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Deliverance: From Sin to Righteousness, Part 2

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
March 1, 2023 3:00 am

Deliverance: From Sin to Righteousness, Part 2

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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March 1, 2023 3:00 am

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The evangelical church is progressing down away from the heights of truth and the honor of God. It is willingly abandoning its discernment, willingly abandoning Bible exposition. Welcome to Grace To You with John MacArthur.

I'm your host, Phil Johnson. There have been plenty of evangelical leaders, names you would probably recognize, who have taught that Christianity isn't much different from other religions. Basically, they've said you don't have to change how you think and how you live when you become a Christian. It's okay to hold on to unbiblical views about God and salvation as long as you're sincere. But is the definition of Christianity really that hazy, that imprecise? What does it mean to be a Christian? What does the Bible say? John MacArthur helps answer those questions today as he continues his current study on grace to you titled, Delivered by God.

And now here's John with the lesson. We have been studying on the subject of deliverance, the neglected doctrine. It has been of grave concern to me that the evangelical church has seemingly been willing and content to abandon sound doctrine. I'm not talking about liberal churches, I'm talking about those that would be confessedly evangelical. Many popular evangelical leaders and writers, pastors, professors, people who are the influencers are content with a lack of discernment as if it were some spiritual virtue.

They have entered upon what I suppose if we were living in Spurgeon's time would be called a downgrade. The church is on a slippery slope. The evangelical church is progressing down away from the heights of truth and the honor of God. It is willingly abandoning its discernment, willingly abandoning Bible exposition and therefore a deep and accurate understanding of truth. And in so doing, it is moving away from what glorifies God because what glorifies God is the exposition of Scripture.

Let me tell you very simply why. In the Bible, God is revealed. God's glory is on display through the biblical record. God puts Himself on display in Scripture. The preacher then has one clear, compelling duty and that is to display the glory of God by the exposition of Scripture. I'll say that again, the preacher has one clear, compelling duty to display the glory of God by the exposition of Scripture. When you exposit the Word of God, you wind up teaching sound doctrine, truth. And when the truth is understood and the truth is known, God is therefore displayed in that truth.

The revelation of Scripture is the truth and it is the truth of God which is the very nature and essence of God. So I say again, the preacher has one clear, compelling duty and that is to display the glory of God by the exposition of Scripture. That's not what's going on in evangelicalism today. People are moving away from Bible preaching and Bible teaching and Bible exposition. They're moving away from an interest in sound doctrine, an interest in definitive truth.

They are embracing anything and everything that nominally identifies itself as Christian. And the church will continue to do this until someone or someones hold up the Word of God. The Word, you see, faithfully, the Word accurately and the Word relentlessly brings to people the true majesty of God.

And with it comes true understanding. Any preacher who doesn't do this has failed in his responsibility before God. My task as a preacher is very simple. I am expected to teach the deep things of Scripture so that I can lift you to the heights of praise. So the preacher's responsibility is to dispense the truth. And in unfolding the truth of the Word of God, going deep into the truth of the Word of God, God's glory is revealed. And when God's glory is revealed, God's people praise Him.

So the preacher goes down, takes his people up, down into the depth of truth that they might be elevated to the heights of praise. I only have one tool. Can you imagine a profession with only one tool? I only have one tool.

Just one. Scripture. It's the only tool. There's a popular book written by a well-known pastor that advocates the fact that the gospel is in the stars, that the whole gospel, including justification, is revealed in the constellations. In the book, he says that God preached the gospel in the stars to Adam even before he fell. This is nothing new.

This has been advocated in years past. It surprises me that a man who knows theology well would write a book like that because that is a flat denial of sola scriptura. Listen, I only have one tool and it's not the stars. It's this book. God has revealed all divine truth in one book of which He is the author. Divine truth is not in a church, it's not in a denomination, it's not an experience, it's not in somebody's intuition, and it's not in the stars. It's in a book, the Bible.

Every time the church has wandered away from this, it has been fraught with disaster. Martin Luther said God spoke only in the book and all divine truth is confined to the book. And he said it's the book alone. And next to Jesus and the Apostle Paul, Martin Luther was the most divisive man that ever came along in the Christian faith.

He created a massive rift which separated those who believed the book from those who were caught up in system. It was the conviction that God spoke only in the book that produced the Reformation. It was then once Martin Luther had come to the conviction that the truth was in the book, he went into the book and he found the truth and it was justification by grace through faith alone, wasn't it?

He didn't have to pay any attention to what the council said, it was all in the book and the book's clear. In 1539, Luther commented on Psalm 119, he wrote this, in this Psalm, David always says that he will speak, think, talk, hear, read, day and night and constantly but about nothing else than God's Word. And Luther called it the external Word, like that.

It's outside of us. And Luther said, the saving, sanctifying, illuminating Word is the external Word. What did he mean by that? He meant that it's outside of us, like God is outside of us. You can't invent God and you can't invent truth. God isn't the product of your imagination. God isn't the product of your fantasy. God isn't the product of your experience. God isn't the product of your intuition. God is not the product of your existentialism. God is God and He's outside of you, not subject to your tampering. God is not a clay toy, you can shape any way you like. And so the Bible is outside of you, it is external. You can take it, you can leave it, you can't tamper with it. You can't make it other than it is and you can't make it say other than it says.

It is a book, it is a fixed book with fixed letters and fixed words and fixed sentences. This was Luther's great conviction that changed the world. Luther said with resounding forcefulness in 1545, which was the year before he died, he said, let the man who would hear God speak read Holy Scripture. You know, there are books just flooding the Christian world today about how to listen for the voice of God, training yourself to listen for the voice of God, learning how to hear God's voice. Let me tell you something. You want to hear God? Read the book.

Stand around and listen and who knows what you're going to hear? Whatever it is, it won't be God. So what is the task of the preacher? John Piper says, a large and central part of our work is to wrestle God's meaning from the book. That's right. Luther in 1533 said, the Word of God is the greatest, most necessary, most important thing in Christendom.

It is. I'll tell you what, you turn away from the book and you have endless problems. You turn away from the book and Jesus becomes a clay toy, you can shape Him any way you want. Truth becomes a clay toy, you can shape it any way you want. John Piper says, Luther had one weapon to rescue Christ from being sold in the markets of Wittenberg. He drove out the money changers, the indulgent sellers with the whip of the external Word, the book, end quote. See, people want to reinvent Jesus, shape Him any way they want. They want to come up with their own view of truth, shape it any way they want.

The book doesn't let you do that. Our faith is rooted in a decisive revelation in history called the Bible. And as a pastor, as a preacher, as a minister, I have one job. I'm a broker of the book, the Word of God transmitted in a book.

Fundamentally I am a reader and I am a teacher and I am a proclaimer of the book. I have to feed you the book, the truth of the book. As much as I am faithful to that, I discharge my duty before God.

As much as I am unfaithful to that, I fail in my responsibility and I incur serious accountability before God. I want to take you down into the richness of the Word so that you can go high to the heights of praise. And when people grasp the deep truth of Scripture, they begin to grasp the high majesty of God. I look at the evangelical church today and I see shallowness, indifference toward Scripture, truth is a problem because they see it as divisive.

I see because of that, they don't know the depth of truth, they also don't know the glory of God. David Wells writing In No Place for Truth, his wonderful book said, It is this God, majestic and holy in His being, who has disappeared from the modern evangelical world. And Leslie Newbingen wrote, I suddenly saw that someone could use all the language of evangelical Christianity and yet the center was fundamentally the self and God is auxiliary to that, end quote. This modern evangelical drift puts man at the center of everything. More important than the Scriptures and more important than God. When that happens, what can change that is to confront it. And that's really why I have been addressing this. I don't know anything else to do other than what Luther did and what John Calvin did and what Spurgeon did and what others have done in history.

You just have to take it head on and say it the way it is. I've been doing some reading in the life of Calvin and Luther and other Reformers, trying to understand how it was that they had such a massive influence. When you think of those kinds of names, you think, well they must have been strong personalities, they must have been gifted leaders, etc., etc. As you study their lives, what you find out is that they were absolutely indefatigable and relentless expositors of Scripture. And they took every single opportunity that ever came their way to exposit the Word of God before people and the Word of God was what caused things to change. As people came under the powerful, clear preaching of the depth of truth, they became consumed with the glory of God, they became discerning and they saw error for what it was and truth for what it was and they made right choices. Benjamin Warfield, the great Princeton theologian who had a great ministry in my life long after his death, when I was a seminary student and read the inspiration and authority of Scripture, Warfield said of John Calvin that no man ever had a profounder sense of God than he. He said that in his work on Calvin and Augustine. He said no man ever had a profounder sense of God than John Calvin. And where did John Calvin get that profound sense of God?

He got it out of Scripture. John Calvin spent his life studying the Scripture. He spent his life as an expositor of Scripture. People assume John Calvin was some kind of a theologian. Well he was a theologian, but he was a theologian who had a right to be a theologian because he was an expositor. His theology was the product of his Bible exposition. Through Calvin, sound Reformed theology, theology of the Reformation took hold, found its roots and with that deep theology came the product of that theology which was high praise.

Many of the songs and hymns that we sing that are the most beloved and the most rich and deep were written by those who were Reformers, Puritans. Did you know John Calvin only preached Bible exposition and God used him to change the face of the world? He went into Geneva in 1536 and he did Bible expositions until 1564 with a three-year banishment that I'll mention in a moment. But he preached the exposition of Scripture.

I've stood in the's almost like a chapel, it's a consistory they call it, next to the St. Peter's Church where Calvin preached on the Lord's Day and he preached in this little chapel every day and he did exposition of Scripture. And he had five guys sitting on the front row and they wrote down everything he said, all five of them collectively would get it, put it all together and give it back to him to edit and that's how he produced commentaries and day after day after day he would teach, expositing the Scripture. R. L. Dabney writes, all the leading Reformers whether in Germany, Switzerland, England or Scotland were constant preachers and their sermons were prevalently expository. That means to...exposit means to explain the meaning of Scripture. So he says, we consume with safety that the instrumentality to which the spiritual power of the great revolution of the Reformation was mainly due was the restoration of scriptural preaching. Dabney also points out that what happens in history is sort of a three-step downgrade and we're watching it happen right now. There is a time in the church, he calls it the Golden Age, when the truth of God is preached from the Word of God.

Okay? That's the Golden Age. When men exposit the Scripture. I grew up in a time like that.

I grew up in a time like that. Bible exposition was flourishing. Bible exposition is what people did.

Not anymore. Oh the evangelicals say there's a second step, they don't know this, but Dabney says there's a second step. The evangelicals say, well we still believe biblical truth. We still believe sound doctrine. We're still evangelical. But we just think the Bible is archaic and people don't identify with it and it's boring. So we've taken the truth and we've put it in some cultural context that people can identify with that communicate better. And it's still the truth and we believe the truth and the Bible is so old and it's stuffy and people just don't relate to it and so we still hold to the truth and we just give it new clothes. That's the transition, folks.

That's the transition from the Golden Age. First you preach the truth of God from the Word of God. That's the dress that God put on it. That's the way He clothed it and God knows what is best for the soul and the spirit and the mind of a man who is under the convicting influence of the Holy Spirit, right?

So He knows what truth comes to a man most powerfully in the working of the Holy Spirit and that's why He put it in the Bible the way He put it. But maybe people think they know better than God, so they take the truths of Scripture out of the Scripture, put them in another dress, clothe them differently in order to remove the stigma of the Bible, the offense of the Bible, and somehow think they can get through to the culture in a sort of a soft sell way. And they have basically set the Bible aside because they think it's sort of embarrassing.

Dabney says, this is the transition stage. In this, the doctrine taught is still that of Scripture but their relations are molded into conformity with the prevalent human dialectics and God's truth is now shorn of a part of its power over the soul. Third step, well you know, the Bible was offensive, we got rid of that.

Now we find that the doctrine is also offensive, so we get rid of that too. And then Dabney pleads, may we ever be content to exhibit Bible doctrine in its own Bible dress. And that's why, you see, I say that if people would just start preaching the Bible, the Bible would provide clarity, it would provide discernment, it would provide understanding, it would provide profundity and also lift people to the heights of transcendent praise. The Bible forms the whole content of our preaching.

It's a one-tool profession, as I said. God set forth all its truths in such contexts and such proportions and such relations as He knows suit the soul and mind of man best when under the influence of the Holy Spirit no other forms of truth are as good. I just hate to see people beginning to say, well, you know, we still believe the truth but we don't teach it from the Bible because people don't accept that.

Well, if you got rid of the Bible because they didn't like it, why are you going to hold on to the truth when you find out they don't like that either? I don't think you can do ministry without a radical commitment to the Bible. I mean a radical commitment to the Bible. I'm viewed as a radical. I'm viewed as a non-intellectual, sort of a low-level Christian pastor because I'm not open to every view of everything. I'm seen as anti-intellectual.

That's fine, I really don't care. My intellect can only function effectively for the honor of God in one way and that is if I use it to come to an understanding of Scripture and then communicate it to you. Whether or not I understand every wrong view is not relevant. I don't think you can do ministry in this climate today the way God wants it done without a radical commitment to the Bible. And I say radical because it's resisted even within the framework of evangelicalism. And as I said before, the meaning of Scripture is the Scripture. As you clear the fog and reveal the meaning, that is the Scripture and that's the truth of God and that puts God on display and that gives people discernment and gives the church power. Without a deep grasp of biblical truth, there's no discernment and with no discernment then you just can't tell who's a Christian and who's not. So Satan comes into the church, comes into the leadership, comes in to teach at colleges and teach at seminaries and write books and get on Christian TV and on and on it goes. And as I told you, when you don't have the truth and you don't have the preaching that brings clarity and discernment and the glory of God, you have terrible problems. And the first one is people no longer distinguish between who's a Christian and who's not. As John MacArthur, Chancellor of the Masters University and Seminary, just said, for people to be truly delivered by God, they need to hear the truth of God's Word. That's a key point in John's current series here on Grace to You.

He calls the series, Delivered by God. Now, John, it's been a tendency for too long in evangelical churches to question everything and to be certain about nothing, including biblical truth. When the concept of clear, objective biblical truth is questioned, even by professing believers, how should we respond?

What's our responsibility? I think the first thing you have to understand is that people don't like the clarity of the Bible because it intrudes on the way they think. There's nothing in the Bible to indicate that God intends us to think of the Bible as a book of suggestions. Everything in the Bible is absolute. Everything in the Bible points to exclusive truth, exclusive gospel. And when you have people who are uncertain about things in the Bible, they're looking for a comfort zone. They don't want the Bible to be certain because it crowds their way of thinking.

It crowds their way of living. We can't allow them to feel comfortable thinking that way, and so we have to call them back to a true understanding of Scripture. This is a battle for the truth. And I sort of launched into that battle by writing a book called The Truth War, subtitled Fighting for Certainty in an Age of Deception.

The Lord laid that book on my heart strongly. The love for the truth is absolutely critical. You can't be saved without the truth.

You can't be sanctified without the truth. You can't have hope in the face of difficulties without the truth. You can't live life the way God wants you to live it so it's blessed without the truth. It's absolutely critical to hold on to the truth, and that means war, because there is, loose in the world, Satan, who is a liar, and all of his demon hosts and all the people who follow him in the battle for the truth is waged hot and heavy all the time. The Truth War is a call to resist every attack on the truth. The book again is titled The Truth War, 240 pages available from Grace To You. I'm pretty sure that if you start reading it, you won't be able to put it down. You can order a copy of The Truth War from our ministry and do it today. And I would encourage you not just to read the book and sort of file it, but to read the book as if you're being armed, as if you're going through sort of military boot camp to become a soldier in the Truth War and join us in fighting for the truth.

That's right. What should you do if biblical truth is attacked at your church? What about people who reject a doctrine the Bible clearly teaches?

What do you say to them? For practical help, pick up John's book, The Truth War. Contact us today. Our web address,, and our toll-free number, 855-GRACE. This book is going to help you defend God's word and recognize when biblical truth is under attack.

It's really a powerful tool. Again, to order the book, The Truth War, call 855-GRACE or go to That's our website. And when you're there, remember, there are thousands of resources there available, all free of charge. Whether you want to catch a radio or television broadcast you may have missed, or if you're looking for a sermon that can answer questions about marriage and divorce, or honoring Christ at your job, or handling money, or dealing with suffering and much more, you're sure to find what you need at the website That's our website. One more time, And thank you for remembering that Grace To You is supported by faithful listeners like you. Now for John MacArthur and the entire Grace To You staff, I'm Phil Johnson, reminding you to check out Grace To You television this Sunday and be here tomorrow when John helps you renew your commitment to rescuing sinners with the life-saving message of deliverance in Christ. It's another 30 minutes of unleashing God's truth one verse at a time, on Grace To You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-01 05:43:31 / 2023-03-01 05:53:05 / 10

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