My comments were simply in response to Bern's statement, and obviously understood by at least one other member of the board. Your comment about my "hilarity" seems a bit condescending and mocking, brother.
Originally Posted by CharlieJ
Originally Posted by CharlieJ
There are some reservations in the manner in which some of this is understood. And, the way Lordship salvation is presented to many, it is an abomination. Unfortunately, many have turned the phrase to mean "works righteousness," which is a misunderstanding - I'm sure you're aware of this tendency.
An interesting note in Sawyer's article is his statement that he has counseled many who have struggled in light of MacArthur's teaching, but not in light of Hodges'. Isn't this understandable? Hodges does not challenge someone to "walk worthy of the calling with which you've been called" as a reflection of our condition before God. MacArthur, on the other hand, exhorts us to examine our lives in light of God's Word and discern whether or not the pattern of our lives exemplifies Christ, or the World. On one hand people are comfortable with their profession of faith.... along with the demons. On the other hand people are confronted with the fact that a profession without works, as James would say, is dead. When confronted with such of course a nominal or pseudo-Christian will be challenged, and need counseling. It's simply logical, but hardly conclusive in regard to who is correct.
Another common problem is that, in his original, MacArthur makes a statement that is Romanesque, if you will. He states, as Sawyer quotes, that the believer is made righteous (181). This is infusion, and unorthodox. But that version was edited over ten years ago to reflect a more reformed and biblical teaching. On righteousness:
And we certainly cannot live up to God’s standard of perfect righteousness... The remedy Luther found was the doctrine of justification by faith. His discovery launched the Reformation and put an end to the Dark Ages. What Luther came to realize is that God’s righteousness, revealed in the gospel, is reckoned in full to the account of everyone who turns to Christ in repentant faith. God’s own righteousness thus becomes the ground on which believers stand before him (196).
Justification may be defined as an act of God whereby he imputes to a believing sinner the full and perfect righteousness of Christ, forgiving the sinner of all unrighteousness, declaring him or her perfectly righteous in God’s sight, thus delivering the believer from all condemnation (197)
There are two serious errors to avoid in the matter of justification. First, do not confuse justification with sanctification. Roman Catholic theology makes this error. Sanctification is the work of God whereby he sets the believer apart from sin. Sanctification is a practical reality, not simply a legal declaration. Sanctification involves a change in the sinner’s character, not just a new standing before God. By including sanctification as an aspect of justification, Catholic theology renders instantaneous justification impossible. Worse, this view substitutes the believer’s own imperfect righteousness in place of Christ’s unblemished righteousness, as the basis of justification (197-98).
The cornerstone of justification is the reckoning of righteousness to the believer’s account. This is the truth that sets Christian doctrine apart from every form of false religion. We call it “imputed righteousness.” Apart from it, salvation is utterly impossible (198).
Imputed righteousness solves the dilemma. Christ made atonement by shedding his own blood on the cross. That provides forgiveness. And just as our sins were put to his account when he bore them on the cross, so now his righteousness is reckoned as our own. His perfect righteousness thus becomes the ground on which we stand before God.
This is a crucial point on which Protestants have historically been in full agreement: sinners are not justified because of some good thing in them; God can declare them righteous because he first imputes to them the perfect righteousness of Christ. We stand before God as if we were perfectly just. Judicially, the Father views us as if our righteousness were on the same lofty plane as his Son’s!
Again, this is owing to no good thing in us—not even God’s sanctifying or regenerating work in our hearts. Justification is possible exclusively through the imputed righteousness of Christ: “To the one who does not work, but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness” (Rom. 4:5, emphasis added). “Those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ” (5:17, emphasis added). “Through the obedience of the One the many will be made [declared] righteous” (v. 19). “Now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe” (3:22, emphasis added). “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21). “Not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith” (Phil. 3:9, emphasis added) (199).
God through his grace imputes to believers the righteousness of Christ (vv. 21–24). On that basis alone they can stand before him (205).
Much of Sawyer's argumentation is based on a position that MacArthur now refutes, and has for many years. For clarity, Sawyer is right, such teaching is wrong and needed to be addressed. But quoting a current edition would be helpful and avoid added polarity, which he claims to be attempting to resolve.
There is a very real problem within the Lordship camp of harsh judgmentalism. I think Sawyer is attempting to deal with it. I've seen it, and lived it. It's brutal and, as he states, offers no hope. It flings sin in the face without offering any comfort in Christ. One has basically shamed the Savior they claim and is an outcast as a result. There is much we can learn from this. And, there is probably a sense in which his perception of MacArthur's first book is accurate. But, though this element still exists among some who are of similar vein, this is not what MacArthur teaches. And if you have seen him minister to souls you would know this.
Another aspect that is neglected, though discussed to a certain degree in his treatment of Hodges, is that the alternative to Lordship salvation is easy believism, a form of antinomianism. He doesn't want the polarity, but there it is. Again, there is no middle ground. One cannot love the world and love Christ too. One cannot serve Balial and Jesus. One is either a resident or an ambassador. There is no escaping it. For those who claim Christ, Jesus is Lord of your life or you have added Him to your list of gods. If you rely on your profession without a possession reflected in your walk then you merely have an insurance policy that you'll never be able to cash in. Assurance only comes through Christ as we strive to walk worthy of our calling. But we must be sensitive. One who is struggling exhibits fruit of the spirit, while one who is succumbing does not. The question then is, "Are you engaging in the battle?" Christ is the only one who can give us the strength to overcome. And those of Christ will engage. Do we die to self, or seek to save our own lives? To point someone in any other direction is to give them a false sense of security.