John MacArthur Gets Booted Off the Bible Broadcasting Network
for Preaching the the Biblical Doctrine of Election
Aug 23, 2004
Eariler this month John MacArthur was ejected from Bible Broadcasting Network for teaching what they call "Election/Hyper-Calvinism" which they claim has brought much confusion to their listeners. The network asserts that there is no human answer to the sovereignty of God and the "free will of man". Both, they claim, are clear biblical teachings but beyond our human comprehension. Their evidence is to claim that for every verse which says, "God chose" there is one that says, "Whosoever will may come".
While it is universally agreed among Christians that "whosoever
will may come" is Scriptural truth, yet what is often overlooked that it
is equally true that God holds us responsible to obey such things as the Ten
Commandments. Does this mean that fallen man has the moral capacity to do so?
No. Likewise, we all know that if God left men to their free wills, apart from
grace, then He would be be consigning all persons to His wrath and there would
be no hope for anyone. This is because no one is naturally willing to submit
themselves to the humbling terms of the gospel. Leaving people to themselves
is actually the greatest judgment which God Himself can, in this present life,
inflict upon a man because man cannot save himself (see Rom 1 where God gives
people over to what they want). God could, of course, justly judge all of humanity
by withholding such grace, but what should amaze us is that, in spite of their
rebellious obstinance, He still sets His affection on a vast number that no
man may number and brings them to saving faith (but not because they naturally
had some moral insight that others did not). BBN's rejection of MacArthur's
teaching on God's sovereignty in salvation is based on their dispensational
position (soteriologically) which they claim "rightly divides the word
of truth". While it is true that MacArthur is also a Dispensationalist
with regard to eschatology, he rejects any and all "dispensational"
soteriological innovations, holding to classic Reformed (i.e., Calvinistic,
not "covenantal") soteriology.
But before they go around calling names like "hypercalvinist"
to John MacArthur, they should take the time to really learn what the word means.
is a real danger, I would agree, but MacArthur's teaching is not even close
to it. (To learn more about hypercalvinism click
here). It is an insult to say that those who are teaching that God chooses
us, are hypercalvinists since the fact that God saves us by GRACE ALONE, is
plainly taught in Scripture. We can contribute nothing to the price of our salvation.
In the man-centered theology of the radio network one could consistently pray
"thank you God that I made better use of your grace than my neighbor."
This is boasting and the reason for much moralistic arrogance among modern-day
Christians over unbelievers. We often begin to think God saved us because of
something we did better -- and thus something unbelievers didn't have the wherewithal
or moral impulse to do (believe) - rather than give glory to God alone for every
aspect of who we are. The Text asserts,"By the grace of God I am what I
am" In missing this, we make the same mistake of ancient Israel as God's
warning in Deut 9 shows:
4 "Do not say in your heart when the LORD your God has driven them out before you, 'Because of my righteousness the LORD has brought me in to possess this land,' but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD is dispossessing them before you. 5 "It is not for your righteousness or for the uprightness of your heart that you are going to possess their land, but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD your God is driving them out before you, in order to confirm the oath which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. 6 "Know, then, it is not because of your righteousness that the LORD your God is giving you this good land to possess, for you are a stubborn people.
God saved us because he was merciful to us. He gave us the new birth unto faith but not because of our faith. God set aside Abraham as His own, not because He saw something good in Him. God set his covenant love on him and promised he and his descendants blessing. The reason was in God Himself (Eph 1, 4, 5). Abraham believed, yes, but even that was by God's graciousness, not because his flesh naturally had more excellent and worthy thoughts about God than his neighbor. Are men and women naturally willing to submit to the humbling terms of the gospel?. Can a person naturally have spiritual understanding apart from a work of the Holy Spirit? Why do some people submit to the gospel and not others? If it isn't because God sovereignly chose some then you must look to the flesh and moral capacity of some over others.
The BBN is obviously woefully confused about grace. Listeners may indeed be confused about MacArthur's teaching about election because, from the start, they have been erroneously taught synergism from their church traditions and their own radio station (rather than Scripture). What a tragedy that they are willing to embrace an inconsistent theology which ultimately brings glory to man. But man, of himself, is not capable by reason or strength alone to produce faith, apart from the grace of regeneration. To assume that man can choose apart from an effectual work of the Holy Spirit in him is to give to much credit to those who do choose God, as if they did it apart from grace. These dispensationalists will answer "but God did give grace." Yeah? Then why do some make use of it and not others?... That is my question.
The dispensational reason for some having faith and not others comes from within man himself. Of course, along with them we agree that the Scripture teaches, "whosoever will may come ..." All Christians believe this. But have they forgotten, men love darkness and hate the light and WILL NOT COME INTO THE LIGHT (John 3:19, 20). That means man's affections are for the darkness. He does not naturally love God and does not understand spiritual things without illumination, spiritual eyes and circumcised ears (1 Cor 2:14). Jesus said the world cannot receive the Holy Spirit..."the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive..." (John 14:17) When Peter admitted that Jesus was the Messiah, Jesus said to Him, "Flesh and blood did not reveal this to you but my Father in Heaven." Likewise. "No one can say Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit." The Scriptures further teach to believers, "knowing, brethren beloved by God, His choice of you; for our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction" (1 thess 1 :4, 5) Does the Bible teach that we cannot understand God's sovereignty in our salvation? Such is a man invented doctrine. We agree that it is a mystery to ask why He chooses anyone, rather than none, and we glorify God that He would have mercy on miserable broken sinners like us, but it is no mystery that He does, in fact, choose us, and not we him (John 15:16). Yes we must have faith in Christ, but even the desire for faith is a work of God's grace (Phil 1:29, 2 Tim 2:25, Eph 2:8).
Jesus plainly teaches the same:
"For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes." (John 5:21)
"All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him." (Matt 11:27)
""All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. ...It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life... "For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father." (John 6:37, 63-65)
When the Scripture says "come to me" it is equivalent to "believe in him" IN other words no one can believe in Jesus unless it has been granted of the Father...further vs. 37 says that "ALL THE FATHER GIVES TO CHRIST WILL COME TO HIM." This isn't hypercalvinism but is the plain text of Scripture and those fighting against it, while they may be brothers, are kicking against the goads. We agree man is responsible for his sin and for choosing God. The problem is that no one is naturally willing to come to Christ (Rom 3:11, 12; 1 Cor 2:14, ROM 8:7). God is merciful still. Part of the work of Christ was the redemptive blessing of delivering men from their unregenerate state (Eph 1:3; 1 Pet 1:3). To say that we have the power to believe, apart from the work of Christ "is to make the cross and grace of Jesus Christ of none effect," as John Owen once said.
The action taken to remove MacArthur from the station for preaching a biblical doctrine is an ominous development. Let us pray the Lord open the eyes of our dispensational brothers who are bringing confusing and inconsistent theology into the Church. Let us be patient and gentle as we speak with them about this ... for our life demonstrates the grace of God just as much as the truth.
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