The Confusing World of Dr. John MacArthur

By David J. Stewart | January 2008

"Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein." —Hebrews 13:9

       Pastor John F. MacArthur is a dangerous man doctrinally, and a false prophet.  Some people will argue that Christians ought to be working together instead of against each other; however, that mentality is exactly how the Devil succeeds at removing the old landmarks.  Things are not always as they seem.  Much sinful compromise is justified under the falsehood of unity.  Romans 16:17 states, "Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them."  MacArthur's teachings are certainly offensive to the gift of eternal life and the simplicity of God's salvation.

The problem is that Satan is relentlessly working within the church to destroy it.  Don't believe it?  Consider Revelation 2:13 concerning the church of Pergamos, "I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is..."  We are warned in 2nd Corinthians 11:13-15 that Satan transforms himself into an angel of light, and his false ministers transform themselves into ministers of righteousness.  Satan is a liar and a deceiver, and so are his followers (John 8:44).  Satan is not trying to corrupt the local tavern, it's already corrupt; he's trying to corrupt the local New Testament Church.  Thus, Satan has infiltrated the modern church with numerous false doctrines, which are ultimately aimed at corrupting the simplicity of the Gospel (i.e., God's simple plan of salvation which is by grace through faith alone in Jesus).

The Deadly Doctrines of John MacArthur

Contradiction #1 on Eternal Security

In John MacArthur's sermons and books, he woefully contradicts himself at times concerning certain fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith.  One such area is that of Eternal Security.  In his book, Faith Works: The Gospel According to the Apostles, MacArthur states:

"No advocate of lordship salvation I am aware of teaches 'that every Christian will live a basically successful life until the end'" (pg. 179).

MacArthur need look no further than his own mirror to find major contradictions in his teachings.  In Faith Works, he states:

Any doctrine of eternal security that leaves out perseverance distorts the doctrine of salvation itself. Heaven without holiness ignores the whole purpose for which God chose and redeemed us. (pg. 182)

Peter is saying categorically that the essence of what it means to be a Christian is to love Jesus Christ. In fact, there may be no better way to describe the essential expression of the new nature than to say it is continual love for Christ. (pg. 185)

        See also pp. 109-121, 123-38, 139-55, 157-73, 175-92.

John MacArthur clearly teaches that every believer is NOT assured a home in Heaven.  According to MacArthur, one's salvation is DEPENDENT upon the life he or she lives.  This is the damnable heresy of Lordship Salvation!  Mr. MacArthur is of the Devil.  From examining the two preceding statements made by John MacArthur, it can only be concluded that although MacArthur obviously doesn't think a believer can live a sinless life; a believer must nevertheless persevere in faith 'til the end of life to be saved.  The big question, then is, how much does a believer have to "persevere" to make it to Heaven?  Is this not the same heresy which Islam teaches?  Yes, it most certainly is!  Muslims believe that Allah is capricious, i.e., he is unpredictable.  In Islam, a Muslim's salvation is dependent upon the life he lives—you basically do your best and hope you make it. 

In Christianity, a believer's salvation is rooted in the love and mercy of an awesome God, who offers salvation as a free gift paid for by Jesus' precious blood (1st Peter 1:18,19); BUT in Islam, a Muslim's salvation is rooted in self-righteousness to appease Allah's wrath.  John MacArthur has perverted the simplicity of the Gospel, by requiring a holy life as a final step to complete salvation.  MacArthur has effectively turned salvation into a lifelong process.  How is this not works salvation?  There is no simpler picture of salvation than a gift.  Romans 5:15 even calls salvation a "free gift."  If I offered you a gift; but then required you to do something for years to come to obtain it, would that truly be a gift?  No way! 

As simple as this truth is, tens-of-millions of people all across the world have been deceived by Satan into thinking that one's eternal salvation is CONDITIONED upon the life that they live.  Shame on you Mr. MacArthur!  And shame on you foolish preachers who unquestioningly support him.  I realize that John MacArthur has produced some excellent study materials on various issues, such as the evils of alcohol, et cetera; however, the Jehovah's Witness cult also produces some of the best literature exposing the sinful world that I've ever read.  This does not justify their hellish religion!  And neither does John MacArthur's good teachings qualify his damnable heresies.  There is no matter any more critical than the issue of salvation.

Again, John MacArthur deceitfully claims that he believes in the Eternal Security of a believer; while simultaneously teaching that only those who continue living holy lives will go to heaven.  Mr. MacArthur states...

Eternal security is a great spiritual truth, but it should never be presented merely as a matter of being once saved, always saved—with no regard for what you believe or do. The writer of Hebrews 12:14 states frankly that only those who continue living holy lives will enter the Lord's presence. [emphasis added]

SOURCE: Kingdom Living Here and Now (pg. 150).

Mr. MacArthur horribly perverts Hebrews 12:14, by alleging that the Author of Hebrews was teaching that a believer must continue in holy living in order to go to Heaven.  LIES!  The Word of God is adamantly clear in Romans 4:5... "But to him that WORKETH NOT, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness."  What are you talking about Mr. MacArthur? 

Hebrews 12:14 is speaking about our influence upon other people.  If we don't pursue peace with others, and live holy lives, then lost sinners WON'T see the Lord in us.  You are the only Jesus someone knows.  That person may go to Hell if they don't see the Lord in you.  As believers, we are supposed to be the light of the world (Matthew 5:14).  Jesus said in Matthew 5:13... "Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted?..."  Do you know what salt does to people?  It makes them THIRSTY!  Christians are supposed to be the salt of this sinful world, that cause lost sinners to thirst for God.  Have you lost your saltiness, i.e., savor?  This is what Hebrews 12:14 means.

In sharp contrast, John MacArthur corrupts Hebrews 12:14, claiming that a person cannot see God unless they continue in holy living.  Mr. MacArthur perverts this Scripture to mean that one's salvation is dependent upon holy living.  Clearly, John MacArthur is a false prophet, who doesn't understand the Word of God.  He is an unsaved heretic, a Modernist who pretends to be a Christian.  See also, John MacArthur's heresy on the blood of Jesus

Dr. MacArthur confuses repentance with the fruits of repentance, and confuses faith with that which faith ought to produce.  He confuses saving faith (which takes place in a moment of time—Genesis 15:6; Ephesians 1:13) with discipleship (which is a lifelong process). 

As Miles Stanford has correctly said:

“Lordship salvation is not the childlike faith of John 3:16. It rightly insists upon repentance but wrongly includes a change of behavior IN ORDER TO BE SAVED. No one questions that there must be a sincere change of mind, a turning from oneself to the Saviour, but Lordship advocates attempt to make behavior and fruit essential ingredients of, rather than evidence of, saving faith.”

SOURCE: (Miles Stanford, in his review of The Gospel According to Jesus).

Tragically, churches all across America have been duped by this wolf in sheep's clothing.  Examples of MacArthur contradicting himself could be multiplied.  It seems that deep within he recognizes that what he is saying is Biblically and practically flawed and so he knowingly or unknowingly contradicts himself.

Contradiction #2 on Salvation

Romans 4:5 is so plain and simple that it is incontrovertible (i.e., it cannot be denied)... "But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness."  It almost appears as if a ghostwriter (i.e., another author) wrote the commentary for Romans 4:5 in MacArthur's Revised and Updated "Study Bible," because it is accurate for a change:

“If salvation were on the basis of one's own effort, God would owe salvation as a debt—but salvation is always a sovereignly given gift of God's grace (3:24; Eph, 2:8,9) to those who believe.”

SOURCE: The Revised and Updated edition of The MacArthur Study Bible, Thomas Nelson publishers, page 1699

The preceding commentary is 100% accurate. It certainly appears that Mr. MacArthur doesn't believe in Lordship Salvation, right? Wrong! Take a look at what he says on page 93 of his book, Hard To Believe:

Pastor John MacArthur of the Grace Community Church has authored a heretical book titled, “ HARD TO BELIEVE” in which he errantly teaches...

“Salvation isn't the result of an intellectual exercise. It comes from a life lived in obedience and service to Christ as revealed in the Scripture; it's the fruit of actions, not intentions. There's no room for passive spectators: words without actions are empty and futile...The life we live, not the words we speak, determines our eternal destiny” (Hard to Believe, p. 93). [emphasis added]

Ladies and gentlemen, what you have just read is works salvation. Now in fairness to Dr. MacArthur, who is a gifted teacher (but bad Bible student), he has attributed the previous quote to a publishing error and has updated the quote. Here is the new updated quote...

Don’t believe anyone who says it’s easy to become a Christian. Salvation for sinners cost God His own Son; it cost God’s Son His life, and it’ll cost you the same thing. Salvation isn’t gained by reciting mere words. Saving faith transforms the heart, and that in turn transforms behavior. Faith’s fruit is seen in actions, not intentions. There’s no room for passive spectators: words without actions are empty and futile. Remember that what John saw in his vision of judgment was a Book of Life, not a book of Words or Book of Intellectual Musings. The life we live, not the words we speak, reveals whether our faith is authentic.” [emphasis added]

SOURCE: Dr. John MacArthur, Grace To You, an updated quote from his book 'Hard To Believe', page 93.

At a glance, the preceding quote sounds impressive. It certainly seems proper to authenticate one's profession of faith with a life of good works. It appeals to our sinful human nature to attempt to please God by our own self-righteousness. The true nature of MacArthur's deadly teaching becomes more apparent when you only consider the first two lines of his quote...

“Don’t believe anyone who says it’s easy to become a Christian. Salvation for sinners cost God His own Son; it cost God’s Son His life, and it’ll cost you the same thing...”

Is that Biblical? No, it is not. MacArthur foolishly teaches that it is hard to become a Christian, because he says it will cost you your life of worldliness, sinful bad habits and selfish ambitions to make your faith valid. Clearly he does not believe that faith alone in Christ is enough to be saved. MacArthur deceitful says that mere words won't save, which is true if they are insincere words; however, the thief on the cross was saved immediately when he spoke the words, “Remember me” to Jesus (Luke 23:42). We are saved solely by faith in Christ, which may or may not be expressed by words. Words are not required to be saved. We are saved the moment we believe in our heart that Jesus is the Christ Who died FOR OUR SINS on the cross and rose (1st Corinthians 15:1-4).

The Devil is so subtle. False prophets know that adding works to salvation is blatant heresy, a lie. So what they do is instead say that you're saved by grace through faith, but your faith is not valid unless there are works to make that faith credible (or to authenticate it). This is a backdoor approach to a works-based salvation.

The following excellent information refuting Lordship Salvation is by Dr. Ray Stanford (1916-2012), from his classic book, “Handbook of Personal Evangelism”...

Just as you receive the Saviour by faith and He becomes YOUR Saviour, when you allow Christ to control your life, He becomes YOUR LORD. There is an increasing number of "evangelicals" today who are preaching that in order for a man to be saved he must not only receive Christ as his Saviour, but also must make Him absolute Lord and Master of his life.

This doctrine has been termed "Lordship salvation" and has absolutely no support from the Word of God. It is, in fact, another subtle way Satan has invented to get Bible-believing men to add works to salvation without, perhaps, their realizing it, and to do it in such a way that it sounds spiritual and good.

What could SOUND more spiritual or honoring to the Lord than statements like: "Either Christ is Lord of all, or He is not Lord at all. And if He is not Lord then He is not your Saviour. You are lost. You must turn over all the strings of your life to Him-then He will save you. Give your life to Him if you want to be truly saved." This is what is taught.

The truth of the matter is that salvation is not a "give" proposition at all; it is a "take" proposition. We don't give our hearts, lives, wills, or anything else to God in order to get Him to save us. This would be a form of bribery, a way of meriting or deserving to be saved-but God says salvation is "NOT OF OURSELVES"-and especially, it is not offering anything to God.

Salvation is receiving! We simply receive His Son. John 1:12 says, "But as many as RECEIVED Him, to them gave He power (the right) to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His Name." God does the giving. We do the receiving.

SOURCE: “Handbook of Personal Evangelism,” by Dr. Ray Stanford, page 45.

Amen and amen!

Kindly, MacArthur is spiritually dangerous, because he hides heresies between doctrinal truths, which are the hardest to expose. My friend, it is very easy to be saved, so easy in fact that 3,000 people got saved in one day in Acts 2:41. You don't have to give your life (as Christ gave His life) to be saved! If it were true, then salvation would be the result of partial faith in Christ plus human effort. To lay such a heavy burden upon a sinner's shoulder, requiring them to validate their faith by the way in which they live, is to make salvation HARD, VERY, HARD; but Jesus said, “For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:30). If you always keep in mind that eternal life is a free gift, paid for by Jesus' precious blood (1st Peter 1:18-19), then you won't be misled.

Lies! Look what MacArthur says on page 1973 in his Revised and Updated "Study Bible" concerning 1st John 5:13, the phrase, "that you may know that you have eternal life":

“The false brethren's departure left John's congregations shaken (2:19). He assured those who remained that since they adhered to the fundamentals of the faith (a proper view of Christ, obedience, love), their salvation was sure.”

SOURCE: The Revised and Updated edition of The MacArthur Study Bible, Thomas Nelson publishers, page 1973

Here MacArthur gives the impression through his comments that a believer's salvation is dependent upon the life he lives.  Again on page 1439 of MacArthur's Revised and Updated "Study Bible," concerning Matthew 24:13, the phrase "endures to the end... be saved," he states:

“To say that God secures our perseverance is not to say that we are passive in the process...”

SOURCE: The Revised and Updated edition of The MacArthur Study Bible, Thomas Nelson publishers, page 1439

Scripturally, a believer has absolutely nothing to do with keeping one's salvation.  The term "perseverance" is a bad term when speaking of salvation, because a believer DOESN'T have to persevere in the faith to remain saved.  A person who has no faith in the Lord today, but claims to have once been a Christian, is a liar.  The second birth (i.e., being born again) is as irreversible as the first birth.  Many people adopt the philosophy of Christianity, but never actually repent, turning in belief to the Savior for forgiveness of sins.  The "Perseverance of the faithful" is a false doctrine, popularized by the heretic John Calvin (i.e., Calvinism). 

Which is it Mr. MacArthur?  Your commentary on Romans 4:5 is diametrically opposed to your comments elsewhere concerning salvation.  It certainly appears that MacArthur is trying to appease both sides of the theological spectrum.

There is a fine line between the turning from sin that genuine repentance brings; verses the turning from sin that false prophets require for people to get saved.

Contradiction #3 on the Blood of Jesus

In John MacArthur's sermons and books, he woefully contradicts himself at times concerning certain fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith.  Another such area is that of the Blood of Jesus.  I've had several web visitors write to me, and tell me to look at the following web link, featuring a letter written by John MacArthur to his constituents in 1988, where he attempts to defend his heresy on the blood...

Ironically, the very letter that John MacArthur uses to justify his heresy on the blood, condemns him!  Here are the very words of John MacArthur, from the above article (close to the bottom of his own letter):

It is not the actual liquid that cleanses us from our sins, but the work of redemption Christ accomplished in pouring it out.” —Dr. John MacArthur

What blasphemy!!!  John MacArthur accuses Bob Jones university of starting a smear campaign against him; however, MacArthur's own words stand in testimony against him.  This has nothing to do with Bob Jones, or anyone else.  This has to do with the heresy which John MacArthur, himself, teaches concerning the precious blood of Jesus Christ.  The Word of God clearly states in 1st Peter 1:18-19 that it is the blood of Jesus Christ which saves us (see also 1st John 1:7; Colossians 1:14 and Hebrews 9:12 in the King James Bible).

The Lord told Moses in Exodus 12:13 that he was going to look for the lamb's BLOOD when He came through Egypt (i.e., the Passover)...

"...and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt." —Exodus 12:13

The sacrificed lamb WASN'T sufficient enough!  God wasn't looking for the dead lamb; He was looking for THE BLOOD!  John MacArthur states in a letter written to his constituents in 1988, "I Believe in the Precious Blood"; BUT then totally contradicts himself by stating that the PHYSICAL blood of Jesus has no significance.  Blasphemy!  Hebrews 9:12 calls Mr. MacArthur a dirty, rotten, big liar...

"Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but BY HIS OWN BLOOD he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us." —Hebrews 9:12

In December 1989, the Bible Broadcasting Network terminated Dr. MacArthur's "Grace to You" program. In explaining that step, BBN president Lowell Davey referred to MacArthur's teachings on "Lordship Salvation," "Hyper-Calvinism," and the blood of Christ.  He called these teachings "confusing."  In a letter dated January 15, 1990 Davey cited a "drift by Dr. MacArthur to a theological position that we could not adhere to" and said his series on election "convinced us that the direction of 'Grace to You' was toward Hyper-Calvinism..."

John MacArthur is embattled in an ongoing controversy concerning the efficacy of the LITERAL liquid blood of Jesus. MacArthur states: “It was not Jesus’ physical blood that saves us” (John MacArthur, D.D., "The MacArthur New Testament Commentary on Hebrews," Moody, 1983, p. 237). In the May 1976 issue of the Grace to You family paper that is distributed to his church, MacArthur published an article titled "Not His Bleeding, but His Dying." In this, MacArthur plainly stated that it is not the blood of Christ that saves.  Yet, somehow MacArthur maintains that he still views the blood of Christ as "precious."  How can anyone view something as "precious" if they don't see it's literal value?

It seems that deep within John MacArthur recognizes that what he is saying is Biblically and practically flawed and so he knowingly or unknowingly contradicts himself.  Either way, MacArthur is teaching damnable doctrines and needs to be exposed for the false teacher he is...

" Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints." —Jude 1:3

Pastor John MacArthur Teaches Works Salvation!

Souls Are Dying!

How Permanent Is Your Salvation?
(an excellent MP3 sermon by Pastor Hank Lindstrom, 1940-2008)

Mark 1:15: “...repent ye, and believe the gospel.”

“The mark of the child of God is that he loves everybody!”
(a quote from Pastor Jack Hyles' classic MP3 sermon, “FORGIVENESS”)

Ye Must Be Born Again! | You Need HIS Righteousness!