What Does Sola Scriptura Mean?

John MacArthur: The Reformation principle of sola Scriptura has to do with the sufficiency of Scripture as our supreme authority in all spiritual matters. Sola Scriptura simply means that all truth necessary for our salvation and spiritual life is taught either explicitly or implicitly in Scripture. It is not a claim that all truth of every kind is found in Scripture. The most ardent defender of sola Scriptura will concede, for example, that Scripture has little or nothing to say about DNA structures, microbiology, the rules of Chinese grammar, or rocket science. This or that “scientific truth,” for example, may or may not be actually true, whether or not it can be supported by Scripture—but Scripture is a “more sure Word,” standing above all other truth in its authority and certainty. It is “more sure,” according to the apostle Peter, than the data we gather firsthand through our senses (2 Peter 1:19). Therefore, Scripture is the highest and supreme authority

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Common Interpretive Pitfalls

  by John MacArthur Every paratrooper knows precisely where he is supposed to land, but no paratrooper will jump without also knowing the surrounding territory. To do otherwise can leave one disoriented and lost, which can have disastrous consequences. In the same way, to randomly parachute into Bible passages, trying to glean spiritual gems devoid of context, can lead to wasted time and stunted spiritual growth. Regular Bible reading according to a strategic plan is the right foundation for successful Bible study. And the principles of accurate interpretation will take that Bible study to the next level of spiritual blessing and benefit. Reading God’s Word answers the question: What does the Bible say? But interpreting it answers the question: What does the Bible mean by what it says? Proper Bible interpretation is a critical element of successful Bible study. The reader does not have license to decide what it means. He has to learn what it means. Paul’s pastoral counsel to

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Don’t tolerate false teachers

Many Christians today are greatly concerned about the rising influences of communism, humanism, secularism, and social injustice. Yet those evils, great as they are, do not together pose the threat to Christianity that false shepherds and pastors do. Throughout the history of redemption, the greatest threat to God’s truth and God’s work has been false prophets and teachers, because they propose to speak in His name. That is why the Lord’s most scathing denunciations were reserved for the false teachers of Israel, who claimed to speak and act for God but were liars. Yet for some reason, evangelical Christianity is often hesitant to confront false teachers with the seriousness and severity that Jesus and the apostles did, and that the godly prophets before them had done. Today, more than at any time in modern history and perhaps more than at any time in the history of the church, pagan religions and cults are seriously encroaching on societies that for centuries

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Our determination to be biblical

John MacArthur writes: The market-driven philosophy of user-friendly churches does not easily permit them to take firm enough doctrinal positions to oppose false teaching. Their outlook on leadership drives them to hire marketers who can sell rather than biblically qualified pastors who can teach. Their approach to ministry is so undoctrinal that they cannot educate their people against subtle errors. Their avoidance of controversy puts them in a position where they cannot oppose false teaching that masquerades as evangelicalism. In fact, the new trends in theology seem ideally suited to the user-friendly philosophy. Why would the user-friendly church oppose such doctrines? But oppose them we must, if we are to remain true to God’s Word and maintain a gospel witness. Pragmatic approaches to ministry do not hold answers to the dangers confronting biblical Christianity today. Pragmatism promises bigger churches, more people, and a living church, but it is really carnal wisdom–spiritually bankrupt and contrary to the Word of God. Marketing

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Doctrine is Practical

“The word doctrine simply means “teaching.” And it’s ludicrous to say that Christ is anti-teaching. The central imperative of His Great Commission is the command to teach (Matthew 28:18-20). Yet there’s no shortage of church-growth experts, professional pollsters, and even seminary professors nowadays who are cautioning young pastors that doctrine is too divisive, too threatening, too heady and theoretical—and therefore simply impractical. Impractical? I agree that practical application is vital. I don’t want to minimize its importance. But if there is a deficiency in preaching today, it is that there’s too much relational, pseudo-psychological, and thinly life-related content, and not enough emphasis on sound doctrine. Moreover, the distinction between doctrinal and practical truth is completely artificial; doctrine is practical. In fact, nothing is more practical than sound doctrine, because there’s ultimately no basis for godly behavior apart from the truth of God’s Word. Practical insights, gimmicks, and illustrations mean little if they are divorced from divine principle. Before the preacher

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Christianity in our Society is Now Dying

“Having absorbed the world’s values, Christianity in our society is now dying. Subtly but surely worldliness and self-indulgence are eating away the heart of the church. The gospel we proclaim is so convoluted that it offers believing in Christ as nothing more than a means to contentment and prosperity. The offense of the cross (cf. Gal. 5:11) has been systematically removed so that the message might be made more acceptable to unbelievers. The church somehow got the idea it could declare peace with the enemies of God.” – John MacArthur (HT: Allsufficientgrace)

The Gospel – John MacArthur

“He [the Father] made him [the Son] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21). Jesus was guilty of nothing. Yet on the cross, the Father treated Him as if He had committed personally every sin ever committed by every individual who would ever believe. Though He was blameless, He faced the full fury of God’s wrath, enduring the penalty of sin on behalf of those He came to save. In this way, the sinless Son of God became the perfect substitute for the sinful sons of men. As a result of Christ’s sacrifice, the elect become the righteousness of God in Him. In the same way that the Father treated the Son as a sinner, even though the Son was sinless, the Father now treats believers as righteous, even though they were unrighteous. Jesus exchanged His life for sinners in order to fulfill the elective plan

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Great Error!

“God does not allow any man to be the absoluite sovereign judge of himself, which would usurp his divine prerogative and put the sinner in the place of God himself.” —John Owen (1616-1683) “A great sickness has developed in contemporary evangelical Christianity that is built around self. The emphasis on self image, self esteem, and self worth is nothing more than humanistic worldliness. Selfism has twisted evangelicalism from a God-centered to a man-centered perspective. Salvation is now seen from the viewpoint of what can it do for us? That is a horrifying error.” —John MacArthur (HT: The Boroean)

Pragmatism: Trend or Trap?

My thanks to Dani for posting this piece from John MacArthur: By God’s grace, I have been the pastor of the same church now for nearly forty years. From that vantage point, I have witnessed the birth and growth of menacing trends within the church, several of which have converged under what I would call evangelical pragmatism — an approach to ministry that is endemic in contemporary Christianity. What is pragmatism? Basically it is a philosophy that says that results determine meaning, truth, and value — what will work becomes a more important question than what is true. As Christians, we are called to trust what the Lord says, preach that message to others, and leave the results to Him. But many have set that aside. Seeking relevancy and success, they have welcomed the pragmatic approach and have received the proverbial Trojan horse. Let me take a few minutes to explain a little of the history leading up to the

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Gospel of Human Fulfillment

“As we talk about current trends in evangelicalism, this is one of the most tragic trends. This new kind of preaching that is all built around human fulfillment. This new kind of evangelizing where the whole appeal to the unconverted person is personal fulfillment, that the Lord will personally fulfill your life. Because when that’s the reason for you to come to Christ, then that becomes the reason you came to Christ, and then that becomes what you expect Christ to do for you, and you set people up for an utterly reverse process of sanctification. “Well here I am Jesus, fulfill me. Here I am Jesus, satisfy me. Here I am Jesus, plug up all the holes in my life. Give me perfect relationships, bring me happiness, success…” When in fact a proper attitude is- “Lord save me for Jesus sake, I am not worthy of anything and somehow make my life useful to you for the advance of

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Why Doctrine Matters

By John MacArthur Is it enough to “believe in Jesus” in some amorphous sense that divorces “faith” from any particular doctrine about Him, or is doctrine—and the content of our faith—really important after all? Scripture plainly teaches that we must be sound in the faith—which is to say that doctrine does matter (1 Tim. 4:6; 2 Tim. 4:2-3; Tit. 1:9; 2:1). It matters a lot. “If anyone advocates a different doctrine, and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing” (1 Tim. 6:3-4, emphasis added). Sound, biblical doctrine is a necessary aspect of true wisdom and authentic faith. The attitude that scorns doctrine while elevating feelings or blind trust cannot legitimately be called faith at all, even if it masquerades as Christianity. It is actually an irrational form of unbelief. God holds us accountable for what we believe as well as how we

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Do Today’s Churches Give God a Subordinate Role?

Quoting John MacArthur . . . Many in the church today believe that the only way to reach the world is to give the unchurched multitudes what they want. . . Subtly the overriding goal is church attendance and worldly acceptability rather than a transformed life. Preaching the Word and boldly confronting sin are seen as archaic, ineffectual means of winning the world. After all, those things actually drive most people away. Why not entice people into the fold by offering what they want, creating a friendly, comfortable environment, and catering to the very desires that constitute their strongest urges? As if we might get them to accept Jesus by somehow making Him more likable or making His message less offensive. That kind of thinking badly skews the mission of the church. The Great Commission is not a marketing manifesto. Evangelism does not require salesmen, but prophets. It is the Word of God, not any earthly enticement, that plants the

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Why we celebrate Easter!

by Tony Reinke The power and implications of what the church celebrates this weekend are well captured in this moving trailer for an upcoming Resolved conference. But beyond its use to promote a conference, this short film provides a capsule of the horrors and implications of the cross of Christ. At the cross the Father crushes his Son with his wrath for our sin. At the cross we see the Son’s death as our substitute. By faith his blood and sufficient atonement brings full forgiveness, unshakable hope, and eternal joy.  

Pray Without Ceasing

I recently preached on this subject from 1Thess.5:17. I’m glad that I find myself in agreement with John MacArthur! This article is taken from Pulpit Magazine. What does it mean to pray without ceasing? Unceasing, incessant prayer is essential to the vitality of your relationship to the Lord and your ability to function in the world. But exactly what does it mean to pray without ceasing? The first time someone hears about the concept of praying without ceasing it may conjure up the image of Christians walking around with their hands folded, heads bowed, and eyes closed, bumping into things. While certain postures and specific times set aside for prayer have an important bearing on our communication with God, to “pray at all times” obviously does not mean we are to pray in formal or noticeable ways every waking moment. And it does not mean you’re supposed to devote yourself to reciting ritualistic patterns and forms of prayer. To “pray

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