Ashamed of the Gospel: Book Review

To all of my friends and fellow ministers, I would like to recommend a great book that recently finished. Ashamed of the Gospel by John MacArthur is an excellent argument for the authority of the Word of God and the God-given ministry methods of preaching and teaching all Scripture. Of course, with any book you eat the meat and throw out the bones. However, in this book I found a lot more meat than I found bones. You will not be disappointed.

The book is full of great quotes. Let me leave you with a few of my favorite.

What marvel if, under some men’s shifty talk, people grow into love of both truth and falsehood!

Spiritual and biblical truth is not determined by testing what “works” and what doesn’t. We know from Scripture, for example, that the gospel often does not produce a positive response (1 Cor. 1:22–23; 2:14). On the other hand, Satanic lies and deception can be quite effective (Matt. 24:23–24; 2 Cor. 4:3–4). Majority reaction is no test of validity (cf. Matt. 7:13–14), and prosperity is no measure of truthfulness (cf. Job 12:6). Pragmatism as a guiding philosophy of ministry is inherently flawed. Pragmatism as a test of truth is nothing short of satanic.

“False doctrine and worldliness”—the same two influences Spurgeon attacked—always go hand in hand, with worldliness leading the way.

Real success is not getting results at any cost. It is not prosperity, power, prominence, popularity, or any of the other worldly notions of success. Real success is doing the will of God regardless of the consequences.

So the entire task of the faithful minister revolves around the Word of God—guarding it, studying it, and proclaiming it.

If we concern ourselves with the depth of our ministry, God will see to the breadth of it. If we minister for spiritual growth, numerical growth will take care of itself.

Biblical correctness is the only framework by which we can evaluate ministry methods.

Do you see how the new philosophy necessarily undermines sound doctrine? It discards Jesus’ own methods—preaching and teaching—as the primary means of ministry.

There is no danger of irrelevant doctrine; the real threat is an undoctrinal attempt at relevance.

Now observe, brethren, if I, or you, or any of us, or all of us, shall have spent our lives merely in amusing men, or educating men, or moralizing men, when we shall come to give our account at the last great day we shall be in a very sorry condition, and we shall have but a very sorry record to render; for of what avail will it be to a man to be educated when he comes to be damned? Of what service will it be to him to have been amused when the trumpet sounds, and heaven and earth are shaking, and the pit opens wide her jaws of fire and swallows up the soul unsaved? Of what avail even to have moralized a man if still he is on the left hand of the judge, and if still, “Depart, ye cursed,” shall be his portion?

The threefold response of that day—contempt, curiosity, and conversion—is typical whenever the gospel is faithfully preached.

If we forget that it is God’s prerogative to give results when the gospel is preached, we shall start to think that it is our responsibility to secure them. And if we forget that only God can give faith, we shall start to think that the making of converts depends, in the last analysis, not on God, but on us, and that the decisive factor is the way in which we evangelize. And this line of thought, consistently followed through, will lead us far astray.

“Jesus Christ said He would build his church, and I don’t want to be in competition with Him.”

The first step astray is a want of adequate faith in the divine inspiration of the sacred Scriptures.

Brethren, we shall not adjust our Bible to the age; but before we have done with it, by God’s grace, we shall adjust the age to the Bible.

Men are perishing, and if it be impolite to tell them so, it can only be so where the devil is the master of the ceremonies.

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