The High Cost Of Salvation By Faith-Works: A Critique of John F. MacArthur, Jr.’s Faith Works: The Gospel According to the Apostles -- By: Robert N. Wilkin

Journal: Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society
Volume: JOTGES 06:2 (Autumn 1993)
Article: The High Cost Of Salvation By Faith-Works: A Critique of John F. MacArthur, Jr.’s Faith Works: The Gospel According to the Apostles
Author: Robert N. Wilkin


The High Cost Of Salvation By Faith-Works:
A Critique of John F. MacArthur, Jr.’s
Faith Works: The Gospel According to the Apostles1

Robert N. Wilkin

Associate Editor
Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society
Roanoke, Texas

I. Introduction

It is with a deep sense of sadness that I write this review. Reading this book and listening to it on tape have left me feeling this way.

The theology of John MacArthur is anything but uplifting. He has lost touch with the grace of God.

II. Strengths of the Book

While this book is hardly my favorite read of the year, it does have a number of positive points.

First, the tone is less vituperative than that in The Gospel According to Jesus.

Second, MacArthur graciously acknowledges that he used a ghost writer, Phil Johnson, who “carefully, skillfully pulls my voice out of the air and transforms it into ink” (p. 8).

Third, the title, Faith Works, is clever and memorable.

Fourth, the companion audio tape (read by MacArthur) is a nice complement to the written form.

Fifth, the Scripture and subject indices are helpful.

Sixth, the inclusion of a chapter devoted to assurance of salvation (chap 10, pp. 157–73) provides the reader with a candid admission by MacArthur that Puritan theology on this issue was flawed and often damaging (see, e.g., p. 161). It is also revealing to see how MacArthur attempts (unconvincingly) to explain how his view corrects what he considers an unbiblical error. Far and away that chapter was the best one in the book in terms of readability, organization, and practicality.

Seventh, the chapter on the Reformed doctrine of the perseverance of the saints, chap 11 (pp. 175–92), provides several other excellent insights into Lordship Salvation theology. There MacArthur explains why he feels the expression eternal security can be misleading and why he feels it is better to speak of the perseverance of the saints (pp. 180–82). He also admits that quantification is impossible (and thereby de facto admits that 100% certainty of salvation is impossible).

Finally, this book will, I believe, result in many people coming over to the Free Grace position. Many people who read what MacArthur writes in this book will be horrified. This book will drive people who doubt their salvation to seek out the truth on assurance and the Gospel.

Where will they turn? MacArthur has made it ...

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