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Quotes by John MacArthur

1

Scripture testifies to its own inspiration; it is the Word of God, originating outside of man. This is particularly important to understand in a culture dominated by the subjectivity of postmodernism. Truth cannot be subjective; there is no such thing as your truth or my truth. Truth is forever fixed. Authentic Christianity has always held that Scripture is absolute, objective truth. The Bible is God’s truth regardless of whether a person believes, understands, or likes it. It is a permanent and universal truth, and therefore, is the same for everyone.

2

A cult…is a religious movement that claims to be a Christian group but that deviates significantly from or outright denies the teachings of Scripture and the historic creeds on crucial points… These groups develop their doctrine through a combination of Scripture-twisting and extrabiblical revelation.

3

As soon as [Eve] did not completely, wholeheartedly, and unreservedly trust the word of God as absolutely true and the source of her highest joy, greatest good, deepest satisfaction, broadest pleasure, and most consonant fulfillment – at that moment the sin of mistrust corrupted her heart.

4

God treated Jesus on the cross as if He lived your life so He could treat you as if you lived His.

5

God forgave sinners before Christ died. God forgives sinners since Christ died. But God forgives all sinners because Christ died.

6

But the animal sacrifices weren’t that substitute. No person was ever delivered from divine judgment by the death of any animal. The repeated sacrifice of animals was simply a continual symbol of the fact that God does deliver by the death of an innocent substitute, but no animal was ever satisfactory to God and so the sacrifices went on and on and on and on by the millions. And the people waited for a sacrifice that would be satisfactory to God, to which all those unsatisfactory sacrifices pointed. That day came on that Friday when God chose His lamb and offered Him as a sacrifice, a substitute for sinners, and poured out His wrath on that innocent substitute.

7

We see Him humiliated and yet majestic. We see Him suffering and yet exalted. We see Him punished and yet innocent. We see Him hated and yet loving. We see Him subjected and yet sovereign.

8

No true believer is completely satisfied with his spiritual progress. Under the illuminating, sanctifying influence of the Holy Spirit, all of us are aware of the areas in our lives that still need to be refined and disciplined for the sake of godliness. In fact, the more we mature, the more capable we are of spotting the sin that still remains in our hearts.

9

Sanctification doesn’t happen by osmosis. We can’t starve ourselves spiritually and still expect to grow in the likeness of Christ. All the facets of Scripture – all its rich benefits and blessings – are not available to those who fail or refuse to open it and study.

10

The shepherd’s ability to faithfully feed his flock depends on how well he’s feeding himself.

11

God’s people need to be fed out of the overflow of the pastor’s deep study of Scripture – not some scraps he was able to pull together at the last minute. Such weakness in the pulpit leads to weakness throughout the church. Good communication skills may entertain, but they are useless if the pastor is not unleashing God’s Word.

12

Despite what current trends would have us believe, a godly pastor can be ignorant about pop culture and the latest Internet memes. He can be ignorant about psychology and sociology. He doesn’t need to be an expert on world events, social movements, or leadership strategies. Being well versed in movies, music, and sports isn’t part of the job description, either, and is often a hindrance to the actual work of ministry. Rather, a pastor must be an expert in the Bible

13

A Good Shepherd is not known by how gently he pets the sheep. A Good Shepherd is known by how well he protects them and feeds them.

14

God’s word is clear: the people in the pews are to appreciate, esteem, love, imitate, obey, and submit to faithful biblical leaders and not to cause them grief [see 1 Thes. 5:12-13; Heb. 13:7, 17].

15

Sanctification begins with spiritually renewing the mind, that is, changing how we think.

16

The more that God’s Word is removed from our lives, the more inhibited our spiritual progress becomes. Nothing else can do the work that the truth does. There is no sanctifying power in human wisdom, intuition, insight, or experience. It is only in the Word of God. Only the truth revealed in Scripture sanctifies – sound teaching accurately interpreted, understood, and applied. As divine revelation is embraced, spiritual progress is made. There are no alternative routes to godly character and holy living.

17

God’s Word is not up for review, debate, or editing. In the words of the psalmist, “Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven” (Psalm 119:89). Scripture doesn’t pass away, go out of date, or drift out of relevance. No one has the right to redact it, question its pertinence, or set it aside in favor of something more culturally sensitive or socially acceptable. It is flawless and perpetually true and thus the source of all praise and honor given to the Lord.

18

Tolerance toward people is a good and biblical virtue, but tolerance toward false teaching is sin.

19

The pursuit of private, subjective interpretation effectively denies both the objectivity and rationality of God’s truth. It also denies the sufficiency of His inspired Word, presuming that there is no more we need to know than what God has placed in Scripture. In the end, this anti-intellectual search for truth often leads to the kind of chaos we see dominating the charismatic movement. For others, it leads to disappointment, despair, and apostasy.

20

We would never know God’s righteousness unless there’s a backdrop of sin; we would never know His saving love unless there’s the backdrop of unworthiness and unloveliness. We would never understand His wrath if there were not an opportunity for judgment. We would never know His mercy if there were not an opportunity for forgiveness. We would never understand grace if He could not bless those who are unworthy.

21

The paradox between divine sovereignty and human responsibility. This is an apparent paradox – not a true paradox, but an apparent paradox – which faith accepts while reason rejects. Faith accepts, because faith acknowledges that we don’t have all the information, but we trust God. Faith accepts this. Reason rejects it, and that’s because reason is finite.

22

Divine predestination, divine providence, divine power, divine purpose; divine planning does not void human responsibility.

23

How in the world can God take every decision, every act, with all its implications by every human being on the planet, leaving them a certain amount of limited autonomy to make their own choices for which they are culpable, and overrule all of that so that it all comes together perfectly into the tapestry of His own divine purpose? And that with all the contingencies – incalculable, infinite contingencies – everything ends up exactly the way God designed it to end up before He created anyone. That is a massive, massive mind and inexplicable, incomprehensible power.

24

No one acts apart from the sovereign plan of God. Every choice, every act, every decision made by every human in the world, including the most evil, heinous behavior against the truth and against the Lord, God overrules and fits into His plan for His own ends and His own glory. There’s not one rebellious molecule in the universe that operates independently of His purpose.

25

For us, we’re trying to abandon sin and embrace holiness. For [Jesus], He was being tempted [in the Garden] to abandon holiness and embrace sin bearing. It’s just the opposite. This is incomprehensible to Him. This is repulsive to Him. This is foreign to Him; He’s not like us. He’s not fighting against sinful impulses to be holy. He’s fighting against holy impulses to be made sin.

26

Though we have been forgiven, and though we have been made new in Christ, we’re like Lazarus. We came out of the grave; we have new life, but we stink. We have our dirty grave clothes on. We are a new creation, incarcerated in unredeemed flesh. And we are seduced by the remnants of our fallenness. Satan’s temptation to us is to hold onto sin and not come to righteousness. Satan’s temptation to us is to hold onto the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.

27

If you’re going to triumph over temptation, you must hate it. You must feel afflicted by it. You must feel the pain of it, the assault of it, the repulsiveness of it. Their needs to be an agonizing in prayer because you love holiness and you hate sin.

28

Unlike modernism, postmodernism does not adhere to one fixed rule to determine the universal truth. Instead, it rejects the notion of universal truth altogether. In the postmodern worldview, truth can’t be fully known – and it might not exist in the first place. Instead, all truth claims are evaluated subjectively. What’s true for one person might not be true for anyone else.

29

The most compelling motivation for faithful, obedient living should not be the threat of discipline or loss of reward but overflowing and unceasing gratitude for the marvelous mercies of God.

30

Christ made Himself of no reputation precisely by taking on a human nature. He emptied Himself not by pouring out portions of His deity but by adding to Himself full and true humanity. His was an emptying by addition, not by subtraction. If He actually surrendered or gave up His divine attributes, then it might suggest that He ceased to be God-but that would result in something at odds with how the Bible identifies Him as being fully and truly God (see “Deity”). Yet even in taking on human nature, the Son of God fully possessed His divine nature, attributes, and prerogatives.

31

Prayer to Jesus Christ constitutes yet another evidence for his deity. Jesus instructed His disciples to pray to Him (John 14:14; 15:16; 16:23-24). Acts 1:24-25 records that the disciples prayed to Christ for guidance in choosing a replacement for Judas Iscariot. Stephen voiced two prayerful requests to Jesus: “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit,” and “Lord, do not hold this sin against them” (Acts 7:59-60). In Damascus, Ananias instructed Saul to be baptized and to call on the name of Jesus (Acts 22:16). The apostle Paul later wrote that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Rom. 10:13; see 1 Cor. 1:2). Paul also appealed to Christ to remove the “messenger of Satan” from him (2 Cor. 12:7-8). Indeed, the New Testament closes with a prayer to Christ: “Come, Lord Jesus!” (Rev. 22:20).

32

When Jesus was called “Son of God,” it was understood categorically by all as a title of deity, declaring Him equal with God and (more significantly) of the same essence as the Father. That is precisely why the Jewish leaders regarded the title Son of God the ultimate high blasphemy.

33

Based on biblical evidence, the unprejudiced mind cannot doubt the existence of a plurality of persons in the Godhead without impugning the clarity, the inerrancy, and the inspiration of the Scriptures. Any accurate discussion of the Trinity must begin and end with what the Bible declares.

34

By analogy God is to Christians as the sun is to the moon. As the sun is the exclusive source of light, so God is the sole source of glory; as the moon reflects light, so believers reflect God’s glory. Because God’s image in man was fractured by the fall, sinful humans refract God’s glory more than they reflect it back to Him. But once believers begin to be transformed into the same image at the moment of salvation, they reflect more than they refract. Thus, God’s glory is more and more returned to Him just as He transmitted it to his beloved ones. That’s how Christians can give to God something that He alone possesses and shares with no one (Isa. 42:8; 48:11).

35

Scripture responds to the problem of evil not with philosophical reasonings but with divine reassurance of final divine vindication.

36

Suffering will end in glory for believers, and prosperity will end in judgment for the wicked.

37

Scripture shows some ways in which God uses evil to further His purposes: to display divine grace and justice (Rom. 3:26; 5:8, 20-21; 9:17); to judge evil in the present and future (Matt. 23:35; John 5:14); to redeem through Christ’s sufferings (1 Pet. 3:18); to expand gospel witness through the suffering of Christ’s people (Col. 1:24); to shock unbelievers, get their attention, and call for a change of heart (Zech. 13:7-9; Luke 13:1-5; John 9); to discipline believers (Heb. 12:3-17); and to vindicate God (Rom. 3:26).

38

Scripture shows us that God has always used and is now presently using evil to fulfill His purposes for good. The solution of the problem of evil must be theocentric, not anthropocentric. It must not have as its aim to make man happier or freer but to glorify God. The greater-good defense is valid only if the greater good is seen as that which glorifies God more fully than a lesser good.

39

Theodicy involves a vindication of God’s justice against the charge that the presence of evil in creation shows Him to be unjust, impotent, both, or nonexistent. Theodicy declares that God is all-powerful and all-good even though this might not seem to be the case since evil exists in the creation.

40

Scripture never assumes that God must explain His actions but rather asserts that He has the right to be trusted… According to Exodus 33:19, God will not submit to man’s judgment but will show grace and mercy to whomever He wills without needing to explain His actions… God’s Word is absolutely reliable, and Scripture is clear: God is holy, not unjust.

41

Family is the divinely created institution for the formation of restrained sinners who by generations of morality, discipline, love, virtue, and obedience become a benefit to society, enjoy God’s gifts, and are grateful.

42

So how does a person shut down conscience? Two ways: misinform it. Conscience is not a law; conscience is a mechanism. You can shut down pain, right? You can shut down pain; just take drugs. Mask pain. If you mask pain, you mask the reality that you’re doing some damage. You can mask conscience by misinforming it. How do you do that? You take the true law of God, which is written in Scripture and written in the human heart, and you basically eliminate it, denounce it, diminish it, remove it, and replace it with another law; and if you do this generationally you’ll eventually raise generations of people whose conscience is now informed by lies. The other thing you can do to shut down the conscience is just think you shouldn’t feel guilty. Let psychology take you off-the-hook: “You shouldn’t feel bad about yourself. You’re wonderful. You’re the best. You can be anything you want to be. You’re heroic. You’re a good person. You ought to be able to do whatever you want. You live any way you want. Don’t let anybody make you feel guilty for anything.” Just keep driving all efforts against the normal work of the conscience and misinform the conscience and you’ve turned the beast loose. This society in which we live today has been doing that damage for decades, for decades.

43

All the false religions of the world are attempts to run from the true God. They’re all satanic counterfeits sending men in the opposite direction from God. Isaiah 53, verse 6 sums it up: “All we like sheep have gone astray, turned everyone to his own way.” We’re like sheep in that we go astray. Sheep go astray by nature. Our nature sends us away from God. We flee from God. We flee in some noble effort to feel good about our fleeing, and so we invent false religion to accommodate our rebellion.

44

The Bible is the most offensive book ever written. It damns the whole human race. No one escapes.

45

The truth of God is the most important thing in the world. It’s more important than anything else, and it’s more important than everything else combined. The truth reveals God… It must be spoken and it must be written no matter what the effects may be and the effects are predictable. On the one hand, some people believe and all heaven breaks loose. On the other hand, some people do not believe and all hell breaks loose.

46

Jesus didn’t escalate the conflict by being insensitive. He didn’t escalate the conflict by being ungracious. The conflict escalated of itself because He spoke the truth… it’s the truth matters more than anything else and if you always say the truth in every situation, the truth will have the effect of exposing everything else as error and people who are in that error aren’t happy about that. That’s the bottom line. And Jesus was compelled by the truth. 

47

A true seeker has come under the convicting power of the Holy Spirit by virtue of a true understanding of the law of God. A true seeker has been broken and contrite in heart by being measured against the law of God and found guilty before God. A true seeker knows that there is no way to earn salvation by works. And a true seeker is so desperate for eternal life as to gladly abandon everything in this life for that greatest of all gifts and willingly submit to the lordship of Jesus Christ. Those are the tests that separate the false seeker from the true seeker. The true seeker can be saved because God alone produces that kind of repentance and submission. The false seeker cannot be saved because it’s impossible if you’re just coming on your own.

48

If the Bible doesn’t mean exactly what it says, if we say it doesn’t mean what it says, then to what authority do we turn to find out what it does mean?

49

Even the good deeds unbelievers perform are not truly a fulfillment of God’s law, because they are produced by the flesh, for selfish reasons, and from a heart that is in rebellion.

50

If the Spirit of God is at work in your life, nothing will stop you from making this commitment. You have nothing to fear in telling someone that. You have nothing to fear in saying to someone, “I want you to think about this, I want you to consider the cost carefully.” You have nothing to fear. What you’re doing is stopping people from superficial, non-saving delusion. You’re backing them off and saying, let’s find out whether this is really the work of the Spirit of God and what is happening in your life is not a momentary, emotional thing, but what is happening in your life is the true, regenerating work of the Holy Spirit producing an unrelenting repentance and an undying faith that will go through every barrier. You do all the important things in life by calculating carefully. This is the most important thing you’ll ever do.

51

Jesus is not offering a makeover. He’s calling for a takeover, very different from the easy kind of Christianity light that we’re so familiar with. 

52

The glory of God is the goal of redemption and the salvation of the sinner is the means to that… Only the people who understand that are the ones that understand what worship is really about.  

53

What is a false religion? A false religion is any religion by any name that is not consistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ, whether it’s Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism or some aberrant kind of Christianity. All false religions agree on being anti-gospel. This is the greatest attack always on the truth.

54

All false religions have their own diversities, but all false religions agree in taking a position opposite the gospel of Jesus Christ.

55

[Jesus] is not under anyone but God, and He is in perfect agreement with God, as God. He has authority… He has absolute unilateral authority to do whatever He will, whenever He wills, with whomever or whatever He wills… Jesus never in His earthly life asked permission to do anything. Never. He never sought it from any normal channels in His ministry… No matter what it was, there was no authority to whom Jesus went. He quoted no rabbi. He had permission from no Sanhedrin. He had no rabbinical council to which He was answerable. He was not ordained in the appropriate way that all teachers and rabbis were ordained. And nor was His theology checked and signed off on by the Sanhedrin. And He teaches without any connection to any prior mentor or rabbi, and without credentials, and without ordination, which could only be given by the Sanhedrin. Jesus was His own authority. He spoke prophetically. He spoke truly. He rightly interpreted the Old Testament Scripture. He spoke the true Word of God. They even admitted that. He forgave sin. He healed sick people. He raised the dead. He cast out demons. And He did it without ever seeking permission from anyone.

56

Don’t ever think for one split second that Jesus came into the world to offer a kingdom to Israel without a cross and that somehow when the Jews rejected Him as King, He had to go and die on the cross.  He never offered a kingdom without a cross.  He was the Lamb slain from before the foundation of the world. 

57

[Jesus was] led to slaughter in the greatest act of injustice from a human standpoint ever enacted to achieve the greatest act of justice from a divine point ever accomplished.

58

No human being…is ever conceived outside God’s will or ever conceived apart from God’s image. Life is a gift from God created in His own image.

59

Love’s question is never who to love – because we are to love everyone – but only how to love most helpfully. We are not to love merely in terms of feeling but in terms of service. God’s love embraces the entire world (John 3:16), and He loved each of us even while we were still sinners and His enemies (Rom. 5:8-10). Those who refuse to trust in God are His enemies; but He is not theirs. In the same way, we are not to be enemies of those who may be enemies to us. From their perspective, we are their enemies; but from our perspective, they should be our neighbors.

60

Mothers, don’t let anyone ever dupe you into thinking there’s anything ignoble or disgraceful about remaining at home and raising your family. Don’t buy the lie that you’re repressed if you’re a worker in the home instead of in the world’s workplace. Devoting yourself fully to your role as wife and mother is not repression; it is true liberation. Multitudes of women have bought the world’s lie, put on a suit, picked up a briefcase, dropped their children off for someone else to raise, and gone into the workplace, only to realize after fifteen years that they and their children have a hollow void in their hearts. Many such career women now say they wish they had devoted themselves to motherhood and the home instead.

61

The question in salvation is not whether Jesus is Lord, but whether we are submissive to His lordship.

62

Mary’s virginity protected a great deal more than her own moral character, reputation, and the legitimacy of Jesus’ birth. It protected the nature of the divine Son of God… Jesus had to have one human parent or He could not have been human, and thereby a partaker of our flesh. But He also had to have divine parentage of He could not have made a sinless and perfect sacrifice on our behalf.

63

The source of most of the problems people have in their Christian lives relates to two things: either they are not worshiping six days a week with their life, or they are not worshiping one day a week with the assembly of the saints. We need both.

64

The preacher must put himself out of the way and let God’s Word speak through him unhindered.  No matter what his training, experience, or personal abilities, he has spiritual authority only to the extent that what he says conforms to God’s Word.  But as with Jesus’ own teaching, when a minister of God does faithfully proclaim that Word, those who reject his teaching reject God’s truth and are as much accountable for their rejection as if the Lord had spoken the truth with His own lips.  It is in that way, and only in that way, that a pastor is able to speak with spiritual authority.  It is also in that way that he is commanded to speak with spiritual authority.

65

It has been estimated that from the first “good morning” to the last “good night,” the average person engages in 30 conversations a day; some of you average more than that, some of you, less. Statisticians have estimated that each of us will spend 13 years of our life talking, and every day, our words could write a book of 50-60 pages. In a year, if we are just average, we could author 264 books of over 200 pages, just with our words. You can do more than that if you can speak in excess of 300 words per minute, as some of us are able to do, or if you talk incessantly at any speed.

66

The history of persecution of God’s people shows that the chief persecutor has been false religion. It is the purveyors of error who are the aggressive enemies of truth, and it is therefore inevitable that, as God’s Word predicts, the final world system of the antichrist will be religious, not secular.

67

Worship cannot be isolated or relegated to just one place, time, or segment of our lives. We cannot verbally thank and praise God while living lives of selfishness and carnality. That kind of effort at worship is a perversion. Real acts of worship must be the overflow of a worshiping life… As God warms the heart with righteousness and love, the resulting life of praise that boils over is the truest expression of worship.

68

Another guarantee of our inheritance is our persevering faith. Peter said we are protected by God’s power through faith (1 Pet. 1:5). Faith is God’s gift to us; we don’t generate it on our own (Eph. 2:8-9; Phil. 1:29). Faith is aroused by grace, upheld by grace, and energized by grace. Grace reaches into the soul of the believer, generating and maintaining faith. By God’s grace alone we trust Christ, and by grace we continue to believe.

69

This Passover [just before our Lord’s sacrifice], after 1500-plus years of Passovers, was the last divinely sanctioned and authorized Passover ever held. Any Passover ever celebrated after this one is not authorized by God. It is a remnant of a bygone economy, of an extinct dispensation, of a covenant no longer in vogue. It is vestigial. It serves no significant purpose. Jesus here celebrated the Passover as a way to bring it to its end. The bell tolled in the upper room for the old economy. Christ ended the long years of Passover and began a new memorial feast which He begins to institute in verse 26 [of Matthew 26]. And this new feast is the feast not of the old economy but the new economy, not the old covenant but the new covenant, not the Old Testament but the New Testament, not looking to a lamb in Egypt but a Lamb of God on a hill of Calvary. So, Jesus ends the old before He begins the new. And after having drawn the curtain on the Passover of the old economy, He institutes the feast of the new.

70

Contemporary theologians have fabricated an entire category for this type of person – the “carnal Christian.” Who knows how many unregenerate persons have been lulled into a false sense of spiritual security by the suggestion that they are merely carnal? Christians can and do behave in carnal ways, but nothing in Scripture suggests that a real Christian might pursue a life-style of unbroken indifference or antagonism toward the things of God. Christians do not masquerade as children of the devil. The very reverse is true; Satan pretends to be an angel of light, and his servants imitate the children of righteousness (2 Corinthians 11:14-15).

71

The truth is, those who claim miracles today are not able to substantiate their claims. Unlike the miracles in the New Testament, which were usually done with crowds of unbelievers watching, modern miracles typically happen either privately or in religious meetings. The types of miracles claimed, too, are nothing like New Testament miracles. Jesus and the apostles instantly and completely healed people born blind, a paralytic, a man with a withered arm – all obvious, indisputable miracles. Even Jesus’ enemies did not challenge the reality of His miracles! Moreover, New Testament miracles were immediate, thorough, and permanent. Our Lord and His disciples never did a miracle slowly or incompletely.

72

Prayer is the muscle that activates the arm of omnipotence.

73

To be a mother is by no means second class. Men may have the authority in the home, but the women have the influence. The mother, more than the father, is the one who molds and shapes those little lives from day one.

74

No matter where it ends, sin always begins when an evil thought is sown in the mind and heart.

75

We might sum up all discipline by saying it means giving the appropriate reward for the conduct. When the conduct (including both attitudes and actions) is good, a positive reward is warranted. When the conduct is bad, a negative reward is in order. It’s really that simple.

76

Children have a heart problem. They are constitutionally sinful. Like their parents, and like the rest of the Adamic race, they are fallen. What they need most are regenerate hearts. This is the most fundamental issue in parenting. It’s not ultimately about behavior; it’s all about the child’s heart.

77

God saves believers by imputing to them the merit of Christ’s perfect righteousness – not in any sense because of their own righteousness. God accepts believers in Christ. He declares them perfectly righteous because of Christ. Their sins have been imputed to Christ, who has paid the full penalty. His righteousness is now imputed to them, and they receive the full merit for it. That is what justification by faith means.

78

[The Bible] presents a most plausible understanding of the universe and the existence of life. It presents a God who creates. That makes more sense than believing that everything came out of nothing – that nobody times nothing equals all things – which is essentially what the theory of evolution says. I have an easier time assuming that everything was produced by someone. And the Bible tells me who that someone is: God.

79

[Inaccurate assumptions of psychology include] human nature is basically good, people have the answers to their problems inside them, the key to understanding and correcting a person’s attitudes and actions lies somewhere in his past, individuals’ problems are the result of what someone else has done to them, human problems can be purely psychological in nature – unrelated to any spiritual or physical condition, deep-seated problems can be solved only by professional counselors using therapy, Scripture, prayer, and the Holy Spirit are inadequate and simplistic resources for solving certain types of problems.