Thursday, September 15, 2011
The Vision (9/15/11): Lordship Salvation
In Iain Murray’s new biography of John MacArthur (Banner of Truth, 2011), he describes how MacArthur’s theology of evangelism and discipleship began to change during the early years of his ministry. Most significantly MacArthur began to rethink many of the pragmatic “easy-believism” evangelistic efforts of the times that had produced many who had made professions of faith but who later showed little evidence of a change of life and fruitfulness. MacArthur began to challenge the notion that one could have Jesus as “Savior” but not as “Lord.” He expressed his views in a 1988 book titled The Gospel According to Jesus, and it led to what is sometimes called the “Lordship controversy.”
In this discussion, Murray shares an anecdote from early in MacArthur’s ministry, as recounted in The Gospel According to Jesus. He once met a stranger who sat next to him on a plane trip. The man noticed MacArthur was reading a Bible and said to him, “Excuse me, you wouldn’t know how I could have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, would you?” Amazed at this open door, MacArthur eagerly shared the gospel and asked the man if he would like to receive Christ as his personal Savior. The man replied, “I’d like to do that.” They prayed together and within a month the man had been baptized. MacArthur then explained, “I was excited about what had happened and eager to follow him up in discipleship. After a short time, however, he broke off contact with me. I recently discovered he has no continuing interest in the things of Christ” (see Murray, pp. 73-74).
The story reminded me of Jesus’ parable of the soils (see Matthew 13:1-23). In that parable the Sower sows the seed of the word on four types of soil. There is the hardened path of the wayside where the seed is quickly gobbled up, the shallow soil of the stony places where the seed sprouts up but is then scorched by the sun, and the thorny soil where the sprout is soon choked by “the care of this world” (v. 22). Finally, there is the good ground where the seed grows and bears fruit. Jesus explains that this good soil “is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth” (v. 23).
How do we know if we are truly saved? We know we are saved when we see Jesus exercising his Lordship in our lives. As one has said, good works are not the root of our faith, but they are the fruit of our faith. In another place in Matthew the evangelist records that Jesus taught, “he that endureth to the end shall be saved” (10:22). May we continue to persevere under the Lordship of Christ, bearing fruit for the kingdom.
Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle