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The Story Behind One Perfect Life

Monday, March 04, 2013 | Comments (11)

(The following is an excerpt from a letter John MacArthur recently sent to the Grace to You ministry family about his new book, One Perfect Life. We thought you’d enjoy learning a little more about this new resource and how it can spiritually benefit you and your family.)

In a sense, One Perfect Life has been in the works for more than four decades. It’s unlike anything you’ve seen, and I believe you’re going to find it as valuable and enriching a devotional tool as any you’ve used. Allow me to give you some background on the book and why you’ll want to read it.

In June of 2011, I finished preaching through the New Testament. That verse-by-verse study spanned forty-two years and produced several thousand sermons. While I preached those messages to the congregation of Grace Community Church, they went much further and wider than our Southern California church. Through Grace to You we’ve distributed them to every corner of the globe through tapes, CDs, radio, television, and the Internet.

Over those years, no matter what the Bible passage in question, virtually every sermon has been about one Person: The Lord Jesus Christ. The story of the Bible is ultimately the story of the revelation of Jesus Christ. For me, the predominant joy of pastoral ministry has never been the studying, the preparation, or even the preaching. The joy has been in the hours, year after year, of being brought face to face with Jesus as He is revealed in Scripture.

And of course the Person and work of the Lord Jesus is seen most clearly in the gospels. The Holy Spirit-inspired quartet of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John is the pinnacle of Scripture because in it, the Lord Jesus Christ is most perfectly revealed and God most clearly manifest. Nothing comes close to the rich reward of understanding the truth and glory of His matchless life.

Fittingly, our congregation has spent more than half of the past forty years focused on the gospels. Because each writer emphasized different themes from Jesus’ life, what has unfolded is a profound, powerful composite picture of the Son of God and Son of Man. On the independent testimony of those four witnesses, God established the indisputable revelation of His Son, Jesus Christ. That composite picture has transformed our church.

Yet even though the gospels offer perfectly consistent and complimentary accounts of the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of our Lord, they are still four books from four authors. And that’s how most people read them and think about them—as four books. As a result, we often fail to see the cohesiveness of the story and miss the significance of what’s happening in a given account.

In response, many Christian scholars have tried to harmonize the story, and traditionally that has meant simply printing the gospels side by side in four columns: One for Matthew, one for Mark, one for Luke, and one for John. The idea is that by jumping back and forth, you can follow the account in each gospel and piece together the narrative.

But that approach falls short. In that format, you still miss how the stories perfectly fit together without contradictions. You also you miss the beautiful sweep of what is the one and only divinely inspired biography of Jesus.

I’ve long wanted to address that limitation by taking the Scripture texts out of columns and weaving them into one, seamless story. That’s what One Perfect Life does. It takes the four gospels and blends them into one text so you’re reading one story, with every component of the life of Christ placed at the point it belongs.

Like The MacArthur Study Bible, One Perfect Life is built around the text of Scripture and includes explanatory footnotes on every page. Of course the biblical text is inspired by God without error. The harmonization I’ve done—the interpretive work that makes this resource unique—is the product of twenty-five years of studying the gospels, seeing how they most likely fit together, bringing in other relevant Old and New Testament passages, then testing them against each other. It was a challenging process I could not have done any earlier in my ministry.

What is the benefit you’ll find in One Perfect Life? It enables you to read the story of Jesus in a way you’ve never done before. It brings a freshness and a richness, showing you the magnificent consistency and fullness of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ—past, present, and future—in one narrative.

I know this will be an encouraging, intriguing book for you and your family, as you grow in the knowledge and grace of Him who lived “one perfect life,” the Lord Jesus Christ.


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#1  Posted by Bobby Kearns  |  Monday, March 04, 2013at 8:42 AM

God bless you Pastor MacArthur.Thank you for all that you do in faithfully proclaiming the Word of God.My contact with you is primarily through your archived sermons on the GTY website.I never cease to be spiritually informed and stirred and often convicted when listening to them.Above all,they always lead me to a place where I desire to worship, walk with, and serve the Lord Jesus Christ in a more perfect way. I have not purchased and read One Perfect Life but the Lord willing I intend to and am sure that it will be a blessing and a help to me in my walk with the Lord and service to others for His glory.Again, the Lord bless you and thank you for your unashamed stand and service in the cause of Christ.

Yours in Christ,

Bob Kearns

#2  Posted by Diane Smith  |  Monday, March 04, 2013at 10:20 AM

My husband and I have learned so much through the years of listening to John MacArthur and reading his books. We are so looking forward to receiving this one, "One Perfect Life" to peruse and add to our growing MacArthur library.

Thank you so much Pastor John, for your faithfulness to the study of God's precious Word. What a tremendous blessing you are to us and have been for many years.....in fact since 1970 when we first heard you on the radio and started ordering your cassette tapes.

Thank you for your latest book. We can't wait to get our copy and "dig in." Blessings to you and yours at Grace To You. Diane

#3  Posted by Genevieve Navarro  |  Monday, March 04, 2013at 11:00 AM

Thank you Pastor MacArthur. Your books and sermons have helped not only me but my husband tremendously. You have kept him company driving back and forth to work which is 50 miles each way. I absolutely love the Study Bible and look forward to getting this book. Thank you for your faithfulness to our Lord.

#4  Posted by Theresia Smith  |  Monday, March 04, 2013at 9:02 PM

Please send a copy to Bill O'Reilly, he claims his book "killing Jesus" will finally reveal the "truth" about our Lord's life and death.

#5  Posted by Judy Iversen  |  Monday, March 04, 2013at 10:25 PM

Thank you for highlighting this new book on the blog. I have been blessed by "The Life of Christ in Stereo" by Johnston Cheney for 40+ years. It too weaves the four Gospels verse-by-verse into one biography. I look forward to getting this book.

#6  Posted by Daniel Montero  |  Tuesday, March 05, 2013at 5:03 AM

I am pretty sure this will be really helpful for every christian as the all the previous books and sermons have been to me. I hope it could be translated into spanish soon. May the Lord keeps you blessed. Regards from Costa Rica

#7  Posted by Kim Eriksen  |  Tuesday, March 05, 2013at 6:46 AM

Dear John and GTY

thank you for this wonderful book I received mine almost 3 weeks ago and use it as a devotional..reading one page at night..thank you for your faithfulness to God and his precious word..know that there are many who pray for you and that God will give you wisdom as you seek the face of our precious Lord Jesus Christ..May He receive all the honor and glory because He is the lamb that was slain and is worthy of our worship and praise..anticipating the soon return of our lord and to fall at his feet and say thank you Father thank you for your grace!!!

#8  Posted by Brad Kennedy  |  Tuesday, March 05, 2013at 9:21 AM

I eagerly anticipate the books arrival in my mail box every day and am disciplined by the patience manifested as it does not show up and I have to hope (yet again) for tommorrow. How long O' LORD? Thank you John and GTY staff. Hallelujah!

#9  Posted by Cindy Jones  |  Tuesday, March 05, 2013at 5:55 PM

I was quite excited to receive One Perfect Life in the mail today. I can hardly wait to absorb it and add it to the shelf-full of MacArthur books I am acquiring. The wonderful thing is that they are all so rich in the Word. This is just one more opportunity to learn of Jesus -- I never get enough. Thanks to God for your faithful and careful exposition.

#11  Posted by Brad Kennedy  |  Thursday, March 07, 2013at 9:15 AM

Praise the LORD! My copy arrived yesterday. What a glorious blessing! It is as though I am reading God's revealed Word for the first time! I fear that I may have to place a veil over my face within the first few hours of reading......to cover God's glory revealed anew in my stern countenance..... O come let us adore HIM!!!!

With sincere gratitude and brotherly love for His glory as our names are written in HIS hands, our souls purchased with HIS blood, our Christ, our Savior, our God! Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah!!!

Michael Bradley Kennedy

Montgomery, AL

#12  Posted by Robert Veith  |  Saturday, March 09, 2013at 9:09 PM

I love Pastor John's teachings, very Bible based. I've read his book 'Slave' and it's AWESOME!!! I just received 'One Perfect Life' and can't wait to tear into it.