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This Week in Housekeeping

Recently updated Theological Term of the Week post:

sufficiency of scripture


Thankful Thursday

I’m currently making my way through 5 books and enjoying them all. I’m never happier than when I have several books on the go. I’m thankful for books and for the ability to read and understand.

I’m thankful for the promise of blooms on the May Day tree. The May Day tree in blossom is something I look forward to every year. It’s like Christmas, only I don’t have to do the work to make the celebration happen.

I’m thankful for the expectation of many good gifts in the months to come: a producing garden, a lush lawn, summer’s outdoor activities, maybe a trip or two, and a new (first) grandchild.

I’m thankful that “he who began a good work in [me] will bring it to completion…” (something I think the nonlordship salvation advocates overlook, by the way). I’m thankful for God’s sanctifying work, even though it it’s a process that isn’t always (or even ever) easy. I’m thankful that God teaches and disciplines his own. 

Throughout this year I’m planning to post a few thoughts of thanksgiving each Thursday along with Kim at the Upward Call and others.


Round the Sphere Again: Books

Redemptive History
In Nancy Guthrie’s Discovering Jesus in the Old Testatment, the reader is led through the Old Testament, day by day for a whole year, in order to “see the beauty of Christ in fresh new ways.” 

Only in recent years,” says Guthrie, “have I begun to understand that the Bible is one story of God’s accomplishing redemption through Christ. Honestly, writing this book was my way of re-orienting the way I have found instruction and hope in the Old Testament. I worked my way through the Old Testament asking how each passage pictured Christ’s person or work or pointed to a need that only he would meet.”

Here are 10 sample pages (pdf).

I’m most excited about this: Nancy Guthrie is also working on 5 books introducing redemptive history to women’s Bible study, starting with The Promised One: Seeing Jesus in Genesis that comes out at the end of July.

You can hear her discuss this planned series of studies in today’s The Connected Kingdom podcast.

Two Words That Change Everything
David Kjos has a mini-review of May’s featured book from Cruciform Press, “But God…” The Two Words at the Heart of the Gospel by Casey Lute. 


Theological Term of the Week

non-lordship salvation
The doctrinal position that what is necessary for salvation is faith (defined primarily as being convinced of the facts of the gospel) and an appeal to Jesus for salvation at some point of time in one’s life, and that repentance (defined as turning from sin) is not necessary for salvation; also called easy-believism or free grace theology.

  • Scripture used by proponents of non-lordship salvation as evidence for their position: 

    Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” (Acts 16:30-31 ESV).

    And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness…. (Romans 4:5 ESV)

  • I can’t find a statement of non-lorship salvation in any historic church document, but here’s an argument for it found in Easy-Believism Defended by Pastor Steven L. Anderson:

    In order for verses like John 3:16, John 5:24, Acts 16:31, Romans 4:5, Romans 10:13-14, and others which declare that anyone who believes on Jesus Christ (i.e. puts their faith in him for salvation) shall be saved to be true, God must save a person who is unwilling to turn from sin but believes on Jesus Christ.  If not then God is a liar.

  • From A 15-Year Perspective on the Lordship Controversy by John MacArthur: 

    The doctrine of grace … is profoundly affected by no-lordship teaching. Defenders of the no-lordship gospel often refer to their unique teachings as “Grace Theology” and their movement as “the Grace Movement.” They are convinced that only their system preserves the gospel’s message of grace. That is precisely why they insist every opposing opinion is a kind of works-salvation.

    But they are working with an unbiblical notion of “grace.” Grace is not a liberal clemency or a passive indulgence that simply tolerates and coexists with sin. Divine grace doesn’t guarantee heaven in the afterlife while merely overlooking the evils of this life. Authentic grace is the undeserved favor of God toward sinners, delivering them from the power as well as the penalty of sin (Romans 6:14). Grace is dynamic, “teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age” (Titus 2:1)

Learn more:

  1. What Is Easy Believism?
  2. Sam Waldron: Easy Believism
  3. What is easy believism?
  4. Lordship Salvation Controversy (Recommended especially for the comparison chart at the end.)
  5. John MacArthur: A 15-Year Perspective on the Lordship Controversy

Related terms:

Filed under Defective Theology.

Do you have a theological term you’d like to see featured here as a Theological Term of the Week? If you email it to me, I’ll seriously consider using it, giving you credit for the suggestion and linking back to your blog when I do.

Clicking on the Theological Term graphic at the top of this post will take you to a list of all the previous theological terms in alphabetical order.


The Passover and Penal Substitution

On the nature of the Passover as penal substitution, from Pierced for Our Transgressions: Rediscovering the Glory of Penal Substitution by Steve by Steve Jeffery, Michael Ovey, Andrew Sach: 

The first nine plagues present no danger to the Israelites. God’s judgment falls only upon the Egyptians, for as we saw above, God makes a distinction between them and his people. What is perhaps a little surprising is that in the tenth plague this distinction between Israel and Egypt is conditional. The firstborn of the Israelites are not automatically spared from death; a lamb must be slaughtered, and its blood applied to the door frame of the house. The clear implication is that the firstborn son of the Israelite families would die if this instruction were not followed, for the Lord had said, ‘when I see the blood, I will pass over you’ (Exod. 12:13; italics added). Thus the lamb becomes a substitute for the firstborn son, dying in his place.

…It is not only the firstborn sons who are involved in the Passover, however. The fact that the whole family shares together in the symbolic meal implies a wider application. Indeed, the striking emphasis on the proportionality between the amount of meat needed and the size of the Israelite household is between the amount of the meat needed and the size of the Israelite household is most likely intended to highlight this: ‘If any household is too small for a whole lamb, they must share one with their nearest neighbour, having taken into account the number of people there are. You are to determine the amount of lamb needed in accordance with what each person will eat’ (Exod. 12:4). This extended comment would seem somewhat superfluous if intended only as a piece of culinary etiquette to guard against wasting food. An enslaved people, about to flee on a long and arduous journey into the desert, would hardly need to be warned against that!

The substitutionary element in the Passover is therefore beyond dispute. Moreover, given that the plagues function unambiguously as instruments of divine judgment, penal substitution is plainly taught here. This might seem puzzling, for while it is obvious why God would decide to punish the Egyptians, why would he judge his people? This seems all the more surprising given that the plague on the firstborn is described specifically as ‘judgment on all the gods of Egypt’ (Exod. 12:12). According to Ezekiel 20:4-10, however, the Israelites participated in the idolatry of their Egyptian masters; they too were guilty, and were no less deserving of God’s judgment. Only by God’s gracious provision of a means of atonement, a substitutionary sacrifice, were they spared.

We learn in the New Testament that Christ’s death is the fulfillment of the Passover. Or we might say that the Passover stands as the background against which we understand the death of Christ. Christ “suffered in the place of his people in order that they might be marked out by his blood and thus spared from God’s wrath.”