Back twenty years ago the evangelical world was torn by a controversy over the very nature of salvation — known then as the “lordship controversy.” Out of the context of that controversy Dr. John MacArthur would write one of the most important books ever to emerge from his ministry. In The Gospel According to Jesus Dr. MacArthur got right to the heart of the matter.
The urgency? Dr. MacArthur rightly believes that “nothing matters more than what Scripture says about the good news of salvation.” His book was a much-needed corrective to dangerous misunderstandings of the Gospel found commonly among some evangelical teachers twenty years ago. The release of this new edition, updated after two decades, is an alarm that these misrepresentations of the Gospel still threaten today.
I was recently asked to rank the most important evangelical books of the last twenty-five years. In my judgment, The Gospel According to Jesus belongs in the top ten of that urgent list.
The gospel in vogue today holds forth a false hope to sinners. It promises them that they can have eternal life yet continue to live in rebellion against God. Indeed, it encourages people to claim Jesus as Savior yet defer until later the commitment to obey Him as Lord. It promises salvation from hell but not necessarily freedom from iniquity. It offers false security to people who revel in the sins of the flesh and spurn the way of holiness. By separating faith from faithfulness, it teaches that intellectual assent is as valid as a wholehearted obedience to the truth.
Thus the good news of Christ has given way to the bad news of an insidious easy-believism that makes no moral demands on the lives of sinners. It is not the same message Jesus proclaimed.