Clear Gospel Preaching.

The more I read what people, ostensibly people who have read the Bible, say about others who seek to be faithful in their proclamation of the Word of God, the more I wonder if a “simple gospel presentation” is possible. In reality, God’s good news is a somewhat complicated message that demands quite a lot of definition. I have recently read comments from opponents of “Lordship salvation” that accuse LS preachers of preaching works for justification before God. Consider the following statement, for example.

“‘Lordship Salvation’ is the false doctrine whereby God offers a lost sinner the promise of eternal life in exchange for a lost sinner’s promise of future works. It is thereby an exchange of promises, or a bilateral contract.”

Clear Gospel Campaign

It appears these folks believe those who teach that a person must bow to Jesus as Lord at the point of conversion are teaching that the sinner’s strikes a deal with God in which he promises to be obedient the rest of his life in exchange for a declaration of righteousness before his judgment bar. I am not quite sure how to square that statement with a statement from John MacArthur about justification before God. He wrote,

Because Christians are justified by faith alone, their standing before God is not in any way related to personal merit. Good works and practical holiness do not provide the grounds for acceptance with God. God receives as righteous those who believe, not because of any good thing He sees in them — not even because of His own sanctifying work in their lives — but solely on the basis of Christ’s righteousness, which is reckoned to their account. “To the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness” (Romans 4:5). That is justification.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t think it would be possible to give a clearer statement on justification by grace alone, through faith alone, and based on Christ’s righteousness alone. So I am left to wonder, are these people just deliberately twisting people’s statements and lying about their views? Are they so biblically ignorant they can’t understand what these writers and speakers are saying, are they just mentally deficient or have they heard something at some point that gave the impression that the sinner must offer some promise of good works in order to earn God’s eternal approval? I think it is significant that certain blogs refuse to allow people who actually hold these views to clarify or defend their positions. I have found so many outright lies and distortions on one of these blogs that I am not sure I would even know where to start in trying to correct all their misconceptions.

On the other hand, I must confess I have heard some who were so concerned to prevent the gospel message from giving any license to antinomianism that they almost preached a works gospel [there is an oxymoron if I have ever heard one].

I am convinced it is impossible to proclaim the gospel briefly and clearly to those who have no previous biblical instruction. How do we talk to someone about a God about whom they are completely ignorant? How do we talk to someone about sin when they have no concept of what sin is? For this reason, I believe in educational evangelism rather than hit and run evangelism. If we are careful in our instruction, perhaps we can obviate some of the misconceptions people have about God’s plan of salvation.

In an effort to clarify what I believe the gospel is, what the nature of faith is, what the nature of assurance is etc., I want to make a series of statements that I believe to be true about these issues. I urge you to respond to these statements so that we might open a dialogue about the gospel. I don’t mind if you disagree. What I ask is that you be respectful and support all your views with contextually relevant biblical arguments. I don’t want you to hear my opinions and I frankly don’t care about yours. If you can’t back it up with Scripture, don’t post it.

OK here’s the list:

1. Jesus died to save us from our sins, not to leave us in our sins.

2. All those Jesus died to justify, died with him to the reigning power of sin.

3. God does not swap our obedience for eternal life.

4. No true believer is indifferent to the issue of pleasing God. Paul wrote, “It is God who works in you, both to desire and to do what pleases him.” Should we not assume that this describes God’s work in all true believers? If God works in all believers and his work produces a desire to please God, would we not have to conclude that all believers desire to please God?

5. No believer, even the most sanctified believer, can produce an obedience that merits God’s declaration of justification.

6. Justification before God is based solely on the imputed obedience of Christ.

7. In repentance, the sinner offers nothing as a ground or part of the ground of his justification before God.

8. Assurance of salvation [please see my post about three fold assurance] in terms of the assurance of hope, is based on certain marks that will invariably be present in the life of God’s true people. Otherwise, what could the apostle John mean by his “Hereby do we know that we know him” statements?

9. Being a believer and being a disciple are the same.

10. If you have no desire to follow Jesus, you have never become a Christian.

11. Those who have professed faith in Christ may need to examine the reality of their faith from time to time. Some have made false professions. Paul told Titus, “They profess that they know God, but in works they deny him. . . .”

12. Usually, if not always, people in the biblical record who are exhorted to examine themselves have been acting or believing in such a way as to call into question the reality of their faith (e.g., 2 Cor. 13:5; Gal. 4:20).

13. We should spend more time gazing at Christ than we do gazing at ourselves.

14. We should never allow anyone to make us feel guilty unless we are guilty.

15. If we persist in a life of rebellion against God, we have no evidence that we have ever been born of God.

16. The weakest believer who truly trusts God’s promise to save him for Jesus’ sake, is equally righteous in God’s sight as the godliest saint who has ever lived.

17. The believer’s right standing before God results completely from God’s work of redemption outside of him. Nothing God does in him or that he does as a result of God’s work in him contributes to the basis of his justification.

18. Repentance and faith form no part of the basis of the believer’s justification before God.

19. Repentance is a change of mind that manifests itself in a change of behavior.

20. Neither faith nor repentance is the sinner’s offering to God. Both are God’s gift to the sinner.

6 Responses to “Clear Gospel Preaching.”

  1. August 17, 2012 at 7:46 pm

    #2. I’m not sure if saying we died WITH Christ to the reigning power of sin is the best choice of words. Did Christ have a sin nature like us?
    #6. I like the veiled reference to Christ’s perfect obedience that is, I would say, part of his perfect righteousness. Imputed’ righteousness’ is a more familiar wording.
    #9. If I say I am a believer and am not also a disciple I am just a ‘mental assenter’.
    #18. Are we not “justified by faith, apart from works of the law”? I might be tripping over words again.

    • August 18, 2012 at 1:19 am


      I am not suggesting by this that Christ had a sin nature like us, but that like us, having become incarnate he came under the powers of the old era, for example, the weaknesses that resulted from sin, the law, and death. In dying, he delivered us from sin’s reign. It is because of the reign of sin that death has reigned universally. In submitting to death for us, Jesus entered the realm and reign of sin. When he died, he died to the reign of sin once for all, death no longer has dominion over him. Since believers are united to him, we died to sin’s reign and to death. Sin and death no longer have dominion over us. Douglas Moo has written, “Just as death once had ‘authority’ over Christ because fo His full indentification with sinful people in the ‘old era,’ so the other ruling power of the old era, sin, could be said to have had ‘authority’ pver Christ. As a ‘man of the old era,’ He was subject to the power of sin–with the important difference that he never succumbed to its power and actually sinned.” Since we are united to him, we, too, have died to the reigning power of sin.

      Re: #6 If I understand your point, I agree that another way of stating the point would be to speak of Christ’s imputed righteousness. My choice of the term “obedience” in reference to that which has been imputed to believers is governed by my understanding that Christ’s obedience includes his perfect righteousness as defined by the Law under which he was born and his sacrificial death as required by that Law for all who failed to keep its righteous requirements. As I think you know, I have no problem with the biblical concept of Christ’s righteous [obedience to the Law] as well as his substitutionary death being imputed to believers.

    • August 18, 2012 at 1:59 am

      Somehow I missed your commentes on #s 9 & 18. In regard to #9 I would say yes, any faith that does not cause us to take Christ’s yoke upon us and learn from him is not saving faith.

      In regard to # 18, we are justified through faith but never on the basis of faith. The basis of our justification is the imputed rightousness and death of Christ. He finished the basis of my justification by his life and death. That finished work is received through faith but that faith adds nothing to the merit of his finished work. My faith is not meritorious.

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