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The Simple Gospel

By John MacArthur | Senior Pastor of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California. This sermon originally was preached in December 1976.

Sermon: Salvation

It's wonderful when a person comes to Christ—he or she is no longer under the tyranny of sin and guilt or of lust and desire—no longer are under the bondage of a purposeless and meaningless existence. Christ not only gives meaning to life, but also restores harmony to our spiritual lives by completely forgiving our sin.

Now, what happens when someone does not want to establish a relationship with the living God through Jesus Christ? What happens when a person maintains the masquerade of Christmas, giving homage to an event, but not tolerating the individual in which that event finds its meaning? If receiving Jesus Christ results in an abundant and eternal life, then not receiving Jesus Christ results in receiving the curse of God.

We find in this passage of John 8 some very alarming comments by Jesus. They make the passage a difficult thing for me to discuss, let alone understand. I sometimes want to cry out with Richard Baxter, "Oh, for an empty hell and a full heaven!" It is not my desire, nor is it Jesus' desire, for anyone to enter hell, for God is "not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance" (2 Pet. 3:9). It is not condemnation, but rather warning that Jesus speaks in these verses.

It ought to be brought to our attention that people who give lip service to Christianity while rejecting Christ are engaged in the most foolish kind of fun. It would be comparable to people having a party on the Lusitania, as they went on ignoring the reality of the German threat. If people really knew their eternal destinies were determined by Christ, whom they rejected, I doubt whether there would be much for them to celebrate.

The Bible makes clear that there is no neutrality on this issue. Jesus put it simply and succinctly when He said, "He who is not with Me is against Me" (Matt. 12:30). All the way back into the first set of writings the Bible [provides], the Pentateuch, Moses established this pattern that continues all the way to the Book of Revelation: "I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose" (Deut. 30:19). Here are the same two things we see through Scripture: life or death, blessing or cursing.

Joshua 24:15 says, "Choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." Two options are given: serving the true God or serving false gods.

John 3:18 says, "He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already." You only have two choices: you're either condemned to hell or not condemned. The crux of the issue is whether you believe. The reason for condemnation is given at the end of the verse: "because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."

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