Faith According To The Apostle James -- By: John F. Macarthur, Jr.

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 33:1 (Mar 1990)
Article: Faith According To The Apostle James
Author: John F. Macarthur, Jr.

Faith According To The Apostle James

John F. Macarthur, Jr.*

The release of The Gospel According to Jesus sparked a more spirited discussion than either I or my publisher anticipated. The book’s central premise is that the gospel summons sinners to yield to Christ’s authority.1 I was aware, of course, of those who decry that teaching as “lordship salvation.”2 They propound the notion that any demand for surrender in the gospel invitation amounts to salvation by works.

Realizing that the book would confront these sensitive and controversial issues, I was nevertheless unprepared for the mass of letters I have received from thousands of readers. Thankfully the great majority have been positive and encouraging, coming from Christians who have struggled with the difficult questions the book addresses and are thankful for its head-on approach.

Not everyone has been affirmative, of course. A few have written to challenge the book’s conclusions, dispute this or that assertion, question my exegesis, argue the theological fine points, object to my terminology, or even voice doubts about my orthodoxy. I have carefully read every such letter, weighing the criticisms and attempting to understand what those who disagree are saying. A common thread manifests itself in nearly every area of dispute: Our differences all seem related to our conflicting perceptions of what Scripture means when it speaks of faith.3

Michael Cocoris, for example, is distributing a lengthy review in which he has written: “MacArthur charges those who reject lordship salvation with teaching that salvation is merely giving intellectual assent to biblical facts … He leveled that charge against me (pp. 38, 45) and… he accuses Dr. Tom Constable, a faculty member at Dallas Seminary, of the same thing.”4 Cocoris says, “Neither I nor Tom Constable believes that

* John MacArthur is pastor-teacher at Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California.

all a person has to do to be saved is believe facts.”5 “Faith,” Cocoris continues, “is more than mental assent. It is trust in the person of Jesus Christ … In the chapter by Constable that MacArthur quotes, Constable … constantly refers to believing as trust. He says things like ‘there is nothing more for a man to do but trust in Christ’s work as being sufficient for his salvation.’”6

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