Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Ashamed of the Gospel: Excerpts

The following are excerpts from John MacArthur's book "Ashamed of the Gospel." I feel like so much of what is written about in this book really gets to the issues of today within evangelicalism. Read for yourself and ask yourself if you see these trends in your own church.

"This ideas that you are going to win people to the Christian faith by showing them that after all you are remarkably like them, is theologically and psychologically a profound blunder." (preface)

"The Great Commission is not a marketing manifesto. Evangelism does not require salesman, but prophets. It is the Word of God, not any earthly enticement, that plants the seed for the new birth (1 Peter 1:23). We gain nothing but God's displeasure if we seek to remove the offense of the cross (cf Gal. 5:11)." (preface)

"Size does not signify God's blessing. And popularity is no barometer of success. In fact, it can be a reason for condemnation.......Real success is doing the will of God regardless of the consequences." (pg. 29)

"His (Paul's) goal as a preacher was not to entertain people with his rhetorical style, or to amuse them with cleverness, humor, novel insights, or sophisticated methodology-he simply preached Christ crucified.......The preacher's task is not to be a conduit for human wisdom; he is God's voice to speak to the congregation." (pg. 32)

"But people's deepest need is to confess and overcome their sin. So preaching that fails to confront and correct sin through the Word of God does not meet people's need. It may make them feel good. And they may respond enthusiastically to the preacher, but that does not mean such preaching meets real needs." (pg 34)

 "Evangelicalism has lost its tolerance for confrontive preaching. Now the church is flirting with serious doctrinal error. Christians madly pursue extra biblical revelation in the form of prophecies and dreams. Preachers deny or ignore the reality of hell. The modern gospel promises heaven apart from holiness. Churches ignore the biblical teaching on women's roles, homosexuality, and other politically-charged issues. The human medium has overtaken the divine message." (36-37)

"If the design is to make the seeker comfortable, isn't that rather incompatible with the biblical teaching on sin, judgment, hell, and several other important topics? So the biblical message is inevitably distorted by the philosophy. And what about the believer who should be fed?" (pg48)

"The contemporary user-friendly movement aims for just hte opposite. Rather than arousing fear of God, it attempts to portray Him as fun, jovial, easygoing, lenient, and even permissive. Haughty sinners who ought to approach God in terror (Luke 18:13) are emboldened to presume on His grace. Sinners hear nothing of divine wrath. This is as wrong as preaching rank heresy." (pg 63)

"Now evangelicals everywhere are franctically seeking new techniques and new forms of entertainment to attract people. Whether the method is biblical or not scarcely seems to matter to the average church leader today. Does it work? That is the new test of legitimacy. And so raw pragmatism has become the driving force in much of the professing church." (pg71)

"We don't need clever approaches to get people saved ( 1 Cor. 1:21). We simply need to get back to preaching the truth and planting the seed. If we're faithful in that, the soil God has prepared will bear fruit." (pg 86)

"Many professing Christians appear to care far more about the world's opinion than God's. Churches are so engrossed in trying to please non-Christians that many have forgotten their first duty is to please God (2 Cor. 5:9). The church has been so over-contextualized that it has become corrupted by the world." (pg102)

"Human wisdom caters to self-will, intellectual and social pride, fleshly lusts, and the desire for independence from God. Human wisdom and the gospel are therefor constitutionally imcompatiable. Try to combine the two, and Paul says you render the gospel null and void." (pg 111)

"The gospel demands that people acknowledge their sin and spiritual impotence. It humiliates them, convicts them, and calls them sinners. Moreover, it offers salvation as a gracious work of God-not something people can accomplish on their own. In every way the cross crushes human pride." (pg 111)

"Paul would not have been able to understand preachers who, given the privilege of preaching the gospel, choose instead to entertain people, tell anecdotes, or give speeches on self-esteem. He was ready to suffer persecution, be beaten, go to prison, or even be killed for the privilege of preaching the gospel." (pg126)

"The gospel itself is disagreeable, unattractive, repulsive, and alarming to the world. It exposes sin, condemns pride, convicts the unbelieving heart, and shows human righteousness-even the best, most appealing aspects of human nature-to be worthless, defiled, filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). It affirms that the real problems in life are not because of anyone but ourselves. We are fallen sinners, with deceitful hearts, evil motives, pervasive pride. We cannot blame anyone else for our future and misery. That is not a popular view, particularly in today's psychological climate. It comes as bad news to those who love sin, and many who hear it for the first time react with disdain against the messenger." (pg 128)

"If church history teaches us anything, it is that different times and different societies do not require different messages. Those who peach anything other than the unadulterated gospel forfeit the power of God in their ministries." (Pg 134)

"Faith in God's absolute sovereignty would deliver the church from the down-grade of pragmatism and worldliness. It would drive us back to biblical preaching. If preachers only had confidence in God's power and God's Word, they would not feel it necessary to trim and adjust and tone down the message. They would not view evangelism as a marketing problem, but they would see it for what it is-the proclamation of divine revelation as the only means by which God calls the elect to Himself." (pg 172)

"We don't want growth that is manufactured by human formulas, programs, and gimmicks. We are content to focus on aggressive biblical ministry and leave it to the Lord to add to His church (Acts 2:47). Our task is to be faithful in what He has designed for us to do." (pg174)

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