“First Corinthians 6 and the Lordship Debate” by Matt Waymeyer
One of the most significant theological debates over the last several decades has been the controversy over “lordship salvation.” Central to this debate is the question of whether or not obedience to God is an inevitable fruit of genuine conversion. In the preface to The Gospel According to Jesus—the 1988 book that brought the lordship controversy to a new level—lordship advocate John MacArthur wrote:
I have never taught that some pre-salvation works of righteousness are necessary to or part of salvation. But I do believe without apology that real salvation cannot, and will not, fail to produce works of righteousness in the life of a true believer. There are no human works in the saving act, but God’s work of salvation includes a change of intent, will, desire, and attitude that inevitably produces the fruit of the Spirit.
This belief that regeneration inevitably results in a spiritually transformed life is one of the main tenets of lordship salvation. In contrast, many opponents of the lordship view have denied that good works are an inevitable result of conversion. For example, according to the late Zane Hodges—founder of the more radical form of non-lordship teaching known as “Free Grace” (hereafter FG)—the idea that “faith inevitably produces good works” is “a theological construct which cannot be established from the Bible.” Elsewhere Hodges writes, “How strange that in our day and time we have been told so often that fruitlessness is a sure sign that a person is unsaved. Certainly we did not get this idea from the Bible.” According to Hodges and other FG teachers, it is hypothetically possible for an individual to believe in Christ and yet show forth absolutely no fruit in terms of obedience to God or love for Christ. Put another way, they believe in a regeneration which may or may not result in a visibly changed life….[Continue reading at the Cripplegate]
Matt Waymeyer teaches hermeneutics and Greek at The Master’s Seminary in Los Angeles, California.