Monday, October 27, 2003

Lordship Salvation: A dispensational dispute

It what follows, it can be assumed that within dispensationalism, MacArthur represents the Lordship position, Hodges the extreme non-Lordship, and Ryrie a moderate, in-between position.

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:

  1. Cross. Christ’s death paid the full penalty for all our sins and purchased salvation. (Rom. 3:24-26, 1 Cor 15:54-57)

  2. Justification by Faith. Salvation is by faith through Jesus alone—plus minus nothing. (Eph. 2:8-9)

  3. Good Works. Sinners cannot earn salvation or favor with God. (Rom. 8:8)

  4. Prerequisites for Salvation. God requires no preparatory works or prerequisite self-improvement. (Rom. 10:13, 1 Tim 1:15)

  5. Eternal Life. Eternal Life is a gift from God. (Rom. 6:23)

  6. Immediate Justification. Believers are saved and fully justified before their faith ever produces a single righteous work. (Eph. 2:10)

  7. 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-LordshipLordship
RepentanceRepentance 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
FaithFaith 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 ObjectThe 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 EffectsThe 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 ExtentSalvation 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 LordshipThere should be absolutely no aspect of submission to the lordship of Christ in the gospel messageA 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 DesiresThe 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
AssuranceWhen 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
PerseveranceIt 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

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