Before I continue with my review of the book by MacArthur, The Gospel According to Jesus, I want to take time to look at another person from the past that advocated a similar position. Some believe that MacArthur’s Lordship Salvation is a relatively new thing. This is intended to show that this message is not new and can come as a logical progression from any Calvinist.
The following quotes are from Spurgeon’s book The Soul Winner.
Consider the errors that Spurgeon taught. He rejected the free grace view that repentance means change of mind. Now he said repentance means “change of mind” but described it this way on page 30 of his book “The Soul Winner”.
“”You will not find a better definition of it than the one given in the children’s hymn.
“Repentance is to leave
The sins we loved before
And show that we in earnest grieve,
By doing so no more.”
No way can this be the repentance spoken of in scripture concerning salvation itself.
He goes on to say: “True conversion is in all men attended by a sense of sin (which have spoken of under the heading of conviction); by a sorrow for sin or holy grief at having committed it; by a hatred of sin, which proves that its dominion is ended; and by a practical turning from sin, which shows that the life within the soul is operating upon the life without.”
“All the spokes of a wheel move at once when the wheel moves, and so all the graces commence action when regeneration is worked by the Holy Ghost. However there must be repentance. No sinner looks to the Savior with a dry eye or a hard heart.”
“Aim therefore at heart-breaking, at bringing home condemnation to the conscience and weaning the mind from sin. Be not content till the whole mind is deeply and vitally changed in reference to sin.”
“Another proof of the conquest of a soul for Christ will be found in a real change of life. If the man does not live differently from what he did before, both at home and abroad, his repentance needs to be repented of, and his conversion is a fiction.”
Spurgeon illustrates here an almost total misunderstanding of repentance and it is one that has permeated through most churches. It really amounts to works salvation and Lordship legalism. It is not scriptural. (See the book of Galatians.)
The fact alone that a saved man has two natures refutes Spurgeon’s claims and MacArthur’s for that matter. (For more reading see my doctrinal statement section on eternal security and the corresponding verses) Spurgeon basically articulated Lordship salvation long before MacArthur and long before it was even called that.
“If the professed convert deliberately declares that he know his Lord’s will but does not intend to obey it, you are not to pamper his presumption. Rather it is your duty to assure him that he is not saved. Has not the Lord said, “Whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after Me, cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:27)?” pg 33.
Look back at MacArthur’s quotes including this one. See any similarities?
“The gospel according to Jesus calls sinners to give up their independence, deny themselves, submit to an alien will, and abandon all rights in order to be owned and controlled by the Lord. By confessing Jesus as Lord (Kurios), we automatically confess that we are His slaves (douloi).” – John MacArthur
They both make this type of error (positional vs practical) as seen on page 31 of “The Soul Winner”.
“The scripture says, “He that committeth sin is of the devil” (I John 3:8). Abiding under the power of any known sin is a mark of our being the servants of sin, for “his servants ye are to whom ye obey” (Romans 6:16).”
For more reading on this error see Dr Cone’s article:
(Please note that I don’t personally vouch for everything on this site or everything that Dr Cone teaches necessarily but I feel that this article illustrates this particular point well.)
Faith and repentance, contrary to Spurgeon, are not graces given to us in a Calvinistic sense on an individual (for the elect only) basis. The one qualifier for genuine repentance is the resting point (the object of our salvation). Our change of mind has to land upon the Savior alone. He alone saves and leave all the rest of the works and qualifiers out of it. They only prevent sinners from getting saved and frustrate existing believers. Believers need the freedom to do good works based on a settled point of salvation. If their salvation is in doubt perpetually because of any and all sins that they commit in the flesh then their growth will be stunted and they will live fearful frustrated lives. It is kind of like being on a roller coaster with the ups and downs. Many people can testify to this experience but the blessed thing is that many have seen the truth and gotten off of the roller coaster and instead have built a foundation on the reality of their salvation. (I John 5:13, I Pet 2, John 3:16)