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The Exclusiveness of the Gospel, Part 1 B

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
March 8, 2023 3:00 am

The Exclusiveness of the Gospel, Part 1 B

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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March 8, 2023 3:00 am

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Do we have a biblical case for the exclusivism? Do we have a biblical case for the fact that this gracious offer of salvation extends to people of every belief and every religion? Do we have a biblical case for the gift of salvation? Do we have a biblical case for and that the gospel must be preached to the ends of the earth?

The true church has always been made 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...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 cause 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 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 had 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 a piece. 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 a reason. When 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 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 and 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 man, birds and four-footed animals and snakes and bugs that make gods out of other things. That's where they end up, worshiping bugs, worshiping men, worshiping whatever. That's where they go.

Natural man, that's how he goes. Oh, his reason says there must be a God, there 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 assent 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. Take the wisest of the wise, take the wisdom of the world, take the elite religious leaders, take the people at the top echelons of their religion, or whatever you're talking about, take them all, all of those who have reached the epitome of man's devised schemes of religion, the wise, the scribes, the great writers and theologians, the debaters, the people who can argue their point and win the day, all those people, all of them, God is going to make fools. They're not going to get grace. 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 moria , 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, when I came to you, brethren, I didn't come with superiority of speech or wisdom. I didn't come with human ideas, reason.

Verse 2, I determined to know nothing among you except what? Christ. He said, that's all I...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, can't get there. And you're never going to get there until you hear the message.

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 can 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. It's John MacArthur, Chancellor of the Masters University and Seminary, also the Bible teacher here on Grace to You, and his lesson today was from his study titled Delivered by God. John, even though Scripture is clear that salvation is through Christ and Him alone, you can imagine there are people listening now who struggle with this question.

If God is good and loving, why does He make the path to salvation so narrow? You know, what about people who've never even had the opportunity to hear the name of Jesus? Questions that are asked all the time. In fact, they are asked by the least sophisticated and the most sophisticated. People who wonder simply because it seems like an obvious question, and people who use those kinds of questions as a reason not to believe the Bible and the gospel. So we're familiar with those kinds of questions. You know, why is Jesus the only way? Why is it so narrow?

What about the people who never heard about Jesus? Look, we want to give you an answer to these things that really make sense. More importantly, we want to give you God's answer to those questions which He has laid out in His Word, and I've put it all together in a little book called Why One Way.

Why one way? Why one way that's so exclusive and so narrow? You know, we live in a world where the only thing we can be certain of, supposedly, is that we can't be certain of anything. Every option in lifestyle, belief, religion is equally valid. Right and wrong are man-made concepts designed to repress. Sincerity is more important than content. There are no absolutes.

This is the world we live in. And many modern church leaders have bought into that worldview to one degree or another. This is the time to go back to the exclusive nature of the gospel. What we're saying is you won't go to heaven unless you put your faith in Jesus Christ. There's no other way, and only through Him can salvation come. The Word of God makes this clear in some powerful, provocative ways. Well, I've pulled it all together in a book called Why One Way.

Here's the best news. It's free. If you've never contacted us before, this would be the time to do it, and you can ask for the free copy of Why One Way. By the way, for those who are already a part of our ministry in one way or another, you can order one at a reasonable price.

That's right. How do you defend the gospel in a society that rejects absolute truth? Just one of the practical questions this book answers. Again, Why One Way is free if you've never called or written before. Get your copy today. Our number here, 855GRACE, and our web address, This helpful resource provides a layman's guide to the battle between human philosophy and biblical truth. It's also a great read for anyone heading to college or starting a job in the secular workforce.

It can help them defend the gospel boldly and graciously. To get a copy of John's book, Why One Way, free if you're contacting us for the first time, call us at our toll-free number, 855GRACE, or go to our website, And while you're at the website,, make sure to take advantage of the thousands of free resources we have online there. The Grace To You blog features practical discussions on subjects like salvation, spiritual growth, spiritual gifts. There's also a library of hundreds of articles that you can search by topic or by book of the Bible. And don't forget, you can download all of John's sermons for free. Our web address again, Now for John MacArthur, I'm Phil Johnson, reminding you to watch Grace To You television on Sunday. Also, join us tomorrow when John continues his look at what it means to be delivered by God with another 30 minutes of unleashing God's truth one verse at a time on Grace To You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-08 17:37:44 / 2023-03-08 17:47:56 / 10

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