Hard Preaching is Better than Soft Preaching

At one of the recent Together for the Gospel conferences John MacArthur said, “Hard preaching makes soft people, and soft preaching makes hard people.”

To understand this quote, let me define the two terms in play and show their natural consequences:

Hard preaching is true preaching.  Soft preaching is fake preaching.  Another way to say is hard preaching takes the Bible seriously while soft preaching doesn’t.  Because the Bible is taken seriously in hard preaching, it values what the Bible values.  The Bible has a high view of God due to His holiness and glory, a low view of man due to sin, a high view of Christ due to His Person and Work, and a high view of the Holy Spirit’s ministry in the hearts of the elect.  Thus true preaching will have these things present in it as well because it goes where the Bible goes.

Soft preaching, in contrast, doesn’t value what the Bible values.  It doesn’t present a high view of God, doesn’t present a low view of man, doesn’t present a high view of Christ’s Person and Work, and doesn’t present a high view of the Spirit’s work.  Thus soft preaching doesn’t have anything of value in it for God’s people because, oddly enough, people are the focus of it instead of God.  It goes wherever it wants to and avoids the truth of Scripture.

Hard preaching is full of honest, truthful, and faithful conscience awakening plea’s from the Bible to recognize sin as sin, call us to repent, and call us to turn toward Christ with full affection and thankfulness for what He’s done and still doing in and through us.  Soft preaching is full of attempts from the so-called preacher to explain away the truths of Scripture, soften the sin of man, lessen the punitive wrath of God for sin, and put all people regardless of religion on the same path to God.  Thus it demeans God and exalts man.

The results of these two types of preaching may not be visible at first but overtime they are disastrous.  The effect of hard preaching on the human heart is a good one.  You’ll find your heart softening over time to the things of God and come to hold a very high and proper view of God’s Word, God’s work, and God’s Church.  The effect of soft preaching on the human heart is a bad one.  You’ll find your heart hardening over time to the things of God and come to hold a view high view of self, which will lead to a low view of God’s Word, God’s work, and God’s Church.  Hard preaching leads both the preacher and his hearers to repentance, while soft preaching leads both the preacher and his/her hearers to further callousness.

Hard preaching brings life to the soul and moves people toward holy living.

Soft preaching brings death to the soul and confirms people in their worldliness.

The conclusion is easy.  If you want a real, authentic, living, and vibrant faith in Christ, seek a church who will give it to you straight and doesn’t tamper with the Word of God.  If you want a fake, phony, showy, and fraudulent faith in a some kind of ‘higher power’, seek a gathering that will do everything in its power to increase your trust in yourself.

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“Johnny Mac”: My First Study Bible

“…the only effective way of seeing the significance of a passage is in its context. Going through an entire book sets the passage in its context on its widest, deepest, and richest level. . . . Neither the Old Testament nor the New Testament was written as a collection of verses to be thrown into the air and allowed to fall back wherever they might. Rather, each book has a reasonable, logical, inspired flow of thought going from point A to Z, with all stops in between. Each was designed by the Holy Spirit so that you have the Holy Spirit communicating something powerfully and clearly in the whole letter: you dare not miss a single part! If I received five letters in the mail one day, it would make no sense to read a sentence or two out of one, skip two, read a few sentences out of another, and go to the next one and read a few out of that, and on and on. If I really want to comprehend the letter – what is going on, the tone, the spirit, the attitude, and the purpose – I must start from the beginning and go to the end of each one. If that is true of personal correspondence, then how much more is it so of divine revelation.”

John MacArthur is pastor-teacher of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley , California , author, conference speaker, president of The Master’s College and Seminary, and featured teacher with Grace to You.

From 1964 to 1966 Dr. MacArthur served as an associate pastor at Calvary Bible Church in Burbank , California and from 1966 to 1969 as a faculty representative for Talbot Theological Seminary, where he graduated with honors.

In 1969, John came to Grace Community Church . The emphasis of his pulpit ministry is the careful study and verse-by-verse exposition of the Bible, with special attention devoted to the historical and grammatical background behind each passage.Under John’s leadership, Grace Community Church’s two morning worship services fill the 3,000-seat auditorium to capacity.  Several thousand members also participate each week in dozens of fellowship groups and training programs, led by members of the pastoral staff and lay leaders. These groups are dedicated to equipping members for ministry on local, national, and international levels.

In 1985, John became president of The Master’s College (formerly Los Angeles Baptist College ), an accredited, four-year, liberal arts Christian college in Santa Clarita , California . In 1986, John founded The Master’s Seminary, a graduate school dedicated to training men for full-time pastoral roles and missionary work. In addition to his administrative responsibilities, John regularly teaches Expository Preaching at the seminary and frequently speaks in chapel.

John is also president and featured teacher with Grace to You. Founded in 1969, Grace to You is the nonprofit organization responsible for developing, producing, and distributing John’s books, audiocassettes, and the Grace to You, Portraits of Grace, and Grace to You Weekend radio programs. Grace to You airs more than 1,500 times daily throughout the English speaking world reaching all major population centers in the United States, as well as Australia, Canada, Europe, India, New Zealand, the Philippines, and South Africa,  It also airs more than 450 times daily in Spanish reaching 23 countries, including Mexico, Spain, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Venezuela, and Colombia. In its three-decade history, Grace to You has also distributed more than 12 million audiocassette tapes and more than one hundred study guide titles.

Since completing his first best-selling book The Gospel According to Jesus, in 1988, John has written over 100 books and, through Grace to You and retail bookstores, distributed millions of copies worldwide.Many of John’s books are available on CD-ROM and over 80 titles have been translated into Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Marathi, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, and several other major languages.

John and his wife, Patricia, live in Southern California and have four grown children: Matt, Marcy, Mark, and Melinda.They also enjoy the enthusiastic company of their eleven grandchildren–Johnny, Ty, Jessy, KD, Olivia, Susannah, Gracie, Kylee, Andrew, Brooke and Elizabeth.

Why has “Johnny Mac” has a large influence on me?  Simple, my MacArthur Study Bible was my first study Bible I really latched onto.  His notes in this Bible are stunningly beautiful, Biblical, and straight in teaching.  He is not one to meander around truth.  He always tells is like it is, and for that I am thankful.  Now, I do not agree with everything I hear from him, or with every note in his study Bible which so dear to my heart.  Johnny Mac is a dispensationalist while I am an Amillenialist.  This quote from Phil Johnson comforts my soul:

“MacArthur calls himself a “leaky dispensationalist”–meaning he rejects any and all “dispensational” soteriological innovations, holding to classic Reformed (i.e., Protestant, not “covenantal”) soteriology.  MacArthur’s “dispensationalism” is eschatological and ecclesiological only.  And given the fact that soteriology is central to our whole understanding of Christianity, whereas eschatology and ecclesiology deal primarily with secondary doctrines, it would be my assessment that MacArthur has far less in common with Ryrie than he would have with anyone who believes 1) that God’s grace is efficacious for regeneration and sanctification as well as for justification, and 2) that God graciously guarantees the perseverance of all true believers.”

I am thankful for Johnny Mac, and still to this day go back to that first study Bible for study, questions, and learning.  Gotta love it 🙂