John MacArthur vs. Tony Evans Fight over Gospel & Transdispensationalism

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Today’s question is, in John MacArthur vs. Tony Evans fight. Who is right? This is an excellent question because nothing is more important than the truth of salvation. John MacArthur and Tony Evans. Both are great preachers. They are so passionate about the Word of God. When I heard Tony Evans for the first time, I thought, ‘Wow, what a voice that is! so profound and intense’. John MacArthur, if you hear him once, you would like to hear again because they are full of scriptures. Now, what is their take on the gospel?

   John MacArthur pointed out that Tony Evans has used a term called transdispensational in his book Totally Saved.  It means that God will save people all across the ages if they open their hearts to the truth they received from God. This includes people who never heard about Jesus. In an interview, Tony Evans said that even a Hindu who never heard about Jesus, if he or she lives up to the truth they learned about God, God will save them because God is just and fair. So, people who never heard about Jesus will be saved if they obey the amount of truth they received. 

    Predictably, John MacArthur has been furious about this teaching. He firmly believes that salvation is only for those who received Christ no matter how sincerely they lived wherever they are located. John MacArthur believes in limited atonement, that is Jesus Christ died only for those who were chosen by God in eternity for salvation. He did not die for the sins of all human beings. 

     I don’t agree with that teaching. I believe Jesus Christ our Lord died for the sins of all human beings, from Adam till the last person to live on this planet. We read in John 1:29, ‘Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world’ John 1:29 . He is the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, that means everyone who ever lived on this planet. What about the people who lived before Christ? How did Abraham get saved? Our Lord and Savior Jesus said in John 8:56, 

“Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day; and he saw it, and was glad” 

   So, Abraham saw the coming Messiah through the eyes of faith. That is so profound and mind boggling. Abraham who lived two thousand years before Christ saw Christ through the eyes of faith. 

We read in Genesis 15:6, ‘Abraham believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness’. Abraham was justified because he looked forward to Christ. He was saved because he believed in God’s promise about the coming Messiah who would sacrifice himself for his sins. In Genesis 22, when Abraham was ready to sacrifice his son Isaac on Mount Moriah, God intervened and provided a Substitute. That Substitute points to Christ. When God provided that ram, Abraham knew that one day God will send the lamb of God to die for our sins. 

    Every child of Abraham went in the same path. They looked forward to Christ in faith. Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, Samuel, every believing Jew when they made sacrifices they looked forward to Christ, who would be their ultimate sacrifice. Some Jews like Jonah went around and preached repentance in cities like Nineveh. Those believing gentiles also looked forward to Christ. 

   For all humanity, in all ages, there is only one way to God, that is our Lord Jesus Christ. We read in Ephesians 2:8, ‘By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God’

            All people in all ages are saved through faith. Remember that. All people in all ages are saved through faith. All people in the Old Testament looked forward to Christ. In the New Testament, we look back to Christ. 

   Salvation through faith in Lord Jesus Christ – that is the core of Christian faith. We usually make two mistakes. We add other things to Christ. Apostle Paul wrote a very serious epistle to Galatians because they were adding Jewish customs to the plan of salvation. Nothing wrong with eating Kosher while believing in Jesus. But if you say eating Kosher is essential to get saved, then that is a serious error. Apostle Paul called it out in the epistle to Galatians. That is the Judaization of the gospel. That is a serious error. You don’t have to be kosher to get saved. 

       On the other extreme, we have Hellenization of the gospel. Like all roads lead to Rome, all roads lead to God. Apostle Paul opposed the hellenization of the gospel. In Acts 17, we see Paul in the city of Athens. It was full of idols. There was one idol named ‘to the unknown God’. That idol became the focus of Paul’s sermon. He told Athenians, ‘You are so religious. You have so many gods and goddesses. But, they are not going to save you. That statue you erected for the unknown God. I came here to tell you about that Unknown God. He came to this world as Jesus Christ of Nazareth. You must believe in Him to get saved’. 

   Going by Tony Evans’ argument, the Athenians would not have to listen to the gospel  preached by Apostle Paul. Hindus would not have to accept Christ to go to heaven. If they receive any amount of God’s truth, God will accept them to heaven. This ‘universalism’ is not scriptural. Tony Evans loves people and he would like to see as many people in heaven as possible. We also feel like that. We want to see as many people in heaven as possible. I go through that anxiety all the time. But we can get comfort from the fact that God is more noble than any one of us. Every good quality in us takes perfection in God’s being. 

Love…God loves people more than us 

Mercy…God is more merciful than us 

Just…God is more just than us 

   We can leave the fate of the unsaved souls to God. They are God’s problem. Not ours. All we can do today is to preach the gospel of grace through Christ to as many people as we can. If you get strep throat today, what happens if you do not take penicillin? You may die. What happened to all those people who got strep throat before the invention of penicillin? They all died. 

    What is happening today as the Covid Pandemic rages through our world? Millions of people died of this infection in India. I got a message today. In the town I grew up in India, there is no place even to bury the dead. Some family members are not even picking up the dead bodies of their loved ones because they don’t know how to arrange for a funeral. That’s the reality of our world. Sin is like infection. What happens to all people who die without Christ? They perish in their sins. 

   Our hearts ache for their eternal souls. That is a good thing. We can be comforted by the fact that God deals with their souls with utmost love and fairness. We read in Matthew 11:24, I tell you, even Sodom will be better off on judgment day than you.

Jesus said those words to people who rejected his gospel. ‘Even Sodom will be better off on judgment day than you’. God will not give the same punishment to all people. People who reject the gospel will get more severe punishment than people who never heard the gospel. If you are convicted of a crime, the judge will do a pre-sentencing investigation into your background. Where were you born? How were you brought up? Were you abused in your life? Did you commit any violence before? He would investigate so many things about you before giving you his sentence. God is no different. He goes into every person’s biography and historical setting before giving them the punishment. 

     So, we should leave all unsaved souls to the good hands of God. We should not corrupt the gospel to make more room for the unsaved people in heaven. That is what Tony Evans has been doing. To make more room for the unsaved people, he is corrupting the gospel. So, we should reject Tony Evans’ message on this important topic. I agree with John MacArthur on this. 

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