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The Exclusiveness of the Gospel, Part 1 B

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
January 26, 2022 3:00 am

The Exclusiveness of the Gospel, Part 1 B

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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January 26, 2022 3:00 am

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Grace To You
John MacArthur
Grace To You
John MacArthur
Grace To You
John MacArthur
Grace To You
John MacArthur

Do we have a biblical case for the exclusivism?

and religion. Others hold a narrower, more exclusive view that apart from repentance and faith in Christ, there is no salvation. Many professing Christians today seem to land somewhere in between those two extremes.

But the question is, what is the right view? What does the Bible say? Well, today on Grace to You, John MacArthur is going to take you to the Bible and show you what it says about the people God saves and the people He doesn't. Delivered by God, that's the title of John's study.

And here he is now with today's lesson. It would seem that everybody in evangelical Christianity, everybody who is truly a Christian, would understand that the gospel is the heart of Christianity, that the gospel is found only in the Scripture and that the gospel must be preached to the ends of the earth. The true church has always taught that. We have believed and been compelled by the fact that if people don't hear the gospel, they can't be saved. And if they aren't saved, then they'll spend eternity in hell under the judgment of God.

So it is absolutely critical that the world hear the gospel of Jesus Christ, that they not only hear it but that they understand it accurately, that they believe it, that they embrace it for themselves because it is the only saving truth. But what does the Bible have to say about this? Do we have a biblical case for the exclusivism? Do we have a biblical case for the fact that if you don't know the gospel and if you don't believe in Jesus Christ, you aren't going to heaven?

The answer to that is yes. And we have a biblical case for the fact that natural theology isn't going to get anybody anywhere. And we also have a biblical case that God's mercy is extremely narrow. In fact, if you're looking for the word narrow, you're going to find it in Matthew 7. It is a...what kind of gate?

Narrow gate. So this is a narrow mercy and a supernatural theology. And that's what I want to show you from Scripture.

Now where are we going to start? Well, we're going to start by a general reference, so just sit there, don't get into your Bible right now, just listen for a minute. This is a general reference to Genesis 3, but I don't want you to go there because you'll be looking for verses and I'm not going to refer, I'm only going to do it in a general way. Genesis 3, you know what happened in Genesis 3, right?

Genesis 1 and 2 is creation, Genesis 3 is the fall of man. Man is created in the image of God and then God creates a partner, Eve, so you have Adam and Eve, and they're in a condition of perfection. They have perfect bodies, perfect perfect minds, therefore they have perfect reason, okay? They live in a perfect environment that is not at all skewed and they have a perfect relationship with the Creator. So this is perfection, okay?

We're in the Garden in a perfect environment. They have perfect minds capable of perfect understanding, capable of perfect reason, capable of perfect conclusions, still Adam and Eve in the state of perfection could not on their own understand why they were created. They could understand that they were created and could understand that something more powerful than them created them and something with an immense mind, some being that loved beauty and loved order and loved design and had power and gave life and all of that, but they couldn't know why they were created. They couldn't know what they were to do, what they were not to do, how they were to do it unless there was somebody who told them.

They wouldn't know how to respond to their environment, how to function in the Garden. So God said to them, you can eat everything, otherwise they wouldn't have known that. And He said, don't eat that, if you do, you'll die. And He said, this is your wife, have babies.

And He said, name those animals. That's why they were walking and talking with God in the Garden because God was giving them special revelation about how they were to relate to Him and how they were to relate to their world. Natural theologians should be shocked to discover that Adam couldn't know divine truth by his perfect reason. He couldn't by his own reason, his own perfect intellect, he couldn't have come to know that he was not to eat this and to eat this, that he was to name the animals, etc., etc., that he was to tend the Garden. God had to tell him all of that. Robert Morey says, Adam was not created to be the origin of truth, justice, morals, meaning and beauty. The Creator walked with man in the Garden.

These daily sessions were special revelation. And God told man why He created him and what he was to do in the Garden. He revealed to man what he could and couldn't eat. In other words, God was the origin and source of truth, justice, morals, meaning and beauty. And man's responsibility was to receive what God revealed. Man was not the origin but the receiver of truth. And it's true, Adam and Eve would have known something about God but they wouldn't have known what God wanted from them if He hadn't told them.

We wouldn't even understand man's pre-fall condition. We wouldn't understand his fallen condition if it wasn't for Genesis 1, 2 and 3. Do you know, you can study the religions of the world, the philosophers of the world, the theologians of the world, none of them ever comes up with the right understanding of man's creation and man's depravity.

None of them. They don't ever because you can't get there from depraved reasoning. And remember this, when Satan got in the Garden, perfect man with a perfect mind, perfect understanding, perfect reasoning in that condition, Satan comes in and what does he want Adam and Eve to distrust their reason? He says to them, has God said? You can't trust God's Word. See, what Satan always wants us to do is to distrust special revelation and trust our reason.

And Satan's leading Eve through this little scenario. Finally he says, ah, you're not going to die. You can't believe God.

God lies. God said that? You're going to die? Nah, you're not going to die. You're going to be like God.

He doesn't like that competition. Satan tempted man to trust his reason and reject revelation from the mouth of God. God gave them special revelation, don't eat. Satan said, don't believe what God says, trust your reason. That's essentially what natural theology says.

It's just the lie of Satan in the Garden over and over and over again. You can get there through your reason. Don't worry about the Bible. Don't worry about the gospel.

You don't need that. You can get there you can get there by your own reason. But look, how could fallen man in a cursed world find God's truth by his perverted reason when perfect man in a perfect world couldn't find God with perfect reason? Adam couldn't know what God wanted if God didn't tell him and nobody else can know what God wants if God doesn't tell him. And we're in worse shape than Adam and Eve. And Satan always does the same thing. He always wants to depreciate the special revelation.

What a great strategy. Let's convince the church they don't even need to preach the gospel. Tell me where that came from, heaven. Tell me where that heresy came from. Who has the most at stake to get us to stop preaching the gospel? Well, let's look at Romans 1.

Now just stay with me cause this is very important and I'm going to go through here rapidly. Romans 1, 18 to 23, this is one of those monumental passages in the Bible that's extremely definitive, has far-reaching implications. I want you to see man. This is a view of man. This is a biblical anthropology.

Now let me kind of lay this out. The Bible here is saying that there is evidence about God, verse 19. What is known about God is evident within them and that's through reason.

Reason looks in verse 20 at the creation and says, there must be a Creator. Reason looks at the diversity and says, He must have an immense mind. It looks at the design and says, He's a God of order. Looks at the beauty and says, He's a God of beauty and harmony and all of that. It looks at the vast variety and says, He's a God of immense power and complexity.

Yes, that's true. So, in fact, it's so true, it's so clear that eternal power and divine nature are visible through reason, looking at creation, that it's clearly seen, verse 20. It's clearly seen. You'd have to really do have to commit intellectual suicide to deny that there is a cause for the effect of the universe, that there is a Creator.

So it's just clearly seen and so clearly seen, the end of verse 20, that people have no excuse. You have absolutely no excuse for being an evolutionist, none. It's absolute idiocy.

It's moronic, and he uses the term here for moron, translated fool or foolish. Anybody who sees anything that exists assumes somebody made it and the universe certainly demands a Creator. So he says, God has given man in him reason and reason looks at creation and concludes certain things about the power and nature of the Creator.

And he's without excuse. The problem is this, it doesn't lead him to God, amazingly. It doesn't lead him to God. It does not lead him to the true God.

Why? Back to verse 18. He suppresses the truth in unrighteousness. Man is so wicked, he is so depraved, he is so vile in his nature, he is so ungodly that his depravity negates the possibility of him coming all the way to God on his own natural powers, rather he suppresses the truth. He dishonors the Creator. Look at verse 21. Even though the knowledge of God is obvious around him as Creator, he doesn't know the specifics about God's will or salvation, but at least he can see there's a Creator, but he will not honor Him as a Creator. He will not be thankful to Him.

This is what depraved man does. I mean, you have even Adam doing this, dishonoring God by disobeying God, turning from special revelation to follow his own human reason in an act of pride. But here he says they do not honor God, they do not give thanks to God, they turn away from God, they suppress the truth and so what they come up with is they become futile, that's empty in their speculations. They come up with stupid ideas that aren't true, like evolution, which is a big lie. It's not true for any human philosophy or any false religion. They invent empty human ideas that are not reality and their foolish art goes dark.

There's no light. They end up with nothing but garbled understanding. Verse 22, in their egotism, which is a major part of depravity, they profess to be wise, give themselves Ph.D.s and put on royal and religious robes and cone hats and march around as if they're some great religious wise men. They are fools. They are morons in the Greek.

They are ridiculous. In fact, it doesn't stop there. Verse 23, they exchange the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible men, birds and four-footed animals and snakes and bugs. They make gods out of other things. That's where they end up, worshiping bugs, worshiping men, worshiping whatever.

That's where they go, natural men, that's how he goes. Oh, his reason says there must be a God and his reason says there must be a God, must be a Creator, must be powerful, must be complex. But because they're so wicked, because they're so depraved, they suppress that truth. Because of the love of sin, they suppress that truth.

They can't help but suppress it. They don't have any path to God. They can't get out of their deadness. They're dead in trespasses and sins. They're not alive to God.

They're not alive to reality. In that deadness, the truth is suppressed, righteousness is suppressed and in its place comes the fabrication of false religious systems and empty, stupid philosophies. And the end of all that? What's the end of all that?

What's the end of human philosophy and human religion? You say the grace of God? No. No. Verse 18, what does it say?

For what? The wrath of God. That's the whole point here. What these verses are telling us is that natural man with his natural theology unaided by special revelation winds up inexcusably under divine judgment. It's the wrath of God. It's not the grace of God. You can't go over to some tribe that's worshiping an alligator or something and say, oh, I'm on holy ground, God was here before I arrived, God was not there. God is not there. That is not truth.

That is not reality. That is a refusal to honor the true and living God, the incorruptible God and in His place to stick something else, to fabricate something else, some empty philosophy, some foolish religion or some idol. So that's where natural man goes. Romans 1 is the diagnosis of natural man. He becomes religious but his religion is a descent, not an assent.

It is not an ascent to God, it is a descent from the first recognition of God as Creator of the universe down to a false God being created by their own imagination in the suppression of the truth and the love of their own wickedness. And what happens is they don't end up with the grace of God, they don't end up quote-unquote in the body of Christ by any stretch of the imagination. They end up under the wrath of God. The wrath of Almighty God is judgment...judgment. One other passage I want to show you, 1 Corinthians 1, because it partners with this one and just a brief look at this one. 1 Corinthians 1, what we saw in Romans 1 is that when man attains to his highest level of religious pride, he is a moron. He is a fool under wrath.

It doesn't matter whether his religion is unsophisticated animism or very sophisticated western kind of religion, or eastern kind of religion, he ends up in the same place, he's a fool who thinks he's wise. But let's go beyond that, 1 Corinthians 1 18, for the word of the cross is to those who are perishing...what? You see, these fools think that what we preach is foolish.

They think that the cross is foolish. But to us who are being saved, it's the power of God. And here comes another judgment and this is a verse taken from Isaiah chapter 29 and verse 14, for it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and the cleverness of the clever I will set aside. Both of those destroy and set aside, speak of sort of a final judgment, execution. God says, go ahead, line up the wisest of the wise, line up the cleverest of the clever and I'll cut them down. Again, what happens to people who achieve religious wisdom, who achieve a high level of rational understanding of quote-unquote God and things spiritual? What happens is God's going to cut them down. It's the same thing as the wrath of Romans 1 18, here it's destruction and setting aside, making into nothing. And then verse 20 says, where is the wise man going to be?

This is almost sarcasm. Then where is the scribe going to be, the one who spent his whole life fastidiously writing out religious things? Where is the debater of this age, the person who could stand up and debate his philosophy and his theology? God, has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? They're not going to get graced. Do you get the point?

You're going to get cut down. And the reason is in verse 21. This is the key. For since in the wisdom of God, by God's wisdom, the world through its wisdom did not come to know God.

Mark that down, underline that. You can't get there from here. The world at its best, at its highest point of religious achievement and intellectual achievement, the world at its wisest level can't come to know God. That's what it says.

Can't do it. And then the end of verse 21, God was pleased through the foolishness of the message preached. What message? The gospel to save those who believe. The message goes back to the message of the cross in verse 18. The only way you're going to get saved is by believing the message of the cross.

That's the only way. It was God's plan that the world through its wisdom couldn't come to know Him. I'll say it again, you can't get to God from here by your own wisdom, rationality, religiosity, philosophy. But God was pleased through the foolishness of the message, the message of the cross, Christ, His death, His resurrection to save those who what? Who believe. And it's not believe in anything but believe in that. And the gospel of the cross is not a product of human reason, it's a revelation. It's a revelation. Where do you go for the revelation of the cross?

Right here. Isn't this what explains it? Oh, Satan loves to come into the garden today and pull people over and say, you don't don't really think you should believe what special revelation from God says? Trust your own reason.

Trust your own reason. That's what these theologians are doing. They're just following Satan. Only the message of the cross can save anything else is moriah, moronic. Jeremiah 8, 9 says, the wise men are put to shame.

They are dismayed and caught. Behold, they have rejected the Word of the Lord. And what kind of wisdom do they have? You reject the revealed Word of God. You reject special revelation. You reject the Word of the Lord. And what kind of wisdom have you got?

Well, James answers the question. James 3.15, the wisdom that doesn't come down from above is demonic. Pretty straight, isn't it? It's not just wrong. It's not just foolish. It's demonic. Listen, if it doesn't come down from above, it comes up from below. And that's why Paul down in chapter 2, verse 2...well, verse 1, verse 1, when I came to you, brethren, I didn't come with superiority of speech or wisdom, I didn't come with human ideas or reason.

Verse 2, I determined to know nothing among you except what? Christ. He said, that's all I wanted to say.

Why? Because that's the only message that does what? That saves. That's the only message to preach because that's the only way of salvation. When I brought to you the testimony of God, when I unfolded for you the mystery of God, what had been hidden and is now revealed, when I brought to you the Word of God, it was all about Jesus and Him crucified because it's only by believing that that God is well pleased to save. So now where are the wise men? Nowhere.

Where are the scribes? Absolutely nowhere. You can't get to God through your own system. If you reject Jesus Christ, you can't get there. And you're never going to get there until you hear the message.

You see, that's why we've been doing this for all these years. That's why for two thousand years, people have been going to the ends of the earth with the message of Christ because this is what we know the Bible teaches. Natural man, left to himself, ends up under the wrath of God, ends up, as 1 Corinthians says, under destruction who is nothing but a fool. And take the wisest of the wise, he says in verse 19, and take the cleverest of the clever and I'll wipe them all out.

It doesn't get you there. So no person by natural reason, no person by religious intuition could come to know the truth of God. The only way you'll ever know the saving truth of God is by special revelation and that's the Bible and the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Anybody who says people are saved by Hinduism or by any other religion, anybody who says people are in the body of Christ and are Christians and in the Kingdom and going to heaven who do not believe in Jesus Christ is not telling you the truth. That's not what the Bible says. Lord, we are again made aware sadly of what must break Your heart because it breaks ours.

How much more profoundly do You feel the pain of dishonor? But, Lord, we just want to get the record straight and make sure that we have been faithful to discharge our responsibility and You told us to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature, so we want to make sure we understand the gospel and that we keep going and we don't let these lies and these deceptions and these heresies attack Your glorious work. Protect Your church, protect Your people and keep faithful men who preach the truth in the places of influence and may Your people hear and understand the truth.

Give them discernment so they can sort it out. Give them a love for Your Word so that they have the criteria by which to be discerning and help us, Lord, to be faithful, to share the gospel with everybody comes across our path knowing there is no other way to heaven except through faith in the message of Jesus Christ and His cross. And may we preach the cross like Paul, determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. We ask these things in His name. Amen. This is Grace to You with John MacArthur.

Thanks for being with us. John's current study is looking at God's sovereignty and salvation and the joys that come with being delivered by God. John, although Scripture is absolutely clear that salvation is through Christ and Him alone, it's possible to believe that and still have sincere questions about the implications of that truth. And in fact, we heard from a man on our Q&A line who asked a really good question that I'm sure many people have wondered about. So listen to this caller's question, and then John, you can respond.

My name is Darrell, and I'm calling from Tampa, Florida. Concerning the doctrine of election, I was wondering, tribes of people like the Aztec, the Inca, the Maya, how would they factor into that doctrine? At the time of Christ, there were no missionaries who came to the Americas. How would they fit into that doctrine?

Thank you. Well, Darrell, I understand that question, and I understand the heart behind that question. And because we don't have time to delve into that in significant depth, which it deserves, the simple answer, Darrell, to your question is no one goes to hell who doesn't deserve hell, and no one goes to heaven who isn't chosen by God. The tension in those realities is obviously probably the most familiar question that I'm ever asked throughout my entire ministry. How does human responsibility and divine election go together?

That deserves careful thought, but let me simplify it by saying this. The Bible teaches both, and you've got to come to the conviction that people go to hell because they reject Christ, and they go to heaven because they receive Christ. But behind the scenes, the elective purpose of God is at work. Thanks, John. And friend, if you are looking for help communicating the gospel effectively or explaining why Christ is the only path to salvation, John has written a book that can be a big help. It's a little book titled Why One Way.

It's affordably priced. You can order your copy today. This book is a compelling wake-up call to having confidence in the power of God's truth, and to proclaim boldly that Christ, He alone, is the only hope for this world.

Again, this hardcover book costs $10, and shipping is free. To order, call toll-free anytime, 800-55-GRACE, or you can go online to That's our website, Remember, while you're there, you will find thousands of free Bible study resources. If there is a passage in the New Testament that has always confused you, or you simply want to know more about it, John has a sermon on it. Or you can check out our blog. Our recent series have covered the superiority of Christ and how you can thrive even when the church is persecuted. You'll find those resources and thousands of others at our website, Also, if you have benefited from John's current radio study, let a friend know about it and encourage him or her to tune in to Grace To You on this station. Now, for John MacArthur, I'm Phil Johnson, reminding you to watch Grace To You television this Sunday, and be here tomorrow for another 30 minutes of unleashing God's truth, one verse at a time, on Grace To You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-17 16:00:57 / 2023-06-17 16:11:13 / 10

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