Monday, March 28, 2016

Book Review: Parables

Parables. John MacArthur. 2015. Thomas Nelson. 288 pages. [Source: Gift from Grace to You]

I have looked forward to reading John MacArthur's newest book Parables since it first released in 2015. I wanted to read his book A Tale of Two Sons first though! (It was great. It was on Luke 15, essentially). This second book focuses on a wider selection of Jesus' parables.

MacArthur devotes the first chapter of this book to the subject of why; the chapter is titled, "One Ominous Day in Galilee." The introduction and the first chapter address two issues really: the dangers--then and now--of misinterpreting parables and WHY Jesus chose to speak in parables in the first place. What are some of the dangers according to MacArthur? Making sloppy conclusions that storytelling is "better" at reaching crowds than teaching straight-forward doctrine, for example, or even daring to believe that stories have no "fixed" or "objective" meaning and each reader can decide for himself or herself what any parable means. Why did Jesus speak in parables? Because to speak plain truth to those who were persistently, stubbornly holding onto their unbelief would have been unkind: they would be judged based on the knowledge that they had, that they had heard or seen. (That is also one reason the Scripture speaks of Jesus being "unable" to perform miracles in certain towns. He wasn't lacking power to perform miracles. He was limiting their future punishment.)

The remaining chapters in the book focus on the parables of Jesus grouped together by subject. Readers are getting: "A Lesson About Receiving the Word," "A Lesson About the Cost of Discipleship," "A Lesson about Justice and Grace," "A Lesson about Neighborly Love," "A Lesson About Justification by Faith," "A Lesson About Faithfulness," "A Lesson About Serpentine Wisdom," "A Lesson About Heaven and Hell," and "A Lesson About Persistence in Prayer." The book, as you can see, covers just about every topic of importance to Christians seeking--striving--to live a life pleasing to God. Here is a book rich in lessons about what it means to follow Christ, to be a believer. And the book does keep it basic, mostly, almost every chapter offering a refresher course in the gospel.

Favorite quotes:

When we agree with God concerning our own guilt, the atoning blood of Christ cleanses us from every kind of sin or blasphemy--no matter how abominable (12).
The seed represents God's Word. Any attempt to improve the harvest by using different seed is a misguided dereliction of the sower's duty. The unadulterated Word of God is the only true and legitimate seed. (27)
Only God himself can plow and prepare a heart to receive the Word. He does it through the regenerating and sanctifying work of His Holy Spirit, who convicts the world of "sin and of righteousness and of judgment" (John 16:8). For those who believe, he awakens them spiritually (Romans 8:11). He enlightens their minds to the truth (1 Corinthians 2:10). He washes them clean (Ezekiel 36:25). He removes the stony heart and gives them a new heart (Ezekiel 36:26). He indwells His people and motivates them unto righteousness (Ezekiel 36:27). He engraves the truth of God on their hearts (Jeremiah 31:33; 2 Corinthians 3:3). He pours the love of God into their hearts (Romans 5:5). We who believe in Christ are totally dependent on the indwelling Spirit's work in our hearts to keep us tender, receptive, and ultimately fruitful. (37)
Genuine faith never fails to appreciate the true cost of salvation--what our deliverance from sin's curse and bondage cost Christ; what it means to be bought by Christ and bow to His lordship; and (above all) how valuable redemption is in terms of its eternal worth to the sinner. (43)
Forgiveness is not measured by weighing our good deeds against our sins, nor is it partially withheld if we have sinned for too long or too badly. Everyone who enters the kingdom receives the full abundance of God's grace, mercy, and forgiveness (68).
Christ is the living embodiment of divine love in all its perfection (93).
The gospel has nothing to say to people who are satisfied with their own righteousness. There is no truly good news for someone in that state of mind (107).
No one in the Bible had more to say about hell than the Savior of sinners, the Lord Jesus Christ. The most vivid and detailed biblical descriptions of hell appear in the four gospels, and they come from Jesus. (158)
Question whether God has a right to do what He says He will do, and you might as well deny the very existence of God. (164)

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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