I trust it’s alright to use excerpts from a recent post on another blog below, with just a few comments of mine interjected. I felt that these thoughts from Steve Camp’s blog are interesting and relevant.
Steve posted a quote from an unknown author which speaks of the biblical concept of God’s “grace alone” as the cause of our salvation. This also means that Christ is Lord of everything, even the conversion of sinners. I’ve tried to use quotation marks properly to show which words are not mine. I believe the concepts expressed are important, not too difficult, and well worth the time to read and consider thoughtfully.
“Lordship Salvation emphasizes that a love for Christ springs from our new nature (granted freely by God) which desires to believe the gospel as well as submit to Jesus Christ as Lord over one’s life. Both faith and obedience are the result of God’s invincible and indelible grace, not the cause of it.”
The author speaks of those who “mistakenly ascribe belief in Christ as something within the ability of the old nature… This is where they fall off the horse away from historic Christianity by rejecting the biblical doctrine of salvation by grace alone in Christ alone. By not giving glory to God for their faith they add conditions for their salvation.”
The writer sees that this approach is problematic mostly due to the “misapprehension of the work of the Holy Spirit in giving rise to our faith and affection for Christ. For how can an unregenerate man see Christ’s beauty, excellence or anything to desire in Him at all? One must have a new heart and the mind of Christ in order to understand and love spiritual things.”
Issue is taken with this synergistic viewpoint (God + man accomplishing regeneration) also because of the problem of “making faith itself a contribution to the price of their redemption. i.e. grace + faith.”
This is an excellent point, in that there is a danger in viewing “grace + faith” as separate components of salvation, whereas the Scriptures teach that it is “by grace through faith”. Perhaps a seemingly subtle, but truly a very important difference. All flows from God’s grace; faith is the means through which He bestows the grace of regeneration (new life) upon us. All good things come from above.
“[We] believe faith and obedience are the result, not the cause of the new birth. Unless the Holy Spirit changes the disposition of our hearts from hostility to affection for Christ, no one would exercise saving faith. Any ‘faith’ which exists apart from the work of the Spirit is spurious and of the flesh (Luke 8:4-15) [the parable of the sower]. God alone does the work of regeneration which infallibly gives rise to a spiritual faith that desires to obey and commit itself to Christ. In this case God gets all the glory.”
However, the alternate, “no-Lordship” position “would have us believe that one could produce faith from our unregenerated human nature. The question is, why do some believe and others resist? Are some more wise or humble? Isn’t it grace itself which makes us wise and humble? The Scripture says, ‘What do we have that we did not receive?’. So, in fact, the ‘no-Lordship’ position is admirably attempting to protect the doctrine of ‘faith alone’, but in the process it has cast aside the biblical doctrine of ‘grace alone’. ‘No-Lordship’ may believe in a salvation by grace, but not salvation by grace alone (sola gratia).”
“[To say] that man must somehow cooperate with God to be born again, as they hold, is to say that some men innately have the natural capacity to believe, independent of God’s action of grace, while others do not. How is this different than salvation by merit? So in reality the burden of proof to explain belief apart from grace alone is on those who hold to ‘no-Lordship’. Different understandings of the work of the Holy Spirit in our regeneration is the key to the debate.”
Indeed, a study of the Spirit’s role in man’s conversion is surely one that appears worthwhile.