Arminian Today

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Strange Fire Book Review: Chapter 9

You can find the original post to this book review here.  I have been reviewing Dr. John MacArthur’s book, Strange Fire.  This post will focus on chapter nine of the book.

In this chapter Dr. MacArthur deals with the work of the Holy Spirit in salvation.  This chapter marks the beginning of section three of the book in which MacArthur is going to teach the reader on the true ministry of the Holy Spirit in comparison to the false teachings he sees in the charismatic movement.

There is really nothing new here in this chapter.  The viewpoint MacArthur gives is basic and Pentecostals would agree with what he wrote here though they would differ with him over his view of the sealing of the Spirit at the end of the chapter.  Pentecostals would agree with MacArthur that the Holy Spirit is essential to salvation.  It is the work of the Spirit to draw the sinner to the Savior (John 6:44) by the conviction of sins (John 16:8-11).  It is the work of the Spirit to regenerate us (Titus 3:5-7) and to cause us to be born again (John 3:3-7; 1 Peter 1:3).  It is the work of the Spirit to produce the fruit of the Spirit in our lives (Galatians 5:22-23) and to give us the assurance of our salvation (Romans 8:16).  The Spirit seals us as children of God (Ephesians 1:13-14).  The Spirit keeps us by His grace (Romans 8:38-39).

There is little to disagree with here.  I agreed with MacArthur in nearly every part he wrote of regarding the Spirit’s work.  I am thankful to God for the ministry of the Holy Spirit.  I would take an exception with MacArthur only in regard to his view of the sealing of the Spirit.  Here MacArthur takes the position that we are “eternally secure” in the Spirit.  Of course, he fails to mention that he believes that if a person lives in sin, they were never saved to begin with (1 John 2:19).  He believes on the one hand that the Spirit gives us the assurance of our salvation but then he would deny, in essence, this assurance by teaching that a sinning person is probably never saved to begin with (1 John 3:4-10).  I agree that a disciple of Jesus must forsake sin (2 Timothy 2:19) and I agree that the Spirit helps us sanctify us (2 Thessalonians 2:13).  I agree that a person can know that they are saved but I believe this is through faith in Christ Jesus and faithfulness to Him as Lord (Matthew 7:21-27; 1 John 2:3-6).  I agree that the Spirit seals us but the sealing here is a pledge, a guarantee that we are in Christ Jesus.  This comes by faith (John 1:12-13; 6:29; Ephesians 2:8-9) and we are kept by faith (2 Corinthians 1:24; 1 Peter 1:5).  MacArthur would say that our faith comes from the Spirit but the faith is not God believing for us but us believing because of the work of the Spirit.  Arminians would agree in that the prevenient grace of God enables the sinner to believe.  We need the aid of the Spirit to believe and to keep believing but living in sin shows our rebellious hearts and leads only to death (Romans 6:23; James 1:12-15; 5:19-20).  We are called to keep in step with the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-17) and not live in sin.  The Spirit helps us to do just that, to be holy and to remain holy as He is holy.

That withstanding, this chapter was a basic premier on the work of the Holy Spirit toward the world and in the life of the disciple of Christ.

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