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Thursday, March 31, 2011

What Is Wrong with NON-Lordship Salvation? - Part 5

By Justin Edwards

Had it been possible for you to have had salvation without sanctification, it would have been a curse to you instead of a blessing. If such a thing were possible, I cannot conceive of a more lamentable condition than for a man to have the happiness of salvation without the holiness of it; happily, it is not possible. - C.H. Spurgeon

Lordship salvation is one of the most hotly debated topics in the evangelical church today. The dividing line is generally made along the lines of monergism and synergism, which house the set of beliefs of Calvinism and Arminianism, respectively.

Monergism is the biblical view that regeneration (our being born again) is the work of God alone. There is nothing that we do to add to this work of the Holy Spirit, lest we be contributors to our salvation. Therefore, because our rebirth into new creations is a work of God alone, God alone may get the credit for our salvation, thus making no room for anyone to boast (Ephesians 2:9).

Synergism, on the other hand, is the non-biblical view that man's will cooperates with God's will in the work of regeneration. It assumes that God's sovereign work of redemption is ultimately limited by man's sovereignty of his own "free will". Therefore, man can boast in his salvation as having done something (believing by his own will and ability). This view posits that God wants to save all but can't, and he wants to make them holy but can't.

Simply put, monergism declares salvation is for the glory of God alone (Soli Deo Gloria), while synergism puts man in a position to share the glory with God.

With this basic foundation laid, we can now move forward into the doctrine of sanctification and its relationship with justification in this series titled, What Is Wrong with NON-Lordship Salvation?

Part 5 - Sanctification

In his article posted at Bible Prophecy Blog titled What Is Wrong with Lordship Salvation?, Dr. Andy Woods of Sugar Land Bible Church argues that lordship salvation proponents - that is, biblical Gospel proponents - blur the lines of justification with sanctification. In his fourth argument, Dr. Woods wrongly suggests,

Fourth, Lordship Salvation confuses sanctification with justification. 

To be clear, justification is the judicial decision of God to declare sinners not guilty in His holy courtroom.  Because of the perfect obedience of Jesus Christ, which is to say He is the only righteous man to walk the earth having perfectly kept the Law of God, He was fit to be a substitute on our behalf to atone for our sins against God (2 Corinthians 5:21). The theological term for the unblemished Lamb of God taking our punishment for us is substitutionary atonement (Isaiah 53:5; 1 Peter 2:24, 3:18). When sinners turn to God in repentant faith, having trusted in the Person and finished work of  Christ alone, they are immediately declared righteous before the throne of God (Romans 3:21-26). This righteousness is the righteousness of Jesus Christ whereby God looks at the saved sinner as though perfect in His eyes because they are clothed by Christ's righteousness having been justified freely by His grace. This is justification and it comes by faith alone (Romans 5:1).

Sanctification means to be set apart, to be made holy. When we are justified by faith, we are immediately sanctified positionally (1 Corinthians 6:11). This means we are set apart by God as a holy new creation born of Himself (1 John 5:1, 2 Corinthians 5:17), having been washed by the blood of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 9:14, 22; 1 John 1:7). This positional sanctification means we have been eternally separated unto God as a holy people (1 Corinthians 1:30; Hebrews 10:10, 14).

Neither justification or sanctification can occur without regeneration. As mentioned in Part 2, sinners are spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1; Colossians 2:13). They can no more make themselves alive or raise themselves from the dead than Lazarus could have raised himself from the dead (John 11:43-44). Jesus called the dead man Lazarus to come forth, and he did. So it is with every sinner who is spiritually dead, who cannot possibly please God (Romans 8:7), who cannot discern the things of God (1 Corinthians 2:14), that must be called forth from the spiritual grave by the voice of the Son of God (John 5:25). Without Jesus calling sinners forth, they cannot be made alive (Ephesians 2:5), and every single sinner He specifically calls forth, will hear and live. This is the authority given to Him by the Father (John 17:2). When Jesus calls us forth and the Holy Spirit makes us alive, this is what it means to be born again (John 3:3-8).  And as we can see in John 1:12-13, being born again is not something we do by a decision to choose God and believe:

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

and it is according to the mercy of God:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, - 1 Peter 1:3-5
He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit. - Titus 3:5
It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) 65 And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”  - John 6:63-65

It is important to explain each of these elements of salvation (regeneration, justification, and sanctification) because it becomes clear that salvation is a work of God alone for His glory alone (Ephesians 1:3-14). We can no more choose or cause ourselves to be born again than a baby can choose or cause himself to be born from his mother's womb.  We can no more choose to become adopted children of God than orphaned babies can choose their adoptive parents.  This is therefore imperative to understand when deconstructing a position such as Dr. Andy Woods' position against lordship salvation.

When Dr. Woods makes the unbiblical claim:

After coming to Christ, God issues another call for His children to pursue practical sanctification or discipleship, 

he does so with a synergistic understanding of Scripture.  What Dr. Woods means by practical sanctification, at least in the biblical sense, is the working out of our positional sanctification into every day holiness.  But Dr. Woods considers such practical sanctification an option for the professing believer and not necessarily something that is guaranteed to follow justification.  This is what we know from Scripture:

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. - Philippians 2:12-13

There are some who take verse 12 to mean we must work to keep our salvation, but that is not what the text is saying at all.  Looking to verse 13, we see that it is God who is working His good pleasure through us according to His will.  Paul is telling us to be submitted to the will of God and yield to the purifying work of the Holy Spirit.  Our sanctification is a cooperative effort with the Holy Spirit to fulfill God's will for our lives - our sanctification (1 Thessalonians 4:3-8) - and the works we do are the works God has predestined us to work (Ephesians 2:10). Most assuredly, these plans of God (His will for us) cannot be stopped:

“I know that you can do all things,and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted." - Job 42:2

So to assert as Dr. Woods that sanctification or discipleship is second-tier Christianity or an optional second calling of God for us to become practically righteous and holy is to fundamentally misunderstand that

he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. - Philippians 1:6

and that Jesus is

the founder and perfecter of our faith... - Hebrews 12:2

Even Dr. Woods at some level understands this by his contradictory Position Statement #6 that "...salvation in Christ will result in a changed life (2 Cor. 5:17, 1 Cor. 6:11)."  Why?  Because God is the author of our faith and He is the perfecter of our faith, which is to say He makes us alive to hear the Gospel to respond in repentant faith to be conformed to the image of Christ to finally be glorified with Him in heaven (Romans 8:29-30).

Moving along to the remainder of Dr. Woods' argument, he tells us concerning discipleship:

For example, those whom Christ called to be His disciples, like Peter, were already believers (Matt 16:24-25). We see the same salvation pattern at work through Old Testament Israel. First, the nation was redeemed through the Passover Lamb and then, sometime later, the nation was put under the Mosaic Law for purposes of sanctification (Exod 19:1ff). Thus, submission to Christ's Lordship is prerequisite for this second step of sanctification rather than for the initial step of justification. Therefore, the Scripture teaches Lordship Sanctification rather than Lordship Salvation. Lordship Salvation confuses this two-step approach by reading the principles for sanctification back into what is required for justification. In other words, what is the result of salvation mistakenly becomes the initial requirement for salvation. This mistake is tantamount to putting the cart before the horse.

Hogwash, Dr. Woods! Every born again Christian is a disciple from spiritual birth!  The very goal of evangelism is to go out and make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20).  There were many people following Christ at the time He gave the call to be disciples (believers). The crowd had gotten so large (Luke 14:25) that Jesus turned to them and said,

If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple...So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple. - Luke 14:26-27, 33

Not everyone in the crowd is a believer.  In fact, 85% of Americans profess the Christian faith, but how many of them actually live as though they are disciples of Christ?  A mere profession of faith is absolutely worthless in spiritual matters. The one who has not counted the cost to follow after Christ with what has been revealed to them, yielding to His Lordship, cannot be His disciple. This is why Jesus actually upped the ante because He knew there were many just following the crowd.

Just as it was then, there are many today who follow the crowd through their easy-believism because of empty promises of a temporally rich life, to buy fire insurance, to add Jesus as a fad or accessory, to be part of a "church" social club, or any other number of reasons that church or religion might appeal to them. But these people could care less about pursuing holiness, loving God with all of their heart, mind, soul, and strength through obedience, and following Christ at all costs. These are those who Scripture refers as living as enemies of the cross, whose god is there belly, and who have their minds set on earthly things (Philippians 3:18-19).  These are false disciples who consider the cost of discipleship too high and are not willing to follow Christ (John 6:66).

This, therefore, is the biblical view of sanctification:

Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. - 1 John 3:2-3

Do you see that?  Because we are children of the Most High, we will purify ourselves as He is pure.  We are being transformed into the glory of the Lord by the Spirit of the Lord (2 Corinthians 3:18), which means we will increasingly manifest the fruit of His Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). The spirit He has given us is one of love and self-control (2 Timothy 1:7), enabling us to become holy as He is holy (1 Peter 1:14-16), holiness without which no one will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14).

It is with these promises that we see there is no gap between justification and practical sanctification. The same God who works grace in us to believe is the same God whose grace teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldliness (Titus 2:11-14).  Lost people are carnal people, and when they are consumed by the grace of God, they are promised to become increasingly less carnal as they increasingly become more holy. That is why carnality as a stagnant state for the Christian is a myth, and it is why Dr. Woods' argument that there are second level Christians who have yielded to "Lordship Sanctification" is blasphemous to the sovereignty and reputation of God Almighty.

From the moment of salvation, God continues to work His salvation in us through the new desires He has planted in our hearts (Psalm 37:4; Ezekiel 36:25-27). And just as the grave clothes were removed from Lazarus giving him freedom to walk in newness of life, our spiritual grave clothes will be removed as we obey the Lord Jesus Christ to put off the old self and walk in newness of life:

But that is not the way you learned Christ!— assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self,  which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. - Ephesians 4:20-24

This takes us into the final argument from Dr. Woods against lordship salvation, which he suggests destroys the assurance of salvation for the born again believer. Having thus covered saving faith, biblical repentance, the myth of the continuously carnal Christian, and God's work of sanctification in this article, it will become clear why it is so important to examine oneself whether we are truly in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5) by studying Scripture to ascertain biblical assurance of salvation. Please then continue to Part 6.

In the meantime, I invite you to add the following message from Paul Washer to your mp3 player as he preaches on true conversion: Paul Washer: True Gospel - Conversion

Sanctification is the outcome and inseparable consequence of regeneration. He who is born again and made a new creature receives a new nature and a new principle and always lives a new life. A regeneration, which a man can have and yet live carelessly in sin or worldliness, is a regeneration invented by uninspired theologians, but never mentioned in Scripture. - J.C. Ryle

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Workplace Evangelism

By Justin Edwards

This article was originally posted at The Speak:Truth Project

Something incredible happened at work today. Due to the nature of my job, opportunities to share the Gospel with people at work do not come very often.  Lately, I have tried to frame my conversations in a way that reveals I am a Christian (like inserting references to church into conversations, etc.), but I have not shared the Gospel with anyone – until today!

Several times  a year we have vendors come in to do service on our various laboratory instruments and equipment.  Back in the fall, we had one such vendor come in but I could not get around to swing into a spiritual conversation.  I tried to plant a few feelers to see where he was at spiritually (like where he might go to church), but they hit a dead end.  But today was a different story…

Just after “Joe” arrived today, I believe the Lord pressed upon me to share the Gospel with him. For about 20 minutes I fumbled over my thoughts, wrestling with how I might swing into a spiritual conversation.  After all, Joe was going to be here for a few hours and he was just getting started.  What was I to do if the conversation with south?  I finally came to my senses, then all the sudden I blurted out something about the situation in Japan concerning the nuke crisis.  Joe agreed that it was serious, but the conversation didn’t really go anywhere.

A few minutes later I asked if there were any nuclear stations where he lived, and there is one, and told him we have two in the Charlotte area.  He said it was a good thing there are no fault lines here, and I said I actually think there is, and in fact there were several tremors in NC in the past couple of weeks.  Joe then said there are earthquakes everywhere, volcanoes, etc., and the world seemed like it was falling apart.  He said he’s hearing other people say this as well. I thought to myself, “wow, here we go!”  Joe made mention of the Mayan calender and 2012, and I said I don’t think the Mayan calender has anything to do with it, but I believe Scripture does.

Long story short, I eventually got to the crux of the matter that 10 out of 10 people die, and it could happen instantly for any of us whether it’s a terrorist attack, natural disaster, etc.  I asked him what he thought would happen to him, what came for him after death, and Joe said he wasn’t sure.  He gave me a brief background of his Catholic upbringing, but hadn’t returned to the Catholic church since a young boy.  Joe said he knows he needs to believe in something, and I told him that while that is true, believing in the right thing is what matters.

From there we went through the 10 Commandments and the Gospel, and it was a wonderful conversation.  Joe had many questions and understood the predicament he is in.  He seemed astounded that eternal life is not something we have to wait for until we die, but that we can have eternal life now.  Joe understood just how much it would cost him to become a child of God, and he admitted it was a lot to think about.  Unfortunately, my colleague came in about this time and this interrupted the conversation, but we were able to get through the whole Gospel nevertheless.
A couple hours went by and Joe finished up his work.  I escorted him outside and along the way he said he wished we got to talk more, but he knew this wasn’t the end of the conversation.  I then had the opportunity to make clear that Jesus said,

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.  – Matthew 11:28-30


Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” – John 4:13-14

And finally,

All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. – John 6:37

I explained to Joe that all who God draws and comes to Him, He will in no way cast them away.  Then Joe said,

I know, I can feel it.

It was so awesome to hear.  I may have been witnessing the Holy Spirit drawing Joe to Himself, and I told him,

if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. – Romans 10:9

Wrapping up the conversation, I gave Joe a copy of Are You Ready? and It Will Cost You Everything
I asked him if he had a Bible to which he said “no, but I’m going to go with my daughter to get one.”  How cool is that?

Joe was so thankful we had this conversation and knew it was not coincidence.  He said for 3 years now he knew something wasn’t right, and it seemed like everything was coming together for him now.  Joe said he’d be in touch as I told him I was at his full disposal for questions, etc.  I can’t wait to hear from him to see what God is doing, and I pray soon I can call Joe my brother – what a glorious day that will be!

I hope this has encouraged you to share the Gospel in your own workplace.  It was an incredible experience and I’m so thankful God used me to speak the Truth to Joe.  Pray the Lord keeps you sensitive to your surroundings at work to look for opportunities to witness and the courage to do so, and try stepping out on faith to create those opportunities. See what can happen when you do?

Hallelujah, what a day!

If you would like to learn about some do’s and don’t for evangelism in the workplace, I found this article to be very helpful:  Evangelism in the Workplace – Do’s and Dont’s

Monday, March 28, 2011

What Is Wrong with NON-Lordship Salvation? - Part 4

By Justin Edwards

There’s only one proof of the Holy Ghost in your life and that’s a holy life. - Leonard Ravenhill

In this series rebutting Dr. Andy Woods' article titled, What Is Wrong with Lordship Salvation?, we have covered the issues of saving faith and repentance, which could be condensed to repentant faith as a requirement for salvation. Dr. Woods has a very unbiblical view of salvation, yet this view is common among the contemporary evangelical church today. The ramifications of this erroneous theology, which fundamentally is classic easy-believism, is the creation of an unorthodox category of "carnal Christians", a distorted view of sanctification, and a distorted view of assurance of salvation and perseverance of the saints (also known as "eternal security"). These latter three positions represent the final three arguments against lordship salvation by Dr. Woods and will be covered in the coming days.

Part 4 - Carnal Christians

In closing Part 3 last week, I addressed the following statement from Sugar Land Bible Church's Position #6:

That being said, we just as strongly maintain that salvation in Christ will result in a changed life (2 Cor. 5:17, 1 Cor. 6:11).

Not only does this statement contradict Dr. Woods' view of repentance as it relates to salvation, but it contradicts his position of "carnal Christianity". If "salvation in Christ will result in a changed life", which it most certainly does, how does Dr. Woods account for this statement at the end of his third argument:

While carnal Christianity is obviously not God's perfect will for His children, such a categorization is a legitimate possibility.?

According to Dr. Woods' inconsistent theology, "simple belief" in Christ allows for a continually habitual lifestyle of unrepentant sin, such as homosexuality or adultery. This category is one that allows for no viable spiritual change in the life of the professing Christian. It constitutes that the professing Christian can continue living as an unbeliever despite the many references in 1 John to the contrary. Yet, according to his own Position #6, salvation will result in a changed life. You cannot have it both ways, Dr. Woods.

Have you believed the deception?
To open up his third argument against lordship salvation, Dr. Woods makes the claim:

Third, Lordship Salvation ignores the possibility of a carnal Christian. 

This is an untruth. Lordship salvation proponents - that is, believers in the unadulterated Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ - do not ignore the possibility of a carnal Christian, per se; but they do deny the possibility that one can remain carnal all the days of their Christian walk. Further, Dr. Woods concludes,

If complete commitment and yielding to Christ is an initial prerequisite for salvation, then there is no such thing as a believer who is carnal or not completely surrendered to Christ. 

This is another misrepresentation of what faithful servants of the Gospel teach. To teach otherwise, one would have to believe in the heresy of sinless perfection. Moreover, it is not possible to be perfectly surrendered to Christ, but what Christ calls us to is radical submission to His will, which will result in habitual obedience as opposed to habitual disobedience to the Word of God (1 John 3:4-10). Additionally, Dr. Woods' statement further reveals his misunderstanding of the sovereignty of God in our salvation, as he believes any such commitment to Christ results in some kind of works-based salvation, when in fact, this radical submission to Christ is wrought of the Spirit of God through regeneration (Ephesians 2:1, 5; Colossians 2:13). 

As a proof-text for biblical claims of carnal believers, Dr. Woods tells us:

Yet the Bible contains numerous examples of carnal believers. For example, Lot, who is called “righteous” three times (2 Pet 2:7-8), exhibits perpetual unrighteous behavior (Gen 19:30-38).

Perpetual? Merriam-Webster defines perpetual as:

continuing forever; everlasting; valid for all time; holding for life or for an unlimited time

Dr. Woods takes one example from Lot's life and extrapolates a whole category of Christians who live in continuous, wanton sin. However, just as he did point out, Lot was declared righteous by God (2 Peter 2:7-8). If Lot was called righteous by God, his life would have been marked by the habitual practice of righteousness (1 John 3:4-10). We cannot take one instance in Lot's life and develop an entire doctrine around it, such as perpetual carnal Christians. This is a gross abuse of the Scriptures. The truth is, Lot hated lawlessness and was "greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked" and tormented "his righteous soul over their lawless deeds". That does not sound like a man who habitually practiced a lifestyle of sexual immorality, lest he was a hypocrite and had no right to judge the acts of these wicked men.

Dr. Woods continues with the example of the Corinthians:
Similarly, the Corinthians are called saints (1 Cor 1:2) yet the rest of 1 Corinthians reveals their un-saintly behavior. Thus, Paul refers to them as carnal believers (1 Cor 3:1-3).

These "carnal believers" were operating according to their flesh in this one area regarding the resolution of personal conflicts, but nowhere in this text do we see they continued to operate as carnal believers in the whole of their life. On the contrary, we see in chapter 1 that Paul thanked God for their faithfulness and acknowledged they lacked no spiritual gift (1 Corinthians 1:4-9). In this particular instance, Paul was admonishing and instructing them as infants in Christ because they were acting in the flesh with regard to conflict.

Another admonishment from Paul is found in 1 Corinthians 5:11-13, where he instructs the Corinthians in what to do with so-called brothers, eg. professing Christians, who willfully engage in a sinful lifestyle:

But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13 God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.

Some may consider this to be harsh, especially in this age of tolerance within the visible church. But the Apostle Paul is not playing games, and neither is God. The so-called brother was living like an unbeliever, one who was still under the dominion of Satan (Ephesians 2:2). Paul instructed the Corinthians that the proper thing to do is address their sin and expose it to the light of Scripture, and if they refuse to repent, we are to cut off fellowship with them "for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord (1 Corinthians 5:5)". There are three possible outcomes in this situation:

1) There will be no repentance because this so-called brother is, in fact, not a child of God.
2) There will be repentance and reconciliation (2 Corinthians 2:6-8), which is the result of the Father's discipline (Hebrews 12:4-11).
3) The so-called brother will die in their sin, and we may have no assurance that they were born again believers. 

If number 2 proves to be true, then this temporarily "carnal Christian" will no longer be so, or it could be that a false convert became born again as a result of conviction through the Holy Spirit and the loving discipline from the Body of Christ in the local church. 

The bottom line is this: Christians do sin, but Christians do not practice sin as a lifestyle. Christians may act carnally, but they will not remain carnal. The evidence and assurance that one is born again is a continual progression in the conformity to Christ, while the evidence that one is not born again is a continuous state of carnality. And why is this so? Because as born again children of God, we are new creations in Christ. We have been purchased and are now owned by our Master, Jesus Christ, and are thus no longer slaves to sin but have become slaves of Christ. While we have been freed from the bondage of sin, we have now come under the freeing bondage of Christ's righteousness. We are no longer slaves of unrighteousness to obey it, which leads to death, but are now slaves to God to obey Him. These are marvelous truths that can be found in Romans 6:1-23, which can be summed up in verses 20-23:

For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

This is God's promise to us: freedom from the bondage of sin, bought into slavery to God, obtaining divine fruit that leads to sanctification, which results in our glorification - eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

In conclusion, there is no such thing as a category of Christians who continuously and habitually practice a lifestyle of unrepentant sin. Scripture shows us that Christians can live carnally, but carnal living is not the brand or recognized mark of the born again believer. On the contrary, the life of the believer is marked by holiness and a hatred of sin, though we may and will fall to temptation. Should a professing believer sustain a habitual lifestyle of unrepentant sin, they are to be cut off from fellowship for the sake of their souls. God has promised that He sanctifies every blood-bought child of God until the day He glorifies them (Romans 8:29-30; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8; Titus 2:11-14)); therefore, no child of God can remain in a continuous state of carnality as this opposes the will of God (our sanctification).

Dr. Woods teaches that a professing Christian can live any lifestyle they choose, and at the end of the day, they are still saved if they once professed faith in Christ. In today's carnal church, this false teaching contributes to the damnation of many poor souls in assuring them of salvation when they could biblically have no assurance according to their lifestyle of sin.

My friend, Mike Ratliff, posted an article earlier this month on sanctification showing that sanctification is a divine work of God that is rooted in the divine work of the Holy Spirit. I believe this gives us an excellent transition into Part 5 of this series, which addresses the relationship between justification and sanctification. Mike writes:

Regeneration is birth; sanctification is growth. In regeneration, God implants desires that were not there before: desire for God, for holiness, and for the hallowing and glorifying of God’s name in this world; desire to pray, worship, love, serve, honor, and please God; desire to show love and bring benefit to others. In sanctification, the Holy Spirit “works in you to will and to act” according to God’s purposes; what he does is prompt you to “work out your salvation” (i.e., express it in action) by fulfilling these new desires (Philippians 2:12-13). Christians become increasingly Christlike as the moral profile of Jesus (the “fruit of the Spirit”) is progressively formed in them (2 Corinthians 3:18; Galatians 4:19; 5:22-25). Paul’s use of glory in 2 Corinthians 3:18 shows that for him sanctification of character is glorification begun. Then the physical transformation that gives us a body like Christ’s, one that will match our totally transformed character and be a perfect means of expressing it, will be glorification completed (Philippians 3:20-21; 1 Corinthians 15:49-53).

Regeneration was a momentary monergistic act of quickening the spiritually dead. As such, it was God’s work alone. Sanctification, however, is in one sense synergistic—it is an ongoing cooperative process in which regenerate persons, alive to God and freed from sin’s dominion (Romans 6:11, 14-18), are required to exert themselves in sustained obedience. God’s method of sanctification is neither activism (self-reliant activity) nor apathy (God-reliant passivity), but God-dependent effort (2 Corinthians 7:1; Philippians 3:10-14; Hebrews 12:14). Knowing that without Christ’s enabling we can do nothing, morally speaking, as we should, and that he is ready to strengthen us for all that we have to do (Philippians 4:13), we “stay put” (remain, abide) in Christ, asking for his help constantly—and we receive it (Colossians 1:11; 1 Timothy 1:12; 2 Timothy 1:7; 2:1).

Indeed, which is to say "carnal Christianity" is a myth and tradition of men, as sanctification begins immediately at justification as a result of the new birth.

For related articles, please see:

Dear "Carnal Christian"

Who Am I According to God? Who Are You?

Are You Living a Lie?

Don't Play Games with Your Eternity

Friday, March 25, 2011

What Is Wrong with NON-Lordship Salvation? - Part 3

By Justin Edwards

I'm thankful that Christ saved me, but I'm not ready to obey Him. Jesus is my Savior, but I do not love Him enough to hate my sin and flee from it. Jesus died for me and I appreciate that, but demanding that I follow Him is a little too much right now - maybe later. I love God with all of my heart, but I still love my sin. That's ok, right? I believe God is in control of all things, except me - that's why I want to retain control of my life and do things the way I want to do them. God's will for my life is nice, but my will still be done, at least for now. Jesus came into my heart, but I'm not ready for Him to teach me yet. Christ forgives me because I believe, but thirsting for righteousness and being holy is for disciples. I'll be a disciple one day, but for now I'm happy with just being saved - after all, obedience is for "super Christians". In short, I will not bow to Christ, at least not yet - but praise God for grace, yes? - John "no-lordship" Doe

Ridiculous, isn't it? This is the implication for those who reject so-called "lordship salvation". These are the things they allow with the position that one only has to believe, but not follow the Lord Jesus Christ in obedience and love for the cross and the person of Christ. Such a person is Dr. Andy Woods of Sugar Land Bible Church who was recently featured on the Bible Prophecy Blog with the article, What Is Wrong with Lordship Salvation?

In Part 2 of this series titled, What Is Wrong with NON-Lordship Salvation?, I addressed the matter of saving faith. Dr. Woods teaches that all one needs for salvation is an intellectual assent to facts about Christ and His work on the cross. He also believes the following words are synonyms of each other: belief, faith, trust, confidence, and repentance. So with that, let's tackle the differences between Dr. Woods' definition for repentance and biblical repentance.

Part 3 - Repentance

Dr. Woods begins his second argument against lordship salvation with the following:

Second, Lordship Salvation places an impossible requirement upon the unsaved. The unsaved person is dead in his trespasses and sins (Eph 2:1) and thus incapable of doing anything of spiritual value, such as obey, submit, forsake, etc...By making these other things the conditions of salvation rather than simply believing, obstacles are placed in front of the unbeliever that he or she is incapable of fulfilling.

Perhaps Dr. Woods is referring to Jesus, when He said:

If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. - Luke 14:26

And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. - Luke 14:27

So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple. - Luke 14:33

He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. - Matthew 10:37

And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. - Matthew 10:38

He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it. - Matthew 10:39

Impossible? Absolutely - for the carnal mind:

Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. - Romans 8:7

Who then can be saved? Who then can meet these impossible demands of Christ?! The disciples asked Jesus these very questions after they witnessed the rich young ruler in Matthew 19:16-22 walking away from Christ because he was not willing to forsake all that he was and all that he had for the Kingdom of God. He loved his riches more than he loved God. They were his idols and he was not willing to forsake them. But Jesus answered them in Matthew 19:26,

With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.

Oh but for the sovereign grace of God, none would be saved! It is indeed utterly impossible for the flesh to submit to the authority of Christ, but by grace, we are willing to do so - and will do so.

Continuing, Dr. Woods says:

The lost are capable of doing only one thing that is pleasing to a holy God: trusting in His provision for salvation.

No, Dr. Woods, the lost are not even capable of doing that. It is because we are dead in our trespasses as carnal men that we can do nothing but rebel against God. We cannot please Him, period (Romans 8:7). So, even our faith, even our trusting and the ability to do so is a gift of God, lest we should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9; 1 Corinthians 1:26-31).

Finally, on the doctrine of repentance, Dr. Woods suggests:

What then shall we make of the numerous biblical commands for the lost to repent (Acts 2:38; 17:30; 2 Pet 3:9)? The Greek word translated repent is metanoeō. It comes from two Greek words meta and noeō. Meta means change, as in metamorphosis. Noeō means “to perceive.” From the word noeō we get the English word notion, which refers to an idea emanating from the mind. Thus, repent or metanoeō means to change one's mind about Christ rather than to change one's behavior in order to come to Christ. In this sense, repentance is a synonym for faith. Position Statement #6 captures this idea when it says, "With respect to salvation, repentance is a change of mind regarding the Person and work of Christ."

From my experience in learning of the non-lordship salvation position, the two major points of contention are the sovereignty of God (sovereign grace creating saving faith) and the definition of repentance. Dr. Woods has echoed what most contend from his position that repentance is nothing more than a change of mind about who God is and what Christ has done. Further, they misrepresent true repentance by asserting that Gospel preachers and teachers teach that repentance means to change one's behavior before coming to Christ. On the first hand, Dr. Woods definition is biblically insufficient. On the second hand, biblical repentance does not mean to change one's behavior before coming to Christ, but biblical repentance always results in changed behavior.

The Blue Letter Bible features the 19th century Anglican Archbiship of Dublin, Richard C. Trent, to explain the different forms of repentance. Trent sums up biblical repentance that leads to salvation as follows:

It is only after metanoeō has been taken up into the uses of Scripture, or of writers dependant on Scripture, that it comes predominantly to mean a change of mind, taking a wiser view of the past...a regret for the ill done in that past, and out of all this a change of life for the better...μετανοεῖν and metanoeō gradually advanced in depth and fulness of meaning, till they became the fixed and recognized words to express that mighty change in mind, heart, and life wrought by the Spirit of God (‘such a virtuous alteration of the mind and purpose as begets a like virtuous change in the life and practice,’ Kettlewell), which we call repentance.

In other words, while metanoeō does technically mean "to change one's mind", its usage and context in Scripture is deeper than that. Biblical repentance, therefore, involves a change in the mind (intellect), in the emotions (heart), and the will (volition leading to changed behavior).

One such evidence of this can be found in the Beatitudes of Matthew 5, where we see that only the poor in spirit, the mournful, the meek, and those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will see the Kingdom of Heaven. The poor in spirit recognize they have broken God's Law and have sinned against a holy God. They understand their lost condition, and recognize their desperate need of a Savior. For having offended God, they are contrite in spirit and mourn over their sinful behavior against God (Psalm 34:18, 51:17; Isaiah 57:15, 66:2). This leads to a resolution to turn their back on the very thing that hung Christ on the cross, a changed attitude toward sin and a desire to obey the One who saved them. This kind of repentance is a change of mind, a change of heart, and a change of the will. Please see Blessed Purity for further explanation.

Another piece of evidence for repentance that results in a change of attitude and behavior is found in 1 Thessalonians 1:9:

For they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God,

What do we see in this passage? The Thessalonians turned to God, from idols, to serve God. In other words, they could not serve God unless they forsook their idols. Repentance, therefore, is a turning away from sin and turning to God to love Him and obey Him. To make this point even more clear that repentance is turning from sin to God in faith, we see in Acts 14:15 where Paul and Barnabas rebuke the men of Lystra for worshiping idols,

Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men with the same nature as you, and preach to you that you should turn from these useless things to the living God, who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and all things that are in them,

Notice Paul did not charge them to only turn to God. He clearly tells them to turn from their idols and to turn to the living God. Those who teach that men do not have to forsake their sin are those who do not value the law of God. They often use Romans 7 to show that "even Paul" sinned and did not do what he wanted to do, but rather did the things he did not want to do. It sometimes comes across that they may be looking to minimize, excuse, or justify their own sinful behavior. However, what they fail to understand is that Paul hated his sin and saw himself as wretched:

O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! - Romans 7:24-25

And because the born again believer has the mind of Christ at the moment of conversion (1 Corinthians 2:16), he will go on to bear fruit in keeping with repentance (Luke 3:8). Martin Lloyd-Jones said of repentance:

Repentance means that you realize that you are a guilty, vile sinner in the presence of God, that you deserve the wrath and punishment of God, that you are hell-bound. It means that you begin to realize that this thing called sin is in you, that you long to get rid of it, and that you turn your back on it in every shape and form. You renounce the world whatever the cost, the world in its mind and outlook as well as its practice, and you deny yourself, and take up the cross and go after Christ. Your nearest and dearest, and the whole world, may call you a fool, or say you have religious mania. You may have to suffer financially, but it makes no difference. That is repentance.

Interestingly enough, in his second argument Dr. Woods did not share the statement that follows "With respect to salvation, repentance is a change of mind regarding the Person and work of Christ." Position #6 actually closes with:

That being said, we just as strongly maintain that salvation in Christ will result in a changed life (2 Cor. 5:17, 1 Cor. 6:11).

Precisely, Dr. Woods, which is why your theology is a mess of contradiction. Why do you think it is that salvation will result in a changed life? It is only because salvation is a work of God alone from grace alone whereby He gives to us the gifts of faith and repentance (Ephesians 2:8; 2 Timothy 2:25). The new heart He gives us, at conversion, is wrought with godly sorrow and a turning from sin (2 Corinthians 7:10), a saving faith (Matthew 13:23), and a love for His commandments (1 John 5:2-4).

In closing, Scripture is clear that not just any faith (Parable of the Sower) and not just any repentance (Judas, for example, had merely a repentance of the mind alone) is enough for salvation. Moreover, faith and repentance are not synonyms, but rather two sides of the same coin. What God requires is a repentant faith, which is only possible as a gift from God. This type of faith, or trusting in God, is a contrite faith, with a heart's desire to obey in love the commands of Christ. It is love for the One who saved and delivered them from their sin, and it is love for the King, Ruler, Master, Sovereign, and Lord who rules over them, not with a rod of iron, but with pierced hands and feet.

Please continue to Part 4 that addresses the mysterious "carnal christian".

For additional articles on biblical repentance, please see:

What Is True Repentance?

Godly Sorrow or Hopeless Repentance?

Is Christ Your Lord?

True Repentance

Spurgeon on Repentance

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Why Christians Won't Habitually Sin

By Justin Edwards

Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. - 1 John 3:4

The following comes from page 1951 in the John MacMarthur Bible Commentary and addresses the fact that born again believers do not habitually sin.

Why Christians Won't Habitually Sin

This passage begins with the phrase "Whoever commits sin" (v. 4). Commits translates a Greek verb that conveys the idea of habitual practice. Although genuine Christians have a sin nature (1 John 1:8) and do behave sinfully, their confession of sin (1 John 1:9; 2:1) and acceptance of forgiveness prevent sin from becoming the unbroken pattern of their lives (John 8:31, 34-36; Romans 6:11; 2 John 1:9). God builds a certain growing awareness about sin that provides four effective reasons why true Christians cannot habitually practice sin:

1. Genuine Christians cannot practice sin because sin is incompatible with the law of God, which they love (1 John 3:4; Psalm 119:34, 77, 97; Romans 7:12, 22); whereas habitual sin betrays the ultimate sense of rebellion - living as if there were no law or ignoring what laws exist (James 4:17) - in short, lawlessness.

2.  Genuine Christians cannot practice sin because sin is incompatible with the work of Christ (1 John 3:5). Christ died to sanctify (make holy) the believer (2 Corinthians 5:21; Ephesians 5:25-27). Habitual sin contradicts Christ's work of breaking the dominion of sin in the believer's life (Romans 6:1-15).

3.  Genuine Christians cannot practice sin because Christ came to destroy the works of the arch-sinner, Satan (1 John 3:8). The devil is still operating, but he has been defeated, and in Christ we escape his tyranny. The day will come when all of Satan's activity will cease in the universe, and he will be sent to hell forever (Revelation 20:10).

4.  Genuine Christians cannot practice sin because sin is incompatible with the ministry of the Holy Spirit, who has imparted a new nature to the believer (1 John 3:9; John 3:5-8). This new nature shuns sin and exhibits the habitual character of righteousness produced by the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-24).

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

What Is Wrong with NON-Lordship Salvation? - Part 2

By Justin Edwards

The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel. - Mark 1:15 

Dr. Andy Woods of Sugar Land Bible Church was recently featured on the Bible Prophecy Blog with his article titled, What Is Wrong with Lordship Salvation? He provided 5 arguments for why lordship salvation is wrong, and as I informed you in the introductory article, What Is Wrong with NON-Lordship Salvation? - Part 1, I will be addressing each of his flawed arguments in a series to be sure to cover all of Dr. Woods' errors in a thorough manner. My aim is to provide clear evidence from Scripture for why "lordship salvation" is nothing short of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, to clear up confusion for those perplexed by Dr. Woods' article, to give clarity of the lordship salvation doctrine for those who have been deceived by teachings such as that provided by Dr. Woods, and to edify the Body of Christ and encourage the brethren to boldly proclaim the unadulterated biblical Gospel. I pray this endeavor will honor and bring glory to my God and King, for whom I owe my life as a humble servant because of His love and sovereign grace (Romans 12:1).

Part 2 - Saving Faith

Dr. Woods' position truly hinges on his first argument, and likewise crumbles under it. Because he and many others like him in the evangelical church hold to a low view of God, which is to say that man holds greater sovereignty over himself than the Omnipotent Creator, it is difficult for them to comprehend God's work in our salvation. Moreover, Dr. Woods inherently charges those who believe in the unadulterated Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ as preaching another gospel with such statements as,

Lordship Salvation changes the very heart of the Gospel, which only requires a child-like faith. 

My challenge to Dr. Woods and every person reading this article who agrees with his assertion of lordship salvation - are you prepared to declare men and women who adhere to "lordship salvation" as heretics? After all, if lordship salvation "changes the very heart of the Gospel", would that not be another gospel? Would this other gospel not be accursed according to Galatians 1:8-9? Are you prepared to mark godly men such as Jonathan Edwards, Charles Spurgeon, Martin Lloyd-Jones, George Whitefield, John Bunyan, A.W. Pink, B.B. Warfield, John Knox and the Puritans, J.C. Ryle, Leonard Ravenhill, Steven Lawson, John MacArthur, Ray Comfort, Al Mohler, C.J. Mahaney, Ray Comfort, Paul Washer and many other stalwarts of the faith as heretics? Because I tell you, these men believe in none other than the Lordship of Christ and our surrender to Him at salvation. Or perhaps you were a bit irresponsible with your words, Dr. Woods? If you truly believe these men, who represent historical Christian orthodoxy, are preaching a message that is contrary to the heart of the Gospel, do you stand by these implications? Why or why not?

Dr. Woods continues in his first argument:

There are probably somewhere between 150 to 200 New Testament passages which singularly condition a lost person’s salvation upon belief alone in Christ (John 3:16; 6:28-29; Acts 16:31; Rom 1:16, etc...). Belief is a synonym for faith or confidence or trust in God’s provision. The moment a lost person exercises trust in Christ is the moment he is saved.

So the devils are then saved, Dr. Woods? If all saving faith requires is to believe, then what of these devils who believe there is one God and tremble (James 2:19)? Clearly, it is more than just intellectual assent to a list of facts of who Christ is and what He has done. After all, faith without works is dead (James 2:20). Therefore, it is the type of belief one has that results in saving faith, and it is not of ourselves lest we should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Dr. Woods continues,

Why has God made salvation so simple? God has designed salvation as a free gift (Rom 4:4). If there were some human action to be performed beyond belief then salvation becomes something that we do rather than what God does. Such a human insertion reduces salvation’s free gift status by making it something we earn. In other words, under the Lordship Salvation model, surrender or commitment becomes a work that one does to earn salvation despite the fact that the Scripture is clear that salvation is not by works (Eph 2:8-9; Isa 64:6). Also, God has specifically designed salvation so that the principle of human boasting is eliminated (Rom 3:27; 4:2). Yet, if the unsaved could do anything to merit salvation beyond simple belief, such as commit or surrender, then he has contributed to the salvation process and thus has something to boast over. God cannot allow this to happen given His aversion to pride of any sort.

Dr. Woods has it backwards in terms of working and boasting. Because a position such as Dr. Woods' reduces belief to a human work, it is no wonder there is an attempt to reduce faith to simple intellectual belief. By adding any type of commitment or repentance to this type of belief, from their perspective, it adds works to salvation. And I would agree with them if salvation was indeed left up to man's own choosing or natural ability to choose God in faith.

But, as we were completely spiritually dead in our trespasses (Ephesians 2:1) and blinded by the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4), it is only by the absolute sovereign grace of God who shines His light in us, thus breaking the power of darkness and lifting the veil from our blinded eyes (2 Corinthians 4:6), that we are enabled to believe with conviction. God must perform open-heart surgery on us that we would love Him with all of our mind, soul, heart, and strength (Deuteronomy 30:6) , and when He does, we will come to the cross! (John 6:37, 17:2) Our salvation, therefore, is wrought out of the will of God, not man (John 1:13, Romans 9:16), because He is rich in mercy (Ephesians 2:4-5) and wills to bring glory to Himself through His perfect plan of redemption (Ephesians 1:3-14).

Having established that salvation is of the Lord (Jonah 2:9; 1 Corinthians 1:29-31), and it is impossible for natural man to discern the things of God (1 Corinthians 2:14, Romans 8:7-8), we may now move forward in defining saving faith.  

The simplest definition of saving faith is: 

It is authored by God (Hebrews 12:2, Philippians 1:6). It is solely His work (Philippians 2:13). Saving faith is meek (Matthew 5:5, Matthew 11:29). Saving faith obeys (Hebrews 5:9, 1 John 5:2). Saving faith bears fruit (Luke 3:8, 8:15). Saving faith loves God and people (Matthew 22:36-40).

Saving faith is trusting that Jesus is both God and Lord (John 20:28), who alone has the power to forgive sins (Luke 5:24, John 8:58), has also the power to save us from our sins (Romans 5:10) and destroy the dominion of sin over us (Romans 6:5-11; 1 John 3:8). So yes, I agree with Dr. Woods that the moment a person exercises trust in the Lord Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross, he is saved because he is justified, sanctified, and washed by the blood of Jesus (1 Corinthians 6:11, 1 John 1:7). But this is not mere intellectual assent to a list of facts, it is a faith that actually trusts that God can do what He promises to do - that is, to save us from His own wrath and to save us from the bondage of our sin.

In closing his first argument, Dr. Woods tells us,

Lordship Salvation perverts this divine order by making salvation something we do for God rather than something He does for us. It is Christ who saves us rather than our surrender or commitment to Him.

No, Dr. Woods, your misconception about lordship salvation perverts this divine work of God. And about God doing something for us - everyone single person reading this article and every single person who has ever carried oxygen in their lungs deserves the just punishment of eternal hell (Romans 3:23, 6:23). We have all broken God's Law, therefore none of us are righteous (Romans 3:10). The Sovereign Lord would still be good and would still be just if He saved none of us and we all perished in hell for our iniquities. However, before the foundation of the world, He chose to redeem a people for Himself through His own Son because of His great mercy (1 Peter 1:2, 20-21). So it is completely and absolutely, from start to finish, something He does for us. He chose a people for Himself, He purchased them with His blood, and He reconciled them through the Spirit - despite our wickedness and to the praise of His own glory.

The reason why faith commits, surrenders, and obeys is because faith is a gift and a work of God in us. He changes our heart and our attitude, which gives us the desire to submit to His will and enables us to comply. The childlike faith Dr. Woods mentioned is precisely what we must have in order to receive the gift of eternal life (Matthew 18:3). A child's faith is humble and submits to authority. In humility, they are able to be taught and obey the commands of authority. Likewise, without this humble submission to the authority of Christ, no one will see the Kingdom of God.

The following excerpt is from Charles Spurgeon, the prince of preachers, who delivered this divine message on June 13th, 1862 titled, Faith and Repentance Inseperable (transcript). This must-listen sermon can be downloaded at Sermonaudio. Here, Spurgeon warns of a type of belief that does not save (paragraphs created for easier reading):

Faith means trust in Christ. Now, I must again remark that some have preached this trust in Christ so well and so fully, that I can admire their faithfulness and bless God for them; yet there is a difficulty and a danger; it may be that in preaching simple trust in Christ as being the way of salvation, that they omit to remind the sinner that no faith can be genuine but such as is perfectly consistent with repentance for past sin; for my text seems to me to put it thus: no repentance is true but that which consorts with faith; no faith is true but that which is linked with a hearty and sincere repentance on account of past sin.

So then, dear friends, those people who have a faith which allows them to think lightly of past sin, have the faith of devils, and not the faith of God's elect. Those who say, "Oh, as for the past, that is nothing; Jesus Christ has washed all that away"; and can talk about all the crimes of their youth, and the iniquitous of their riper years, as if they were mere trifles, and never think of shedding a tear; never feel their souls ready to burst because they should have been such great offenders—such men who can trifle with the past, and even fight their battles o'er again when their passions are too cold for new rebellions—I say that such who think sin a trifle and have never sorrowed on account of it, may know that their faith is not genuine.

Such men as have a faith which allows them to live carelessly in the present who say, "Well, I am saved by a simple faith"; and then sit on the ale-bench with the drunkard, or stand at the bar with the spirit-drinker, or go into worldly company and enjoy the carnal pleasures and the lusts of the flesh, such men are liars; they have not the faith which will save the soul. They have a deceitful hypocrisy; they have not the faith which will bring them to heaven.

And then, there be some other people who have a faith which leads them to no hatred of sin. They do not look upon sin in others with any kind of shame. It is true they would not do as others do, but then they can laugh at what others commit. They take pleasure in the vices of others; laugh at their profane jests, and smile at their loose speeches. They do not flee from sin as from a serpent, nor detest it as the murderer of their best friend.

No, they dally with it; they make excuses for it; they commit in private what in public they condemn. They call grave offences slight faults and little defalcations; and in business they wink at departures from uprightness, and consider them to be mere matters of trade; the fact being that they have a faith which will sit down arm-in-arm with sin, and eat and drink at the same table with unrighteousness. Oh! if any of you have such a faith as this, I pray God to turn it out bag and baggage. It is of no good to you; the sooner you are cleaned out of it the better for you, for when this sandy foundation shall all be washed away, perhaps you may then begin to build upon the rock.

My dear friends, I would be very faithful with your souls, and would lay the lancet at each man's heart. What is your repentance? Have you a repentance that leads you to look out of self to Christ, and to Christ only? On the other hand, have you that faith which leads you to true repentance; to hate the very thought of sin; so that the dearest idol you have known, whatever it may be, you desire to tear from its throne that you may worship Christ, and Christ only? Be assured of this, that nothing short of this will be of any use to you at the last.

A repentance and a faith of any other sort may do to please you now, as children are pleased with fancies; but when you get on a death-bed, and see the reality of things, you will be compelled to say that they are a falsehood and a refuge of lies. You will find that you have been daubed with untempered mortar; that you have said, "Peace, peace," to yourselves, when there was no peace. Again, I say, in the words of Christ, "Repent and believe the gospel." Trust Christ to save you, and lament that you need to be saved, and mourn because this need of yours has put the Saviour to open shame, to frightful sufferings, and to a terrible death.

And that will lead us well into Part 3, which addresses Dr. Woods' argument against the necessity for repentance, biblical repentance that is.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

What Is Wrong with NON-Lordship Salvation? - Part 1

By Justin Edwards

What's the Answer for a Culture in Decay, Decline, or Despair?
On Saturday, March 19th, an article came across my Google Reader titled, What Is Wrong with Lordship Salvation? by Dr. Andy Woods of Sugar Land Bible Church. The article was posted at Bible Prophecy Blog, which is generally a good resource for keeping up with end-times happenings. Unfortunately, because of this non-lordship salvation article and its rejection of the biblical doctrine of "lordship salvation", I had to remove it from my Blog Roll as I do not want to cause confusion to the Body of Christ or lend to the false assurance of salvation of false converts. Instead, Lord willing, I will be rebutting Dr. Woods' 5-part argument for his non-lordship position and show why he is in danger of preaching another gospel - one that does not save.

Due to the length of Dr. Woods' article and the many errors within it, I will break my response into at least 6 articles with Part 1 being a response to Dr. Woods' introduction. If you would like to read Dr. Woods' article in its entirety, you can do so here:  What Is Wrong with Lordship Salvation?

If this is your first time hearing of "lordship salvation", you might find the following article helpful to you: Lordship Salvation - It Will Cost You Everything.

Part 1- Introduction

Dr. Woods begins his article with the following:

Lordship Salvation is the idea that an unbeliever must commit all areas of his life to Christ as a condition for being saved. 

A common tactic I have found of those refuting lordship salvation is their use of logical fallacies, such as the Straw Man fallacy above. I do not know of any person who believes in the unadulterated Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, otherwise known as "lordship salvation", who suggests or teaches that one must consciously commit all areas of his life to Christ as a condition for being saved. The implication with Dr. Woods' packaging in the above statement is that one must consciously consider every area of one's life before coming to the cross, and surrender it to the Lord if they are to be saved. This means, according to Dr. Woods' understanding of lordship salvation, that one must repent from every single sin and surrender absolutely every element of a person's life in conscious consideration, if they are to be forgiven. That is a false representation of the lordship salvation position.

The truth is, one must indeed surrender all to the Lord Jesus Christ. Biblically speaking, this means one forsakes everything to be a disciple of Christ (Luke 14:33). Practically speaking, when one is born again of the Spirit, they give up ownership of themselves and their belongings, and they let go of the world and the chains of sin around their neck, broken by the power of the Holy Spirit. Ultimately, when one forsakes everything for Christ, they forsake control of themselves and put on the gentle yoke of Christ that leads them in sanctifying grace (Matthew 11:29). As humble servants of their Master, the Christian, from the moment of salvation, will begin a journey that leaves their old life behind in increasing measure as they are transformed by the renewing of their mind (Romans 12:2).

Dr. Woods continues in his introduction,

Another way of articulating Lordship Salvation is, “if Jesus is not Lord of all then He is not Lord at all.” 

Yes, Jesus is the sovereign Lord over all creation. He is Lord of nonbelievers and believers alike. The only difference between the nonbeliever and the believer is that the believer has acknowledged His lordship, which is to say the believer submits to Christ's authority simply by professing Him Lord from the core of their new heart (Romans 10:9). The believer has discovered the preciousness of Jesus Christ as Divine, Sovereign Ruler and Master. The believer has valued Christ more than anything else in the world, including their sin and pride. This does not mean that the saint has perfectly repented, but it does mean he acknowledges his sinfulness, is mournful over it, and submits to the authority of His Master to be taught by His grace to deny worldliness and ungodliness (Titus 2:11-14). What results is obedience to the commands of Christ and a relationship of servanthood out of love for a King. Dr. Woods' position divides Christ into a Savior and a Lord, meaning one can receive one (Savior) without acknowledging the other (Lord). If one only wants half of Jesus, how could they possibly receive all of Him?

Continuing his discussion, Dr. Woods explains,

Lordship Salvation began to significantly enter the American evangelical community in the 1980’s through the ministries of various prominent theologians and pastors. The movement began with the well-intentioned concern to address too much carnality in the Christian world.

Not exactly. As a result of antinomian influence in the American church (namely dispensational and no-lordship antinomianism), which has resulted in countless false conversions due to "cheap grace", easy-believism and decisional evangelism, certain ministries began to take a stand and recapture the Gospel according to the Lord Jesus Christ. One such ministry is that of John MacArthur, who is often vehemently attacked by opponents to the point of declaring him a heretic. It is arguable how the term "lordship salvation" came about, but the fact of the matter is the doctrine is an essential element of the Gospel and has been taught as such down through the ages of church history. Why? Because "lordship salvation" is nothing less or more than the Gospel.  The concern of "too much carnality in the Christian world", as Dr. Woods suggests, has been the concern of godly men since the Apostle Paul addressed the Corinthians and warned them about carnality.

Dr. Woods continues,

However, the proposed solution to this legitimate concern was to increase the sole requirement for salvation in an attempt to argue that carnal Christians were never really saved in the first place since they had never initially yielded to Christ’s Lordship. 

What is the "sole requirement" for salvation, Dr. Woods? According to your next two sentences, your definition of saving faith is severely lacking:

Sugar Land Bible Church does not believe in or teach Lordship Salvation. For example, Position Statement #6 in our church constitution says, “…repentance, as in a person willfully turning from sin, cannot be a condition for salvation.” 

This distorted view of repentance has no Gospel-saving power. What he suggests has been added to the "sole requirement" of salvation has, in fact, always been part of the requirements of salvation - that is, repentance and faith. Dr. Woods, your position allows for a professing Christian to remain in their sins for the totality of their "walk". Your position allows for a justification that does not necessitate sanctification. Your position allows for an infinite gap between justification and sanctification, eg, sanctification may never occur. Your position divides believing and discipleship. Your position allows for one to ultimately walk away from the faith, yet still be considered a Christian because, by golly, they *once* believed. Finally, your position allows for the "christian" to hold on to their sin, continue in the world, continue to love the world, and continue to be a friend of the world as long as they once "asked Jesus into their heart". This, Dr. Woods, is contrary to the Gospel that is the power of God to salvation for all who believe (Romans 1:16). The Gospel not only saves people, Dr. Woods, but it changes them - without fail (Romans 8:29-30).  Your position is one of the very causes of "too much carnality in the Christian world."

Many people look at the Lordship controversy as merely semantics. They believe that this issue has no real significance for practical living or ministry. 

Indeed, Dr. Woods, this controversy is not mere semantics and its significance is monumental for practical living and ministry. Ultimately, your gospel is a man-centered distortion of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. The latter Gospel, on the other hand, is a sovereign plan of God to redeem a people for Himself, according to the counsel of His own will, to the praise of His glorious Son, and to conform a holy and blameless Bride to the image of the Lamb of God who is King of His Church and who will be King of all kings. The Gospel according to God not only saves people from the wrath to come, but it saves them from the bondage of their sin, which is to say the Truth sets us free, it sets us free indeed (John 8:34-36). 

In closing his introduction, Dr. Woods says,

In actuality, Lordship Salvation introduces at least five problems into the life of a church.

On the contrary, Dr. Woods, as Scripture will reveal in posts to come...

Please continue to Part 2.

Monday, March 21, 2011

An Open-air First in 1st John

This article was originally posted at The Speak:Truth Project

By Justin Edwards

For several months now, I believe the Lord has been drawing and preparing me to preach in the open air. Through wonderful ministries like Go.Stand.Speak and Living Waters, God has equipped and greatly encouraged me to get on the box“.  I knew the day was coming when I would preach on the street for the first time, and that day came on Friday.

Over the last week I had the opportunity to meet a great new friend, Scott Smith, who had organized an evangelism outreach in Charlotte, NC for the NCAA tournament with Bill Adams of Sports Fan Outreach International. I joined the group on Friday afternoon in front of Time Warner Cable arena, where they were already set up with microphone and speaker.  Having fellowshipped and witnessed with a few of the guys for a couple of hours, I was asked if I was ready to preach.  Truth be told, I had not planned on preaching on Friday, but as this new group of friends encouraged me and gave me a few pointers, what better day to preach the Gospel than this day? After taking a few minutes to prepare, I prayed that God would strengthen me and give me the words to bring Him glory – and I’m here to tell you our God did not leave me or forsake me. The Holy Spirit was with me every second!
Having learned much from Project Ezra and being drawn to preach from 1st John, I began with the Apostle Paul’s exhortation in 2 Corinthians 13:5,

Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified.

From there, I gave a brief testimony as a false convert for 22 years, and bridged this into an introduction of 1st John. I then proceeded into chapter 1 verse 5 where the Apostle John tells us,

This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.
8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

I have never preached before. And even though I was nervous before I started, and my flesh resisted and was looking for any excuse to not get on the microphone, God empowered me to preach His Word and helped me overcome my flesh.  This was one of the most clear experiences I have had to step out on faith. There is no way possible I could have done this on my own, much less have wanted to, but through faith and obedience, God equipped me to serve Him through the proclamation of His Word. Once I got into my testimony and proceeded into 1st John, it was as if I had preached many times before. I was not nervous, and God gave me every word necessary to fulfill His purposes. Amazingly enough and to the glory of God, I preached for 30-45 minutes.

1st John is a beautiful gift God has given us for faith examination and biblical assurance of salvation. As you can see in the first test in verses 5-10, there is a clear contrast between those who give mere lip service to God, who are Christians in name only, and those who by sovereign grace have surrendered to His Lordship and are cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ.  There are numerous such tests in 1st John, and I found it to be a wonderful book to preach from on Friday.

1st John is also so varied that you have opportunity to touch on many biblical doctrines such as the deity of Christ, saving faith, sanctification, false disciples, perseverance, false conversion, holy living, practical righteousness, deception, sacrificial love, brotherly love, proof of one’s love for God through obedience to His commandments, testing the spirits, defending the faith against cults and heresies, and assurance of salvation. Expositing through 1st John enabled me to preach from many other passages in the New Testament that included godly sorrow, repentance, surrendering to Christ’s Lordship, forgiveness, loving your enemies, hell, the wrath and judgment of God, the return of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Law, mercy, and grace.

All this to say, you will not be short of a sermon by preaching through this epistle!

I share this with you as an encouragement to step out on faith in whatever area of evangelism you find yourself fearful or lacking. I can’t tell you how joyful it was after open-air preaching for the first time, and God gave me every tool I needed, not lacking in anything! God has been molding me, just as He is molding you as “we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).

A dear brother sent me a message on facebook after I posted a status update about preaching for the first time. It was his first time witnessing one-to-one with a stranger. Just like me, God is helping him overcome his fears, and just like us, God will help you overcome your fears. You just got to trust that He will and step out on faith. To put into perspective what God has done in me recently, this time last year I had never handed a Gospel tract to someone before, much less witnessed to a stranger. Not only that, but public presentation has always been an obstacle for me.  But see what God has done?

So what’s keeping you from taking that next step? Every born again believer is commanded to obey the Great Commission, so if one of hundreds of potential fears is holding you back, what are you going to do about it? We shouldn’t and can’t wait for people to come to us for witnessing opportunities. After all, when was the last time you went fishing and the fish jumped in the boat? You have to cast your line into the sea if you are to catch any fish. Are you ready to accomplish your next first?

If you are faithful in prayer and hiding God’s Word in your heart, “the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say” (Luke 12:12).  We can then “preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching” (2 Timothy 4:2).

I’d like to personally thank Scott Smith, Andrew Burgess, and Alex Burroughs for encouraging me to leap over this hurdle of faith on Friday. Additionally, I’d like to thank in the deepest respect Tony Miano, Chad Williams, Ray Comfort, Kirk Cameron, Pat Necerato, and the many associated evangelism ministries that God has used to bring me to where I am today in fulfilling the Great Commission. May He eternally receive all the glory, honor, and praise!

If you would like to go through the book of 1st John with other believers, I encourage you to join us as we go through the remainder of the New Testament, beginning with 1st John tomorrow on facebook.

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