- John MacArthur
- John MacArthur - False Teacher, False Preacher, and Heretic
The April 1986 edition of Faith For The Family quotes him as saying in a 1976 article entitled, Not His Bleeding But His Dying:
"It was His death that was efficacious... not His blood... Christ did not bleed to death. The shedding of blood had nothing to do with bleeding... it simply means death... Nothing in His human blood saves... It is not His blood that I love... it is Him. It is not His bleeding that saved me, but His dying."
It is incredible to me, that a so-called "Christian" minister would make such statements.
The elders were admonished "to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood" (Acts 20:28). Redemption and remission of sins cannot be apart from "faith in his blood" (Rom. 3:24,25). We are "justified by his blood" (Rom. 5:9). "In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins…" (Eph. 1:7). We "are made nigh by the blood of Christ" (Eph. 2:13). "We have redemption through his blood" (Col. 1: 14), and he "made peace through the blood of his cross" (Col. 1:20).
In Hebrews we are told that "by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us" (Heb. 9: 12). We are told, "without shedding of blood is no remission" (Heb. 9:22). We have "boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus" (Heb. 10:19). Jesus suffered with out the camp, "that he might sanctify the people with his own blood" (Heb. 13:12).
John tells us clearly that ''the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin" (I John 1:7) ''Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood'' (Rev. 1:5). They will sing of Christ, ''thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood'' (Rev. 5:9). "These are they which came out of great tribulation. and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb" (Rev. 7:14). If the blood itself has no significance, then why do we have all of these Scriptures?
John 6:54-57 "Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whosoever eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him."
Jesus says over and over again, in the clearest terms, that His flesh is food and His blood is drink. He says that unless you eat His flesh and drink His blood you shall not have life in you.
Non-Catholics claim that the words of Jesus in John 6 are not meant to be understood literally. They claim that Jesus was speaking only metaphorically or symbolically. Such an interpretation is not justified by the context of John 6. Furthermore, it is clearly refuted by what Jesus said to the Jews immediately after expressed their disbelief at the idea of eating His flesh and drinking his blood.
John 6:52-53 "The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you."
The Jews did not believe that it was possible (or that Jesus could really mean) that He would give them His flesh and blood to eat and drink. They said exactly what the Protestants are saying today. If Jesus had been speaking in purely metaphorical (rather than literal) terms, as the Protestants say, then here was the perfect opportunity for Him to assure them that their fears were unfounded. It was the perfect moment for Jesus to explain that He didn't really mean that people would eat His flesh and drink His blood, but that He meant something else.
So what does Jesus say to them? In response to their disbelief, we see that Jesus repeats the same message, that it's necessary to actually eat His flesh and drink His blood, but in even stronger terms. He tells them that if they don't eat His flesh and drink His blood they will not have life in them (John 6:53)
John 6:60-68 "Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is a hard saying; who can hear it? When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? ... From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life."
If Jesus did not really mean that people would eat His flesh and drink His blood, then He would have clarified His meaning and stopped these disciples from leaving Him over a misunderstanding. He would have said something like this: "Wait, you misunderstood me. I was only speaking symbolically. I didn't really mean that people would eat my flesh and drink my blood." But He doesn't do anything of the sort. He lets everyone who cannot accept His message walk away. This is an overwhelming contextual indication that everyone understood that Jesus was speaking literally of the necessity to eat His flesh and drink His blood. They simply couldn't accept it, and Jesus wasn't going to deny the truth or modify what He had told them.
The fact that many of Jesus' followers left Him over the necessity to eat His flesh and drink His blood is sadly illustrative of how this issue would, at different times in Church history, be a prime cause of people leaving the true faith of Jesus. It happened again in the 16th century, when many left Jesus and His true faith because they refused to believe that the Eucharist is the actual body and blood of Jesus Christ (see The Bible teaches that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist).
MacArthur's belief cannot be reconciled with the words of our Saviour, when He said, "For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins" (Matt. 26:28). "This cup is the new testament in my blood which is shed for you" (Luke 22:20). These words were spoken by the Lord Jesus Christ as He instituted the Lord's Supper or the Eucharist for His Church.
The children of Israel were told to slay the Passover lamb. They were to take the blood of the lamb, and strike it upon the door posts of their houses. "And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you..." (Ex. 12: 13). God did not tell them to hang the body of the lamb on the door post.
MacArthur's doctrine is in conflict with Lev. 17:11, "For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul."
John MacArthur, Grace to You: "For some strange reason people have accused me of denying the blood of Christ, which is not so. … There are others who say that there's something magical in the blood, something in the blood itself that washes sin away, when the Scripture teaches it was the death of Christ that atoned for sin and He shed His literal blood in sacrificial evidence of the pouring out of His life for sin, but there was nothing magic about that blood itself that could wash sin. And so this HERESY has begun to develop, strangely enough." (http://www.gty.org/resources/sermons/80-44/The-Blood-of-Christ)
MacArthur says it's "heresy" or tantamount to "magic" to believe that the Blood of Christ Saves! What arrogance!
Acts 2:38 "But Peter said to them: Do penance, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of your sins: and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost."
That's quite clear. The Bible says that baptism is for the remission of sins. It takes away sins.
The Bible makes a clear connection between the Blood of Jesus and the water of baptism. In John 19, we see that blood and water came forth from Jesus' side after His death on the Cross. This real event had a symbolic significance as well.
John 19:34 "But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water."
This signified that His Blood (and the merit of His passion) would be poured out with water in baptism. That's why we also read in 1 John 5 that there is a connection between the spirit, the water and the blood.
1 John 5:8 "And there are three that give testimony on earth: the spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three are one."
This refers to the three witnesses in justification: the new life or spirit brought by justification, the water of baptism, and the blood of Jesus. These three must be present for a person to be justified. The first and the third come together – are poured out – in the water of baptism. That's why Jesus speaks of being born again of water and the spirit (John 3:5). He could have also truly spoken of being born again of water, blood and the spirit.
Most Protestants today do not believe that baptism regenerates. This includes Baptists, Presbyterians, Pentecostals, most Evangelicals, and many others. They do not believe that baptism removes sin from the soul and places man in a state of justification. Their position is that water baptism should be performed, but that it's just a sign of initiation, a sign of a conversion, or a spiritual rebirth that has already happened.
The Catholic position is that baptism is necessary for salvation. The Catholic Church teaches that baptism is necessary for every man because baptism is the cause of spiritual rebirth. Baptism regenerates.
So what does the Bible teach on the matter?
John 3:3-5 "Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."
Deeply consider that when Jesus teaches this profound truth, He prefaces His statement by saying: "verily, verily" or "truly truly" or "amen, amen," depending upon the translation you are reading.
This double-affirmation is an act of oath-taking. In a Jewish court of law, no one could be put to death without the testimony of two witnesses (Deuteronomy 19:15). Both of them had to raise their right hand and say: Amen. (See Nehemiah 8:6 or 2 Esdras 8:6 as an example of the solemnity of this formula.) Therefore, this solemn language indicates that what Jesus has to say here is extremely serious. Jesus is affirming in a solemn oath that no one enters Heaven without being born again of water and the Holy Spirit.
Jesus tells Nicodemus that unless a man is born again, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. Nicodemus then specifically asks Him how that happens; how is one born again? Jesus answers, in John 3:5, by declaring that unless a man is born OF WATER AND THE SPIRIT HE CANNOT ENTER THE KINGDOM OF GOD. So, being born again means being born of water and the Holy Ghost. This clearly refers to water baptism.
It's true that non-Catholics have tried to explain away the clear meaning of these words, but to no avail. Many of them say that the water refers to natural birth, and the Spirit refers to the born again process by accepting the faith. That's impossible because the passage is about the rebirth. Jesus says that the rebirth is of water and the Spirit. Moreover, the phrase "of water and the Spirit" in Greek (ek hudatos kai pneumatos) is a single linguistical unit, as Greek scholars point out. It describes being "born of water and the Spirit," not "born of water" on the one hand, and "born of the Spirit" on the other.
In addition, the extended context of the passage confirms that it's referring to water baptism. In the very next chapter, we read that Jesus' Apostles went out and baptized. Look at John 4:1. So, after the Bible presents the absolute necessity of water baptism, it mentions that the Apostles practiced what Jesus preached.
It's crucial for people to understand that John 3:5 refers to water baptism; for millions have a false and unbiblical concept of what it means to be born again. They think it means coming to a true commitment that Jesus is the Savior. That is incorrect, and was not believed in the ancient Church. It is certainly necessary for a person above the age of reason to accept Jesus Christ, to believe in the Trinity and the Incarnation, and to accept all of His teachings. But the Bible clearly teaches that being born again refers to the spiritual regeneration which water baptism gives. The overwhelming evidence which we've considered from other passages in the New Testament also proves it.
The Sacrament of Baptism removes all original and actual sins for those who properly receive it. It should be noted, however, that receiving that sacramental is not a guarantee of salvation. One can lose the grace of baptism through mortal sins and by denying the true faith of Jesus Christ.
Titus 3:5 "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost."
The Bible says that men are saved by the "washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost." This refers to the spiritual regeneration given in the baptismal waters. The outward pouring of water effects the interior cleansing and renewal of the Holy Spirit. This sacramental action justifies the soul, and applies the merit of the Blood of Jesus Christ while the baptism is occurring.
Protestants have tried to explain this passage away. They argue that the "washing" doesn't refer to the water of baptism, but to the cleansing of the Spirit without baptism. This is refuted by comparing this passage to 1 Peter 3:20-21. They both teach that baptism "saves." 1 Peter 3:20-21 is clearly referring to water baptism, not just a spiritual washing. This demonstrates that Titus 3:5 is also referring to regeneration through the water of baptism.
1 Peter 3:20-21 "… when they waited for the patience of God in the days of Noe, when the ark was a building: wherein a few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. Whereunto baptism being of the like form, now saveth you also…"
1 Peter 3:20-21 is one of the strongest passages in the Bible on the necessity of baptism. Notice the force of St. Peter's assertion here. Baptism now saves you. He is talking about water baptism (the Sacrament), of course, because he draws an analogy between the baptismal waters and the Flood waters. Peter compares receiving the Sacrament of (Water) Baptism to being on the ark of Noe. Just as no one escaped physical death outside the ark of Noe during the time of the Flood (only eight souls survived the Flood by being firmly planted on the ark), likewise no one avoids spiritual death or is saved from original sin without baptism! Baptism saves you (see The Bible teaches that Baptism is necessary for Salvation). How clear does it have to be that the Bible teaches that water baptism is necessary for salvation? Baptism saves through the merit of the blood of Jesus Christ!
It is perfectly clear that MacArthur minimizes the blood of Christ. To me, this is a terrible thing for anyone to do. While he may not go as far as R. B. Thieme, Jr., he certainly is headed in the same direction. Bible believers need to mark such men, and avoid them, according to the Scriptures. The teaching of MacArthur, on this subject, is very dangerous, and he should be exposed.
The clear and direct statements of the above Scriptures prove that John MacArthur is wrong in his teaching about the blood of Christ. He has departed from the general Biblical teaching on this subject. No matter how popular he may be, we must believe the Bible and the Church, and not MacArthur.
On his Grace to You website, MacArthur says:
"But in recent months, I have noticed that there is an encroaching heresy on the blood, that there are people who say that the blood of Jesus was not human, it was divine. One pastor said to me, "He had the blood of God." I said, "God is a spirit, that was the blood of Christ, that was the blood of a man, He was 100 percent man." It's heretical to call the blood of Jesus Christ the blood of God and it demonstrates a failure to understand what theologians have called the hypostatic union, that is the God/Man union in Christ." (http://www.gty.org/resources/sermons/80-44/The-Blood-of-Christ)
MacArthur not only criticize some people correctly for saying that the blood of Christ is not human, for it is, but he also criticize the idea that the blood of Christ is divine, and he calls it an "encroaching heresy" and that it's "heretical to call the blood of Jesus Christ the blood of God." However, it is not a heresy to call the blood of Jesus Christ "divine" or "the blood of God" since Jesus Christ in the person of the Son of God, is God. The common Protestant error on this point stems from attributing to the person of the Son of God only that which belongs to His divine nature. It is to fail to attribute to the person of the Son of God also that which belongs or pertains to His human nature.
Since the Son of God has truly become man, by failing to attribute to Him also that which belongs to His human nature, they actually deny that Jesus Christ is at the same time true God and true man.
The Son of God, Jesus Christ, is one divine person (the second person of the Holy Trinity) with two natures. He is both true God and true man. Jesus Christ is not a man who was united with or inspired by God. No, He is true God who truly became man.
John 1:14 "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us…"
Jesus was not just a special human who had a unique inspiration and connection to the Word of God (the Son of God). No, He is the Word of God made flesh. Therefore, to attribute to the Son of God only that which specifically belongs to His divine nature, and not also that which applies to His assumed human nature – as the Protestants do when they deny that Mary is the mother of God, and as MacArthur do when he deny that the blood of Christ is divine – is to divide Jesus into two different people.
In the 5th century there was a certain heretic named Nestorius. He argued like Protestants of our day on this matter. He held that Mary was not to be called Theotokos (mother/bearer of God), but only Christotokos (bearer of Christ). The Church immediately recognized the heresy of Nestorius and condemned it in 431 at the Council of Ephesus. Nestorius' false view was recognized by the Church to be the heresy which the Bible condemned as the "dissolving" of Jesus and "antichrist." This false idea "dissolves" Christ by separating from His one person that which pertains to His human nature. It results in the division of Jesus into two people, and the position that Jesus was just a man who carried (or was inspired by) the person of God, rather than a divine person who truly became man. This heresy results in the worship of a man and the worship of two sons. The Church clearly saw this for what it was and condemned it.
Second Council of Constantinople, 553 "The holy synod of Ephesus… has pronounced sentence against the heresy of Nestorius… and all those who might later… adopt the same opinions as he held… They express these falsehoods against the true dogmas of the Church, OFFERING WORSHIP TO TWO SONS, trying to divide that which cannot be divided, AND INTRODUCING TO BOTH HEAVEN AND EARTH THE OFFENCE OF THE WORSHIP OF MAN. But the sacred band of heavenly spirits worship along with us only one Lord Jesus Christ."
Council of Ephesus, 431, Can. 5: "If anyone dares to say that Christ was a God-bearing man and not rather God in truth, being by nature one Son, even as "the Word became flesh", and is made partaker of blood and flesh precisely like us, let him be anathema."
Jesus is not two different people. He is ONE DIVINE PERSON with two natures. Therefore, that which happens to His human nature truly happens to His one person. His person was conceived and born in His humanity from Mary. She is therefore truly His mother, and the mother of God, and the blood of Jesus therefore is truly and really divine.
The meaning entailed in this truth is staggering. As the Church has always taught, the Son of God, eternal and equal to the Father, had two births. He was born before time, and from all eternity, from God the Father (John 16:28; John 8:42.). He was born in time, as man, from Mary, His mother. Only Mary possesses this inscrutable connection to God, to a person of the Trinity. It is from this truth, that she is truly Mother of God, that all of her other unique prerogatives and privileges come (see The Biblical basis for praying to Mary and for Catholic teachings on Mary).
On his Grace to You website, MacArthur seems to adhere to the protestant heresy of Saved by Faith Alone.
"We teach that salvation is wholly of God by grace on the basis of the redemption of Jesus Christ, the merit of His shed blood, and not on the basis of human merit or works (John 1:12; Ephesians 1:7; 2:8 10; 1 Peter 1:18 19)." (http://www.gty.org/connect/doctrine#Salvation)
However in one of his books, MacArthur states:
"Salvation isn't the result of an intellectual exercise. It comes from a life lived in obedience and service to Christ as revealed in the Scripture; it's the fruit of actions, not intentions. There's no room for passive spectators: words without actions are empty and futile... The life we live, not the words we speak, determines our eternal destiny" (Hard to Believe, p. 93).
MacArthur is entirely correct when he says that obedience to Christ determines ones eternal destiny. In his first quote MacArthur seems to adherer to the protestant heresy of Saved by Faith Alone, but in his second quote he seems to reject it by teaching that the life we live or the works we do play a role in mans salvation. Considering his second statement, MacArthur might have meant on his homepage that God saves us through His grace alone and not on works since no good works we can do could ever merit us salvation without His grace, which is true, but it is also true that our actions and good works determines our salvation and that it's necessary to cooperate with God's grace. In essence, both grace and action are needed for salvation.
If MacArthur do believe in Faith Alone (or Eternal Security), he would be a heretic. But since he seems to teach that works or actions are necessary, I would say that he does not believe in this heresy, and so he is not a heretic on this count.
The majority of Protestants however do believe in faith alone and eternal security. These doctrines contradict both the natural law and reason which says that every man shall be rewarded or punished for his deeds. It also contradicts, word for word, the teaching of James 2 in scripture, which teach that faith without works is dead, and that man is not saved by faith alone. A person who believes in faith alone or eternal security is a heretic, because he rejects a truth he knows to be true from the natural law, that God is a rewarder and a punisher of our actions, and that faith alone does not justify a man only, but our deeds also.
Galatians 5:19-21 "Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are fornication, uncleanness, immodesty, luxury, Idolatry, witchcrafts, enmities, contentions, emulations, wraths, quarrels, dissensions, sects, Envies, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like. Of the which I foretell you, as I have foretold to you, that they who do such things shall not obtain the kingdom of God."
For a more in depth refutation of faith alone and eternal security, please consult the following file: Justification by faith alone and eternal security refuted by the Bible.