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The Truth About Forgiveness Paperback – Apr 30 2012
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About the Author
John MacArthur is the pastor-teacher of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, president of the Master’s College and Seminary, and featured teacher with the Grace to You media ministry. In more than four decades of ministry, John has written dozens of bestselling books, including The MacArthur Study Bible, The Gospel According to Jesus, and Slave. He lives in Los Angeles.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
From the first page, I found myself screaming "Yes!" I assumed that this was going to be a basic book, but MacArthur hits the nail on the head when dealing with reasons we don't want forgiveness. He starts by rallying against the sin as sickness mentality in one of the best presentations I've ever read (this is coming from a Biblical Counseling student. I've read about it before.) Granted, it is a few years dated (cites the DSM III-R, DSM IV-R is current [p. 5]), but it is true none the less. He describes the ways man tries to obtain forgiveness, through the law or through Christ. He cites studies and scripture, and is poignant and eloquent in doing it. I'm in love with this book... and I haven't even started chapter two.
Now chapter two: MacArthur speaks of the fact that only God can forgive sins. And Jesus forgave sins, which means that Jesus is God and forgives sins. He uses the case study of the quadriplegic lowered through the ceiling's healing to show this. He presents the story and it's meaning and implications well - he is helpful in showing the connections between healing and forgiveness, and offers a fresh (read: biblical) take on the story (not "what will you do to bring your friends to Jesus.")
Chapter three then deals with God's forgiveness in spite of who we are, not because of who we are. MacArthur speaks clearly about confession and repentance as necessary. He continues in chapter 4 to show from the Prodigal Son and story of Joseph how God actually wants to forgive. MacArthur is faithful to present the full truth of the scriptures on the issue of forgiveness. I'm glad I didn't skim like I wanted too! Chapter five finishes up the story of the Prodigal Son focusing on the father's desire to forgive.
Chapter six speaks of the narrow and wide paths, and speaks against Finny-esque easy believism. He does not (unfortunately) outline a doctrine of substitutionary atonement, but rather focuses on man's role in forgiveness with God. Which is the point of the book - and it is brief - which is why I'm keeping my "unfortunately" comment in parenthesis. Chapter seven concludes with our response: Seek forgiveness from God and forgive others.
Final Thoughts: throughout my summary, you get some of my opinions. Here are the rest. I really do like this book. Run, don't walk, to the internet and consider buying it. It's a really good book. It's very practical and not theology heavy. You can read the book quickly, I did it in one day. This is somewhat peripheral, but the binding is a little bit cheap. I'll probably have some loose pages in it because I'm bound to be lending this book out and reading it over again.
MacArthur has entitled the first chapter of his recent work "We Need to Be Forgiven." Well, Dr. MacArthur, I forgive you. With his latest series, The Truth About..., MacArthur has given into the all too enticing "patchwork" book. It is a cobbling together of various portions from previous works, in an effort to demonstrates MacArthur's main thoughts on specific titles. For some, these kind of book are fantastic. But, for people like me, this just doesn't cut it. Aside from looking like a cheap ploy to make more money, the book lacks significant continuity of thought. Yes, all the chapters are about forgiveness, but that doesn't mean they flow together as a coherent unit. MacArthur is capable of much better efforts, but he is not alone in such a misstep.
While I could easily recommend such a book to either a new Christian with questions about forgiveness, or even an immature Christian struggling with a relevant situation, this is not a work I would suggest to many others.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
"No amount of tears can atone for sin. No number of good deeds can make amends for wrong we have done against God."
In a world where sin is written off as sickness, and psychologists advise patients not to blame themselves, MacArthur begins his book by showing how we are helpless to atone for our sin, thus also helpless to be forgiven. "In the human realm there is nothing in time or eternity that can free us from the guilt of our sin," MacArthur writes. The theme of this book is a forgiveness despite our efforts, not as a result of our efforts. This book tells of a wonderful forgiveness that is offered to us.
"The only way to find real forgiveness and freedom from our sin is through humble, contrite repentence."
MacArthur then tackles repentance, which must necessarily go hand in hand with forgiveness. We can't escape our guilt, so it is necessary to repent of it. In his own words, "we must come face-to-face with the exceeding sinfulness of our sin." He then proceeds to lay out the gospel of salvation in clear terms: Jesus Christ came to earth as a man, and died for our sins, so that those who repent may have everlasting life.
This is a fantastic book. It's short, it's sweet, and it's simple. MacArthur goes head to head against very entrenched ideas on today's society and interprets them all within the lens of the gospel. Like its predecessor, The Truth about the Lordship of Christ, this book has an incredibly Gospel-focused message that doesn't waste your time needlessly. I highly recommend this book to all readers, particularly those who want to know or be reminded of what the core of Christianity is all about.