A friend named Tom called me today (June 13) and asked me to listen to the Monday, June 12, broadcast of Grace to You by John MacArthur. He said it sounded as if MacArthur had changed and now held the Free Grace position.
I listened to the show, and I see why Tom thought that.
MacArthur was going through the final verses in Romans 8.
At the 7:20 mark, MacArthur asked, “Can the Judaizers go into the church and get the people so messed up that they all abandon grace and run over to law and circumcision and lose their salvation?”
For MacArthur, a failure to persevere would result in one’s not getting into the kingdom. But since he formally believes in eternal security, he answers that no true believer could be misled. Only false professors might abandon grace and run to law.i
Thirty seconds later, starting at 7:50, MacArthur talks about young people who are being taught by atheist professors. Is there a danger there? “What about secular education? What if you have a Christian kid who is truly in Christ and you send him off to the University of Blah Blah Blah and some guy [professor] gets into the classroom and absolutely dissects everything he believes? Can he take away his faith? [NO.] You’d have to be more powerful than God.”
I was amazed at that statement.
In other messages, MacArthur warns believers about the danger of falling away. He urges Christian parents to avoid sending their kids to schools with professors who are hostile to the Bible. He warns church members that they can be duped by false teachers.
Of course, MacArthur is not denying those views in the message Tom heard. He expects his listeners to realize that he is only talking about what God—according to Calvinistic theology—guarantees to the genuine believer. However, since MacArthur teaches that no one can be sure he is a genuine believer, we’d be foolish to go to a cult or send our kids to a school with atheist theology and philosophy professors.
This is one of those Calvinist mysteries. If genuine believers are secure and cannot be misled, why not go to a cult? If I’m misled, I prove I was never born again. If not, I give evidence that I’m born again. Why not go to Harvard Divinity School to get a doctorate? If I’m misled, I prove I was never saved. If not, I get more evidence.
Of course, Calvinists don’t live that way. They fear being led astray. Since Scripture teaches that this is possible, that’s a reasonable fear. However, they do so without assurance of everlasting life. What a terrible way to live.
The truth is that believers are eternally secure even if we fall away. Our eternal destiny is not dependent upon our faithfulness.
Romans 8:31-38 is not a guarantee that believers will not fall away.
i The correct answer is that yes, Judaizers can mislead Christians. See the Book of Galatians. But they can’t cause believers to lose their salvation. Falling away does not undo one’s salvation.