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His points are clear. The question is: do you agree?



John MacArthur is the pastor-teacher of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, as well as an author, conference speaker, president of The Master’s College and Seminary, and featured teacher with the Grace to You media ministry. Since completing his first best-selling book The Gospel According to Jesus in 1988, John has written nearly 400 books and study guides, including Our Sufficiency in ChristStrange FireAshamed of the GospelThe Murder of JesusA Tale of Two SonsTwelve Ordinary MenThe Truth WarThe Jesus You Can’t IgnoreSlaveOne Perfect Lifeand The MacArthur New Testament Commentary series. The MacArthur Study Bible, the cornerstone resource of his ministry, is available in English (NKJNAS and ESV) and eight other languagesJohn and his wife, Patricia, live in Southern California and have four married children.

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Mary Kay Glunt

commented on Jun 3, 2013

I agree wholeheartedly! As a minister myself, when my children started attending a local youth group of another denomination I had to deal with this very issue, as the youth were constantly being needled to the altar. They had both accepted Christ at home, and I told them to never allow anyone to diminish their salvation experience but to be firm in belief. I agree that emotional manipulation can cause weak conversions who doubt their salvation at every step, constantly having to go to the altar to be "saved for real this time."

Greg Nance

commented on Jun 3, 2013

The gospel of Jesus Christ DOES appeal to emotions. It appeals to the heart, mind, soul and strength of mankind with a message of love from a Holy God who both loves and hates with ultimate passion. Heaven is but the ultimate gift of God's love, just as hell is the ultimate punishment of God's wrath. Gospel grace and mercy are to appeal to the whole man, not JUST emotion or JUST will, but YES including emotion, will, understanding, action, identity, etc. Human character is revealed by whether we receive the word planted in us that CAN save us, but not absolutely WILL save us, unless we meet the qualifications of salvation that God requires. 1 Cor. 15:1-4 repeats the gospel and Paul states that it saves us, IF WE HOLD FIRMLY. I understand that God gives us salvation as a gift that we neither earn nor maintain by works. Yet this "if" statement of Paul must be considered. Either God causes me to hold it firmly, or there is some cooperation on my part to hold it firmly with God's help, but if it is not held firmly, it is worthless. What I fully agree with is that there are plenty of false teachers and preachers selling a false gospel in false ways. If I present the true gospel and think I can make the stony ground into good ground, or the weedy soil into good soil by my skillful use of fleshly appeal, I will discover that I am building with wood, hay and stubble. John is right, but I think he overstates his point here.

Doug Bower

commented on Jun 3, 2013

Surely, John McArthur's points about manipulation reflect reality. Manipulation of emotions does occur. So though does manipulation of the body and mind. We were created mind, body, and soul. I doubt we can limit appealing to just the mind, or the body or soul. It appears to me that Jesus appealed to each. I have to hope that the Spirit of God touches people in the ways that they can best respond and accept the Gospel: healing of the body, comforting the mind, and eternal life of the soul. I also have to believe that limiting the gospel to any one arena closes to the door to proclamation by limiting it to that one arena. Even as we expand, or collapse the message to all or just one of the aspects of our creaturehood, the Gospel is both accepted and rejected. Ultimately, the message of the Gospel has to proclaimed. John McCarthur's concern need to be taken seriously, but his restrictions are too limiting.

Wayne Howard

commented on Jun 3, 2013

I agree with this message to the pastor's heart and hope some of the ones who seem to appeal to this method of leading people into God's presence will listen to it and take heed to the message.

Regan Russell

commented on Jun 3, 2013

While I don't believe there was any organ music playing in the background, how do you explain the events of Act 2 on a purely intellectual, non-emotional level? When Joshua tells the people of Israel to choose this day whom they will serve, isn't that an appeal to the will? It seems as though he is limiting how God will interact with people.

Patrick Glazener-Cooney

commented on Jun 3, 2013

Once again John hits a Home run!!!!! I have not given an invitation for 15 years!!!! And I have taken a whole bunch of heat for it!!!! It's just so wrong!!! Thanks Sermon Central for posting this!!!!

Bill Fox

commented on Jun 3, 2013

I have been a pastor for 35 years and came to the same conclusion John did about 20 hears ago. I would like to see more by this author.

Rodney Shanner

commented on Jun 3, 2013

People do not live in categories. If man includes mind, will, and emotion he will respond on the basis of this mix, which will vary in people's lives due to genetics, environmental backgrounds and maybe other factors. People respond on different bases: some by emotion, some by intellect, some by intuition, some by volition or mixtures of these God-given capacities. That said, I do not think that a Pastor should "play" on people's emotions to get a response. But I would never stop giving opportunities to respond to the Gospel. God dealt with me over many years through invitations at the end of messages. That was over 44 years ago. It's still good today!!

Dan Nold

commented on Jun 3, 2013

Seems that John has the mistaken idea that without Christ people's emotions are messed up, their will is messed up, but their minds without Christ are totally redeemed. When Jesus said, "Come to me all you who carry heavy burdens and I will give you rest for my yoke is easy and my burden is light" was that an appeal to the emotions or the will...or simply the mind?

Gordon Loop

commented on Jun 3, 2013

In Matthew 7:13, Jesus gives an invitation at the end of his sermon. For those of you who brag about not giving an invitation in 15 yrs, shame on you. Pastor John is the one who taught me to give an invitation just like Jesus did in Matthew 7. The problem is appealing solely to the emotions in contrast to a person's conscious.

David Hottel

commented on Jun 3, 2013

I agree with John. I disagree with him on many points. I played piano and organ for many hundreds of revivals and served in many churches. One hour invitations! I have been a pastor for many years now, and I give a simple invitation, but most of the conversions in our church come through my personal involvement with the one making a decision in my office.

David Hottel

commented on Jun 3, 2013

I agree with John. I disagree with him on many points. I played piano and organ for many hundreds of revivals and served in many churches. One hour invitations! I have been a pastor for many years now, and I give a simple invitation, but most of the conversions in our church come through my personal involvement with the one making a decision in my office.

Steven Farless

commented on Jun 3, 2013

I understand what he was trying to say, and some of what he said about emotion and will was true. what I did not really appreciate was the sweeping dismissiveness of the emotion and will, while giving the (just as many and maybe even more) dangers of targeting the mind alone a pass. It's been a long time since I have heard anyone from the Reformed tradition limit God and the gospel so much. I understood his heart, but it was overkill and over condemning to me; maybe just me; but me. I think, that's when it's all said and done; all of it is in play, and the Holy Spirit will call men to the gospel as He sees fit; despite our personal soap boxes.

Patrick Mcintyre

commented on Jun 3, 2013

I agree with John. Before Billy Sunday, evangelists never equated coming forward in an altar call with "saving faith" and de facto regeneration. The Inquiry room was an essential tool to determine the seeker's heart condition. A great book on the subject is The Graham Formula.

Patrick Mcintyre

commented on Jun 3, 2013

I agree with John. Before Billy Sunday, evangelists never equated coming forward in an altar call with "saving faith" and de facto regeneration. The Inquiry room was an essential tool to determine the seeker's heart condition. A great book on the subject is The Graham Formula.

Vincent Aja

commented on Jun 3, 2013

I wish that every of Pastor MacArthur`s message will go like this. Man is made up of the spirit, soul and body(1Thessalonians 5:23). The gospel should go to the heart and not to the mind Hebrews 4:12. Only the gospel message that can activate the spirit of man. People without Christ in them live with the minds and the bodies. But at the time of new birth the gospel activates the spirit. It`s only the religious people that were dealing with the mind which is the seat of the emotion.

Ronald Slyderink

commented on Jun 3, 2013

Like so many who make claims and criticise. There are elements of truth and distortions of the truth. Only God knows the heart and spirit of a person when it comes to 'hearing' the word of God or the gospel. Whether the emotions, the mind or the will is involved exclusively is secondary, probably all are involved to varying degrees depending on the persons involved and the context. The danger of John's judgments is his presumption of knowing the 'truth' regarding emotions,mind and will and his limiting God's methods of reaching people's hearts. Certainly people's emotions as well as their minds and wills can be misused and abused from within and by others. All the more reason for us to humble ourselves before the throne of grace and respond (with all we are, our mind, emotions, body, spirit, heart..) to the one who is love, who deserves all praise and honour, whose presence and word is the truth. Bless the preachers of your word Lord and bless the hearers, help us see you, and magnify you dear Lord Jesus.

Kevin Billiot

commented on Jun 3, 2013

I would like to hear the rest if the message leading up to this point in the sermon. It seems the detractors on this thread are taking Pastor MacArthur out of context. He is not limiting God in any way. It seems he is addressing specific heresies that are common in the "faith movement" which certainly do thrive by captializing on people's emotions (which are certainly and notoriously unreliable.)

Peter Dohnt

commented on Jun 3, 2013

Hmmm - shortest verse in the bible - Jesus wept. I'm not convinced that we are separate from our emotions - this is no excuse not to deliver the gospel clearly and truthfully. In answer to the question I only half agree.

Jonathan Campbell

commented on Jun 4, 2013

Very, very good.

Robert Pendlebury

commented on Jun 4, 2013

I am just a lay person, been saved for 57 years, to an extent I agree with John but every part of our being is involved in coming to Christ. I was saved through a visit of Bible College students, in the preaching I received then was that we are separated from God by our sin, Jesus came to pay the price of our sin, to receive forgiveness and the gift of eternal life, the first thing I did was to repent and confess my sins to God.and believe that Jesus had taken my sins away by His blood that He shed on Calvary.It as been many years since I heard any preacher tell people they are sinners and need to repent, confess and believe, if preachers did truly preach the Gospel there would not be so many mega churches.

Douglas Moesta

commented on Jun 4, 2013

As a music evangelist, I have seen about every kind of alter call you can imagine. I have witnessed things that would make your skin crawl. I understand where John is coming from and I agree 100.

Bill Williams

commented on Jun 4, 2013

I sense Pastor McArthur is going to an extreme (whether intentionally or not) as a reaction to extremes from the other sides. I get what he's trying to say about the dangers of appealing to the emotions or to the will. But unfortunately, I believe he is in the same danger by appealing to the mind alone. What he fails to realize is that just as the emotions and the will can be manipulated, the mind can be manipulated as well! We shouldn't give the mind a free pass. A better approach would be to appeal to all three together. The real danger comes from singling one out at the expense of the others.

Dave Vargas

commented on Jun 4, 2013

Is impossible to separate the emotions, mind and will. God created us and the Word also complete the Holy Spirit affect all areas. I agree on balance, the extrems always are bad. the discernment is very important. 1Ts 5:23 And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Jeffrey Burrell

commented on Jun 5, 2013

John's point comes from his basic doctrine of predestination. If you are predestined to be saved you need to do nothing but say okay, I accept. So there is no need for anything else. No music, nothing. You were predestined to be saved. The others who respond to the invitation may be falsely coerced into 'thinking' they are making a decision for Christ, because they are predestined to miss God. Just a thought.

Jeffrey Burrell

commented on Jun 5, 2013

John's point comes from his basic doctrine of predestination. If you are predestined to be saved you need to do nothing but say okay, I accept. So there is no need for anything else. No music, nothing. You were predestined to be saved. The others who respond to the invitation may be falsely coerced into 'thinking' they are making a decision for Christ, because they are predestined to miss God. Just a thought.

Jerry Flury

commented on Jun 5, 2013

We cannot do the work of the Holy Spirit. He can use music, emotion, circumstances, whatever. I came to Christ after hearing a devotion at an area church roller skating event - no music, no emotion other than my own from hearing God's Word. "Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God." I agree that there are many false professions that are based on merely on emotions. There are also false professions based strictly on intellect. True conversion is a transforming work of the Holy Spirit.

Okezie Ofoegbu

commented on Jun 5, 2013

My problems with is comments include: 1) he gave no scriptural backing for his position 2) even if his argument is correct, he swings to an extreme where he throws away all decisions for Jesus that began from the emotion or will as if those could never lead to decision from the mind and 3) he goes contrary to all the emotional response to the word of God in the bible such as David's emotional reaction to Nathan's message, the crowd who were cut to the heart as they heard Peter accuse them of murdering the son of God, the Sanhedrin who were cut to the heart and gnashed their teeth in anger at Stephen, the disciples whose hearts were lifted as Jesus spoke on the road to Emmaus, David in the Psalms who described the rejoicing of his soul at hearing the word etc. Bottom line, as many here have commented, we stand in danger of taking God's place when we say this is the only way God can reach people for it to be genuine.

Jerry Colter

commented on Jun 5, 2013

It's evident he has a "burr under his saddle" with streams of faith different than what he has experienced. Really meeting Jesus goes far beyond intellect and even emotions. I have seen the Holy Spirit turn people's doctrine upside down on certain issues like this and what they thought God was not in, and found out that he was.

Mark Elijahson

commented on Jun 5, 2013

John makes some valid points but true conversion involves body, soul, and spirit. The center of our mind is the brain. The center of our spirit is our heart. We must repent (change our thoughts, desires and actions in response to the prompting of the spirit of holiness given by the Holy Spirit. God is a seven spirit being and so are we as clearly portrayed by the Temple Menorah. Our spirits of thought are knowledge, understanding and wisdom and our spirits of action are will, reverence and exercised powers done in the unifying spirit of holiness. Under the New Covenant we receive at conversion the indwelling motherly Holy Spirit. This is the one great distinction and blessing above the Old Covenant when God only gave the spirit of holiness within, not the Person of the Holy Spirit. This is massive source of confusion to Christians who have embraced a whole whack of lies including pagan rituals such as Easter. You cannot arrive at the truth if you entertain any lies. Sadly 99.9 of Christians embrace a great deal of nonsense within the Greco-Roman version of western Christianity which has wondered far from the foundational knowledge corrupting all higher levels of spirit and soul.

Brother Richard Roth

commented on Jun 5, 2013

I like John's preaching very much, but I disagree with him on this point. People need to be met wherever they are, and many people are highly emotional people. What John says about the prosperity preachers taking advantage of this is absolutely correct and that, my friends, is where the problem lies. But these are two distinctly separate issues. Get them to awaken to the spirit first, from whatever state they are in; then, with the true word of God, let Holy Spirit himself bring balance to their mind will and emotions.

Kevin Kleinhenz

commented on Jun 5, 2013

When you preach reformed theology why make appeals at all? I mean after all they are either elect or the poor souls doomed for hell. Neither you or they have any part in the matter so don't flatter yourself.

Rev. Larry West

commented on Jun 5, 2013

While I usually find Bro. MacArthur engaging and insightful, I must wholeheartedly disagree with him. While emotions must be placed in their proper place and perspective, they are as much a part of who we are as our intellect. When Jesus instructed the rich young ruler to sell his possessions, the Bible says he went away "sorrowful." This was a correct emotion for what he had just encountered, and if God uses sorrow to convict, I will not stand in the way. TV evangelist do alot of things I disagree with, but I'm not going to let it deter me from winning the lost by any means necessary.

Frank Gant

commented on Jun 5, 2013

While I disagree with Pastor MacArthur quite often, such as with his soteriology and his eschatology, I do wholeheartedly agree with his statements in this short video. Christianity is not an emotional belief system, yet so many people try to make it out to be such. If you must apply emotions to Christianity, then only two will suffice: love, for the Savior; and guilt, for out sins.

Hank Fields

commented on Jun 7, 2013

Just as you can manipulate people's emotions, you can also manipulate their intellect. His comments are clearly an overreaction to something that disturbs him in Christianity.

Tcharves Firespeaks

commented on Jun 10, 2013

What is sad here is that John Arthur thinks he has got God down to a science. “Here is how God reaches people, (their intellect); This is not how God reaches people (emotional) and anyone that does not agree with me is wrong.” Fact is a number of times the Bible says “they were pricked in their spirit” this is a direct statement of emotions. As far as intellect being the only way to created true converts, how do we reconcile the thief on the cross with Jesus? There was no teaching of the gospel to him yet we all know he was saved.

Tcharves Firespeaks

commented on Jun 10, 2013

What is sad here is that John Arthur thinks he has got God down to a science. “Here is how God reaches people, (their intellect); This is not how God reaches people (emotional) and anyone that does not agree with me is wrong.” Fact is a number of times the Bible says “they were pricked in their spirit” this is a direct statement of emotions. As far as intellect being the only way to created true converts, how do we reconcile the thief on the cross with Jesus? There was no teaching of the gospel to him yet we all know he was saved.

Dr D

commented on Jun 23, 2013

His comments are poignant, but we need to be careful that we don't complete disregard man's emotions or his will. Afterall, if the gospel only arrests a man's intellect without the engagement of his whole being, he has a theoretical appreciation. Jesus does arrest a man's emotions and pains and fears AND man needs to exercise his will, as weak and sinful as it might be, to respond to the Gospel. I think the core danger which Macarthur is really addressing is 'manipulation' of any kind. Jesus presents the truth with power, authority and integrityand leaves His listeners to decide for themselves. In such they exercise their wills and emotions, because life without these looks quite odd doesn't it?

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