John MacArthur

Does He Teach WORKS-SALVATION?

Here is His Teaching in His Own Words!

The following "Question" was asked by a member of the congregation at Grace Community Church in Panorama City, California, and "Answered" by their pastor, John MacArthur.

It was transcribed from the tape, GC 70-8, titled "Questions and Answers--Part 36."

A copy of the tape can be obtained by writing, Word of Grace, P.O. Box 4000, Panorama City, CA 91412 or by dialing toll free 1-800-55-GRACE. Copyright 2001 by John MacArthur

Question to John Mac Arthur: I know that you take a Biblical view of salvation by faith alone.

John Macarthur: Yes, by grace through faith--not by faith alone. By grace through faith.

Question (continued)

Ok, but I’m a little confused as far as the implications of Lordship to the non-Christian at the point of salvation.

> (Part-a) How much of it can they really comprehend in terms of the Lordship issue?

> (Part-b) And then along with that, are you saying through your series on the Lordship that the call to salvation is synonymous with the call to discipleship?


John Macarthur Answer:

I am saying that explicitly, that a call to salvation is indeed a call to discipleship.

I am saying that it is obvious that a person coming to faith in Jesus Christ will not fully understand the implications of his Lordship.

They will not fully understand the reality of their sin, but there must be a call to that. In other words, when you call a sinner to repentance and you call a sinner to submit to Christ, they don’t fully understand the implications of that. But, they will understand as much as they can understand.

Now, let me say something that is very, very important for you to understand.

I do not believe that an incomplete presentation of the gospel - in other words, if you just present the gospel that Jesus died for your sin and rose again and graciously offers you forgiveness by faith in his name;

if that’s all you presented,

> and you didn’t talk about Lordship,

> and you didn’t talk about being a disciple,

> and you didn’t talk about repentance,

> and you didn’t talk about turning from sin -

even an incomplete presentation of the gospel - now listen - could not prevent someone from being saved whom God was saving. Got that? Because if you didn’t talk about sin, they’d be feeling the conviction. And if you didn’t talk about submission, they’d be coming to that submission.

What I am saying is that when we present a shallow gospel, we don’t prevent the elect from getting saved; we make people think they’re saved who aren’t. That’s the issue. Do you see the distinction? That’s the issue.

And so what we have - just imagine this now! - what we have then are a lot of people who think they’re Christians. And we have a lot of churches that are run by congregational rule, which means that a lot of churches are being run by what? Non-Christians!

That’s a frightening reality. I’m quite sure there are Christian organizations being operated by non-Christians.

So, I don’t want to say that… You know, somebody said to me, “Well, I didn’t know all about Lordship when I was saved. Am I not saved?” No. The issue is, “Do you understand that Jesus is Lord and is it your heart’s desire to love Him and serve Him?”

And if the answer is yes, then you understand it. So, that’s the point you have to understand.

Now, Jesus called men to follow Him in discipleship. He called them to obey Him. We’ve shown all of that and we’ll even go into more detail when the book comes out.

I believe that when you present the gospel - now listen carefully to this - you can make it as difficult as possible! That’s what Jesus did. He made it as difficult as possible. [1]

Why? Because salvation is a work of God, not based on the cleverness of the one giving the gospel, [2] but based on the power of God.

So, if a person is being saved by God, then you want them to fully understand their salvation. And if God isn’t doing it, you want to make sure that they’re not coming in on some illusion.


END OF ANSWER

===

MacArthur wrote in his book 'The Gospel According to Jesus'

“faith ‘encompasses obedience,’2 and that obedience is ‘an integral part of saving faith.’3

Indeed, obedience is bound up in the very ‘definition of faith,’ 4

being a constitutive element in what it means to believe.’5

Thus any ‘concept of faith that excludes obedience’6

must be rejected because obedience is ‘indivisibly wrapped up in the idea of believing.’7

In fact, ‘the character of true faith’ is nothing less than the ‘higher righteousness’ of the Beatitudes of Matthew 5:3-11.8

MacArthur even suggests that obedience is ‘synonymous with’ faith.9

And he quotes with approval Rudolf Bultmann's dictum, ‘To believe’ is ‘to obey.’10”


2 The Gospel According to Jesus, 173.
3 Ibid., 174.
4 Ibid., 171.
5 lbid.
6 Ibid., 174.
7 lbid., 176.
8 lbid.
9 lbid., 174.
10 Ibid., 176.

Some Brief Commentary

[1] MacArthur said: "I believe that when you present the gospel - now listen carefully to this - you can make it as difficult as possible! That’s what Jesus did. He made it as difficult as possible.

FACT: This is simply not true!

> Jesus witnessed to Nicodemus, a mature teacher and leader of the Jews and if anyone was ready for a "difficult" presentation of the Gospel, it was Nicodemus - yet Jesus gave him the simplest Gospel presentation possible - suitable for children, pagans and know-nothings:

"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever BELIEVETH in Him should not perish but have everlasting life!" John 3.16

Jesus never even MENTIONED the following:

> prayer,

> repentance,

> sorrow,

> sin,

> commitment,

> discipleship,

> baptism,

> Church,

> restitution,

> obedience,

> submission,

> Lordship,

> Lord, in any way

Jesus ONLY mentioned believing and re-emphasized it throughout John Chapter 3.

Furthermore, Jesus never mentioned "following Him" to Nicodemus, as He did Peter, James and John, for the simple reason.

FACT: Following Jesus was a literal request to 'leave' geographically where you are and follow Jesus geographically as His personal disciple.

> SO, Peter, James and John LEFT their fishing boats with hired servants and literally followed Jesus.

> It is NOT wrong to apply this to following Jesus today in discipleship commitment, as we can't walk with Jesus today, geographically,

> HOWEVER it is very wrong to make Following Jesus equal to Salvation . . . as it clearly is not!

FACT: Jesus FORBID some to follow Him literally and geographically, when they already had believed in Him and were saved!

FACT: Jesus wanted them to do other things - such as witness to their family and friends - RATHER Than literally walk with Jesus with the Twelve.

Example: The maniac of the Gaderenes.

Thus John MacArthur is on great error to make Christ command to those called to be Disciples to "FOLLOW ME" - by applying that to salvation, when Jesus clearly said "IF ye BELIEVE NOT that I am He, ye shall die in your sins! (John 8.24)