Sunday, January 13, 2019

Does the "Revised and Expanded" Moody Handbook of Theology now teach salvation by works?

There's an eye-opening article in the May/June 2018 edition of the Grace In Focus magazine that's titled "Moody: Then and Now" by Shawn Lazar.1 The article compares and contrasts the Doctrine of Salvation as presented in the 1989 edition of The Moody Handbook of Theology with the newer 2014 edition of the book and shows how the new "Revised and Expanded" Moody Handbook of Theology changed the doctrine of salvation from grace to works!2 Amazingly, in the "Revised and Expanded" 2014 edition of the book the number one error in salvation is "Believe only." Shawn Lazar correctly points this out and says:
"Did you notice the number one heresy in the new edition? Is it salvation by works? Nope. Is it legalism? Nope. Is it sacramentalism? Again, no. The number one heresy is to believe only. Faith alone is the number one error in salvation according to the 2014 edition of The Moody Handbook! Let that sink in."3

I also want to mention something else very interesting. Take a close look at the cover of the book. Who wrote the foreword to the 2014 edition? It says "FOREWORD BY DR. JOHN MACARTHUR". By way of contrast, the foreword to the 1989 edition of the book was written by Dr. J. Dwight Pentecost, a friend of Free Grace. (Shawn Lazar pointed this out in his article "Moody: Then and Now".) John MacArthur is no friend of Free Grace Theology. Instead, he promotes what's called Reformed Theology. He has a different understanding of justification by faith alone from what Free Grace Theology teaches. Of course, John MacArthur and his followers say they believe in justification by faith alone, but like so often happens, they redefine the terms. They redefine faith so as to make it include all kinds of things. Sadly, they redefine faith so as to make it include works. But the Bible says, "Now to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the UNGODLY, his faith is counted as righteousness" (Romans 4:5).

The words of the Rev. J. Oswald Jackson (1820-1901) are appropriate in conclusion, when he relates the following true story from the life of John Wesley. Here is the account:
It is well known that the celebrated JOHN WESLEY was a long time in deep anxiety about his salvation, and for years lived, as he himself says, "preaching, and following after, and trusting in that righteousness whereby no flesh can be justified." When alluding to the days he spent at the university, and the state of mind he was then in, he writes--"I cannot well tell, what I hoped to be saved by now, when I was continually sinning against that little light I had; unless by those transient fits of, WHAT MANY DIVINES TAUGHT ME TO CALL, REPENTANCE." "The struggle," he tells us, "continued for ten years," until one evening he listened to a person who was reading Luther's "Preface to the Romans." While he heard the Reformer's description of the change which God works in the heart, through faith in Christ, he felt as he had never done before; "I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for my salvation, and an assurance was given me, that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death." Soon after his conversion, he paid a visit to the Moravian Settlement, at Hernhutt, in Germany, and tells us, in his Diary, that his views became much clearer, and his faith strengthened by the private conversations and public discourses he there enjoyed. He speaks of one sermon preached by Christian David, that made an abiding impression upon his mind. His words are as follows:--"The fourth sermon which he preached, concerning the ground of our faith, made such an impression upon me, that when I went home, I could not but write down the substance of it, which was as follows:"--And here is a part of the sermon. "You grieve for your sins; you are deeply humble; your heart is broken. Well. But all this is nothing to your justification. The remission of your sins is not owing to this cause, either in whole or in part. Nay, observe farther, that it may hinder justification; that is, if you build anything upon it; if you think I must be so or so contrite; I must grieve more before I can be justified. Understand this well. To think you must be more contrite, more humble, more grieved, more sensible of the weight of sin, before you can be justified, is to lay your contrition, your grief, your humiliation, for the foundation of your being justified; at least, for part of the foundation. Therefore, it hinders your justification; and a hindrance it is which must be removed, before you can lay the right foundation. The right foundation is not your contrition, not your righteousness, nothing of your own; nothing that is wrought IN YOU by the Holy Ghost; but it is something without you; viz.: the righteousness and blood of Christ. This is the word, 'To him that believeth on God that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.' See ye not that nothing in us is the foundation. Works? Righteousness? Contrition? No. Ungodliness only. This, then, do, if you will lay a right foundation. Go straight to CHRIST, with all your ungodliness. Tell him, 'Thou, whose eyes are as a flame of fire, searching my heart, seest that I am ungodly. I do not say, I am humble or contrite; but I am ungodly. Therefore, bring me to him that justifieth the ungodly. Let thy blood be the propitiation for me: for there is nothing in me but ungodliness.'" 
Such were the clear and delightful exhibitions of saving truth that Mr Wesley so carefully recorded at Hernhutt. My dear reader, follow the directions above given, and you shall have peace with God, through Jesus Christ.4


Shawn Lazar, "Moody: Then and Now," Grace In Focus (May/June 2018): pp. 45-47.

2 Paul Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology (Chicago: Moody Press, 2014), pp. 344-345.

3 Shawn Lazar, "Moody: Then and Now," Grace In Focus (May/June 2018): p. 46, emphasis his.

4 J. Oswald Jackson, REPENTANCE: OR THE CHANGE OF MIND NECESSARY FOR SALVATION CONSIDERED (London: Houston & Stoneman, 1845), pp. 50-51, emphasis his.