’ calls to discipleship are directed to those who are already born again disciples of Christ.

I have to point out that you are in contradiction and at odds with Dr. MacArthur. He writes:

Let me say again unequivocally that Jesus’ summons to deny self and follow him was an invitation to salvation, not . . . a second step of faith following salvation. . . . Those who are not willing to lose their lives for Christ are not worthy of Him. . . . When Jesus called disciples, he carefully instructed them about the cost of following him. Half-hearted people who were not willing to make the commitment did not respond. Thus he turned away anyone who was reluctant to pay the price, such as the rich young ruler. He wants disciples willing to forsake everything. This calls for full-scale self-denial--even willingness to die for His sake if necessary.” (The Gospel According to Jesus [Revised & Expanded Edition], p. 221, 222, 226).
Without any doubt, Dr. MacArthur is speaking of what he believes are the requirements for salvation: How to be born again. He interjects discipleship in what otherwise would be a sound way, but the main theme is in regard to the reception of eternal life. Denying self and following are invitations to salvation? The way to be saved is by agreeing to deny self? The rich young ruler, a lost man, was turned away because he would not pay the price? Let’s read more examples:
Anyone who wants to come after Jesus into the Kingdom of God, anyone who wants to be a Christian, has to face three commands: 1) deny himself, 2) take up his cross daily, and 3) follow him.” (Hard to Believe, p. 6.)
Similarly Dr. MacArthur wrote,
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 & Expanded Edition], p. 148.)
Phil- There is no misunderstanding of Dr. MacArthur’s meaning, no other way to spin or redefine it. He is conditioning salvation on upfront commitments to keep commands, pay a price, bear the cross, to follow, unconditional surrender, etc. Dr. MacArthur demands an exchange of these commitments for salvation.

I am going to repeat this important point: Once you enter a commitment of man into the gospel, the message becomes man-centered and no longer the biblical plan of salvation.

There is no spin, no straw man, only a message that clearly frustrates grace (Gal. 2:21), and furthermore confuses, clouds and complicates, “the simplicity that is in Christ,” (2 Cor. 11:3).


November 15, 2006

Lordship’s (Out of Order) Salvation

On November 13, 2006 at Pulpit Magazine Nathan Busenitz posted a reply to Larry in which he lays out the regeneration before faith position. It is post #51 under the A Few More Thoughts on Lordship (Part 2) article.

This post to Larry opens the door to some serious inquiry in regard to regeneration and faith. In particular: the regeneration before faith issue.

Representative of the Calvinist camp, the ordo salutis (the order of salvation) might be shown as:

1) election, 2) predestination, 3) gospel call 4) inward call 5) regeneration, 6) conversion (repentance & faith), 7) justification, 8) sanctification, and 9) perseverance, 10) glorification.
Those who take a different view of the ordo salutis would typically present it this way:
1) foreknowledge, 2) election, 3) calling, 4) repentance, 5) faith, 6) regeneration, 7) conversion, 8) justification, 9) sanctification, 10) preservation, 11) glorification.
The big difference in the two examples is in the relative placement of regeneration and repentance/faith. There is an order, and I trust you (Nathan) would agree that the events in the ordo salutis occur simultaneously. The Calvinist and Lordship advocates will insist there is no chronological order and that would be the correct thing to say. Repentance, faith, regeneration, conversion, and justification occur simultaneously. Some aspects in the ordo, occur in a chronological order, but the events I cited above do not, they are simultaneous.

It is a mistake to separate regeneration and faith in a temporal way, because they are simultaneous. One important matter, however, should be recognized. In 1 Thess. 1:9 Paul suggests faith precedes repentance. In Acts he puts repentance before faith (Acts 20:21). Repentance and faith occur so closely and/or at the same instant that one must not attempt to separate them.

In an earlier article I pointed out that the elements of the event in ordo occur simultaneously, but the event has a trigger. Calvinists believe regeneration initiates or triggers the simultaneous events in the ordo. Pastor George Zeller made this observation:
The doctrine of man's total depravity has been carried to the extreme by some Calvinists resulting in a wrong understanding of man's inability. They believe that the sinner is dead in sin and totally unable to respond to the gospel. They believe he first must be regenerated and only then will he be able to believe the gospel.” (In Defense of the Gospel, pp. 280-281.)
There is a logical order, not chronological, but logical based on what the Bible says. The Bible teaches faith logically precedes regeneration, for example:
“He came unto his own, and his own received him not. 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: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God,” (John 1:11-13).

“Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him,” (1 John 5:1).
The Bible teaches that faith and regeneration are instantaneous: John 3:1-21 (especially vss. 8, 13-16) Rom 3:22, 26; 10:4, 6, 8, 9-13.

The following passages also demonstrate that justification and faith are also simultaneous: Romans 3:22, 26; 10:4, 6, 8-13
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast,” (Eph. 2:8-9).
Ephesians 2:8-9 demonstrates that salvation occurs simultaneously at the very instant man places his faith in Jesus Christ. The Calvinist has a problem with this because he believes man cannot call on the Lord (Rom. 10:13) in faith until he has first been regenerated. The troubling conclusion is that salvation (eternal life) is not received through faith; rather faith is the result of salvation. Nathan wrote,
Thus, according to the reformed ordo salutis, regeneration has causal priority over faith and repentance. This is simply a way of showing that God initiates salvation, enabling and empowering the sinner to believe and repent. Like Jesus told Nicodemus, ‘Unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God’ (John 3:3).”
John 3 is the account of Nicodemus’ visit to the Lord at night. This is a very familiar event. We see Nicodemus coming to Jesus by night. He was likely afraid to approach Jesus in broad daylight for fear of the Jews.

I look at John 2:24-25 as a gateway to John 3 and the encounter with Nicodemus. The passage reads, “But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.”

Before Nicodemus arrived Jesus knew what was in his heart and where his problem was. This is why Jesus went right past the acknowledgement of his teaching and miracles right to the heart of Nicodemus’ problem.

Nicodemus had heard the teaching of Jesus, and likely witnessed some of His miracles. It is apparent that Nicodemus was being drawn to the Lord through what he had seen and heard. It is important to note, however, Nicodemus was not yet born again, he has not been regenerated. We can know this because Nicodemus did not even at this point understand the concept of being born again. Jesus is going to tell him how a lost sinner is born again and receives everlasting life.
“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life,” (John 3:14-15).
Jesus gave the illustration of Moses lifting up the serpent (Numbers 21:6-9) to illustrate how man will be saved from spiritual death. Those who looked upon the brazen serpent were spared death from the sting of the fiery serpents. They believed God and by faith looked upon the serpent of brass and were saved. This illustrates the Son of Man being lifted up and those who by faith, believing look to Him will be saved, have everlasting life.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life,” (John 3:16).
In John 3:16 Jesus explains the way in which a lost man receives everlasting life. In His definition of salvation, Jesus says believing precedes regeneration, everlasting life.”

In light of this statement from Jesus, in which He clearly teaches, “everlasting life” came from believing on His name, those who believe regeneration precedes and enables repentance/faith and belief find themselves in contradiction to the Lord. As long as you insist regeneration precedes and enables “the sinner to believe and repent,” you are contradicting the Lord Jesus Christ. Now the debate over the order of regeneration and faith/belief is with the Lord.

The regeneration before faith view under girds the Lordship gospel of submission, full-surrender, self-denial in exchange for salvation. The Lordship advocate believes the lost man has been regenerated (given new life, born again) prior to repentance, faith and belief. To reiterate, he does not believe in a chronological order, but he will insist regeneration has the “casual priority” over, and is the trigger for: repentance, faith, and believing.

Therefore, demands for a commitment to the “good works,” (Eph. 2:10) which should follow salvation in the life of a believer, are no longer works, because they believe the work of conversion, salvation, justification and union with Christ has already been accomplished. Lordship advocates can make any demand he wants because in the Lordship system he is dealing with one who is already a born again child of God, has already become a disciple of Christ.

Lordship advocates call on lost men to make decisions that are impossible for him to make. Nathan stated, “…we are asking them to do something that is impossible apart from the initiating work of the Spirit.” The solution for your impossible decision is the extra-biblical, rational view of ordo, which insists regeneration (eternal life) precedes faith.

From an article titled Faith vs. Fatalism, Evangelist John VanGelderen wrote,
Is it ‘look and live’ or ‘live and look?’ Is it ‘Look unto Me, and be ye saved’ (Is. 45:22) or ‘Be ye saved, and look unto Me?’ Is it ‘He that believeth on Me hath everlasting life’ (John 6:47, cf. John 3:15, 16, 36; 5:24) or ‘He who hath everlasting life believeth on Me?’ Did Paul say to the Philippian jailer ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved’ (Acts 6:36) or ‘Thou shalt be saved, and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ?’” (In Defense of the Gospel, pp. 66-67.)
Pastor George Zeller wrote,
Does regeneration precede faith? Actually they both take place in the same moment of time. The moment a person believes on the Lord Jesus Christ he is regenerated (born again). The moment he receives Christ by faith he also receives God's gift of eternal life. It all happens in an instant of time.” (In Defense of the Gospel, p. 281.)
Nathan’s Calvinistic presuppositions of regeneration’s “casual priority over” (before) faith under gird Lordship’s upfront demands for “implicit obedience, full surrender,” and the “exchange of all that we are for all that Christ is” for the reception of eternal life.

Nathan wrote, “But at this point, the argument is no longer about lordship salvation, but rather about Calvinism.” I would disagree with that because both systems are inseparably intertwined. If one is unwound, both unravel.

I have shown in my book that in regard to the reception of salvation the Lordship position is a false interpretation of the gospel. Lordship Salvation is a works based, non-saving message that frustrates grace. John MacArthur, Walter Chantry, James Boice, and John Piper are sincere men who love God, but they have changed the terms of the gospel to combat the equally heretical so-called “Easy Believism” movement or the Zane Hodges inspired Crossless Gospel.

In years past many Bible believing pastors and Christian leaders have shown that the presupposition of regeneration preceding faith is a position that comes from the reliance on reason over the revelation of Scripture.

We conclude there are two very different interpretations of how eternal life is received.

1) Nathan representative of the Calvinist view of ordo believes regeneration (the gift of eternal life) precedes repentance/faith and belief in Jesus Christ. Nathan believes man cannot believe or express repentance and faith unless he has first been regenerated, been born again. This opens the way for the Lordship gospel of commitment to the “good works” of a disciple in exchange for salvation.

2) Jesus says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life,” (John 3:16).

So, a choice must be made: do we accept the revelation of Scripture and the words of Jesus Christ; or do we choose to rely on a position born from reason rather than revelation as the basis for their theological moorings?


Some of the most penetrating work on Calvinism’s regeneration before faith has been written by Pastor George Zeller. Click on The Dangers of Reformed Theology where you can read about this and other “dangers” that come from Reformed theology.

November 11, 2006

Important Contribution at SharperIron

Dear Guests:

Please visit this link to SharperIron. In the thread of an article titled, Lordship Teaches... you will find an important contribution by Bob Topartzer.

There are several important contributions, which Bob Topartzer makes in his post at SharperIron. One of which has to do with one of John MacArthur’s former professors. I am not the first to raise concerns with Dr. MacArthur’s position, and I will not be the last. Since the introduction of The Gospel According to Jesus (1988) men have raised concerns with portions of Dr. MacArthur’s definition of the Gospel.

At the SharperIron site you will find documentation by Bob Topartzer that supports and further confirms the problems with John MacArthur’s statements.

Dr. James E. Rosscup is retired Professor of Bible Exposition at The Master’s Seminary. Dr. Rosscup was one of John MacArthur’s professors at Talbot.

Bob Topartzer documents how Dr. Rosscup had written to point out some of the "exaggerations" in his former student’s books. Ironically, several of the excerpts Dr. Rosscup refers to are the very same, which I have been addressing all along.


November 7, 2006

Your Reaction to the Discussions


I thought I would create a thread where you can freely comment on the discussions that took place at Pulpit Magazine and SharperIron in regard to my new book.

The discussions, the theology, the tone, any and every opinion you have on the discussions are welcome. You will, of course, keep Colossians 4:6 in mind as you comment.



Post Your Own Review

Here is the opportunity to post your own review of my book.

Some men have written quite a bit about my book at other sites. I want to reserve this thread for those of you who have not, or were not comfortable sharing an opinion at the other sites. You do not have to worry about doing a "professional, technical" review, just share your impressions. The one requirement for comment is that you must have read my book.

I am going to post a few of the positive comments I have received from various pastor and Christian leaders since my book was released earlier this year.

I will read and carefully consider any comments, positive or negative, that you choose to share with me.

So have at it.


November 5, 2006

There is No Straw Man

This is another reply I wrote to Nathan at Pulpit Magazie:


Lordship advocates can deny that they have a “barter” system, but as I demonstrated from Dr. MacArthur’s own books he does indeed demand an “exchange” of “unconditional surrender, etc.” for the gift of eternal life.

Furthermore, there is a big difference between the exchange of dependence and the exchange of submission and surrender. The Thessalonians were no longer going to depend on their idols, they would begin to depend on Jesus Christ to do for them what their idols could not do.

As for Dr. MacArtur’s system: He is demanding the upfront promise of the “good works” (Eph. 2:10) to secure eternal life. He insists man must offer “surrender, submission, following, obedience, self-denial” in “exchange for salvation.” Your system not only implies, it demands the barter/exchange of the promise of good works for salvation. It’s right there in Dr. MacArthur’s book.

Lordship advocates can deny that they have a “barter” system, but as I demonstrated from Dr. MacArthur’s own books he does indeed demand an “exchange” of “unconditional surrender, etc.” for the gift of eternal life.

“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, then attribute that position to the opponent.”

The position of offering promises of “unconditional surrender” in “exchange” for salvation is right in Dr. MacArthur’s books, which I cite for anyone to read. That position is not attributed to him, it is his position. There is no straw man.

Claiming “straw man” does not make the clear, incontrovertible evidence of the “barter” system of Lordship Salvation go away.

Would I “flatly deny this (barter) accusation”? Sure, because nothing is being bartered. The Thessalonians did not offer anything, they came to Christ empty-handed. It was a decision to forsake dependence on idols and begin to depend on God. There are no works done or even being promised. Did the Thessalonians offer or promise anything when they transferred their dependence to God? No!

On the other hand, your denial does fall flat because there is indeed a barter of “good works” for salvation. Your system frontloads and demands a lost man promise to become a committed, fully surrendered disciple of Christ. This means in exchange for salvation he promises to do the good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them (Eph. 2:10).

Are you prepared to say that John MacArthur’s Lordship Salvation does NOT define saving faith as full surrender in exchange for salvation? (The Gospel According to Jesus, p. 140.)

The Lordship system demands a commitment to a change in behavior or action; the promise of “good works” in “exchange” for salvation.


November 2, 2006

Lordship Salvation’s “Barter” System

To All:

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
. (Dr. John MacArthur: The Gospel According to Jesus: [Revised & Expanded Edition], p. 148)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. His terms for salvation are: “wholehearted commitment, a desire for him at any cost, unconditional surrender,” in “exchange” for the gift of eternal life.

Exchange is defined this way in the dictionary: To give up (something) for something else; to part with for some equivalent, change for another. Barter: to exchange goods….

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.

During my on line debates with Nathan Busenitz (Dr. MacArthur's personal assiatant) he wrote,
In fact, John MacArthur flatly denounces any type of ‘barter’ salvation. In chapter 13 of The Gospel According to Jesus, John explains: ‘We need to understand that this [the lordship view] does not mean that we barter for eternal life. We do not buy salvation by surrendering our lives
.’”Dr. MacArthur contradicts himself. He denounces what he says is necessary for conversion. He demands the sinner make promises for obedient Christian living in “exchange” for the free gift of God. Dr. MacArthur says “a full exchange of self for the Savior” is the response Jesus calls for, without which man cannot be saved. Yet he says, “We do not buy salvation by surrendering our lives.” Later we are going to see that John MacArthur does indeed put a price on the reception of salvation.

Lordship Salvation is a system that demands an exchange, and this is bartering. When man is told he must do or even promise to become something to receive God’s free gift of eternal life, it is no longer free, and it immediately ceases to be the gospel. The Lordship interpretation of the Gospel is a man centered message that frustrates grace (Gal. 2:21).

Any system that says man must offer something to God in “exchange” for eternal life becomes a works based message and corrupts the simplicity that is in Christ. Lordship Salvation frontloads faith with a necessary promise for the “good works” (Eph. 2:10) of the believer in “exchange” for salvation.

Dr. MacArthur wrote,
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
. (The Gospel According to Jesus, p. 140.)Earlier Nathan referred us to Dr. MacArthur saying, “We do not buy salvation by surrendering our lives.” Here we read salvation can only be attained (purchased) by paying the “ultimate price” of “full surrender.” To imply that receiving the free gift of God requires that man “pay the ultimate price” is a gospel of faith plus works! There is no doubt that Lordship Salvation, according to John MacArthur, is a barter system, an “exchange” of what man must offer Christ to receive His free gift of salvation.

You can call it submission or allegiance; but an “exchange” for salvation is trying to merit what cannot be earned. No upfront promise for “allegiance” or godly Christian living brings a lost man any nearer to Heaven than keeping the Law!
Disconnect from your mind that any offer of surrender, even the desire to pay the high price of discipleship, will open the gates of Heaven. If man comes to the Savior seeking salvation and forgiveness of sin, he better come with empty hands and an open heart, because that is all he has. Man has nothing to offer, nothing to bring in 'exchange.' If there is a price to pay it is infinite and man cannot afford it. He is hopeless, helpless, and Hell-bound! When through the ministry of the Holy Spirit and God’s Word he sees himself in that condition and recognizes Jesus Christ as his only hope for salvation he is ready to be born again. Once that man (biblically) repents and places his faith in the finished work of Christ he is born into the family of God
.” (In Defense of the Gospel, pp. 234-235.)


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. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him,” (2 Corinthians 11:3-4.)