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.

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