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Following is John MacArthur’s corruption of the simplicity that is in Christ.
A review of ‘Saved or Self-Deceived’
I am not here to judge whether or not John MacArthur is actually saved, I surely hope so. I will say the gospel he now preaches is accursed according to Galatians 1:6-9. And he corrupts the simplicity that is in Christ by preaching another gospel (2 Cor 11:3-4).
For those of my friends who continue to share his work, please, prove all things. Please, test the spirits with his teaching. It doesn’t matter what I think, I am very sure of that, but it does matter if his words do not line up with God’s Word. If so, it will most certainly cost people their very souls, or at the least, years of their assurance and their walk as believers. Do you want to look back in sadness and regret for lives that may have been lost, or young ones made to stumble because you defended him, or shared him on your facebook page? Yes, I do understand, he is very well-respected and understand his accomplishments, they are listed in the article. I am nothing with Christ, what I am saying here, examine in light of Scripture always.
‘But if anybody says to me, “I’m not sure I’m a Christian,” my immediate response is, “The reason you may feel you’re not a Christian is because you’re not a Christian.”’
That floored me… My suggestion is if ANYONE in is congregation is not sure, it might be a common occurrence under his teaching. “Feelings” have nothing to do with our salvation, praise God — NOR is it a way for this pastor to JUDGE whether someone is saved. I don’t know about any of you, but his statement truly makes me weep.
That is his immediate response? It’s not to lovingly go into the gospel and be sure they have understood it?
The true gospel? As I watched some in his audience while he delivered this message, I prayed for them seeing some distraught and condemned by the confusion he teaches. My heart was sickened that they were not being given the gospel, but instead, their minds subtly deceived, corrupted by this false gospel of works.
I’m sure so thankful that Paul and Silas didn’t answer the jailer in the same cavalier manner of judging another man’s servant. And by an unrighteous judgment at that (Jn 7:24). Not one word to ask them if they believed the gospel.
Why? He doesn’t have one. His remedy is WAIT FOR IT! He teaches you must be given the ‘gift of faith’ vs. you must believe on Jesus Christ to be saved.
I have a question Mr. MacArthur, “If one is a ‘true pastor’ (vs. a hireling or wolf in sheep’s clothing) shouldn’t he go over the gospel with this person to see if they understood and believed?” I also have to sincerely wonder if you know and have EVER understood the gospel or the power of the gospel (Rom 1:16, 1 Cor 1:18).
Why should I wonder? Because of how you preach it here. It sounds at times as if you do, as you repeat the right words at times, insist you believe in grace alone by faith alone, in Christ alone — YET — that is not what you teach. You SAY you do however, you go on to subtly corrupt minds from the simplicity that is in Christ.
We really don’t judge another’s salvation, (1 Cor 4:5) but if one should ask us, it should be only by whether or not they have believed the simple gospel, and not by their wonderful works or deeds. Remember, these are the same things that the false prophets justify themselves by in Matt 7.
I would guess if you were reading this right now, you may think that it is quite arrogant of me to say anything to you. After all, you are a scholar who has written your own commentary Bible. By your own admission on your GTY page; a best-selling author of hundreds of books and manuals. A pastor who boasts attendances of 3500 per service. A president of a well received and popular Seminary that also has a huge list of Master’s pastors and authors. Again, I am no one, I don’t dare to commend myself, or compare or measure myself by others. I am only sickened at those you are deceiving with your excellency of speech and wisdom of words (1 Cor 2:1-5).
You say it took you eight years to study and understand the gospel. But, I read this article you wrote and find that there is not one mention of Christ dying for our sins, nor any similar words; ‘die’, ‘died’, or ‘death’.
Why not? After all, this is about whether one is saved or not. So where is the remedy???? Are you a minister of reconciliation? No, I don’t think so.
Curious — I also searched for cross, crucify, or crucified (the only time the word cross is found is in “take up your cross” — which concerns how one is to be a disciple and is not to be confused with how to become saved.)
But the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ is also absent from your article. As to your question whether or not they are saved, I find no remedy from you for them. No preaching of Christ and Him crucified in your entire sermon.
The gospel is the power of God unto salvation; therefore, you have not come in demonstration of the Spirit and power, just some excellency of speech, enticing words of men’s wisdom. Oh I realize you would say that these hard things you demand of people are not enticing, but is that true? I think people are often puffed up in the flesh by their own accomplishments.
Throughout time, man has always made religion about works as you do. You speak (out of the side of your mouth) salvation by Grace, your church’s name includes the word Grace, but in practice you do not preach the true Grace of God, but one of men’s works, enabled by ‘God’s sovereign grace’ (a meaning entirely different that God’s grace in the Bible). The definition of God’s ‘sovereign grace’ is that He chose people before they were born to burn in hell, or a few to be chosen to heaven. There is no other way around it, no matter what you call yourself, DOG (doctrines of grace) or TULIP.
And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. 1 Cor. 2:1-5
Pastor MacArthur, in your ‘test’ of whether one is saved, do you mention…
- Belief on Christ’s shed blood for forgiveness of their sin?
- Belief on His burial in their place?
- Christ raised from the dead for them? His resurrection? (Why do I say this two different ways? Because you do not have it listed either way — no matter how it is worded. I know, I searched.)
- Believing God’s testimony/record of His Son? (1 John 5:9-13)
No, no and again, no. You accuse, and you do not preach the gospel unhindered. You frustrate His grace, and if you ever knew Him, you are estranged from Christ, and a lawkeeper. Repent from your dead works.
MacArthur’s steps to salvation:
Holly: I will put this in outline form, but the link will be provided below so you can ‘prove all things’ yourself.
The way MacArthur lays out a complicated and corrupted gospel of works is cleverly disguised in misused Scripture and lots of his own wisdom of words. These are things believers should do. These are not things non-believers are exhorted to do in order to be saved. Nor were any of us as non-believers capable; we are without strength, ungodly, unrighteous sinners, and enemies of God.
For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. Rom 5:6-10
Each of MacArthur’s requirements has several steps, so this is one way to see what someone is really saying:
FIRST: MacArthur says: “here’s what God says” (‘Thus saith the Lord’ according to MacArthur.)
1. Confess your sin (75th commandment of the law – A WORK)
2. Repent (from sin) MacArthur’s definition of repentance: “a total about face, turning away from sin and self” 1 (Jonah 3:9-10 – A WORK)
3. Embrace His Son as your only hope of salvation. (Holly: We must BELIEVE upon Jesus Christ as the only way to salvation)
Macarthur continues; “That’s the first thing He (God) says. And if you don’t agree to do that, you’re going to hell forever”.
Mr. MacArthur, if YOU have believed the above from the beginning as the way to be saved, then you are going to hell forever, so please do repent (change your way of thinking) and believe upon Him, and Him alone without works….
SECOND: (MacArthur continues with the ‘must do’ in order to be saved).
1. Deny yourself,
2. Take up your cross
3. And follow Him.
1. Hate your father
2. Hate your mother
3. Hate your sister
4. Hate your brother
5. Hate even your own life.
“And then we’ll talk about count the cost.”
“And then, by the way, the Law of God is the Law of God because it’s a reflection of His holy nature and the Law of God doesn’t change,
1. God’s moral Law will have to become your passion.
2. Which is another way of saying everything you love to do now, you have to hate.
3. Everything you hate to do now you have to love.”
Holly: Yes, I do recognize the Scripture he is using. But, please, search the Scriptures here; is this the gospel that was preached to us? The one we received; the one in which we stand; the one we were saved by? That Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures. That He was buried and rose again, and witnessed by many. All the apostles preached the same gospel that we believe (1 Cor. 15). So why should we now believe John MacArthur’s version?
WORSE…What IF MacArthur left something out? Actually he did because on this sermon, he tells us much more we must do in order to be saved. So if he is right (not) these poor people, if they only heard one of these sermons… and took really good notes, they may have missed the mark…
MacArthur pauses to tell his audience he knows why they are there. (Do you see the method of manipulation here?)
1. They take the Word of God seriously.
2. This is not a dog and pony show.
3. There is no variety act here, a juggler this week, and dancing horse next week.
4. Because they don’t need to be entertained.
5. They don’t need a rock band.
6. Bottom line, he says, “You’re here for one reason, ‘tell me’ what the Word of God says”…
Holly: Sounds good doesn’t it? Or does it? We do want to be TAUGHT the Word. Should we be TOLD what it says and never check? Or should we be searching the Scriptures to see if these things are so? (Acts 17:11) Shouldn’t he actually be preaching the Word in context? In an expository manner? Without these not-so-subtle manipulations? What about those things he conveniently either leaves out or forgets?
There is not one explanation of what the gospel IS according to 1 Cor. 15.
MacArthur continues to give his flock ways to inspect others; he says it is, “profession without possession“. He also declares you cannot rely on a ‘past event‘. He also says this in a sermon on sanctification (see footnote 2), where once again he gives a long list of things to examine your salvation by to see if you are a ‘genuine believer’.
These fruit inspectors, if they ever knew Christ, are too bound up again in the law, to be able to preach any good news. They too have frustrated His grace.
This is typical for Lordship purveyors, they misuse and abuse 2 Cor. 13:5. MacArthur quotes half the verse, (no context at all), the test was the PROOF of Paul’s apostleship. As is fairly typical of the other load-ship salvationists, he conveniently leaves out, “Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?”
This is not a suggestion that they were reprobates, these believers had already been identified over 110 times as brother/sister, brethren, beloved, saved. The Bible states they had received the gospel and received the Spirit (in this ‘past event). These ‘authentic’ yet carnal believers were washed, sanctified, justified, baptized into the body of Christ. They were the temple of the Holy Ghost, made to drink in the Spirit, sealed and given the earnest of the Holy Spirit. They were the body of Christ and the church of God. Go back 10 chapters to get some idea of context.
Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or need we, as some others, epistles of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you? Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart. 2 Cor. 3:1-3
To suggest they were not already saved is despicable and dishonest for any scholar (self-acclaimed as he is on his bio). Paul was not asking them to examine whether they were “authentic or genuine believers”. He was stating that they were indeed believers and the living proof of his ministry.
If this is somehow a test of their salvation (as MacArthur, Washer, et al, continually claim or imply), the Holy Spirit inspired writings of 1 and 2 Corinthians must have those 110 + references wrong when they affirmed them as saved. Most of these pastors twist this verse and no one seems to question this in their congregation. Where are the Bereans at GTY? 2
As MacArthur habitually does, he brings up the false prophets listed in Matthew 7. In the beginning, he brings up the subject matter which is Matt 7:21-27 and reads the passage, (I assuming he’s using the ESV version which uses the word miracles instead of doing many wonderful works). He uses a quote by Calvinist ‘father’ D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones to help explain the passage (instead of other Scripture).
MacArthur then repeats the error he makes over and over in his gospel presentations:
“They have failed to come through the narrow gate. What does HE SAY that means?
Repentance for sin,
Confession of sin,
Submission to the Lordship of Christ,
Obedience to the Word of the Lord no matter what.”
Holly: Instead of defining Jesus as the Strait Gate (KJV), the Narrow Gate (NASB, ESV), or the Narrow Door ( NASB in parallel passage in Luke 13), MacArthur identifies the door/gate/way as a ‘thing’ or a ‘what‘ or ‘it’, and then gives the list (seen above) of our works we need to do to ‘come through’ the gate. The strait gate and the narrow way are what lead unto life (vs. 14)–Does the Word speak to a ‘thing’ or should we ask ‘Who’ is the gate, or ‘Who’ is the way? Why is the way narrow?
Is it because we somehow need to do more works like John Bunyan to enter in? Or is it that there is only ONE WAY to enter into life? And they want to broaden the narrow way by adding WORKS. They will not come to Him (without works) that they might have life (Jn. 14:6)…
Subsequently, twice more in bringing up this passage, he leaves out a few very important points. These false prophets in Matt. 7 have prophesied in His name and cast out devils (AND they have done MANY wonderful works). They justify themselves by their wonderful works.
Is this not a list of wonderful works that MacArthur is giving his congregation to justify themselves by?
Both times he addresses Matt 7 after the initial reading of the passage, he does not reference the WILL of the Father that these false prophets were not doing. He changes the context to false ‘professors’ instead of false ‘prophets’. Many lordship teachers do this to justify their fruit inspection of believers (minus ever preaching the gospel so they might be saved by believing it).
False prophets do not justify themselves by the work of God which Jesus told them they could do. They do not the will of the Father. Instead of submitting to His righteousness, they are still seeking to establish their own righteousness by their wonderful works.
Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. John 6:28-29
And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day. John 6:38-40
For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. Rom 10:3-4
Mr. MacArthur is teaching people to justify and test and examine their own righteousness. And by that, to judge whether or not they are saved (by their own wonderful works).
Not one time does he use the condition of believe/belief (except to mock belief). Not want time does he say to test yourself by whether you understand and believed the gospel. Again dear reader, whoever you may be, this is the only test, have you believed?
Please note Philip’s ‘test’ for whether the Eunuch was saved and should be baptized. And note the Eunuch’s response which was acceptable to Philip. (Please note Philip expounded Isaiah 53 to the Eunuch which includes the gospel seen in 1 Corinthians 15).
And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Acts 8:37
What Rock (petra) is your house built upon? Is it the same Rock (petra) that the church is built upon? Is your faith in who Jesus is? (That includes what He has done for us).
He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock (petra) I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Matt 16:15-18
Regarding the ‘past event’ MacArthur speaks of
Yes! I can know I am saved eternally based on a ‘past event’. So can you! I believed the testimony God gave us of His Son: His work on the cross in my stead. Not my works to justify myself as I cry, ‘Lord, Lord’. I KNOW I possessed eternal life the moment I believed (1 John 5:10-13). THAT is the SOLE TEST for whether someone is saved or not. Jesus Christ came into my heart by faith (Ephesians 3:17) the moment I believed, I was sealed with the Holy Spirit, never to be lost (John 3:16; 6:39-40; 10:28-29).
The ‘past events‘ MacArthur mockingly referenced were aisle walking, certain prayers, asking Jesus into your heart, (not what I believe saves) yet again, he never brought up whether they believed the gospel — the true and only litmus test of whether someone is saved.
Below is MacArthur’s summation of his PROOF of a believer, which I will put in outline form. I will ask those reading if they can honestly say they have met enough of his standards (which are lower than God’s standard of perfection). And I will prayerfully request that readers re-read the book of John, whose purpose statement is found in John 20:31, the same profession of faith, the same rock (petra) the church will be built upon.
But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.
MacArthur asks, “What marks a true believer?”
No longer a slave to sin but have become slaves of righteousness.
Consumed with the love of Christ
Consumed with a hunger for the Word of God
Longing to be holy and righteous
Longing to be humble and broken
Desirous to be above all things obedient from the heart
Longing to worship
Can never get enough obedience
Can never get enough worship…all these evidences of a transformed life.
Holly: these are many things believers SHOUD do and are exhorted to do in the epistles. It would be kind of redundant if this was automatic for them.
For those who he feels are deceived (unsaved) he prays,
- That the light go on and may they see the reality.
- God will give them a hunger and a thirst for righteousness.
- Give them an overwhelming love for Christ.
- Give them a desire to humble themselves
- Turn from their sin
- Submit to Christ as slaves (He might read Gal 4:7 in his ESV)
- Submitting to a sovereign and all-gracious, merciful Lord.
- Give them a desire to worship.
- Free them from the longings of the natural heart, the unredeemed heart.
- Fill their hearts with the longings that belong only to the regenerate–obedience, submission, humility, holiness, worship.
All these things above, ungodly sinners who are without strength can do BEFORE they hear the gospel and believe Mr. MacArthur???
Have you not heard that it is the Gospel that is the power of God unto salvation?
MacArthur accuses and unsettles people, leading them astray. He demands a huge list of works to prove you are saved, but gives no true Biblical direction on how one must be saved. Only a long list of enticing words of man’s wisdom, or in my opinion, the words of the accuser of the brethren…
Is your pastor preaching Christ and Him crucified? Where is the Gospel???
Mr. MacArthur usually gets to the bottom line towards the end, but it takes a while. In part two — VERY IMPORTANT — he lets you know that if you think you can “contribute” belief to your salvation, you are not saved.
MacArthur: “Even if it’s a small component, even if you believe in the cross and the resurrection, if there’s anything in you that thinks it can contribute to your salvation, you have no foundation.”
Please prayerfully search the Scriptures to see if what MacArthur says is really so… if not for your sake, consider your loved ones, or those you might be sharing his teachings with. Think on how well received MacArthur is. His own bio brags on how large his congregation each service (3500), how many bestsellers, how many books and studies he has written, his many accomplishments… Just something to think on.
Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets. Luke 6:26
Is John MacArthur a Freemason? I do not know the reliability of the site here, so I cannot recommend. I did check the links for reliability to information, and there is verification of all who MacArthur claims to be his family members and relatives and ‘clan’ being all the way up to 33rd degree Mason. See all about his freemasonry history here.
I still want to thank a dear unnamed friend (at her behest) for her editing help.
OTHER JOHN MACARTHUR ARTICLES
Saved or Self-Deceived Part 1: http://www.gty.org/resources/sermons/80-326
Saved or Self-Deceived Part 2: http://www.gty.org/resources/sermons/80-327/Saved-or-SelfDeceived-Part-2