The Silent Shepherd by John MacArthur

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The Silent Shepherd is not a systematic study of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, although it does detail many of His attributes and ministries. The target audience appears to be laymen with limited knowledge of this subject. A study guide is included to walk students through a Bible study on the material.

The Silent Shepherd is basically sound in its teaching on the Holy Spirit, although there is a curious blending of Reformed and dispensational theology. For example, while taking the dispensational approach of the distinct ministries of the Holy Spirit in the church age, MacArthur nevertheless maintains the standard Reformed view of three divisions of the Law. The civil and ceremonial aspects of the Law have been done away with, but not the moral. This is an indefensible position, supported by Reformed presupposition, not by the Scriptures, which never breaks the Law into three parts. Biblically, the Law is always presented as a whole entity, even though we will admit that it had three aspects. MacArthur fails, therefore, to see the complete uniqueness of the church age, which is free of the Mosaic Law and under the law of Christ. He also takes the standard Reformed view of the New Covenant, assuming that the Christian is now under the New Covenant without any discussion of the subject. But the most disturbing statement in the book, one that surely he would wish to reword is found on p. 93. Concerning assurance of salvation MacArthur writes, “Have I experienced the leading, encouraging, assuring work of the Holy Spirit in my life? Have I experienced any aspects of the fruit of the Spirit? Have I known and shown love for other members of the body of Christ? Has my heart longed to commune with God in prayer? Do I have a love for God’s Word and are its truths clear and compelling to me? If you can remember times when the answers to any of these questions was clearly yes, then you are most likely a Christian” (emphasis mine). Surely the believer has a better measure of assurance than this subjective, wishy-washy, “I hope I am saved because I remember a time when I enjoyed some aspect of Christianity.” Our hope rests on faith (I John 5:13) that is evidenced in present fruit, not in past experience that most likely points to salvation.

Overall, The Silent Shepherd is an okay book but there are far better on the Holy Spirit.

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