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Posts Tagged ‘Lordship Salvation

The Radical Demands of John’s Gospel

The following points come from the TMS Journal on the subject of repentance in the gospel of John.  Non-Lordship advocates and cheap grace advocates point to the Gospel of John as proof that one does not need to repent to be saved.  They point out that John’s Gospel was written for evangelism (John 20:31) and that belief and faith are the key points John makes in his writings.  However, an analysis of the fourth gospel reveals that John the Beloved was hard on his hearers.  While the word “repent” does not come to us in the Greek text, the Gospel of John is still a Gospel that demands a transformation to which repentance is necessary (Matthew 3:8; Acts 2:37-39).

Notice the tough demands in John’s Gospel:

(1) References to John the Baptist and baptism: 1:23–34; 3:23–29; 10:40.

(2) Jesus as the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world”: 1:29.

(3) The wedding at Cana: could the reference to the purification jars be a reference to repentance: 2:1–13?

(4) Born from above/anew and born of water and spirit: 3:3–7.

(5) The lifting up of the snake in the wilderness: 3:14 (see Num 21:4–9).

(6) Light and darkness motif throughout Fourth Gospel: 1:4–9; 3:19–21; 8:12; 9:5.

(7) The relationship of obedience and believing: 3:36.

(8) Jesus pointing out the Samaritan woman’s sinful life: 4:16–18.

(9) Jesus’ command to not sin: 5:14; 8:11.

(10) The motif of hearing and its relationship to obedience: 5:24; 12:47.

(11) The motif of “coming”: 5:40; 6:35.

(12) “die in sin”: 8:21.

(13) “continue to follow”: 8:31.

(14) obeying Jesus’ teaching equals never seeing death: 8:51; 17:6.

(15) “turn to me” from Isaiah: 12:40.

(16) Obedience and love: 14:15, 21, 23–24.

(17) Remain and bear fruit: 15:1–5.

(18) Peter’s restoration: 21:15–17, 19b

These are all tough.  One cannot read John’s Gospel and derive from that that he was preaching a soft gospel.  He was not asking people to “only believe.”  John, like the other Gospels, is calling for radical transformation.  Salvation is just that.  Salvation is not merely a change in minds.  It is a change in everything!  Jesus demands that we follow Him completely (Luke 9:23-25; 14:25-35) and this is no different in the fourth Gospel.  Salvation is not just looking once to Jesus but is always looking to Jesus to save us and keep us (John 8:51).  As John the Apostle show us in his Gospel, Jesus is not a plan but He is our Lord and our God (John 20:28).  He is worthy to be worshiped and followed completely and forever.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

09/20/2013 at 10:10 AM

The Antinomian Eternal Security View

I was listening to a Baptist preacher preach on eternal security on the radio.  Now this man would happily preach on holiness and how we should repent and turn from sin.  Yet this man turned around and preached that all Christians are eternally secure despite not even persevering in the faith.  He attacked both the Arminian and Calvinist views as one and the same by saying that the Arminian holds that one can fall from grace while the Calvinist teaches that one must persevere in the faith or they were never saved to begin with.  He said both were wrong.  He said that once a person is saved, they are always saved.  Period.  End of story.

This same preacher would preach that people should be holy or forsake sin or confess their sins but why?  If I am saved and eternally secure, why forsake sin?  Why pursue holiness?  If eternal life is mine and I am guaranteed heaven despite living in sin, what is the motivation for holiness?  If my ticket to heaven is set, why waste my time confessing my sins or even trying to forsake them?

Now imagine if you are sitting under this man’s preaching.  What did you just hear?  What I hear is, “Sin!  Do what you like!  Nothing can take you away from Jesus nor the gift of eternal life that He has given you.”  This is nothing more than antinomianism plain and simple.  The word Antinomian means “no law.”  It is the teaching that Christians are not under any obligation to obey the moral law of God.  It views the entire law of God as dead and the Christian is free to do what they like, even sin.  This teaching, of course, appeals to the flesh and those who desire to sin.  It appeals to those who desire to rebel against God even while claiming to be saved for eternity.  This view loves Jesus as Savior but hates Him as Lord.  It claims to exalt the grace of God even while ignoring sin, repentance, holiness, perseverance, and of course the clear warning of Jude 4.  Antinomians are seen clearly as well in 2 Peter 2:10.

The antinomian view of eternal security is that once a person believes (just once) they are saved forever.  They do not look for sanctification at all.  They may give lip service to holiness but they often make statements such as “we sin everyday” and “we can never conquer sin.”  They instead teach that God loves people so much (John 3:16) that He gave His Son to save them from their sins forever and thus when they claim Jesus once as Savior, He forever is Savior.  They will typically point to key texts such as John 10:27-29 or Romans 8:38-39 or Philippians 1:6 to teach eternal security while ignoring the warning passages that fill the New Testament.  The antinomian view of eternal security is nothing more than preservation of the sinner.  The sinner can continue in their sins because God doesn’t see their sins but only His Son.  They claim that the sinner doesn’t even need to confess their sins to God for forgiveness (1 John 1:9).  Why?  Because they are once saved, always saved.

This dangerous teaching has filled the Western Church.  I have met people on the streets doing evangelism who claim to be Christians simply because they said a “sinner’s prayer” at one point, joined a church, was baptized, or was confirmed as a teenager.  They are full of sin and living an ungodly life (1 John 3:4-10) but they will claim they are saved forever because they were taught that they are “once saved, always saved.”  They have their “fire insurance” and now they are ready to sin and sin boldly.  They have no passion for Jesus, no desire to be like Him, no love for His Word, no hunger to be holy.  They are simply living in sin and yet claim to be saved.  When I have walked them through John 8:31-32 or 1 John 2:3-6, they will claim they are saved no matter what I show them.  When I point them to Romans 6:23 or Galatians 6:7-9, they will claim again that they are forever saved no matter what.  Their antinomian views have been shaped by a false view of salvation and assurance.

Scripture is clear that we are to be holy (1 Peter 1:15-16).  Scripture is clear that we are to turn from our sins (Luke 13:1-5; Acts 2:38; 3:19-20; 17:30-31; 26:20).  Scripture is clear that Jesus came to save us from our sins but we must be His people to be saved from our sins (Matthew 1:21).  Paul the Apostle is clear in Romans 6:1-4 that since we are buried with Christ in baptism, we are to be dead to sin.  Paul goes on in Romans 6:5-23 to establish that sin is to have nothing in the life of the saint.  The true saint of God turns away from sin (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).  The true saint of God pursues holiness for God is holy and He demands it (2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1).  Hebrews 12:14 is also clear that we are to pursue holiness without which no one will see the Lord.  Jesus said that only the pure in heart will see God (Matthew 5:8) and yet He said that sin would keep us from heaven (Revelation 21:7-8).  Peter wrote that we are to be diligent to be found by Him without spot or blemish and at peace (2 Peter 3:14).  Through perseverance in the faith, we make our calling and election sure (2 Peter 1:10-11).

In closing, James 2:14-26 destroys the case for “once saved, always saved.”  James tells us that the only true faith is the obedient faith (Acts 5:32).  True faith in God does not sit back and do nothing.  True faith in God is a total transformation of the entire person because of the gospel (2 Corinthians 5:17).  True faith knows that Jesus has saved us from sin and He is able to deliver us completely from our sins (1 John 2:1-2).  True faith is not acknowledgement of Jesus (James 2:19) but obedience to Him as Lord (Luke 6:46-49; 2 Corinthians 1:24).  No doubt justification is by faith (Romans 4:5; Ephesians 2:8-9) but is not merely an intellectual faith but a living, obedient faith in the living Christ (James 2:22).  I have more respect for those who teach that a person was never saved to begin with who fall away (such as Ray Comfort) than with this preacher above.  The cheap grace movement has created more false converts than one can count.

Obeying the Gospel

Have you ever noticed a little word tucked away in 2 Thessalonians 1:7-8:

7 and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels 8 in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.

Notice that Paul the Apostle uses the word “obey” in verse 8 for those whom God will pour out His wrath upon.  It is not enough to hear the gospel to be saved.  It is not enough to even have believed the gospel at one time to be saved.  Rather Paul says that God will pout out His wrath on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.  Obedience is necessary for salvation.  Those whom God saves through Christ must obey Him as Lord.  While we don’t “obey” to be saved, we do “obey” because we are saved.  The reason that we are baptized in water is because we are obeying the Lord Jesus who commanded that we be baptized (Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38).  Baptism flows from our believing the gospel and proving our trust in Him as Savior and Lord of all.

Ironically, such preaching about the requirement of obeying Jesus as Lord is rare today.  People want a cheap gospel that presents Jesus as Savior but not Lord.  They want to divide the Person of Christ.  They read passages about obedience to Jesus as Lord and see this as “works-righteousness” despite them coming from the very lips of our Lord.  For example, Jesus said in Luke 6:46-49:

46 “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? 47 Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: 48 he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. 49 But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.”

Jesus said in Luke 8:21:

But he answered them, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.”

He said in Luke 11:28:

But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”

Jesus said in John 14:15 about how we prove our love for Him:

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”

He said in Matthew 7:21-23 that only those who obey the Father are saved:

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’”

Jesus tells us in John 8:31-32 how we prove we are His disciples:

31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

James the Apostle tells us how we are to abide in His teaching in James 1:21-25:

21 Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

And John the Beloved tells us in 1 John 5:1-4 about our loving obedience to Jesus as Lord:

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. 4 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.

Obedience and salvation go hand in hand.  We are saved to obey Jesus as Lord.  We submit to His authority in our lives and we adore Him for taking away our sins.  He alone is our salvation and our obedience to Him is natural since He has set us free by His grace.  1 John 2:3-6 makes it clear that our obedience proves we are saved by His grace:

3 And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. 4 Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, 5 but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: 6 whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

Praise God for His grace and praise God for His power that works in us to help us to obey.  As Charles Wesley wrote, “My God assists me to obey.”  He truly does assist us to obey Him as Lord and what a joy it is to serve the King of kings.

Why is Lordship Salvation Not Dealt With Much by Arminians

Back in the 1990’s a theological controversy was taking place and for the most part Arminians stayed out of the debate.  The debate centered around the question of “Does one have to make Jesus their Lord in order for Him to be their Savior?”  Among Calvinists, this debate raged.  Dr. John MacArthur got the fires of the debate hotter when he wrote his book, The Gospel According to Jesuswhich I still highly recommend though I would disagree with Dr. MacArthur here and there.  MacArthur followed up that book with his book, Faith Works: The Gospel According to the Apostles.  In both books Dr. MacArthur was attacking the non-Lordship view and he built a strong case from the Bible and from Church History to show that the idea that Jesus can be your Savior without Him being your Lord is not biblical nor historically taught by any of the great men of God in the past.

So why did Arminians remain out of that fight and why have we still not seen an Arminian publish a book on the Lordship salvation issue?  I will give my own views regarding this.

1.  Because We Believe in Personal Apostasy.

Most Arminians (though not all) hold to personal apostasy and reject the teaching of eternal security or the perseverance of the saints.  Thus, if a person lives in sin, Arminians would call that person to repent lest they perish in their sins.  The idea that a person can abide in continued sin and still claim to be a Christian for who knows how long is foreign to our thinking.  In our minds, holiness and salvation go hand in hand.  This view leads us to teach from the beginning that Jesus must be Lord (1 John 2:3-6).  You cannot have a little of Jesus and a little of the devil.  You must embrace Jesus fully and surrender all to Him to be saved (Luke 9:23-25; 14:25-35).  1 Corinthians 10:21 says that we cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too.  We cannot love God and still love the world (1 John 2:15-17).  Because we believe that a person can return to their vomit (2 Peter 2:20-22), we believe that a person must continue in faith in the Lord Jesus to be saved which would include glorifying Him through our obedience to His Lordship.

2.  Holiness.

Antinomianism is foreign to Arminianism.  We reject any teaching that allows for continued sinning in the life of the saint.  By the very word saint, we are saying that a person is set apart by God (1 Corinthians 1:2).  Sanctification occurs when a person places their saving faith in Jesus (Acts 15:9) and is a lifelong process (Hebrews 10:14) that ends in glorification in heaven (Hebrews 12:23).  Be believe that the New Testament teaches that God’s people are to pursue holiness (Hebrews 12:14) and to be holy as God is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16) and thus to live in sin would lead to either a person not being saved (Matthew 7:21-23) or an apostate (Hebrews 10:19-39).  There is no place for “carnal Christianity” in Arminian theology.

3.  Conditional Security.

Because most of us Arminians believe in conditional security, we believe that a person must be committed to Jesus as Lord and Savior their entire lives and not just a one time embrace of Him.  The non-Lordship folks allow for this because they embrace eternal security as well.  Arminians believe we are secure in Jesus (2 Corinthians 1:24).  There is no assurance of salvation outside of Jesus nor is there assurance of salvation for those abiding in sin (1 John 3:6-9).  If we are in Jesus Christ by faith, we are saved and secure in Him who prays for us (Hebrews 7:25).  There is no fear when we are seeking Jesus (Romans 8:31-39).  Because of our views regarding the security of the believer, we believe that a person only has assurance when they are in Christ by faith (1 John 5:1).  This witness comes by the Spirit (Romans 8:16; Galatians 4:6).  Why then would we teach people that they need not surrender to the Lordship of Jesus when we believe that we must embrace Him always to be saved (Romans 6:23)?

4.  Our View of Sin.

Arminianism teaches that sin is still powerful and is destroyed only in Jesus Christ (Romans 6:1-23).  Why then would we teach that a person can abide in sin knowing that sin will destroy a person?  We proclaim holiness because we hate sin and we know what sin can do if we don’t forsake sin (James 5:19-20).  Why preach cheap grace that allows for sinning (Jude 4)?  Why preach that a person can abide in sin and still be saved?  Does this not lead to more sinning?  All of us enjoy sinning however we must look to Jesus to help us stop sinning and forsake our sins (John 8:11).  We cannot overcome sin in our own power but must look to the Holy Spirit to empower us to overcome sin (Romans 8:9-13).  God has promised a way of escape (1 Corinthians 10:13) but we must be willing to forsake sin and be holy.  This occurs through the Lordship of Jesus in our lives.

5.  Our View of Good Works.

We believe, as Dr. MacArthur does, that faith works.  Ephesians 2:10 makes it clear that works will flow from true saving faith.  Paul again wrote in Titus many times about good works.  Titus 2:7, 14; 3:1, 8, 14.  It would seem clear that Paul the Apostle wanted the people of God to do good works.  Arminianism teaches that works flow from our salvation.  They are not the basis for our salvation nor even for our assurance but they do flow naturally from being born again in Christ.  How then could we teach that person can be saved and not doing good works?  How then could we teach that a person can call Jesus Savior and yet deny Him as their Lord by their lives (Titus 1:16)?

Conclusion

Perhaps in the future an Arminian will write a book defending Lordship salvation but for now, Arminians are comfortable proclaiming Jesus as Lord and Savior to all who will hear.  Salvation involves the full surrender to the Person of Christ which includes His absolute Lordship over our lives (Luke 6:46-49).  No doubt justification is by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5-7) but faith leads to good works which is the Lordship of Jesus reigning among His people and working through them by His Spirit and for His glory.

For now, I recommend Dr. MacArthur’s book and would pray that all of us would preach the Lordship of Jesus to all.

What Is Behind the Non-Lordship View of Salvation

I am convinced that behind the non-Lordship view of salvation is not a desire to protect the gospel from good works being the cause of salvation but rather a love for sin.  People who embrace a radical view of eternal security that denies that Jesus must be Lord of a person’s life or that a person must repent of their sins or that a person need not advance toward sanctification love sin.  They love to sin and they want to sin without anyone saying that they should not sin nor should they stop sinning.  They love sin and desire to continue in sin all while believing that their one time hearing of the gospel and believing the gospel is sufficient for heaven.  How wrong they are.

I once had a friend who embraced the radical non-Lordship, eternal security view.  Theology does lead to how we live.  What we believe does affect how we live our lives.  My former friend stopped preaching holiness, stopped calling people to repentance, stopped avoiding sin himself including indulging in pornography.  Eventually he left his wife for another woman and is today a shell of the man he use to be.  In college this man was passionate for Jesus, would fast and pray, would go out on the streets preaching the gospel to the lost, and when he preached to teenagers, he would call them to repent and embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ which included Jesus’ absolute Lordship over their lives.  Yet he begin to wonder down the road of non-Lordship when he begin to read books by non-Lordship authors such as Charles Ryrie (which he used his study Bible at the time), Bob George (who eventually convinced him that sin was not an issue at all), and Zane Hodges.  When I countered with both Scripture and with books from John MacArthur or Michael Horton, he called their view “works righteousness” which I thought only applied to Arminians like me.

Scripture makes it clear that we can’t have Jesus as Savior and not Lord.  Such bizarre teaching is not found in any of the writings of the early Church Fathers down to the 19th century.  Such teaching is not found in the book of Acts.  We never find the Apostles preaching that one could have Jesus as Savior and later make Him Lord.  The entire New Testament points to Jesus as both Savior and Lord (Luke 6:46-49).  Even the confession of Jesus as Lord in Romans 10:9 is more than just confessing that He is God (as Ryrie says in his study Bible) but involves the declaration that He reigns over us.  1 John 2:3-6 makes it clear that to say we know Jesus and not obey Him shows we are liars and His truth is not in us.  1 John 3:6-9 makes it clear that to practice sin shows that we are children of Satan and not God.  1 Peter 1:15-16 calls us to be holy as God is holy.  The call of Matthew 5:48 is to be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect.

Furthermore, we find nothing in the New Testament that presents sanctification as optional.  Sanctification flows from salvation in Jesus (Romans 6:22-23).  Even in Romans 7 after discussing the problem of the flesh, Paul says that we have victory through the Lord Jesus Christ (v. 25).  In Romans 8 Paul clearly shows us that sanctification is involved in the Christian experience as we walk in the Spirit.  In fact, Romans 8:13 says that if we live in the flesh, we will die.  That is tough but true.

Non-Lordship teachers like to say that they are protecting the gospel from works.  They say that the only thing a person must do to be saved is believe in Jesus.  They point to passages such as John 3:16 or John 5:24 or John 6:29 or Acts 16:31 or Ephesians 2:8-9.  They ignore repentance passages.  They ignore baptism passages.  Why?  Because they believe that such verses, if added with faith passages, would lead to works salvation which is denied (Titus 3:5-7).  They believe, correctly by the way, that salvation is not a work of man but of God (John 1:12-13).  They say that to teach that Jesus must be Lord leads to people obeying commands instead of being saved by grace through faith.

I disagree of course but even deeper, I believe that such a view always leads to a life of sin.  While it might be true that some of their teachers are seeking to deny works salvation, their view leads to ignoring the holiness of God, the wrath of God against sin, and the power of sin (Jude 4).  People who love sin will always love the non-Lordship teaching because it allows for continued sinning without repentance (Hebrews 10:19-39).

I pray that we would be biblical in preaching the gospel and would also preach the gospel to ourselves.  Jesus came to save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21).  How can we call ourselves His people yet not desire to be saved from our sins?

Written by The Seeking Disciple

08/26/2012 at 2:25 PM

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