I was reminded this week that the battle over so-called “Lordship salvation” is still alive and well, so I thought it might be helpful to post a few articles on the subject. The articles are from the Grace to You website, and the first one “was adapted from John MacArthur’s material on the topic of lordship salvation, and serves as an excellent introduction to the subject”:
This article concludes with this solemn admonition:
This issue is not a trivial one. In fact, how could any issue be more important? The gospel that is presented to unbelievers has eternal ramifications. If it is the true gospel, it can direct men and women into the everlasting kingdom. If it is a corrupted message, it can give unsaved people false hope while consigning them to eternal damnation. This is not merely a matter for theologians to discuss and debate and speculate about. This is an issue that every single pastor and lay person must understand in order that the gospel may be rightly proclaimed to all the nations.
The next two articles build on the first and are quite informative:
The second of these two articles gets to the heart of the matter when it asserts:
Advocates of the no-lordship position frequently suggest that preaching repentance adds something to the biblical doctrine of salvation by grace through faith alone.
But faith presupposes repentance. How can those who are mortal enemies of God (Rom. 5:10) sincerely believe in His Son without repenting? How can anyone truly comprehend the truth of salvation from sin and its consequences, unless that person also genuinely understands and hates what sin is? The whole sense of faith is that we trust Christ to liberate us from the power and penalty of sin. Therefore sinners cannot come to sincere faith apart from a complete change of heart, a turnaround of the mind and affections and will. That is repentance. It is not a supplement to the gospel invitation; it is precisely what the gospel demands. Our Lord Himself described His primary mission as that of calling sinners to repentance (Matt. 9:13).
We often speak of the salvation experience as “conversion.” That is biblical terminology (Matt. 18:3; John 12:40; Acts 15:3). Conversion and repentance are closely related terms. Conversion occurs when a sinner turns to God in repentant faith. It is a complete turnaround, an absolute change of moral and volitional direction. Such a radical reversal is the response the gospel calls for, whether the plea to sinners is phrased as “believe,” “repent,” or “be converted.” Each entails the others.
If someone is walking away from you and you say, “Come here,” it is not necessary to say ” turn around and come.” The U-turn is implied in the direction “come.” In like manner, when our Lord says, “Come to Me” (Matt. 11:28), the about-face of repentance is understood. Nowhere does Scripture issue an evangelistic appeal that does not at least imply the necessity of repentance. Our Lord offers nothing to impenitent sinners ( Matt. 9:13 ; Mark 2:17 ; Luke 5:32).
Again, repentance is not a human work. Jesus said, “No one can come to Me, unless the Father who sent Me draws him” (John 6:44). It is God who grants repentance (Acts 11:18; 2 Tim. 2:25). Repentance is not pre-salvation self-improvement. It is not a question of atoning for sin or making restitution before turning to Christ in faith. It is an inward turning from sin to Christ. Though it is not itself a “work” the sinner performs, genuine repentance will certainly produce good works as its inevitable fruit (Matt. 3:8).
It is my hope that the readers of this blog will strive to maintain a Biblical understanding of conversion and will not succumb to the false teaching on the subject that is still so prevalent among many who would continue to call themselves Evangelical Christians.