Saturday, September 28, 2019

Mike Reeves on Suffering, Death & Joy

The Lordship Salvation Issue

This is surely one of those many topics where the less I say the better. Nevertheless, I do want to say something (with some sense of trepidation).

Most of my friends are non-LS. Many are far more informed than I am. In many ways I'm over my head, and would rather avoid division. If for nothing else, not to embarrass myself. So in the few discussions I've had, I've tended not to say much. Let every person do their own study and come to their own conclusion.

I once posted a Cripplegate article in a group and was promptly informed that it wasn't representative of the LS teaching. It shouldn't be surprising that there are nuances and differences among proponents of the camps. A non-LS fellow chimed in that LS is an even more dangerous doctrine than pretribulationism! I found that remark astonishing. Why am I not seeing this?

My two main references (I have others) on the LS issue are MacArthur's "The Gospel According to Jesus" and "Freely By His Grace" edited by Hixson, Whitmire and Zuck. The latter is 600 pages. It would be accurate to say that I haven't plumbed it all, and likely never will.

That said, I do have some concerns re the non-LS groups. First is the following statement by one of the FBHG contributors:
The label of easy-believism can come across as pejorative; it implies that those who reject the Reformed notion of saving faith have somehow compromised the gospel and opened the gates of heaven to anyone for any reason. Of course this is not at all the case. Opponents of the Reformed notion of saving faith simply contend that the Bible conditions eternal salvation solely on simple faith alone, and to express that faith in Jesus is to be convinced that He has given eternal life to the one who simply believes in Him for it. No act of obedience, preceding or following faith in Jesus Christ, such as a promise to obey, repentance of sin, pledge of obedience or surrendering to the Lordship of Christ, may be added to, or considered part of, faith as a condition for receiving eternal life. (Emphasis mine, Page 159)
I've also been pointed to Charles Bing's works. Bing has an article in FBHG. As I'm slowly digesting what he writes, some statements (at least in my opinion) aren't helpful. For example he states that Lordship Salvation arises from the Amil Reformed tendency to blur theological lines between law, grace, the church, Israel, the kingdom etc, etc. That's quite a lot of asserting to parse through. For a balanced Reformed approach to matters touching this, read Sinclair Ferguson's The Whole Christ.

At one point Bing contrasts LS with Roman Catholicism where the latter teaches that faith plus works obtains salvation. He then claims LS just frames it differently: Faith that works obtains salvation. That is a misrepresentation of just about everything I've read from the LS camp. No doubt one will find some problem LS statements here and there. But this is not the LS position I'm familiar with.

Elsewhere Bing addresses the LS appeal to James 2:19. He responds by noting that it fails because, while the demons have a head knowledge of God, they do not change their evil ways. Have I missed something again? How do we reconcile this response with the statement underlined above?

Now some of the non-LS people may be saying that at the point of salvation, where only faith is applied initially, there is no repentance of sin required. However, I've seen other non-LS statements which take this position further into the Christian walk.

I fail to see how anyone can arrive at the point of coming to Christ, and understanding the need to place faith in Him because of sin, without the need for repentance. This is not to say that salvation is based on any visibly measurable amount of works.

I agree with Paul Washer:
There is something of a logical progression in the salvation of men. They must know that they are lost before they can be saved. However, they must know that they are sinners before they realize that they are truly lost. And finally, they must understand that God is holy before they can fully comprehend the grievous nature of their sin! (The Gospel's Power and Message, Page 88)
And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. 1 John 3:3

Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him. Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God. In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother. 1 John 3:6-10

John Barnett - What is Lordship Salvation?

Note that Barnett's account of the Dallas incident somewhat differs to that found in MacArthur's book. But it essentially raises the same problem.


I wrote a slightly edited and expanded version of this post HERE

Since then I've managed to read more of Dr. Bing's article in FBHG. Note that I read the book some years ago. So this is a refresher. Bing seems to be the go-to person for dispensationalists who reject Lordship Salvation. I've been asked, "Have you read Dr Bing?" Yet the more I read of him the more I'm convinced that he's not helpful.

Though I haven't fully studied Lybrand's "Distinction between Salvation and Disclipeship", I'm both skeptical and cautious. Sure, read Lybrand, but also consider James Montgomery Boice's "Christ's Call to Discipleship."

Out of the whole book, I enjoyed Mike Stallard's chapter the best. I feel somewhat vindicated by Gary Gilley's review of the book. Gilley takes a central view. He singles out Bing and Lybrand (take note of what he writes) and states that Stallard's chapter is the most balanced.

More recently I see non-LS friends share videos produced by a popular prophecy teacher who is vocally non-Lordship. This individual targets MacArthur and Piper. The few quotes I've seen come from books I don't have. So I can't comment on context or isolated quotes other than to affirm that these gentlemen do not teach salvation by works, as seems to be implied. MacArthur has gone out of his way to point that out in the works I own.

The next time I'm asked if I've read Bing, I'll ask if they've actually read MacArthur, or just watched a video, read a quote etc. I find that many of my friends lean closer to LS than they'd admit. Many of their comments regarding, for example, the apostasy of celebrities seems to move them in that direction. Yet LS remains the boogy man doctrine.

The LS controversy seems somewhat reminiscent of the controversy between Horatius Bonar, Moody and John Kennedy. Iain Murray's "A Scottish Christian Heritage" provides some helpful insights in the Controversies subheading of "Bonar and the Love of God in Evangelism."

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Monday, September 16, 2019

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Identity & Attributes of God

In the video I linked to in my previous post Paul Washer advises that to grow in love for God one ought to learn more about His identity and attributes. Well, this is a good excuse to plug Terry L. Johnson's new book "The Identity and Attributes of God."

If it had a sub-title it should be something like: "And How the Christian Ought to Live as a Consequence." In fact I wrote this under the title of my own copy. The reason being that the book is pastoral, practical and devotional, as well as theological.

Johnson dedicated it to Stephen Charnock, George Swinnock and William Gurnall. This is a great hint as to the quality of the book. Aside from Scripture, he draws from these three as well as other Puritans. I'm a lousy reviewer - plus reviewing this type of book is way over my pay grade. That said, I agree with Matt Covers' review of it HERE

If you're interested you can obtain a copy from Banner of Truth, or Reformation Heritage Books. Note that RHB always tries to provide books at discounted prices.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019