Ministerial Meanderings

God centered theology in a man centered world.

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Location: Springfield, Missouri, United States

I was born in Washington D.C. and raised in Laurel, Maryland. I served in the United States Air Force for 20 years then retired. Then God led me to become a pastor. I was converted to Christ in the summer of 1966. I enjoy the company of my wife, children and grandchildren. I live with my three cats Hobbs, Taz, and Chloe.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Lordship Salvation Redux

The other night I had a most unhappy experience. I was in a chat and a friend came in and started talking about the difference between "real calvinists" and fake "modern calvinists." In his definition real calvinists believed that one was justified when they gave assent to the facts of the gospel message apart from any evidence of genuine faith. Thus, assent to the gospel facts was his defintion of faith. This sounded a lot (to me) like the same kind of thing I was reading about on another blog. On the "Free St. Georges" blog the author was discussing "Sandemanianism." This is essentially defined as the same thing my friend was defending in the chat room. And I told him so.

The whole question was debated in the late 1980s in the modern era, with the release of the book "The Gospel According to Jesus" by Dr. John MacArthur. MacArthur argued against the "assent to the gospel facts" argument. He reasoned that "saving faith" was a faith that works. Martin Luther had a quote that would find great affirmation in MacArthur's heart. Luther said "Faith alone saves, but the faith that saves is never alone." No, not ever alone because it has Christian works that accompany it. If one is born again, a child of God, a slave of the Lord Jesus Christ then that person will live like it. If that lifestyle is missing, than what makes one think they have genuine saving faith? MacArthur, in his book, argued that when one takes Jesus as savior, one also explicitly takes Jesus as Lord and God also. If one does not, they have not genuinely been converted.

His argument was aimed at the "carnal Christian" crowd who taught that the decisions to become a Christian and to become a disciple are two different decisions. Thus one could make a decision to become a Christian and be saved from damnation and still choose against becoming a follower of Jesus. So a person could confess Jesus as savior and Satan as Lord. MacArthur argued such things ought not to be! The puritan Joseph Alleine spoke about the danger of thinking one could take Christ in parts. He said one takes all of Christ or he takes Christ not at all. This is precisely MacArthur's argument.

In the parable of the sower, Jesus spoke of four kinds of heart that dealt with the word of God. One received it not at all and nothing happened with the word in the life of that person. Another received it gladly and it took a little root. But the love of sin choked the word to death and it produced no fruit. Yet a third received the word gladly and it took some root. But the cares of the world choked it out and it produced nothing. But, Jesus said, in the heart prepared to receive the word, it took root in good ground and produced fruit, some 30, some 60, some 100 fold. Only the fourth heart was genuinely saved. How do we know? It produced fruit. Some a little (30 fold) and some a lot (100 fold). In the interest of not running on all day, I will only mention in passing the admonitions in the book of James that tell us that faith without works is dead.

Sandemanianism is a bad teaching. It sets up a mindset that allows one to think they are going to heaven when in fact, they are not. It ought to be opposed when it is found. MacArthur was right. One takes Jesus as Lord and savior. Don't be fooled by cheap substitutes. Salvation is a life changing, miraculous encounter with the Living God. Old things have passed away, behold! All things have become new! Mere assent to a set of facts will never produce a heart changing lifestyle. Only an encounter with God can do that. Saving faith is a living faith. Anything less is simply cheap grace.


Blogger anonintx said...

so what do you do with a loved one who professes Christ but whose life since their conversion experience has shown no fruit (35 years)? They have no desire for the things of God and they live a life of sin, though trying to appear religious outwardly by attending church and "talking the talk"?

4:36 AM  

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