The Gospel of Paul according to John MacArthur

TGAP-no I am (prayerfully) starting a book review (as per my friend’s request) on “The Gospel according to Paul” by John MacArthur.

As usual, the book is professionally and artistically rendered — the jacket is a wrinkled papyrus-looking background with ‘The Gospel’, and John MacArthur both in red.  I found that interesting, not trying to create some conspiracy to equate his revelations to that of Jesus.  Although I do believe at times he believes his own press, although he appears to be a kindly and humble man.

We are reminded that he is a bestselling author on the front cover, and assured on the back flap that the hundreds of books he has written are ‘biblical’.

But are they Biblical?

There are five men who give his book Praise (yes, that’s exactly what it says on the back cover), and they are all Calvinists — whether Old, Hyper or New — MacArthur doesn’t seem to discriminate there).  I decided it would be fair to search out his praise team’s ‘gospels’.  It took me quite a while to find the first one by ‘Dr. Mike Fabarez’ of Compass Bible church.  It is so grievous to me, so sad to see some ‘almost get it right’, then comes telling the ungodly man or woman, the sinner without strength, to go ahead and turn from sin as part of receiving the free gift of eternal life (as if an ungodly person has the ability to do something godly).  He also cites 1 John 1:9 as if confessing our sins is a means to salvation (this verse and book is spoken to believers).

The purpose statement  is clear I believe in 1 John regarding why it was written; to have fellowship with other believers, with God, and that the joy they already possess will be full:

That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.   And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. 1 John 1:3-4

Who it is written to is also clear:

My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.   1 John 2:1-2

But we know John MacArthur teaches confessing our sins and repenting from our sins, is just a small part of his ‘gospel’.  See just a little on my blog from a transcription of one of his sermons.  ‘The Gospel according to John MacArthur”.

I will try over the next few weeks (Lord willing) to wade through his book and share some of the things that may be correct and surely will be works related.

Forewords (and praise for the “Gospel According to Paul”):

  • Calvinist Albert Mohler, Jr., President Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (What is his gospel?1)
  • Calvinist Steven J. Lawson, OnePassion Ministries, Dallas, Texas (What is his gospel?2)
  • Calvinist Derek W. H. Thomas, a Senior Minister at First Presbyterian church along with an RTS Atlanta Fellow of Calvinist R.C. Sproul’s ‘Ligonier’ Ministries (What is his gospel?3)
  • Calvinist radio host Todd Friel (What is his gospel?4)
  • (Identified by the ‘old Calvinists or Puritans’ as a ‘new Calvinist’) Mike Fabarez, Compass Bible Church, Aliso Viejo, CA, host of Focal Point Radio (What is his gospel?5)

(I also challenge any of you, BEFORE you take teaching from anyone, can you find the gospel easily on their page?)

These men let us know (as usual) that the loss of the gospel can be saved by them explaining it to us in their books.   That it is a crisis that MacArthur set’s straight.   That it is the ‘right book’, the ‘right author’, and the ‘right time’.  They assure you that MacArthur is the “‘right man’ to document and defend the saving message of Jesus Christ”. (Wait a minute now — cannot the Living Word of God document the gospel?)

One reminded me a little of Secular reporter Chris Matthews when he said, “I am thrilled that yet again, ‘Dr. MacArthur’ has given us a timely and much-needed book”.

There is more, but you get the picture.  According to these men, we need this pastor, doctor, author, ‘Master-Expositor’ since he has supposedly “helped a ‘generation’ steer clear…of heretical assaults on the gospel”.

So, I dread starting on this “‘revelatory’ exploration of what the Apostle ‘actually taught’”.  Although we might find some writings helpful, these people place this man’s revelations above what the Word of God says, but don’t take my word (or anyone’s for it).  Prove all things (/test/examine/scrutinize) and hold fast to that which is good (the Word of God). 1 Thess 5:21 pp.  Don’t take anyone’s revelation to you on what God has written, look for yourself (Acts 17:11), be noble, use your mind, and search the Scriptures every day.

So here is #5’s gospel, sounds o.k. until you get to his definition of ‘repentance’ (turn or repenting from your sin, along with using 1 John 1:9 as it being necessary to confess our sin).  How many by the way?  Please consider Numbers 5:6-7, which is #75 of the 613 commandments of the law.  Can we be justified by any works of the law?


I will stop here, as I’m sure people will have much to say about how I haven’t even read it yet. No, I have only skimmed it, highlighted and made notes.  It is very hard to wade through John MacArthur’s subtle deception regarding the gospel.  I want to do it right again Lord willing.  I pray you will prove all things yourself (1 Thess 5:21).

Part 2 may come….

More you can read on John MacArthur

John MacArthur’s lies; Saved or self-deceived?

John MacArthur on Mark of the Beast

John MacArthur changes his lordship salvation message

Does MacArthur’s Grace to you preach Grace?

Examining the book, “The Gospel according to Jesus”

John MacArthur’s Apostate book, “Slave”

The Gospel Unhindered


18 Responses to “The Gospel of Paul according to John MacArthur

  • Curtis M
    7 years ago

    Words in red of John MacArthur
    proud arrogance, a by product of reading into the scriptures

    • Sort of how it seemed to me Curtis. I just can’t know, the Lord does, but I just thought if I wrote a book and saw that, I’d tell them to make my name in black (or some understated color) and emphasize the rest.

  • It seems like the last month or so the timing of articles on some of my favorite sites and the conversations I have been having on other message boards have just been perfectly synced. I’ve been engaging with a man who is a staunch supporter of the “doctrines of grace” aka TULIP. I would call him a defender but he really has little understanding of the doctrines (and so projects that lack of understanding back on me) other than what he has been mistaught. And lo and behold, who has mistaught him? JMac! This poor man seems to think there are two options, Chuck Smith or JMac.

    He was the one to interject JMac into the conversation and this after scripture was cited against TULIP (of course TULIP is read right back in). What’s really almost a laugh is that this fellow is pretty quick to point out others as false teachers i.e. WOF, NAR, Seeker Sensitive etc, but touch not God’s anointed JMac (I said that, he implied it).

    His invoking of JMac has brought out the knives from others who I suspect as being C. Smith disciples. The conversation has been hijacked. Oh well, I pray he might look at the text of scripture and see that faith is not a work nor is faith the gift and that man is not a spiritual corpse but sons of disobedience and separated from God and that regeneration does not precede faith. Maybe I should have used red letters while quoting scripture or maybe that’s now reserved for ‘according to JMac”.

    • Hey RAS – The never ending story of the carnal Christians calling themselves after men, yet all the while denying carnal Christians exist. I find that so amusingly ironic that they cannot see that the best they are carnal Christians, at the worst, lost… That part is not funny really, tragic.

  • Russell
    7 years ago

    Holly, I asked a question recently to a Bible teacher and never got a response. In all fairness he may not have even seen my question. Here is my question: At what point do we come out and say that MacArthur is a heritic? Same for Chan. It seems to me that they crossed a line a long long time ago from just being in error to flat out heresy. I respect your views and just wonder what you think.

    • Hi Russell, John MacArthur is a heretic. He preaches a false gospel of works, there is absolutely no doubt. He has done it for years. He has preached that you can take the mark of the beast and then still repent. He backpedals if he gets too much flack. But because he is so big and respected and well thought of, many pastors and such just compromise. I think in the church we went through a period of “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all”. But we have to mark and avoid these people. They may say a few things they disagree with a particular teacher on (vs. outright naming his gospel as false, or warning the flock), and then you might hear them quoting him the next week — so frustrating.

      Jesus warned us of allowing this leaven in — but too many pastors, Bible teachers and such just do not see what is wrong with quoting or recommending these people. We are all responsible if we make a young one stumble, how much worse if we send them into a tailspin of bondage because they follow after one of these men? I say that when this happens our own gospel becomes ineffective and garbled. So Satan is effective in corrupting minds from the simplicity that is in Christ because of men like Platt, Chan, MacArthur, Piper, Sproul, Paul Washer, etc.

      In Christ, Holly

  • Russell
    7 years ago

    Holly, I agree with you. I think too many in the church suffer from what I call the “cult of celebrity”. If the person is big enough or sold a lot of books they are not to be questioned. Try and question these folks and you are labeled as just a trouble maker. One thing I have learned over the past few years is that those of us who really believe that salvation is a free gift – really free – are in the minority. Its probably always been that way since the way is narrow that leads to life. Enjoy talking with you here and over at expreacherman.

    • True Russell. Yes, a trouble-maker.. I confess I don’t like that label, and wish they would not say so, but I still am compelled to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered. I am sure I can offend in myself, I want to offend only in Christ if offend I must, but it has always been a hard road to travel…

  • Curtis M
    7 years ago

    Hi Russel
    I asked that same type question myself to leaders of assemblies. Even an assembly i attended that had a 2.5 million dollar yearly budget. That bitterly split over Heretical teachings of John MacArthur Why didn’t someone speak up ? I even stood up and address the assembly of 200 plus people and asked why No one checked out the teachings of John MacArthur ? I didn’t get no response . I did get a response from a leader that said the reason we don’t try to correct someone is we don’t want to upset them. This was a IFCA assembly The “Fundamentalist” who are suposta be the creme of the crop when it comes to separating. Yet the assembly split bitterly with weeping and wailing elders families split .
    The Word of God gives us very stern warning over false teaching and to separate unto Truth . If we don’t separate unto Truth Loving the Truth in our thinking apostasy sets in.

    Knowing were I am now looking back at coming through and out of my own personal indoctrination The reason could not speak out against false teaching is because I was so spiritually drunk and apostate myself being tossed to and fro on false teaching i could not see truth. But not anymore as I practice the Truth NKJV

    1Jn 1:6  If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.

    How do we Practice the Truth . or Do The Truth KJV . by continual responses to God’s Word allowing the Word of God to readjust our thinking.

    it is also sad to see even as large as internet is yet there are few very few places Like redeemingmoments That stand and proclaim the Truth of The Gospel The Gospel of Christ , The Gospel of Grace

    • True Curtis… Paul warned Timothy about doctrine (1 Tim 4:16) and warned the elders day and night weeping for three years in tears (Acts 20:25-32), and he commended them to the Word of His Grace. Too many assemblies commend people to the words of men (1 Cor 4:6) often above His Word and they do not ‘prove all things’ (1 Thess 5:21), they fall in line as one of the sheep, instead of taking their responsibility as Shepherd seriously.

      We walk in darkness because we don’t know His Word and we don’t take heed to it. The entrance of His Word brings light (Ps 119:130), and we know it is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path (105), if only we would take heed to what His Word says. Too often, we get off the Word and into bondage of men’s leaven. Or maybe not even that, but we’ve gone on a fast from that which makes us disciples. We need time with Him, washed in the water by His Word. We need fellowship with other like-minded believers that we know is becoming more difficult to find, yet God is good to bring us together, I am very thankful for that.

      • Russell
        7 years ago

        Curtis, Its ironic that you brought up 1st John 1:6. I am teaching through 1st John at my weekly Bible Study. Your comment was spot on. We practice the truth as we are open to Him and His Word and respond to both. When the study in 1st John started there was a retired pastor there for the first time. I was a little nervous. The group that has been coming for about 2 years are like minded and have really grown in grace. When I stated that 1st John was a test for fellowship and not relationship (in other words 1st John is not a test to see if your saved but to see if your walking in fellowship) he let out a loud “amen”. I knew I had a like minded person. We talked afterword and he is defiantly free grace. It was encouraging.

        Holly, I was reading in Galatians recently and was reminded again how Paul confronted Peter. It was just a perfect example of how free grace believers have had to always contend for the faith. It is exhausting at times and more than a little frustrating. However, were called to do it. PS I get tired of saying “free grace”. Its repetitive. Any suggestions?

        • Russell, actually it’s kind of interesting to me that you both brought it up. I’m glad to hear that you are teaching this book in what seems to me to be the straightforward, literal reading. Recently one who called himself a free grace believer unfriended me (as well as two others suggesting I was an antichrist for peaceably departing from the discussion- They quoted 1 John 2:19). They insisted that this book was written to mostly gnostics and the confession in 1 John 1:9 was for salvation. I tried to talk to them about the purpose statement of the book, they weren’t hearing it. Two women who have attended my online study were also trying to contend, and were shut down, one was told I was ‘controlling’ her (she told me this later although she did all her contending without my help) 🙂 They would not ‘allow’ any other interpretation to be discussed with Scripture.

          They were insistent if you confessed your sin that this put believers under the law. I of course do not believe we confess a list of sins, but we do agree with God as our behavior gets in the way of our walk with Him, (walking after the lust of the flesh). I don’t know about them, but I do need to talk to Him about it when I find myself failing in areas, ask for His help, and go on from there. I understand I’ve been positionally forgiven, and know that this is likely more for my benefit than anything else. I just sadly marvel at the unwillingness of people to accept the Scripture in context as spoken, and look at the whole counsel knowing Scripture doesn’t contradict itself. We know we still sin, yet we are perfected forever. They don’t understand or haven’t learned to differentiate yet between practical and positional, maybe it shakes them up, not quite sure. Paul (in Romans 7) said he did/practiced sin. In this flesh, it’s a fact, Paul confessed he had evil still present within him, but he also gave the good news we’re waiting for the day we’ll be delivered from this flesh– praise God.

          I have to agree with you, it is exhausting and frustrating, sad many times. But Lord willing, we won’t weary in well doing. I don’t really use the term ‘free grace’ much anymore. A lot of it has to do with hyperdispensationalist thinking and Outer Darkness teaching, crossless gospel, etc., I guess I try to explain that I am of the few that really does believe that there is not one sin we can turn from, not one good work that we can add to believe, whether before, during or after or we’ve corrupted the gospel. Usually that’s enough to start a discussion 🙂

          If you come up with something, please do let me know 🙂 Christians as they were first called at Antioch? 🙂

  • Curtis M
    7 years ago

    when pressed for a pigeon hole i use Non denominational fundamental Bible Believer.
    or maybe Non denominational fundamental , dispensation Bible Believer .

    its something when witnessing to people how they want to know who you are so they can pigeon hole you I try to refrain with out being intentionally discrete and keep conversion focused on, Christ Jesus His finished work. the Free Gift of eternal life offered to those who receive Him .

    whatever you use in conversation the simpler the better a be prepared to give an answer a definition.

    • Yes, it depends on who I am talking to Curtis. A non believer I might say that I am a non-religious Bible believing Christian and try to explain in brief the difference. A Calvinist, I rarely use Free Grace because they pigeon hole you in that response to mean something else, so I will also simply say I believe we all have free will, Christ died for everyone, and drew all when He was lifted up on the cross. Simpler the better, you are correct 🙂

  • Hi all,

    Unfortunately the term “free grace” is an attempt to clarify grace itself from the Lordship / calvinistic term of “costly grace”. The problem is that some like the cross-less gospel people have made it problematic. Calvinists can even use as in freely given costly grace, I have heard Calvinists argue that God freely give the gift of faith to the elect. Of course their gift of faith is costly because their system requires then that is a certain “kind” that performs to expectations.


    • Excellent comment Jim. They frequently like to call us no lordship, as if it is about us believing upon Jesus as being the Lord. With Calvinists, since they believe that this gift of faith/repentance is given by God (i.e., they were picked beforehand to enter heaven) the proof is in the pudding (their works), and they can never know until they get there if they weren’t one of the other tricked by evanescent grace into believing they believed when they really were just blinded by god (their god).

      Thanks, Holly

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