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03 October, 2007 / theexpositor

John MacArthur on The Doctrines of Grace

On Grace to You, John MacArthur is presenting a tremendous teaching series on The Doctrines of Grace. You must hear these programs and you can at You can listen to the audio online, read the transcript, or better yet, purchase the entire series for yourself. Here is an excerpt from the transcript of the program on Monday October 1, on the doctrine of limited atonement…..

“So the message then, the typical evangelical message, is to sinners, “God loves you so much He sent His Son who paid in full the penalty for your sins and won’t you respond to that love and not disappoint God and accept the gift and let Him save you since He already paid in full the price for your sins?”  The final decision is up to the sinner.

And it kind of carries the notion that God loves you so much, you’re so special, He gave His Son and He paid in full the penalty for your sins and that’s suppose to move you emotionally to love Him back and accept this gift.  And so you kind of work the sinner and kind of manipulate the sinner in that direction trying to find a psychological point, a felt-need point, play the right organ music, sing the right invitation hymn.  You know, grease the slide and get him moving in the direction of making the choice. 

Now you’ve got a problem here, folks.  We’ve got a big problem.  We saw in our last study that no sinner on his own can make that choice, right?  This is the doctrine of absolute inability.  He can’t make it.  He cannot make that choice.  All people…all people are sinners and all sinners are dead in their trespasses and sins.  All of them are alienated from the life of God.  All do only evil continually.  All are unwilling and unable to understand, to repent and to believe, all have darkened minds, blinded by sin and Satan, all have hearts that are full of evil, all are wicked, desperately wicked.  All desire only the will of their father who is Satan, all of them are unable to seek God, they are all trapped in absolute inability and unwillingness.

So how then can the sinner make the choice?  I don’t care what felt need you might find.  I don’t care what you might think you see, quote/unquote, in his heart that will let you lead anyone to Christ, I don’t care how many invitation verses you sing or how much organ music or mood music you play to try to induce some kind of response, the sinner on his own cannot understand, cannot repent, and cannot believe.  Remember what we saw in John 1?  To as many as believed He gave the authority, the right to become children of God but not by the will of man or the will of the flesh.  Ephesians 2:8 and 9, “By grace are you saved through faith but that not of yourselves.”  It is through Him that you are in Christ, 1 Corinthians 1:30, salvation is from God.  We saw that.  He has to give life to the dead.  He has to give sight to the blind.  He has to give hearing to the deaf.  He has to give understanding to the ignorant.  He has to give repentance to those who love sin.  He has to give faith to those who can’t believe.  He has to move the heart to seek Him who otherwise would not.  So that all the elements that caused the sinner to come to Christ are God-ordained and God-induced. ”



  1. Sam / Oct 4 2007 23 36

    Hi Mike,

    I’ve listened to this series on Oneplace. I respect MacArthur’s teachings on many levels, but cannot agree with him on this teaching.

    If you have time here is a discussion written by a 4-point Calvinst on Limited Atonement that is very good:

    Your Arminian Friend,

    Sam 🙂

  2. The Rev. Bryan Dabney / Oct 9 2007 13 56


    It took me awhile to accept the fact that God is sovereign over his creation. I struggled with the hard passages in the Scriptures concerning election and choice. It was so liberating when God finally led me to accept his sovereignty in all things and that I through original sin could not do anything on my behalf to effect my salvation. God convinced me in my heart with the gift of faith. I had heard the word preached but it was in God’s time that I came to see the truth of his word in my life.
    Now, I work to bring the message of the Gospel to others so that they might receive God’s gift, if he wills that for them.
    Thank you for your ministry of proclaiming the word to others so that they too might receive the gift of faith agreeable with Romans 10: 17.

  3. Bob Abernathy / Oct 18 2007 16 49

    I believe that the very best presentation of the workings of God’s Sovereign Will and Man’s Free Will that I have ever read is in Bruce Ware’s “God’s Greater Glory.” Dr. Ware is a professor at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. His writing is theologically sound, well reasoned and the best treatise on how both “Wills” as presented in scripture are true and interoperate. I recommend it to you — it cleared up a lot of questions and concerns that I had regarding this issue. Thanks.

  4. jerryetherton / Dec 3 2007 5 20

    What do you do with Jn.3:18? I really feel your comments in the first part of this article are inflamitory. “Grease the slide” John MacArthur is a strong believer in the sovereignty of God. You are not accurate here.
    Thank you and “Praise our Gracious Lord”

  5. Chisum Andrew Proctor / Nov 6 2010 21 16

    man oh man, I throughly enjoy MacArthur. He is conservative, but passionate and he has such a guiding and loving tone as he shares the Word. His message on human inablitiy and human unwillingness is amazing one of my all time favorites to run to again and again. I grew up non christian then was saved by the Lord through, wierdly enough, Calvary Chapels ministry and then was introduced to Mark Driscoll who has made an amazing impact on me as a man, but then came across many other great men of the Reformed Christian Faith, powerful stuff actually makes you think and get interested in God and the Word, makes you a theologian on one level or another. But one question I have for so-called 4 pointers of the Doctrines of Grace…how do you reconcile being a believer in only a fraction of the Doctrines of Grace if they all are intertwined together, meaning they can not be seperated and still hold up. They work as one, not five. Limited or Particular Atonement is Election is Irresistable Grace is Total Depravity is Perseverance of the Saints, you get the idea. 🙂

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