Monday, December 25, 2006

The issue of Lordship Salvation.

The issue of Lordship Salvation.

(Update: In regards to Steve's comment I did a bit more poking around about JM's view on this issue. I am not intending to misrepresent his view, rather voice a concern where one can take the idea that one must "become a disciple" in order to be saved and make it about works. I do not think one has to have a full understanding of the Gospel to be saved. In one place John does acknowledge this also. I fully understand John's concern over "cheap grace" yet; I think still that those who are Called will grow as God grows them... and in that they will become disciples. I do think he is not too far off the mark, yet it seems there is a need to clarify this position. Mostly in his recent critique of the emerging conversation John seems to accuse the EC of “cheap grace” and to my knowledge this is not so... in fact I see the opposite as many are moved by God's grace and mercy to go and do the ministry and vocation that Jesus has passed on to us to do. I have read that John may have a different definition of Grace than some do; I have not found that to be true though I am looking deeper. I have found he has a broader definition of Grace meaning that it is fleshed out more than “unmerited favor” and in that I fully agree.)

It does not allow for salvation to be a process in a (pre Christian's) person’s life.

I was thinking about that. John MacArthur wants someone to fully understand Who Jesus is before they believe in Him… That is a bit absurd as it then assumes that that we must know God and that saves us, but the Bible teachs that God knows us and in that we are saved! (Gal 4:9) John flips the Biblical understanding of salvation on its head. It seems to assume from the start that man is the initiator instead of the responder of God’s Grace. John asserts that one must do works to show they are saved… so he has added works to salvation. Though works are a result of our salvation it seems that John places equal for salvation, man’s works and God’s Grace… which without realizing it nullifies God’s Grace. Though John is trying to design a way for God’s process to flow… I personally think God already does a great job without John’s help!

Really this explains a lot as far as the perspective of John MacArthur. He seems to be in fear of God being in control and in a way has created a system to control God to assure one’s own salvation outside of or beside Grace alone. John seems to be well outside the great reformers.

In John’s world works assure salvation. In the Bible works are an outflow of Christ in us fulfilling His great will and purpose. (Philippians 2: 12- 13)

Let’s look at that verse a bit.

“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed--not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence--continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.”

First this verse is about believers… who have obey the words of Christ… and what were those words? John 6:28-29 Then they asked him, "What must we do to do the works God requires?" Jesus answered, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent."

The one thing that we are to do as believers is to believe in Jesus as the One God sent! In that come the whole package of High Priest/King/Brother/Friend… the whole kit and caboodle! One cannot accept Jesus the Person without accepting all He is… though one may not know all that He is… I am a husband/father/blogger, yet if you decided to be my friend and did not know one of these things about me you would still be my friend… nor will I reject you as my friend if you did not know I was a father…and that is where one must be in relationship with Jesus to get to know Jesusand in getting to know Jesus one begins to know the Father Who sent Him… Just as you would take time and by a process get to know me as a friend, Jesus desires that of us!

Now back to the verse a bit more. Once one obeys the words of Christ… to believe He is the One sent, one must realize it is not that we are one person at church or with our “churchy” friends and a different person away from them… we come to realize that Christ is in us always… He is not more present at a church building… though I may argue a bit about Jesus being more present in a corporal setting as we fellowship and worship with other believers… yet the fact remains, we are in Christ and He in us alone or with others.

Salvation is something we are working through… it is a troubling and fearful process… as one realizes not that one may lose salvation if one is lacking in the “disciplines” rather fearful that it is not we who are doing the works that come out of our salvation process… rather it is God working in us. In that we should tremble as the God of all creation chooses to use us to love others into the Kingdom of God! It is God Who is giving us the will to do His works and the power to DO those works. To think one has a hand even in God’s works loses sight of what God is truly doing… we are partakers of the Divine mission… but we are not the initiators of that mission… otherwise it is our works and not Gods. Then the process breaks down and Jesus is not doing the works… and worse, Jesus is then not Lord… of your life or that situation. (Jesus still is, but it then moves to the area of “discipline” and that is not of punishment rather it is of training the true believer to readjust their will and purpose to God’s calling on their life.)

1 Cor 6: 19 – 20 tells us: “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.”

So many think it is that “we” do the works of Christ… and that is pure rubbish and a twisting of scripture to a man based faith. But yet it is taught throughout the churches. We are not our own… God owns us… whether we bent a knee or not… but it is the Christian that has come to realize this as their very Life. The Holy Spirit dwells in us as He did in the Tabernacle and the Temple of the Old Testament. And like that we walk in hole reverence of the fact we are set apart… on a personal level just like the Abraham was and the Hebrews were and Israel still is… for in fact we are the New Israel redeemed with our future secure, and borrowing as it were from that future glory to shine it’s very Light here now in this darkened world.

WE often forget that God has been at work all these 2000 years… even in the dark ages man has been having an encounter with the Living Risen Christ. Often we tend to brush of points of history and deny that. God was just as much at work in the people pre Martin Luther as He was after Martin Luther. God saved those people the same way as He does today… by Grace through faith… even if they did not fully grasp that! For to say otherwise denies Grace!

God is in the saving business and as history goes on, we are still building on the foundation that was laid and that being Christ Jesus Himself. We must remember that the future of salvations conclusion is rushing at us in the now… and even in the past this was still the case. N.T. Wright states it like two trains one moving toward the New Creation and one move from the New Creation to the present and in where they meet we have communion with God. This was in reference to the Eucharist, yet I see it fits also the case that many miss the point we are New Creators in Christ now doing HIS WORKS of salvation in and through us… In other words, works are not of us… anymore than Grace can be mustered out of sheer will power to save us.

John’s version misses that point and then builds something more horrific over that foundation… a gospel of works salvation based on human reasoning. John places man’s understanding as the way of salvation… this cuts across the very vein of scriptures teaching as Peter was told by Jesus that it was revealed to Peter by the Father that Jesus was the Messiah… (Matt 16: 16) for in the very next verse Jesus shows how salvation comes… not by human reasoning, or by even scripture… as I am sure Peter read the OT many times, for Jesus teaches this in verse 17:

“Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.”

Who Jesus is revealed by the Father!

This is faith in action. Right there… with Peter “seeing” Jesus because the Father in Heaven revealed it to Peter. Peter in his heart… received the Seed of Christ at that moment and saw Who Jesus was. Yet, in the next few verses we see that Peter did not know what Jesus was going t have to do. In fact Peter tries to talk Jesus out of it!

It is a process… Peter was loved and was on the road to salvation even without knowing all there was to know about Jesus and all the mission Jesus had to do and held in store for Peter and the other disciples to do.

Lordship Salvation is a bit silly to me as in the end ALL WILL BEND A KNEE and confess JESUS CHRIST IS LORD! Yet, not all of those will go into the Kingdom… in fact many of those will be cast into the Lake of Fire. (Rom 14:11)

So build on the foundation of Jesus… and that be by letting Him be the Master Builder, let Jesus be the Author and Finisher of your faith! (Hebrews 12:2) To think you can finish by doing the works of Jesus yourself is only deceiving yourself. Especially if you think work are the way to prove you are saved… The proof is in Who knows you and Who is doing those great and wonderful works… John seems to think that God's way is not good enough and that in some twisted version of "faith", "grace" and "works", we can "help" God! I will stay to what the Bible teaches...

Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen


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David Douglass said...

You make some very good points. The work of salvation is God's work and not mans. However God does limit himself and follows man in man's sin waiting on man to attempt to approach him. Man is given a chance to comprehend God's truth concerning him as God sees him. God doesn't force man to choose Himself, but provides everything needed to turn from man's own thinking on God, to stop, wait and call on God to assist him in knowing God God's way.

You post the passage of Peter's event with Jesus which states Jesus reaction to Peter's proclamation of Jesus identity as Messiah, Son of God. It should be noted that the method of God the Father revealling this truth to Peter was through the Son, the Logos, the intellect of God in the flesh. God as a man speaking with man in man's environement of sin. It should also be noted that Peter was always first in line to reason with what Jesus presented for them to reason with. This took time, years, and many failed attempts by Peter.

Hey did I say nice blog ? Nice work here, I would like to invite you to my place on the web, at , you might find some thought provocation there.

iggy said...


I am not saying you are wrong on saying Jesus was God's intellect or logic made flesh... I agree with that yet see He was/is so much more...

Logos is more like the word "conversation" in that it can be a "word" as in "can I have a word with you" or it can be "words" as in "as we spoke the words made sense." Both carry as you say "logic and reason" yet this/these Word/words are Jesus and from Jesus and as we are taught, Jesus is full of Grace and Truth...

Grace is most probably closest to what we experience as emotions... So in a way, Grace is quite literally God's "feelings" or emotions about us... His expressed Love in action.

Peter received the revelation from the Father concerning Jesus... and as you said, Jesus reasoned with Peter as human... face to face... yet in an instant... or as we might say, a sudden insight came over Peter... and he realized Who Jesus was... Peter only then began to reason it out.

We must be careful not to place too much emphasis on logic and reason as it is too easy to start depending on ourselves... that does not mean through it out... it means keep it in proper perspective... yet we also must not through out revelational knowledge... this knowledge that does not originate with or from ourselves. Otherwise we are only responding to our own logic and reason and not God's Grace... or Truth... which are in and literally are the Person of Jesus.


iggy said...


I forgot to ask if you are the same Douglas who is on the guitarist/worship forum I am on...

Also, I got so caught up in my "answering" you I forgot to thank you for you comments and I ahve and will check out your site a bit more...


Steve said...

Hi iggy,

You are misrepresenting John MacArthur here. John is very clear and very specific in articulating what salvation is and isn’t (Ever seen his doctrinal statement?). This post is far from his preaching and writings.

Be careful, brother, that you don’t discredit yourself when you are trying to discredit someone else.

John would agree with much of what you are writing and would wonder who this straw-man is you have set up and knocked down.


iggy said...


I am not attempting to discredit John... I just disagree with him. On many levels.

The main point is this... I never once said his view of salvation was wrong... I said the view that one must accept Jesus "as Lord" denies that God works in people’s lives even before they come to believe. It implies that Jesus only starts saving people if they accept the title that Jesus is "Lord". I see that in accepting the person of Jesus, it all comes in one package. I see this is separating the Person and title and placing the title above Jesus the Person.

John is the one who is mischaracterizing others and slandering and judging... John did this with his book Charismatic Chaos and has again with his newest book and recent attacks on Brian McLaren on John’s blog.

My point of disagreement may be on a misunderstanding of John’s view (I only remember listening to his teaching for a time and realizing he was often saying I was not saved because I believe in the gifts of the Spirit (I speak in tongues) so I stopped listening, yet as I have been the attack end by McArthurites they really lack the “Grace to You” that they hold so dear. I have not felt this grace nor seen it from them.


iggy said...

BTW Steve,

Please don't take that I am offended at your comments... I am not.

I just read John MacArthur (noticed i spelled his name wrong... not on purpose) And it seems that he and I agree on a lot of things, though I think he needs to flesh out his view on justification a bit more... but I am just reading his statement of faith...Yet, I am constantly called a heretic by MacArthurites... And that baffles me!

Yet, it does seem that as I have studied this out, and i will post more that this specific "LS" goes a bit too far as far as grace/works... that it in a sense nullifies each other out.

Again, I have more to say and will point to others where I am getting my understanding from. Again, this is a debate that has gone on for years around John MacArthur... and as i encounter more of his followers, I am not impressed with their use of Grace on one side of their mouth and the abuse of scripture to bash someone and try to ruin their ministry and assassinate their character. That to me is very un-Christ like. I have found though that many churches have “statements of faith” yet often teach things outside their own statements… and I suspect that this is the case as how John writes against others seems so outside of Grace and even as he is attempting to discredit Brian McLaren, unbiblical… Has he asked Brian to a sit down and go over his critiques? I suspect not… isn’t that what we are to do if we suspect a brother is in sin? Should we also approach them with humility and grace as if we too could fall into such a sin? I do not see this in John’s attitude or books. In fact on one post I read John wrote against Mark Driscoll and questioned if he was saved because of his “language”… I wrote that by doing that John discredited Martin Luther also as Luther was know for some colorful scatological flavored language…

So, how am I to reconcile that I agree with Mac (one most of his statements of faith) and yet am called a heretic by his followers? Any suggestions? LOL!


Steve said...

Hi iggy,

I tend to be a part of the crowd that is pro John MacArthur. Yet, within this crowd, there is a reaction to how strongly he writes certain things.

In his writings about the charismatic church, he seemed to use extreme illustrations. And the same could be said about his writings about seeker sensitive churches.

While such extreme illustrations might be true, they were not true for the average charismatic church or seeker sensitive church.

I have wondered if the same approach is being used in his book about the Emergent Church. I hope not.

I know the forthcoming book was well researched. And I know there was a private meeting between Brain and a prominent evangelical leader that didn’t go well. The meeting was designed to unite and heal, but it did the opposite.

John MacArthur is a lightning rod for debate. He speaks soooo strongly about issues. Several others could have written this upcoming book and there wouldn’t be such an uproar, but because John MacArthur wrote it, the fur starts to fly.

As for the Lordship controversy. Most people get lost in the terminology Zane Hodges and John MacArthur use. At one level the debate is very basic, at another level the debate gets thick and complicated. (By the way, John MacArthur’s books are synonymous with his church’s and his college’s and his seminary’s statements of faith. What he writes and teaches in one place are identical in other places. He is amazingly exacting and consistent.) I understand the basic debate, but the ongoing complicated debate seems to be splitting a lot of hairs.

Several years ago when Charles Colson got himself in hot water for his theological positions, there were several meetings with a good number of prominent leaders to talk things through. All the cards were put on the table and those involved worked hard to agree on essentials and give grace to non-essentials. I wish the same thing would happen between the evangelical leaders and the emergent leaders. It would save people like you and I a lot of grief.

iggy said...


I too am praying for a more godily display yet, as you pointed out John is strong on the rhetoric (my interpretation of your words).

I have been part of the EC for about 3 years and so much that is thrown at us is plain manure.

There is to be discussion over theology and that is great, in fact that is what Brian has done more than any others... he has brought the ivory tower debates to the common man. This is monumental as was the Guttenburg Bible and the Reformation... (which i think is still in process). In all I see it has reopened a door to many to find Jesus in an age that is very unaccepting of the "institution" as it may be... gov't or religious.

I think so much is being wasted on false accusations and misuderstandings and it is embarressing as I witness those non believers see this fighting. How can they see Christ?

Thank you for your comments and i ask that you pray as i am and as many are on boths sides (I hope... I know we are) that Christ be glorified in this some way...

I hope you appreciate the changes I made... I was depending on Ryrie(sp) a lot... and as I dug deeper I realized Ryrie did what John is now doing to Brian... and it was a bit saddening in many ways.


Lou Martuneac said...


I am not familiar with you. I found your blog in a Google search.

You may not know me, but I have written a book on and debated the Lordship position.

Please check my blog site. You may some elements in it helpful.

Lou Martuneac

iggy said...


I just keep seeing JM saying things like:

“So please understand that I do not believe that you are saved by your works. But I believe God can look at your works as the objective proof that you have been saved. And He will look at your works and see the pattern of righteousness, not just relative human goodness, but true righteousness born of a love for God. And He will also see that your name is written in the Book. Subjectively and objectively, you belong to His kingdom. That's the issue.”

It sounds good but really look... he misses that it is "God that work His will and Purpose in us" John keeps saying it is "your works" and fromjudging "your works" God "will will also see that your name is written in the Book. Subjectively and objectively, you belong to His kingdom. That's the issue.”

I keep saying the issue is the denial that it if we are doing "our works" we are not "in Christ" and we are building our own kingdom and not Gods. John has turned works on it's head and instead of works being God's they are ours...

I view "works" as i do Grace... not of us, but from God... who works His perfect will and purpose in and through us. It is all of God and none of us... that the "works" that stand and then allow our name to be in the book of life our God's done in and through us... so we can't boast and God receives all the Glory... to switch it around only will lead on to say, "Lord, didn't I do (fill in the blank) for you?" Which He will respond, "I never knew you!"

It is better to build on the foundation of Christ... by the Holy Spirit than to build with our own works on that same foundation... for I believe one will still be saved, but see all they have done amount to nothing...

I did check out your blog... and I will look more at it as i have time but it is interesting.


iggy said...


BTW I am not related to Bob Shelton that i know of...

Just share the same last name.