Truth For Today

WHY GOD SAVES

That grace, having spread through the many,
May cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God.
2 CORINTHIANS 4 : 15


Many people think the main reason God saves people is so that He can keep them out of hell, or so that they can experience His love or lead happy lives. But all those reasons are secondary.
God saves people because it is an affront to His holy name that someone should live in rebellion against Him. That people experience salvation is not the main issue with God—it is His glory that is at stake.

The apostle Paul said of Jesus, “God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:9–11). Salvation is for God’s glory.


God is glorified when people believe His gospel, love His Son, and accept His diagnosis of their greatest need, which is forgiveness of sin. You certainly benefit from God’s provision of salvation, but you exist for the glory of God.

~ John MacArthur ~

Who Receives Spiritual Resurrection?

Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.

John 5:25

Jesus begins this emphatic, unarguable declaration with the seemingly paradoxical statement “an hour is coming and now is.” The hour of the believers’ resurrection “now is” in the sense that when they “were dead in [their] trespasses and sins . . . [God] made [them] alive together with Christ, and raised [them] up with Him” (Eph. 2:1, 5–6). Yet the hour is still “coming” in the sense that the resurrection of their physical bodies is yet future (1 Cor. 15:35–54; Phil. 3:20–21).

This “already/not yet” sense of the phrase may be understood in another way. When Christ was present, He offered spiritual life to all who would heed His Word (6:37; Matt. 7:24–27). Yet the full expression of the new era He inaugurated would not come until the day of Pentecost (14:17). Both during Christ’s earthly ministry and in the fullness of the Spirit’s ministry after Pentecost, the spiritually dead who heard “the voice of the Son of God” would live.

Scripture frequently describes unbelievers as spiritually dead. To be spiritually dead is to be insensitive to the things of God and totally unable to respond to Him. Paul vividly described it as living “in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and [being] by nature children of wrath” (Eph. 2:3).

Rejoice in the amazing grace of God for making you alive together with Christ.


Ask Yourself

Try to define the ways you’re experiencing the first rays of eternal life even while bound in this time and place. How would your life be different if you were still spiritually dead, removed from the grace of God?

~ John MacArthur ~

Differences in Houses

The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. . . . The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against the house; and it fell—and great was its fall.

Matthew 7:25, 27

With most tasks in life, it comes down to two choices: doing it the easy, convenient way, or choosing the difficult but rewarding way. In Jesus’ illustration, the foolish man chooses the easy way to build his house, but the wise man chooses the hard way. The former settles for a convenient section of sand in a desirable location, but the latter searches diligently for a rock foundation on which to build.

Why is the easy way so attractive? First, it is appealing to those in a hurry who want only to please themselves. Within the church, the foolish don’t care how their methods line up with God’s Word. They just want quick results—simple to see and easy to measure. Thus the foolish are satisfied with easy evangelism and cost-free discipleship.

Second, people prefer the easy way because they are superficial. Such ministry requires little planning and effort and not much concern for quality results. That house is all about instant gratification rather than the enduring reward found in plumbing the spiritual depths.

Jesus had another description of the superficial, foolish person as one “who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away” (Matt. 13:20–21). By contrast, the genuine believer counts the cost, builds the wise house, and then “work[s] out [his] salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12).

Ask Yourself

Think of an “easy way” you’ve taken in your life. What convinced you to do it? Think also of a time when you truly did things the “right way.” Examine the difference in results.

~ John MacArthur ~

 

Discerning False Prophets: Seeing Their Converts

Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits.

Matthew 7:19–20

We can spot false prophets by the kind of people they attract. Their converts will have the same kind of superficial, self-centered, unbiblical orientation as they do. Of this sort of attraction Peter says, “Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned” (2 Peter 2:2). Many folks gravitate to false teachers because those men propagate what the majority of people want to hear and believe (cf. 2 Tim. 4:3).

God has not ordained false prophets, but within His will He allows them to exist. And it is within His purpose that false factions develop. “For there must also be factions among you, so that those who are approved may become evident among you” (1 Cor. 11:19). Factions often attract followers of false teachers. And in a sense, this protects genuine saints by separating the chaff from the wheat in the church.

Ultimately, the Lord makes sure that the converts of false prophets, who do not bear good fruit, get cut down and thrown into the fire of judgment. Peter says they are “bringing swift destruction upon themselves” (2 Peter 2:1; cf. Jer. 23:30–40; John 15:2, 6). A watchful, discerning, vigilant believer, armed with the Word of truth, will be able to isolate false teachers and withdraw from them, because he or she “will know them by their fruits.”

Ask Yourself

Discussions like these often get us labeled as haughty and narrow-minded. How do you handle these kinds of accusations? Why will some people never understand your concern for the church’s purity?

~ John MacArthur ~

 

False Prophets Are Deceptive

Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. –Matthew 7:15

John 4:1, 2).

False prophets are most dangerous because of their deceptive nature. We can easily recognize and defend against an enemy that poses for what it is. But when that enemy appears as a friend, it is much harder to defend against.

Heretics and apostates make no claim to biblical truth and are recognizable. But deceivers disguise themselves as true shepherds. They give the appearance of orthodoxy and claim to teach the truth, but their intent is to deceive and destroy God’s people.

Paul explains this phenomenon: “Such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds” (2 Cor. 11:13–15; cf. 2 Tim. 3:13). Such false prophets are demonically deceived, convinced that their perverted, distorted views are correct. They are so steeped in falsehood that darkness seems to be light, blackness white, and error truth.

This calls for genuine discernment. But how is this best done? It’s by realizing that such men show themselves by what they do not say—they seldom affirm the great doctrines of the faith, but rather ignore them. In our day of confusion and indifference, we need to pray and vigilantly “test the spirits to see whether they are from God. . . . Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God” (1 John 4:1,2)

Ask Yourself

What constitutes false teaching today? Why do such philosophies continue to find room to work in hearts and minds, even of believers? What can we do to keep them away from our churches?

~ John MacArthur ~

 

The Narrow Gate, Part 1

Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.

Matthew 7:13–14

Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount has been heading toward the appeal found in these two verses. Here is His call to people to make a decision about becoming a citizen of God’s kingdom and inheriting eternal life, or remaining a citizen of this fallen world and receiving damnation. Every person eventually comes to this crossroads in life, where he’ll need to decide on which gate to enter and which way to follow.

“Enter” is in a mood that demands a definite and specific action. Jesus pleads for people to enter the narrow gate, God’s gate, the only gate that leads to life and to heaven. Throughout the sermon Jesus had contrasted the narrowness of God’s internal standard of righteousness to the broad and external standards of Jewish tradition. The path to that narrow way of kingdom living is through the narrow gate of the King Himself: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6). We proclaim a narrow gospel because that is the only gospel God has given and therefore the only gospel there is.

Make sure you are proclaiming to others the narrow gospel God has given us.

Ask Yourself

We needn’t apologize that the way to Christ is narrow and exclusive. For if it weren’t for this narrow way, there would be no way. Try to avoid presenting the gospel to others in an apologetic manner, one that accommodates more human choice and preference than God’s Word allows. Invite them to the true gospel alone, knowing that the Spirit of God will draw others only to the truth.

~ John MacArthur ~

 

Qualifications to Receive God’s Wisdom

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.

Matthew 7:7–8

The promises in these verses are limited only to believers who meet certain qualifications. First, “everyone” refers to those who belong to the Father. Those who are not God’s children can’t come to Him as their Father.

Second, the one who claims this promise must be living in obedience to his Father. “Whatever we ask we receive from Him,” John says, “because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight” (1 John 3:22).

Third, our motive in asking must be right. “You ask and do not receive,” explains James, “because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures” (James 4:3). God does not obligate Himself to answer selfish, carnal requests from His children.

Finally, we must be submissive to His will. If we are trying to serve both God and mammon (Matt. 6:24), we can’t claim this promise. “For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways” (James 1:7–8).

Another possible qualification is perseverance, as indicated by the Greek imperatives ask, seek, and knock. The idea is continuance and constancy: “Keep on asking; keep on seeking; and keep on knocking.”

If you meet these qualifications, be sure you’re taking advantage of your access to God.

Ask Yourself

None of us can entirely attain to these lofty ideals, but God knows when our hearts are tender and sincere before Him, genuinely seeking His glory over our personal gain. In whatever situation you’re most in need of His guidance and provision today, ask in faith while surrendering yourself.

~ John MacArthur ~