A decade before this book was actually in print, John MacArthur had already set off a firestorm of controversy among his evangelical contemporaries with his insistence upon what came to be called "Lordship salvation." I recall, as a student at Dallas Seminary, sitting in on a brown-bag luncheon as MacArthur came to discuss with students and members of the Dallas faculty his points of difference with them on the matter. Charles Ryrie and Zane Hodges had already stated in their earlier books that "making Christ Lord" was something that happened subsequent to "accepting Him as Savior." At the time I was a novice theologian and did not fully comprehend the nuances of the debate. In time I came to understand them better and found myself in a swirl of soteriological uncertainty that I lived with for the better part of two decades. Due to my college and seminary foundations, I understood "Lordship salvation" (which MacArthur himself admits is an unfortunate designation) to be a "dirty term." Over time, as I studied the Scriptures and read the writings of both early and contemporary theologians, I began to see both the rationale and the clear statements of Scripture that one cannot truly claim Jesus as Savior apart from submitting to His Lordship authority. I put off reading "The Gospel According to Jesus" for many years because of the preconceived bias I had held against it. As I began moving from dispensational-evangelicalism to a more reformed perspective, however, I finally read the book. It has not only confirmed the soteriological position I have come to embrace, but also answered many questions that I had. From start to finish, MacArthur crafts a masterful and persuasive argument for the necessity of faith and repentance, in addition to the need of following Christ as well as believing in Him. "The Gospel According to Jesus" is loaded with Scriptural support from Jesus' own words and deeds. It is well annotated and shows considerable research from the writings of both supporters and opponents. The author does not shy away from naming names of those with whom he disagrees and takes exception. (I found this personally helpful because it forced me back to the writings of those individuals where I could examine their positions for myself). The book closes with three very helpful appendices, the first two citing quotations that state the content of the Gospel from apostolic and historically ecclesiastical writings. The last appendix addresses a number of the inevitable questions that will inevitably be raised by readers. I consider this volume a must-read for those who want to make certain that their perceptions and proclamations of the Gospel are biblically clear and not grounded in contemporary models of "winning converts" rather than "making disciples."
This is the text book for my Soteriology class in seminary. Dr. MacArthur gives the true meaning of repentance and salvation instead of the diluted presentation most preachers are giving today. Jesus told Nicodemus, "You must be born again." Jeus said, "Take up the cross and follow me." This book explains what this means.