A Little Booklet on Lordship Salvation Part 2
Dr. Earnest Pickering sums up of MacArthur's points (large green italic #2) and offers comment:
2. Saving faith is more than mental assent.
A number of times, in various ways, this emphasis is given. Saving faith is "more than just understanding the facts and mentally acquiescing" (p. 31). We do not know any fundamental preachers of the gospel who would disagree with that statement. We never have heard any reputable gospel preacher ever teach otherwise. The old Scofield Bible declared that "faith is personal trust, apart from meritorious works, in the Lord Jesus Christ" (p. 1302, Scofield Bible). The Ryrie Study Bible declares, "Both Paul and James define faith as a living, productive trust in Christ" (note on James 2:14).
In this connection MacArthur laments, "Contemporary Christendom too often accepts a shallow repentance that bears no fruit" (p. 96). This theme recurs over and over again in the book. The recommended cure for this malady is to require more of the seeking sinner than the Bible requires. Instead of "merely" believing on the finished work of Christ the inquiring soul must also be willing to have Christ as Lord over every area of his life. It seems evident upon an examination of this thesis that those who espouse it are adding something to the gospel that is not in the Scriptures. Charles Ryrie was certainly on target when he wrote, "The message of faith only and the message of faith plus commitment of life cannot both be the gospel. . ." (Balancing the Christian Life, p. 170).
It is at this point that MacArthur's view of repentance should be mentioned. He places great emphasis upon repentance and indicts modern gospel preachers with possessing an incorrect view of it. While accepting repentance as a part of saving faith, he says, "It is a redirection of the human will, a purposeful decision to forsake all unrighteousness and pursue righteousness instead" (p. 163). "No evangelism that omits the message of repentance can properly be called the gospel. . ." (p. 167).
The word "repent" in the New Testament means "to have another mind, to change the mind." True repentance is to have a change of mind regarding sin, God and the Lord Jesus Christ. Repentance is not an act separate from saving faith but a part of it. When I believe on the Savior I am repenting of my sins. One cannot "believe" in the New Testament sense of that word without also "repenting." To "believe" does not mean "to be willing to give up all that is displeasing to God." It means to accept with all the heart what the Bible says about my sin and about Christ's sacrifice for me.
What do you think? I know some wouldn't agree with Pickering's view of repentance as a "change of mind."
more to come ...