Friday, February 03, 2006
Free Grace or Lordship Salvation? (Part 5)
2. The relationship between faith and discipleship. The lordship salvation view sees no difference between believers and disciples. They are the same thing. As a result, discipleship is not an option for a Christian, and being a disciple is part of true faith in Christ. MacArthur asserts, "The gospel Jesus proclaimed was a call to discipleship, a call to follow Him in submissive obedience, not just a plea to make a decision or pray a prayer" (Ibid., 21). Faith is more than just mentally agreeing with the gospel—it is trusting in and following the person the gospel is about, Jesus Christ. MacArthur says, "The heart of real discipleship is a commitment to be like Jesus Christ. That means both acting as He did and being willing to accept the same treatment. It means facing a hostile world and doing it fearlessly. It means confessing before others that Jesus is Lord, and being confident that He will also speak on our behalf before the Father" (Ibid., 199). Discipleship is not easy, but living a life of faith was never meant to be easy.

Following Christ and becoming more like him is often referred to as sanctification. The lordship salvation view believes that those who come to Christ in faith and are justified by God will be sanctified throughout their life. They will become more like Christ. Ken Jones maintains,

Justification and sanctification are to be distinguished but not separated. They are to be distinguished so that faith is not overthrown by works thereby nullifying grace. However, they are not to be separated so that saving faith is not confused with a barren and presumptuous faith. As the reformers claimed, "We are saved by faith alone but not by a faith that is alone" (Ken Jones, "Justification and Sanctification Distinguished," Modern Reformation 11 no. 2 (2002): 31).

So, justification leads to sanctification. And as a result, faith always brings discipleship in a believer's life.

3. The relationship between faith and works. Since all true believers are disciples and are being sanctified, they will produce good works. Therefore, the lordship salvation position believes that while works in no way earn salvation, they are an inevitable result of true faith in Christ. "It cannot be overemphasized that works play no role in gaining salvation. But good works have everything to do with living out salvation. No good works can earn salvation, but many good works result from genuine salvation. Good works are not necessary to become a disciple, but good works are the necessary marks of all true disciples" (MacArthur, Faith Works, 70). As a result, while works are not the basis of faith, they are not to be completely severed from faith either.

This connection becomes very important when regarding a believer's assurance. Since all Christians maintain that there are true and false believers, how can one know whether he or she is a true follower of Christ? MacArthur shows that there are two sources of assurance, "The objective ground is the finished work of Christ on our behalf, including the promises of Scripture, which have their yea and amen in Him (2 Cor. 1:20). The subjective ground is the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, including His convicting and sanctifying ministries" (Ibid., 164). While the ultimate ground for assurance must rest in Christ's death and resurrection, one can also gain assurance through the works they are able to do through the power of the Holy Spirit. This provides a way by which believers can know whether or not they are really resting in Christ.
posted at 3:30 PM  

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I am a former Mormon who has been saved by Jesus Christ. Now I am a missionary involved with the Africa Center for Apologetics Research (ACFAR). I seek to live in light of Paul's words: "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." (Philippians 1:21 ESV)

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