Monday, September 28, 2009

THE LORDSHIP OF CHRIST
...the foundation of sola gratia

"Lordship Salvation emphasizes that a love for Christ springs from our new nature (granted freely by God) which desires to believe the gospel as well as submit to Jesus Christ as Lord over one's life. Both faith and obedience are the result of God's invincible and indelible grace, not the cause of it. The so-called 'free grace' movement rejects the inward call of the Holy Spirit to the elect and thus, like Romans Catholics and other synergists, mistakenly ascribe belief in Christ as something within the ability of the old nature. So while they may appear as antinomian after salvation, they are guilty of semi-pelagianism prior to it. An odd mix, but naturally we all are tempted to try to contribute something to our salvation. This is where the fall off the horse away from historic Chrstianity by rejecting the biblical doctrine of salvation by grace ALONE in Christ alone. By not giving glory to God for their faith they add conditions for their salvaiton.

The biggest obstacle to the "no-Lordship" position is its misapprehension of the work of the Holy Spirit in giving rise to our faith and affection for Christ. For HOW CAN AN UNREGENERATE MAN SEE CHRIST'S BEAUTY, EXCELLENCY OR ANYTHING TO DESIRE IN HIM AT ALL. One must have a new heart and the mind of Christ in order to understand and love spiritual things. It erroneously views the Lordship position as having added a contribution of commitment, and thus works, instead of recognizing that they themselves are doing this very same thing by making faith itself a contribution to the price of their redemption. i.e grace + faith. But those of us who embrace a "lordship salvation" believe faith and obedience are the result, not the cause of of the new birth. Unless the Holy Spirit changes the disposition of our hearts from hostility to affection for Christ, no one would exercise saving faith. Any "faith" which exists apart from the work of the Spirit is spurious and of the flesh (Luke 8:4-15). God alone does the work of regeneration which infallibly gives rise to a spiritual faith that desires to obey and commit itself to Christ. In this case God gets all the glory. But the "no-Lordship" position would have us believe that one could produce faith from our unregenerated human nature. The question is, why do some believe and others resist? Are some more wise or humble? Isn't it grace itself which makes us wise and humble? The Scripture says, "What do we have that we did not receive". So, in fact, while the "no-Lordship" position is admirably attempting to protect the doctrine of "faith alone", but in the process it has cast aside the biblical doctrine of "grace alone". "No-Lordship" may believe in a salvation by grace, but not salvation by grace alone (sola gratia). That man must somehow cooperate with God to be born again, as they hold, is to say that some men innately have the natural capacity to believe, independent of God's action of grace, while others do not. How is this different than salvation by merit? So in reality the burden of proof to explain belief apart from grace alone, is on those who hold to "no-Lordship". Different understandings of the work of the Holy Spirit in our regeneration is the key to the debate." -Author Unknown

31 comments:

ann_in_grace said...

I have recently completed reading "The Gospel According to Jesus", and am now deep in "The Gospel According to the Apostles". And during these readings I suddenly discover that all bloggers whom I respect and read take up the same subject.
Mind-readers? It must be a crucial issue then.
It is, for me, hard to imagine that somebody can consciously reject the idea of submission to God and still clame to be a saved man. But hey, what do I know...
Have a fruitful weekend!

Charlie said...

"Romans Catholics and other synergists, mistakenly ascribe belief in Christ as something within the ability of the old nature. So while they may appear as antinomian after salvation, they are guilty of semi-pelagianism prior to it."

Like a clanging cymbal, the misrepresentations of Catholic theology continue every day on this blog. Ignorance is so hard to dispel.

The D.O.G. House said...

Thanks Steve. I just finished 3 Sundays of "Lordship" sermons.

Terry Rayburn said...

"...faith and obedience are the result, not the cause of of the new birth. Unless the Holy Spirit changes the disposition of our hearts from hostility to affection for Christ, no one would exercise saving faith."

This has it exactly right, biblically. And that's why the "Free Grace" folks miss the simple truth that those who are born again will indeed hold Jesus as Lord, and some measure of fruit must follow.

However, some who teach Lordship Salvation have confused the issue, especially regarding the parables of the Kingdom. They teach that "taking up your cross", or "counting the cost", or "buying the pearl of great price", or a trade transaction of "all that we are for all that he is" is the Gospel.

This wrongfully puts a price on the free gift of salvation, and therefore mixes "works" and "grace", making it no longer Grace.

And it falls into the hands of the neo-legalist New Perspective guys, like N.T. Wright, who teach that anyone who calls Jesus "Lord" and "follows Him" is a Christian, and that justification is essentially a future event, based on how well we follow Him as Lord.

Faith (and a new heart) comes with regeneration, and that faith includes faith in Jesus as Lord. That's biblical Lordship Salvation. But no price is in that transaction.

We receive the Pearl of Great Price, not because we sold everything we had and bought it (like the merchant in the parable), but because Christ purchased it for us. We couldn't afford it. Giving "all that we are" wouldn't even put a dent in that costly price.

Only His payment does it, and His payment makes it a free gift to us who believe. That's the Gospel.

Jack said...

Nice drive-by hit, Charlie. Now would you back up your assertion, sticking with the theme of Steve's post? Bring it.

Pastor Sloan said...

This Sunday is Invitation Sunday when I will be giving a gospel presentation. Thank for the boost of confidence in the direction that I am taking it. Another way I have always looked at it is that we are called to repent and believe. Repentance is a continual process in the life of the Christian. You can't be repentant and not live under Christ's rule.

Stephen said...

This is going to sound like I am playing the umpire, but it is because if there is to be a discussion I want it to be fair and dealing with theology and evidence and possible mis-representation, and so on instead of slamming each other and using confrontational language. Some on you may remember a loooong discussion on this blog a month or so ago between some Catholics and Steve Camp and his supporters. The discussion quickly turned ugly, and one Catholic was eventually evicted without, in my opinion, having what he had to say properly considered or answered. I'd tell you to check this out for yourself, except I can't find those postings, so I am guessing that Steve has deleted them, so I am relying on others who remember that ugly time to back me up on this. I know that this is Steve's blog, and he can do and say what he wants, and if he wants a full scale war with those who disagree, he can have it. But I don't want to see that again. And if I was Charlie, knowing how Catholics were treated in that last discussion, I wouldn't want to post anything here either.

So Jack, if you want to start a discussion, please stop the confrontational language, like, "Nice drive-by hit, Charlie," and "Bring it." We don't know entirely why Charlie posted, and in any case Christ calls us to love our enemies, and to turn the other cheek, and stuff like that.

And Charlie - I do apologize for any anti-Catholic sentiment here. Please forgive us sinners. I don't know much about Catholicism, and if you could I also would be interesting in hearing how you think Catholism was mis-represented in Steve's post. God bless.

Stephen

SJ Camp said...

Stephen:

1. You're not the umpire here so let's not pretend.

2. By you own admission, you "don't know much about Catholicism;" do your historical homework and careful Bible study before you try to "pontificate" over any one or any issue posted here.

(May I suggest for your initial reading: The Gospel According to Jesus by John MacArthur; Christ our Righteousness by John Piper; Faith Alone by R.C. Sproul; then read The Council of Trent documents; Vatican I and Vatican II; the 1994 Catechism; ECT I and II; and finally, the 95 Theses by Luther along with his The Babylonian Captivity of the Church. When you have completed the above, then you will be a bit more prepared to discuss the concerns addressed in your comment. Until then, some humility would be in order.)

3. Stay on topic; and the issues addressed in this brief article.

4. If necessary, reread the rules of this blog; honor them; and then join the discussion here at COT from a biblical worldview.

5. Do you believe in Lordship salvation? Do you believe regeneration precedes faith? (Define your answers biblically whether pro or con).

Grace and peace,
Steve
2 Cor. 4:5-7

Charlie said...

"May I suggest for your initial reading: The Gospel According to Jesus by John MacArthur; Christ our Righteousness by John Piper; Faith Alone by R.C. Sproul; then read The Council of Trent documents; Vatican I and Vatican II; the 1994 Catechism; ECT I and II; and finally, the 95 Theses by Luther along with his The Babylonian Captivity of the Church. When you have completed the above, then you will be a bit more prepared to discuss the concerns addressed in your comment. Until then, some humility would be in order."

With all due respect, none of these sources actually deals with the Catholic understanding of grace in much detail. They lay out general principles, but do not provide a comprehensive theological system. For that, you have to look at individual theologians. There are two strands of theought within Catholicism, Thomism and Molinism. Thomism is the dominant position in Catholic theology, and has been for a very long time. Good sources to read on this subject would be Thomas Aquinas on grace or Anselm on justification, and they go into far greater detail on this subject than any of the Councils do. if you are looking for a good, modern Catholic sources for these ubjects, try looking at Fr Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange's Predestination and Charles Journet's The Nature of Grace (available online: http://www.ewtn.com/library/DOCTRINE/MNGGRACE.HTM). The ECT documents are good, but also check out the Joint Declaration on Justification (with the Lutherans).

Catholics think and express themselves differently than Protestants do. That is fine, but it often leads to confusion. The Protestant theologians you cited , quite frankly, do not respect the theological nuances and variations within Catholicism. They merely select quotes taken out of context from the Councils, ignore what Catholic theologians have to say on the matter, and impose their own theological framework on the text. The Catholic Church is not "Arminian", firstly because the theological categories of Protestantism are alien to Catholicism and secondly because there are differences of opinion on the topics of predestination. Even the Arminian-souunding langauge of the Councils that are cited so frequently on this blog do not imply that all Catholisc are required to believe a sort Arminian theology, no more than the Arminian-sounding language of the Bible implies that Biblical theology is inherently arminian or "synergist" (your term). By so ludicrously misrepresenting the Catholic position on the issues surrounding grace and justification, many Protestants have shown no respect for the work of Catholic theologians (those who are actually experts in Church teaching), or for the competing schools of thought within Catholic theology.

Breuss Wane said...

"The Protestant theologians you cited , quite frankly, do not respect the theological nuances and variations within Catholicism."

And for good reason. The Catholic theologians you cited, quite bluntly, do not reject Catholicism's self-anathematic semi-pelagianism in Trent...to their own soul's peril.

Stephen said...

Thank you, Steve, for stepping in. I quite agree that I am not the empire, and it is not a role I want to play, but when I posted no one else had said anything, and as I said, I do not want to see a fight, or be part of a fight. Before I posted, I did the rules of conduct, which is why I posted, as I wanted to remind people that our "speech should be seasoned with grace."

Regarding Catholism, yes books and scripture are necessary resources, but I think another good source for information would be a Catholic, hence I asked Charlie for his views. I did not mean I was going to necessary agree with Charlie, but I think in any discussion it is best to seek to understand the other side first and then draw conclusions instead of assuming that one already knows all there is to know about the topic. Like that recommended reading you gave me. It is a good list, but I am sure it is not exhaustive, and Charlie may have something else to bring up that is relevent.

This is your blog, and now that you have stepped in, I'll let you take our rightful spot. May it be a fruitful discussion, "seasoned with grace". God bless.

Stephen said...

And I should apolosize, Steve, for coming across as pontificating. That was never my intent.

Thank you Charlie for the books you recommended. As I am not as learned as some people here, I'll pair those up with the list Steve gave me, and will see for myself if what you have to say is true. Thanks.

Gordan said...

LOL at the assertion that one can't get a good understanding of the Catholic view of salvation by reading the Council of Trent! Ha, ha, ha. That's hilarious.

Trent is THE Catholic doctrine on every issue it touches, including how a man is made right with God. It doesn't matter which individual Fr. may teach this or that somewhere else. Trent is the Roman Church's official dogma.

And, to connect this to the original post, Trent unmistakably teaches synergism. I don't see how this is even debatable.

Terry Rayburn said...

Charlie,

You wrote,
"Thomism is the dominant position in Catholic theology, and has been for a very long time."

Then let's look at some foundations of Thomas Aquinas' theology, from his Summa Theologica:

a. "Hence it is clear that by Baptism man dies unto the oldness of sin, and begins to live unto the newness of grace. But every sin belongs to the primitive oldness. Consequently every sin is taken away by Baptism."

b. "Sacraments are necessary unto man's salvation for three reasons..."

c. "in order to live righteously a man needs a twofold help of God--first, a habitual gift whereby corrupted human nature is healed, and after being healed is lifted up so as to work deeds meritoriously of everlasting life [emphasis Terry's], which exceed the capability of nature..."

These clearly teach that man's "deeds" or "works" are instrumental to salvation, contrary to the Scriptures, which say that if you add works to grace, it's no longer grace (Rom. 11:6).

The two greatest weaknesses of Catholicm are rejecting the Scripture as final authority, and adulterating grace by redefining it as works-plus-grace. Of course, to hold the second, one would have to hold the first.

Steve,

If this is wandering too far from Lordship Salvation, I apologize, brother.

Charlie said...

"LOL at the assertion that one can't get a good understanding of the Catholic view of salvation by reading the Council of Trent! Ha, ha, ha. That's hilarious."

As I said, the Council only laid down general principles about salvation. If you want to get into discussions about how grace works, how it is efficacious, etc., then you have to look at individual theologians.

"Trent is THE Catholic doctrine on every issue it touches, including how a man is made right with God. It doesn't matter which individual Fr. may teach this or that somewhere else. Trent is the Roman Church's official dogma."

Well, again, Catholics don't use the language of "synergism" versus "monergisim." Even the most thoroughly predestinarian of theologians would acknowledge that man cooperates with God in salvation, because cooperation itself is a work of grace.

"And for good reason. The Catholic theologians you cited, quite bluntly, do not reject Catholicism's self-anathematic semi-pelagianism in Trent...to their own soul's peril. "

Im sorry, but thats just false. The Catholic theologians that acutally study these theologians since Trent have all found their theology to be consonant with teh Councils. Not to mention, of caurse, that the fathers of the Council were thoroughgoing scholastics who knew their works inside and out. Instead of making generalized statements like this, why don't you cite some examples of where Thomas Aquinas and Anselm disagree with Trent?

Charlie said...

"The two greatest weaknesses of Catholicm are rejecting the Scripture as final authority, and adulterating grace by redefining it as works-plus-grace. Of course, to hold the second, one would have to hold the first."

Baptismal regeneration is an ancient, scriptural, and authentic Christian doctrine. Today, most Pauline scholars, even those that do not agree with the New Perspective, would say that baptism is not a "work of the law" as found in Romans 3-4. As much as it may annoy you, you live in an exegetical bubble in the twenty-first century.

And it is not somehow Pelagian to say that the sacraments are necessary for salvation. Augustine beleieved in baptismal regeneration throughout his life, yet he also fought hard against the Pelagianism of his day. And another thing: when Catholics are baptised, the thought that they are "earning" something is at the back of their minds. Its not like they say to themselves: "Gee, this will earn me some points with God." Rather, they are to be thankful for the gracious act of spiritual cleansing which is accomplished in the baptismal font and look forward to a new life of grace.

Gordan said...

Charlie,

Maybe Catholic theologians don't use terms like synergism and monergism, but Camp's point is that they still teach that a man's final salvation depends upon his obedience and faithfulness here on earth.

This is why no Catholic can be assured in this life of salvation. Regardless of how faithful you may be at this moment, who knows whether you'll mess it all up before the end? Your salvation is dependant upon what you do in this life, without regard to whatever lip service theologians may pay to the concept of "grace." The grace you have now, at this moment, to obey God is no assurance that you'll be accepted at the end.

The Alien said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
donsands said...

"we all are tempted to try to contribute something to our salvation"

Ain't it the truth.

Thanks for this nice post.

I was once a Catholic. But I had to leave the Church, because of all the false doctrine.
I went to evening service one time early in my conversion, and it was for Mary, even singing songs to her, which i had no idea at the time.
But by God's grace, and the Spirit of truth opening my mind to the Word, He brought me out.

Have a great Thanksgiving! Psalm 100

Terry Rayburn said...

Charlie,

You wrote, "And it is not somehow Pelagian to say that the sacraments are necessary for salvation."

If you read back carefully, you will see that Steve's post doesn't mention Catholicism in connection with Pelagianism, but with Semi-Pelagianism.

Pelagianism heresy teaches that man is not born with a sinful nature, and it's true that most Catholics don't teach that.

But Semi-Pelegianism teaches that although man is born with a sinful nature, he is not *dead* in sins and trespasses, as is clearly taught in Scripture, and therefore SP teaches that man can *choose* to come to Christ, while still unregenerate and in his sins.

This is unbiblical, of course. Jesus said unless one is born again (regenerated), he cannot even *see* the Kingdom, let alone believe in the King.

So the Semi-Pelagian charge still stands.

Charlie, if you are really only 17 years old, as your profile indicates, I'm impressed by how articulate you are. Would that you would have your heart opened to the true grace of salvation by faith alone, and use your intellect for the true Gospel, and not for the corrupted works/faith of Rome. That's what I'm praying for.

God will never contradict His own Scriptures, as Catholic doctrine does constantly, and you will never convince anyone who understands Scripture as final authority.

Please pray about this, Charlie. Ask God to open your heart to the truth of full grace.

I say this as one who went through Roman Catholic instruction and was baptized into the Roman Catholic Church in 1973, at the age of 23. I did all the Catholic stuff, but it was obvious that my heart wasn't changed. And I had no assurance within me that my sins were forgiven, even though Father Lally said they were.

Then in 1976, the Lord opened my heart to the truth that salvation was a free gift, given by faith in Jesus Christ alone, not through any sacraments or human deeds. He did this through the preaching of the Gospel from the Word of God.

And then I knew my sins were forgiven forever.

My wife, Michele, was raised Roman Catholic in an Italian family in Long Island, New York. Could God break through that strong of a religious heritage? Yes, He did, under the preaching of the Gospel from the Word of God, in her college town in Upstate New York, she came to Jesus Christ by faith alone. What the RC religion couldn't do, God did by the New Birth, absent of ritual.

My friend Ray Vaca was raised in a Mexican Roman Catholic home. As a young man, he went to Confession once, and was given Penance. What was the Penance? To read the New Testament through. Uh-oh...bad mistake for the Roman Catholic Church. Ray read the New Testament through and saw the truth of the Gospel, salvation by grace alone, by faith alone in Jesus Christ. He was born again, and hasn't looked back since at the religion of Catholism. He loves the Lord and the Lord loves him, after all these years. No Roman Catholic sacraments.

I pray, Charlie, that you will do the same.

Blessings,
Terry

Stephen said...

Terry,

Very interesting to read of your spiritual journey, and that of your wife and friend. I am glad that God has blessed you all with Himself. I have heard this before that there are a fair number of Catholics leaving Catholicism for Evangelical churches.

I also know of people who go the opposite direction either into Orthodoxy or Catholicism. Maybe not as many (I don't know if there are stats on this), but I personally know quite a lot of people who have either become Orthodox or are seriously considering it, and others I know through blogs who have done the same, or who have become Catholic. These people are those who would be considered the cream of the crop of the Evangelical churches they attended - they know their bible inside out, they are passionate for living for God and for worshipping God, and they are very involved in the church. Most have graduated from university. And despite all of this they also believe that God is calling them to become Orthodox. Undoubtedly there are some who leave again, but the ones I have met who have been Orthodox now for 10, 20 years, they have no desire to return to Evangelicalism, and their lives are filled with the fruit of the spirit. I's still pondering why this is so, and was wondering if you have heard of this movement as well, and had any explaination for it. Peace.

(And to show I'm not making this up, I'll list some blogs. And there are more if you follow links. I'm sorry Steve, if this is too off topic. Please forgive me).
http://fromprotestanttoorthodox.blogspot.com/
http://notesfromacommonplacebook.blogspot.com/
http://fatherstephen.wordpress.com/

Terry Rayburn said...

Stephen,

Regarding so-called Evangelicals who have left for Orthodox or Catholic churches, you wrote,

"These people are those who would be considered the cream of the crop of the Evangelical churches they attended - they know their bible inside out, they are passionate for living for God and for worshipping God, and they are very involved in the church."

With as much restraint as I can muster in not judging someone's motives, I would say this:

1. Being *considered* the cream of the Evangelical crop doesn't mean they were truly Evangelical or even born again. They may have been, but it doesn't take much to "look good" in a typical Evangelical church.

2. They may know their Bibles inside and out, but they clearly don't believe them authoritatively. Knowing the Bible and believing that it is the authoritative Word of God are two different things. If one believes the Bible is the final authority, then he can't believe Works are instrumental either in initial salvation, or in keeping salvation.

3. I believe that some are attracted to Catholicism (and Orthodox religion) because the trappings of ritual and liturgy make them feel spiritual. This is attested to even by those who don't claim to believe in Christ at all. But better to *be* spiritual, than to *feel* spiritual (although I believe one can have both, as we worship in spirit *and* truth).

Having said this, I wasn't intending to get back into a lengthy theological discussion on Catholicism in my last comment. And I wasn't intending to make my testimony some kind of "proof" against Catholicism. The Word is sufficient for that.

I just wanted to illustrate salvation by grace apart from the religious trappings of the Catholic Church, and to make a personal appeal to Charlie to consider the Gospel of Grace.

Stephen said...

Terry,

I understand your points, and see how how they could be so, but they just don't match up with the people I know, either before or after they became Orthodox. I still maintain that these people did believe the bible to be authoritative, and they were not faking being evangelical. I grew up in the evangelical church, and I faked it until Christ wouldn't let me fake it any longer, and He made me decide to either accept his grace and follow Him or leave. A very humbling and scary experience, and I've chosen to follow Him, but all that to say I know a faker when I see one. It seems like the problem here is that I know my friends, and you don't. Perhaps the only remedy is for you to find your own Orthodox friends, and see for yourself what is actually happening.

Lastly, you have stated at least twice, "If one believes the Bible is the final authority, then he can't believe Works are instrumental either in initial salvation, or in keeping salvation."

With all due respect, as someone who believes in the authority of the bible, I disagree. This is not because I have been 'corrupted' by my Orthodox friends. This is a belief I have held through my own reading of the scriptures prior to meeting Orthodoxy. I do believe that the bible teaches that faith and works are complementary. Yes, faith comes first, and without faith there is nothing, but if there are no works to back up faith, then that faith is dead. (James 2:21-24). I also believe that a person can lose salvation through not doing what Christ commands, as Christ himself said that any unproductive branch will be cut off from the true vine, ie Christ. (John 15:1-2) It could be said that an unproductive branch probably was never a true branch, but then why would Jesus talk of cutting the branch off if it wasn't attached in the first place? No, I think if we are to accept all of scripture, we have to accept that we ARE saved solely through grace, BUT that once saved, we have to act on it, and at the final judgement our actions will somehow count either for or against us. (Matt. 25) Christ and the writers of the bible didn't seem to have a problem with having both grace and works side by side, so neither should we have a problem with it. We just need to have a proper understanding of what the bible means when it talks about both grace and works.

As further proof of the works side (as I am sure you are already aware of all the grace verses), I will submit the following biblical texts, which I am sure isn't exhaustive. Peace.

Ps. 51:17-19, Amos 5:4, 18-24, Matt. 25, Rom. 6:19, Rom.8:17, I Cor. 9:24-27, Titus 2:14-15, Titus 3:8, I Tim. 4:7-10, Heb. 12:1-2,12-16, Heb. 13:17, I Pet. 2:2-3, I Pet. 3:8-12.

donsands said...

stephen,

If these works are ours after grace has saved us, then will we be able to take credit for them? And will the Lord be indebted to us, for our labor?

Didn't mean to jump in front of Terry.

Stephen said...

"If these works are ours after grace has saved us, then will we be able to take credit for them? And will the Lord be indebted to us, for our labor?"

A very good question, Don. I see I didn't cover that and must have left it unclear, so thank you for pointing it out. I would say, no, it does not mean that we can take the credit. All the glory is still God's.

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

I believe the key to these verses, and to how grace and works fit together, is in the second half of this, where Paul says, "for it is God who works in you." By ourselves, we cannot gain salvation, either before or after receiving grace. But for some reason, God wants to work through us, and if we want to be true Christians, we have to let God work through us, which means God ordained works. I don't see how anyone can expect salvation if they accept God's grace, but then carry on as they were before and refuse to let God work through them. So the works are not our works, but God's works, and we are just helping, for lack of a better word. We can still only boast about what God is doing, and not about what we are doing for God.

I do hope this helps to answer your question. I also realize that I may be emphesizing works too much, but that is because I rarely hear it mentioned, and I am concerned about that. I have moved around a fair bit, and have had the opportunity to attend many churches, and I am disturbed at the number of people who call themselves Christians I meet who think that once they have prayed the sinner's prayer, there is nothing more to the Christian life. Or they think that they should just go to church, and read the bible and pray somethings, and do something good, and that is the Christian life. I'm not sure who or what is to blame for this apathy, but I believe that there is so much more to the Christian life than just the sinner's prayer. So much more. As one of Steve's songs says, "the cross is a radical thing", but a lot of Christians seem to have forgotten that, and I want to help remind them. Well, I don't know what else to say. God bless.

Terry Rayburn said...

Stephen,

Please listen carefully, because I know very well from many conversations that something I said is often heard through a filter that distorts it.

I said that "works" are not *instrumental* in salvation, either initially, nor in keeping one's salvation.

What I believe you heard (and this is common) is, "Works are not important and may be dispensed with in a believer's life".

To clarify the biblical truth:

Salvation is by grace *only* from start to finish. That is, one's works neither accomplish, nor add to, nor complete one's salvation. The true believer's salvation is a gift purchased by Christ on the cross, given to him in Justification, whereby he is declared righteous before God, or "in right standing" before God, forever.

That's why someone who is born again, regenerated, cannot possibly lose their salvation. They have already been "justified".

Hear me carefully (and I don't mean that in a condescending way), that doesn't mean works are not important, only that they are no *instrumental* in salvation.

Those of us who preach biblical Grace are sometimes accused of thinking works are ot important. They are so important that God has not left it to the whims of men to bring these works to pass. He has guaranteed them.

He has prepared good works long before we were even born. (Eph. 2:10 "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.")

Technical point: Although the above word "walk" is in the subjunctive mood, which may seem to indicate that the works might happen or might not (hence the not-in-the-Greek added word "should"), the context makes it clear that God's sovereignty has already foreordained the works...which is why we are called His workmanship. In other words, He is the one who works the works in us, by His Spirit and through the New Creation He has made of us.

This is further shown by Phil. 2:13, "...for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure."

That's why we can take no credit for it ("what do you have, O man, that you did not receive?").

The flesh cries out to keep just a little piece of our salvation that's not by grace. It may fuel our pride, but it robs us of our Sabbath Rest in Christ, whereby we rest from our Works (as intruments of our salvation) -- Heb. 4:10.

I won't flood you with a pile of verses. But I would challenge you to exegete just one passage. Try to explain this passage in light of your view, and I believe that either 1) You will not be able to explain it, or 2) You will explain it by twisting it to mean what it clearly doesn't mean:

Romans 11:6, "And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace..."

Again, it's not that Grace and Works don't *exist* together, it's just that one's salvation is not gained nor kept by those Works.

jazzycat said...

Steve,
Good post. I have thought for a while that a misunderstanding of the power, timing, and effect of regeneration is the core problem with the Free Grace error. This post has explained that much better than I have been able to do.

Stephen said...

Terry,

Sorry I haven't responded yet. I will do so. These last couple of days have been crazy busy, and now I am leaving for a Christian Union retreat. (CU is like the British Intervarsity). So I have no time to write now, but will do so when I get back in a couple of days. God bless.

Stephen

2Tal said...

I don't believe Catholics (nor the vast majority of Protestants) would say that believing in Christ occurs from the flesh as I'm sure this was stated with sarcasm. They don't think belief in Christ occurs from the Spirit either. The vast majority would simply say it occurs from "free will" which is neither spiritual nor carnal. "Free-will", according to them, not the Spirit nor the flesh will ultimately determine what people Christ's chosen bride is made up of. I don't agree. BTW, Luther's "The Bondage of the Will" explains their view much more accurately than myself. I just wanted to put my two cents in.

Stephen said...

Hello Terry,

I made it back. Thank you for laying what you said out so clearly. I am very glad that you do not think works are unimportant. Yes, people do have different filters they recieve through. Perhaps the trick then is to anticipate that and phrase the message so that it will bypas those filters. Then again, it just might hit other filters. Just a thought.

Thank you also for this discussion. I sense that it is frustrating for you, and I am sorry for that. But this has been good and challenging for me, and it has also prompted me to look again at the Orthodox Christian view of salvation as part of my on-going discussion with them. I hadn't looked at their view in a long while, and it struck me that it was entirely free of legalism and legalities. Very thought provoking. So thank you. I am benefitting from this discussion.

Now that you have explained what you actually mean, I think we largely agree on most points. Without fancy footwork, I do agree with Rom. 11:6, which seems to be your focal point. Along with Phil. 2:13, as you also mention, I think we agree that Christ driven, or pre-ordained works, is an integral part of being a Christian. We can never take credit for what we have done. That is called pride, which in itself should continually be bringing us to Christ crying out for help in daily putting to death our old, sinful self. (Col. 3:5-10)

But I'm still not convinced of the 'once saved, always saved' notion. I see how your theological construct requires it. Maybe I am just dense, but I fail to see how this view can be reconciled to a plain reading of Matt. 25 and Jn. 15: 2.

What you present is very nice and tidy, very logical and juridical. A and B happens, therefore C must happen. For me, the bible paints a very joyful and hopefully message of salvation, yes, but also a more messy view of salvation that has blood and sweat and perseverance in persecution.

I sincerely hope that you will reply and say, "But you are misunderstanding me again!" Good! That will be awesome news. So surely then there is a better way to explain what we mean, and that better reflects what the bible says. Though that is probably a different topic altogether.

Again, I don't see how your view is compatible with Matt. 25 or Jn 15:2. If you could explain how it is compatible without fancy footwork, that would be helpful. Otherwise, I think we largely agree. We just seem to be emphesizing two sides of the same coin, and didn't realize that at the start. God bless.

John said...

I've been exploring this topic lately after reading John MacArthur's revised edition of "The Gospel According to Jesus".
Personally, I can't find anything in scripture that consistently supports the positions of those such as Hodges and Ryrie who disagree with the whole Lordship Salvation viewpoint.

Contrary to what some think, I don't see where this issue is tied to works salvation and MacArthur makes that very clear. I do agree that the process of sanctification allows for room to better grasp what it means to make Christ your Lord however, I don't see in scripture how one can be saved without submitting to Christ. To offer Him otherwise is walking on the edge of easy-believism. No where in scripture does it say we can follow Him and be enslaved to self and the world.

We're either all in or all out; hot or cold. Christ is either Lord and Savior or nothing to us.

~ktf~
John