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Faith alone saves, but faith is never alone.,
This review is from: The Gospel According to Jesus (Paperback)
This is not just an exposition of the gospel; what it is attempting to do is 2 Corinathian 10: 5: to destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ. I do not think that lordship salvation is in contradiction with salvation by grace. I think John MacArthur is consistent in what he is teaching us and has not erred. Everything he says in the book is well supported biblically. At the end of the day, what is our standard to settle a controversy about Christianity like this one? We go back to the Bible. I agree with this book, not because it is John MacArthur but because this is what the Bible says in totality. When I was reading the book, I was constantly cross checking it with my critical mind and my knowledge of the Bible. And I come out to say, I agree with what he says. He does not mislead; he invites us to see the truth.
The gospel according to Jesus is an intriguing title. I always saw Jesus as coming to fulfil the gospel, convincing people who He was, setting an example for us, training his disciples, preaching and showing compassion to people. But it never crossed my mind that in what Jesus did and said was the gospel according Him. This to me is a new perspective. And of course, how could we have missed this? The gospel itself is about Jesus, but I never learnt the gospel according to Jesus. The book has reminded me and helped me see why the gate is narrow.
I think John MacArthur is very clear that faith alone saves but works are the manifestation of our faith. It does not mean that we can earn our salvation by works. Jesus is very clear on this: with man this is impossible! (Matthew 19:26) Rather works authenticate our faith. I don't see any contradiction in that at all. If faith is life-UNchanging, why do we bother? If we want to go on with our ways as before, we have not been converted and have not really had the gospel in our life. If we want Jesus never to interfere with our life, what are we confessing? If our heart and mind are not regenerated, we are wasting our life and time. Nothing is worse than a false sense of security in Christ, and this book works very well to dispel any illusion that we may have! It is a very good checkup.
Deuteronomy 29: 18b-20 (NIV) says: make sure there is no root among you that produces such bitter poison. When such a person hears the words of this oath, he invokes a blessing on himself and therefore thinks, "I will be safe, even though I persist in going my own way." This will bring disaster on the watered land as well as the dry. The LORD will never be wiling to forgive him; his wrath and zeal will burn against that man.
At the end of the day God examines our heart. Can we hide from Him? He is not to be manipulated to our benefits, or outwit by us. We hear Him and we better obey. If we don't, we have not really known who He is!
How do we know we are saved then? It is not about whether we have reached the goalpost (in fact we can't reach the goalpost!). It is about fear of God, our heart's longing, and where our eyes are fixing as we run this race of life! Although we will never be perfect, running in the right direction will lead to the process of regeneration and spiritual maturity, and we should see fruits along the way.
As to submitting to Christ's lordship, we may not be able to surrender our all right at the beginning as new Christians, sometimes not because of our stubbornness but our ignorance of our own condition. It is not our own doing either, because it is not natural to us to submit. But God will discipline and work in us as His children and when it comes, we will find that surrendering all to Christ's lordship is the best place to be. That takes maturity but it will certainly come.
This book is clearly argued but it also uses big theological words, which one would struggle if you are not familiar with the theological terminology. I read this book with my children over the course of a year - and of course, they don't understand all the big words. Nonetheless, the children find it helpful to know clearly what they believe.