The Gospel According to Paul: Embracing the Good News at the Heart of Paul’s Teachings by John MacArthur. Thomas Nelson. 256 pages. 2017
I can’t think of anyone else that I would rather have write on the Gospel than John MacArthur. The 77-year-old pastor has faithfully served his church for more than 48 years. This is his third book in his The Gospel According To series, with previous books from the perspectives of Jesus and the Apostles.
The author writes that Paul was unlike any of the other apostles with his intelligence and academic credentials. Paul wrote more New Testament books than any other author. He consistently explained and defended the Gospel in his writings.
The author states that next to Jesus, Paul is the model for his pastoral ministry. Paul encourages us to imitate him and he imitated Christ.
The author reviews attacks on the Gospel (lordship salvation, etc.) he has addressed in some of his previous books. This book looks at the Gospel as Paul proclaims it in his writings; it also includes four appendices.
The author writes that the Gospel is under attack in our culture. It is also very much misunderstood by many. Most, if not all other religions besides Christianity, are works-based. They are about what we need to do. On the other hand, the Gospel is what God has already done for sinners. The Gospel is good news for sinners who can’t save themselves. But we first have to recognize that we are sinners and the helpless state of fallen humanity.
Paul has written that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. He also wrote that no one seeks after God. Yet many churches continue to design their worship experiences for the “seeker”.
Given sin, how can a man be made right with God? The author states that the Gospel is the answer to that question.
The author goes over Paul’s writing on justification by faith alone (Sola Fide), and that Christians are justified by grace through faith. Justification is a gift. Grace is why the Gospel is such good news.
The author discusses penal substitutionary atonement, which some liberal theologians find abhorrent. He writes about the Great Exchange (2 Corinthians 5:21) and the offense of the cross.
The author writes about the sovereignty of God in salvation, and that our salvation is entirely God’s work. Christ’s righteousness is imputed to sinners. Christ is our perfect substitute.
He also writes about such weighty topics as election, legalism and antinomianism in a manner that laypeople can easily understand them.
- What I’m Reading. I found it interesting to see what Russell Moore has been reading lately.
- 2017 Summer Reading List for Christians. David Qaoud shares 10 summer book recommendations. I’ve read most of these and have Reset and 12 Ways Your Smartphone is Changing You on my summer reading list.
- A Stack of Books for the Season: Summer Reading List for 2017. Albert Mohler shares his summer reading list. He writes “The following is my list of ten recommended books for summer reading. This list must be seen for what it is — a recommendation of ten books I am eager to recommend — books that I found thought-provoking and fun. My summer list tends, quite naturally, to reveal what I most enjoy reading in the season. As usual, the list is weighted towards history and historical biography.”
- What’s the Point of Your New Trilogy of Books? In this episode of the “Ask Pastor John” podcast, John Piper answers a question about his new trilogy of books on the Bible.
- 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You. Kevin Halloran reviews Tony Reinke’s new book 12 Ways Your Smartphone is Changing You. He writes that this “is a book most of us need and some of us need desperately.”
- Life After the Dash from Zero to 2 Billion. Andy Crouch reviews Tony Reinke’s 12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You and Donna Freitas’s The Happiness Effect: How Social Media Is Driving a Generation to Appear Perfect at Any Cost.
- 4 Cultural Factors That Contribute to Our Epidemic of Burnout. Watch this two-minute video from David Murray, author of Reset: Living a Grace-Paced Life in a Burnout Culture.
- Review of Reset by David Murray. Mike Leake writes “Reset is convicting, balanced, grounded in the Word, but more than anything it is incredibly specific and practical.”
- A Little Book on the Christian Life: A Live Interview with Burk Parsons. Watch this conversation with Nathan Bingham and Burk Parsons as they discuss the new book Dr. Parsons coedited and co-translated,
A Little Book on the Christian Life by John Calvin. Here how the truths Calvin distilled in this classic work can serve to encourage and equip a new generation of Christians.
- The Money Challenge. Tim Challies reviews Art Rainer’s new bookThe Money Challenge. He writes “The Money Challenge is an excellent, short, readable introduction to a biblical view of financial management.”
- Are We Living in the Last Days? David Mathis writes “God calls his church, in every generation, to live in light of this remarkable truth: nothing now stands in the way of Jesus’s return. After his perfect life, sacrificial death for us, resurrection from the grave, and ascension to heaven to pour out his Spirit on his church, the next major movement in the history of the world is the second coming of Christ.”
- Why We Can’t Choose God. Watch this less than three-and-a-half-minute video clip from R.C. Sproul’s Knowing Christ teaching series, in which he explains why we can’t choose God, even though we have free will.
- Seven Leaders. Tim Challies reviews Iain Murray’s new book Seven Leaders. He writes “You know the rule with Iain Murray’s books, right? If he writes it, you read it! You can simply never go wrong. The rule proves itself true once again with his newest work,Seven Leaders.”
BOOK CLUBS – Won’t you read along with us?
Studies in the Sermon on the Mount by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
This book made a significant impact on my wife Tammy when she read and discussed it with friends thirty years ago. When I picked up my diploma the day after graduation ceremonies from Covenant Seminary last year I was given a copy of this book. After enjoying Lloyd-Jones book Spiritual Depression (and the sermons the book was taken from), I couldn’t wait to read this book, which is the printed form of sermons preached for the most part on successive Sunday mornings at Westminster Chapel in London.
This week we look at Chapter 17 from Volume 2, “Spiritual Judgment and Discrimination”:
- Our Lord tells us that we must not judge in the sense of condemning; but He reminds us here that that is not the total statement with regard to this matter. In order to have a right balance and a complete statement on the subject, this further observation is essential.
- I am never tired of pointing out that a detailed, microscopic study of any one section of Scripture is generally much more profitable than a telescopic view of the whole Bible; because if you make a thorough study of any one section, you will find that you will meet all the great doctrines sooner or later.
- We must have a spirit of discrimination. We must be able to recognize motes and beams and to discriminate between person and person.
- Our Lord now proceeds to instruct us with regard to the whole question of dealing with people, handling them, and discriminating between person and person. And He does it in these words: `Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.’
- The best way to approach the problem is to look at it first of all in the light of our Lord’s own practice. What did He Himself do? How did He Himself implement this particular teaching? The answer of Scripture is that He very clearly differentiated between person and person and type and type.
- Our Lord, when dealing with people in terms of the same truth, dealt with them in different ways and accommodated His way of teaching to the person. He did not vary the truth, but He varied the particular method of presentation, and that is what you will find as you read the four Gospels.
- What does it mean to us? First and foremost it means that we must recognize the different types and persons, and we must learn to discriminate between them.
- The second principle is that we must not only learn to distinguish between one type and another; we must also become expert in knowing what to give to each type.
- Our third principle is that we should be very careful as to theway in which we present the truth.
- There is one final principle under this heading. It is that we must learn to know which particular aspect of the truth is appropriate in particular cases. This means that in the case of an unbeliever we should never present to him anything but the doctrine of justification by faith only. We should never discuss any other doctrine with an unbeliever.
- There is not a single statement in Scripture that gives a more awful picture of the devastating effect of sin upon man as this verse. The effect of sin and evil upon man as the result of the Fall is to make us, with respect to the truth of God, dogs and swine.
- Then there is a second matter; the nature of the truth.
- The question we must ask ourselves is, am I growing in my knowledge?
- `Let us go on unto perfection’ and try to develop an appetite for these deeper aspects of truth.
- Is there, I wonder, a query, a question, perhaps a warning, in this verse regarding the indiscriminate distribution of the Scriptures?
- The way of God has always been the presenting of the truth immediately through personality, man expounding the Scriptures.
- The query I am raising has reference to the indiscriminate placing of the Bible where there is no-one to explain it, and where a man, in the condition described by our Lord in the verse of our text, is facing this great and mighty truth without a human guide.
- The mere distribution of Scripture as such is not the key to the solution of the problem today.
- God still needs men and women like ourselves to expound, to explain the truth, to act as a Philip to those who have the Word but cannot understand it.