MacArthur, John. The Freedom and Power of Forgiveness. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2009. 256 pp. $17.99. Purchase at Amazon for $12.23 or less.
John MacArthur is world-renowned for his exposition of the Scriptures, specifically on the New Testament. He has written numerous books based on his studies of the Bible not to mention his own study Bible and New Testament commentary series. Whenever he writes anything, you know it will be saturated with Scripture. Forgiveness is no different.
MacArthur begins by laying a theological foundation for the ground of all forgiveness and then looks to Christ’s dying prayer on the Cross and how we should understand the implications of his prayer. He next looks at the person who has been forgiven of their sins and what that means.
He spends a great deal of time discussing what the Bible says about forgiving one another. Five chapters, in fact, deal with this subject. At one point he states that he believes that many people experience stress and hardships and such because of their unforgiving spirit.
The book concludes with three important appendices. The first is a look at how we are to understand the Atonement of Christ. The second is a discussion of the unpardonable sin. The third, and I argue the best, is two sermons on forgiveness. The first sermon is by C.H. Spurgeon–Forgiveness Made Easy. The second is by (lesser known?) Alexander MacLaren entitled The Forgiving Son of Man. Both of these sermons are worth the price of the book!
Of course, when you are dealing with the exposition of Scripture, people are going to disagree. I have no problem with people disagreeing with one another on non-essential matters and rather enjoy that we do not all agree. After all, God is infinite and we are finite. To disagree, properly and with a charitable heart, is to really show just how infinite God is.
I am thinking primarily of the appendix on the atonement. Many will disagree with where MacArthur falls here (Christ’s death as a penal substitution) but they cannot say that his argument is not rooted in Scripture. Some will disagree that the blasphemy of the Spirit is a life-long rejection of Christ as Lord and Savior (I am not one of these), but, again, they cannot say that MacArthur has not arrived at this conclusion apart from Scripture.
There are other “quirks” that MacArthur comes to based upon his exegesis, but I can live with those. I have disagreed with him in the past (though not in print) but have always found what he says to be at the very least thoughtful and challenging. I do appreciate that he challenges his readers with Matthew 18 as a prescriptive course of action when a brother offends another and not as more descriptive as many would like.
I suppose there will be many books written on forgiveness an Amazon book search turned up over 4,500. There have been other books recently written on the subject of forgiveness that would also be worth picking up, but MacArthur’s volume definitely deserves your attention because it is saturated in Scripture and was written by one of the better preachers today. He write on forgiveness with a “thus saith the Lord” attitude and that is most needed today.