Hard to Believe by John MacArthur

I missed John MacArthur. Well, not really him, but his writings. So I finally bought a copy of Hard to Believe, MacArthur’s book that I’ve been longing to have. The book is about the truths of Christianity that are hard to believe. These include discipleship, the cross, exclusivity, evangelism, etc. Again, MacArthur does what he does best: Exposition of the Bible.


Okay. I have to admit it as early as now. In the book, MacArthur is as not as expository as he does in A Tale of Two Sons (which is a rich exposition of Luke 15) and The Truth War (exposition of portions of Jude). Except for his unbelievable courage in the face of conflict, what else would I expect of MacArthur? I often find him doing paraphrases than exposition. I guess I just put my expectations too high. Oh well. But let’s set aside this reservation and move on.

As usual, MacArthur is confrontational. As early as page 3, he bashes on prosperity theology, the seeker-sensitive movement, and Robert Schuller’s self-esteem gospel. He even coined the term Christianity Lite, “the Christianity for consumers,” “the redirection, watering down, and misinterpretation of the biblical gospel in an attempt to make it more palatable and popular.”1 I think Christianity Lite have already intruded churches and ministries. Just observe how some Christian live their lives and how leaders conduct their ministries, and you will inevitably find yourself face-to-face with Chrisitanity Lite.

In the book, MacArthur often employs transliterated Greek words when explaining passages. I find this very helpful, since it gives the reader additional information and it further reinforces the point of the passage.

In chapter 1, which is one of my favorite chapters of the book, MacArthur makes a compelling case on the necessity of following Jesus (discipleship), in which I believe is badly needed in churches these days. Using passages such as Mark 10:32-39; Luke 9:23-26, 57-62, 14:28-33, he discusses on the costliness of discipleship. Self-denial is a theme of this chapter, and the same theme is constantly repeated throughout the book.

In chapter 8, I came across shocking statements. “Your commitment goes against the harmony with which you desire to live. Being a Christian and following Jesus Christ may mean you create a division in your own home. But that’s a mark of a true disciple. Clinging to Christ often means letting go of family members who reject you because you won’t reject the gospel,” he  writes, basing it on Matthew 10:34-37. “People will not take a stand for Christ, because they want to maintain that family harmony. But Jesus said the true disciple will turn from his family, if he is forced to make a decision. This is part of self-denial, accepting gladly the high cost of following Jesus to receive His infinite blessings for time and eternity.”2 Finally he says, “Family love is strong, surely the tightest human blond. But it doesn’t have the power that love for Christ has. It is so strong that it sometimes cuts the family bond.”3 These statements are truly shocking. I believe that family love, together with self-love (that’s why we are to deny ourselves if we are to follow Christ), will be the ultimate test of our allegiance to Christ. Who will reign supreme?

Hard to Believe is not a book for the faint-hearted. It is powerfully convicting from start to finish, and I was deeply convicted by it. Unless you are ready to face hard-to-believe truths, don’t read this. Nevertheless, the book is worth reading; I highly recommend it to you.


1John MacArthur, Hard to Believe (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2003), 2.
2John MacArthur, Hard to Believe, 131-132
3John MacArthur, Hard to Believe, 132

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~ by Enzo Cortes on March 25, 2011.

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