Saved Without a Doubt: How to Be Sure of Your Salvation by John Jr. MacArthur, Wheaton: Victor Books, 1992…187 pp.
Confidence in God’s promise – This is the theme of John MacArthur’s book Saved Without a Doubt. To provide a secure salvation, “the Father’s sovereign decree, the Son’s intercessory ministry, and the Spirit’s seal” work together (21). Being assured of this is not arrogance. It is confidence in His promise.
The author begins by describing the work of salvation in terms of God’s working hand. The first chapter tells how the high-priestly work of Christ is in perfect harmony with the will of the Father. Jesus prayed, “Holy Father, keep them in Thy name.” The excellent quote from John 17:11 gives a glorious testimony. The Holy Spirit is the divine pledge of this work. MacArthur writes that the Greek word for “pledge” is arrabon – originally referring to a down payment. A form of the word “came to be used for an engagement ring” (20). Such background study provides wonderful depth to the book. The words “refuge” and “tribulations” are also supplied with richer meaning by means of colorful explanations of the Greek.
In the later chapters, we read of the lasting nature of this salvation, including a head-on treatment of “troubling” verses. Some verses tend to make a believer doubt for a time. They seem to make assurance not so sure. However, MacArthur handles these with a credible exegesis of each one.
The rest of the book treats the matter of how we can know whether we are Christians and how to experience assurance of this. It is a difficult subject, but one treated with pastoral concern and Scriptural comfort – all quotes coming out of the New American Standard Bible. Although he relies heavily on the Book of Romans, MacArthur suddenly appears to undermine his own forte: reliance on God’s sovereign decree. On page 54, we find a confession of the wonderful truth of God’s complete sovereignty. But on the very next page, MacArthur states that Christians are regenerated by the will of God, but secondary to this decision, they also have to receive Christ – a weak explanation of Acts 4:12. It is a suspicious statement. The reviewer suspects that the author’s ideas lie somewhere between contemporary evangelism and the Reformed faith. Throughout the book, he does not seem to be totally committed to either side.
Contemporary Evangelism Cannot save ourselves, Reformed Faith
Salvation based on but God makes the Total depravity
decision for Christ primary move Sovereign God
A few other weaknesses show up in this book. MacArthur mentions a millennial period on page 30 and hints at the notion of resistible grace on the same page. Aside from these, the book is quite well done. The reading is very smooth. The issues are intensely personal and treated with love and concern. In most places Scripturally accurate, Saved Without a Doubt is a worthwhile book for any Christian. It is a book worth picking up, reading, and spending some study time with. At the very least, it renews the awesome wonder of God’s great work of salvation. MacArthur puts spirit into his writing that inspires rejoicing of the heart and the mind in our Lord Jesus Christ. At the same time, he speaks with a voice of quiet reverence about God’s abounding grace. May God be praised for His name alone is great!
Both the reverent and joyful moods expressed in this book make it a profitable experience for the Christian reader. The author should be complimented for putting together this helpful study, but let the reader still beware of the discrepancies. With all pros and cons about MacArthur’s book aside, confidence in God’s promise is a beautiful thing. Read about it.