Saturday, October 13, 2012

Book Review: The Truth About the Lordship of Christ

John MacArthur is perhaps best known for his stand on what has become known as “Lordship salvation”.  His book The Gospel According to Jesus was a seminal challenge to the antinomian leanings of Charles Ryrie, Zane Hodges and Dallas Theological Seminary in the 1980s. 

So what’s he doing publishing a new book about Lordship after all these years?

To be honest, I’m not quite sure.  The Truth About The Lordship of Christ has no introduction so we have to guess.  But my guess is that Dr. MacArthur wanted to produce a book at “street level” to reach people with the most important truths of Christ’s Lordship, without having to introduce them to an exhaustive treatment of the debate. 

At times in the book I lost track of his train of thought; I agreed with his teaching but didn’t know how it fit in with the overall theme.

There are six chapters in all; the last three were easier for me to fit together.  They cover three major battlegrounds in the Lordship debate.

Chapter 4 is about sanctification:

Note this crucial distinction: At justification we surrender the principle of sin and self-rule. In sanctification we relinquish the practice of specific sins as we mature in Christ. Total surrender to Christ’s lordship does not mean that we make all of life’s decisions as a prerequisite to conversion. It does not demand that we give up all our sins before we can be justified. It means that when we trust Christ for salvation we settle the issue of who is in charge. At salvation we surrender to Christ in principle, but as Christians we will surrender in practice again and again. This practical outworking of His lordship is the process of sanctification.

(Kindle Locations 675-680).

Chapter 5 covers confession and repentance:

Like faith, repentance has intellectual, emotional, and volitional ramifications. Louis Berkhof describes the intellectual element of repentance as “a change of view, a recognition of sin as involving personal guilt, defilement, and helplessness.” The emotional element is “a change of feeling, manifesting itself in sorrow for sin committed against a holy God.” The volitional element is “a change of purpose, an inward turning away from sin, and a disposition to seek pardon and cleansing.” Each of those three elements is deficient apart from the others. Repentance is a response of the total person; therefore some speak of it as total surrender.

 (Kindle Locations 1058-1063).

Chapter 6 is perhaps the most balanced and understandable explanation of assurance of salvation that I have ever read. 

The Bible suggests that a well-grounded assurance has both objective and subjective support. The objective ground is the finished work of Christ on our behalf, including the promises of Scripture, which have their yea and amen in Him (2 Corinthians 1:20). The subjective ground is the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, including His convicting and sanctifying ministries. Romans 15:4 mentions both aspects of assurance: “Whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance [subjective] and the encouragement of the Scriptures [objective] we might have hope” (NASB, emphasis added).

 (Kindle Locations 1176-1181)

The book will not convince a predetermined non-Lordship advocate, but will help those who do want to pursue holiness in its proper relationship with faith.

(Disclaimer: I got a Kindle copy of the book free in exchange for reviewing it for  I was not required to give a positive review.)

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