But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” – Matthew 7:14 (NIV)
I just finished reading a book by John MacArthur called “Hard To Believe: The High Cost and Infinite Value of Following Jesus”. Mr. MacArthur presents a very straightforward message in his book: accept no imitations, as there is only one true gospel. He is critical of false preaching and those who try to sugarcoat the message in order to appeal to a wider audience. And he gives examples of churches who emphasize their coffeehouses and music over the message, and another that won’t confront sinners because they want everyone to feel welcome. MacArthur says simply, “No gospel, no salvation. The absolute exclusivity of it has always been a shameful, embarassing, inconvenient message to worldly-wise sinners, but the truth is nonnegotiable.” (p. 37).
I have to admit I spent a lot of time squirming in my seat while reading this book. It doesn’t feel good to see bad examples given that relate directly to your own life and call for you to turn and look in the mirror. For example, MacArthur discusses what he calls “the fair exchange”. It’s for those of us who justify our sinful behavior with an example of good behavior somewhere else to balance it out, instead of confronting it. “It is like swapping around Weight Watchers points,” says MacArthur. This is something I especially need work on – good works don’t cancel out the bad behavior. Living in obedience to God’s Word is not about a balancing act. MacArthur emphasizes the “narrow gate” many times throughout his book, and it’s something I need to get a grasp on myself.
I’d recommend this book. It wasn’t an easy read for me, but it was definitely worthwhile. I like John MacArthur’s sermons and was glad to finally read one of his many books. Thanks to my friend Michelle over at I’m a Teacup, NOT a Sledgehammer for the inspiration to go out and pick it up.
If you’ve already read it, let me know what you think.