We’re in the middle of a series analyzing John MacArthur’s ministry’s article on Lordship Salvation. Starting in Pt. 8, we have been digging into the first of 9 items listed as the theological distinctives of Lordship Salvation. Here is distinctive 2:
Second, Scripture teaches that salvation is all God’s work. Those who believe are saved utterly apart from any effort on their own (Titus 3:5). Even faith is a gift of God, not a work of man (Eph. 2:1-5,8). Real faith therefore cannot be defective or short-lived but endures forever (Phil. 1:6; cf. Heb. 11). In contrast, easy-believism teaches that faith might not last and that a true Christian can completely cease believing.
I have no problem with this if taken at face value. They tip their hand in redefining these words when they say faith cannot be defective or short-lived: they mean faith in a behavior modification sense. If I say, “I believe that Jesus died for all of my sins, past present and future, and that I am saved by Jesus all the way to eternity,” how could it be that my faith is short-lived? What would make it short-lived? It would become short-lived if I limited the power of Jesus’ blood by saying there are certain behaviors I could indulge that would trump that forgiveness. Lordship style faith is the defective short-lived faith. I think they put this in here because they have seen so many people walk away from their harsh fake gospel.
Easy-believism is faith that Jesus saves us all the way to eternity despite our sins and shortcomings. I’ve never heard a person who adheres to some form of strong-grace cross-centered theology say that faith might not last and that a true Christian could cease believing. It is balderdash, based on a wrongheaded idea of what the gospel is and what faith is. If you believe that Jesus died for you and gave you eternal life as a free gift, it is eternal. If the death of God incarnate isn’t enough to atone for your sins, what is? Your flawed “repentance”? Oh my goodness this cheapens the gospel so terribly! Why is it that Jesus harps on the idea of eternal life anyway? Since it is not my behaviors that save me or qualify me, but Jesus’ precious blood which qualifies me, it doesn’t make sense that I would ever stop believing, because I don’t trust in myself to save me. Belief in the actual gospel of Christ crucified and risen is eternal by its very definition. If this is even a question for you then you are arguing for a breakable two-way covenant gospel. They have cast the gospel as hard-believism, as a two-way covenant that you have to comply with, and when people break that and walk away from it, they have to make that possibility theologically plausible. It is twisted nonsense. Either Jesus saves us or He doesn’t. Lordship theology presupposes that the blood of Jesus isn’t really sufficient to save us. Personally, I would hate to face the judgment seat with that offering in my hand!
I know some people of true faith are uncomfortable with the adoption of the easy-belief moniker. I’m actually using it as a rhetorical device to show how wrong their theology of works is. The Lordship people use it in a pejorative sense, and it makes it seem like a little backwaters spitting match between two weird theologies if I try to defend it. Besides, Jesus said the way is narrow and we should take up our cross etc. I’ve addressed these issues at some length in other posts, and so have lots of other people through history. The issue is, saving faith is faith in the right thing – the sufficiency of Christ crucified for our sins, and Christ raised to make it eternal. There is not one work we can add to that to make it better. If it isn’t easy, it is isn’t real faith, because it means we are adding works to it. So I’m adopting the term easy-belief, because it is apt and powerful.
The great news is that easy-believism is true belief, and simply knowing and believing the love which God has for us (1 John 4:16) gives us an assurance and safety and hope that can never be taken away! It is our faith, our easy belief, which is the victory that overcomes the world (1 John 5:4)! The real gospel of Christ and Him crucified is great news indeed! Hallelujah!