John MacArthur Clears Up Hard To Believe

Discussion in '2005 Archive' started by Martin, Apr 21, 2005.

  1. Martin

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    In John MacArthur's book, "Hard To Believe", there is a paragraph that reads:

    Anyone who knows anything about salvation can see the clear error in those words. In fact when I read the book this paragraph bothered me. While I knew what MacArthur was saying I also knew that this paragraph was poorly written. In fact in the margin I noted, "could be better worded". I know MacArthur does not believe in works salvation so I knew that it was a mistake. Hey, we all make mistakes. Sometimes in conversations we say stuff that "comes out wrong" or we write a post and because we fail to proof-read carefully we make a incorrect/misleading statement. So I was sure that was the case here, and it was. It was the result of editing and nobody checking the edited version before it was released.

    A Word of Clarification about Hard to Believe
     
  2. James_Newman

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    Ah, the revised revision sounds better, but they say the same thing in essence. They deny the reality of a carnal believer who is sanctified by the blood but walking in the flesh.
     
  3. Martin

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    "They deny the reality of a carnal believer who is sanctified by the blood but walking in the flesh."

    ==The Bible says that those who walk according to the flesh are not saved (see Romans 8:5-11, Gal 5:19-21, Eph 5:3-12, etc). Can Christian behave in carnal ways? Yes, but Christian do not "live in sin" (1Jn 3:9-10). The Christian life is following Christ (Jn 10:27).

    In Christ,
    Martin.
     
  4. IfbReformer

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    Anyone who knows anything about salvation can see the clear error in those words. In fact when I read the book this paragraph bothered me. While I knew what MacArthur was saying I also knew that this paragraph was poorly written. In fact in the margin I noted, "could be better worded". I know MacArthur does not believe in works salvation so I knew that it was a mistake. Hey, we all make mistakes. Sometimes in conversations we say stuff that "comes out wrong" or we write a post and because we fail to proof-read carefully we make a incorrect/misleading statement. So I was sure that was the case here, and it was. It was the result of editing and nobody checking the edited version before it was released.

    A Word of Clarification about Hard to Believe
    </font>[/QUOTE]Here is the redo of the paragraph:

    I just have a few questions after reading the redo paragraph:

    I think the majority on this board would agree that "Salvation isn't gained by reciting mere words" so how do we gain salvation?

    Some of us think we "gain salvation" by believing in our heart(as opposed to just reciting mere words) that Jesus is our Lord and Savior and are faith is credited for righteousness.

    How do you think we "gain salvation"? Please be sure to include the phrase "gain salvation" in your answer.

    The book of life is a book with persons names who are to be given eternal life. Its not a book about our lifes actions, there may be another book about that, because God says he will judge our actions whether they be good or bad.

    Words without actions?

    Sure saving faith transforms, that much we agree with Mr. MacArthur? But will everyone perform the same? Do we all grow at the same rate? Is it possible for true Christians to stall in our growth? These are the real questions.

    IFBReformer
     
  5. Paul33

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    This is a complicated discussion. Many time when listening to others, I find that we often are saying the same thing but in different ways.

    We gain salvation when the Holy Spirit regenerates us resulting in repentance and faith that leads to new life in Christ.

    Now, the Spirit is contrary to the flesh, and the flesh to the Spirit so that we may not do what we want. Only as we live in the Spirit will the fruit of repentance be obvious in our lives, but when we give in to the flesh for extended periods of time we appear lifeless and dead. We are admonished to no longer live in the flesh because we are dead to sin. Therefore, we live victorious lives only as we yield to the Spirit.

    Salvation isn't obtained through mere words, but neither is it sustained or obtained through works. But true salvation does bear fruit. And without the fruit of repentance, one demonstrates that one has not been regenerated.
     
  6. JohnB

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    I only recently learned that MacArthur is a strict "one naturist," someone who believes that, at salvation, our old nature is eradicated. Because of this, there can be no "carnal Christians." In his view, in the parable of the sower, only the last group are believers.
    This one naturism is in keeping with his increasingly Calvinistic theology and the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints.
    I believe all Reformed theologians support the one nature view.

    The opposing view, held by folks like the Brethren, believe that we are given a new nature at salvation, but we retain the old nature which we struggle with until departure from our fleshly body.

    Belief does not bring salvation, faith does. Yet, I believe one can be saved and remain a spiritual infant. MacArthur insists that there must be continual growth, or else, the initial faith was not sincere.
     
  7. Paul33

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    JohnB,

    Interesting. I know that the old nature still exists because of Galatians 5:16-18.

    I've never made the connection of one naturism to Calvinism, though. In fact, most Calvinists believe Romans 7 is "post-conversion Paul," which seems to disagree with your assertion. My view is that Romans 7 is pre-conversion Paul, and Romans 8, post conversion Paul. In any event, if Romans 7 is post conversion Paul, Paul truly is hopeless, completely unable to do what God wants him to do. But if it is pre-conversion Paul, the difference is the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives (back to Gal. 5:16-18).
     
  8. swaimj

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    MacArthur has a nasty little habit of making incorrect statements about salvation in his books and then having to go back and correct them. This happened some years ago with The Gospel According to Jesus which necessitated a revised edition; now it has happened again. It makes me wonder if he simply has a basic misunderstanding about the topic.
     
  9. JohnB

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  10. IfbReformer

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    Well when your dancing as close to works based salvation thats going to happen. You will find him constantly trying to reassure his readers in his books that he is not teaching salvation by works right after he makes statements that seem to be teaching just that.

    IFBReformer
     
  11. OldRegular

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    I like MacArthur, except for his dispensationalism, but I have to disagree with him on one point in the above quote. Our Eternal Salvation is not gained, it is a gift. That being said Jesus Christ is not our Savior if He is not our Lord.
     
  12. Paul33

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    Catholics err by teaching that salvation is by works. Baptists seem to err by teaching that salvation is by "praying a prayer" and that "all you have to do" is pray it, asking Jesus to be your Savior.

    The truth seems to be somewhere in the middle. The gift of salvation produces the fruit of repentance.

    I think that we also make a mistake when we sever salvation from the church. One cannot be saved without becoming a member of the body of Christ which necessitates fellowship with a local body of believers (in most circumstances.) We sever salvation from the body of Christ and then wonder why the one who has just prayed the sinner's prayer doesn't see a need to be part of the local church.

    Would it be safe to say that genuine salvation seldom takes place outside of the nurturing relationship of a church?
     
  13. Kiffen

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    I can't speak for MacArthur on every book or phrase but his books overall show, a return to classic Reformation theology. It is really nothing new. To say he is teaching work salvation shows a complete misunderstanding of Reformed Theology.

    He also has really emphasized the Calvinist view of Perseverance of The Saints as opposed to the O.S.A.S. (Which leans toward Easy Believism). MacArthur's view is the view held by Historic Baptist Confessions,

    There has also been a tendency among some Baptists when seeking assurance of Salvation, to try and look back to their Conversion experience for assurance BUT the problem with that is it is not Biblical. Our assurance is found only in the Finished Work of Christ on the Cross and not in a prayer we said, or any experience we had. 1 John 5:8-13 does not asked if you placed Faith in Jesus Christ 10, 15, 20 years ago but the Evidence of conversion IS are you presently Trusting in Jesus Christ and Him Alone for Salvation and of course the fruit of Faith is Works and not mental assent to some truth. All Christians have had a conversion experience BUT our assurance is present Faith.

    I think that might be what MacArthur is getting at. Also understand that MacArthur like all Calvinists see Faith as completely the Gift of God that works in the Saved and that Sanctification is not optional but will occur in all believers.
     
  14. James_Newman

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    Someone smarter than me once told me this was a surefire way to tell if someone was saved...
    On Halloween, when they go out tipping over outhouses, if they check to see if someone is inside, they are saved.
     
  15. James_Newman

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    To answer IFBReformer's question, I believe I gained salvation 2000 years ago when Jesus Christ died on a cross for my sins.

    I need no other argument,
    I need no other plea,
    It is enough that Jesus died,
    And that He died for me.
     
  16. Martin

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    ==I think this was due to an editor cutting/pasting.

    "in an effort to make a new transition that would smooth over the deletions, an editor involved in the process made significant revisions to the opening of chapter 6. Unfortunately, that change was not submitted to John for approval. We believe the error was an oversight, and not anyone's deliberate attempt to tamper with the book's theology."

    This is clear on the page I linked to. Yet people here are still accusing MacArthur of teaching "works-based salvation" or "dancing" close to it. Nothing could be futher from the truth. The issue with chapter 6 of "Hard To Believe" was an editorial issue, unless you wish to accuse Phil Johnson, John MacArthur, and others at Grace To You of being liars.

    John MacArthur has not, and does not, teach a works based salvation. So called "lordship salvation" does not teach works salvation and ANYONE who says it does has a faulty view of it. I know this because I use to be in the Zane Hodges/Bob Wilkin/Free Grace camp before God turned me around via His Word. What MacArthur teaches is what Jesus, Paul, Peter (etc) taught. Salvation is a gift given to those who repent and believe the Gospel. Anyone who removes repentance from the Gospel is watering down the Gospel.

    Voddie Baucham, speaking at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, made this very point. Read the article at Baptist Press.

    The only people who are eternally secure are those who are following Christ (Jn 10:27-30). If one is not following Christ one is not, and never has been, a believer (Jn 8:31). The Baptist Church, and the church as a whole, must rid itself of easy believism.

    In Christ,
    Martin.
     
  17. Martin

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    What? :confused:
     
  18. IfbReformer

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    There has also been a tendency among some Baptists when seeking assurance of Salvation, to try and look back to their Conversion experience for assurance BUT the problem with that is it is not Biblical. Our assurance is found only in the Finished Work of Christ on the Cross and not in a prayer we said, or any experience we had. 1 John 5:8-13 does not asked if you placed Faith in Jesus Christ 10, 15, 20 years ago but the Evidence of conversion IS are you presently Trusting in Jesus Christ and Him Alone for Salvation and of course the fruit of Faith is Works and not mental assent to some truth. All Christians have had a conversion experience BUT our assurance is present Faith.

    I think that might be what MacArthur is getting at. Also understand that MacArthur like all Calvinists see Faith as completely the Gift of God that works in the Saved and that Sanctification is not optional but will occur in all believers.
    </font>[/QUOTE]Kiffen,

    I agree with you that assurance is not only based on that I did believe(in my heart) but that I still do believe - it continues if it real - this is something I would disagree with the Free Grace movement on, while I lean toward them much more than MacArthur.

    But where I strongly disagree with MacArthur is that if we still have true belief in our heart this will always result in the same actions in all believers. The fact of the matter is we do not always act on our beliefs.

    I agree our assurance is founded in the finished work of Christ on the cross, but that finished work on the cross is only effective toward us because we believed(and still do believe). Now as a soverign grace advocate, I believe God regenerated me and gave me my faith and belief, but regardless, I am included in Christ because I believed.

    I realize where MacArthur's heart is, and it may be in right place. But he has so centered on the Master - Servant dimension of our salvation that he has all but obscured the Father child relationship that Christ and his Apostles also spoke of often.

    The most troubling aspect of MacArthur's theology is the "gift exchange" portion.

    Salvation in his view, is not a one way gift giving transaction - God completely giving salvation to man free of any charge, all he must do is believe(in heart) and take it(This is what I believe).

    Salvation in his view, is an exchange of one's self for the gift of salvation. Now he will argue and I would agree that the giving of our lives in return for salvation is a small price to pay in comparison with what God gave for salvation(his only Son).

    But it still creates a faulty scenario, that we must bring something to God, in order to gain or get salvation. The only thing the Bible says we must do to be saved is reach out and take the free gift God offers - believe in our hearts and we will be saved.

    Now I do believe that when we believe in our hearts God changes our hearts and it does affect our actions. But those actions will very from Christian to Christian - and I will not try and say because every Christian does not live his life as John MacArthur does than he proves he is not saved.

    This is something that is missed as well, I have had some people email me who have been to John MacArthur's church or churches modeled after his and they tell me of this cronic effort by the members of these churches to try and "prove they are saved". No one can admit any habital sins for fear of having their salvation be called into doubt. They are doing good works not so much out of love for Christ, but to prove to their fellow church members that they are truly saved.

    IFBReformer
     
  19. James_Newman

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    ==I think this was due to an editor cutting/pasting.

    "in an effort to make a new transition that would smooth over the deletions, an editor involved in the process made significant revisions to the opening of chapter 6. Unfortunately, that change was not submitted to John for approval. We believe the error was an oversight, and not anyone's deliberate attempt to tamper with the book's theology."

    This is clear on the page I linked to. Yet people here are still accusing MacArthur of teaching "works-based salvation" or "dancing" close to it. Nothing could be futher from the truth. The issue with chapter 6 of "Hard To Believe" was an editorial issue, unless you wish to accuse Phil Johnson, John MacArthur, and others at Grace To You of being liars.

    John MacArthur has not, and does not, teach a works based salvation. So called "lordship salvation" does not teach works salvation and ANYONE who says it does has a faulty view of it. I know this because I use to be in the Zane Hodges/Bob Wilkin/Free Grace camp before God turned me around via His Word. What MacArthur teaches is what Jesus, Paul, Peter (etc) taught. Salvation is a gift given to those who repent and believe the Gospel. Anyone who removes repentance from the Gospel is watering down the Gospel.

    Voddie Baucham, speaking at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, made this very point. Read the article at Baptist Press.

    The only people who are eternally secure are those who are following Christ (Jn 10:27-30). If one is not following Christ one is not, and never has been, a believer (Jn 8:31). The Baptist Church, and the church as a whole, must rid itself of easy believism.

    In Christ,
    Martin.
    </font>[/QUOTE]John 8:31 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;

    You are confusing being a disciple with being resurrected on the last day for believing.

    John 6:40 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.
     
  20. swaimj

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    OK, I'll buy that explanation in this instance since I know for a fact that the transcript of J. Mac's appearance on Larry King Live several night's ago had a mistake and put words in Mac's mouth that he did not say. Such things can happen.
     

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