Posted in church, jesus, john macarthur, repent, revelation

Why the evaporation of America’s cultural Christianity is a good thing

John MacArthur wrote in his monthly letter why the deflation of the bloated Christianity we see in America is allowing the true Christianity to shine. Here is an excerpt from his monthly letter, and then below that, despite the encouraging news, a warning for the Church.

In light of recent headlines, court cases, and cultural trends, over the past few months you’ve probably heard—or said—something like the following: 

Our culture is spinning out of control.”
I can’t believe how fast the moral slide is happening.”
We’re living in a different nation than the one I grew up in.”
I think persecution of Christians is coming . . . soon.” 

Without question, the cultural Christianity many of us grew up with has vanished. There is no collective Christian consensus wielding any significant power in this country today. In fact, the more that true Christians endeavor to speak and live biblically, the more we are being labeled as extremists, homophobic, and intolerant. Truly we are aliens. We foresee a day when being a faithful Christian will cost us or our children dearly, and in ways we couldn’t have imagined just a few years ago. 

So is there any good news? Certainly. We know that God will use even the current hostilities and the climate of impending persecution for good (Romans 8:28). For years I’ve been concerned by the church’s pursuit of cultural change through political and social activities. Large swaths of Christians have placed enormous time, energy, money, and hope in the wrong things. Hand in glove with that thinking, a superficial, cultural Christianity has blurred the clear lines between the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of this world. Pragmatists in evangelical pulpits have softened the hard demands of the gospel, making discipleship sound easy and grace sound cheap. As a result, churches have been filled with religious, superficially moral, self-righteous people who don’t understand the gospel and are self-deceived about their true spiritual state. 

But with the façade of cultural Christianity shattered, biblical Christianity is beginning to stand out in a way it hasn’t in our lifetime. Scripture teaches and church history confirms that the Body of Christ is most potent and most effective when it simply speaks and lives the gospel without equivocation or apology. With the mask of superficial Christianity pulled down, I believe the best days for the spread of the true gospel are ahead of us.

Read more at the link.

With that said, though it’s true that as the cultural church shrinks and thus there are wonderful opportunities for the church global to share the Gospel and to show out living in a doctrinally pure manner, the moral purity of the Church leaves much to be desired. In a wonderful sermon of two parts, John MacArthur is preaching about Calling The Church To Repent.

There are two parts, and the transcript for both is coming soon. He is preaching from verses in the one place the Bible reveals where the Lord is calling the church to repent, Revelation 1:1-3. The warnings to those actual churches are also actual warnings to us today. The warnings were earned by the various churches due to a list of identified problems listed in the scripture. The churches’ problems were:

  • sexual immorality
  • idolatry
  • absorbing the pagan culture
  • tolerating sin
  • compromise
  • hypocrisy
  • false teaching
  • seduction by error
  • deception
  • preaching for money

This is a list that should be familiar to all of us. Many churches, unfortunately, engage in one or more of these same issues that the first century Revelation churches were engaging in. No, we haven’t built a golden calf to worship idolatrously, but we have built football stadiums, paint ourselves like pagans, and skip church regularly during football season to cheer for sports instead of worship our God. We also worship ourselves, and we have constructed many other idols that compete with God. The rest of the church’s sins are exactly the same today, which is why they should be familiar to us now in the twenty-first century.

In his sermon, Dr MacArthur said that it’s unusual to hear of a pastor calling his church to repent. It’s even more unusual to hear of an entire church repenting, he said, or broken over their hypocrisy, or sorrowful over their compromise, or repudiating their tolerance of the pagan culture, and so on. Though many people think the safest place in the universe is the church, MacArthur said, it’s not so. Jesus is intensely interested in the church, and when He sees problems, He makes threats. This should be a concern to all churches claiming the blood of Christ, and all churches as a whole should do their utmost to adhere to biblical and moral purity.

Please tune in to the sermon and then go on to part 2. It’s worth it.

Posted in assurance, faith, john macarthur, salvation

The dreadful reality of the apostate Church

One of my most fervent prayers is that your church is not filled with comfortable unbelievers. Why? I dread this day:

Artist: Boris Sajtinac

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 

On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ ” (Matthew 7:21-23)

Today is the day we should…

...draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. (Hebrews 10:22)

Here is a resource for you to test your faith and find assurance

Is It Real?– 11 Biblical Tests of Genuine Salvation
1 John; 1 John 5:1; John 10: 10; 1 Peter 5:10

Throughout the letter is a series of tests to determine whether you possess eternal life. If you don’t pass these tests, you’ll know where you stand and what you need to do. If you do, you’ll have reason to enjoy your eternal salvation with great assurance.

Posted in cross, encouragement, john macarthur

The word of the cross is the power of God

At the 2003 Ligonier Conference, John MacArthur spoke on “The Myth of Influence”. His assigned topic was to speak on the myth that the Gospel advances on the back of public favor. In other words, that we can somehow influence people into the Kingdom of God if we hide the more unpalatable aspects of the Gospel, if we as a church try to look like the world, if we can stylize our churches in order to minimize resistance, if we make the church going experience comfortable for the non-believer, if we try to be cool they will see that Jesus is cool and then repent. There is only one way to enter the kingdom and it is through the gate of the Gospel.

The Gospel doesn’t advance on the back of public favor, it advances on the back of the Holy Spirit despite public hostility.

Of course this is a myth.

At the beginning his two-par message, Dr MacArthur said that he had endured many battles in his decades as a pastor and teacher. He’s defended the inerrancy of the Bible, battled over the authority of the word of God, battled over the deity of Jesus Christ, battles over the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, battled over paradigms over sanctification. Those were to be expected in the life of a pastor-teacher.

He said,

What I didn’t expect was to spend most of my ministry life battling to rescue the Gospel from evangelicals. That has really been a shock to me. It’s seemingly getting worse all the time as the Gospel sinks below the radar.

Serious worship disappears along with the public ordinances. Biblical, theological exposition of scripture vanishes. Transcendence and profundity are exchanged for mimicking shallow, worldly worship styles. Church discipline disappears, holiness is non-existent, and sin is normalized. The myth is that somehow this is going to get people into the kingdom.

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1 Corinthians 1:18)

Think about that deeply for a moment. The word of the cross IS the power of God. For those of us being saved, the word of the cross is THE POWER OF GOD. Alternately, for those who are perishing, it is folly. Of course the Gospel will be rejected, condemned, dismissed. It is folly to those who are perishing. But for those whom God has ordained salvation, it is power.

Gill’s Exposition makes a distinction between the doctrine of the Christian’s cross, which we are to pick up and follow, and the cross here intended. It is —

of the cross of Christ, the doctrine of salvation by a crucified Christ; or the doctrine of peace and reconciliation by the blood of his cross, and of righteousness, pardon, atonement, and satisfaction by the offering up of himself upon it as a sacrifice for sin,

It is interesting to read Acts 28:22, where we see that even in Christianity’s heyday, the Christian message was reviled. Paul had appealed to Rome to hear his case, and the local leaders were gathered to hear Paul’s argument. They opened the proceedings by saying:

But we desire to hear from you what your views are, for with regard to this sect we know that everywhere it is spoken against.

There is always refreshment to get bask to the original doctrines, to ponder the power and grace of the atonement, to meditate upon the unique Person of Jesus Christ. I pray you and I be not ashamed of this word of the cross today.

If you would care to listen to the entire message, here it is. There’s a part two as well.

Posted in demon possession, encouragement, john macarthur, joy, S. Lewis Johnson, salvation, sin

The joy of submitting to Jesus, and the tragedy of rejecting Him: two anecdotes (and a third)

There are two responses to the Gospel, yea or nay. Here is S. Lewis Johnson with an anecdote about a person who said yea.

Paul, His Gospel, and Thomas Jefferson

George Cutting is a man who is best known for the fact that he’s the author of a little pamphlet. You usually find it in tract racks of Christian churches. It’s entitled, “Safety, Certainty, and Enjoyment.” Mr. Cutting was just a simple Christian man who went around preaching the gospel. He was also a business man, as I remember, and one day he was bicycling through Norfolk in England. He was an Englishman. And he said it was early in the morning, and as he was going through, he was a very quiet man, he suddenly gained from the Lord the distinct impression that he should shout out a Bible verse. And so, right in the midst of this small town, there were just a few houses around, he shouted out “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” He said he cycled on a little bit longer, and the Lord seemed to say definitively to him, “Say it again.” So he said he shouted out, “Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.” 

Six months later he was visiting in that little village, and he was doing, as he frequently did, just knocking on door after door. His first question, he said, was always, “Are you saved?” That’s called the direct approach. [Laughter] So a woman opened the door and he said, “Are you saved?” And she said, “Oh yes. About six months ago I was in great distress of soul. I plead with God to help me, and even while I was calling upon him, I heard a voice cry out, ‘Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.’” And she said, “I was startled. I wondered if I had really heard right.” She said, “I prayed again to the Lord, and I said, “Lord if that is the message, repeat it again.” 

[Laughter] And she said, “And I heard it again and I trusted Christ, and I’m saved.” And Mr. Cutting had the joy of telling her that it was he who had called out the verse. That’s preaching. You know, when Paul tells us to be instant in season and out of season. And imagine there were lots of citizens in that little village who thought that it was very much out of season to hear a Bible verse shouted out early in the morning from one of their streets. But it was in season for that lady. 

there is only one response to the message of the apostle, and that is to believe in our Lord Jesus Christ. Does salvation come by praying through? No. Does salvation come by paying the church? No. Does salvation come by good works? No. Does salvation come through religion? No. Does salvation come through some religious ritual which we practice, baptism, or sitting at the Lord’s Table? No. Does salvation come through the organization of the Christian church? No. You must be born again.

Here is John MacArthur with an anecdote on a person who said nay.

The Tragedy of Neglecting Salvation

And so, we believe it is a warning to the intellectually convinced, those who have heard the gospel, know the facts about Jesus Christ, know that He died for them, know that He desires to forgive their sin, know that He can some into their life and change their life but are not willing to receive Christ as Savior. And may I hasten to add that’s the most tragic category of people in existence. And I’ve told you a story once before that points it up as graphically as anything. I’ll never forget on one occasion when a lady came into my office and informed me that she was a prostitute. And she said, “I need help” And I said, “I guess you do.” And she said, “Please, I’m desperate.” 

And so I presented the claims of Christ to her from beginning to end and I said, “Would you like to invite Jesus Christ into your life?” And she said yes. She said, “I’ve had it.” She was at the bottom to say the least through the dope scene, the whole bit. So she prayed a prayer and evidently she invited Christ into her life. And I said, “Now,” I said, “I want to ask you to do something.” I said, “Do you have your little book that you have all your contacts in with you?” And she said yes. I said, “Well, let’s just take a match here and we’ll burn it.” And she looked at me and she said, “What do you mean?” I said, “Just what I said. I mean, if you’re really going to live for Jesus Christ and you’ve really accepted His forgiveness and you really met Him as your Savior, let’s burn that book and we’ll just have a little party here and just praise the Lord.” And she said to me, “That’s worth a lot of money.” She said, “That’s worth an awful lot 

Then she said to me, “I don’t want to burn my book.” Put it in her purse and looked at me right in the eye and said, “I guess I don’t really want Jesus, do I?” And she left. 

Now you see, there was somebody who when the..when it really came down to the nitty gritty and counted the cost, she wasn’t ready. I don’t know what the story of that dear girl is. My heart has often ached for her and I’ve often thought about her. But I do know that she knows the facts and she believes them, but she’s not willing to make the sacrifice. And it’s a bad bargain, for what she kept wasn’t worth anything compared to what she could have had in Jesus Christ forever.

These days in 2015 it is not popular nor even accepted to speak of hell or demons. But they exist, they are active in the world, and they still do possess people, just as they did in the time of Luke 4:31-37. That’s the passage John MacArthur was preaching when he related this anecdote:

This is a rare thing. I’ve preached the gospel for a long time and only about three times in my whole life have I ever heard demons speak, been confronted. One of them was a few weeks ago, I told you about last week, right down in the front when a demon-possessed person came running down the aisle after I was preaching the gospel, exalting Christ’s power over the kingdom of darkness, came at me and said, “Why are you attacking me? Why are you trying to hurt me?” Which is exactly what the demon said here.

But it was some years ago when I had first come to Grace. We had built the family center and we were having services there before we built this facility. It was a Sunday night and after the service was over I was over having some food with somebody from the church and I got a call from Jerry Mitchell who was here a few weeks ago. He was on the staff at the time. He said, “You’ve got to come down here, John, I’ve got a…I’ve got a girl in here whose got all kinds of demon voices.” He had never experienced anything like this and I never had either. And I said, “Well I don’t know if I could be much help but I’ll come right down.”

So I came down, I walked in and there was chaos in the office. It was over in the building by the family center, and I walked in and the place was in disarray and it was obvious that she had been terrorizing things. She had overturned the desk and poor Jerry who was a boxer in the Navy was having a hard time defending himself against this girl, and that is characteristic of New Testament accounts where there’s a certain level of strength that’s beyond normal. And I’ll never forget the greeting when I walked in the door. I walked in the door and this…out of this girl’s mouth — whom I had met and with whom I had spoken because she had been coming to the church — came this voice, and I can’t, obviously, replicate it. But in my memory I know what the voice said. It’s something like: “Not him, not him, not him, get him out, get him out, get him out,” to me.

Well my first reaction was, “I’m leaving. I’m not sure I’m up to this.” Wow! And my second reaction was, “They know who I am and they know whose side I’m on, that’s very affirming.” It was affirming. I sort of started feeling apostolic. Paul I know and Jesus I know and John MacArthur, you know? Wow! Amazing!

I don’t think that demon was afraid of me humanly. I don’t have any human power to deal with demons. In fact, Jerry and I didn’t know what to do. We started trying to send the demons away. We sent them everywhere you could think of, the pit, the abyss, Phoenix, anywhere hot, you know. And the bottom…the bottom line is they didn’t go anywhere and so we just were praying and saying, “You know, this isn’t working, this casting out thing isn’t working. I’m not Jesus and we’re not apostles and we don’t have authority over that kingdom.” There’s only one way that this girl will ever be delivered and that is when Christ delivers her in the act of salvation.

So we wrestled, literally physically trying to restrain her and get her in a chair and she was so exhausted physically and finally calmed down and we gave her the gospel. And she confessed her sin. I’ll never forget it, just really gushed out her sin before the Lord and embraced Jesus Christ and then it was just this calm that came everywhere. There was deliverance. Nothing to do with me, nothing to do with a formula, nothing to do with an exorcism, nothing to do with that at all, that…that is not what deals with demons. She needed to be delivered from the kingdom of darkness, you understand that? And she was. She was.

The demon was terrified of me not because of something I could do in the human. The demon was terrified of me because the demon connected me with the message of the gospel. And the demon knew that if the gospel came to this girl and she believed that he was finished. And that’s exactly what happened. She was as clean as the driven snow after that and never had another occasion of that kind of terrifying experience.

Anyone who is not of Christ and in His sheepfold is under bondage to the god of this world, satan They are serving him, whether they believe it or not. And anyone who has not confessed their sins and submitted to the Gospel is at risk for being possessed by a demon.

Seek the LORD while he may be found; call upon him while he is near” (Isaiah 55:6). Does that means He might be far? Yes. Someday, He might turn a person over to their sin in a hardened heart and salvation might not be possible after that. His grace, peace, mercy, and love is manifold. Having the gentle and lovely Spirit inside of us is a ‘burden’ that is easy. As we saw from the anecdote about the demon, having satan in us is a burden that is harsh and heavy. How many woes lay in the demon direction, and how many blessings there are in Christ. Seek Him while ye may!

Posted in encouragement, john macarthur, judgment, prophecy, rapture, relief, tribulation

Beleaguered brethren, relief is on the way

What a blessed relief the rapture is to look forward to!!!

In his tremendous sermon delivered last Sunday, July 19, Pastor John MacArthur demonstrated once again the qualities of a superlative shepherd.

After Memorial Day he planned to go on vacation as usual. He delivered a sermon to help his flock prepare for events that may occur while he was gone. He said in his good-bye for now sermon,  “Hope for a Doomed Nation” that

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. I have to say at this point that there are many churches who aren’t helping.

One event was obviously what turned out to be the devastating Supreme Court decision to legalize homosexual marriage in all 50 states as the law of the land. We knew that the Supreme Court decision was coming out in early June, and we knew the decision would not likely swing to the moral side of the compass. So the Pastor was preparing his flock to receive bad news and retain their spiritual equilibrium (and ours too, if we listen to GTY). However, in addition to the SCOTUS decision, we also endured the Charleston church shooting, Chattanooga military base terrorist shooting, Louisiana movie theater shooting, and the Planned Parenthood videos. A lot happened while their senior pastor was away.

So much so, that the rapidity of our moral collapse as a nation is dizzying. The collapse is coming from many different directions. That’s partly why it’s dizzying, our heads are swinging from this side to that to detect all the incoming. So though Pastor MacArthur’s vacation was going to be the usual length, most of the summer, MacArthur had an opportunity to return and preach for one Sunday, July 19 before resuming this week. In the face of moral collapse, heightened danger physically and spiritually for every Christian in this country, and grief over the heinousness of the Planned Parenthood videos, how can a pastor best help his flock at such a time as this?

He opened that sermon, We Will Not Bow by saying,

A lot is happening at a very rapid rate. And with all the discussion that’s been going on, I’ve been kind of eager to get to you, and maybe help to give you a perspective.

His phrase, ‘get to you’, was filled with urgency and the word ‘to’ was emphasized. You’ll hear it if you listen. It reminded me of a mama on a playground suddenly hearing her child cry because he fell down, and her instinct is to rush over and scoop him up and protect. That was the attitude in his statement, a shepherd rushing over to protect the sheep, to calm them and give them food. This in itself is encouraging.

The sermon was encouraging as much as it was informative. Toward the conclusion of it, MacArthur focused on the relief that is in store.

No matter what is occurring in the world or the United States ultimately there will be an end. The end for believers will be blessed relief from the corruptions of our flesh, the battles against the temptations of the world, and the deliverance from the presence of satan and sin. It will all end and for us, the end will be a holy blessed relief. It all can be summed up in one word: Jesus. He gives the relief and His work on the cross actuated it.

Part of that relief will be the righteous satisfaction in seeing evildoers punished. The end for those who do not love Jesus is eternal conscious torment after having been judged at the Great White Throne Judgment. I know this isn’t a palatable statement for many to read, but once we are glorified at the rapture and the end of all things plays out, we will be part of Jesus in every way. He longs for making all things right and we will too. Sinners’ sins are so terrible against our Jesus that we will want to see Him enthroned, claiming His position as dispenser of justice.

MacArthur said

But that same event brings us relief, relief. Verse 6, “It is only just for God to repay with affliction.” And implied, it is only just for God to give relief. He will give relief to His own. Affliction will end. Persecution will end. Suffering will end. That’s His promise. And it will end for those that belong to Him—those who have been afflicted by a God-rejecting, Christ-rejecting world.

And what does that relief look like? Verse 10, we’ll be glorified with Him on that day, “to be marveled at among all who have believed.” I love to think of that. We’re going to look at each other and say, “Whoa, did you turn out amazing! I never could have imagined.” I’ve told you before, I know there are many of you, that when we get to heaven, I won’t recognize. Perfection with obliterate any memory of what you used to be.

We’re just passing through, aren’t we? We’re just passing through. (John MacArthur “We Will Not Bow“)

I began this essay saying what a good shepherd John MacArthur is. I have several friends who had opportunity to hear the sermon live last Sunday. They both tweeted how blessed they were to hear it and be comforted along with many other solid believers. I write this essay because not everyone has such a blessing.

As the moral slide gains steam and hurtles down that downgrade, many discerning believers are left adrift inside their local congregations with unworthy shepherds. Some pastors are just plain unskilled at being able to comfort through scriptures. These pastors preach topically, usually three points of self-help sermons such as “Three Ways to Get Your Kids to Listen to You” or “Six Ways to Change Your Life”. Self-help is no help at all when trials come.

Other pastors are ignorant of eschatology or are unwilling to give it credence. Thus they avoid scriptures that refer to the end of all things such as the Matthew 24 or 1 Thessalonians verses, which actually are designed to comfort. (1 Thessalonians 4:18).

Other pastors are not saved and are actually agents of satan. We don’t like to believe this, but it is true far more often than most people realize. S. Lewis Johnson preached,

And so it was inevitable, Paul says, that factions would exist in the church. For there must also be factions among you that those are approved may be recognized among you. In fact, the factions and the process of being approved by the way in which we respond to the problems of the local church is really an anticipation of a separation that is to occur at the judgment seat — well, at the Great White Throne judgment.

There are people who are in ostensible fellowship with local churches that are not going to be in heaven. We know that. The Bible details that, too. Satan is very active in the Christian church seeking to overthrow the ministry of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And so, consequently, he infiltrates the Christian churches. And if it’s a Christian church that is a fruitful church there will be some there that are not emissaries of our Lord but are really emissaries of Satan. Paul talks about that in 2 Corinthians chapter 11.

And he says “not only are they sitting in the pew, they’re standing by the pulpit.” As a matter of fact, the ones standing behind the pulpit are more dangerous and more likely to upset the Church of God. And so Satan is very anxious to have one standing behind a pulpit, or standing behind this pulpit, too, for that matter. 

For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? (1 Peter 4:17)

So for those who do not have the blessing of a faithful pastor, and/or are attending a church filled with false doctrine but don’t know where else to go, or are dealing with factions and disgruntled members, or who simply feel alone even in the middle of a local congregation, take heart.

We are sojourners on this hostile planet. But that will end. Relief is on the way. Praise Jesus.

Posted in church, discernment, encouragement, john macarthur, shepherd, shepherds conference, tribute

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)

——————————

Further Reading

Website, many resources: Grace To You

Church: Grace Community Church

John MacArthur’s Biography (and book list)

Posted in doom, end time, john macarthur, love

John MacArthur: "Hope for a Doomed Nation" AKA Love in the time of evil

John MacArthur preached on Sunday. It was a sermon from the pastor side of him, not the teacher side of him. He did not explain the bible verse-by-verse. Instead, he was speaking from the heart to his flock about today’s world.

He quickly reviewed the tenets of the Holy Spirit created restraints put upon the world so it does not self-destruct from sin. Conscience, family, civil law/government and the church are four ways the Spirit restrains sin in the world, MacArthur summarized from a recent sermon. In addition, Romans 1 shows what God does to societies when societies leap over those bounds; sexual revolution, homosexual revolution, then reprobate mind. He said we are in the midst of judgment, the wrath of abandonment, since it can be clearly seen that America has leaped beyond those restraints and God has given us over to those different kinds of perversity. There IS an eschatological wrath, and there IS an eternal wrath, but the current judgment is neither of those. The eschatological wrath is coming, MacArthur said, and we can all agree, that is promised. But the current wrath is the judgment of abandonment. “That one is not coming. We’re in the midst of it,” he said.

That was his 30 minute introduction in the sermon “Hope for a Doomed Nation.

Dr MacArthur usually takes a several week vacation the beginning of June. He said at this point in his sermon,

“So as we look at America, and I don’t know what’s going to happen in the next few weeks when I’m not here, I’m just pre-empting that a little bit by helping you to be able to think through whatever happens.”

He then listed 12 points that are driving this nation to its terrible demise, a spiritual pathology that is causing us as a nation to run so fast to the cliff.

It was a really interesting sermon. I think any one with discerning, biblical sense can see how far along the prophetic timeline we are. Many people I work with who are of biblical maturity and discernment believe this as well. I know I do. Imagine believing we are so close to the edge of some kind of terrible, visible disaster, that MacArthur believes something drastic might happen even in the next few weeks as he is gone from the pulpit. To be so close to something we all sense will occur, he is unwilling to leave his flock without preparing them biblically to be able to cope with “whatever happens.”

He ended with Matthew 5:43. Love our enemy. No matter what happens, while we were still enemies, Jesus came down to rescue us, His enemies. So we are to love our enemies because we were them before grace came. The enemy is our mission field.

You’re never more like God than when you love your enemies, because you were one of the enemies God loved. Romans 5:10, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God. Your enemy is your mission field. The world of enemies was God’s mission field. God so loved the world, He gave His only begotten Son. …

To convert a sinner from his eternal doom is of far greater significance than the deliverance of an entire nation from temporal evil

His speaking of Godly Love after 47 minutes of darkness was a Light that was powerful and incisive. Imagine demonstrating that kind of love in this very dark world. It will stand out brightly.

Posted in contemplative prayer, discernment, john macarthur, mind, renew the mind, speaking in tongues, transformation

"Spirituality involves more than the mind, but it never excludes the mind"

The title of this blog essay is a quote from John MacArthur in the New Testament Commentary, First Corinthians. It refers to the verse below.

Therefore, one who speaks in a tongue should pray that he may interpret. For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful. What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also. Otherwise, if you give thanks with your spirit, how can anyone in the position of an outsider say “Amen” to your thanksgiving when he does not know what you are saying? For you may be giving thanks well enough, but the other person is not being built up. I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. Nevertheless, in church I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue. (1 Corinthians 14: 13-19)

Even in Corinth during the early church, believers had a tendency to lust after the more showy Spiritual gifts, particularly tongues. Tongues were actual languages believers could spontaneously utter, not having studied or having any knowledge of the language at all, yet could speak it perfectly. This was a sign to unbelievers, a fulfillment of a prophecy given in the Old Testament. (Isaiah 28:11).

However today, tongues are seen to be a babbling gibberish that comes directly from heaven and falls out of the mouth, (to the edification of no one) thereby bypassing the mind. However this is not correct.

“Spirituality involves more than the mind, but it never excludes the mind.”

There are many spiritual activities today that directly exclude the mind. Contemplative prayer (or centering prayer) excludes the mind. How can this be? We are told to contemplate the Lord, (2 Corinthians 3:18, Psalm 48:9), so contemplation is good. We are told to pray, (Matthew 6:9-13), so prayer is good. How can both terms together not be doubly good? In the words of the inimitable Inigo Montoya,

THIS is how the unstable twist truth to their own destruction. (2 Peter 3:16). Putting together two commonly understood words but using them in a different way than is commonly understood is a bible twist. For example, praying mindlessly. Putting words together that are commonly understood but creating a different context for them through continued spiritual activity is another way that the truth is twisted. For example, babbling mindlessly.

So the “modern version” of tongues bypasses the mind, and contemplative prayer bypasses the mind, and neither are valid spiritual activities grounded in biblical truth. Another activity where the mind is bypassed is what the Southern Baptist Convention calls a ‘private prayer language‘ AKA modern gibberish tongues uttered in the closet while praying. The notion is that when a person prays, God will sometimes utter gibberish that the speaker knows not the meaning of but is a direct communication between the Spirit indwelling the person and Jesus up above. Private prayer languages were explained (or attempted to be explained) back in 2006 when the SBC originally banned potential applicant missionaries if they confessed to speaking in glossolalia either public or private:

IMB board of trustees chairman Tom Hatley said that during candidate interviews, those who practiced a private prayer language gave differing explanations of it, varying from an angelic language to a “revelatory” gift of the Holy Spirit.

Thinking is what
clicks ON the Light

So, they don’t really know what it is, only that they do it. All the more reason to refuse to accept it. Unfortunately last week the SBC re-accepted the applications of potential missionaries who pray in gibberish. Sad. Tongues being gibberish isn’t supported by the Bible, the transformation of the biblical gift of tongues from a known language to today’s gibberish in modern times isn’t supported by the Bible, either. Possessing a Spiritual Gift and only using it for personal use isn’t supported by the Bible. Employing a Spiritual gift through the heart or body only and not the mind also, isn’t supported by the Bible. A Christian’s walk uses the mind AND the heart.

Let’s see what the Bible says about the mind.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2).

and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, (Ephesians 4:23).

Gill’s Exposition explains that after salvation/justification, the “progress and carrying on the work of renovation, the renewing of them day by day in the spirit of their minds,” i.e renewing the mind obviously includes the mind.

but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. (Romans 7:23)

Gill’s again, says that “the new nature in us, the principle of grace wrought in his mind, is called the law of it, because it was the governing principle there;” Our transformation begins in the mind.

The heart is transformed, surely, but the governing principle is the mind. The new mind is equivalent to the new inner self. We have the mind of Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Whenever you encounter an activity that exults in the fact that the mind is emptied, bypassed, marginalized, or in any way not fully engaged, it is a wrong activity. Because God’s transformation of us begins in the mind, bypassing the mind is actually choosing to bypass His sanctifying efforts in us. Not only will we not increase in sanctification through contemplative prayer, speaking in gibbering tongues, uttering private prayer languages, walking prayer circles or labyrinths, chanting mantras, barking holy laughter, doing “holy” yoga, seeking visions in trances, any of that which denies the mind is actually denying the mind of Christ. These activities exalt the self because you are indulging the fleshly mind. (Colossians 2:18).

Back to the title, which is a quote from John MacArthur. The Bible shows us that sanctification involves more than the mind, but it never excludes the mind. Beware of activities that sound spiritual, but aren’t. You will know they aren’t healthy for you if they exclude the mind.

His mind is too precious to waste.

Posted in beth moore, catholicism, false church, franklin graham, james robison, john macarthur, pope francis, roman catholic, spurgeon

Catholicism: "the most pernicious system of error the world has ever known"; last days church forming quickly before our eyes

INTRODUCTION

This is long. Settle in.

I have come to a conclusion based on both what the bible says about the last of the last days, and on the evidence I’ve seen and gathered over the last few years. Though this essay is based on the bible, the conclusion I am coming to is speculation. It is opinion. I cannot be dogmatic about it. And neither can you.

Source

It is crystal clear to me that the Tribulation church is forming before our eyes. The Tribulation Church in my opinion may be mainly Catholic in some form. All false religions will be part of the final, Babylon church. But the most recognizable portion, the foundation, will likely be Catholic. Allow me to lay out why I believe this. This will be in three sections. First, let’s get an introductory understanding of that the final church is.

In Revelation 17 we read of a whore, the Whore of Babylon.

And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness, and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was full of blasphemous names, and it had seven heads and ten horns. The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and jewels and pearls, holding in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the impurities of her sexual immorality. And on her forehead was written a name of mystery: “Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and of earth’s abominations.” And I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. (Rev 17:3-6)

That tremendous chapter describes the fall of the final religion, the Tribulation ‘church’ of which I speak. Here is John MacArthur:

Since the fall of man recorded back in the third chapter of Genesis when he rebelled against God, God cursed man. And because man was cursed, because he is now by nature sinful, his nature has been perverted and so that innate longing to know God has been twisted. Man still reaches out for the supernatural but no longer does he long for the true God. In fact the Bible says no man seeks after God. His residual religiosity makes him long for some deity, but it’s usually a deity that accommodates somehow his sinfulness.

Satan, as you well know, has spawned all the false religions. They’re really one and the same, they just have different names and a few different rites and ceremonies, but they’re basically all the same. They fit in and out of varying cultures for varying purposes and reasons in Satan’s enterprise, but ultimately they are all the same. They are systems that attach themself to non-existent deities, systems that teach that man can save himself by his own works and his own achievement and his own self-righteousness, that the way to God is through ceremony, ritual, rite, things like that. It’s all the same. And it will come together in one great world final form of religion in the very end.

Source

As the 2000’s have seen the rise in power of the Muslim religion, many people have said that they believe the last days church will be Muslim. They make a connection between the future beheadings prophetically reported in Revelation 20:4 and the Muslim’s favorite method of execution. They tie Islam’s rise in power and terror to the antichrist, and speculate the antichrist will be from Islam.

The Muslim end times eschatology is eerily similar to the Christians’, except the opposite. Their Jesus is our false prophet. Their Mahdi is our antichrist. Their outcome is that Islam will win, and of course, God has already won, through His Son. Christianity will prevail in the end, and all Christians already have prevailed.

Though of course Islam is satanic, I’ve always thought that Islam is to extreme and too violent to be the winner of the Tribulation religion last days false religion trophy. After all, satan is the most subtle creature in the Garden (Genesis 3:1). Islam is not subtle. I have always believed that satan’s most successful, his most crowningly subtle dark achievement, has been Catholicism.

In a piece I quote in lengthier form below, RL Dabney (1820-1898) said in “The Attractions of Popery,” that Catholicism is “the most skillful and pernicious system of error which the world has ever known.”

I firmly agree.

There are three pieces to the final Babylon church puzzle I am seeing in the wide scale, of which Catholicism is taking a major role.

~~~~~~~~~~~~SECTION 1~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Pixabay: Public Domain

Here is reason #1 why I believe the final Babylon religion will be most recognizably Catholic. In 1990, Pope John Paul II initiated a “new evangelization.” Since nothing at the Vatican moves quickly, it wasn’t until 2010 that the new evangelization began in earnest, and then boy, did it leap forward with light speed. Pope Benedict’s creation in 2010 of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, the installation of the first officers to this council in 2011, in 2012 the Year of Faith so as to get ready to evangelize, and the three year plan being issued in 2013 all have hurtled Catholicisim into the forefront again.

We are seeing much movement and energy from the Bishops regarding this initiative. It is all the talk in Catholic circles.

There are three aspects to the Catholic new evangelization,

  • Evangelization as a regular activity of the church, a lifelong process directed at practicing Catholics;
  • The mission ad gentes, meaning the first proclamation of Christ to non-Christian persons and peoples;
  • “New Evangelization,” meaning outreach to baptized Catholics who have become distant from the faith.

As the article explains in plain terms, the Catholic New Evangelization means

In the United States, there are now 22 million ex-Catholics, big enough to be the largest religious denomination in the country. The church drops four members for every one member it gains, and if it were not for Hispanic immigration, it would have been declining for decades. Yet the Catholic church in America also holds on to almost 70 percent of its members into adulthood, a higher retention rate than any other Christian denomination.

Pixabay: Public Domain

The Vatican is aggressively doing something about this. If you think this has nothing to do with Protestants, you are quite wrong. If you think for one moment that Catholics won’t poach Protestants, you are absolutely wrong. That uneasy truce with Catholics on one side of the Reformation and Protestants on the other is shrinking every day. More about that in part 3 below.

For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. (Romans 15:4)

~~~~~~~~~~~~SECTION 2~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 Here is reason #2 why I believe the final Babylon religion will be most recognizably Catholic.

Informally since Constantine, and formally since Pope Gregory I (pope from 590-604AD), the Catholic Church has practiced something called interpretatio christiana.

A notable strategy for Christianization was interpretatio christiana – the practice of converting native pagan practices and culture, pagan religious imagery, pagan sites and the pagan calendar to Christian uses…Reformatting native religious and cultural activities and beliefs into a Christianized form was officially sanctioned; preserved in the Venerable Bede’s Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum is a letter from Pope Gregory I to Mellitus, arguing that conversions were easier if people were allowed to retain the outward forms of their traditions, (source Wikipedia)

So for example, a missionary priest entering the jungle of South America would tell the local indians there, that sacrificing to the jaguar god was no longer acceptable, but if they sacrificed to the sky God Yahweh, it would be all right. Their fertility festival was no longer acceptable, but Mardi Gras-type bacchnalias were all right. The Catholics simply renamed the pagan practices, encouraged the locals to continue them, and melded Catholicism to the locals’ already established pagan religions. In this way, Catholicism has a centuries-old head start on syncretism. Renaming is not converting.

So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears. (Acts 20:31)

Interpretatio christiana in the secular world is known as syncretism,

the combining of different, often seemingly contradictory beliefs, while melding practices of various schools of thought. Syncretism involves the merger and analogizing of several originally discrete traditions, especially in the theology and mythology of religion, thus asserting an underlying unity and allowing for an inclusive approach to other faiths

The Catholic leaders have syncretized most other religions into Catholicism in some way and they are working on Islam. In his Evangelii Gaudium (Apostolic Statement) on November 24, 2013, in the section on interfaith dialogue, Pope Francis said of Muslims,

We must never forget that they “profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, who will judge humanity on the last day”.[198] The sacred writings of Islam have retained some Christian teachings; Jesus and Mary receive profound veneration and it is admirable to see how Muslims both young and old, men and women, make time for daily prayer and faithfully take part in religious services. Many of them also have a deep conviction that their life, in its entirety, is from God and for God.

Pope Francis has also said that “inside every Christian is a Jew“. And so on with Catholic attitudes toward Hinduism, Buddhism, Charismaticism, paganism, animism, and the rest of all the other world religions. Catholicism has had almost two millennia of organized practice of melding the local religion into its own. They have a head start at laying the local infrastructure to absorb it, the organization to execute it, and the will, money and tradition to sustain it.

~~~~~~~~~~~~SECTION 3~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Here is reason #3 I believe the final Babylon religion will be most recognizably Catholic in some form. The chasm between Conservative Protestantism and Catholicism is closing rapidly, with frightening speed. With such speed it must have been supernaturally induced.

Since the Reformation when Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the All Saints’ Chapel door at Wittenberg, there has been a chasm between Protestants and Catholics. The twain did not ever meet. There was no common ground. There was only split and more distance. One side cast a wary eye at the other but mostly the two sides have left each other alone.

Except…now that chasm is shrinking. It’s as if God had held the Protestant and Catholic apart until His timing, and is now allowing satan to bring the chasm together at warp speed. One “evangelical” leader after another is caving in to the popery of Rome. The unification of the two sides is rapidly occurring, so rapidly it seems to me it is directly supernatural in its origin.

For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ.(Philippians 3:18)

The other day I wrote about a Franklin Graham crusade in Pittsburgh. In that piece I’d mentioned in 2011 I was shocked to find an Episcopal congregation in Maryland voted to return to Rome and become Catholic. The church had been Protestant for 100 years. However, unbenownst to Protestants, there were new rules that had been issued by the Vatican, the article revealed, that deliberately propose to reach out to disaffected Protestants. Father Dwight Longenecker wrote of the mass conversion,

The way to understand this more dynamic possibility is to see the ordinariate as a new bridge across the Tiber for a whole range of Protestant Christians.

The bridge across the Tiber is a reference to the Tiber River which surrounds Vatican City in Rome. The Father continues,

Already, conservative, liturgically minded Lutherans are asking why there isn’t a Lutheran ordinariate,  … And if Lutherans may come across the ordinariate bridge, why not Methodists? … The way to a very exciting future for the Anglican ordinariate is for the new Anglican-style Catholics to set out with missionary fervor. They might begin with American Evangelicals.

And they have. They have set out to unite with, partner with, ‘dialogue’ with American evangelical leaders. And they have been successful. In 2011 Fr. Longenecker wrote that Rome should begin seeking American Evangelicals. In 2014, done. Check that one off the list.

2014: Pope Francis with evangelicals (Life Outreach)

And if Lutherans and Methodists…why not Baptists? You see there is no end to the Pac Man gobble. Not until Mystery Babylon is slain by a returning, wrathful Christ.

Later, James Robison telecasted the video of his meeting with Pope Francis on his daily TV program, Life Today.

“The pope, in the video, expressed a desire for Protestants and Catholics to become what Jesus prayed for — that Christians would become family and not be divided,”

I am hearing more and more of this plea to “unite”. For example, Beth Moore has said she believes the Reformation was a mistake. She discussed it in a segment on the 2006 Catholic-influenced Contemplative DVD “Be Still,”

You know, one of the things that time gives us is that it erases the lines in between people so many different sections of the people of God. Because many years later it doesn’t matter any longer that this person was of this practice in the Christian faith and this person of another. Time somehow blurs those lines and we are profoundly moved by the historical narratives of all their lives, of so great a cloud of witnesses; that we can look back on and see what kept them running the race, what kept them running toward the face of Christ at the end of that finish line.”

So, ‘all that messiness’ was so long ago it doesn’t count anymore? All the martyrs burned for daring to oppose the Catholic Church’s authority can be dismissed, while we embrace the forefathers of this perpetration of evil because we’re moved by their historical narrative?

Why do I mention James Robison and Life Today ministries? Because by their own account, they are in 50 nations over 6 continents. Because Beth Moore, monetary anchor of LifeWay Books and member of the conservative the Southern Baptist Convention, partners with Robison which airs her program, Wednesdays in the Word.

Joel Osteen Meets with Pope Francis at Vatican: ‘He’s Made the Church More Inclusive’

Because Joel Osteen regularly speaks to 16,000 people at his stadium and broadcasts to over 100 million homes in the U.S. and tens of millions more in 100 nations. Each week more than one million people download Osteen’s heresies on their audio and video podcast, by Osteen’s accounting, “making our podcast consistently one of the top five in the world.”

That is quite a bit of heresy spread around and I’ve only mentioned three people. What of Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham, when he partners with Pittsburgh’s Bishop Zubik? When Graham set the venue for Graham’s crusade/festival next door to Epiphany Catholic Church so that Crusade seekers can enter there and be counseled? So said Zubik, exultantly, here,

Those who respond to Rev. Graham’s invitation to make a decision for Christ, and who identify as Catholic, will be given the opportunity to go to Epiphany Church — adjacent to the Consol Energy Center — for the sacrament of reconciliation, or confession. ”We’re right next door,“ Bishop Zubik said. Bishop Zubik said Catholics don’t share all of Rev. Graham’s controversial political statements but added: “That’s not what this is all about. The whole point is to bring people back to Jesus.”

Google map, with stickies ‘finger of death’ & ‘black hole’ added

This makes me cry. Which Jesus? I weep with pain for those who are delivered back to darkness, with the Light so near. You can see the end of all this, the very end, when the ones who were deluded into thinking Catholicism was faith, who cry,

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’(Matthew 7:21-23)

Since the DVD ‘Be Still’ was published in 2006 with Moore’s cloaked language, Moore now openly teaches that Catholicism is part of denominational Christianity. Below are stills from a video in which she was teaching this, and below that, the actual video. She wasn’t using the bible as her basis, either. Moore was teaching from a directly revealed vision.

Vatican. Pixabay: Public Domain

Moore said that “Jesus” sent her a vision which included lifting her into a dimension in which He dwells, to see the global church through His eyes, and which included Catholics. We know her vision is not from Jesus. Firstly, because Jesus is not giving personal and direct revelation any longer. And second, because He would never teach that the blasphemous doctrines of Rome are part of His church. Beth Moore is NOT hearing from Jesus. She is having satanic visions.

Here are the denominations Moore was using in her lesson as representations of this ‘global interdenominational church’ “Jesus” showed her.

“First United Methodist Church”, & “Christ Redeemer Lutheran Church”
“Mt Zion Missionary Baptist Church”
“St Anne’s Catholic Church”

Transcript: “Right back here, I want you to meet St Anne’s Catholic Church of Lessthanland. These ladies, although they attend different Catholic Churches, all attend a Catholic church, right here in Houston, and I am so thrilled they are here.”

Babylon is to be better understood as the sort of the archetypical head of all worldly resistance to God. It is a trans-historical Babylon. It is the Babylon of idolatry. It is the eschatological symbol of worldwide satanic deception and power. ~John MacArthur
The Puritans always thought a future Pope would be antichrist. In one sense, the general sense, all popes are antichrist, because they do not believe the truth. (1 John 4:3). But we all know (or should know) that there will be one final man who will embody the totality of the antichrist spirit. Just as there was one last Adam, the Son of Man, embodying all of God’s Spirit (Jesus), there will come one man who will perform all the perdition there can be, and thrust it onto the world, which will accept it. This one will be the Beast, the antichrist, a man, later indwelled by satan. One of his very names is “Son of Perdition.” (2 Thessalonians 2:3).

Here is a piece written in 1894 which portends much,

The Attractions of Popery
R.L. Dabney
Appeared In The Presbyterian Quarterly, April, 1894.

Dr. John H. Rice, with the intuition of a great mind, warned Presbyterians against a renewed prevalence of popery in our Protestant land. This was when it was so insignificant among us as to be almost unnoticed. Many were surprised at his prophecy, and not a few mocked; but time has fulfilled it. Our leaders from 1830 to 1860 understood well the causes of this danger. They were diligent to inform and prepare the minds of their people against it. Hence General Assemblies and Synods appointed annual sermons upon popery, and our teachers did their best to arouse the minds of the people. Now, all this has mainly passed away, and we are relaxing our resistance against the dreaded foe just in proportion as he grows more formidable. It has become the fashion to condemn controversy and to affect the widest charity for this and all other foes of Christ and of souls.

Prophetic words, those. The feature of the distant past time was to speak against Rome’s Popery/Catholicism. Active and organized vigilance against it. How refreshing. But now, vigilance has thoroughly decreased in the face of those who vociferously condemn “controversy” and command speaking only of “charity” (niceness). The piece continues,

The popish system of ritual and doctrine was a gradual growth, which, modifying true Christianity, first perverted and then extinguished it. Its destructive power has resulted from this: that it has not been the invention of any one cunning and hostile mind, but a gradual growth, modified by hundreds or thousands of its cultivators, who were the most acute, learned, selfish, and anti-Christian spirits of their generations, perpetually retouched and adapted to every weakness and every attribute of depraved human nature, until it became the most skillful and pernicious system of error which the world has ever known.

How I long for strong, clear words today condemning “the most pernicious system of error the world has ever known”! Instead, ‘Christian’ leaders partner with it! There will be a dire price to pay for this. Roger Oakland of Understanding the Times wrote:

The purpose of the New Evangelization is to promote the Roman Catholic gospel by reaching out to all religions as well as the separated brethren and introducing them to the Eucharistic Christ. … Evangelicals who believe there will be a great revival (rather than a great apostasy) in the last days centered around the outpouring of the Holy Spirit are candidates for this delusion.

~~~~~~~~~~~~CONCLUSION~~~~~~~~~~~~~

While American evangelicals have been distracted by the shadow Muslims crouching at the door, the Vatican has been intentional, missional, and aggressive in aiming for our most conservative Protestant remaining pockets of resistance to pollute the minds of those who are supposed to be leading us. Muslims have been loudly storming the front door, but Rome has silently infiltrated the back. (Jude 1:4; Galatians 2:4; 2 Timothy 3:6). There are so few religious battlegrounds left for Rome to conquer.

Therefore, because of the “new evangelization”, because of a centuries of interpretatio chrstiana, and because of the rapid absorption of so many leading ‘evangelicals’ into Catholicism and so much infusion of Catholicism’s traditions into Protestant life, the final days church is nearly formed. This is my opinion.

They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good. (Titus 1:16)

~~~~~~~~~~~~ENCOURAGEMENT & ACTION~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Pixabay: Public Domain

I appreciate that you read this lengthy opinion essay of the last days church. I think the pieces of it are coming together quickly. It is significant that Rome, not known for speed, is moving so fast. It is important to be careful and measured when speaking an opinion though, that is why I laid it out so thoroughly, with examples and many quotes. However, far be it for me to analytically present the pieces without encouragement to your soul, and suggested actions.

The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them. Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! (Psalm 34:7-8)

We are all familiar with this next verse. For these times especially when so much prophetic activity is occurring, that which we see, and that which we sense, lean not on our own understanding. Trust in Him and His word. He has told us beforehand!

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

No matter what is happening in the world, we are not of this world, but of the world where Jesus dwells,

“It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:8

Meanwhile we can take actions.

1. Do not partner with darkness, including Rome. (2 Corinthians 6:14). Not even for a moment. Do not let anyone fool you, Catholicism is not Christian. (2 Corinthians 11:4).

2. Because Catholics need the true faith, evangelize them. (Matthew 28:16-20)

“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. On the other side, one of the leading evangelicals said, “I think it’s so wonderful that we can now see Catholics as Christians because that means millions and millions of people are Christians.” As if somehow by them deciding they were Christians they became Christians. I was absolutely incredulous, almost fell off my chair.”

Reclassifying the Pope, reclassifying the 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 affront 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. ~John MacArthur

3. Do not be afraid to name names. We must declare ones like Joel Osteen false so that when he promotes the Pope we will not be confused by his doctrinal error. As Tony Miano said, “Any man who declares a Roman pope to be a brother in Christ is, himself, an enemy of Christ.”

When Apostle John wrote, he said,

Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them
that are causing the divisions
and occasions of stumbling,
contrary to the doctrine which ye learned,
Romans 16:17a

I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority. So if I come, I will bring up what he is doing, talking wicked nonsense against us. And not content with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers, and also stops those who want to and puts them out of the church. Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. (3 John 1:9-11)

John did not say, “Love Diotrephes and do not criticize him, and neither will I.” No, John said he will bring up what Diotrephes was doing, because Diotrephes was doing evil.

Paul wrote to warn of Alexander the coppersmith:

Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. Beware of him yourself, for he strongly opposed our message. (2 Tim 4:14-15).

Today’s Christians would chastise Paul for “gossiping” and “criticizing”. When they tell you not to name names (after prayer and if you have evidence), don’t fall for it. Name them! (Romans 16:17).

How will we know to beware of anyone if Christians refuse to say who to avoid? Who to guard against? Who to refuse into their homes? (2 John 1:10).

3. Pray. Pray for all the ones mentioned in this article. They need Jesus too. Pray for the ones who follow the ones mentioned in this article (Robison, Osteen, Moore, Graham, etc). Pray against antichrist.

It is the bounden duty of every Christian to pray against Antichrist, and as to what Antichrist is no sane man ought to raise a question. If it be not the popery in the Church of Rome there is nothing in the world that can be called by that name. …

Popery is contrary to Christ’s Gospel, and is the Antichrist, and we ought to pray against it. It should be the daily prayer of every believer that Antichrist might be hurled like a millstone into the flood and for Christ, because it wounds Christ, because it robs Christ of His glory, because it puts sacramental efficacy in the place of His atonement, and lifts a piece of bread into the place of the Saviour, and a few drops of water into the place of the Holy Ghost, and puts a mere fallible man like ourselves up as the vicar of Christ on earth; if we pray against it, because it is against Him, we shall love the persons though we hate their errors: we shall love their souls though we loath and detest their dogmas, and so the breath of our prayers will be sweetened, because we turn our faces towards Christ when we pray. ~Charles Spurgeon

Posted in christianity, john macarthur, paul washer, tony miano

Ambrose Bierce on the Silent Christian

Our pastor said that we should not be silent Christians. The next day once again I came across Ambrose Bierce’s Devil’s Dictionary. His book is a satirical reference book which lampoons hypocrisy in politics, law, religion and culture. I looked up what he had to say on certain religious topics. It has been a few years.

On Religiosity:

Religion, n. A daughter of Hope and Fear, explaining to Ignorance the nature of the Unknowable.
“What is your religion my son?” inquired the Archbishop of Rheims.
“Pardon, monseigneur,” replied Rochebriant; “I am ashamed of it.”
“Then why do you not become an atheist?”
“Impossible! I should be ashamed of atheism.”
“In that case, monsieur, you should join the Protestants.”

On Carnal Christians:

Repentance, n. The faithful attendant and follower of Punishment. It is usually manifest in a degree of reformation that is not inconsistent with continuity of sin.

On our Sinful State:

Man, n. An animal so lost in rapturous contemplation of what he thinks he is as to overlook what he indubitably ought to be. His chief occupation is extermination of other animals and his own species, which, however, multiplies with such insistent rapidity as to infest the whole habitable earth and Canada.

On Neighbors:

Neighbor, n. One whom we are commanded to love as ourselves, and who does all he knows how to make us disobedient.

Then I read this Paul Washer quote on Twitter. He has a point, doesn’t he?!

If you notice in the New Testament, the invitation comes in the form of an authoritative command. Repent and believe! ~Paul Washer 

Isn’t it great when we see mature preachers proclaiming the word of God! Who doesn’t thrill in their heart when they see a Paul Washer unapologetically proclaiming his fear of the LORD, his persistence in confronting sin, and his humble explanation of the blood of Jesus!

Who doesn’t love to see Tony Miano’s calm love reaching out to angry people on the street?

Who doesn’t stand in admiration of John MacArthur’s poise while graciously continuing to proclaim Jesus even when heckled during the Christmas concert, never stumbling but even reaching his hand out to the person and asking to speak to him later.

These are mature men of the faith, whom I look up to.

But the proclamation of Jesus and Him crucified (and resurrected!) is not just for mature men. It is for me, too. I exhort us to proclaim Him boldly, but do I? Sometimes I do not. Sometimes I faint in fear or swallow my tongue.

So when I say let’s be bold this year, let’s keep exhorting for His return even though the culture mocks eschatology, let’s not swerve from confronting sin even though the culture eviscerates us for it, let’s vow to know nothing among us but Christ and Him crucified…I mean me too!

For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 
1 Corinthians 2:2