For the doubters, that you may find assurance in Christ, not in your works.
From the Introduction:
David vs Goliath? Auburn vs Alabama? Ali vs Foreman?
Coyote vs Roadrunner? If you’re expecting this book to be an all-out, take-no-prisoners competition with MacArthur, then think again. It’s first and foremost a search for truth.
This book isn’t written to smear John MacArthur. He holds Biblical positions on many important issues, such as on inerrancy (i.e., the view that the Bible has no errors of any kind in it), traditional marriage, verse by verse expository preaching, cessationism (i.e., the view that the signs gifts are not operating today), young earth creation (i.e., the view that the earth and man were created around 4200 BC), the universal Noahic flood (i.e., not a regional flood only), male leadership in the home and local church, elder rule, etc.
MacArthur’s graduate school, The Master’s Seminary, is a fine school. It takes conservative stands on all of the issues just mentioned. Faculty like Robert Thomas (retired), David Farnell, and Dick Mayhew are well known for their defense of the Scriptures.
In many important ways, John MacArthur is a champion for Biblical truth.
However, in The Gospel According to Jesus (TGAJ) MacArthur champions a view called Lordship Salvation. It is the view that in order to have everlasting life one must turn from his sins, submit to Christ’s Lordship, obey Him, and persevere in faith and good works until death.
Lordship Salvation is not a minor issue. It is a major issue. The question of what one must do to have everlasting life is more important than any other (Gal 1:6-9). Proclaiming the right message is a matter of life and death.
So while this book isn’t a competition, we should be like the Bereans who search the Scriptures to evaluate what is true (Acts 17:11). If we are, we will be able to discern what is true and what is false in what we read and hear. That is especially important when it comes to the message of everlasting life.
MacArthur has not always held to Lordship Salvation. The reason that the first edition of The Gospel According to Jesus (TGAJ) was not published before 1988 is because he did not embrace this view until 1980. At that time MacArthur went on a sabbatical and studied the Puritans, the English branch of Calvinism.
The reason why the title for this response to TGAJ is called A Gospel of Doubt is because MacArthur’s Lordship Salvation produces doubt in those who accept its teachings. According to MacArthur’s gospel one cannot be sure of where he will spend eternity until after he dies. It is true, however, that MacArthur, like the Puritan theology he follows, urges people to search their works in hopes of finding reasons to believe they will end up in Jesus’ kingdom. But according to MacArthur that very search produces doubts that one is born again and secure because no one’s works are perfect.
A Gospel of Doubt advocates the same basic view that MacArthur himself held before 1980. Before that time MacArthur said that certainty could be found simply in believing the promise of everlasting life, not in looking at one’s works.
If you appreciate John MacArthur and his views, you should consider the Biblical evidence cited in A Gospel of Doubt. As he himself says, no man is a perfect expositor of God’s Word. No man infallibly proclaims the Word of God. That includes MacArthur and me and every writer and preacher. Only Scripture is without error. I hope you will prayerfully read this book, asking God to show you if your understanding of God’s Word and of the condition for receiving everlasting life are correct.
Video summaries are forthcoming for each chapter: