October 28, 2021

Archival Series: Summary of Lordship Salvation From a Single Page

In each of the three editions of Dr. John MacArthur’s The Gospel According to Jesus there is a single page that summarizes one of the most egregious errors of the Lordship Salvation interpretation of the Gospel.

The page I refer to appears in the original and revised versions (pp. 218 and 252 respectively). In the 20th Anniversary edition, you will turn to page 250 and read,

One of the most comprehensive invitations to salvation in all the epistles comes in James 4:7-10... The invitation in 4:7-10 is directed at those who are not saved...
This is the passage Dr. MacArthur refers to as an “invitation to salvation.”

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up,” (James 4:7-10).
At this point I want to remind my readers that the crux of the Lordship Salvation controversy is with the requirement for salvation, NOT what should be the natural results of a genuine conversion. In this section on the James passage John MacArthur is making his application to, “those who are not saved.”

Is the epistle of James, “
directed at those who are not saved?” The epistle begins, “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting. My brethren, count it all joy…,” (James 1:1-2). “Brethren” appears approximately 190 times in the New Testament, and when does appear it is used almost exclusively in reference to born again Christians.

Dr. MacArthur views the carnality that James addresses as though it proves these “
brethren,” were never saved in the first place. He views them as “sinners…unregenerate…in desperate need of God’s (saving) grace.” MacArthur’s answer to the problem is that they need to be born again. He goes on to delineate what he believes are the ten “imperatives” for the reception of eternal life. The saving message to “sinners,” the “unregenerate,” according to MacArthur is,
...submit yourself to God (salvation); resist the devil (transferring allegiance); draw near to God (intimacy of relationship); cleanse your hands (repentance); purify your hearts (confession); be miserable, mourn, weep and let your laughter and joy be turned to gloom (sorrow). The final imperative summarizes the mentality of those who are converted: ‘Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord’.”
If MacArthur’s statement was shared as instruction to Christians on how they should live wisely as born again disciples of Jesus Christ that would be a fair application of what he wrote. He is, however, stating what he believes are the necessary conditions of saving faith that results in a lost man becoming a Christian.

What we have in this single page (250) of
The Gospel According to Jesus is the Lordship’s classic error of failing to distinguish between the doctrines of salvation and discipleship. Lordship Salvation frontloads faith with commitment to the “good works” (Eph. 2:10) one would expect of a mature born again Christian.

Do we find salvation by the grace of God through faith in Christ (
Eph. 2:8-9) anywhere in James 4:7-10? No, we do not, because James is addressing “brethren” some of whom behaved as “carnal” Christians.

The example from page 250 of
The Gospel According to Jesus typifies and exemplifies the error of Lordship Salvation. The crux of the Lordship controversy is contained in the three paragraphs of that single page. That one page is all one needs to know about John MacArthur’s Lordship Salvation to realize he has changed the terms of the Gospel into a non-saving, man-centered message that corrupts the simplicity that is in Christ (2 Cor. 11:3) and frustrates the grace of God.

I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain,” (Gal. 2:21).


Site Publisher Addendum (01/02/14): 
This article has been among the top three most read and recommended articles since 2008. We must never forget that Lordship Salvation (LS) is an egregious error and assault on the Gospel of grace. LS must be exposed, refuted and its advocates marked so that they may be avoided (Rom. 16:17-18).

For additional reading on the Lordship Salvation interpretation of the Gospel please proceed to any of the following articles.

John MacArthur’s Discipleship Gospel

How Does the Lordship Advocate Define Repentance?

Lordship’s “Turn from Sin” FOR Salvation

Can God Given Faith Be Defective?

Is Lordship Salvation a "Barter" System?

John MacArthur’s Mandatory Performance Guidelines for “Lordship” Salvation

Ominous Signs of Lordship’s Coming Storm

An Example of Lordship’s Man-Centered Message

October 11, 2021

Dr. Ernest Pickering, “The Separatist Cause is Not Advanced by Featuring Non-Separatists

On Tuesday, February 8 [2011] the pseudo-fundamentalist Sharper Iron1 (SI) site posted an excerpt from Dr. Ernest Pickering’s Biblical Separation: The Struggle for a Pure Church. The excerpt was submitted by Brother Kevin Mungons of Baptist Bulletin and Regular Baptist Press. In his introductory remarks Mungons wrote,

Several bloggers have recently addressed the subject of separation, suggesting that current leaders such as Kevin Bauder, Dave Doran, and Tim Jordan are moving to a position that contradicts the teaching of an earlier generation of fundamentalists…. Disappointed with the rough-and-tumble disagreements of his era, Pickering concluded his seminal Biblical Separation with a critique of fundamentalism’s well-documented foibles—advice that would have saved us a lot of grief, had we listened. A portion of the book’s conclusion follows.” (bold added)
We can all appreciate the outstanding teaching within the pages of Dr. Pickering’s Biblical Separation: The Struggle for a Pure Church. Sharper Iron did not include any portion from Dr. Pickering’s classic that speaks plainly to the efforts of Drs. Kevin Bauder, Dave Doran, Tim Jordan and Matt Olson to embrace, feature and cooperate with non-separatist evangelicals. Dr. Pickering’s advice to them would have saved us a lot of grief, had they listened.

Today we will consider whether or not certain present day Fundamentalists, who claim a heritage in and militancy to authentic biblical separatism, are acting contrary to the teaching of and have drifted from the moorings that Dr. Pickering defined for biblical separation. Following is a timely subsection from Biblical Separation that addresses an application of authentic biblical separation.  The subsection is titled, Whom to Invite to Your Platform.
“Some leaders operate on the principle that they will use speakers who are well-known even though they may be shaky in their convictions in some areas-because they have special abilities that are helpful and thus can be a blessing to their congregations. The wisdom, however, of following this course of action is very doubtful. For instance, the president of a separatist school may be asked to consider using some outstanding Bible preacher in his chapel or Bible conference. The man may have expertise in the Scriptures, be fundamental in doctrine and possess a tremendous gift of communication. He may also be one who goes everywhere, evidencing little discernment in the choice of places he ministers, speaking one week at the separatist college and perhaps the next at a Bible conference controlled by new evangelicals or their sympathizers. Some see no harm in using such a man. They look only at the messages he delivers from the platform which, in themselves, may be without fault.

But a man is more than his pulpit message. He brings to the pulpit a lifetime of associations, actions and perhaps writings. He comes as a total person. Is he in his total ministry the type of person you would want the young people at the separatist college to emulate? Perhaps you, as an adult, mature believer, could make the necessary adjustments in thinking and divorce what he is from what he says. Most of the youth would not be able to do that. The same would be true of most church members. They would be influenced by the man’s example as well as by his preaching. If he is a compromiser, his example would be harmful, and the college president would be at fault for setting him up as such. The separatist cause is not advanced by featuring non-separatists.” (Biblical Separation: The Struggle for a Pure Church, Implementing Separatist Convictions, Whom to Invite to Your Platform, p. 229.)
This week Dave Doran and Kevin Bauder have joined non-separatist SBC pastor Dr. Mark Dever on the platform with Tim Jordan at the Calvary Baptist Seminary, Lansdale (CBS) Leadership Conference. They are sharing the platform with Dr. Dever and working in a cooperative ministry effort with him. Mark Dever is an SBC pastor, teaches at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, which is a leading institution for New-Evangelical compromise and the home of the Ockenga Institute2 and he sits on the board of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (home of the Billy Graham School of Evangelism & World Missions).

Mark Dever brings to the platform with him, amillenialism. Additionally, he brings all of the baggage of the Southern Baptist Convention with him to the platform. Knowing all of this CBS invited Dever to their platform. This week, without reservation or seeing any need to justify speaking there, Dave Doran and Kevin Bauder happily share the platform with the man who brings that baggage with him to it. Is this the manner of biblical separation that Dr. Pickering taught or practiced?

In 2010 Dave Doran and Matt Olson featured non-separatist evangelicals in their church, seminary and college pulpits.3 From 1979 Dr. Pickering warned against compromise and fellowship with non-separatists.
The separatist cause is not advanced by featuring non-separatists.”
Words fitly spoken to men and SI, who are reaching out to and advancing the cause of non-separatist so-called “conservative” evangelicals. Convicting words from a Fundamentalist on the principles and application of authentic biblical separation. We see men who would be accommodating rather than militant, appeasers rather than separatists, unifiers at the expense of fidelity to the doctrine. Dr. Pickering’s commentary clearly reveal Kevin Bauder, Dave Doran, Tim Jordan and Matt Olson practice that which is antithetical to his teaching on a specific application of separation- platform fellowship. They have moved to a position that contradicts the teaching of an earlier generation of Fundamentalists, Dr. Ernest Pickering in particular.

In recent days Dave Doran wrote very clear, unambiguous statements indicating what would constitute for him grounds to withhold fellowship from brethren. These are documented in The RAP on Mark Dever series.4 However, when faced with Dever’s obvious crossing the boundary that Doran set for himself, it is as if he (Doran) suddenly developed amnesia. He refuses to apply his own principles for separation. This begins to make one wonder why believe what Dave Doran writes or says about separatism, when his being at Lansdale with Mark Dever this week confirms that he personally ignores what he writes/says about separation. I see Dave Doran (as well as Bauder, Olson, Jordan) moving his fellowship increasingly toward non-separatists. I see a pattern of selective application of the timeless principles.
There is a disconnect between what Dave Doran writes on separation and what he does in practice.
Alleged separatists in IFB circles will keep walking the pathway of compromise. They are on this winding road to have their fellowship with non-separatist evangelicals. They are on the same slippery slope that men like Jerry Falwell chose years ago. They must believe they can succeed where Falwell, and many other lesser known who took the same steps, failed. They are headed, by choice, in that direction. Just like Falwell, van Impe, et.al., they are going to wind up in some kind of tragic “theological wasteland.”

What does Dr. Ernest Pickering say to men who claim to be separatists and unchanged in separatist convictions, who are increasingly featuring and cooperating in ministry with non-separatist evangelicals?
The separatist cause is not advanced by featuring non separatists.”
Dr. Pickering’s message from Biblical Separation is clear. The actions of Bauder, Doran, Olson and Jordan to embrace, feature and converge with non-separatist evangelicals demonstrates movement away from and what is contradictory to the teaching of earlier fundamentalists, in particular Dr. Ernest Pickering.

There is still time for the evangelicals’ apologists, who still circulate in Fundamental circles, to listen to Dr. Pickering’s advice and to heed his admonitions for biblical separation for the sake of a pure church. Lord willing these self-described biblical separatists, some who claim to be unchanged militant separatists, will rethink the direction they are headed toward and cease from influencing impressionable young people to follow them into compromise with so-called “conservative” evangelicals.

With the prayers and admonition of God’s people those men might be recovered and reverse course before much longer. I am hopeful they will one day repent and invest the balance of their lives undoing the damage they are presently doing to authentic biblical separatism. The kind of militant, consistent, balanced separatism that Dr. Ernest Pickering defined in Biblical Separation: The Struggle for a Pure Church.

Originally published February 2011.

Site Publisher Addendum:
In the next we will excerpt portions from another of Dr. Ernest Pickering’s works. In that article we will once again recognize certain men in IFB circles are acting in ways that undeniably “contradicts the teaching of an earlier generation of fundamentalists.”

1) For various discussions in regard to SI please visit, Sharper Iron: In the Iron Skillet

2) The Ockenga Institute in honor of early new evangelical leader Dr. Harold J. Ockenga (1905-1985) a founder and the first president of Gordon-Conwell, member of the board of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. This new evangelical inspired Gordon-Conwell is where Mark Dever chooses to teach and cooperate.

3) In 2010 Dave Doran hosted in his seminary or church pulpit Michael Vlach, Conrad Mbewe and Bryan Ferrell. Matt Olson at NIU hosted non-separatists Rick Holland, Wayne Simien and will feature another non-separatist SBC theologian, Bruce Ware, in a summer module.

4) The RAP on Mark Dever, Part 1

Related Reading:
Dead Man's Curve

Dr. Rick Arrowood: Answering Questions About the Changes We Are Seeing in Fundamentalism

1994 & 1995 FBFI Resolutions: Southern Baptist Convention
Those who call for cooperation in pulpit ministries between Fundamentalists and Southern Baptists either misread the nature of the conservative movement in the Convention, or themselves have compromised the cause of Biblical separation.” (Dave Doran, 1994).

…we [Doran, Olson, Jordan] do not see how independent fundamental Baptists can make common cause with Southern Baptists.” (Dave Doran, Tim Jordan, Matt Olson, 1995).
Is NIU “Unchanged?” NBBC Position Statement on Issues in Contemporary Christianity

Kevin Bauder: It Won’t Fly With Those of Us Who Know

NIU’s Convergence With Evangelicalism: What Does it Mean for Impressionable Students?

Kevin Bauder & Dave Doran to Join Mark Dever at Lansdale: Is This a Fundamentalism Worth Saving?