I was recently challenged by a person who responded to my comment on another Blog. Because he was a devotee of John MacArthur, he was upset that I called MacArthur a proponent of “Lordship Salvation.” (LS) He claimed, in very eloquent language, not to understand LS, indicating he had learned much from MacArthur.
I also made the statement very clearly that MacArthur is a Reformed Calvinist.
This is my answer to him — which, unfortunately, leaves much unsaid on my part — simply for fear of too much verbiage and a lack of time to prove a point. The gentleman never answered my comment.
My definition of “Lordship Salvation” is described as any doctrine which adds works to salvation or to the keeping of salvation. Christian carnality is a shame but cannot be cured by adding or demanding works to gain, keep or insure salvation.
LS has its roots in Covenant/Reformed/Calvinist teaching, which leads a person to believe he must continue in good works to prove his salvation to God, the “P” in the Calvinist TULIP, Perseverance of the Saints.
Here are some quotes where MacArthur misses the mark in his teaching. He is indeed a learned man and respected by many, but alas, he projects errors in some of his doctrine. There are many references where he utters truth but likewise, there are too many times when he contradicts himself and the Bible.
MacArthur espouses Covenant/Reformed/Calvinist doctrine and consequently, this evidently influences his teaching of Lordship Salvation. It seems deliberate, not accidental, even though at times he denies his Reformed teaching. Look at some of his quotes:
From Saved Without A Doubt – MacArthur Study Series (Chariot Victor Books, 1992), p 58.
“….. It’s not that He [God] merely sees what will happen in the future; rather He ordains it. The Bible clearly teaches that God sovereignly chooses people to believe in Him.”
This is clearly Covenant/Reformed/Calvinist teaching with no scripture to support it. And yet in his statement before the Independent Fundamental Churches of America (IFCA) Board, 1989, in plenary session he said,
“I believe with all my heart and soul that you cannot come up with a covenant view of theology and maintain any kind of coherent hermeneutics.”
This contradicts his theology quoted above that “God sovereignly chooses people to believe…” Incidentally the words “sovereign” and all its derivatives do not appear in the King James Bible, but are catchwords of Calvinists.
An example of his Lordship teaching:
John MacArthur – Grace to You
“….. no one can be saved who counts the cost and is unwilling to pay it.”
My friends, this is the confusing essence and tenet of Lordship Salvation. Clear Biblical teaching says there is NO cost to being saved or staying saved.
For by grace are ye SAVED through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is THE GIFT OF GOD: NOT OF WORKS, lest any man should boast.
(Red caps my emphasis)
From: Grace to You Website (Grace Community Church – MacArthur, Pastor)
What we teach about God:
“He has graciously chosen from eternity past those whom He would have as His own.”
Again, this is Covenant/Reformed/Calvinist doctrine. This means God therefore chooses NOT to pick others (the un-chosen) leaving them condemned to hell. Bad Doctrine! “The Lord is … not willing that any should perish.” 2 Peter 3:9
From: John MacArthur
Master’s Seminary Journal
TMSJ 4/1 (Spring 1993) 5-24
“A faith that is void of submission is a merely intellectual faith, ….. Those who adopt such a view must then scale back the definition of faith so that believing is something that even depraved sinners are capable of.”
I would ask MacArthur, “Submission how? Obedience to a doctrine of mandatory works?”
Did not Christ die for every sinner, the whole world, no matter how “depraved?” (Incidentally, the word “depraved” does not appear in the Bible but it is an invention of Calvinists). What could possibly be the difference between an ordinary sinner and a “depraved” sinner. Christ died for the most “depraved” of sinners the Apostle Paul — who called himself “The chief of sinners.” We are all sinners by nature and deed and even our finest righteousness is, in God’s words, as “filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:5). We all deserve the condemnation of Hell.
MacArthur defines Perseverance of the Saints (Covenant/Reformed/Calvinist doctrine):
“It [perseverance] opposes the radical easy-believism teaching that genuine Christians can choose to ‘drop out’ of the spiritual growth process and ‘cease to confess Christianity.’ It [perseverance] is the polar opposite of the brand of theology that makes faith a ‘historic moment,’ a one-time ‘act’ that secures heaven, but offers no guarantee the ‘believer’s’ earthly life will be changed.”
Therein is the very definition of Lordship Salvation. MacArthur thereby declares and proclaims that if your life does not change, you are not saved.
“… for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7
Please remember, Christian carnality cannot be cured by adding or demanding works to gain, keep or insure salvation. The answer for the carnal Christian is (among many verses):
2 Timothy 2:15
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
And to be absolutely sure of your eternity — to be sure of Heaven some day, without a doubt: