Thursday, September 30, 2010

Romans 5:18 - Calvinism's Black Box

What does the word "all" mean anyway? You know how people like to change the meaning of the word "day" in Genesis to mean whatever will fit with their own idea about the creation and age of the universe?

Well the word "all" suffers the very same abuse at the hands of those who want their theology to define Scripture, instead of the other way around.  There is no doubt that Jesus died for our sins, and if we are to believe the Apostle John; He died not only for our sins, but for the sins of the whole world as well! 1Jn 2:2 and countless other verses teach similar things.

The nuCalvinist will tell you that if Jesus died for the sins of the world then everyone would be saved and that is heresy therefore Jesus must have only died for those chosen by God to be saved - the Elect if I use their terminology.

So I bring up Isa 53:6 ... all we like sheep have gone astray... (we're all sinners) and God has laid on Him the sins of us "all" - of course this verse gets played with to redefine what the passage means... if the Calvinist is familiar with the end of the verse at all that is.

But how do you play with Romans 5:18 to make it fit the Calvinist theological understanding?

Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life.

Look at the phrases. What came to all men? Well Judgment came to all men. The Calvinist has no issue with this little tidbit. But what ELSE came "to" all men? Christ's righteous act came to all men. The Christ's "cross-work" came to all men. Not just to the Elect. And what did it result in? "justification of life."

Does this mean all are saved? No. But it does mean that the Christ's propitiation was for all men, and effectual for all men. Those who believe will be saved, those who do not believe won't be.

Don't believe me? Check the Greek for yourself. The same phrase that means Judgment came to all men, is employed to show that God's provision came to all men. Here's a picture of the verse parsed for you.

Be my guest to tell me how "all" can mean everyone through all time in the first part of this verse the very same word, with the very same morphology, can mean "some of all" at the next part of this verse.

Monday, September 27, 2010

A Valid Defense Part 4 - Conclusion

Welcome to Part 4 of my review of Lou Martuneac’s In Defense of the Gospel: Biblical Answers to Lordship Salvation - Revised & Expanded Edition (IDOTG). This will be the conclusion of the series, however I’m under no delusion that this will conclude discussion and argumentation. If you haven't read Part 1, Part 2, or Part 3 yet please check them out before you proceed.
As he moves toward the close of the book Martuneac asks “Is it the Christian’s duty to fight for the faith?” In answering this question he once again begins by simply quoting Scripture. Jude 3 in the KJV says:
Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.
It’s a pretty straightforward answer. Even still, this verse gets cited in in praise of anyone who preaches any particular view of Scripture that there is. People claim they are defending the faith when they are in fact simply defending their views. This brings us back to the purpose of IDOTG which is to give biblical answers to Lordship Salvation(LS). Over the last few weeks I’ve been reviewing Martuneac’s arguments against the various LS claims. No major LS claim was left undefeated, and the reader of this book is well prepared to answer any minor claim that may not have been directly answered in the book. How? Well the answer is both simple, and complicated. Read the Scriptures is the simple answer, understand what the LS proponent is actually claiming is the more complicated answer.

Martuneac devotes an entire chapter to contending for the faith, because “contending” it’s hard! The stakes are high, both for the Church and for the unsaved masses. As much as we would all love to sit on the side lines and let God sort this whole controversy out, we Saints in Christ are God’s agents in this world. We’ve been given very clear instruction in the Scriptures on how to contend for the faith, and it is simply our job to follow what we read therein.

The next chapter is a “heart to heart” with Pastors and other Christian leaders. The weight of these kinds of controversies often fall on the shoulders of such men. How these men stand in the faith, or crumble under the weight of peer pressure will to a great extent determine how the members of their assemblies fair. Over 19 pages Martuneac pleads with Pastors to stand up and protect those they are responsible to shepherd.

In the last chapter of the book, entitled “A Final Word” Martuneac offers some help for those who have read the book and are now questioning the LS view of the Gospel. Instead of declaring victory he says in part:
It is my hope and prayer that if you are having reservations about Lordship Salvation, if you are having doubts about what you have been exposed to, you will take it before the Lord and search the Scriptures once again.
Further down the same page he offers:
Admitting you were wrong on a particular doctrine s one of the hardest things for a believer to do. It takes a high measure of belt-tightening and swallowing of pride to make an admission like that, but it is a sign of great character. it shows a teachable, humble spirit, and demonstrates your loyalty to the Scripture. Christians who genuinely love and care for you will rally to your side and appreciate your candor and humility.
On the last page of the last chapter several questions are put before the reader, and left to bare on the reader’s conscience in light of all they have read.

  • Is God satisfied with the finished work of Jesus Christ?
  • Is God satisfied with His Son’s propitiation for the sins of the whole world?
  • Is God satisfied with Christ’s atoning work?

How did you, the reader of this blog article, answer these questions as you read them? Did you answer any less surely than Scripture does? Scripture declares without exception YES! FULLY! ABSOLUTELY!

Martuneac then asks in light of the axiomatic answers to those questions:
...why is John MacArthur’s Lordship “salvation [only] for those who are willing to forsake everything?” Why must the lost come to Christ for salvation with a “wholehearted commitment” to bear the cross, “full-scale self-denial” and “even [the] willingness to die for His sake if necessary?” Since Jesus paid it all why does Lordship Salvation condition eternal life on faith plus commitment of life and the lifelong performance of that commitment?
In closing the book Martuneac explains the motivations behind his work:
What I have written is In Defense of the Gospel! I am unashamedly against the interpretation of the gospel commonly known as “Lordship Salvation.” There are many areas where on must balance soul liberty and Christian charity and agree to respect different views. The gospel, however, is not an area in which we can agree to disagree. The doctrine of Lordship Salvation and the efforts of Lordship advocates must be vigorously debated, and biblically resisted. May God protect unsuspecting believers and the lost from the egregious errors of Lordship Salvation.
After the book is finished there are 46 pages of Appendixes, of which some are helpful to build on the arguments of the book and others are exploration of the implications of what the book teaches. Some are written by Martuneac and others by other prominent teachers. The titles are; What About Calvinism, Does Regeneration Precede Faith?, Summary of Lordship Salvation From a Single Page, The Relationship Between God’s Grace and Lordship Legalism, The “No Lordship” Counter-Claim, A Review of Walter J. Chantry’s Today’s Gospel: Authentic or Synthetic, Unless the Lord Jesus is Lord of All He is Not Lord at All, and Does “Final Salvation” Serve as a Cover for Works-Salvation?

In Defense of the Gospel has helped me realize that I am not holding to obscure views. The glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ by which we are saved by grace through faith apart from works is in fact the same Gospel that was preached by all the Apostles, 1Cor 15:11, and which was delivered to the Apostles by Jesus Christ Himself Gal 1:11-12. Ever since the days of the Apostles men and women have been preaching this same Gospel. It is not a weak Gospel, or a strong Gospel it is THE Gospel; the terms of which need not be changed to satisfy our fleshy desires to appease religious inclinations.

Walking in this truth has not been without personal cost. Many of my dearest friends walk in the error of LS theology. If I were to preach obedience unto Salvation there would be no offense to these friends who are part of “Conservative Evangelicalism.” Instead they would be pleased. I don’t preach obedience unto salvation, but the obedience of faith, of believing that God is propitiated by the Cross-work of Jesus Christ on mine and your behalf. I think of Gal 5:7-15 for my preaching liberty is despised.

What has In Defense of the Gospel meant to, and done for, me? Such is summed up in the confidence with which I hold and express these thoughts: Salvation is free. Discipleship is impossibly costly. We are justified freely in Christ, having His righteousness not our own. We will be rewarded or suffer loss of reward for what we do here in the flesh, whether good or evil. Those of us who open our mouths, or tap on keyboards even, to teach will be held to a higher account. Those of us who lead the free into bondage would be better off if we were to cut our own selves off. Those of us who preach a false unsaving message of commitment unto salvation to the lost work, with our own hands by the sweat of our own brow, not with the power of God. Rom 1:16

I'm concerned for those who think popularity and much support from people indicate God's blessing. Every Sunday on our way to the Brethren assembly I and my beloved wife attend we drive past a huge Catholic church building. The parking lot is always overflowing. When we leave our service the roads are clogged with cars departing that religious facility. Every Sunday I am reminded that men flock to, and give generously to their own industrious endeavors. Every Sunday I am thankful that those who have believed the Gospel are indeed saved, and indeed freed. They need never worry, for their Salvation is provided for us in Christ. He is our security. He is our assurance. He is our hope. The Spirit of God is our seal. We are safe and need not fear. Such is the power of God unto Salvation.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ, as declared by the Apostles is found in 1Cor 15:1-11
 1 Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. 6 After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. 7 After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. 8 Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.
9 For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. 11 Therefore, whether it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.
In Defense of the Gospel is endorsed by many well known, consistent, godly and fruitful preachers and teachers. While I am neither well known nor worthy to add my name to the list; I do so anyway. In Defense of the Gospel is a work that is worthy of your time and consideration no matter where you stand on the battlefield enflamed with the Lordship Salvation controversy.  It will not end the struggles between the parties holding various views on the Gospel, but it will greatly help any who have an honest desire to obey the Scriptures instead of theology.

For more about the author, Lou Martuneac and In Defense of the Gospel please visit his blog.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Gospel

I declare to you the Gospel of Grace, of Jesus Christ having died for our sins, being buried and having risen to life again all in accordance with the requirements and predictions of Scripture. Accepted by the Father on our behalf, as the full price for our sins.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Valid Defense Part 3

Welcome to Part 3 of my 4 part review of Rev Lou Martuneac’s In Defense of the Gospel: Biblical Answers to Lordship Salvation. Revised & Expanded Edition. If you haven’t read the first two parts, please check out Part 1 here, and Part 2 here before you continue. So far I’ve covered the introduction to the book, and some of the arguments. In this part I’m going to breeze through the rest of the main arguments set forth by Martuneac against Lordship Salvation(LS) without revealing more than I have to. 
Part 4 will discuss how Martuneac suggests readers can apply what they’ve read. I’ll also discuss how this book has affected my walk and faith. 
We left off last time talking about the question of whether there can be a Christian who is carnal. Now we’ll pick up with at the very next chapter. 
What Is Biblical Repentance? 
At this chapter Martuneac really kicks the book into high gear and digs into one of the most often debated topics with regard to the Gospel. He writes;
“In the Lordship Salvation controversy the doctrine of repentance probably draws more attention, scrutiny and debate than any other doctrine in the debate. Men on both sides of the Lordship debate agree that repentance has a role in salvation. They disagree on the exact role and definition of repentance, but agree that repentance is involved int he salvation experience.” 
He goes on to state that Zane Hodges and the Grace Evangelical Society(GES) are notable exceptions to this agreement, and then shows how the GES has departed from it’s previous fidelity with the Scriptures, and so have muted their voice in the discussion. 
Martuneac discusses what repentance cannot be based on the Scriptures and then breaks down the Greek behind the word repentance. Transliterated, the Greek word is metanoia. Most clearly the word repentance means to change your mind, or have an afterthought (after consideration to change your mind), and this is explained well in this chapter. However, Martuneac doesn’t stop there even though he would have satisfied the requirement for a Biblical definition of repentance even if he did. 
1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 
Continuing the discussion about the definition of repentance Martuneac quotes John MacArthur on the passage 1Thess 1:9; 
“As metanoia is used in the New Testament, it always speaks of a change of purpose, and specifically a turning from sin. In the sense Jesus used it, repentance calls for a repudiation of the old life and a turning to God for salvation. Such a change of purpose is what Paul had in mind when he described the repentance of the Thessalonians: ‘You turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God” (1 Thessalonians 1:9). Note the three elements of repentance: turning to God, a turning from evil and the intent to serve God. No change of mind can be called true repentance if it does not include all three elements. The simple but all too often overlooked fact is that a true change of mind will necessarily result in a change of behavior.
Repentance is not merely shame or sorrow over sin, although genuine repentance always involves an element of remorse. It is a redirection of the human will, a purposeful decision to forsake all unrighteousness and pursue righteousness instead.”
and then
“What is the gospel, after all, but a call to repentance (Acts 2:38; 3:19; 17:30)? In other words, it demands that sinners make a change-- stop going one way and turn around to go the other (1Thess 1:9).” 
I don’t want to give away the home run that gets hit in this chapter. But the very first thing about these quotes of MacArthur that Martuneac brings up is:
“Those quotes represent Lordship’s classic misuse of 1Thess 1:9. MacArthur starts by addressing the Greek word metanoia as it is used in the New Testament, and then quotes a verse that does not even contain the word metanoia. The Greek word for “to turn” is completely different; it is epistrepho and means simply ‘to turn, turn to or toward.’ Epistrepho does not mean ‘to repent.’” 
I would so much love to write the rest of this portion of the book, because frankly, it really does hit a home run. The purpose of these articles is to introduce readers to the work and give them some idea of what it offers. So, I’ll leave this section by stating that Matuneac explicitly details how 1Thess 1:9 impeaches LS theologians who quote it in support of their fallacious doctrine. He does this using what he calls the “Inspired Commentary” which is the Word of God. 
The exploration of biblical repentance takes the reader to many high profile passages, but before I move on to the next topic here is a quote of Martuneac hitting a note of clarity for the reader that ought to resound throughout the Lordship Salvation controversy debate:
“There must be a balance in our theology when we come to repentance and faith. The sinner who turns in repentance toward God and faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21) is born again. Faith without a corresponding understanding or emphasis on repentance can lead to Zane Hodge’s reductionist Crossless interpretation of the gospel. Repentance without a corresponding understanding of the true nature of faith can lead to John MacArthur’s Lordship Salvation. Tendencies to emphasize one side of the repentance/faith theological coin more than the other will lead to an out of balance view of the gospel and consequently to the corresponding extremes.” 
What Is Biblical Saving Faith? 
After exploring why LS proponents focus on the “kind” of faith a person has instead of the object of a person’s faith Martuneac turns his attention to asking this question: Is Lordship’s “Saving Faith” a barter system? He quotes John MacArthur: 
“Thus in a sense we pay the ultimate price for salvation when our sinful self is nailed to a cross... It is an exchange of all that we are for all that Christ is. And it denotes implicit obedience, full surrender to the lordship of Christ. Nothing less can qualify as saving faith.” 
Martuneac states flat out that MacArthur, and LS as a whole, does preach a barter system for salvation. Of course he expects LS proponents to cry “Misrepresentation!” and claim that he’s built a “straw man” to argue against. In response to these expected reactions Martuneac writes:
“The straw man argument is a logical fallacy based on misrepresentation of an opponent’s position. To set up a straw man or set a straw-man argument is to create a position that is easy to refute, and then attribute that position to the opponent. The call for upfront promises to stop sinning, for ‘obedience’ and ‘full surrender’ in ‘exchange’ for salvation is found in Dr. MacArthur’s Lordship books and online sources. Lordship’s exchange/barter system does not need to be artificially attributed to Dr. MacArthur because it is his position. There is, therefore no straw man! Claiming ‘straw man’ does nothing to negate the clear, incontrovertible evidence of Lordship Salvation’s barter system.” 
These strong words are well supported in this chapter by quoting LS proponents and comparing what they say to the Word of God. Contrasting the LS quotes, Martuneac offers some words from J. Gresham Machen, of which here is a portion;
“The true reason why faith is given such an exclusive place by the New Testament, so far as the attainment of salvation is concerned, over against love and over against everything else in man ... is that faith means receiving something, not doing something or even being something. To say, therefore, that our faith saves us means that we do not save ourselves even in the slightest measure, but that God saves us.” 
The Rich Young Ruler
The encounter between the Lord and the Rich Young Ruler as we read in Matthew, Mark and Luke is often used by LS proponents. I think this part of IDOTG is strong, and you can read a much shortened version of his argument at the author’s blog.   The argument is expanded and presented over 17 pages in the book. 
After deep discussion of all the favorite proof-texts for LS theology (many more than I have covered in this review) Martuneac finally comes to Romans chapter 10. Here’s how he opens this all important chapter of IDOTG. 
“Romans 10:9 is a favorite of the Lordship advocates in support of their evangelistic message of commitment and surrender in exchange for salvation. This chapter is dedicated to a careful examination of and commentary on this important verse. Key words from the verse will be studied and compared. The purpose of this chapter is to demonstrate that Romans 10:9 does not support the Lordship Salvation interpretation of the gospel.” 
The chapter asks and answers several questions; 
What is confession and what are we to confess? and How does the Bible define “believe”? 
In answering these he discusses the Greek word homologeo, and the confessions that were accepted as indications of belief or saving faith in the Bible. 
In explaining the LS view Martuneac quotes MacArthur referring to Acts 2:12; 2:36; 16:31; and Rom 10:9-10;
“All of these passages include indisputably the lordship of Christ as part of the gospel to be believed for salvation... it is clear that people who come to Christ for salvation must do so in obedience to Him, that is, with a willingness to surrender to Him as Lord.” 
And quotes Kenneth L. Gentry; 
“To ‘believe on the Lord Jesus Christ’ involves more than knowledge, assent and trust (reliance). True, one must know about God’s provision, he must assent to the truth of the gospel and he must rely on Christ to save him. But to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ means more than to believe that he is Lord and more than to rely on Him to give eternal life. It also means to receive Christ as one’s own Lord, the ruler of one’s own life.” 
These quotes, and others, are then compared to the examples of conversions in the Scriptures to see if they match or not. 
Another question asked is; In the context of Romans 10:9 - what is the meaning of the word, “Lord”? Several pages are dedicated to answering this question clearly, and biblically.  
The last major question asked about Romans 10 is this; What do notable men say about Romans 10:9? To which Martuneac offers quotes from Vine, Dr. A.T. Robertson, H. A. Ironside, F.F. Bruce, H.C.G. Moule, Everett F. Harrison, J. Greshem Machen, Warren W. Wiersbe - ending with a bolded quote from Robert Lightener which reads in part;
“Nowhere in Scripture is making Jesus lord of one’s life a requirement to receive salvation from the Savior.” 
ACTS 16:30-31 
The last major argument given in IDOTG before the Appendixes is in regard to the famous, but not nearly famous enough, answer to the question “What must I do to be saved?” that a jailer once asked the Apostle Paul. The chapter is short, but it hits the mark squarely by showing the Biblical order of Salvation and Discipleship. 
As I stated before, there is much more in IDOTG that I haven’t even touched on. In the next part (which will be the conclusion) of this review I will discuss Martuneac’s call to action in the closing chapters, the helpful Appendixes and finally how this work has affected my own walk for the last number of years. 

Check out the conclusion in Part 4 here.

Monday, September 20, 2010

A Valid Defense Part 2

Welcome to part 2 of my review of Rev Lou Martuneac’s revised and expanded edition of In Defense of the Gospel (IDOTG). If you haven’t read Part 1, please check it out before you continue. 

Having spent the better part of 3 years evaluating Martuneac’s views based on the first edition of IDOTG, and now examining his latest edition I’ve come to believe the work is worthy of my full recommendation. This review will continue to be more of an overview and introduction to his work, than a public evaluation. I hope it will inspire many to pick the book up and read it. I am confident it will be a blessing to every heart that hears what it says.

The first edition was a huge blessing to me at a time when I was vulnerable to accepting teachings simply because of the teacher’s reputation. Before I read IDOTG in 2008 I actually believed Lordship Salvation (LS) proponents must have had something more up their sleeves that I just hadn’t discovered yet. Many of these LS men are very intelligent and have an appearance of godliness. I believed this meant they must have known something that I didn’t. I had read, watched and listened to their teachings extensively and yet just couldn’t see why they came to the conclusions they did. Even still they were so popular, so well known, so well respected that they must have been at least partially correct. Right? What Martuneac did for me with IDOTG and what is all the more available for you in this new edition is freedom to evaluate a teaching against Scripture alone.

IDOTG is dispassionate with regard to the people who preach LS. It simply quotes many (if not all) of the most well known, most well respected LS teachers extensively and in context in order to compare what they teach to the Scriptures. The never ending cry from LS proponents is “Misrepresentation!!” but Martuneac gives LS proponents an uncompromised voice in his work. He does not silence any portion of their arguments, and answers what they are actually teaching with Scripture, not emotion or philosophy.  This is what makes IDOTG such a great tool to have in your theological woodshed, and what makes it such a godly gift to any Christian who is exploring the controversy, or has had Lordship Salvation taught to them by those who are most probably well-meaning Brethren.

The picture on the right here shows the corners of pages folded over in my copy of IDOTG at spots where I have found the most valuable points being made. Surely it’s obvious to anyone looking at this picture that I can’t cover that many points, and what should be obvious also is that there is much more in the book than even I have marked.  I do not know if Martuneac intends on publishing a third edition of this work, there doesn’t seem to be much need for it as the argument is well made in this edition, but if he does I hope he will include an index of arguments or perhaps a chart that could help the book be used as a quick reference.

Before Martuneac begins specific arguments he offers a helpful chapter about how to recognize LS teachers, and how to properly approach them with grace. Many LS teachers hide the fullness of their theology behind orthodox sounding phrases, but there is almost always something that will stick out.

The Bibliography of works cited in this 310 page book is nearly 4 full pages long alone, this should give the reader of this review an idea of the scope of IDOTG. Out of all that is covered in the book here are some of the arguments that I found most interesting and helpful. 

Does Regeneration Precede Faith?

Martuneac choose this heavy topic as his starting point noting that the LS definitions of faith & repentance cannot be exercised by an unregenerate person. What should be noted for those who are less familiar is that “regeneration” is merely a more technical term for being “born again.” John Piper is quoted;
“The native hardness of our hearts makes us unwilling and unable to turn from sin and trust the Savior. therefore conversion involves a miracle of new birth. Thus new birth precedes and enables faith and repentance...And so when we hear the gospel we will never respond positively unless God performs the miracle of regeneration. Repentance and faith are our work. But we will not repent and believe unless God does his work to overcome our hard and rebellious hearts. This divine work is called regeneration... New birth comes first and enables the repentance and faith of conversion.” 
This opening argument is foundational and so I’m sure this is why Martuneac tackled it first. However, in comparison to his other arguments his writing is weakest on this point. Choosing to write on refuting Lordship Salvation directly, he offers readers an excellent and complete argument against regeneration prior to faith in an Appendix written by Pastor George Zeller. So, in this chapter Martuneac spends his efforts in explaining the opposing view, and why this particular topic is so important and then takes full advantage of Zeller’s excellent work to shut down the false doctrine.

Next up, Martuneac discusses the differences between Salvation and Discipleship in the Scriptures. He notes that LS proponents will often tell a person to whom they are witnessing to “count the cost.” While many LS proponents use the language of a “gift” they talk of a costly salvation. A salvation that demands a price from the sinner. Here is part of a quote that Martuneac offers from Pastor Steve Lawson.  
“If you want to receive this gift it will cost you the total commitment of all that you are to the Lord Jesus Christ. There are many here who think they are saved, but are not; they have never really done business with God.” 
 And on the same subject from Dr. John MacArthur; 
“That is the kind of response the Lord Jesus called for: wholehearted commitment. A desire for him at any cost. Unconditional surrender. A full exchange of self for the Savior. It is the only response that will open the gates of the kingdom. Seen through the eyes of this world, it is as high a price as anyone can pay. But from a kingdom perspective, it is really no sacrifice at all.”  
Martuneac discusses the incongruence between these statements and compares the unified teaching of LS theology to the Scriptures. In the fight between LS theology and the Scriptures, can you guess which wins?

Can there be a Christian who is carnal? 

LS proponents would have you believe that modern preachers have come up with the idea of “Carnal Christians” to explain away the terrible behavior of many people who claim to believe in Christ. They tell us that this “new” idea is foreign to the Scriptures, is completely in violation of the Gospel that Jesus preached, and they say it is actually a symptom of decades of preaching “Easy Believism.” 

On page 101, which makes me think of all entry level courses such as Christianity 101, Martuneac starts a new chapter by doing what every God fearing Christian should do when faced with a question. He quotes Scripture to answer the question. 1Cor 3:1-4 Just like how he opened his the book by quoting the Gospel that Paul received directly from Christ and that all the Apostles preached and how that should end the debate over what the Gospel is... Martuneac now quotes the passage of Scripture that ought to end the debate about IF a Christian can be “carnal" or not.  

The rest of the chapter is dedicated to how the Bible and LS proponents deal with the implications of carnality. Martuneac quotes Dr. John MacArthur both saying that a Believer cannot have two natures because salvation brings about a radical change so that “The old man has ceased to exist.” and also how Romans 7 is “obviously a poignant account of a person’s inner conflict with himself, one part of him pulling one direction and another part pulling in the opposite. The conflict is real and it is intense.”  These incompatible quotes of John MacArthur are from the same book. 

After an intense rebuttal of the anti-biblical teaching that Believers do not still have their old natures along with the new nature of Christ, we come to page 121. This page number also sparks in my mind, though I doubt it was any more intentional than the chapter starting on page 101. On this page Martuneac offers. 
“Evidence of a changed life ought to be seen, to some degree, in the life of any genuinely born again man. There should be genuine evidence of regeneration and a new life born of the Spirit of God. I do not make room for and I do not stand for the loose living of professing believers. The sad reality, however, is that we will always have carnal Christians in our churches. These need to be counseled, prayed for and guided to live a life that is a shining testimony of the grace of God in their lives. The Christian will struggle with sin as he learns to ‘lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us.’ Heb 12:1” 
Hebrews 12:1, on page 121. Coincidences like this aren't really important, but they make me smile nonetheless. :)

I had intended on covering the book in 3 parts, but it is clear now that I will have to do so in 4. In Part 3, I will cover Martuneac’s discussions of the doctrine of Repentance, the nature of “saving faith” and many of the hotly debated passages of Scripture that get brought out every time LS theology is on the table. Some of these are, of course; 1Thess 1:9-10,  Acts 2,  Acts 16, Acts 20:21, Mat 19:16-22 and Rom 10:9.   

Saturday, September 18, 2010


Lots of people like to make fun of the people who wear or wave signs that say "THE END IS NIGH!" (or near).  Last week I read about Stephen Hawking's new book "The Grand Design" with which Hawking argues that because of the Law of Gravity the Universe had to create itself out of absolutely nothing. He is quoted as saying:
"Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing," .... "Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist." 
Maybe you remember the "Mother Of All Bombs" or MOAB that the USA developed and exploded just before their invasion of Iraq in 2003. Some say the demonstration explosion in Florida of the most powerful non-nuclear weapon in the world was the first shot in the "Shock and Awe" campaign. Well the MOAB weighs in at 10.3 tonnes and I've got to say based on what I learned last week, when I asked "How much does nothing weigh again?" the MOAB is most obviously an example of typical USA over indulgence and over engineering. They didn't need a 10.3 tonne weapon, they needed nothing at all... which takes us to a terrifying point of discussion! 

The Discovery Channel's Mythbusters represent a "clear and present danger" to, not just the USA but the Universe as a whole! Back in 2008 the Mythbusters decided to bust the myth that says the NASA Moon landings were a big fat hoax. Little did any of us know at the time that these men and women had our very existence in their little hands!

Stephen Hawking says that because of the Law of Gravity the Universe can and will create itself out of nothing. Part of the episode was testing if a flag cannot flap in a vacuum. Here's what had to say about this test.

A flag cannot flap in a vacuum.
The Build Team placed a replica of the American flag planted on the moon into a vacuum chamber at the Marshall Space Flight Center. They first tested at normal pressure and manipulated the flag. The momentum moved the flag around but the motion quickly dissipated. In vacuum conditions, manipulating the flag caused it to flap vigorously as if it were being blown by a breeze. This demonstrated that a flag could appear to wave in a vacuum, as the Apollo flag did.
They used a VACUUM CHAMBER!! A place where there was ALMOST nothing! Danger Will Robbinson! DANGER! The Mythbusters who are well known for blowing things up, causing damage and mayhem were foolishly allowed to get dangerously close to deploying NOTHING! - and I have it on video! Check it out:

Am I being unreasonable? Well, I don't think so! In May 2008, no one questioned handing such power to the unruly Mythbusters, but by September of that same year people were much more concerned about some scientists. The headlines every where read like this "Boffins set to cause Big Bang!"

In 2003 the USA used the MOAB to scare Saddam out of Iraq and it looked like this:

In 2008 people were all freaked out because some scientists wanted to smash some really tiny particles together at really high speed... a black hole or even another Big Bang was expected. 

However, what we should have been worried about, if we are to believe Stephen Hawking, is that the Mythbusters almost caused another Big Bang! 

With people playing with vacuums (Yikes! I just realized that we put vacuum cleaners in the hands of disgruntled house wives every day!!!) perhaps we should heed Homer Simpson's dire warning to us from the beginning of this article! THE END BEGINNING IS NIGH!!!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Expect Part 2 on Monday

Expect Part 2 of "A Valid Defense" on Monday, with Part 3 following shortly after. I expect by Wednesday.  Then I will close up the review on the following Monday.

I've got some fun science stuff to post on the weekend, but I will keep to my schedule for Monday - if the Lord allows.

Monday, September 13, 2010

A Valid Defense Part 1

Welcome to Part 1 of my review of Lou Martuneac’s In Defense of the Gospel (IDOTG). For the sake of disclosure; the author has been a friend of mine for 3 or 4 years now. I have all the same been ruthless in my examination of his work and found it worthy of recommendation. So, this review will not be so much of an evaluation as it will be an introduction and overview. It is a very rare thing for me to recommend a book to an individual, let alone introduce one to everyone who reads this blog.

In Defense of the Gospel: Biblical Answers to Lordship Salvation Revised and Expanded Edition is a conversational level, yet a complete and biblically accurate, response to the Lordship Salvation controversy which has engulfed Christendom. This controversy splits churches, cripples ministries, and grips many of the weaker Brethren with fear and loathing. IDOTG is written to and helpful for everyone touched by the controversy. Whether you hold to Lordship Salvation or not, IDOTG will accurately inform you of what both sides are actually saying. It’s easy to argue against a straw man, but Martuneac burns all the straw men on both sides of this controversy. One of the most anticipated additions to this revised and expanded edition is the brief but clear rebuttal of the much lauded “Easy Believism.” Martuneac rebukes the preaching of this theology, and explains why Lordship Salvation proponents are only too glad to accuse any who argue against their position of preaching it. In short, Martuneac gives a valid defense of the Gospel according to Scripture.

When I read the first edition of Martuneac’s IDOTG, which was published in 2006, I was struck with a feeling of shock that such a work was not more widely known. As I revisit his work in this new edition my passion is again enflamed to get the word out! To the point that I have a great desire to retype the whole book here so that you’ll read it. No matter how familiar you are with the topic, IDOTG is not to be missed.

In his foreword to IDOTG Dr Chris Shepler, Pastor of Victory Bible Baptist Church writes “What is the Gospel? and What must one do to be saved? are two questions that every born again believer in our churches should be able to answer doctrinally from the Scripture without hesitation.” Pastor Shepler’s point hits home, the stakes are very high, even the very salvation of those we witness to as Christians. Rev Martuneac puts it this way in his “A Note From The Author” when he writes “This is not a question of a weak gospel verses a strong gospel, but of the one true gospel standing apart from all other false gospels.” He follows closely with “All witnesses for Christ desire true conversions. In my zeal to secure more genuine conversions, however, I do not have the liberty to alter the terms of the gospel.”

As Martuneac continues to give preamble to the book he makes one point absolutely clear. “...the Lordship Salvation controversy primarily revolves around the requirements for salvation, NOT the results of salvation.”

While this work is written for the most part at the conversational level the scholarship and dedication to integrity is at a level far beyond what one might expect in an age of response books which seem more designed to make money than actually correct error. The first edition was written while the Rev was a missionary in South Africa, and for that edition and this new one he received assistance from the likes of Dr. Robert Lightner, Dr. Charlie Bing, Pastor Kevin Brosnan and Pastor Tom Stegall. Dr. John C. Whitcomb also provided much needed encouragement. Rev Martuneac himself has been a missionary, Vice President of the Calvary Baptist Theological College for 3 years, and taught at Pensacola Christian College for five years.

With regard to integrity, Martuneac explains the controversy is not about, or with any personality involved. In explaining the book to his readers he writes under the heading “Letting Them Speak for Themselves” about how the universal response to any criticism of Lordship Salvation is an accusation of misrepresentation. In an effort to avoid even the appearance of misrepresentation Martuneac quotes those who hold the opposing view almost too liberally.

Having given forewords, and an explanation of why he produced this work Rev Martuneac opens his work properly with a chapter called “Introduction” and by quoting that which is of first importance; the Gospel of Jesus Christ recorded in 1Cor 15:1-4. Stating the obvious, Martuneac comments on this passage which ought to end the controversy with This is the gospel message which the Corinthians received from the Apostle Paul.” But such a simplistic, yet true, argument would not be enough to persuade those who claim that this is not the Gospel that saves. More importantly though, this simple argument could not protect the millions who have fallen pray, and the many millions more who are likely to also fall prey to the fallacious Lordship Salvation interpretation of the Gospel.

Lordship Salvation proponents claim that any Gospel that has had submission to the Lordship of Christ “removed from it” is a new and false gospel that is foreign to the Scriptures. They claim to trace their gospel back to the New Testament by interpreting such passages as Luke 9:23; 14:26-27 & 33 as evangelistic appeals meant for the unsaved.

The introduction of the book ends with this strong claim “The message is the same: salvation is not by works or the resolve to perform works, but by faith. Any message of faith plus works, real or promised, is wrong and condemned by the Lord Jesus Christ, as well as by the Apostle Paul.”

The stage has been set for a great argument. In the next installments of this review I will touch on some of the arguments that Martuneac engages with IDOTG and we’ll see if he can truly overcome the Lordship Salvation proponent’s claims of fidelity with the Scriptures. One thing is clear about the book and it’s author by the end of the introduction. Neither is shy about the fight, and neither is going to go quietly into the night.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Upcoming Book Review

Update: Here's Part 1 of the review

On Monday I will begin a multi-part review of the revised and expanded edition of Rev Lou Martuneac's In Defense of the Gospel: Biblical Answers to Lordship Salvation. I read the first edition back in June of 2008. Right about the same time as the latest revision of John MacArthur's The Gospel According to Jesus came out.

In the span of at least three articles I will examine and introduce the book to you. Does Martuneac present a valid defense? Does he do violence to the character of Lordship Salvation proponents in ad hominem style attacks? Does he distort the Lordship Salvation view of the Gospel in order to make it easier to argue against? Does Martuneac water down the Gospel to the point that it's not even worth defending?

There is no other doctrine of higher importance to the World than that of the Gospel. I personally don't care about the Gospel according to John MacArthur or Lou Martuneac. What I care about is the Gospel according to Scripture. At this blog I've explored MacArthur's offering at length, and over the next three weeks I'll explore Martuneac's. Together we're going to see if Martuneac's offering is a help or a hinderance to those seeking truth.

Friday, September 03, 2010

How much does nothing weigh again?

OK I'm sure I'm not the first Christian blogger to respond to the news of Stephen Hawking's forthcoming book with the same simplistic thought - "How much does nothing weigh again?" Perhaps I can distinguish myself in some other way then?

First off I completely agree with you, I am no where near as smart as Dr. Hawking is. However small my intellect is, I am however still able to call "shenanigans!" when I see them going on.

The article is about Dr. Hawking's new book "The Grand Design" which sounds more than a bit intentional. It's good to be intentional though, especially when you're making claims. Intentionality makes it easier to confirm, and debunk your claims. So I'm glad he's intentionally making an argument against so called "Intelligent Design."

The article starts with these words; "Stephen Hawking says universe not created by God." It is his intention to debunk the creation account by postulating an alternate theory. Good on him! At least he's being honest with a full on frontal attack, not and not being slimy and subversive like some other popular anti-creationists.

Let's check out a couple of quotes from this article shall we?

In the new work, The Grand Design, Professor Stephen Hawking argues that the Big Bang, rather than occurring following the intervention of a divine being, was inevitable due to the law of gravity.
Is it too simple to ask how much nothing weighs again? OK let's continue....
"Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing," he writes. "Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist."
OK that's rich, but before I get too excited and call the man a fool I must remember I have not yet read his masterful work in which he no-doubt explains how absolutely nothing is affected by gravity that does not yet exist to the point that it does something... and then eventually blows up and becomes everything all neatly ordered and such.

Apparently, Hawking says that it is "M-theory" which is a sort of "string theory" that has allowed us mere mortals to understand how the universe created itself. This of course prompts long time universal sports fans to shout "Go Uni!!" in unison purely by chance, and then quickly stop because their unity made it appear as though some form of intelligence might be at work.

OK the universe isn't really getting cheers... it turns out that humanity is the real star of the day!
"The fact that we human beings – who are ourselves mere collections of fundamental particles of nature – have been able to come this close to an understanding of the laws governing us and our universe is a great triumph."
So I've been taking a few pot shots... and EASY ones at that. I'm sorry, really... well ok I'm not going to lie I've had more than a few giggles writing this post. Here's a more serious point.
Hawking says the first blow to Newton's belief that the universe could not have arisen from chaos was the observation in 1992 of a planet orbiting a star other than our Sun. "That makes the coincidences of our planetary conditions – the single sun, the lucky combination of Earth-sun distance and solar mass – far less remarkable, and far less compelling as evidence that the Earth was carefully designed just to please us human beings," he writes.
I feel the urge to remind you that Dr. Stephen Hawking is much smarter than I am, and I'm aware of this fact. However, saying that because there are other planets (non of which thus far found, or invoked, are even remotely close to being able to support life) orbiting around other stars is even the slightest evidence that the Universe was not "designed" by Creator God is like saying this;

I saw a pile of steel beams on the way home from work today. This is the first blow to the belief that Hyundai Corp designed my car.
Anyway, if you want to celebrate the triumph of the human imagination to come up with any excuse possible not to worship God then check out Dr. Hawking's forthcoming book The Grand Design on Sept 7th, and read the rest of the article I've been discussing at The Guardian.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Be Assured of Eternal Life

The Lord Jesus Christ offered this explicit assurance as recorded in Jn 6:47

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life.”

Before I offer how one may know they are indeed saved from the Wrath of God, and in fact possess Eternal Life I will briefly address a grave error which so easily entraps Believers.

Many have told us that in order to be sure of our actually having Eternal Life we ought to “examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith” and use passages such as 2Cor 13:5 as their support for such bold claims. Paul’s purpose there was not for the Corinthians to find assurance of their salvation by examining themselves, but to turn their questions on themselves. They had been examining Paul in challenge of his Apostleship, and Paul simply turns their actions back on them.

In an extreme perversion of the intent of 1Jn, many teach that you can use this epistle to examine yourself and determine if you are in deed saved. The passage used to justify their means is 1Jn 5:13. Let us look at this passage and examine it briefly.

These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.

“These things” were written to those who “believe in the name of the Son of God” – to saved people. To people the Apostle John knew were saved. He’s assuring them that they are in fact saved, not giving them a test to see IF they are saved.

If it were written for the purpose those who would trouble believers teach it would be “These things I have written to you who CLAIM to believe….” Or “These things I have written to those who would like to know IF they believe….” However, the Holy Spirit in pure wisdom had the Apostle John write to saved Christians to assure them of their salvation.

For an excellent, and so much more complete rebuttal of the abuse of 1Jn please check out the material linked from this article “Assurance of Salvation and 1st John

Finally, before I continue, one might say that faith can be seen by one's works and so the above arguments are valid. However, James the Brother of Jesus Christ calls such a claim foolishness in his Epistle to the Church.

In my book Fail-Safe for Fallacy, there is a whole chapter dedicated to the issue of assurance. This chapter is entitled “Concerning Converts” because I have so often witnessed the sad practice of giving converts supposed cause for concern. This chapter opens by quoting Lk 18:9-14 to show the folly of looking at one’s self for assurance of salvation. John Calvin addressed the very same error of looking for assurance from the wrong source in this way;

“When Paul lays down the cause of justification, he dwells chiefly on this point, that our consciences will never enjoy peace till they rely on the propitiation for sins.”

I will not reproduce the chapter of Fail-Safe for Fallacy here but the point made in it is this. Have you come to know that you are a sinner who will be judged for your sin and cast into the Lake of Fire (you may think of this as Hell) because you have not believed on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ? Then you are near to grace! Have you come to realize this, and have believed on Him Who died in accordance with the Scriptures for your own sins, was buried and rose again to life on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures? Has God accepted this payment on your behalf? Has God reconciled you to Himself on this basis alone? If this is this your faith then you have "received the Gospel" and based on Paul's usage in 1Cor 15:1-11 I can say that you my dear beloved Brother or Sister in Christ have Eternal Life. What's more I can say this with absolute conviction simply by echoing the infallible words of the Lord Himself.