Saved by Grace Alone
A Biblical Analysis of Lordship Salvation
Is there a danger in not making the proper Biblical distinctions between justification and sanctification?
One of the problems of the Lordship Salvation position is that it sometimes fails to keep justification distinct from sanctification. The commands that pertain to justification are different and distinct from the commands that pertain to sanctification. For example, consider the command in Romans 12:1, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice." This command pertains to sanctification, not to justification.
The commands which involve discipleship pertain to sanctification and not justification. These would include such things as "Deny self," "Forsake possessions," "Hate father, mother, son, daughter," "Take up thy cross," "Lose your life for Christs sake" etc. Confusion results when we make the conditions of discipleship the same as the conditions for justification. WHAT MUST A PERSON DO TO BE SAVED (JUSTIFIED)? WHAT MUST A PERSON DO TO BE A DISCIPLE? Lordship Salvation advocates give the same answer to both of the questions, because they teach that the terms of discipleship are equivalent to the terms of salvaqtion. The Bible gives distinct answers to these questions.
What is the relationship between saving faith and sanctification or holy living?
There are two extreme teachings which must be avoided because the truth lies somewhere between:
The Extreme Teaching of the "Free Grace" Movement
This group teaches that there is no relationship between saving faith and sanctification. This view, while condemning an unholy life style, would say that it is possible for a true believer to consistently persist in sin and live a wicked life style, even to the point of denying Christ, rejecting the truths of the gospel, and totally abandoning the faith.
A proper understanding of THE NEW NATURE helps us to reject this extreme
teaching. Christ lives in me (Gal. 2:20). God works in me (Phil. 2:13). God convicts me of
sin. God chastens me in love and will not allow me to go on in sin, even as a responsible
father will not allow his child to persist in wrong doing. Because I have a new nature and
because Christ lives in me, this LIFE is going to show itself somehow and it is going to
be evidenced in some way (see 1 John 2:3-4; 3:10,14; etc.). Our Lord said, "Every
good tree brings forth good fruit" (Matthew 7:17).
The Extreme Teaching of the "Lordship Salvation" Movement
This group teaches that there is an automatic relationship between saving faith and sanctification. This view says that true faith automatically results in an absolutely and totally transformed life. John MacArthur has said it this way, "Listen! No one who is saved will fail to repent, will fail to submit or fail to obey . . . True faith results in an absolutely and totally transformed life." "Saving faith is a placing of oneself totally in submission to the Lord Jesus Christ." [The first quote is transcribed from John MacArthur’s audio cassette tape GC 90-21 on Lordship Salvation. The second quote is from John MacArthur’s book, Romans 1-8, page 205.] If a persons life does not measure up to the kind of absolute and total transformation that Lordship advocates expect, then they are quick to call into question the persons salvation. They say that he never truly believed to the saving of his soul, because if he had done this, then a sanctified, holy life would have automatically resulted.
A proper understanding of THE OLD NATURE helps us to reject this extreme teaching. Because of the fact of the old nature and the reality of indwelling sin, there is the possibility of carnality, of walking in the flesh, of not abiding in Christ, of disobeying the Lord, etc. There exist the sad possibilities of such "Lordship failures" which have been already discussed. The ten examples of "Lordship failure" that were cited all have their root cause traceable to the old sinful nature that saved individuals still possess. "For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not . . . O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" (Romans 7:18,24).
Note: John MacArthur teaches that a true believer does not possess two natures. Rather he possesses only one nature, the new nature in Christ. See our lengthy analysis of this in John MacArthur's One Nature Position.
Saved By Grace Alone
A Biblical Analysis of Lordship Salvation
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