“Easy-believism” is one of “Easy Christianity’s” popular teachings. Like other false teachings “Easy-believism” is a perversion of truth. The Bible teaches–as Martin Luther and the Reformation proclaimed–that we are made right with God by faith in Christ alone. We grant that salvation is by faith alone. The question is easy-faith or biblical faith!
Thanks to Dr Macarthur, we now know the answer to that question. The reason easy believism is so eminent in our Churches today is because pastors are discouraged from mentioning sin, hell, fornication, adultery, drunkenness, licentiousness and any deviant behavior. The reasons are two-fold: one, it reduces the number of people in church and, two; it eases the minds of the living about what might have happened to some of their deceased relatives. Pastor Macarthur calls this ‘easy-believism’.
Biblical faith demands and produces costly and radical changes in one’s life. Its essence is supreme commitment to Christ. “Anyone who loves his father or mother more that me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:37,38). Its Siamese twin is repentance. “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance… The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire” (Matthew 3:8,10). Its distinctive mark is that it produces good works. “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead” (James 2:26). “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision, nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love” (Galatians 5:6).
If you’ve been told that you can have Christ as Savior without having Him as Lord; if you’ve been told that salvation is as easy as ABC; if you were assured that a momentary decision would save your soul, you’ve been taught “Easy-believism”. If you think that such believing will save you, you are deceived!
Macarthur lays out nine characteristics of a true understanding of salvation and the Gospel (emphasis mine):
– First, Scripture teaches that the gospel calls sinners to faith joined in oneness with repentance (Acts 2:38; 17:30; 20:21; 2 Pet. 3:9). Repentance is a turning from sin (Acts 3:19; Luke 24:47) that consists not of a human work but of a divinely bestowed grace (Acts 11:18; 2 Tim. 2:25). It is a change of heart, but genuine repentance will effect a change of behavior as well (Luke 3:8; Acts 26:18-20). In contrast, easy-believism teaches that repentance is simply a synonym for faith and that no turning from sin is required for salvation.
– 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.
– Third, Scripture teaches that the object of faith is Christ Himself, not a creed or a promise (John 3:16). Faith therefore involves personal commitment to Christ (2 Cor. 5:15). In other words, all true believers follow Jesus (John 10:27-28). In contrast, easy-believism teaches that saving faith is simply being convinced or giving credence to the truth of the gospel and does not include a personal commitment to the person of Christ.
– Fourth, Scripture teaches that real faith inevitably produces a changed life (2 Cor. 5:17). Salvation includes a transformation of the inner person (Gal. 2:20). The nature of the Christian is new and different (Rom. 6:6). The unbroken pattern of sin and enmity with God will not continue when a person is born again (1 John 3:9-10).
– Fifth, Scripture teaches that God’s gift of eternal life includes all that
pertains to life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3; Rom. 8:32), not just a ticket to heaven. In contrast, according to easy-believism, only the judicial aspects of salvation (e.g., justification, adoption, and positional sanctification) are guaranteed for believers in this life; practical sanctification and growth in grace require a post-conversion act of dedication.
– Sixth, Scripture teaches that Jesus is Lord of all, and the faith He demands involves unconditional surrender (Rom. 6:17-18; 10:9-10). In other words, Christ does not bestow eternal life on those whose hearts remain set against Him (James 4:6) … In contrast, easy-believism teaches that submission to Christ’s supreme authority is not germane to the saving transaction.
– Seventh, Scripture teaches that those who truly believe will love Christ (1 Pet. 1:8-9; Rom. 8:28-30; 1 Cor. 16:22). They will therefore long to obey Him (John 14:15, 23). In contrast, easy-believism teaches that Christians may fall into a state of lifelong carnality.
– Eighth, Scripture teaches that behavior is an important test of faith. Obedience is evidence that one’s faith is real (1 John 2:3). On the other hand, the person who remains utterly unwilling to obey Christ does not evidence true faith (1 John 2:4). In contrast, easy-believism teaches that disobedience and prolonged sin are no reason to doubt the reality of one’s faith.
– Ninth, Scripture teaches that genuine believers may stumble and fall, but they will persevere in the faith (1 Cor. 1:8). Those who later turn completely away from the Lord show that they were never truly born again (1 John 2:19). In contrast, easy-believism teaches that a true believer may utterly forsake Christ and come to the point of not believing.
I’ll give Macarthur the final words here:
… no major orthodox movement in the history of Christianity has ever taught that sinners can spurn the lordship of Christ yet lay claim to Him as Savior.
This issue is not a trivial one. In fact, how could any issue be more important? The gospel that is presented to unbelievers has eternal ramifications. If it is the true gospel, it can direct men and women into the everlasting kingdom. If it is a corrupted message, it can give unsaved people false hope while consigning them to eternal damnation. This is not merely a matter for theologians to discuss and debate and speculate about. This is an issue that every single pastor and lay person must understand in order that the gospel may be rightly proclaimed to all the nations.
Have a great day!