One of the books we’ve suggested repeatedly over the years is John MacArthur’s The Gospel Accordingto Jesus, an analysis of Jesus’ evangelistic ministry. This was a book born out of MacArthur’s almost decade-long sermon series on the gospel of Matthew. In it, he contrasted the easy-believism of contemporary evangelism with the gospel of repentance preached by Jesus. If you’ve never read it, I highly recommend it. I consider it to be one of the most important books written in the 20th century.
What many people do not know is that MacArthur has also written a companion volume entitled TheGospel According to the Apostles. While some might think of it as a sequel, MacArthur considers it a prequel, “a start-from-the-beginning approach to the subject it deals with.” In it, he lays out the doctrinal framework that was only hinted at in The Gospel According to Jesus. This book details the apostles’ doctrine of salvation, showing that the gospel according to Jesus is also the gospel according to the apostles.
That description may discourage some readers by implying that it is like a theological textbook or academic work. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is a passionate, readable look at the most essential of all Christian doctrines.
As The Gospel According to Jesus was born out of MacArthur’s study of Matthew, The Gospel According to the Apostles was born out of practical questions raised by those who had read the former. He writes:
“…I began to get letters from lay leaders asking for more on the subject. They wanted practical advice: How should we explain the gospel to children? What tracts are available that present the way of salvation fully and biblically? They wanted help understanding their own spiritual experiences: I came to Christ as a child and didn’t surrender to Him as Lord until several years later. Does that invalidate by salvation? They wanted spiritual counsel: I’ve been struggling with sin and lack of assurance for years. Can you help me understand genuine faith and how I can have it? They wanted clarification: What about Lot and the Corinthians who lived in disobedience? They were still redeemed people, weren’t they? They wanted simplified explanations: I don’t easily understand theological terminology like ‘dispensationalism’ and ‘soteriology.’ Can you explain the lordship controversy to me in plain English?
This book is for those people.”
In The Gospel According to the Apostles, you’ll find answers to the practical questions above in addition to many others, including:
· What is cheap grace?
· What does the “no-lordship gospel” teach?
· What is faith and what does it do?
· What must a person do to be considered righteous by God?
· Do your works have any affect on your salvation?
· What is sanctification?
· How far can Christians go on sinning?
· How can I be assured of my salvation?
While this is a theological book, it is intensely practical and even devotional. I truly believe that easy-to-read doctrinal books like this one can serve as great devotional books as we think deeply about God’s application of salvation to our lives.
MacArthur writes in the introduction,
“My desire is to present the case biblically, clearly, graciously, fairly, and in terms that every Christian can understand. My approach will be to examine some of the key passages from the epistles and Acts that reveal how the apostles proclaimed the gospel and how they unfolded the truths of salvation to the early church… I think you’ll agree that the gospel according to the apostles is the same gospel Jesus preached. I believe you’ll also be convinced that their gospel differs dramatically from the diluted message popular with so many today.”
In my opinion, this is the simplest and most biblically accurate explanation of the doctrine of salvation in print. It answers all the questions. It would be well-worth your time this Summer.
Posted by Greg Birdwell