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Our Sufficiency in Christ

von John MacArthur

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Too many Christians have displaced their true spiritual resources with watered-down beliefs like mysticism, pragmatism, and psychology. Here is a renewed understanding of what it means to be complete in Christ.
  1. 10
    Out of the Blues: Dealing with the Blues of Depression and Loneliness von Wayne Mack (atimco)
    atimco: Both books deal with the spiritual resources every Christian possesses to deal with every aspect of life. Mack's book is more of a workbook with many practical tips for dealing with depression, while MacArthur's scope is more intellectual. Both are excellent!
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Written in 1991, MacArthur’s timeless words provide an apt critique for many competing truth claims today. There are a multiplicity of options in the world seeking to divert the believer’s confidence in the sufficiency of Christ. Gnosticism, mysticism, agnosticism, psychiatry, psychology, humanism, pragmatism, liberalism, asceticism, and spiritual warfare adherents can undermine Christ’s all sufficiency.
MacArthur combines his critique with many positive Scriptural examples of the resources available to every believer. Other options pale in comparison with the all surpassing sufficiency in the Father, in Christ, in Scripture, and in God’s wisdom, grace, and indwelling Holy Spirit. “These overlapping sufficiencies show the incredible richness of the vast inheritance that is our in our all-sufficient Christ” (34). MacArthur states that his grave concern is with the “current erosion of confidence in the perfect sufficiency of our spiritual resources in Christ” (18). Sadly, it is threatening the contemporary church as many have “tacitly acquiesced to the notion that our riches in Christ, including Scripture, prayer, the indwelling Holy Spirit...simply are not adequate to meet people’s real needs” (19). I believe it is a worthwhile read for any believer, and especially chapters 3-6 for those sympathetic to the world of counseling. Here is a sampling of a few of my favorite quotes.

“A steady diet of that philosophy [instant gratification ideology] has fattened our society with self-indulgence and impatience. People find it difficult to cope with life if they can’t instantly gratify every desire...Heavenly mindedness is taking our eyes off the world’s offerings for fulfillment and focusing them on God’s sufficient provision for our satisfaction.” (43).

“No matter what your circumstances might be, consider your eternal inheritance. Meditate on it. Let it fill your heart with praise to the One who has extended such grace to you. Let it motivate you to live to His glory. Don’t pursue the quick fix--some worldly solution to the passing problems of life. The world’s trials aren’t even worthy to be compared with our eternal glory” (52).

The right to counsel people within the church may be in jeopardy not from outside or governmental interference, but due to the attitude of many in the church toward Scripture (57). “Scripture is the manual for all soul work and is so comprehensive in the diagnosis and treatment of every spiritual matter that, energized by the Holy Spirit in the believer, it leads to making one like Jesus Christ...The path of wholeness is the path of spiritual sanctification” (58-59).

“Some of the supposed problems of our culture are pathetically trite. Self-image, looks, codependency, emotional abuse, mid-life crisis, unfulfilled expectations-today’s infirmities were once seen more accurately as the pains of selfishness” (66).

“God’s word is the perfect discerner...It not only analyzes all the facts perfectly, but all motives, and intentions, and beliefs as well, which even the wisest of human judges or critics cannot do” (97).

“Sin is now defined by how it affects man, not how it dishonors God. Salvation is often presented as a means of receiving what Christ offers without obeying what He commands. The focus has shifted from God’s glory to man’s benefit” (154).

“The energy behind your spiritual progress is not your human abilities or resources, although God might bless you with an abundance of both..The real cause of all spiritual progress is...God Himself is working within you to effect your sanctification. That’s why sanctification can never be totally deterred” (205). ( )
  joshcrouse3 | Sep 17, 2021 |
Case 3 shelf 1
  semoffat | Aug 2, 2021 |
"Christ's divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness." — 2 Peter 1:3

This verse is the cornerstone of Our Sufficiency in Christ by well-known author and pastor Dr. John MacArthur. In this work, he takes a biblical look at Christ's sufficiency for every believer in every time. There are many philosophies in the world today that attack the sufficiency of Christ. Secular psychology is one belief system that has infiltrated the church and undermined this basic doctrine. Many in the church don't really believe that Christ has already granted us everything we need to live godly lives, turning instead to psychiatric medication and secular counseling. Some believe that the Bible is fallible and should be "updated" for our times, thus denying that God has given us all we need in its pages. Others contravene Christ's sufficiency by studying techniques for spiritual warfare; they are convinced that unless they have a strategy in place, "Satan will have them for breakfast" (214), and Christ's power alone is not enough to combat demons. What all these errors share is a basic disbelief in Christ's perfect sufficiency.

MacArthur examines the tenets of modern psychology, which teach that if we can just dig deep enough, we can find the answers to our problems within ourselves. According to this belief system, people are inherently good but have been damaged by their experiences and environments. This directly contradicts the Bible's teaching that we are totally depraved (not as bad as we could possibly be in every respect, but with our sin nature permeating every part of our being). There are no answers deep down in our souls that just need patient digging to unearth; we need to look to something outside of ourselves. At its core, secular psychology is a flat contradiction to the Gospel. And yet many Christians have failed to realize this and have allowed secular ideas to dominate our thinking in this area.

In the chapter "Bible-Believing Doubters," MacArthur discusses the tendency of many pastors and evangelists today to "dress up" the Gospel to make it more appealing and palatable to the average nonbeliever. While we should strive to present the Gospel as clearly as possible, we deny its sufficiency if we believe that our technique adds any power to it. MacArthur writes, "Christians who search beyond Scripture for ministry strategies inevitably end up opposing Christ's work, albeit unwittingly... Scripture is the perfect blueprint for all true ministry, and those who build according to any other plan are erecting a structure that will be unacceptable to the Master Architect" (120).

MacArthur also discusses the closely related problem of religious hedonism, the use of gimmicks and glamor to make Christianity "relevant." The effect of liberal theology on the church has been disastrous because it teaches that Scripture alone is not adequate. The seeker-sensitive movement is guilty of this heresy, because it fails to trust in God's power to draw sinners to Himself. Instead, it relies on a pragmatic policy of marketing, in an attempt to lure people to services and events. But this idea is fatally flawed because it is based on human wisdom rather than God's. What you lure people with is what you'll keep them with. Under all the advertising, the Gospel is shuffled aside or treated merely as an add-on, an app you can use (or not) to improve yourself. Pragmatism "has succumbed to the humanistic notion that man exists for his own satisfaction" (155).

As I slowly worked my way through this book, I was amazed at how often I unconsciously assume that what God has provided is not enough. "Oh, well, God's provision doesn't really cover THIS area" or "God is more concerned about this over here; He's not really involved in that problem over there." MacArthur doesn't mince words and I appreciate his firmly biblical perspective on the issue. It's been very challenging and very necessary for me to be educated on this issue, basic as it may seem. I think the sufficiency of Christ and His Word is something many Christians would agree with, but don't really define clearly enough to work it out practically in our everyday lives. We scrape by somehow, but futility is a hallmark of our lives. And yet we possess such riches in Christ!

This might be a weak illustration, but I finished this book while on vacation at the beach and while I was there, I felt the lack of some toiletries that I had planned not to pack because of space constraints. The night before we left, I was repacking and found the items I had been missing at the bottom of my bag! I had them with me all week, but in the hurry of getting everything together, I forgot that I did pack them after all. It reminded me of MacArthur's oft-repeated thesis in this book: in Christ and His Word, the Christian has already everything he or she needs to live a godly life. We've had it the whole time — from the moment of salvation until forever. When we fail to believe and live this, we will always feel a lack. No secular wisdom can adequately address our needs.

I am not usually a proponent of blanket recommendations, but this is one book that I highly recommend to every Christian. Christ is sufficient! ( )
2 abstimmen atimco | May 27, 2010 |
Fantastic!!!Bowing to praise God is far better than bowing to pressure of man. ( )
1 abstimmen Jim-Per | Jul 4, 2008 |
In this book John MacArthur targets three manifestations of what he terms "new gnosticism"--psychology, pragmatism and mysticism. In his matter-of-fact way of writing he offers practical, biblical answers to these trends. Published in 1981, the book is still quite relevant.

If you are in any kind of spiritual leadership in the Christian Church today, you should be familiar with this book. You may not agree with everything, but you will find much good food for thought.

www.comingstobrazil.com
  brazilnut72 | May 30, 2008 |
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Too many Christians have displaced their true spiritual resources with watered-down beliefs like mysticism, pragmatism, and psychology. Here is a renewed understanding of what it means to be complete in Christ.

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