Friday, December 29, 2006

More on Lordship Salvation

More on Lordship Salvation

I want to make sure it is understood I am not out to "get" John MacArthur or to discredit him on a personal level. I do not know him so I cannot honestly say one way or the other that John is this or that...

I am critiquing his teaching of Lordship Salvation... Which to me seems to miss some basic teachings of scripture ever so subtly. I do think John is true believer and unlike many out of the “MacArthurite” camp I am not stating he is a heretic/false teacher/not saved or whatever else that is often thrown at the "emerging church/emerging conversation".

Over all I see john as a faithful teacher who at times becomes over zealous and often overlooks that Grace and mercy mixed with humility, respect and gentleness will do more than hot rhetoric.. Alas I too often fail in that area and so must "administer” grace and mercy to John... I also see believe that one can critique another’s theology and ideas without malice and taking an active stance to discredit or harm that person.

One of the basic issues I see is that as someone recently railed against me about, "no true follower of John MacArthur would believe..." showed one of the first fatal mistakes we can do in general as Christians... and that is follow a man. Any man, not just John... but say Billy Graham, the Pope, the Bishop of Durham, and/or Brain McLaren... We are not called to follow a man, but we are called to follow Jesus. I suggest that if one is following a man, then you are not behind the One who can save you. This is one deception that can mess one's spiritual life up badly.

In an article on Biblical Discernments Ministries which is pro MacArthur, the author of the article states:

“Those who reject lordship salvation (e.g., Ryrie), believe that someone may have genuine faith in Christ, but the fact that he continues in his sin demonstrates that he has not made Jesus his Lord, only his Savior. According to Ryrie, just because someone sins or acts in disobedience (even habitually) doesn't mean he doesn't have saving faith.

But the issue is not whether we sin or not; the issue is our attitude toward our sin. And this is where MacArthur is careful to point out that it is willful rejection of Christ's Lordship that proves one's confession of faith not valid.”

First off if one does not know as I did not, Ryrie is trying to refute LS, yet I do think in this attempt he misses the mark also. So I am not taking one side over the other. It is in the second paragraph that I see the issue I have with the view of Lordship Salvation.

What is the issue to me is that if one “willful rejection of Christ's Lordship that proves one's confession of faith not valid” then they simply are not a follower of Jesus and are not saved or at best a very immature believer who has not grown to their understanding, yet it is impossible for one to be saved and possess a faith in Christ… where Go does not grow them in their faith… (1 Corinthians 3:5-7) For it is God that makes things grow… this is not anything we produce ourselves.

We are saved by grace through faith and not of works… that is one of the foundations of the Christian faith. To accept Jesus as savior, in itself is a response to that Grace and in what faith is… a response. So in the end one is only saying that “believing” is not enough to save in itself (which JM whole heartily will agree and aggressively fight for as he should), yet the proof of accepting Jesus the Person is in the out flowing of His works that are done in and through us. The issue is outside of this, one may not be saved if they are trying to do the works to be a workman approved. They are being deceived into believing their works of righteousness are their own.

The very idea of “submissive obedience” run contrary to the scripture also as it implies one is the producer of the works… and we are not as I have already said.

Again from the same article:

“"The gospel Jesus proclaimed was a call to discipleship, a call to follow Him in submissive obedience, not just a plea to make a decision or pray a prayer. Jesus' message liberated people from the bondage of their sin while it confronted and condemned hypocrisy. It was an offer of eternal life and forgiveness for repentant sinners, but at the same time it was a rebuke to outwardly religious people whose lives were devoid of true righteousness. It put sinners on notice that they must turn from sin and embrace God's righteousness. It was in every sense good news, yet it was anything but easy-believism" (p. 21, GATJ).”

Jesus calls us to something deeper than what John is settling for here… Jesus is calling us into intimacy in Him… We are not just “submissive obedient” followers of Jesus but now are as he called us, His friends and even richer, His brothers! So as Jesus walked the earth in obedience we now walk in His obedience and not our own. (Roman 5:19)

We again deceive ourselves thinking we can now be as obedient as Jesus… and are denying Christ’s very righteousness in not walking in His obedience which is the only obedience that is acceptable to God.

The result of LS is that people become concerned with their “works” or “fruit” and live in fear of not being acceptable to God.

In an article by Frank Minirth, M.D., he goes into the damage LS can cause in a person’s life. Worse than this one of the effects that I have personally witnessed and been a victim of is that many become more concerned with other’s “works” and “fruit” and use their won as the standard to judge others. All one has to do is look at SOL and AM and see what I mean.

This also leads one to believe their “works” are scoring points with God. Or as one person expressed to me “You should come to Nashville and do ministry here” as he put down my ministry. While saying that he was directly implying that his “works” were greater than mine! Again, he was judging my by “his” works righteousness” and not realizing God is doing His works in and through me also. The standard was not the righteousness of Christ, but some standard he had imposed on himself and then was imposing on others.

The end result of Lordship Salvation is that it does not trust that the Holy Spirit is at work in the pre-believer as well as the believer. Instead of being a natural out flow of the Holy Spirit saving some one in His process, LS demands obedience to works… not Jesus and then offers them to God as some sort of sacrifice… the issue is the same as in Cain and Able. God does not care for “our works”, He desires His will and purpose to be done in and trough us.

A true believe will find that this is in no way “easy-believism”. It is THE NARROW PATH and can only be done as we totally depend on the Father through the Holy Spirit by the sacrifice and LIFE of Jesus.

My motto is this:

Let He Who gave His Life for you, give His LIFE to you, to LIVE HIS LIFE through you.


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Steve said...

Hi iggy,

This paragraph...

"The end result of Lordship Salvation is that it does not trust that the Holy Spirit is at work in the pre-believer as well as the believer. Instead of being a natural out flow of the Holy Spirit saving some one in His process, LS demands obedience to works… not Jesus and then offers them to God as some sort of sacrifice… the issue is the same as in Cain and Able. God does not care for “our works”, He desires His will and purpose to be done in and trough us."

...doesn't represent John MacArthur's writing on Lordship salvation. He is very clear that works does not earn or merit anything.

And the Frank Minirth article is far from what John MacArthur writes. It is a distortion.

iggy, read his two books on the subject. Do John MacArthur the same favor people wish critics of the emergent church would do. Read the authors own words. Then take him to task.


iggy said...


I seem to be experiencing section 7 of the Minirth article... from the ones who follow John's teachings...

The issue is that John is adding works as proof that one is saved… at least that is how people are taking what he is saying…

Here is a quote from JM

“I do believe (now listen carefully) that works "reveal" our eternal fate. I do not believe they "determine" it. What determines it is our faith in Jesus Christ, but what proves that, that in fact has been determined is the evidence in our life. Now, I said it last time and I will say it again, the cause of salvation is faith in Jesus Christ plus nothing (no works). But the consequence of that is works.”

He goes on to say:

“You see, the point is this, works do not determine your salvation--they just manifest that you really were saved. Do you see the point? So that when God judges men He will judge them on the basis of their deeds, because their deeds will manifest whether, in fact, they are regenerate or not. That's the issue. I do not believe in works salvation, neither do I believe in a salvation that has no works that follow it. I mean, we have a lot of people in that boat.”

This is very different from the walking in the Obedience of Christ this is about “their deed” not “Christ working” is perfect will and purpose in one’s life.

John uses fear to try to keep people in line:

“Now some people are tough to figure out, because it is possible for a Christian to fall into a lapse of disobedience. And it is even possible for a Christian to fall into a lapse of disobedience and never come out of it because the Lord takes him home. Right? Some of the Corinthians died in the middle of their disobedience. Ananias and Sapphria were snuffed that fast, right in front of the whole Church, and you know what the word was, "Don't join that organization--one false move and your dead!" I mean, "You better be serious about that bunch." And that was just after they had given the biggest offering of their life. The problem was they told God they were going to give it all and they didn't. Don't make promises to God that you don't want to keep. I mean, we don't want to haul people out.”

He continues to say it is about our works… and never says it is God’s…

“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.”

Contrast this human based works to the Bible.

Romans 4: 1-5
What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter? If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about--but not before God. What does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness." Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.

Again, the focus in the Bible is on God’s works in us… not works produced from our own obedience.
Romans 8: 26 - 28 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Romans 9: 30 - 32. What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; but Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it. Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the "stumbling stone."

1 Corinthians 12: 4-7 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.

Notice that works are a manifestation of the Spirit and does not originate from man’s obedience.

Philippians 2 12-13 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.

Notice again it is God who is working in us… and it is not originated from man’s will or obedience…

Romans 5:19 Lets us know whose obedience we are “in”… this is not our obedience but Christ’s… “For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.”

It is through the obedience of Christ… that the many are made righteous… not our own works… not at all… we are only the vessels of His works in us and through us.

Now I quoted John word for word on his one website. He may flesh it out in his books more but as I read I see this theme of “works” that originate from a man based obedience and that is not biblical it is not walking in power of the Holy Spirit:

I hope you still do not think I am not being fair to John as again these are his words I quoted… from his sight…

Please consider what I have presented. I now walk in His Life not mine. The works I do are His not mine… the glory goes to God not me… as far as rewards… they are based on what we did in Christ… not by our own effort.


Steve said...

Hey iggy,

I think if you read his books on the subject you'd see him and the issue differently.

I wont argue for John MacArthur on this issue any longer, for the resolution (in my mind) lies in what John MacArthur has written in his two books.

We can go around and around (and thankfuly as brothers!), but make little headway.

I'll let this issue rest here.

iggy said...


Since I don't have the books I have gone to "Grace to You" own site and also read and quoted from his Q & A sites. I have tried to be fair, (even pointing out how some of his critics where out of line), yet I do see there is a difference in what he says at those places... maybe in his book he has stated it clearer of differently...yet then why has he stated differently on his sites?

Again, I am sure anyone could find something wrong with even the best Christian example if they look close enough... and that is the main point of this exercise, that no one is perfect... only Jesus... so we should be humble, and approach others with Grace and Mercy and know that no one is right apart from God.

I appreciate how you have handled yourself... in fact there will be a post where I highlight how you respond in contrast to how others have "attacked" me over disagreements.

I am thankful for you as a brother in Christ... and respectfully agree to disagree, but am open to one of changing... (grin)


Steve said...

Hi iggy,

Thanks for the kind words in your most recent post.

I have read the notes of a critic of yours. He is way, way out of line. In his manner and desire to set you straight he himself needs to be set straight.

You have been the kind one. While you may disagree with each other, at least you remain brotherly.

That's to your honor. And to his shame.

You have more patience than me.


iggy said...

Thank you for comments.

I fully admit at first I really did not respond rightly to these people...

I have tried all I can to reconcile with these people and it seems the more I try, the nastier they get... so I just have given up and will let God deal with them. (I am praying that God will fill their heart with His Love). I see these men in great Spiritual bondage. In that they need a Damascus experience to change them... as I myself did also.

I was one of them once... yet I see God can change man's heart. Even when all is given up... God is sovereign.

I am not wanting to “fight” other people… as we do not battle against flesh and blood, but against powers and principalities.

The funny thing is as of lately I have not been to influence by Brian McLaren but rather N.T. Wright. I see a whole new thinking coming out of his theology… (still very much based on Jesus) yet opening up major new understanding about the writing of Paul in reaction to the “Caesar Cult”. One example is that the new Caesar would proclaim a “gospel” or give the “good news” that justice would come to the land and all is set right as the new Lord of the world is here”, in fact I am looking for the English translation of Tiberius’ gospel proclamation as it reads almost word for word certain passages out of Romans. With this thought we then start to see the ramifications of “Jesus is Lord and Caesar is not”… There are many, many other examples that are just amazing as N.T Wright explores these things more in depth.

Brian McLaren was one that freed me to be able to “think” again… or rather once again realize God is bigger than a “system”. I also was able to begin to freely question what I believe and tear it all down and begin again… Most as I said remained and I believe it will as I see “Christ as my LIFE” core to my most basic foundation. Grace and Mercy also as I walk… in the Love of Christ.

Though I am a bit reluctant to talk about some of the real changes that I am going through… such as I do not believe in the “rapture” as in the “Last Days” series, I have found great wonder and awe at what the Bible teaches about the Resurrection… which is so often overlooked other than some great “supernatural” event that proved Jesus was God. It is that and so much more… without the Resurrection of Jesus; that we have not assurance at all that God will do as He said later. Again, this would take a series to fully unpack... and I am not sure I am ready yet to even start.

I know that I write with confidence… and sometimes confidence is taken as arrogant, especially when one may not agree with me. Really I write out of my struggles and pain and deep searching… I could not write about grace without having experienced it… I could not have experienced it if I was proud… (And for me to say I am humble sounds arrogant) yet even to have been “humbled” as I was… broken was an act of God’s great Mercy… I almost walked away years ago, as I could not live with teaching a “so called” righteousness and yet know I was not living it myself… then God hit me with His Grace. After that I have never been the same.

BTW, I have a book review that I need to do. An author named Tim King sent me his book... I also need to finish my review on “Jesus has left the Building" which I highly recommend! I will be on the look out for cheap used JM books and will then give another view of what I think. I do want to be fair. Again, I am not focused on JM as a person, just looking into his theology as I have this morbid fascination about why certain followers think they need to “attack” and honestly I have only read responses to his writing… mostly from my Vineyard denomination ( which is also panned by these people especially Phil Johnson.) I do not want to discredit JM as a person as I believe all of us have quirks and cracks and misunderstanding in our understandings of doctrines. Again, I am not against doctrine… just man made doctrine… (Sheesh still doing the disclaimers as I am accused on not believe in “doctrines” or rather believing in a “no doctrine, doctrine” which I have never stated.) LOL!


Brian said...

Listen in on a live audiochat with Dr. Frank Minirth! The chat is today at 2pm ET.

go here for for information: