The other side of the debate is the lordship salvation view. Their understanding of faith is much different than the free grace position. The current primary proponent of the lordship salvation view, John F. MacArthur, Jr., defines saving faith as "the soul's appropriation of and surrender to the Lord Jesus Christ as the solitary hope for eternal life and deliverance from sin. This faith is a work of God in the heart of the believing sinner" (John F. MacArthur, Jr., Faith Works, 261). Therefore, faith is believing in and surrendering to Christ for salvation. As a result, repentance and faith both play an important role in salvation, faith requires discipleship, and works are an evidence of an individual's salvation. These relationships will now be examined.
1. The relationship between faith and repentance. According to the lordship salvation position, while faith and repentance are distinct concepts, they are also intricately connected. MacArthur states, "Saving faith is more than just understanding the facts and mentally acquiescing. It is inseparable from repentance, surrender, and a supernatural eagerness to obey. The biblical concept of saving faith includes all those elements" (John F. MacArthur, Jr., The Gospel According to Jesus, 31). So, salvation includes repentance. MacArthur goes on to say, "Faith is the flip side of repentance. While repentance speaks of turning from sin, faith is turning to the Savior" (Ibid., 112). Therefore, one is incomplete without the other. A person cannot turn toward something unless he or she is turning away from something else, and vice versa. Repentance and faith are like two sides of the same coin. Both are necessary for salvation.
While the lordship salvation view argues for the necessity of repentance in conversion, they deny that repentance is a work. It is a gift of God, just as faith is. "Repentance and submission are no more human works than faith itself. They are every bit the work of God—not elements added to faith, but essential aspects of God's work of faith in a human heart" (Ibid., 88). Therefore, they maintain that salvation is through faith alone, and good works in no way contribute to a person's salvation. As MacArthur clearly states, "Nothing a lost, degenerate, spiritually dead sinner can do will in any way contribute to salvation. Saving faith, repentance, commitment, and obedience are all divine works, wrought by the Holy Spirit in the heart of everyone who is saved" (Ibid., xiii).
posted at 3:00 PM