Review: Christ’s Call to Reform the Church

John MacArthur.   Christ’s Call to Reform the Church: Timeless Demands from the Lord to His People   .  Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2018, 199 pp. $24.67.

John MacArthur. Christ’s Call to Reform the Church: Timeless Demands from the Lord to His People. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2018, 199 pp. $24.67.

Book Reviews.004.jpeg

One of the chief motivating factors for the establishment of this website was a growing conviction that the church in North America has become distracted from her God-given mission. Instead of simple faithfulness to God’s demands and expectations, it seems that God’s people are chasing the butterflies of their own creativity and innovation. Rather than allowing God to define the ends of ministry, church leaders today establish their own goals and then necessarily justifying the oft-unbiblical means by which they seek to accomplish those man-made ends.

John MacArthur, never one to shy away from controversy if the gospel is perceived to be at stake, has identified this same trend and, in his latest book, calls the western church to repentance for the sinful path she has chosen and to turn back to what God has called her to accomplish for his glory.

It’s hypocritical for Christians to berate the secular world for the way unbelievers behave when so many churches are validating it either by believing in its ability to be redeemed by human power or by putting on a worldly circus of entertainment and cheap distractions from the real issues. It’s time for the church to be about the ministry of reconciliation—for God’s people to boldly and faithfully proclaim His gospel and for His church to be salt and light in this dark and desperate world (13, emphasis added).

He rightly points out that the mission of the church is to stand in contrast to the world and to offer refugees from that murderous system a God-glorifying alternative. This has not been the case in modern times as the church would rather dilly-dally with worldliness and “tolerance” as a misguided and unbiblical mode of evangelism.

Once the church determines its purpose is to engage and attract the culture rather than edify and equip the saints, it sets out on a path that will always lead to worldliness and apostasy (25).

MacArthur notices strong parallels between American churches today and those to whom our Lord addresses near the end of the biblical canon and the majority of this book is based upon a sermon series covering these inspired letters found in Revelation 2 and 3 (195). With a single chapter dedicated to each of the churches, MacArthur uses these texts to hold up a mirror to 21st-century evangelicalism. For those familiar with Revelation, there will likely be nothing new introduced here. However, there is much to be said for clear, biblical reminders of what it is the church is to be doing and what it is we’re not to be doing.

Apart from a few minor points of interpretation that left me in disagreement, this book provides a solid, accessible, and biblical rationale for the church’s call to be holy. As such, it is highly recommend for all who love the church of Christ and, yet, like MacArthur, smell something funky coming from under many pews.