W Publishing Group (2002)
We live in a day in age when many people find it intolerant and narrow-minded to claim to possess truth. Postmodern thinking reigns and this has had a detrimental effect on the church’s stand on Christ as the only way to God. At one point tolerance was defined by being courteous and respectful to other people’s despite opposing views or thoughts, but now tolerance has morphed into accepting everyone’s views as equal.
The gospel is one which goes against the grain of our culture. It says that Christ is the only way for a sinner to be reconciled to God—all roads don’t lead to God. Pastor John MacArthur briefly examines why the gospel is so intolerant and exclusive.
This book of 74 pages is divided into seven short chapters. MacArthur begins by describing the effects of postmodernism on the church an how commonplace it is for many “Christians” to feel uneasy and even circumvent Christ’s exclusive claims to be the “way, the truth, and the life” (Jn. 14:6a) and that “no one comes to the Father, except through [Him]” (v. 6b) for the sake of “unity”. MacArthur then focuses the remaining six chapters on six key distinctives of Christianity:
These six principles, MacArthur asserts, “build upon one another and interconnect in such a way that they stand or fall together. They give us the necessary framework for thinking, for making sense of the world around us, and for ministering in this postmodern age” (p.17).
- “We need to remember that sinners are not won by clever public relations or the powers of earthly persuasion, but the gospel—an inherently exclusive message—is the power of God unto salvation. . . . We must resist the the tendency to be absorbed into the fads and fashions of worldly thought. We need to emphasize, not downplay, what makes Christianity unique” (pp.x,xi).
- “Biblical truth is objective. It is true by itself. It is true whether or not we feel it’s true. It is true whether or not it has been validated by someone’s experience. It is true because God says it is true. It is wholly true, and it is true down to the smallest jot and tittle. Psalm 119:160 says, ‘The entirety of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever'” (p.27).
- “We must recover our love for biblical truth, as well as our conviction that it is unassailable truth. We have the truth in a world where most people are simply wandering around in hopeless ignorance. We need to proclaim it from the housetops and quit playing along with those who suggest we are being arrogant if we claim to know anything for certain. We do have the truth, not because we are smarter or better than anything else, but because God has revealed it in the Scriptures and has been gracious to open our eyes to see it. We would be sinning if we tried to keep the truth to ourselves” (p.48).
- “That sort of obedience to the Word of God has shaped and molded our ministry over the years. It shows up even in the way we worship. We don’t entertain people. We don’t have a god-and-pony show. We gather to worship God, to exalt Christ, and to hear the Word of God preached. We practice church discipline as outlined in Matthew 18:15-20. We seek to obey what Scripture teaches, no matter how politically incorrect or our of fashion it might seem. And at a time when many churches are becoming more and more like the world, our goal is to be conformed more and more to the standard set forth in the Scriptures” (p.71).
Though not one of my favorite John MacArthur books, I do think it serves as a good introductory work into why Christianity is exclusive in its claims of salvation. If one wants to better handle this increasingly divergent and “hot” issue, then reading this book would suit well.
Recently, Pulpit Magazine did a series where they condensed this book into eight short articles. If one were to get the cliff notes for this book, these would be it:
1. War of the Worldviews (Part 1)
2. War of the Worldviews (Part 2)
3. Truly Objective
4. The Truth is Rational
5. Nothing But The Truth
6. The Final Authority, Period.
7. Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?
8. Making It Practical