Friday, July 3, 2015

A heartfelt reply to Matthew Vines 40 questions about gay marriage, and an open letter with a personal plea

A few days ago, Kevin DeYoung at The Gospel Coalition published “40 Questions for Christians Now Waving Rainbow Flags”. It was an excellent and gentle way to approach the subject of same-sex attraction and homosexual marriage. One could detect immediately that his piece would have an impact. It did.

One of the leading apologists for same sex attraction and the homosexual lifestyle as biblical is young Matthew Vines. He wrote a book called God and the Gay Christian. He has not been silent about his advocacy for the gay lifestyle being biblical. Today he issued his own response, "40 questions for Christians who oppose marriage equality"

I am a Christian opposed to homosexual marriage. So, I’ve chosen to answer them. Vines’ questions are in bold. My answers follow. (Left, M. Vines)

Dear Mr Vines,

My young friend, I am thoughtfully and earnestly answering these questions you posed. Since you took the time to create them and publish them, and I took the time to answer these questions, I ask you kindly to read them.

I have a special, personal, heartfelt message for you at the end, Mr Vines … Matthew. My heart really goes out to you. In my message at the bottom, I am honest, transparent, and perhaps you will detect in me that at one time we were the same. Hang in there with this piece and please, I do want the best for you and I’m not here to be your enemy. I’m answering as an old Baptist lady twice your age, lol, that has some things to share based on experience in the Lord, that I believe would bless you to read.

• Do you accept that sexual orientation is not a choice?
No. All sin is a choice.

• Do you accept that sexual orientation is highly resistant to attempts to change it?
Yes. All sin is highly resistant to change- in the flesh. Ask an alcoholic/drug addict/kleptomaniac/nymphomaniac…Yet through Jesus we can do anything. (John 15:5)

• How many meaningful relationships with lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) people do you have?
Define “meaningful”.

• How many openly LGBT people would say you are one of their closest friends?
Are we defining biblical truth by our experience with a randomly allotted number of friends?

• How much time have you spent in one-on-one conversation with LGBT Christians about their faith and sexuality?
Again, are we defining spiritual truth by the number of hours talked?

• Do you accept that heterosexual marriage is not a realistic option for most gay people?
No. “And such were some of you”. (1 Corinthians 6:11).

• Do you accept that lifelong celibacy is the only valid option for most gay people if all same-sex relationships are sinful?
Lifelong celibacy is not unbiblical and it’s not a jail sentence. ALL people who are single are expected to be celibate. (Matthew 19:11). And post-conversion, marriage IS in the cards for some who were previously gay, previously fornicators, previously sexually overactive in any way. The only people marriage is not in the cards for biblically are those who divorce for unbiblical reasons.

• How many gay brothers and sisters in Christ have you walked with on the path of mandatory celibacy, and for how long?
The bible mandates celibacy for all single people, and constrains sexual intercourse to marriage between one man and one woman. It’s not a punishment, though your phrasing indicates you believe it is.

• What is your answer for gay Christians who struggled for years to live out a celibacy mandate but were driven to suicidal despair in the process?
Celibacy=despair=suicide?

• Has mandatory celibacy produced good fruit in the lives of most gay Christians you know?
Has celibacy produced good fruit in most of the heterosexual Christians we know? Yes. And by the way, this is the fifth question out of ten you've asked so far directly dealing with sex. And homosexuals say it’s not about the sex? Methinks…you…doth…

• How many married same-sex couples do you know?
Until last Friday, same-sex marriage was illegal in our state.

• Do you believe that same-sex couples’ relationships can show the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control?
No, not in a way that is pleasing to God because same-sex couples do not have the Spirit in them. The Spirit is not given to unrepentant sinners.

• Do you believe that it is possible to be a Christian and support same-sex marriage in the church?
No, because it would mean denying the clear teachings of scriptures in the Old Testament and the New Testament and defying God’s picture of His Son and His bride.

• Do you believe that it is possible to be a Christian and support slavery?
Since we are talking spiritually, bondage to sin is the ultimate slavery. Jesus came to set us free from it.

• If not, do you believe that Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Jonathan Edwards were not actually Christians because they supported slavery?
Let’s look at fallible men to make your case for a biblical truth. Not.

• Do you think supporting same-sex marriage is a more serious problem than supporting slavery?
More serious? Less serious? On a scale of one to ten, … it has a good beat and I can dance to it. Matthew, moral relativism has no place in a discussion of biblical truths, because God’s moral law is absolute. We find that absolute in the bible.

• Did you spend any time studying the Bible’s passages about slavery before you felt comfortable believing that slavery is wrong?
You’re aiming for an emotional argument here, one from conscience. Owning another human being has nothing to do with the sin of sexual union with the same gender. By the way, slavery is more endemic in this day and age than it ever was previously in any age. All sin is rising in the world.

• Does it cause you any concern that Christians throughout most of church history would have disagreed with you?
Once again you appeal to experience and behavior to attempt to prove a moral law, which can’t happen because man is sinful and God is not. God is the only arbiter of morals.

• Did you know that, for most of church history, Christians believed that the Bible taught the earth stood still at the center of the universe?
Did you know that mankind still cannot figure out how the pyramids were built?

• Does it cause you any concern that you disagree with their interpretation of the Bible?
Not as much as my concern over your misinterpretation of the bible.

• Did you spend any time studying the Bible’s verses on the topic before you felt comfortable believing that the earth revolves around the sun?
I admire that the bible confirms science.

• Do you know of any Christian writers before the 20th century who acknowledged that gay people must be celibate for life due to the church’s rejection of same-sex relationships?
The church rejects same-sex relationships, as well as animal-human sexual relationships, sexual relationships outside of marriage, and incestuous relationships because they are sinful

• If not, might it be fair to say that mandating celibacy for gay Christians is not a traditional position?
Celibacy for anyone who is not married, is “mandated”. That is the traditional position.

• Do you believe that the Bible explicitly teaches that all gay Christians must be single and celibate for life?
The bible teaches that all persons not in a marital relationship must remain pure, and abstain from all sexual activity. There is no such thing as a Gay Christian. I say this with no snark and much sorrow because I know you identify as such…

• If not, do you feel comfortable affirming something that is not explicitly affirmed in the Bible?
Celibacy for anyone not in a biblically ordained marriage is explicitly affirmed in the bible.

• Do you believe that the moral distinction between lust and love matters for LGBT people’s romantic relationships?
Anyone, and that means anyone old or young, straight or gay, who lusts in their heart has already committed adultery. (Proverbs 6:25, Matthew 5:28).

• Do you think that loving same-sex relationships should be assessed in the same way as the same-sex behavior Paul explicitly describes as lustful in Romans 1?
There are no loving same-sex relationships because they are all built on hate for the word of God and for our redeemer Jesus Christ. Anyone who sins and has not repented is an enemy of Jesus. That’s hate.

• Do you believe that Paul’s use of the terms “shameful” and “unnatural” in Romans 1:26-27 means that all same-sex relationships are sinful?
Seeing that Paul’s exact words were inspired by the Godhead, I’d say yes.

• Would you say the same about Paul’s description of long hair in men as “shameful” and against “nature” in 1 Corinthians 11:14, or would you say he was describing cultural norms of his time?
“Would I say” is not the way to go about interpreting the bible. Proper hermeneutics and an understanding of the verse/passage/chapter in context is how to go about understanding what the Spirit is saying to us. Nevertheless, there are many things described as shameful in the bible. When we read one of them, we should take heed.

• Do you believe that the capacity for procreation is essential to marriage?
I believe this because the bible proclaims it. However that capacity is God-given, and we know that the capacity to procreate is not God-given to absolutely everyone.

• If so, what does that mean for infertile heterosexual couples?
It means that God has not deemed those persons to procreate, just as He has deemed some to remain unmarried for periods of time, and others to remain celibate. In the main, though, marriage is a picture of Christ and His church, it is for partnership complementary to one another for life, and is for sexual union and the blessing of being given a child. All this is plain in the bible.

• How much time have you spent engaging with the writings of LGBT-affirming Christians like Justin Lee, James Brownson, and Rachel Murr?
None. I spend my time in edifying materials. First, the bible and next in material Philippians 4:8 urges us to digest. Why would I want to think on materials that are at enmity with God and teach against His moral principles? Just so, I also choose not to read writers who urge us to sexually partner with children or animals. Why would I?

• What relationship recognition rights short of marriage do you support for same-sex couples?
Absolutely none. Indulging in sex outside of biblically ordained marriage is a sin.

• What are you doing to advocate for those rights?
We already possess the highest “recognition” in the universe: all are made in the image of God and while we were still sinners, God loved us. When I repented and became a citizen of heaven, all my “rights” transferred to Jesus and flow from Jesus. I (try) to do only what is “right” in His eyes.

• Do you know who Tyler Clementi, Leelah Alcorn, and Blake Brockington are, and did your church offer any kind of prayer for them when their deaths made national news?
Our church frequently prays for many of the families of people who die, (we don't pray for dead people themselves, their eternity is fixed by then) though we tend to stay away from “national news” oriented situations.

• Do you know that LGBT youth whose families reject them are 8.4 times more likely to attempt suicide than LGBT youth whose families support them?
First, it is shameful for families to reject any of their children. It is an especial sin for Christian families to do so. (Col 3:21, 1 Tim 5:8). Your question didn’t distinguish whether it’s Christian families or NON-Christian families doing the rejecting. As for the homosexual youth who kill themselves, that is because their sin and rebellion is causing them intense depression and despair. ALL sinners are in despair, and many sinners perform suicide. However the antidote for suicide is not to indulge their sin. Jesus overcame all sins of oppression, depression, possession, and despair, and once a person is in Christ, has the strength and help available via the Spirit to climb out of their sinful hole and resist the temptation to kill themselves.

• Have you vocally objected when church leaders and other Christians have compared same-sex relationships to things like bestiality, incest, and pedophilia?
No, why would I object? Homosexuality is in the same list as the things you mentioned and all of them are an abomination to the LORD. They are all sexual sin and Jesus came to die for pedophiles, animal lovers, homosexuals, and incestuously active, the same as He came to die for embezzlers, liars, hypocrites, gossips, adulterers, coveters, etc.

• How certain are you that God’s will for all gay Christians is lifelong celibacy?
Not certain at all. Many gay people who repent and have the Holy Spirit in them go one to enjoy productive and happy relationships in marriage with the opposite sex. Even bearing children. Of the ones He deems to be celibate, and not all of those are gay people, Matthew, He gives the strength to remain so. In fact, in the last days Tribulation, Rev 7 and 11 shows us there will be 144,000 celibate virgins running around doing God’s work. Happily. Imagine that. Moral sexual purity during the WORST sinful time Matthew 24:21 says there shall ever be.

• What do you think the result would be if we told all straight teenagers in the church that if they ever dated someone they liked, held someone’s hand, kissed someone, or got married, they would be rebelling against God?
The result would be that the pastor and deacons and elders would take me aside to explain my error in biblical interpretation regarding marriage.

• Are you willing to be in fellowship with Christians who disagree with you on this topic?
I am already in fellowship with Christians who disagree on a variety of topics. That’s called the normal Christian life.

-----------------------------

Personal message to Matthew Vines:

My dear young man, and I mean the “dear”, in reading your list of questions it becomes obvious that you view leaving the identity of homosexual and turning to Jesus as one of loss. “Woe is me, I won’t be able to have sex.” “Woe is me, I’ll never be able to marry.” “So sad for me, I’ll be denied hand-holding and cuddles.”

This is why you rail against the Christians who attempt to correct you. You are focused on what you have to give up, on what you think you’ll lose. You never see the true benefit of repenting and the treasure hidden in the field you will receive instead. You’re clinging to a boulder on a sinking ship, and you never look up to see the helicopter with a lifeline ready to take you to glorious heights.

I said I’d be transparent with you. I am not gay and I’ve never once thought about a same-sex relationship. I was married but now I'm divorced. That happened at about the same time I was converted, at age 43. That was 11 years ago. I’ve been celibate for all these years. In the inimitable way the Lord has, He made it clear that I was not to be married. I am one of those people Paul speaks of who has “the gift of celibacy.”

I self-identified as a healthy, excessively lusty woman, interested in cuddles, hand holding, all the way up to sex with a man, who would be my husband. When the Spirit inspired John’s Gospel and he recorded the incident with the woman at the well, He likely had me in mind, lol. I liked sex, a LOT. I was defined by my sin. But it was getting pretty heavy.

When I was converted by grace of God, I struggled. I was single, and looking down that long hallway of life and had a very hard time coming to grips with the notion that I would be not only single, but- gasp!- celibate. I could barely say the word. What would I do? That aspect of me comprised almost all of me. It was who I was and was who I identified as being. Who would I be if I gave it up? I know you can relate.

I struggled mightily for a year. Yet the bible was very clear. I loved Jesus. I loved sexual relations. How could He do this to me, deny me? The tension between who I wanted to identify as (sexually liberated woman) and who I was now (pure daughter of Christ) grew unbearable. Something had to give. It soon became apparent I had to give up my self-identity because it was based on the sin of lust, and I now must rest “in Christ”. On July 4, 2006, I laid down on the floor of my vacation cabin, put my face to the ground and said, “Lord, this sin of lust is keeping me from thinking straight. It is keeping me from a biblical mind-transformation that I need to have. It is keeping me from YOU. I cannot serve two masters. Lord, the bible says,

And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. 45And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. 47And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, 48‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched. (Mark 9:43-48).

That is pretty graphic, no? And it is equally clear. I had to let go of the boulder. I was clutching at something that I thought made me, me, and it was drowning me. The boulder was NOT my self-identification, the Lord had now identified me as His child. I must be pure. Help, me Lord in this that you require.

I did not have a safety net. There was no “leap and the net will appear.” I had no idea what lay ahead. I just knew that I needed Christ’s strength and I clung to his promise to GIVE ME LIFE AND LIFE ABUNDANTLY instead of my boulder of lusty-self-identification.

I said, “If this is what it means to have a deep relationship with You, Lord, I cut out my beloved sin. I cast it at Your cross. I repudiate it.”

Do you think, Matthew, that the Lord would “mandate” celibacy for singles, a word you enjoy saying so often, and not help us maintain it? BTW He has the authority to “mandate” everything, you know. Do you believe that He is that weak, uncaring, impotent to overcome all your temptations? He HAS already overcome them. Do you believe He may not have a gracious and loving woman in reserve for you to marry, should you repent and convert? Do you not believe He wants your best, a best that is outlined in the bible? Even if it means still allowing you to struggle with sexual lust, do you not think that there are others who have similar struggles and temptations in all areas of life? Don't you think it's a bit self-involved to think no one else has temptations like you men who self-identify as gay have? Yet somehow they and I find the strength in Christ who rely on Him to help us. We have wonderful lives full to the brim and overflowing with grace and service and love.

He forgave all my sins, and lifted all my temptations. He gave me abundant life, He gave me HIMSELF. I traded a dusty and rotten old boulder on a sinking ship for glorious heights in His service, happily, in the new life He made for me. I am the woman at the well. Here is how she ended:

Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” 40So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. 41And many more believed because of his word. 42They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.” (John 4:39-42).

He can be your Savior, complete and powerful, offering you release from the chain that you are attached to, that boulder of lust for men. Don’t be Mrs Lot, looking back at what you think you will lose. The full Christian life is not about losses and lacks. Look ahead, Matthew. No, look up.

The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15)

Sincerely,
Elizabeth, some ole Baptist lady in Georgia who loves you and wants the best for you.

SBC pastor Rick Warren to co-preach with archbishop at Catholic convention in advance of Pope visit

Rick Warren has been chosen to co-preach a keynote speech along with Cardinal Sean O'Malley at Pope Francis' World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia this September 2015. [HT Pulpit & Pen]. Every three years the Pope holds this conference in a different city and every three years it has a different theme. This year's theme is “Love is Our Mission: The Family Fully Alive.”

Mary Beth Yount is director of content and programming for the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia. She wrote extensively in 'Catholic Philly' of the selection process, the organization of the program, and the background of the Meeting:
The first step is the preparatory catechesis, the foundation on which a World Meeting of Families rests. The host diocese for each World Meeting writes a preparatory catechism that guides the proceedings. It contains a collection of Catholic teachings about the purpose of human life, marriage and the family, and addresses all stages of life.
The criteria for Warren and the others being chosen to speak at this eagerly anticipated, august global Catholic event were:
“We wanted speakers who were engaging and who could offer practical takeaways on how to help change lives,” Yount said.
Because being winsome and teaching practical life skills is what the Gospel is all about.

In addition to the event being an opportunity to preach, promote and affirm Catholic teachings, the speakers and organizers seek intercessory prayer from the august duo of intermediaries in heaven-and if you said Jesus and the Holy Spirit, you would be wrong - it's Mary and Joseph.
We look forward to gathering with people from around the world in Philadelphia. As we prepare for this event, we particularly ask the intercessory prayers of Mary and Joseph, parents of the Holy Family and patrons of all families. (Source)
This is the environment in which Warren is co-preaching.

Ten years ago a question arose as to whether Warren was distancing himself from the Southern Baptist Convention. At that time, Warren firmly maintained he is Southern Baptist Convention aligned. He said,
"I’m Southern Baptist, our church is Southern Baptist, and we cooperate in SBC missions support at every level both in the United States and with our IMB [International Mission Board] missionaries around the world," Warren told Baptist Press. 
In the ensuing decade Warren has obviously become apostate. I will refrain from enumerating his many questionable statements, partnerships, and activities besides the ones listed in this essay, but suffice to say they are evidence of an unfruitful Christian life. Sadly as of this writing the Southern Baptist Convention remains in friendly cooperation with Warren and his church at Saddleback. Yet the bible says:

Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works. (2 John 1:9-11)

Last year Warren was keynote for the Southern Baptist Convention Pastors' Conference,
the largest Protestant denomination in the world.

This year, keynote for the Catholic denomination, the largest apostate denomination on the world.

Rick Warren is busy.

His bio according to the Catholic Organizers of World Meeting of Families, includes of course being
pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, the author of The Purpose Driven Life and 10 other books. He is also founder of the Global P.E.A.C.E. Plan (Promote reconciliation, Equip leaders, Assist the poor, Care for the sick, and Educate the next generation). He established the Purpose Driven Network of Churches, and has trained over 400,000 priests and pastors in 197 countries. [emphasis mine]


The title of the Keynote the duo will deliver is absolutely hypocritically ironic and devastating. Far from being the Gospel of Life, their Gospel is the Gospel of Death. What we should be saying to those captured by satan's snare in false religion is:

Then I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, [whore Babylon religion] my people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues; for her sins are heaped high as heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities. (Revelation 18:4-5).

Warren is not evangelizing the Catholics and calling for them to depart from their dark schema. Warren says the Pope is "our new pope", is "doing everything right". He said he enjoyed a recent headline in the Orange County newspaper, "If you love Pope Francis, you'll love Jesus", so much that he "saved it to show to a group of priests I was speaking to a while back..."

John MacArthur said,
Reclassifying the Pope, reclassifying Roman Catholics as believers isn’t that simple. It has massive implications. It has implications that literally overturn centuries of missionary effort. It has massive implications that overturn centuries, if not millennia, of martyrdom. In the long war on the truth, the most formidable, relentless and deceptive enemy has been Roman Catholicism. It is an apostate, corrupt, heretical, false Christianity. It is a front for the kingdom of Satan. The true church of the Lord Jesus Christ has always understood this. And even through the Dark Ages, from 400 to 1500, prior to the Reformation, genuine Christian believers set themselves apart from that system and were brutally punished and executed for their rejection of that system. (source)
The Catholic Church is a false church and teaches false things. From Christian Research and Apologetics Ministry, here is A list of false teachings in the Roman Catholic Church

source
It must be stated and re-stated that the Catholic Church is false and those people believing in its teachings are lost and under God's wrath. It must be stated that "pastors" and others joining with them are perpetuating a gospel-less partnership in which the need to evangelize Catholics is forsaken for the plaudits of men and social works that are as filthy rags to Jesus.

It is important to recognize this because depending on your view of Catholics it changes everything. John MacArthur said that ten years ago, a document called “Evangelicals and Catholics Together” came out and many pastors and professors were signing it. That document stated that Catholics and Protestants celebrated a common faith and a common mission, it said we need to embrace each other and carry out this gospel mission together.

MacArthur said that a great many of the pastors got together and had a discussion, sometimes heated, as to what impact this document would have and whether pastors should sign it. MacArthur was on the 'No' side, along with RC Sproul and Michael Horton. He said they discussed things like:
Are they saved because they “believe in Jesus?” It was a very heated discussion at many points. What was at stake? I’ll tell you what was at stake. What was at stake is whether or not we evangelize Roman Catholics. That’s what’s at stake. One billion of them in the world, are they a mission field or are they our co-laborers for Christ? That changes everything. Everything.
When I read things like Rick Warren, a supposed evangelical pastor in good standing with my denomination, partnering with Catholic Archbishops under the umbrella of Catholic dogma and Catholic Catechism to promote and affirm it, I alternately become sick, angry, and heartbroken. Because 1 billion lives are at stake. One billion-plus souls which are in bondage to a works-legalistic scheme of a false religion that is as dung to Christ and will arrive in hell the second they die. And Warren preaches "love" - yet his hate is the most obvious and virulent of all the false pastors out there, because it is more subtle than Osteen and more insidious than Hinn.

The lesson is several-fold, my friends.

1. Prophecy: It is prophesied that in the last of the last days falsity would rise and apostasy would grow.

But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron, men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth. (1 Timothy 4:1-3)

2. Discernment: Be warned, stay away from the teachings of the false teachers, lest you be dragged in also.  Shun evildoers.

"...if he refuses even to listen to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.” (Matthew 18:17).

3. Encouragement: If you detect and understand that the Catholic Church is false, that Rick Warren is apostate, and the SBC is a dangerous compromiser, then praise our Spirit for delivering this wisdom to you.

"But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil." (Hebrews 5:14)


Thursday, July 2, 2015

I'm great! And I'm greater than you! I'm the greatest person in this whole town!

Not really, of course. But in reading Ephesians I learned something about humility.

Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, 2with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, 3being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:1-3)

We are called to walk a certain way in the world. It must be a walk worthy of the calling. What makes the walk worthy is the demonstration of our:

--humility
--gentleness
--patience
--tolerance in love
--diligence for unity
--in bonds of peace

Boy, Paul can cram a lot into one sentence, can't he. Where we receive all that from is Christ. Let's look specifically at humility. It is the first quality mentioned. Humility is urged upon the faithful throughout the New Testament, repeatedly.
These characteristics, of which humility is the foundation, form a progression, the genuine exercise of one leading to the exercise of those that follow. Tapeinophrosun√© (humility) is a compound word that literally means to think or judge with lowliness, and hence to have lowliness of mind. John Wesley observed that "neither the Greeks nor the Romans had a word for humility." The very concept was so foreign and abhorrent to their way of thinking that they had no term to describe it. Apparently this Greek term was coined by Christians, probably by Paul himself, to describe a quality for which no other word was available. To the proud Greeks and Romans, their terms for ignoble, cowardly, and other such characteristics were sufficient to describe the "unnatural" person who did not think of himself with pride or self-satisfaction. When, during the first few centuries of Christianity pagan writers borrowed the term tapeinophrosun√©, they always used it derogatorily -  frequently of Christians - because to them humility was a pitiable weakness." ~John MacArthur, Commentary on Ephesians
In Christianity, humility is a foundational virtue. When we read in Acts 17:6 that the rioters dragging Paul and Silas and Jason to the authorities characterized them as "having turned the world upside down."

But humility before an equal or a lesser was morally suspect. It upset the assumed equation: merit demanded honour, thus honour was the proof of merit. Avoiding honour implied a diminishment of merit. It was shameful. SourceIn one sense we understand that means that uproars and chaos followed them wherever they went (a chaos the Jews themselves fomented). But trouble did follow Paul wherever he and the other missionaries and evangelists went. It's like when we look at each other in today's time and shake our heads and say "Things are getting crazy!"

In the other sense though, Christianity DID turn the world upside down. Everything was opposite. Jesus taught that:

The meek shall inherit the earth. (Matthew 5:5)
The last shall be first (Matthew 19:30)
The first shall be last. (Matthew 19:30)
Pray behind closed doors, not marching around in the marketplace to be seen by men. (Matthew 6:6)
Give secretly, sounding no trumpet. (Matthew 6:2-4)
Rejoice in trials and tribulations. (James 1:2)
Think of others more highly than yourself. (Philippians 2:3)

To obtain an idea of how entrenched the Romans and Greeks were in pride and public recognition, one example is the Roman Triumph. This event was a spectacle that honored and sanctified the returning military general and his troops from a victory. Sanctify, because a triumph, which included a lengthy parade and celebration, was also a sacred rite in their pagan religion.

In the pagan world, personal achievement deserved lengthy and public praise.

As for the Greeks, their word was philotimia, literally, the love of honor. John Dickson in his book Humilitas, wrote
...one of the most difficult concepts to get across to late Western students is the concept of an ancient honor and shame culture, a culture where not truth nor life is the top value in the hierarchy of values, but rather obtaining honor is. The Greek word is philotimia literally the love of honor, and it dominated the matrix of values in the Greco-Roman world, in particular the male part of that world tasked with obtaining, maintaining and sustaining the honor of his family and their family name etc. “Uppermost in a father’s mind in the ancient world was not whether his son would be happy (in the modern sense) or make money or live morally [or tell the truth], but whether the boy would bring honor to the family, especially to his father, and to himself.” (p. 86). One was to seek to build respect and garner praise for one’s family and its name. The greatest fear in such a society was being publicly shamed— such as Jesus was on a cross. (source)

Ali's "I am the greatest" speech. Photo source
So imagine Peter and Paul and Silas and Titus, preaching humility to Greeks and Romans who not only have a flesh nature which loves pride, but have a family pressure to boast, a culture that exalts boasting, and a pagan religion that sanctifies personal achievement. Imagine how difficult it was for them to hear, "Pick up your cross and follow me." They were being asked to behave in the opposite manner of everything they knew and were taught, to drag around the very emblem of shame, and follow the most humiliated Man of the ancient world, Jesus hung on a tree.

Jesus turned the ancient world upside down.

He still does. We battle with our flesh nature and find it hard to be humble. I know I do. I want to tell people and the world of my achievements. Yet any of my achievements before I came to the cross are really as dung to Jesus, and anything I achieved after the cross was done for Him and in Him and because of Him. So what do I have to boast about? Nothing.

O THOU TERRIBLE MEEK,

Let not pride swell my heart.
My nature is the mire beneath my feet,
the dust to which I shall return.
In body I surpass not the meanest reptile;
Whatever difference of form and intellect is mine
is a free grant of thy goodness;
Every faculty of mind and body is thy undeserved gift.
Low as I am as a creature, I am lower as a sinner;
I have trampled thy law times without number;
Sin’s deformity is stamped upon me,
darkens my brow, touches me with corruption:
How can I flaunt myself proudly?
Lowest abasement is my due place,
for I am less than nothing before thee.
Help me to see myself in thy sight,
then pride must wither, decay, die, perish.
Humble my heart before thee,
and replenish it with thy choicest gifts.
As water rests not on barren hill summits,
but flows down to fertilize lowest vales,
So make me the lowest of the lowly,
that my spiritual riches may exceedingly abound.
When I leave duties undone,
may condemning thought strip me of pride,
deepen in me devotion to thy service,
and quicken me to more watchful care.
When I am tempted to think highly of myself,
grant me to see the wily power of my spiritual enemy;
Help me to stand with wary eye on the watch-tower of faith,
and to cling with determined grasp to my humble Lord;
If I fall let me hide myself in my Redeemer’s righteousness,
and when I escape, may I ascribe all deliverance to thy grace.
Keep me humble, meek, lowly.

Valley of Vision, PRIDE. (p. 88)





Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Resources about the sin of homosexuality for believers, parents, and gay folks wanting to emerge from their sin

With the Supreme Court decision legalizing homosexual marriage in every state of the US last Friday, many people have come forward to me and others with questions on how to help those on bondage to it, or how to help parents struggling to come to grips with their child's sin of homosexuality, or how to respond in apologetics to those Christians waving a rainbow flag in affirmation of the decision, or many other issues concomitant. As I saw good and trustworthy resources come across my laptop, I saved them and systematized them into groupings. I hope any of this may help as you witness to the truth regarding this particular sin.


SECTION 1: Help for those emerging from homosexuality

1. Rosaria Butterfield is probably the number 1 exhibit of the post-gay lifestyle of a former feminist and lesbian. She seems like the real deal, an honestly sinful lesbian who honestly is now a Christian. As an adult in 1999, a tenured professor at a liberal university teaching post modernism, feminism, and actively promoting and involved in the lesbian lifestyle, Rosaria is now a married woman to a pastor and mother to children, most important of all, a liberated Christian, freed from her bondage of sins, including homosexuality.

Her book: "The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: An English Professor's Journey into the Christian Faith"

Article: "My Train-Wreck Conversion"

New book: "Openness Unhindered: Further Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert on Sexual Identity and Union with Christ"

In the new book she addresses these issues:
  • Conversion: the Spark of a New Identity
  • Identity: the Flame of Our Union in Christ
  • Repentance: the Threshold to God and the Answer to Shame, Temptation, and Sin
  • Sexual Orientation: Freud’s 19th Century Category Mistake
  • Self-Representation: What Does It Mean to Be “gay”?
  • Conflict: When Sisters Disagree
  • Community: Representing Christ to the World
There are additional resources at her website.

2. This article at Piper's Desiring God website outlines four tactics for the ex-lesbian, or anyone struggling with a besetting sin, to live their life under God in an ever-increasing sanctification.
The Dead End of Sexual Sin

3. Setting Captives Free
I am not familiar with this website/program until someone I trust on Facebook posted about it. I looked it up and apparently they have been counseling for 15 years. I found no negative reviews to speak of, no scandal, and nothing of ill-repute.

They focus on helping people with online and telephone mentoring through structured 30 and 60 day classes, for a fee. Not all classes are for fee, some are free. It is a non-denominational, Biblically based set of courses. They help people who are struggling with--

adultery
pornography
masturbation
homosexuality

They offer a couples class in purity.
They offer a class for spouses whose spouse is struggling with sexual addiction.

Recently they have added two other classes, Self-injury and gluttony. In addition, they offer general devotionals and bible studies. On the website also, there are many resources, some for pay and many for free.


SECTION 2: Help Understanding what the Bible says about homosexuality

These resources from Pastor-Teacher John MacArthur (and Voddie Baucham) cover a range of issues related to homosexuality. This is just a sampling. There are additional resources available at gty.org on the topic.

Q&A, it's available in written, audio, or video form.
Answering the Key Questions about Homosexuality
"2004: I think the topic touches all of us in one way or another because it intersects with all of society's most basic institutions...home, marriage, government, and of course, religion and our faith. And so the questions that I have for you today are going to explore all of those areas. This debate over homosexuality is an emotional one and it hasn't diminished over time, only the opposite."

Sermon, available in written, audio, or video form.
Thinking Biblically about Homosexuality
"Well, tonight I want to talk to you on the subject of what God thinks of homosexuals. It is not a particularly enjoyable subject to discuss, nor would any sin be enjoyable to discuss, for that matter. But it has become pertinent and essential and necessary for us to get a biblical view of this rapidly increasing and normalizing effort to accept homosexuality in our culture. We need to understand what the Word of God has to say."

CD, free until July 5. Click on link to order.
Homosexuality, Cultural Decay, and the Only Hope
"But be encouraged, because even in the face of the cultural slide, there still is hope—a hope tied to believers like you, the Body of Christ. John MacArthur recently sat down to talk about “Homosexuality and Today’s Moral Slide.” It’s an hour of Bible-based discussion on same-sex marriage, transgender issues, and other evidences of profound cultural decay—and how you and believers like you need to respond to what’s going on now, and to what’s to come if the Lord tarries."

Sermon, available in written, audio, or video form.
What the Bible teaches about Homosexuality
"Tonight we're going to return, at least to begin with, to Romans chapter 1 for our study. We really finished last week looking specifically at the text of Romans 1. But there was much interest and reaction as we discussed the issue of homosexuality as it is mentioned by the apostle Paul in this text. I really feel that God used our study of Romans 1 in a very unique way. During the time we were in that chapter many people gave their lives to Christ. I think many of us have a greater understanding of why God is angry with men who reject His revelation, sink into rationalization, religion, and ultimately reprobation, as we saw in our last study. But we noted last time that in the process of Paul's defining the sinfulness of man and the utter fallenness of man, he gives an illustration of the depth of man's sin by pointing out what is the worst earthly expression of man's fallenness, and that is homosexuality."

In this 4-minute video clip, Pastor Voddie Baucham biblically refutes the comment "Jesus never said anything about homosexuality" and in so doing, teaches Christians how to think about the comment and what to say in response.
https://youtu.be/bAOCjKqzAKk



SECTION 3: Help for parents, families

In this essay, Kevin DeYoung poses 40 thoughtful questions to the Christians celebrating gay marriage. These can be used in a counseling situation, or if meeting face to face in counseling, via email... whatever. The questions get the Christian to consider their position using the Bible as a mirror.
40 Questions for Christians now Waving Rainbow Flags

In this pair of essays, in one a supposedly Christian father was shockingly heartless in response to his son's coming out. It is Exhibit A in what NOT to do.
Father disowns his gay son in shockingly heartless letter
"5 years ago, I was disowned via letter when I came out to my father," writes Redditor RegBarc."

David Murray read the heartless dad's letter and mused upon the issue. What letter would he write if his son came out as gay?
What would you write to your gay son?
"As I find it hard to believe that a true Christian would ever write such a letter, I’ve drafted a letter that I hope a Christian father would write (although I’m sure we all hope we’ll never have to write it)."

Todd Friel read both letters and commented on them here in this 4 minute video.
https://youtu.be/f4o0o8a1Sng

How to respond to a homosexual child
"The challenge of responding to homosexuality used to be “out there.” Now it’s in our denominations, our churches, and for some, in the home. Many Christian parents are beginning to wonder, “How should I respond if my child claims to be a homosexual?” For some parents, that question is no longer theoretical. How should believing parents respond to their homosexual children? How do they deal biblically with their children’s sexual sins—particularly if the children claim to know Christ?"



Tuesday, June 30, 2015

And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:6)

EPrata photo

Does it feel to you that the darkness has grown so dark it's unmanageable, unalterable, unassailable? I read someone's comment that 6/26 is the American Christian's 9/11. That was the day that the Supreme Court of the United States legalized homosexual marriage in all 50 states, on a ruling that the Justice dissenters said was not founded on law but on personal will, foreboding ill for the Republic, for Christians, and for marriage itself.

After that day did it feel to you like the darkness was deep and your own light puny against it?

Does it feel like there are simply no solid Christian around you with whom you can commiserate? Or that there is not a good local church in which you can even half-way trust the teachings from the pulpit or Sunday School? Or if there is a Christian around you, that he or she is flying in a different direction than you are?

It is not so! None of it!

Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. (Ephesians 5:8b-10)

It seems that secular society has segmented into ever smaller bits and groups and factions as each group seeks its own agenda. No one is for anyone else and all are against each other. Yet for Christians, this is the opposite of the truth. Paul wrote,

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28)

We are one in Him, aligned into one Body for one common purpose- to glorify Jesus. Society splinters as sin rises yet Jesus keeps His Bride whole and united. Stark contrast. We might feel all over the place, alone in the darkness with only a puny light to shine, but we are One in Christ.

There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4:4-6)

A lot of 'ones' there:

One Body
One Spirit
One Hope
One Lord
One Faith
One Baptism
One God

ONE

You might feel like a little, ineffective firefly, but no matter where you are, remember that you are not in Light, you ARE the Light, because you are one with Jesus, who is the Light. So don't fear any ineffectiveness of your light in this great darkness. You and I were darkness itself but when we came into Jesus we came into His light.

But now are ye light in the Lord; either in, or by the Lord Jesus Christ, the light of men, from whom all spiritual light comes; or by the Lord the Spirit, by whom the eyes of their understandings were enlightened, to see the exceeding sinfulness of sin, in heart and life; the insufficiency of their own righteousness and moral virtues, to justify them before God; and the true and right way of righteousness, life and salvation by Christ; and to have some light into the several doctrines of the Gospel, and even a glimpse of the invisible glories and realities of another world: and this light is so great, that they are not only said to be enlightened, but to be light itself; and this they have not of, and from themselves, but the Lord; and therefore should walk as children of light; not in sins, which are works of darkness, but in faith, truth, and holiness. Gill's Exposition of Eph 5:8.
We are one with Him, who is this:




Monday, June 29, 2015

John MacArthur: An Honorable and Trustworthy Shepherd

Wikipedia
The Lord sends us honorable and trustworthy overseers, no matter the generation in which we live. He sent the early church fathers, the generation after the Apostles, many of them martyrs: Polycarp, Ignatius, Clement...and He has sent us men from then until now. I'd like to focus on the now and one of these trustworthy and honorable men: Dr. John F. MacArthur

Dr John Fullerton MacArthur was born on June 19, 1939, last week he turned 76 years old. He has been serving as a pastor continuously since 1964. He is pastor of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley California, part of LA and has been the senior pastor-teacher there for 46 years.

He has preached over 3000 sermons. He has written over 150 books. He has authored innumerable essays. He is currently President of The Master's College and The Master's Seminary, the seminary he founded specifically to raise up men in the faith and strengthen them in solid doctrine. He has participated in countless conferences, one of which he founded, The Shepherds' Conference, a gathering designed to minister to men.

I could list all his accomplishments and activities but this isn't a reproduction of his resume. Instead, this bare listing of achievements and activities is presented to illustrate a commitment, diligence, and a Godly effort all in the sphere of tasks in which God has put forth in certain, specific men of the faith.

From Grace Community Church website
I consider him part of the theological genealogy of extraordinary men the Lord has raised up, and many others do as well. This is a line that includes Hus, Edwards, Spurgeon. Moreover, Jesus not only planted him in a place where ministry flourished, but He then allowed MacArthur to stay and stay and stay. In these years of church-hopping, ambitious pastors whose length of term usually only lasts 3-5 years, staying at one church and preaching 30, 40, 50 years is unheard of. During a sermon some years ago, MacArthur joked that the Lord led him to Grace Community Church in 1969 and "sort of just left me here." As a result, we are blessed with sermons explaining each and every verse of the New Testament. To my knowledge MacArthur is the only preacher to have taught expositorily through the whole New Testament, and from one church no less. Even more of a blessing, each and every one of those sermons are recorded and transcribed. And best of all, they are all available for free online for the edification of the body.

Here is a first-hand account of the unprecedented achievement of having preached through the entire New Testament verse-by-verse from a congregant who was there as MacArthur closed in on the last verse.
Sunday, June 05, 2011
John MacArthur - Unprecedented Preaching Achievement
By any standard Grace Community is a big and successful Church, and with good reason, for sound fundamental Christianity is taught there verse by verse every week. The teaching of John MacArthur feeds the need for honest down to earth understandable exposition of God's Word. You can doubt all you want, but once you have heard it you will know the truth of it.

Today was a milestone in the history of this amazing worship center. In a sanctuary packed as usual, John MacArthur brought to a close what can only be described as a nearly unprecedented achievement in his or any other preacher's long career as shepherd of his flock. Today as he brought to a conclusion his study of the Gospel of Mark, he completed a forty three year sojourn through the entire New Testament. All these sermons were from the same pulpit.

John MacArthur is firm and forthright, never wavering in his criticism of sins of our time. He fully recognizes that Christianity is under attack and teaches us the basic truths to which we must attend if we are to achieve the gift of eternal life with our Lord.

His sermons are packed with substantial insights into the real meaning of every verse. Never have I enjoyed the Word of God so clearly explained.

Together with his unfaltering teaching style there is a humor that is playful and understanding of our human foibles. Showing his humanity and ongoing love for his wife, John presented Patricia with a beautiful rose to thank her for all her support during this academic and preaching epic.

I asked John how he managed to collect and collate all the information he has used to produce the over three thousand five hundred sermons, which are all recorded and available on line through Grace To You, and how big his staff was. His answer, "Neil, I mine all my own data."

Dr. MacArthur, President of the Master's College, and pastor of Grace Community Church is nothing short of phenomenal.
His Spirit-led ministry has delivered spiritual blessings to me and many others, as the above testimony attests. The emails and comments my sisters send me that bring me to tears the most are the ones where someone says they found MacArthur through my site or another's, and were led out of a Charismatic church...or their faith was strengthened, or they now understand the Doctrines of Grace, or they have been blessed spiritually in some other way from material MacArthur has preached or written. He has touched countless lives for the betterment of the faith, more than any other one person in this generation, I maintain.

He is not only learned, but he lives the life that is expected of pastors. He's wise, kind, and humble. There has never been a hint of a scandal nor a waver of one inch, not even an hour, from solid doctrine. Those qualities are in such short supply it is refreshing to be given opportunity to revel in preaching that is from God's heart and not man's pride or the devil's error.

In example of his wisdom and caring for his flock and the flock in general, on May 24 he preached a sermon called "Hope for a doomed nation." He usually goes on vacation in June for three or four weeks. He prepared this sermon for his flock just prior to his departure, saying,
So as we look at our nation – and I don’t know what’s going to happen in the next few weeks when I’m not here. I’m just kind of preempting that a little bit by helping you to be able to think through whatever happens.
Since that date we as a nation have experienced the Charleston SC church shootings, the embarrassing mega-pastor Tullian Tchividjian adultery and resignation from one of the most famous churches in America, and the Supreme Court's nationalization of homosexual perversity and with it, opening the door to actual Christian persecution in the US.

Even then, on vacation but never vacating his duty as an under-shepherd, MacArthur issued a sensitive and wise statement on the Charleston church shooting, prescient blog essays just days before the Tchividjian resignation naming Tchividjian as a hyper-grace addict and warning us of it, and sent an open letter to all Master's Seminary alumni comforting and advising them in the aftermath of the SCOTUS decision. He is a calming influence.

In addition, there is solace in trusting a man who has continued to live a holy life and is a leading example of godliness right before our eyes. We mourn but are also saddened and angry when authors, theologians, professors and pastors we had trusted fall, one after another.

MacArthur with his wife Patricia on the day he completed
preaching the New Testament verse by verse. 43 years! Source
MacArthur preached at the 2001 Ligonier Conference titled Holiness. The sermon MacArthur delivered is "A Call to Holiness". It is one of those sermons where the listener feels even after years have passed since it was spoken, the strength of the Spirit's presence within the words uttered is tangibly felt. There is no transcript but I transcribed the part which speaks to a pastor persevering in a long, well-lived, holy life. He said:
"People come to me so often, if I can be personal for a moment, and say, "I'm praying for you". A lady stopped me out in the hall and said 'I'm praying for you. We're praying that you don't fall into some sin... as so many have and disappointed us so greatly. People will ask me, how do you live your life to prevent that? To whom are you accountable? Do you have an accountability group? Let me tell you something. I have a group of elders that surround me. Among those elders are some very precious friends. They spend a lot of time with me day in and day out. They're exposed to everything there is to see and know about me. I'm a fairly transparent person. They are there and I want them to tell me whenever I've overstepped a line that would bring dishonor to the Lord.

Even tighter than that, I have four children that love Christ and walk with Christ. The three older ones are married. The three older ones and their spouses have these immense and probably unrealistic expectations of me. My son who lives in Chicago called me a few months ago. "Dad I've just been thinking about you and praying about you and I called to tell you, 'don't mess up.' " [audience laughter]. This is my son, this is what I told him. "Dad do you know what it would do to me and the other kids if you ever messed up your life and did something immoral?" I told him, Mark, thank you for your prayers and your concern. It means everything to me."

And then, I have 11 little grandchildren. They expect their Papa to live the way God expects us to live. I look into their little faces and I read them bible stories and I pray with them so often as Patricia and I gather with them around our kitchen table. And I look into their shining faces and I cannot find it in me to do anything to destroy their trust in Christ. It would kill me.

But the most intimate point of accountability humanly speaking is my beloved treasure Patricia. She is right here in the second row. Most of you don't know her, you should. [gesturing for her to stand]. Honey let them see how God blessed me. Now, this lady expects me to live what I preach all the time. I want to be Christ to her. I don't want her to be disappointed in her pastor. I don't want her heart turned away from Christ. I don't want the standard lowered. That's the accountability. Her expectations and my love for her is the accountability.

But you know in the end, as precious as all those people are, as intimately as they are connected to my life, even they don't know what I think. And if you are going to be holy, my friends, you have to win the battle on the inside.

Screen shot from MacArthur's testimony
He continued the sermon from the text explaining just how to do that. And for the last 58 years since he committed his life to Christ, MacArthur has remained above reproach, with no scandal. You notice in the text his focus was first on not bringing reproach onto the Lord, and also being an example to his children, grandchildren, and to properly lead his wife. His life as a witness is powerful and his credibility as a preacher of the holy word is thus credible in the highest order.

This last one is a double blessing because over time, one can listen to sermons from MacArthur from every decade since he arrived at GCC in February 1969 and bask in the pure, unadulterated Word of God. I've done so, having listened to sermons from every era in which he has preached, and have not found any major threads of apostasy, error, or swerving from the narrow path the Lord has laid out to us in His word. Oftentimes pastors have a blind spot or some kind of error in one area. Sometimes they start out well, like Andy Stanley, and then just kind of collapse in front of our eyes, descending into liberalism and then error. Not so John MacArthur. The Lord has kept him.

My friend R. Craig Fulford wrote in an email (and gave permission for this to be excerpted and published):
Dr. MacArthur's Grace to You Website has always been amazingly good but over the last year they have made huge efforts to increase the user friendly aspect.

When you have made the many contributions he has, it becomes quite difficult to archive those efforts. However, his staff has really improved on how to search his efforts in any number of different ways. Frank Barker told me once that Dr. MacArthur was the most prolific contributor to the Reformed Doctrine he had ever seen. But with that comes the difficult task of making sure all of those wonderful efforts do not get lost in the shuffle.

Over the last several months, I have spent a great deal of time just examining his web site and discovering the many different ways to locate what I'm interested in whether it be by exposition, topic, scriptural reference or any other of the myriad of ways we might want to examine Scripture. You would think with the amount of his available documentation, created over almost a half a century of time, you would see a number of contradictions within his teachings but that is just not the case. There is, however, a notable growth in the level of his discernment and Christian maturity, as you might expect.

There is also a conspicuous lack of “fund raising” activities and over a period of time there are few resources left with any cost, except for his most current publications. That is particularly impressive when you stop and consider the millions and millions of dollars that could have been generated by his efforts. As a matter of fact, when “The Gospel of Jesus” was first published, the only book that out sold it under the category of Christianity was the Bible itself.

And now Dr. MacArthur has completed decades of work on his 33 volume commentary of the New Testament. It is available in print and in a Kindle format. I have both and don’t know why every Christian on planet earth doesn’t if they don’t. Especially at its hugely discounted price.
Do you get the idea that MacArthur is a gift to us, a blessing of manifold and untold reverberations throughout Christendom? I do not exaggerate. In listening to many of his sermons, occasionally he offers a small glimpse of his behind-the-scenes work. He doesn't say much about himself or his interactions with others, lay-people or fellow pastors. Only once in a while. His call to Mark Driscoll after the Scotland debacle where Driscoll shocked the people with his profane and lascivious "sermon" on the Song of Solomon...an encounter with Robert Schuller, counseling a prostitute, dealing with an unwarranted lawsuit, holding the hand of a homosexual man in the hospital dying of AIDS, flying hours upon hours to remote nations to teach new pastors in closed countries eager for the word, smuggling bibles into China... his tireless work seen and unseen for the cause of Christ is an example to us.

In 2010, a brand-new volume by Hughes Oliphant Old was published. It is titled, The Reading and Preaching of the Scriptures in the Worship of the Christian Church, Volume 7: Our Own Time, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010), The guys at TeamPyro (at that time led by Phil Johnson, Executive Director of John MacArthur's Grace To You website and one of the preachers at MacArthur's Grace Community Church, published an excerpt from Olds' book. Between pages 551 and 558, one of the pastors the book highlights is the preaching of Dr. John MacArthur.

Now, the Hughes Olds is kind of a strange duck. He openly admits to disbelieving in satan, demons and demon possession. He admits to having doubts about the authority of scripture. Yet he marvels at the authority that MacArthur preaches, noting "part of the foundation of his effectiveness as an interpreter" is that his "basic assumption [is] that the text of Scripture is reliable." His review should be taken as someone who is perhaps an unbeliever or a weak believer astonished at the preaching of a man with a settled belief in the integrity, authority, and reliability of scripture. From that perspective, Olds' review is remarkable. Here is an excerpt.

In the review, Olds wrote in his conclusion,
Why do so many people listen to MacArthur, this product of all the wrong schools? How can he pack out a church on Sunday morning in an age in which church attendance has seriously lagged? Here is a preacher who has nothing in the way of a winning personality, good looks, or charm. Here is a preacher who offers us nothing in the way of sophisticated homiletical packaging. No one would suggest that he is a master of the art of oratory. What he seems to have is a witness to true authority. He recognizes in Scripture the Word of God, and when he preaches, it is Scripture that one hears. It is not that the words of John MacArthur are so interesting as it is that the Word of God is of surpassing interest. That is why one listens.
Now, I am not a sycophant. I'm not an uncritical flunky mindlessly parroting plaudits. I still do test what he says against scripture. I do listen to other pastors, my own, of course, and Phil Johnson, S. Lewis Johnson, Adrian Rogers, Lloyd-Jones, Don Green, Paul Washer... I do read other commentaries besides his, including Gill's Exposition and Matthew Henry. I do enjoy other authors on the topics of scripture besides MacArthur, including Bridges, Spurgeon, Flavel, and Edwards. I think it would be a problem to follow one man alone and proclaim him to the world, that would be idolatry.

But I do adore John MacArthur for all the right reasons. I commend him and his vast ministry to you. I proclaim him in the strongest possible terms as trustworthy and edifying. When Charles Haddon Spurgeon died in January 1892, a Memorial Edition of his Life and Works was published that same year. I am serious when I say MacArthur is in a genealogical line of specially empowered raised up men who edify the brethren and advance the faith. Here is one of the tributes to Spurgeon written in the biography:
You ask a brief estimate of Mr Spurgeon's life and work. Volumes would not do them justice. The world is his debtor. Charles Haddon Spurgeon was called a Baptist, but was one of those men too great to be claimed by any denomination. Millions of believers of every name were edified by his words, and quickened by the example of his wonderful life.

Among his many admirable traits, and at the root of them, lay his clear apprehension of divine truth, his firm grasp of it, inflexible loyalty to it, and incessant proclamation of it. He was a man of a whole Bible. From Genesis to Revelation it was to him "the true Word of the true God."

If he was conspicuous for anything, he was conspicuous for his unswerving allegiance to 'the Word.' His theology was as broad and as narrow as the Bible. With him, "thus saith the Lord" settled everything.

With a warm heart and a very clear head, a very busy hand and a supreme devotion to the Master he served, men may call him narrow if they please. God has set the seal of divine approval, passing contradiction, on the work of the London Tabernacle pastor, and called him to his reward. What a reward!"
In 2006 I was a new Christian, having moved from my home environment in New England all the way to Georgia, where I knew no one. I was alone. I began attending church for the first time in my 43 years of life, and I had not a clue as to how to study the bible, much less read it. I mentioned before that prior to moving to Georgia I had not gone to church but had relied on radio and TV for preaching. I listened to Joel Osteen, the biggest and most popular tv preacher in the US, which I thought was the proper barometer for assessing the ministry of preachers. I also listened to Endtime Ministries' radio prophecy personality Irvin Baxter. After a short while, Baxter's fervent fixation on the post-tribulation rapture began to bother me. The Spirit graciously led me away from that man's erroneous and personally unique interpretations of eschatology. However I began to realize that it was a wild and woolly, sometimes scary, world of preaching out there and I felt adrift and exposed. I had not known that there were different interpretations of scripture and that many men preaching it were just plain wrong. This was a new idea to me. I sought the Holy Spirit's wisdom to know whom to listen to and whom to trust.

That was when He led me to John MacArthur. It was, as so many sisters have commented and emailed me, literally a God-send. I tested what was being preached against scripture and happily found it to be true. The reliability of his preaching, his humble and clean life, and frankly, the free or nearly free resources at his website were a boon to my impoverished but seeking heart and my poor battered checkbook. From there, I grew. I found Phil Johnson, his editor and executive director of Grace To You, and I found S. Lewis Johnson, a pastor of a former generation MacArthur recommended. And so on, the circles widened.

The tribute I posted above which is dedicated to Spurgeon contains similar if not exact words that can be applied to the life and ministry of Dr John F. MacArthur. Too much? Hardly. The benefit we as Christians have received from this tireless man's Godly dedication and efforts in Christ's name are uncountable, and manifold. I can't wait for the day they will be revealed in the throne room of heaven. He is the Pastor for our generation.

I believe that recognizing this and affirming this glorifies Christ because it acknowledges His Spirit's work in the Body. I began this essay by saying "The Lord sends us honorable and trustworthy overseers" and I end it with praise and thanks by saying the same thing. He used MacArthur to snatch me from the jaws of a wolf like Osteen and confusing men like Baxter and only the Lord knows who else if I had stayed on that muddled path. Who knows what other wolf would have dragged me off in false doctrine and poor Godly examples. Raising up good men is the Lord's doing because He has care and concern for the people of His church. Peter wrote of overseers,

So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. (1 Peter 5:1-4)

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Further Reading

Website, many resources: Grace To You

Church: Grace Community Church

John MacArthur's Biography (and book list)

Sunday, June 28, 2015

An encouraging day in Christ!

What a wonderful wonderful day. We are so blessed as Christians, BLESSED!

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18)

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I sing praises to the Savior who hears prayer. I thank the Holy Spirit for moving in the two people at our campground ministry to be baptized in the river today. There is nothing greater than a regenerated heart, saved by grace.


The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit. (John 3:8)

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I praise and thank the Savior for drawing many to Him, some of whom are emerging from besetting sins to once again live a holy life in these last days.

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1)


I praise Him for raising up good pastors who preach the word from the Living Water and edify their sheep.

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What a refreshing, encouraging day. The Holy Spirit is moving in the world, maybe not widely, but deeply, soul by soul.

He is as ever, open for business.

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My mouth will speak the praise of the LORD, and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever. (Psalm 145:21)