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.

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