Your session will end in  seconds due to inactivity. Click here to continue using this web page.

Preach the Word: Because It Is the Good News of Salvation

Monday, January 13, 2014

by John MacArthur

You wouldn’t withhold the cure for cancer from someone in desperate need of it. Nor would you offer a home remedy in its place. And yet that’s what many pastors do when they substitute their own opinions and wisdom for the life-transforming truth of God’s Word.

We’re looking at some specific reasons I still preach the Bible after more than four decades of pulpit ministry. Last time we discussed how the message of Scripture is timeless and truly powerful.

A second reason to faithfully preach the Word is that Scripture alone unfolds God’s plan of salvation. As Peter said to Jesus, “To whom [else] shall we go? You have words of eternal life” (John 6:68). Why would I ever go anywhere else for spiritual answers than to the inspired revelation of Jesus Christ? Scripture reveals “the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16). I certainly don’t have the words of life; nor does anyone else. Only He does.

The Bible makes it clear that no matter what people’s “felt needs” may be, their real need is for forgiveness and salvation from sin, so as to escape eternal hell and enter the bliss of heaven. A fulfilled life, a happy marriage, a loving friendship, a successful career—those “needs” pale in comparison with the eternal issue facing every human being. It does not make any sense, then, for pastors to focus all of their energies on temporal surface attitudes while leaving the most profound eternal needs unaddressed. Besides, a true understanding of eternal life changes how you react to the passing troubles of this life.

The Bible also makes it clear that genuine belief includes more than just mental assent (cf. James 2:19). Biblical faith is more than just a profession of faith; it is a change of allegiance—from the mastery of sin to the lordship of Christ. It certainly would be convenient for me to preach a gospel that says, “If you’ve ever made a profession of faith in Jesus, then you’re saved, even if there’s nothing in your life to validate that claim.” But I can’t do that, because that’s not the true gospel. The true gospel repeatedly commands unbelievers to repent (Matthew 4:17; 11:20–21; Mark 6:12; Luke 5:32; 13:3, 5; 15:7, 10; 24:47; Acts 2:38; 3:19; 11:18; 17:30; 20:21; 2 Corinthians 7:9–10; 2 Timothy 2:25) and declares, “If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth” (1 John 1:6). It urges you to “test” yourself “to see if you are in the faith” (2 Corinthians 13:5), and reminds you that believers will be known “by their fruits” (Matthew 7:16-18; cf. Luke 6:43–44). So I preach the Bible because I want to make sure I’m preaching the true gospel, not a gospel of my own imagination.

When I came out of seminary, I really did not expect to fight the battles I have fought over the last several decades. I knew I would face some different paradigms of ministry and opinions about ecclesiology. I understood that there were various views of eschatology, biblical inspiration, etc.  But I never thought I would spend most of my life on the broader evangelical front defending the biblical gospel and sound doctrine from so-called believers who attempted to undermine both. The Word of God, rightly interpreted, defines the truth.

(Adapted from The Master’s Plan for the Church.)


Make a Comment    |     Comments (8)

Click here to subscribe to comments without commenting.

You have 3000 characters remaining for your comment.

*Note: All comments must be approved before being posted

Submit

#1  Posted by Cesar Jr Centeno  |  Monday, January 13, 2014at 6:32 AM

Thank you Brother John mac. Never was a day that pass by here in Brunei when i dont listen and learn from your expository preaching... All i can say is you are the " The real preacher on L.A."

Our Bible Study group has learned a lot in the way you handle the Word of God.

#2  Posted by Sharlene McKelvey  |  Monday, January 13, 2014at 11:51 AM

I'm quoting you here in two places to make my point, as I praise God for your faithfulness to remain steadfast to teaching us the truth we really want to hear and not the nonsense of the C.Movement, etc. You said, "I really did not expect to fight the battles I have fought over the last several decades. I knew I would face some different paradigms of ministry and opinions about ecclesiology. I understood that there were various views of eschatology, biblical inspiration, etc. But I never thought I would spend most of my life on the broader evangelical front defending the biblical gospel and sound doctrine from so-called believers who attempted to undermine both. The Word of God, rightly interpreted, defines the truth." Well, Dr. MacArthur, I listen every day to the 42 years of sermons you taught and also listened several times to the Strange Fire Conference, and I also heard you say in a recent sermon that the Apostle Paul is your hero; therefore, it seems to me, from all that you exposite from Scripture, you were called out by God to defend the biblical gospel and sound doctrine to believers, as well as the 'so-called believers' so that we, the elect, learn more and more and also not become confused by the world or our charismatic friends, and a world who continues to reject Christ just as it was so in Paul's time. I'm thinking God has entrusted you with special gifts, one of which is learning all you can, every week, and pouring your heart out to teach the Word of God; and isn't that what the Apostle Paul did? Isn't that what our Lord Jesus Christ did? Yes. All that you pour out teaches me as I think they did, as I am convinced they did so in great detail as they did. I notice everything you say is in great detail, and I'm thankful. I also notice that everything you do at GCC clearly demonstrates and represents what God would want accomplished in His church. Do not tire from your work or your ministry; your complete devotion to the Scipture and biblical doctrine is astounding and I am grateful you will never back down or back away from your heart's desire to teach the truth; as you said, you are concerned with the depth of teaching God's Word and it God's work to teach the breadth of His Word. I'm grateful to be able to learn via the Internet; literally, I pray my computer does not go out because I don't want to go a day without learning from all that is taught by you and the hard work of many at GCC to see to it the word is available to the world. You came at the right time: God needs you in this world today to teach and defend His Truth. "Christ signed it with His Life", to quote you. Many thanks and I will continue to pray for your faithful ministry; a ministry that will not buckle to the world's deceptive movements lead by the enemy of our God. Thank you, Dr. MacArthur GTY Ministry. I get worried when I see B Graham changing positions and Moody changing their important role in teaching true doctrine; so I depend on you to learn truth.

#3  Posted by Mae Ella Jones  |  Monday, January 13, 2014at 2:30 PM

Thank you Sarlene McKelvey for you comments.

#4  Posted by Jennifer Phillips  |  Monday, January 13, 2014at 3:44 PM

As Pastor John stated: It certainly would be convenient for me to preach a gospel that says, “If you’ve ever made a profession of faith in Jesus, then you’re saved, even if there’s nothing in your life to validate that claim.” But I can’t do that, because that’s not the true gospel. The true gospel repeatedly commands unbelievers to repent and declares, “If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth”. It urges you to “test” yourself “to see if you are in the faith”, and reminds you that believers will be known “by their fruits.

So many pastors are just concerned if you walked an aisle or prayed a prayer. I know too many people that equate their profession of faith as “proof” of their faith and never test themselves. Many also equate baptism as evidence of true saving faith and rest on that event. As John Bunyan stated: “That my obedience to water, is not a discovery of my faith to others, is evident, from the body of the Bible, we find nothing that affirms it. And I will now add, That if a man cannot shew himself a Christian without water baptism; he shall never shew either saint or sinner, that he is a Christian by it.”

Thank you GTY for being faithful to Preach the Word!!

#5  Posted by David Fendt  |  Tuesday, January 14, 2014at 5:35 AM

Amen Sharlene

#6  Posted by Steve Nuhn  |  Tuesday, January 14, 2014at 7:50 AM

Pastor MacArthur and GTY staff,

Thank you for the encouraging reminder of the importance of God's word being rightly proclaimed. I know this not the first time in history that preachers as yourselves have fought this battle. How unfortunate it is, however, in our time now that it is not only being fought in the culture around us but you are receiving so much resistance from other preacher and mainstream evangelicals. I recently read a report from the SBC about church attendance, giving and baptisms being the lowest in 65 years. I'm no theologian but one can't ignore the correlation between these facts and what we've seen happen in the church for so many years. As these preachers try to reach the culture by being relevant, the culture sees the church as being more and more irrelevant. To reiterate a point you've already made, apparently it has creeped into the church as well with many in the pews looking for an alternative to sound biblical preaching.

I've noticed in my own church and in churches in my area these alternatives are very popular. Various forms of self expression are viewed as more worshipful and more effective to Christians and non Christians as they focus on moving them emotionally, entertaining them, and even keeping their attention. I've even heard a preacher state that he puts in illustrations (commercials as he calls them) in his sermons because of people's short attention span. Perhaps there is a place for this, and I don't mean to criticize their efforts. My question is this, why are so many churches and preachers open to expressing THEMselves but when it's time for God to express HIMself through sound biblical preaching people are bored in twenty minutes?

Thank you again for your ministries.

Steve

#7  Posted by Dankmar Schroeder  |  Wednesday, January 15, 2014at 6:21 AM

Thank you, John.

One of the downfalls of churches these days is their error concerning "tithing". This then leads to believing that there are some law(s) we have to keep. And - before you know it - people are falling back into keeping the law. Galatians teaches us what consequences that has (only here Paul talks about circumcision). It is a spiritual battle that attacks the very bastions of Satan (almost all denominations today teach "tithing"). Look around and see who doesn't teach compulsory giving. - And in doing so, they make God a vending machine - the more you give (to the church) the more blessings you receive. God is not a genie. God is sovereign. Once saved there is nothing else a Christian can do to stay saved. But these false teachers instill fear and wrong thinking in their audience. Nothing less than our liberty in Christ is at stake. It is therefore of utmost importance that you, John MacArthur, keep on with your biblical teaching.

Thanks for all your hard work.

#8  Posted by Michael Kennedy  |  Friday, January 17, 2014at 6:29 AM

To MIss Sharlene;

I heard ALL THAT; with my bad ear! Thank you; JOHN and you could not have said it better.