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You Can’t Get There from Here

Saturday, March 06, 2010 | Comments (22)

First, listen to this 9-minute clip:

Launch Player  |  Download  |  Full Sermon

Here's the topic for today's discussion:

After briefly contrasting what can be known through natural theology with what God has revealed in Scripture, John says, “Anybody who says you can be in the body of Christ without believing in Jesus Christ is not telling you the truth.”

Well, “believe in Jesus Christ” is shorthand for what Jude 3 calls, “the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.” You can’t be a Christian without embracing that body of truth.

So, what is that body of non-negotiable doctrine that must be believed to receive eternal life? For that matter, what is it to believe?


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#1  Posted by Jim Hicks  |  Saturday, March 06, 2010at 4:41 AM

There is nothing new under the sun. Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and FOREVER. Spurgeon makes the point, Theology has nothing new in it except that which is false www.spurgeon.org:sermons:0170.htm.webloc Just finished reading this,wow.

Kind of a side note to John Your sermon on 1 Cor 13 has really changed me, there is something to hearing the word preached, thank-you.

#2  Posted by Robert Gilmore  |  Saturday, March 06, 2010at 8:31 AM

I totally concur with Pastor MacArthur on this most vital subject facing the evangelical church. The achilles heel of the church in the last century has been not communicating to the unsaved and tragically many professing christians the undeniable and non-negotiable truth that only faith in Jesus Christ through his work on the cross and resurrection can any man/woman be acceptable to a holy, just, and immutable God we have.

Coming from a formerly Catholic background and then a false evangelical church, I came to appreciate by God's grace the eternal truth of scripture and the Reformation that only faith in Jesus Christ alone through his work on our behalf via calvary can anyone be deemed acceptable in the presence of our holy God. In fact not trusting in oneself has been a liberating experience. It gives further credence to Christ saying in Matthew 11:29,30 that his yoke is easy and burden light. In essence, human effort to please God thorugh works is futile and according to our Lord are as "filthy rags. Furthermore, it attacks the core of the gospel by making Christ's atonement meaningless.

I thank the Lord that in his grace He has led me to the "true" Christ of the bible and to a healthy well-balanced local church where the emphasis is on faith in Jesus Christ alone for salvation. In addition I thank God for "Grace To You" ministry and a faithful pastor in John MacArthur. His expository style of preaching has greatly enriched my understanding of scripture and appreciation of our Lord Jesus Christ and his loving work on our behalf. May the Lord continue to bless and guide Pastor MacArthur and the staff at Grace To You in the advancement of the Gospel. Lord knows we need ministries such as yours in this parched and famine stricken land of professing christanity in dire need of the living waters of the "Gospel According To Jesus"

#3  Posted by Greg Corron  |  Saturday, March 06, 2010at 8:49 AM

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#4  Posted by Greg Corron  |  Saturday, March 06, 2010at 8:52 AM

Yes! That last question, "What is it to believe?" is key. I've wrestled with that question myself. Many Christians disdain any emphasis on intelliectual understanding and knowledge, but when I mark up all the passages in the New Testament that emphasize those things, I get a very different picture than that presented from most pulpits. Here is an excerpt from an article on my blog:

Does it really matter what and how an individual thinks, especially about an unseen God? Scripture says it is the only thing that matters. It is not your attitude that is of prime importance, nor your conformity to what others teach and think, nor your "relationship" with or feelings about God. All of these things are affected by what and how you think and believe about the content of scripture.

Through your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way. (Psalm 119:104)

Notice the understanding comes first, which in turn affects the attitude and feelings. Again, you may object that this is counter-intuitive. Intuition, however, is a feeling. If we reject an idea as counter-intuitive, it means we are attempting to feel our way into understanding and we have forgotten how to think!

You can read the entire aritcle at http://gcorron4.squarespace.com/articles/2009/10/1/why-belief.html.

#5  Posted by Jennifer Cordeiro  |  Saturday, March 06, 2010at 10:16 AM

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#6  Posted by Jennifer Cordeiro  |  Saturday, March 06, 2010at 11:25 AM

Thank you Pastor MacArthur and Grace to You. I rejoice at hearing today's blog message. All glory be to Our Lord. He is So merciful. Salvation is in Him alone.

I was raised in church all my life. I worked in "Christian" summer camps for years. I was involved in church, and even went to Brazil as a missionary. Problem: I was never saved. When God finally opened my eyes, I was totally shocked. Why was it only in Brazil that I heard the truth preached? Why had NOT a single person along the way confronted me or questioned my salvation? I still don't know the answer to these questions.

I was anxious after my conversion to tell everyone I knew back in the States about God's election and salvation. Thinking that perhaps they had never heard before either. So I did, and no one wanted to hear. They said things like, "let's stick to topics that are not as devisive as doctrine." Some of these people were Baptists, mind you, not people from a cult or fringe denomination. Others said nothing and just never contacted me again.

For a long time I did not understand what happened to me. Even after I really heard the Truth I still resisted in stubborn pride and rebellion, until God saved me. I am not sure how all this happened, but I am sure of this: He grabbed me when I was not looking for Him-even though to some I appeared to be much about His business.

I know that when I was not saved I read Christian books, I read the Bible a lot, I read Catholic books and read a lot of psychology. I could not tell the difference. I only knew when I heard the Truth, when I heard the Bible taught as it is. I heard it, and I knew it was right.

I was blind, but now I see. Blessed be the Name of Jesus. Thank you Lord.

Pastor MacArthur poses the question: what is it to believe? This is a question that I wrestled with VERY much. Because I did "believe" many correct facts about Jesus and God, but it was like the demons believe-without submitting to those facts.

God led me to Pastor MacArthur's sermon series on the Beatitudes. I had never heard Jesus' message explained like Pastor MacArthur did, and God used this to make it very clear to me what True faith looks like. And that was not the faith I had.

In the end, He saved me. Thank you Lord Jesus.

#7  Posted by Randy Johnson  |  Saturday, March 06, 2010at 2:20 PM

Paul, in Romans chapter 10, holds up his fellow Israelites as an example of those who have great passion for God, but ignore the true righteousness of God. Even great zeal for God must be in line with the truth, or it simply becomes another false belief that motivates the individual but cannot deliver him from judgment.

The non-negotiable doctrine climaxes in verses 9-10. Jesus is Yahweh, and faith in his death and resurrection is the only way to receive the righteousness that comes from God.

Belief can only be validated by its action or result. Believers move toward (call on) God. They apply what they know and trust God to keep His promise.

#8  Posted by Elaine Bittencourt  |  Saturday, March 06, 2010at 4:02 PM

Answering the questions. And oh boy, those are tough ones. I've been thinking about 1 Peter 3:15 and something that I heard RC Sproul say: "Faith that's irrational is credulity." ouch!

So, here it goes, please feel free to comment and/or correct me.

1. The non-negotiables - I believe the Bible to be the very Word of God. I believe it's infallible, it's complete, it's innerant. I believe it contains all that's necessary for us to have a life that honours God, and all that's necessary for our salvation. I believe in the Trinity (God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit). I believe that salvation is only possible through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone, by grace alone. I believe that man is totally unable to do anything to save himself. I believe that there's nothing good in man, and that we have all sinned. I believe that above all things, we have sinned against God, and that we need to repent and seek forgiveness. I believe that without repentance there's no salvation. I believe that sanctification and the pursuit of a God honouring life are to be what we strive for daily, and that our very own lives should be a testimony of our personal relantionship with our Lord Jesus Christ. I believe that Jesus is Lord of my life and the church. I believe that Jesus died for those who believed and will believe (the elect), and that He ressurected and will come back one day (second coming) to judge all people (both believers and unbelievers).

2 - what is it to believe? - I've been stuck on this one, and the closest that I can get to my answer is this: to believe is to know Him. Like many other people (hey Jennifer! =) ) I knew "about" Jesus, but I didn't know Him. After 16 years thinking I was a Christian, I didn't know Him. What happened to change that? I thank God for His love, for His grace. In myself I cannot find a reason to believe. It's all Jesus!

E.

PS - re-reading it now I can see how I could expand one some of the things I wrote.

#9  Posted by Mahmoud Beydoun  |  Sunday, March 07, 2010at 11:43 AM

I WAS SAVED IN JUNE OF 2009..ME AND MY 13 YEAR OLD SON GO REGULARLY TO CHURCH NOW ...I WAS LIKE YOU...IVE READ THE BIBLE MANY TIMES,,ATTENDED A BAPTIST CHURCH EVEN....I WAS NOT THE REAL THING..TRULY A CHRISTIAN SAVED BY GRACE ALONE....DIDNT KNOW I WAS HELL BOUND...EVER SINCE GOD MOVED IN MY HEART LAST JUNE AND SUDDENLY FELT DEEP SORROW OVER MY SIN AND A HUGE BLACK CLOUD HELD OVER ME FOR TWO WEEKS,,,MY EYES OPENED TO WHAT MY HEART WAS IN MATTHEW 15:18....I WAS DEFILED AND WICKED...AFTER THOSE TWO WEEKS OR SO I WAS HOME WHEN I SUDDENLY REALIZED JESUS CHRIST LOVED ME AND THE BURDEN OF MY SIN WAS SOOOO HEAVY,,,I FINALLY CONFESSED WITH UNHINDERING REPENTANCE AND TOTAL FALLING TO MY LORD AS LORD AND SAVIOR,,,AND GOD GAVE ME A NEW HEART,,PRAISE BE THE NAME OF GOD AND OUR LORD AND SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST....AMENNN....SO IM TYPING THIS BECAUSE I WANT MY SON TO TAKE THE BEATITUDE MESSAGE OF HAPPINESS INSIDE OUT SO HE CAN LISTEN TO IT THIS WEEK AT HIS MOTHERS HOUSE..IM HOPING AND PRAYING HE WILL KNOW OUR TRUE GOD FOR HIMSELF...I JUST SO HAPPENED TO BE TRING TO FIGURE OUT WHAT TO GIVE HIM TO LISTEN AT HOME AND I READ YOUR MESSAGE AND ALREADY THOUGHT OF GIVING HIM MACARTHURS BEATTITUDE SERIES...THANK YOU AND I THANK THE LORD FOR LEADING ME TO READ UR MESSAGE...HOW WONDERFUL IT IS TO KNOW THE TRUE LORD GOD LIVES IN US AND WE ARE HIS FOREVER..AMEN...

#10  Posted by Dee Hendon  |  Sunday, March 07, 2010at 6:43 PM

So what of Mother Teresa?

#11  Posted by Shauna Bryant  |  Sunday, March 07, 2010at 7:33 PM

**Shauna Bryant, wife of John Bryant**

It appears, from what we know, that she believed in a false gospel. That will make some people mad I'm sure. Instead of being mad, one should research her beliefs, her hindu mix of it, her Mary devotion and her 'works to be saved' way that is the wide road. And her own writings. The wise will understand.

#12  Posted by Dani'el Freeman  |  Monday, March 08, 2010at 1:30 AM

Comment deleted by administrator.
#13  Posted by Fred Butler  |  Monday, March 08, 2010at 7:21 AM

Daniel, your comment was way off topic.  Please keep comment relevant to the topic at hand. 

Thanks

Fred

#14  Posted by Paul Neil  |  Monday, March 08, 2010at 9:01 AM

WOW, this is very eye opening. Here you have a woman that is revered world wide and yet didnt even know Christ.

liberality is the order of the day and anything else you are seen as someone who doesnt love his fellow man but the message of salvation through Christ is the ultimate message of love.

When you have people such as TD Jakes, Joel Osteen and Billy Graham, people who are in the forefront of Christianity and do not stand on the truth of the gospel its easy to see why many are confused. The devil uses many "men of God" to bring confusion to the Church as far the the narrowness of the gospel. Its simple Jesus is The only way.

#15  Posted by Mary Elizabeth Palshan  |  Monday, March 08, 2010at 10:08 AM

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#16  Posted by Justin Edwards  |  Monday, March 08, 2010at 10:31 AM

More on Mother Teresa and this missional gospel: http://airo-cross.blogspot.com/2010/02/apostasy-of-mother-teresa-shane.html

Especially this:

"And therein you will be able to see the resulting deception gleaned from her [Mother Teresa] years of practicing Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism (CSM); a gospel of goodness with its resulting denial of the exclusive claims of the genuine Gospel of Jesus Christ:

We never try to convert those who receive [aid from her organization] to Christianity but in our work we bear witness to the love of God’s presence and if Catholics, Protestants, Buddhists, or agnostics become for this better men — simply better — we will be satisfied. Growing up in love they will be nearer to God and find him in his goodness. Every human being comes from the hand of God and we all know what is the love of God for us. My religion is everything to me but for every individual, according to the grace God had given that soul. God has his own ways and means to work in the hearts of men and we do not know how close they are to him but by their actions we will always know whether they are at his disposal or not. Whether you are a Hindu, a Moslem or a Christian, how you live your life is the proof that you are fully his or not. We must not condemn or judge or pass words that will hurt people. Maybe a person has never heard of Christianity. We do not know what way God is appearing to that soul and what way God is drawing that soul, and therefore who are we to condemn anybody? It matters to the individual what church he belongs to. If that individual thinks and believes that this is the only way to God for her or him, this is the way God comes into their life — his life. If he does not know any other way and if he has no doubt so that he does not need to search then this is his way to salvation. This is the way God comes into his life. (81, 82, emphasis mine)"
#17  Posted by Mary Elizabeth Palshan  |  Monday, March 08, 2010at 10:40 AM

Paul Neil said:

"Here you have a woman that is revered world wide and yet didnt even know Christ."

Paul, it is not surprising that she was revered worldwide. The god of this world is the devil, and his slaves do his bidding. Remember broad is the path. Most liberal Protestants, who believe that Catholics are our brother’s and sisters in Christ, have a really hard time believing that Mother Theresa was on the broad road. While we cannot say for certain if she was saved or not (maybe a last minute conversion???), we certainly can discern false teachers by the doctrines they believe in, and "saved by works" and the worship of the "Virgin Mary" and the worship of an assortment of "other idols", is easing on down the "wrong" road.

" Don't you carry nothin that might be a LOAD, just ease on down, ease on down the road." Christ’s road is easy, it is Christ ALONE, by faith ALONE, and not the added baggage the RCC adds, infinitum.

#18  Posted by Mary Elizabeth Palshan  |  Monday, March 08, 2010at 11:14 AM

If you want to be even more stunned, google Mother Teresa a lost soul, but read J.I. Packer's views. This is the man who wrote "Knowing God", did he miss something somewhere?

#19  Posted by Dani'el Freeman  |  Monday, March 08, 2010at 9:34 PM

Sorry Fred,

I will need to wait for an opportunity to make clear what I'm trying to say. I'm confident that with God's graces, I can make a contribution. I must ask for for forgiveness, as I've been facing some severe trials, and I'm frustrated at the lack of support I've been getting. Esp as it concerns some major events for the remnant in Calif and time is getting short. My trust is in the Lord.

But I'm gettting off topic again. I look forward to getting to know you all better.

Baruch HaShem Yeshua,

DaniEl

#20  Posted by Ed Rudd  |  Monday, March 08, 2010at 11:25 PM

We all no doubt know people who believe themselves to be saved yet have no such salvation. The Bible says we shall know them by their fruit. And what better fruit than the fruit that passes from their own lips. When looking from the outside in, the deeds of Mother Tersea appear to be good fruit. But, her words, along with the fact that those words don't line up with the Word of God, reveal the truth. When fruits are seen by the fruit bearer as that which commends them to God, they aren't fruit at all. They are works. Works doers are those who nailed Christ to the cross.

What did you just say Ed? Did you just say Mother Tersea nailed Jesus to the cross?

Yep. That's just what I said! And guess what - so did I! I nailed Jesus to the cross too!! I was called out from works doing religion. Maybe some of you were too. Maybe all of us were. When we read what Mother Tersea professed, and know what she believed- the religious system she believed in- it should strike fear in all of us. Fear for all the professers of beliefs that are contrary to God's Word, and fear for their fait should they die in that state.

I know a guy who believes almost everyone will be in heaven. I have never been able to pin him down on who will be saved and who won't. He really believes practicing Catholics will be saved. I can't even get him to agree with me that devil worshipers will be in hell. He always seems to have an out. It's that ,".....well-l-l, you just can't tell- maybe they got saved when they were 10 and then left the church. But, God's calling won't ever be revoked." arguement. He's trapped by his own words.

But, just as John said in the teaching , narrow means narrow! When Jesus said that, He meant it. For those of us who know what the wide road looks like, we know what narrow is. But, it's worth the cost isn't it?. Narrow means nothing compared to life and death. When I was saved, narrowness didn't matter - did it to anyone else here? I needed Christ and life no matter how tight or restrictive, or what I had to give up to get it. Like the pilgrims quest to get to that distant gate, or the tax collector unable to lift his eyes while beating his chest saying, "Lord, have mercy on me- a sinner!" What is narrow, when it means life?

To go through life - even a life full of "good" works- and miss Christ. Think of that. Does Matt. 7 come to mind? And these are people who profess to know Christ, not to mention all the rest of the -as John calls them- religions of human acheivement instead of the one of Devine accomplishment. God help us. God help us all!

#21  Posted by Fred Butler  |  Tuesday, March 09, 2010at 6:03 AM

Daniel,

Don't worry about it.  You didn't do anything wrong.  I have had comments deleted on other blogs myself.  We merely want to keep our comments focused under the main points presented in the post or the audio clip. 

Thanks for participating,

Fred

#22  Posted by Shawn Clauther  |  Friday, March 12, 2010at 8:12 AM

Pastor MacArthur,

Thanks very much for your sound biblical teaching. As an African-American, I knew that there were false prophets masquerading within "Christendom" (read: Word-Faith preachers), but I had NO idea that false teaching exists in the Evangelical camp! I thank God that I was not pulled into it directly, and thank God for your exposes of the wolves in sheep's clothing that exist in "our" camp. Keep preaching the Word, John. This world is that much better off when the true people of God are making their voices known.