23 April 2014

"Make a Decision" to Get the Gospel Right

Dr. John MacArthur
The gospel in vogue today holds forth a false hope to sinners. It promises them that they can have eternal life yet continue to live in rebellion against God. Indeed, it encourages people to claim Jesus as Savior yet defer until later the commitment to obey Him as Lord. It promises salvation from hell but not necessarily freedom from iniquity. It offers false security to people who revel in the sins of the flesh and spurn the way of holiness. By separating faith from faithfulness, it teaches that intellectual assent is as valid as wholehearted obedience to the truth.

Thus the good news of Christ has given way to the bad news of an insidious easy-believism that makes no moral demands on the lives of sinners. It is not the same message Jesus proclaimed.

This new gospel has spawned a generation of professing Christians whose behavior is indistinguishable from the rebellion of the unregenerate. . . .

The church's witness to the world has been sacrificed on the altar of cheap grace. Shocking forms of open immorality have become commonplace among professing Christians. And why not? The promise of eternal life without surrender to divine authority feeds the wretchedness of the unregenerate heart. Enthusiastic converts to this new gospel believe their behavior has no relationship to their spiritual status—even if they continue wantonly in the grossest kinds of sin and expressions of human depravity.

. . . Why should we assume that people who live in an unbroken pattern of adultery, fornication, homosexuality, deceit, and every conceivable kind of flagrant excess are truly born again?

Yet that is exactly the assumption Christians of this age have been taught to make. They  have been told that the only criterion for salvation is knowing and believing some basic facts about Christ. They hear from the beginning that obedience is optional. It follows logically, then, that someone's one-time profession of faith is more valid than the evidence of that person's ongoing lifestyle in determining whether to embrace him or her as a true believer. The character of the visible church reveals the detestable consequence of this theology.

As a pastor I regularly rebaptize people who once "made a decision," were baptized, yet experienced no change. They come later to true conversion and seek baptism again as an expression of genuine salvation. . . .

. . . The doctrine of salvation is basic to all we teach. We cannot confidently point people to the way of life unless we get the gospel right.

– John MacArthur, The Gospel According to Jesus, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008), 19–22).

Further Reading
Ten Minutes with John MacArthur
John MacArthur on the New Birth
So You Call Yourself a Christian?

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