[We are] not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. (Romans 1:16)

Friday, June 15, 2007

Challenge to All Lordship Salvationists / Laying Down the Gauntlet: Repentance and the Reception of Eternal Life

by Antonio da Rosa

There is a CLEAR NEED for this post in blogdom. Are the Lordship Salvationists up to the challenge?

... the reader must be aware of a cogent biblical fact that necessarily places a huge burden of proof upon the Traditionalist [Lordship Salvationist/Reformed Soteriologist]:

Nowhere in the Bible is the reception of eternal salvation, eternal life, or justification conditioned on an act of repentance.

The Traditionalist must string together texts and arguments in order to support his unbiblical assertion that repentance is a theologically binding requirement for the possession of eternal salvation. In his arguments, the fallacy of special pleading is a common trait, for there is no clear text that makes his point.

He [the Lordship Salvationist] cannot point to even one text that explicitely commands repentance for the express purpose of the appropriation of eternal life. There is no such verse or passage.

If this is such an important element in the discussion of the critical components of the gospel message it is odd – no, it is incredible – that not a single verse clearly conjoins a command to repent with a resultant appropriation of: eternal salvation, eternal life, or justification.

Isn’t the reception of eternal life/justification of utmost importance to a lost sinner on his way to hell? I mean, listen – the information on how a person is initiated into a relationship with God is of dire necessity! Wouldn’t you think that an issue of such great import would be properly clarified by the God who “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim 2:4)? Isn’t it unbelievable that in the whole canon of scripture, that if eternal well-being is contingent partly on an act of repentance, that no text whatsoever conditions a result of eternal salvation on such an act?

The apostle John, who is not unfamiliar with the doctrine of repentance, as he presents it more than any other New Testament writer other than Luke (10 mentions in Revelation), nevertheless is conspicuously silent on repentance as a condition for the appropriation of eternal life in his Gospel that was written for an express purpose of evangelism (John 20:30-31).

Would it not be a major error of inestimable proportions that if repentance is indeed a necessary requirement for eternal life that John the apostle would not include a single reference to it as a condition for salvation, yeah, even further, fail to mention it even once in the whole of his gospel written so that men could have eternal life?

This would be like writing a book on “Major Treatments for Heart Disease” and yet failing to mention open heart surgery (an illustration borrowed from Zane Hodges).

The evidence in regard to this chilling and absolute silence of the Fourth Gospel in mentioning repentance in conjunction with the indisputable instrument of eternal life’s appropriation, faith into Jesus for it, can have only 1 of 3 possible ramifications:

1) John, the disciple who leaned “on Jesus' bosom”, the apostle “whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23), was not aware that the free reception of eternal life was in someway conditioned upon an act of repentance by the unsaved and thus presented an inadequate and therefore faulty testimony in this matter.

2) John, the apostle “who testifies of these things, and wrote these things; and we know that his testimony is true” (John 21:24), purposely omitted a crucial component of the promise of eternal life for reasons that could only be speculated upon (the first one that would come to mind is some form of mal-intent).

3) John, who knew that “which was from the beginning”, who declared what he “heard” and saw with his “eyes”, who revealed that which he “looked upon” and his hands “handled, concerning the Word of life”, who bore “witness” and declared to us “that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to” him (1 John 1:1-2) did not consider, did not believe, and was not under the conviction that repentance was a necessary requirement for the appropriation of eternal well-being.

If we agree to the following:

1) John told the truth
2) John wrote his gospel with a purpose of evangelism

and admit to the following (which cannot be denied):

3) John did not require repentance in his Gospel as a condition for the appropriation of eternal life, as he did not even mention it once in the whole of his discourse; repentance being shockingly absent from its whole.

We must necessarily come to this conclusion:

4) Repentance is not a theological necessary condition for the reception of eternal life.

[Note: "The simple fact is that the whole Fourth Gospel is designed to show that its readers can get saved in the same way as the people who got saved in John’s narrative. To say anything other than this is to accept a fallacy. It is to mistakenly suppose that the Fourth Gospel presents the terms of salvation incompletely and inadequately." (Zane Hodges, Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society, Autumn 2000, "How to Lead People to Christ, Part 1")]

Furthermore, we must consider our dear brother, the apostle Paul. The idea of repentance is a category strikingly absent from him. In his whole discussion of justification by faith in Romans 3-5, there is not even one mention of repentance as a condition for eternal salvation. It is also noteworthy to share that Paul only mentions repentance 5 times in his epistles (half as many as John), although he wrote 13 (possibly 14) out of the 27 New Testament books. And none of these passages in which he speaks of this doctrine does he regard repentance as a condition for the reception of eternal salvation.

In addition, what is even more damaging to the Traditionalist position is the utter absence of repentance in the book of Galatians. This epistle is Paul’s defense of his gospel wherein he heralds clear and loud the essential tenet that righteousness is imparted through faith alone in Jesus. It is indeed significant that repentance is absent in a book where Paul is presenting and defending the gospel message he received directly from the Lord. For Paul, faith alone into Christ is the sole theological requirement for justification and eternal salvation.

What we are faced with is dozens upon dozens of clear and unambiguous statements of scripture that condition eternal life/justification through faith alone in Christ alone.

For thoroughness, I feel I ought to at least refer us to some of these clear and unambiguous statements that conjoin the requirement of faith/belief with the result – eternal salvation, eternal life, or justification:

John 3:16
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

John 3:36
He who believes in the Son has everlasting life

John 6:40
And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.

John 6:47
Most assuredly I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life

John 11:25-26
Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.

Rom 3:21-22
But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe.

Rom 3:26
that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

Rom 4:5
But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness,

Rom 5:1
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ

Gal 2:16
knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.

Gal 3:2
This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

Gal 3:21-22
But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

1 Tim 1:16-17
16 However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life.

We are equally confronted by the striking absence of a single verse in the whole of the Bible that conjoins a command to repent with a stated purpose of the appropriation of eternal salvation.

Can the Traditionalist [Lordship Salvationist] produce even ONE clear and unambiguous verse that conditions eternal life, justification, or eternal salvation with a requirement of repentance?

21 Comments:

  • If I post a comment it would not be meant to represent the Lordship position. Any comments would be my personal thoughts.

    But first, are you going to address the issues I raised for your attention in the June 7th thread, and will you be around to interact on this one?

    Please advise,


    LM

    By Blogger Lou Martuneac, at Friday, June 15, 2007 9:05:00 PM  

  • Lou,

    I would love to discourse with you on this subject.

    If you are reserving that conversation to a date that I can answer your questions, that will be ok.

    Please submit to me on any thread you like (preferably the one naming you) a concise statement of what you desire I answer to and I will respond.

    Then, we can interact on this one.

    Blessings,

    Antonio

    By Blogger Antonio, at Friday, June 15, 2007 9:18:00 PM  

  • Antonio:

    The article/thread (the one naming me) is at my site, and at this site, (see June7 here) I left several posts in each thread directed to you personally.

    Just go back to June 7 here where you pasted in the long comment you left at my site as a new article entry here. And/or go to my site under my article The Teachings of Zane Hodges. The comments directed to you are at both sites.

    http://indefenseofthegospel.blogspot.com/
    2007/06/teachings-of-zane-hodges.html

    Thanks,



    LM

    By Blogger Lou Martuneac, at Saturday, June 16, 2007 4:47:00 AM  

  • It really is very simple.

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Monday, June 18, 2007 12:05:00 AM  

  • Does the gospel have any affective power whatsoever? Does it change oneself? Does assurance of eternal life make any difference (practical or pragmatic) in the those who have it?

    By Blogger jared, at Monday, June 18, 2007 6:43:00 AM  

  • Jared, it ought to, but that does not mean it certainly will.

    Should a Christian commit any sin after she is made regenerate and indwellt by the Holy Ghost?

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Monday, June 18, 2007 11:48:00 AM  

  • Lordship Salvation as taught by John MacArthur is false doctrine, and close to if not actually heresy.

    However, that does not change that Repentance is part of Salvation and has been so ever since the beginning. That people just accept the Lordship camp's definition of Repentance and argue from that is a shame because we can do so much better.

    I used to be the same way.. struggling through each instance of the word and explaining what it really means. Guess what it really means - Repentance.

    Paul gives us the Gospel that saves in I Cor 15:1-8. And in verse 3b we see true Biblical Repentance.

    that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures

    If you believe that Jesus died for your sins (really "our" sins) then you must acknowledge that you have sins and those sins are worthy of death.

    This is self judgment in accordance with the Scriptures which is all that Repentance is. It's agreeing with God that you are a sinner worthy of death.

    1 Jn 1:9 if we confess our sins - which is "homologeō" or to agree with the Word about them. It's really the same statement as I Cor 15:3b (even though the in accordance with the Scriptures is about in fulfillment of prophecy.)

    Since the beginning God has declared that sin requires death. Gen 2:17. He rejected Cain's offering because it denied this, and accepted Abel's because it was in accordance with it.

    What does it mean to "believe in Jesus". Lots of people "believe" He lived. That He died. Some even believe He rose again with out applying it to themselves.

    Repentance, true repentance, is not meritorious because it's not an improvement or even a want to improve which would be a legal improvement. It's simply self judgment.

    If there is no danger then you can't have faith that you've been saved from it.

    If you believe in Jesus Christ you will be saved. Absolutely - but define believing in Him. It's believing that He died for your own sins, and that He rose again. And that takes repentance - real Biblical Repentance.

    You asked for the one verse that ties repentance to the Gospel. I Cor 15:3 is it. But it doesn't talk about the kind of man made repentance that Lordship Salvation describes.

    Kev

    By Blogger Kevl, at Monday, June 18, 2007 12:36:00 PM  

  • Hey Kev,

    1 John 1:9 is about fellowship forgiveness for those who already have eternal life. There's two kinds of forgiveness in the Bible - justification (positional forgiveness) and fellowship forgiveness (experiential forgiveness).

    Regarding 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, a person must make the connection between Jesus' Death and Resurrection and the free gift of eternal life. You didn't make a statement concerning eternal life. Kev, what if a person believes that Jesus died and rose again, but only gives them a temporary salvation that must be maintained by works? Would you consider such a one saved?

    By Anonymous danny, at Monday, June 18, 2007 5:16:00 PM  

  • Hi Danny,

    Forgive me please if I misinterpret your post.

    You said 1 John 1:9 is about fellowship forgiveness for those who already have eternal life. There's two kinds of forgiveness in the Bible - justification (positional forgiveness) and fellowship forgiveness (experiential forgiveness).

    I agree completely that we have a standing and position. Our position in Christ never changes but our standing in fellowship does in accordance with our maintaining that fellowship.

    However, forgiveness is the concept - no matter the purpose of that forgiveness the concept of forgiveness is the same.

    This is the same thing for Repentance. Repentance which is of sin in the Believer's life restores fellowship (1 Jn 1:9 as we just discussed) but it is still "repentance".

    Even though it's not being applied to Eternal Salvation, the operation is still the same.

    Then you said, and I think you said this because you believed I was confusing restoration of Fellowship with Eternal Salvation - Regarding 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, a person must make the connection between Jesus' Death and Resurrection and the free gift of eternal life. You didn't make a statement concerning eternal life. Kev, what if a person believes that Jesus died and rose again, but only gives them a temporary salvation that must be maintained by works? Would you consider such a one saved?

    Believing in Christ's work on the Cross results in Eternal Salvation - period. I can't even follow what you wrote there.

    If I try to follow what I think your intent was, I believe I have given you proper answer above. I suspect you have projected the Lordship position on to my previous post. But again, please forgive me if I have misinterpreted it.

    Kev

    By Blogger Kevl, at Monday, June 18, 2007 5:28:00 PM  

  • Hey Kev, you misunderstood me. I know you are Free Grace and I was not projecting a Lordship position on you. But I misunderstood you as well - The way you worded your post made it sound like you saw both 1 John 1:9 and 1 Corinthians 5:1-4 referring to eternal life. But now I see that you were just illustrating what repentance is, regardless of whether it is fellowship or salvation. So that's cleared up.

    Now, let me clarify what I was trying to say regarding Jesus' Death and Resurrection. You say a person receives eternal life when they believe in Jesus' Cross work. Please be more specific. If you're saying that a person is saved when they believe that their salvation is based solely on Jesus' Death and Resurrection, then that's fine.

    But you need to be more specific. Do you equate believing in Jesus's Cross work with believing that Jesus gives irrevocable eternal life through His Death and Resurrection? If this is what you mean, then perfect.

    By Anonymous danny, at Monday, June 18, 2007 5:44:00 PM  

  • Hi Danny,

    Sorry :)

    Isn't it a shame that terms get so messed up that we need to be painfully specific? I mean the term "soundly saved" makes me want to laugh at first, and then when I think about it.. I want to cry.

    Yes, faith that Christ died for your own sins on the Cross and that He rose from the dead physically in the flesh three days later results in irrevocable eternal life.

    That is kinda side-line to the topic though isn't it?

    Kev

    By Blogger Kevl, at Monday, June 18, 2007 6:50:00 PM  

  • Hey Kev. Actually, Antonio agrees with the Lordshippers that repentance always means turning from sins. Therefore, Antonio does NOT see it as a condition of eternal life.

    Some in the Free Grace camp, including yourself, see repentance as simply a change of mind, at least in salvation contexts. So under this FG definition, when a person believes in Jesus, they "change their mind" about themselves and their sin, and believe in Jesus for eternal life.

    Others in the Free Grace camp agree with Lordshippers that repentance is turning from sins, but because salvation is by grace through faith, then repentance, defined as turning from sins, is NOT a condition of eternal life.

    Both FG positions reject turning from sins as a condition of eternal life. One position defines repentance as a change of mind in salvation contexts, while the other defines it as always referring to turning from sins in order to be in fellowship with God.

    You're still not being clear on faith in Jesus' Cross work. I know you already believe in eternal security. What I want to know from you is if you believe that a person must be aware that they are eternally secure through Jesus in order to be saved. In other words, you're not saved unless you believe that Christ has given you irrevocable eternal life. Do you agree?

    By Anonymous danny, at Monday, June 18, 2007 8:24:00 PM  

  • dyspraxic fundamentalist,

    Paul says that the gospel comes "in power and in the Holy spirit with full conviction" and not "in word only." Does that sound like it "ought" to change the believer or does it sound like it will change the believer?

    Also, what do you do with John and Jesus preaching "repent and believe"? Seems like belief isn't even possible sans repentance. Makes sense if you think about it, no one is going to believe if their disposition has not been changed from 'against God' to 'against self' prior to belief.

    By Blogger jared, at Tuesday, June 19, 2007 6:45:00 AM  

  • Hey Danny,

    You said You're still not being clear on faith in Jesus' Cross work. I know you already believe in eternal security. What I want to know from you is if you believe that a person must be aware that they are eternally secure through Jesus in order to be saved. In other words, you're not saved unless you believe that Christ has given you irrevocable eternal life. Do you agree?

    AAAAAH now I see your question... I totally didn't see that in the other posts sorry.

    I actually think God is graceful in this matter. Notice I use the term "think", I wouldn't "hold" to this but I believe it to be so. Here are two reasons why I "think" this.

    First one is not very sure footed, it's emotional - I believe God is Graceful and doesn't expect people to be theologians in order to be saved.

    Second, when we first repent we are not aware of all our sins, as repentance is a life long thing (for fellowship anyway). So the person who isn't 100% sure they are eternally saved but knows and trusts that Jesus did die for their sins (they are a sinner worthy of death, but saved by Jesus) is LIKELY still saved.

    I could not allow myself to leave that sort of thinking in a person I'm preaching too though.. because I believe it is VERY close to the person not actually having Faith in Jesus.

    And I wouldn't hold to this... I'm just kinda giving the benefit of the doubt... I know I wouldn't enjoy full fellowship with someone who thought they could loose their salvation.

    Sorry this is wishy washy... but it's an accurate description (I hope) of what I believe.

    Kev

    By Blogger Kevl, at Tuesday, June 19, 2007 7:11:00 AM  

  • Hi Jared, be careful not to use the reasoning of man - "sounds like".

    Repentance doesn't always produce an outward change - nor does it have to.

    Kev

    By Blogger Kevl, at Tuesday, June 19, 2007 7:13:00 AM  

  • Kev,

    I'm not using the reasoning of man by saying "sounds like", but thanks for the warning.

    By Blogger jared, at Tuesday, June 19, 2007 10:04:00 AM  

  • Hey Kev, thank you for the clarification. My take is that if a person has never been convinced that they have irrevocable eternal life through Jesus, then they have not been saved. I believe that the proper definition for pisteou is conviction. If a person is convinced that Jesus has saved them permanently, then they cannot possibly doubt it at the same moment in time. They can doubt it later, but not at the moment of faith (conviction).

    I'm glad that even though you think it is possible that a person with such doubt may be saved, you try to get rid of that kind of thinking in a person. That's why I think John 4:13-14 and 6:35-40 are crucial passages to bring up with unbelievers. They both show the permanency of the gift.

    I know you hold to the view that assent and trust are different. Many Free Gracers, including my pastor, hold to your view. But I hold to the other FG position - that faith is passive. I don't subscribe to the view that saving faith is active. Therefore, I don't like the "saving faith is like sitting in a chair" illustration. The main weakness is that sitting in a chair actually involves work -walking to the chair. But faith is the opposite of work. To me, assent and trust in Jesus are one and the same. You're saved when you assent to the proposition that you personally have eternal life through Christ. Assenting to this proposition is the same thing as putting all of your weight on Jesus. Intellectual assent = trust. You're assenting, agreeing with God that you have eternal life through His Son.

    By Anonymous danny, at Tuesday, June 19, 2007 12:52:00 PM  

  • Hio Danny,

    I'm enjoying this. So far the best thing about having found Antonio's blog is the people I've had the pleasure of "meeting".

    I agree there can't be confusion in the person's faith at the moment of Salvation. There's a difference in hoping you're saved, and having the hope (NT Biblical usage = assurance) of Eternal Life. But I do believe most Christians will go through the temptation/trial/struggle of "am I really saved".

    Ya the example of faith, sitting on a chair or dancing on the ice - can imply a works based salvation.

    Yet to go along with the topic - repentance unto life is the realizing you need to be supported by the Chair or you'll fall on the floor, and actually trusting the Chair to support you by letting your full weight sit on it.

    I Cor 15:3 carries this whole idea - I'm a sinner worthy of death - but Jesus paid the payment of death for me. MY full payment has been paid - I'm sitting on the chair with my feet off the floor.

    It's neat that you bring up John 6. Because there's a very cool quote from Our Lord found there. John 6:27-29 Jesus tells these men not to labour for for that which perishes but to do the work of God that is to believe in Him.

    Belief is a "work" of sorts. This should be fun to chat about.

    Kev

    By Blogger Kevl, at Tuesday, June 19, 2007 3:57:00 PM  

  • I'm enjoying the conversation too Kev. Yep, we agree that a person may doubt their salvation after faith, but not at the moment of faith.

    The chair illustration is typically used to say that assent to the Gospel is being convinced that Jesus can save without actually trusting Him. It says a person must decide to put their trust in Jesus after believing that he can save. Some FGers, including yourself, see faith as active trust. Other FGers, like me, see faith as passive.

    Those of us holding the passive view of faith see assent and trust as being the same thing. The way we see it, assent is being convinced that you are personally benefited by Jesus' work. Believing that Jesus can save without applying it to yourself is NOT assent in our opinion.

    Intellectual assent = trust. You assent to the proposition that you personally have eternal life through Christ. You don't make a conscious "decision" to trust Christ. You either passively agree with God that you have eternal life through His Son, or you don't. You don't ask Jesus for eternal life. You just believe that You have it through Him. Again, believing that Jesus can save without believing you have eternal life is NOT assent in our view.

    I love John 6:27-29. Certainly the argument can be made that belief is a work of sorts. You can argue it's a work that doesn't involve work. That's fine. I would say that faith is never a work, and that Jesus was simply using irony to make the point that works can't save. He led them on in their works-salvation thinking, and dashed it into pieces with verse 29. The work that saves is non-work (faith). But hey, we both agree on the meaning of the passage, so it's all good!

    By Anonymous danny, at Tuesday, June 19, 2007 5:08:00 PM  

  • Hi Danny,

    You said You don't make a conscious "decision" to trust Christ. You either passively agree with God that you have eternal life through His Son, or you don't. You don't ask Jesus for eternal life. You just believe that You have it through Him.

    I agree with this. I think we make change of mind to see our sins covered by His blood.. to apply it to our selves. I don't know if it's a "decision" or not. But there is a moment in time when we know our sins have to be paid for, and then that He paid the payment. (even if it's very tiny)

    But I don't read anywhere in the Word that we "ask God to forgive us". So I agree with you. As soon as we confess or agree with Him about our sin He is faithful to forgive them. We know we have forgiveness because we see that Jesus actually paid for our sins.

    Agree?

    Kev

    By Blogger Kevl, at Wednesday, June 20, 2007 2:50:00 AM  

  • Hey Kev. That's fine. I like to stress eternal life, not forgiveness. It's fine to concentrate on forgiveness as long as the person realizes that all their sins, past-present-future, are forgiven and that they are thus guaranteed eternal life.

    Here' one way I would put it to someone: Jesus paid for the sins of the whole world and rose from the dead, allowing Him to freely give eternal life to those who believe in Him for it.

    By Anonymous danny, at Wednesday, June 20, 2007 12:10:00 PM  

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