Pulpit Blog conversation with Lou Martuneac

I have been having an interesting discussion with Mr. Lou Martuneac in the comments section at the Pulpit blog. He is the author of the book “In Defense of the Gospel”. I have found Lou to be gracious and patient in our interactions. He posted a comment here earlier, and I owe him a response.

Here is his comment:
“On Pulpit Magazine I answered numerous questions for you. Following is the only one I asked you.

How do you define “believe” as it appears in Romans 10:9? Does your understanding of “believe” require a lost man come to Christ with an upfront commitment to live “in obedience to Him” in order to be born again?


I went back to the original discussion, and filtered our conversation there out from the rest of the comments. I am not going to post the whole document here, because it is too long.

My original question, in reponse to the normal “works” objection (how much good works is needed before you are saved), was “How much belief is enough?”

Lou answered by quoting from Romans 10:9 and Acts 16:31. The only answer to my question that I could see from those verses was that one should believe with “all thine heart”. In my follow-up, I asked Lou what he thought “all thine heart” means in the context of salvation. He never clearly answered me, unless of course, I missed it somewhere.

I also asked Lou whether he thought that being born again manifested in works or not, and he responded that he thought it did. Lou then proceeded to list his concerns with Lordship salvation, among which are that an upfront commitment is required in Lordship evangelism to be saved, and which leads us to his question here.

Having not read Lou’s book, I have to confess that it took me reading all of his comments that I could find on the issue, most notably in his latest interaction on the Pulpit blog with Nathan, to hopefully clearly understand his objection framed in his question:
“My concern is with demands for the outward “good works” in the form of an upfront promise of submission and surrender in exchange for salvation. This is what Dr. MacArthur calls for in his definition of Lordship Salvation. That is making an application that repentance does not define or necessitate.

Submission should be the natural result of salvation. As I have said right along, we must not make the results of repentance, or even a promise for the results of repentance, the requirements for salvation.”

For the sake of clarity, here is Lou’s question to me again:
“How do you define “believe” as it appears in Romans 10:9? Does your understanding of “believe” require a lost man come to Christ with an upfront commitment to live “in obedience to Him” in order to be born again?”

The verse in question is Rom 10:9 “because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (ESV)

“believe” here is from the Greek “pisteuo”, which, in the Vine, Unger & White expository is described as “to believe”, also “to be pursuaded of”, and “place confidence in, to trust”, signifying “reliance upon not mere credence”.

My answer then, to Lou, is that I don’t understand the relevance of the question. We are in agreement that there will be submission to Christ, and that it follows as a result of being regenerated and justified, during the process of sanctification. I will agree with Lou on this, that there can be no merit in an upfront commitment, it has no salvidic powers whatsoever. However, from there on we then start splitting hairs a bit, because Romans 10:9 clearly requires at the very least an admission that Jesus is Lord in order to be saved.

We should recognize Jesus in all His glory when presenting the gospel, including all the offices that He holds. He is priest, prophet and king, each with its own implications. We must also remember the different timed events of salvation, namely the past, present and future. To minimize Christ to get a “yes” from someone is to get a non-answer.

MacArthur states that people who come to Christ for salvation do so because they obey the gospel call, and that they must have a willingness to surrender to Christ as Lord. To properly analyse this, let’s look at the flip-side. Someone can come to Christ for salvation, obeying the gospel call, but unwilling to recognize the office of “King of Kings”, that Christ holds. This takes us back to Romans 10:9, where the first part says that one should confess Jesus as Lord.

“Lord” here is from the Greek “kurios” which translates as “Lord, Master, owner, sir”. It is a title that Jesus assumed himself. So if we read in Romans 10:9 that we should confess Jesus as Lord, that means we confess him as master, and that ties in with the rest of His kingship office. We are then left with some rather curious permutations then. Are we then to believe that Paul implored the Jews to confess something they did not mean, but still believed that God raised Him from the dead? I think that is rather absurd.

“Confess” comes from the Greek “homologeo” which can mean confess, profess or acknowledge.

In summary then, the conditions to be saved in Romans 10:9 contains 2 actions, one of believing, and one of confessing. They cannot be seperated logically, one cannot truthfully confess what one does not also believe. The confession part is clearly a verbal confirmation that one recognizes the kingship of Christ, and one must also believe in His atonement for our sins via His death and resurrection, in order to be saved.


4 responses to “Pulpit Blog conversation with Lou Martuneac

  1. Keep after him August. I’ve asked him a few questions and he’s ignoring me.

    To suggest that you can believe in Christ without a heart transplant towards repentance is the height of foolishness.

  2. PLad:

    “Keep after him?”

    Why would you use that kind of harsh talk?

    1) I only found this article by August because I did a google. I was not even looking for it. I am grateful he did post an answer here, but I was looking for it at PM.

    2) As you know I was locked in a comprehensive discussion with Nathan at PM.

    3) “heart transplant” not sure what you are talking about.


  3. Hi Lou,

    I did not want to get into further discussion with at PM because you, Nathan and the others were already deeply engaged.

    Since you posted your question here, I answered it here. I’ll be glad to continue the conversation here or at your blog, but I don’t think we will make much progress in convincing each other of much.

    PL posted some questions for you at PM which he feels went unanswered. I’ll let him expand on the heart transplant comment.

  4. I think the real issue is that Lordship Salvation assumes that a formula is to be followed… in which then we need to go back to the original “father” of faith Abraham… who God had quarter out sacrifices… then God cause Abram to fall into a deep sleep… and God walked alone through the sacrificed animals… to seal the covenant of faith.

    Abraham did nothing but trust. (Gen 15) God did all the promise making… and keeping. He is the father of faith… and from that we must understand that the works side of “faith” is all God’s doing and nothing about us. Often as in the parable of the sheep and goats we will not even know we are doing His works.

    We are saved by grace through faith… faith is that trust in a one sided covenant. To add our works does not add to the covenant of faith. Anything we add is worthless and man based.

    There is two types of belief the type that demon even have… and the belief that results in good works… but here is the kicker these are not OUR GOOD WORKS… but God’s Who is doing them in and through us… as Philippians 2:12 – 13 states: 12. Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed–not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence–continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13. for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.

    The works that Lordship salvation is adding is adding a vow… from us… to say we will commit to God… this is a twisting of what Faith is. It would be as if Abraham stood up and walked with God through the carcasses… to commit to God… yet man’s commitment means nothing. It is all about God’s commitment to us and His faithfulness to keep that commitment. With that we grow to realize Jesus is not just “Lord” but King of Kings and Lord of Lords… and in that we trust God will keep His word to us.

    Lordship salvation lowers this to be about man’s faith… and misses completely that man is unfaithful without the empowerment of the Holy Spirit… (Even with the HS in many cases) so even to be able to be faithful and believe is a work of God and not man.

    Again, in Philippians 2″12-13… “it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose”…

    Being born again does not manifest itself in OUR works… but in God doing His Works in and through us. What I see in practice is that the followers of LS use works to prove their salvation… which is not the purpose of works at all, but rather to give glory to God for what He is doing. For only God is “good” so only God can do good works.

    We are only to believe that Jesus was raised from the dead and after that receive the Holy Spirit and walk in the power of the Resurrection.

    Faith is mixed with hope and belief/trust as again with Abraham.

    Rom 4: 18. Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”
    19. Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead–since he was about a hundred years old–and that Sarah’s womb was also dead.
    20. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21. being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. 22. This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.”

    Our faith as Abraham’s results in giving God the Glory… not in showing we are saved. As we walk in faith with God He strengthens us… and in that we work out our salvation and give God the glory…

    Works are an outward sign that God lives in us… but they are not a sign that proves to anyone that one is saved… belief is the response to what God has done… and in no way is it works… for all works have been done by Jesus for us and will continue to be done by Jesus in and through us. It is about His Life lived in and through us. For Jesus gave His Life for us, to give His live to us to Live His Life through us.

    To say any works are our works… denies that Jesus is doing the works and is working His salvation in and through us.

    My last point is in Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

    Our faith is not about us… it is about Jesus now living in us. To turn it to be about us then adds works and denies that the life we live is now Christ in us.


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