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T4G: Notes on John MacArthur The Theology of Sleep

Mark Chapter 4:26-29 The Theology of Sleep

My confidence is in the Lord & in His power, not in me.

The thinking that more persuasive words and ingenuity result in more conversions inevitably result in adjusting (and eventually corrupting) the Gospel.

Even though massive crowds followed Jesus, only a few were true believers. In Luke 13:23 one of his disciples even asked about so few being saved. That’s how the flesh always responds to evangelistic disappointment, that somehow the fault must be ours, maybe we are out of touch, maybe we aren’t responding to their needs, we’ve got to change, somehow we’ve got to overcome the sinner’s resistance by repackaging the message.

Entrepreneurial types attempt to change the results by changing the message.

The wonder of the gospel is this: you sow the seed, you go to sleep, and it grows. (Mark 4:27)

The thief on the cross saw a beaten, rejected, half naked dying man on a cross, and believed. There was nothing impressive or convincing in that moment. The only explanation is the Spirit of God. There is no human explanation for the thief’s change of mind, heart & will. In my mind that is the greatest human conversion moment in the New Testament.

We may be the means but we are not the power. We are the secondary agency.

Spiritual regeneration is divinely automatic, but there are certain attitudes that must be present in evangelism: humility, obedience, diligence, confidence.

Humility– in parable of sower there is coming a massive supernatural harvest (100 fold is way beyond humanly possible yields). Note there are no adjectives to describe the sower. No qualifications. There’s nothing in the story about the sower, he just throws the seed. The story is not about the sower.

The seed– the harvest cannot happen without the Gospel. Why did Jesus tell people not to tell people about healings, not to tell people He was the messiah, because the Gospel isn’t miracles, it is the Gospel that Jesus was crucified and risen for our sins, and after that happened Jesus commanded them to preach it to all, for it is the power of God for salvation (Romans 1)

So, the sower isn’t important, you can’t change the seed? What about the soil? Do you try to change the soils? You can’t. So I don’t ever appeal to the emotions or will, because the fallen human soul is a “fertile ground for religiosity”. I always appeal to the mind, to their understanding.

Joy is no indication of saving faith.

True conversion is marked by broken hearted love for God. (Edwards)

Obedience: Parable of the lamp: We are humble because we know we cannot change the heart, only God’s light can. We are obedient because we are the means by which the light comes.

We don’t have the power to change hearts, but we have the responsibility to shine the light that changes hearts.

Diligence: those who sow sparingly reap sparingly. Your usefulness and your eternal reward is proportionate to your diligence.

Confidence: we know that God has already determined the outcome, that the Kingdom will grow & flourish. (parable of mustard seed)