Most of this post is taken from Mathison's book Dispensationalism, Rightly Dividing the People of God?
MacArthur has notedseven fundamental points on which he, Ryrie, and Hodges agree:
- Cross. Christ’s death paid the full penalty for all our sins and purchased salvation. (Rom. 3:24-26, 1 Cor 15:54-57)
- Justification by Faith. Salvation is by faith through Jesus alone—plus minus nothing. (Eph. 2:8-9)
- Good Works. Sinners cannot earn salvation or favor with God. (Rom. 8:8)
- Prerequisites for Salvation. God requires no preparatory works or prerequisite self-improvement. (Rom. 10:13, 1 Tim 1:15)
- Eternal Life. Eternal Life is a gift from God. (Rom. 6:23)
- Immediate Justification. Believers are saved and fully justified before their faith ever produces a single righteous work. (Eph. 2:10)
- Believers and Sin. Christians can and do sin. Even strong Christians are in constant battle against the flesh. Genuine Christians sometimes commit heinous sins (David, c.f., 2 Sam. 11)
On these points, there is general agreement within dispensationalism.
However, MacArthur lists nine points upon which there is disagreement: Repentance, Faith, Faith’s Object, Faith’s Effects, Salvation’s Extent, Christ’s Lordship, Holy Desires, Assurance and Perseverance.
Below we present a table (from Mathison) that shows that radical Non-Lordship (Hodges), moderate Non-Lordship (Ryrie), and Lordship (MacArthur) positions on each of these points of contention
|Radical Non-Lordship||Moderate Non-Lordship||Lordship|
|Repentance||Repentance has absolutely nothing to do with salvation and should therefore never be included in the gospel message.||Repentance is not a part of conversion but simply a change of mind about something. It is not meant to be part of the gospel message.||The gospel calls sinners to faith in oneness with repentance. Repentance is turning from sin, not a work but a divine grace. Acts 2:38, 3:19, 11:18, 17:30, 20:21, 26:18-20;2 Pet. 3.9; Luke 3:8, 24:47; 2 Tim 2:25|
|Faith||Faith is simply the belief in the truthfulness of certain facts. It is solely the work of man and not a gift of God.||Faith is primarily being convinced of the facts of the gospel, but it also includes an act of the will and an element of trust in the person.||Salvation is all God’s work. Those who believe are saved apart from any effort on their own. Even faith is a gift, not a work of man. Titus 3:5; Eph. 2:1-5,8; Phil. 1:6; Heb. 11.|
|Faith's Object||The object of faith is the collection of facts of the gospel message.||The object of saving faith is The Lord Jesus Christ.||The object of faith is Christ Himself, not only a creed or promise. Faith therefore involves personal commit-ment to Christ. All true believers follow Jesus. John 3:16, 10:27-28; 2 Cor. 5:15|
|Faith's Effects||The only necessary effect of faith is salvation from the eternal penalty of sin. A life of continued growth in grace (progressive sanctification) and salvation from the power of sin are not necessary effects.||Some fruit is inevitable in a true Christian life, though it may never be outwardly visible.||Real faith inevitably produces a changed life. Salvation includes a transformation of the inner person. The nature of the Christian is different, new. The unbroken pattern of sin will not continue. 2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 2:20; Rom. 6:6, 1 John 3:9-10|
|Salvation's Extent||Salvation means gaining eternal life. The other aspects of Christian life are different kinds of ‘salvation’, which believers must experience after conversion.||Salvation guarantees justification and “positional” sanctification but not necessarily “progressive” sanctification.||The gift of God, eternal life, includes all that pertains to life and godliness, not just a ticket to heaven. Rom. 6:6, 8:32; 2 Pet. 1:3.|
|Christ's Lordship||There should be absolutely no aspect of submission to the lordship of Christ in the gospel message||A person can accept Jesus as savior without acknowledging Him as Lord of one’s life and without being willing to allow Him control over ones life.||Jesus is the Lord of all and the faith He demands involves unconditional surrender. He does not bestow eternal life on those whose hearts remain set against Him. Rom. 6:17:18, 10:9-10; James 4:6|
|Holy Desires||The scriptural revelation knows nothing of a doctrine in which Christian love is guaranteed by the mere fact that one is a Christian.||Ryrie argues that believers my live like unsaved people for extended periods of time, but he does not believe this will be the lifelong state of any Christian.||Those who truly believe will love Christ. They will therefore long to obey Him. John 14:15,23; 1 Pet. 1:8-9; Rom 8:28-30; 1 Cor. 16:22|
|Assurance||When a person believes he has assurance of life eternal. A continuous lack of fruit in a believer’s life should never cause him to question his salvation.||The bible offers two grounds for assurance. The objective ground is that God’s word says that I am saved through faith…The subjective ground relates to my experiences.||Behavior is an important test of faith. Obedience is evidence that one’s faith is real. The person who remains utterly unwilling to obey Christ does not evidence true faith. 1 John 2:3-4|
|Perseverance||It is possible for a person to cease believing and yet remain a Christian.||Ryrie agrees with Hodges: faith is a point in time action and may not continue in a Christian.||Genuine believers may stumble and fall, but they will persevere in the faith. Those who turn completely away show that they were never really born again. 1 John 2:19; 1 Cor. 1:8|