In response to our postmodern world and its errors, John MacArthur and other Christian teachers help readers cultivate a biblical worldview on a wide range of issues. Now in paperback.
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About the Author
John MacArthur is the pastor-teacher of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, where he has served since 1969. He is known around the world for his verse-by-verse expository preaching and his pulpit ministry via his daily radio program, Grace to You. He has also written or edited nearly four hundred books and study guides. MacArthur is chancellor emeritus of the Master’s Seminary and Master’s University. He and his wife, Patricia, live in Southern California and have four grown children.
Pat Ennis (EdD, Northern Arizona University) is the distinguished professor and director of homemaking programs at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. She previously served as the establishing chair of the Home economics/family and consumer science department at the Master’s University. She has authored or coauthored several books, resides in Burleson, Texas, and blogs at theEverydayHomemaker.com.
Grant Horner (MA, University of Alabama) is associate professor of renaissance and reformation studies at the Master's College in Santa Clarita, California. He is a frequent speaker on a number of radio and television programs. He and his wife, Joanne, have three children, and they live in Santa Clarita, California.
Richard Mayhue (ThD, Grace Theological Seminary) served at the Master's Seminary from 1989 to 2016 as the dean of the seminary, research professor of theology, and executive vice president. He has authored or edited more than thirty books, including Biblical Doctrine.
Read an Excerpt
EMBRACING THE AUTHORITY AND SUFFICIENCY OF SCRIPTURE
A truly Christian worldview begins with the conviction that God Himself has spoken in Scripture. As Christians, we are committed to the Bible as the inerrant and authoritative Word of God. We believe it is reliable and true from cover to cover, in every jot and tittle (cf. Matt 5:18). Scripture, therefore, is the standard by which we must test all other truth-claims. Unless that axiom dominates our perspective on all of life, we cannot legitimately claim to have embraced a Christian worldview.
"Judeo-Christian ethics" per se are not what make a worldview Christian. Admiration for the Person and moral teachings of Christ does not necessarily make one's point of view Christian either. A truly Christian worldview, simply put, is one in which the Word of God, rightly understood, is firmly established as both the foundation and the final authority for everything we hold true.
When we begin with a right view of Scripture, the Bible itself ought to shape what we believe from start to finish. It should govern how we behave. It should frame our entire perspective on life. In other words, if we simply start by affirming what the Bible says about itself, the rest of our worldview should fall into place, with the Bible as the source and touchstone of all we believe. So this is the crucial, foundational starting point in developing a Christian worldview.
But is the Bible, in and of itself, sufficient to furnish us with a complete worldview? Many Christians these days seem to imagine that the Bible is neither modern enough nor sophisticated enough to equip people to live in the twenty-first century. Church growth experts tell pastors they must look beyond the Bible for principles of leadership and success gleaned from the modern business world. Psychologists claim the Bible is too simplistic to help people with complex emotional and psychological issues. In every quarter of the evangelical movement today the Scriptures are being set aside in favor of novel philosophies, scientific theories, experimental behavioral and counseling techniques, political correctness, and other similar fads of modern opinion. People who claim to be evangelicals have jumped on almost every novel bandwagon of secular opinion since the middle of the nineteenth century.
Observing the current trends in the church, one would think opinion polls, rather than Scripture, determines truth for Christians. (One Christian pollster recently issued a series of shrill warnings in the form of a book and a series of press releases, saying that the church would soon cease to exist completely if church leaders do not heed modern opinion polls and change the very nature of the church in order to get in step with the times. That point of view is flatly contrary to the principle of Matthew 16:18, where we are told that the gates of hell shall not prevail against the true church.) Obviously, many who call themselves evangelicals operate with something other than a biblical worldview.
THE ATTACK ON BIBLICAL SUFFICIENCY
Perhaps the one doctrine most under attack in the church of our generation is the sufficiency of Scripture. Even people who give lip service to the authority, inspiration, and inerrancy of Scripture sometimes balk at affirming its sufficiency. The result is virtually the same as a denial of biblical authority, because it directs people away from the Bible in search of other "truth."
What do we mean when we say Scripture is sufficient? We mean that the Bible is an adequate guide for all matters of faith and conduct. Scripture gives us every truth we need for life and godliness. Or to borrow words from the A.D. 1647 Westminster Confession of Faith, "The whole counsel of God, concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man's salvation, faith, and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men." The church, by and large, simply does not believe that anymore. The average Christian seems to assume that something more than Scripture is needed to help us cope in a modern world. Christian bookstores are full of books offering advice drawn from sources other than the Bible on almost every conceivable subject — parenting, Christian manhood and womanhood, success and self-esteem, relationships, church growth, church leadership, ministry, philosophy, and so on. Various self-appointed experts who claim to have discovered some deep truth not revealed in Scripture have now become familiar fixtures on the evangelical landscape. The sufficiency of Scripture is under attack, and the effect on the collective worldview of the evangelical movement has been disastrous.
We see evidence of this in the fact that so many pastors and church leaders now doubt that Scripture is a sufficient diet for the saints. They want to supplement biblical teaching with entertainment and ideas drawn from secular sources. They apparently do not believe that studying, teaching, and applying the Word of God alone is sufficient for meeting people's spiritual needs. And they apparently do not believe that preaching the Bible is sufficiently appealing to unbelievers. They insist instead that in today's media-driven, visually-oriented culture, the message must be augmented by music, drama, comedy, and extrabiblical motivational talks. Biblical principles aren't deemed sufficiently "relevant" by themselves. Numerous churches are replacing preaching with carnal amusements. Pastors who are Bible teachers who carefully and thoroughly feed their people an unbroken pattern of accurate, deep, clear, and convicting understanding of God's Word are more rare as time passes.
Do you want more evidence that evangelicals are losing confidence in the sufficiency of Scripture? You will see it in the rise of evangelical mysticism — the belief that Christians need to listen to God speaking directly to them through strong impressions in their mind, a voice in their head, or other mystical means. Some evangelicals have become obsessed with Satan and demonic powers. They imagine that they can command demons merely by speaking to them. All such mysticism is in reality nothing more than dabbling with the occult. It stems from a loss of confidence in the sufficiency of Scripture. Those who aren't convinced the Bible is a sufficient revelation of truth will be continually looking elsewhere for more "revelation" and new mystical experiences. In doing so, they open the door wide to the worst kinds of demonic deception.
During the past quarter century we have witnessed the abandonment of belief in Scripture's sufficiency in another category: marriage and the family. Christians once believed that if they studied the Word of God and obeyed its principles, they would have a God-honoring family life and a fulfilling marriage that would please the Lord. But now there is a proliferation of new techniques and a plethora of concepts, gimmicks, and opinions apart from the Word being offered as the real keys in dealing with family problems. All of that suggests that Christians no longer believe the Bible is a sufficient source of instruction concerning these matters.
I recently read an article in a respected magazine once known for its defense of Reformation principles — including the sufficiency of Scripture. Unfortunately, in this article the author was explaining why he had abandoned his confidence that the Bible is sufficient. He said he had read data from a poll indicating that the divorce rate among "born-again Christians" is as high as or higher than the divorce rate among non-Christian couples. He said those survey results made him conclude that the Bible simply does not have all the answers when it comes to keeping Christian marriages together. This man, who is a Professor of New Testament in a leading evangelical seminary, decided that the biblical guidelines on marriage are simply too superficial to work in the modern world. In short, he said he had abandoned his confidence in biblical sufficiency because of data from an opinion poll.
But generations of Christians can testify that the Bible's teaching about marriage is sufficient, if obeyed, to keep truly Christ-centered marriages healthy and vibrant. We certainly should not be willing to accept uncritically the data of any poll purporting to prove that the marriages of born-again people are more likely to fail than the marriages of unbelievers. In the first place, no pollster could ever accurately determine who is "born again" and who is not. The poll categorized people as "born again" if they claimed any kind of belief in Christ, even if other survey questions revealed they did not understand the essentials of the Gospel. Furthermore, the poll did not distinguish whether the divorce occurred before or after the person's conversion, thereby invalidating the point.
In the second place, no marriage ever fails unless one or both of the partners is disobedient to the clear biblical teaching about how to live with one's partner in love and understanding (cf. 1 Pet 3:1-7). The failure of supposedly Christian marriages today is not proof of the insufficiency of Scripture; it is proof of the weakness and biblical illiteracy of those who say they believe Scripture is the Word of God.
DOES SCRIPTURE CLAIM TO BE SUFFICIENT?
Is there a biblical response to this sinful abandonment of the sufficiency of Scripture? Of course there is. Many passages in the Bible teach that the Scriptures are a perfectly sufficient revelation of "all things that pertain to life and godliness" (2 Pet 1:3).
Second Corinthians 9:8, for example, is filled with superlatives regarding the all-sufficient resources God provides: "And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work" (emphasis added). That is an amazingly comprehensive statement. For anyone to claim that human philosophy must augment the simple truth of Scripture, or that Scripture cannot deal with certain societal issues and individual problems, is to contradict Paul's divinely inspired testimony in that verse.
When Jesus prayed to the Father for believers' sanctification, He said, "Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth" (John 17:17). "Sanctify" means "set apart from sin, to be holy and separated to God." Sanctification encompasses the whole concept of spiritual maturity. Jesus was teaching that every aspect of the believer's holiness is the work of the Word of God (not the Word of God plus something else).
In fact, to suggest that the Word of God alone is insufficient is to espouse the very opinion that lies at the heart of virtually every cult that pretends to be Christian. The one thing nearly all of them have in common is the belief that people need the Bible plus something else — the writings of some "enlightened" prophet or seer, the edicts of church tradition, or the conclusions of science and secular philosophy. So, to deny the sufficiency of Scripture is to espouse an age-old heresy. But Scripture consistently teaches that the complete holiness of the believer is the work of the all-sufficient Word of God (cf. John 17:17).
In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul described how God instructed him and the believers at Corinth: "And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual" (2:13). Through the Holy Spirit, God dispenses His wisdom to believers. His Word is so comprehensive, so effective, and so complete that verse 15 says believers can judge (appraise and evaluate) "all things." Christians who know Scripture can have such a comprehensive ability to discern things because, according to verse 16, they have "the mind of Christ."
The mind of Christ is the consummate mind of God — omniscient, supreme, and without any insufficiency. All the church needs to understand any problem, meet any need, or unravel any issue is the mind of God. And the mind of God is revealed to us in Scripture in a way that is adequate for all our spiritual needs.
In Mark 12:24 Jesus challenged the Pharisees, "Is this not the reason you are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God?" All their errors — like every spiritual error in any context — stemmed from a lack of knowledge and understanding of the Word of God. Notice also that Jesus equated knowing the Scriptures with experiencing "the power of God." Some modern evangelicals seem to think that if the church wants real power we cannot merely proclaim the Bible. That is the view of many charismatics, who insist that signs and wonders are a necessary supplement to merely proclaiming the truth of God's Word. Others, including some of the most influential pundits of the church growth movement, likewise insist that unless biblical preaching is supplemented with other programs, the church can never successfully save the lost. They err severely, not knowing that the gospel message itself "is the power of God for salvation" (Rom 1:16, emphasis added).
How did Jesus handle Satan when the devil tempted Him (Matt 4:1-11)? Did He use some complicated exorcism formula to bind him or banish him to the abyss? No; He simply addressed the devil on three occasions with the words "It is written" and thus refuted the enemy's evil tactics by citing the words of Scripture. So even Christ exercised the power of God through the Word of God, and that is what thwarted Satan's temptation.
The power of God is not found in some mystical, extra-biblical source of knowledge, the use of signs and wonders and ecstatic utterances, the insights of secular psychology and philosophy, or clever insights into people's felt needs. But rather the power of God resides only in the inspired, infallible, and inerrant Word of God. When believers read, study, obey, and apply Scripture, they will realize it has sufficient power to deal with any situation in life.
Jesus also said, "Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!" (Luke 11:28). By that He meant that all spiritual sufficiency is bound up in hearing and obeying the Word of God. Normally we equate "blessed" with an emotional tingle or a momentary sense of excitement. But here Jesus used the term to speak of a blissful state of life — a life accompanied by peace and joy, meaning and value, hope and fulfillment — a life that is fundamentally happy and content. Obedience to God's sufficient Word opens the door to that kind of life. Again, Scripture is the answer to all of life's challenges.
In Luke 16 Jesus relates the parable of Lazarus (the beggar full of sores) and the rich man. Lazarus died and went to Abraham's bosom, the place of blessing. The rich man died and went to the place of torment. From his position of suffering, the rich man pleaded with Abraham:
"Then I beg you, father, to send him [Lazarus] to my father's house — for I have five brothers — so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment." But Abraham said, "They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them." And he said, "No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent." He said to him, "If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead."
— LUKE 16:27-31
The rich man's perspective is the same view of many today who always seem to demand some kind of supernatural affirmation of spiritual truth. They imagine that the straightforward statements of Scripture and the power of the Gospel alone are not sufficient. But the Lord, through the words of the parable, argued otherwise and said that even though He Himself would rise from the dead, miracles are not necessary for the Gospel to do its work in changing lives. Why? Because the Word of God through the inspiration and illumination of the Holy Spirit is powerful enough — it is all-sufficient in what it teaches about redemption and sanctification.
Hebrews 4:12 is another significant verse that declares the inherent sufficiency of Scripture: "For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart." The writer is essentially saying Scripture is unique and there is no spiritual weapon for the believer that is superior to it. The Word of God penetrates the inner being and nature of a person. How? Because it is living and powerful, sharper than any other spiritual tool and able to go deeper and cut cleaner and truer than any other resource to which someone might turn. When utilized effectively and properly, Scripture reveals the deepest thoughts and intentions of the human heart, so that "all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account" (v. 13). Thus, the Bible can do what psychoanalysis can never do. It is sufficient to penetrate and lay bare the deepest part of a person's soul.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Think Biblically!"
Copyright © 2003 John MacArthur and Richard Mayhue.
Excerpted by permission of Good News Publishers.
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Table of Contents
THE MASTER'S COLLEGE CONTRIBUTORS,
PART ONE THE BIBLICAL FOUNDATION,
1 EMBRACING THE AUTHORITY AND SUFFICIENCY OF SCRIPTURE John MacArthur,
2 CULTIVATING A BIBLICAL MIND-SET Richard L. Mayhue,
3 COMPREHENDING CREATION John MacArthur,
4 COMING TO GRIPS WITH SIN John MacArthur,
5 HAVING AN ETERNALLY RIGHT RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD John MacArthur,
6 VIEWING THE NATIONS FROM GOD'S PERSPECTIVE Mark A. Tatlock,
PART TWO THE BIBLICAL FORMULATION,
7 UNDERSTANDING OUR POSTMODERN WORLD Brian K. Morley,
8 PROFILING CHRISTIAN MASCULINITY Stuart W. Scott,
9 PORTRAYING CHRISTIAN FEMININITY Patricia A. Ennis,
10 ENJOYING SPIRITUAL WORSHIP AND MUSIC Paul T. Plew,
11 WHY BIBLICAL COUNSELING AND NOT PSYCHOLOGY? John D. Street,
12 WHY A SCRIPTURAL VIEW OF SCIENCE? Taylor B. Jones,
13 WHY CHRISTIAN EDUCATION AND NOT SECULAR INDOCTRINATION? John A. Hughes,
14 REFLECTING HONESTLY ON HISTORY Clyde P. Greer, Jr.,
15 DEVELOPING A BIBLICAL VIEW OF CHURCH AND STATE John P. Stead,
16 PROPOSING A BIBLICAL APPROACH TO ECONOMICS R. W. Mackey, II,
17 GLORIFYING GOD IN LITERARY AND ARTISTIC CULTURE Grant Horner,