In his book Christ’s Call to Reform the Church, John MacArthur asks an important and provocative question: “Who is the hardest person to reach with the gospel?” He proceeds to discuss various possibilities—the atheist, the zealous religionist, or the postmodern agnostic—but ultimately settles on a potentially shocking candidate.
However, one type of unbeliever is harder to reach with the gospel than others. Worse than any outspoken, overt rejecter of God’s Word is the self-righteous hypocrite who believes he doesn’t need the gospel. He thinks that by his religion or morality he’s on God’s good side. Nothing is more spiritually deadly than false assurance of salvation. Nothing more rapidly inoculates a sinner to the Spirit’s work through his conscience than the erroneous assumption that his sins have already been forgiven.
The church today is overrun with men and women who have never repented and believed savingly in the Lord, but are nonetheless convinced they are right with God and will not receive His judgment. Some of these people sit under the teaching of God’s Word week after week, unmoved by its truth and unaware of the true condition of their hearts. They don’t believe they remain lost in their sins. There’s not much you could say or do to convince them of their need for the Savior.  John MacArthur, Christ's Call to Reform the Church (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2018), 157–58.
The church is home to an epidemic of self-righteousness and self-deception. But this is not a recent development in church history—false assurance and empty professions of faith plagued the church before the New Testament was even completed. The writer of Hebrews issues a direct challenge to those among his readers who have not progressed out of spiritual infancy and the desperate need for the milk of the gospel (Hebrews 5:11‑14). It’s a challenge that needs to echo throughout our churches today, as well.
John MacArthur’s sermon “The Danger of Being Close” is a thoughtful exegesis of Hebrews 5:11‑6:9, and a dire warning to the self-deceived men and women populating our churches today. It’s an urgent call to shake off spiritual slumber and truly repent and believe.
“The Danger of Being Close” is also a helpful reminder to the rest of us about the deep spiritual needs that exist in our midst. We need to remember that exposure to the truth is not enough, and that self-deception and self-righteousness are just as deadly a threat to those inside the church.
This is a message that will stir your heart, energize your evangelistic efforts, and deepen your love for God’s church and His people. To listen to “The Danger of Being Close,” click here.