When was the last time you used the phrase, “close enough”? It has become so commonplace in our language that you likely don’t have to think back very far. In a world dominated by consolation prizes and participation awards, the concept of “close enough” often substitutes for true success and achievement.
That lazy perspective becomes truly dangerous when it creeps into discussions of eternal truth and the means of salvation. Most of the world’s major religions are happy to accommodate and absorb other beliefs—Roman Catholicism mastered syncretism long ago. People today have no time for exclusive claims that impede their ability to carefully curate and personalize a faith of their own design. Most people are interested in truth, but only on their own terms.
But “close enough,” as the saying goes, only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. When your eternal soul hangs in the balance, it’s downright deadly.
John MacArthur makes that point in his forthcoming book, Good News.
Many people today think that if they get most things right—even if they miss on “the Jesus part”—they’re still going to heaven. That’s the new breadth of tolerance that defines much of contemporary evangelicalism, which effectively opens a back door to heaven. It’s the revival of an ancient lie: you don’t have to believe specifically in Christ. As long as you’re a monotheist and believe in the one true God (and especially if you believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob), you’re going to be fine.
That mindset is diametrically opposed to what we read in Luke’s gospel. Jesus warns the Jews who have made the wrong conclusions about Him that they will not enjoy a lesser condemnation. In fact, not only will they not receive salvation, not only will they not be excused, but they will receive a greater condemnation. That ought to be a sobering message for people today who are trying to extend and expand the gospel to include anyone who believes in God—any god—as long as it’s a monotheistic system. And it ought to terrify everyone who presumes God’s standards are as fluid and flexible as twenty-first-century tolerance is.  John MacArthur, Good News (Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust Publishing, 2018), 4-5.
John makes that same profound point in his sermon regarding Luke 5:33-39, “The Uniqueness of the Gospel.” In this familiar incident from the life of Christ, the Lord confronts the empty piety of the Pharisees and offers powerful illustrations of the gospel’s incompatibility with Judaism and every other religion of works.
Here we have then the uniqueness of the gospel by demonstration of its incompatibility with Judaism. And here in this text, Jesus points out the bankruptcy, the emptiness, the incompatibility of the Jewish religion of His day with the gospel. And this is really something we need to keep in our minds because today in this inclusivistic mentality, everybody wants to give people credit for their religion and maybe we kind of introduce Jesus into it but we don’t upset it. The fact of the matter is the gospel can only, if it is to be effective, it can only replace all other religious systems.
The true gospel of Christ cannot be blended with other religions. It cannot accommodate error, and it cannot absorb false theology. It is utterly exclusive and distinct from the world’s religions and Satan’s lies.
As those who have had our eyes opened and our minds illuminated by the Holy Spirit, we cannot compromise the truth of Scripture. We must hold fast to the uniqueness of the gospel and the uncorrupted clarity of God’s Word. John MacArthur’s sermon is a clear and necessary call to the church to protect the purity of the gospel and faithfully proclaim God’s plan of redemption.