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Preaching Christ By All Means Everywhere
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What The Bible Says Good Samaritan's Penny Pulpit by Pastor Ed Rice
What The Bible Says Good Samaritan's Penny Pulpit by Pastor Ed Rice
What The Bible Says Good Samaritan's Penny Pulpit by Pastor Ed Rice
What The Bible Says Good Samaritan's Penny Pulpit by Pastor Ed Rice
What The Bible Says Good Samaritan's Penny Pulpit by Pastor Ed Rice
Dear Friends,In my daily faith journey, I confess that I sometimes fall into a bad habit: I feel like I’ve “been there, done that.” More to the point, I feel a kind of “spiritual sophistication” in which most of the preaching I hear and most of the articles on faith that I read just don’t seem to measure up to my expectations. What’s worse, I sometimes find myself getting annoyed and impatient that the preaching that I’m hearing or the article I’m reading is not what I feel to be sufficiently insightful.As Matthew Westerholm has recently observed, this kind of “it takes a lot to impress me” attitude is actually a form of spiritual immaturity. He writes, “The more spiritually mature we become, the more we are easily edified.” This should be something that all Christians should strive for—a spirit of simplicity, humility, and openness as we encounter the sermons, writings, songs, films, and other forms of spiritual communication that we encounter. This kind of attitude will prepare us to be surprised and delighted by the unexpected insights given to us by the Holy Spirit.This attitude can also be carried over into every aspect of our daily lives, especially with the everyday conversations we have with others. If we strive to always be open when we encounter others, and avoid going into situations with preconceived notions about what we will or will not gain from them, we allow ourselves to be receptive to what the Lord is trying to teach us.Thank you for your prayers and for your continued support of FRC and the family.Sincerely,Dan Hart Managing Editor for Publications Family Research Council FRC ArticlesAre Sexual Orientation Change Efforts (SOCE) Effective? Are They Harmful? What the Evidence Shows – Peter SpriggCalifornia’s Effort to Ban ‘Conversion Therapy’ Failed. Here’s a Better Path We Can All Agree On. – Peter SpriggThe Problem With Judicial Nominations? The Left Doesn't Actually Want to Follow the Constitution – Peter SpriggBrown University is in Denial About Transgender Reality – Cathy RuseLawsuit Targeting Faith-Based Adoption Agencies Allowed to Proceed in Michigan – David ClossonA Bill Allowing College Campus Abortions Shows Reckless Disregard for Young Women – Patrina MosleyPlanned Parenthood’s New President Can’t Erase Its Atrocities – Patrina MosleyThe Department of Veterans Affairs Should Not Fund “Gender Alterations”The Catholic Church in Crisis: Two Takeaways – Dan Hart Religious LibertyReligious Liberty in the Public SquareChristian College Says Accrediting Agency's Proposed Guideline Change May Harm Religious Schools – Samuel Smith, The Christian PostTexas cheerleaders win a victory for freedom of religious expression – Todd Starnes, Fox News'In God We Trust' sign offended teachers, so the school district came up with a fix – Lois K. Solomon, Sun SentinelStudents Ordered to Spray Paint Over the Name of Christ on Football Field – ToddStarnes.comUpend Precedent, 11th Circuit Panel Urges in Pensacola Cross Case – Katheryn Tucker, Daily ReportHer College Told Her Not to Give Out Bible-Themed Valentines. She Isn’t Backing Down. – Troy Worden, The Daily SignalProfessor Who Defended Student’s Right To An Opinion Returns To Work After Three Years And One Major Court Battle – Ashe Schow, The Daily WireInternational Religious FreedomOfficials destroying crosses, burning bibles in China – APIndian Christians Refuse to Deny Christ Despite Persecution From Hindu Radicals – Leah MarieAnn Klett, The Christian PostNigeria: Pastor and three sons burned alive among at least 20 killed in latest Plateau massacre – World Watch MonitorU.S. and Turkey Speak About Syria and the Detained American Pastor – The Jerusalem PostChina to crack down on 'chaotic' online religious info: media – ReutersWhy Americans Should Care About the Uyghurs – Jennifer S. Bryson, Public DiscourseU.N. Is Called to Recognize Christian Genocide – Marlo Safi, National ReviewBaseless Forced Conversion Accusation Lead to Arrest of 271 Christians in India – Persecution.orgProminent Chinese pastor defiant after church closure – Channel NewsAsia LifeAbortionPro-life pregnancy centers served nearly 2 million people last year – The Boston PilotMemo to Chelsea Clinton: Freedom Does Not Require Women To Become Like Men – Ashleen Menchaca-Bagnulo, Public DiscourseIn two years, Iowa flips from ‘worse than New York State’ to pro-life – Live Action‘Gosnell’ Actress On Her Choice For Life: ‘Have Your Baby, It Will Mean Everything To You’ – The FederalistPro-Life Leaders Call for End of Taxpayer-Funded Research with Aborted Baby Parts – Caffeinated ThoughtsAdoptionI Was Adopted Through a Faith-Based Adoption Provider. LGBT Groups Want Them Shut Down. – Ryan Bomberger, The Daily SignalBioethicsA viral photo shows the problems with in vitro fertilization (IVF) – Andrew T. Walker, Ethics & Religious Liberty CommissionDear Anonymous Dad – Mary Jackson, WORLDA Gruesome Plan – Wesley J. Smith, The Weekly StandardObamacareThis 1 Move by the Trump Administration Is Boosting My Small Business – Joseph Semprevivo, The Daily Signal FamilyMarriageThe Thing We Learned About Marriage from the Cable Guy – Dave Willis with Ashley Willis, Focus on the FamilyConfessions of a Reluctant Complementarian – Rebecca McLaughlin, The Gospel CoalitionTeach Them About Marriage Before the World Does – Jani Ortlund, Desiring GodParentingClose ties with fathers help daughters overcome loneliness – Science DailyWaiting to Have a Baby Can Lead to Having Many at Once – Mollie Rappe-Brown, FuturityWelcome to the Grieving Parents Club – Leslie Froelich, HerViewFromHomeEconomics/EducationEducation Should Not Be Fearful – Matthew Anderson, CrisisHundreds of parents flood Board of Education to demand control over their kids’ sex education – Daniel Payne, The College FixParents Win: Colorado Schools End Sex Ed Program That Exposed Children to Porn – Stoyan Zaimov, The Christian PostThe College Campus’s Cult of Fragility – George Will, National ReviewWhy Small Businesses Are More Optimistic Than Ever Before – Patrick Tyrrell and Anthony B. Kim, The Daily SignalHow the Texas Model Supports Prosperous Families – Vance Ginn, Family StudiesFaith/Character/CultureThe Power of Prayer for Families – Alysse ElHage, Family StudiesHow to Ruin Your Life in Your Twenties – Jonathan Pokluda, Desiring GodPrioritizing the Value of Work in a Celebrity-Obsessed World – Naomi Schaefer Riley, Family StudiesHow to help a friend with mental illness – Amy Simpson, Ethics & Religious Liberty CommissionThe Benefit of Bad Sermons – Matthew Westerholm, Desiring GodWhy Millennials ARE Coming to Church – Steve McAlpine, The Gospel CoalitionWhat I Learned About My Sins at Sixty-Four – John Piper, Desiring GodHuman SexualityThe Heterosexual Gospel – Jackie Hill Perry, Desiring GodHow to Evangelize Your LGBT Neighbors – Rosaria Butterfield, Christianity TodayCalifornia Dem withdraws bill banning help for unwanted gay attraction – Calvin Freiburger, LifeSiteNewsThe Alarming Findings of a New Study on Transgender Teens and Suicide – Kelsey Harkness, The Daily SignalGay Rights, Hate Speech, and Hospitality – Rosaria Champagne Butterfield, Desiring GodHuman TraffickingSexual Exploitation Knows No Borders, Neither Should Our Efforts to End It – Lana Lichfield, National Center on Sexual ExploitationPornographyIs Pornography Your Therapy? – Greg Morse, Desiring GodHow Porn Is Sidelining Missionaries – Greg Handley, The Gospel CoalitionA rape pandemic has hit India, and people are blaming pornography – Jonathon Van Maren, LifeSiteNewsHow to Tell Your Fiance About Your Porn Problem – Jessica Harris, Focus on the Family
by Colin Eakinn my previous post, I introduced the topic of spiritual discernment and its appalling absence in the Church today. Despite God's explicit warning (1 Tim. 4:1) that, "in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons," many professing believers do just that. They proceed week to week exposed to noxious instruction that deftly yet decidedly unmoors them from the true Christian faith, blithely unaware of their predicament.What are these "doctrines of demons," against which the Holy Spirit expressly warns? What is this toxic teaching that jeopardizes the faith of so many? The Apostle Paul provides a framework for its understanding in his critique to the church in Corinth (2 Cor. 11:4; italics added): "For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough."That is the heart of the issue: a large swath of today's professing believers are regularly "putting up" with false teaching on Jesus, His Spirit, and His gospel, with nary a suspicion of harm, let alone any objection or pushback. They come expecting to be shown the narrow path to eternal life, when in fact they are being led down the wide road that leads to destruction (Matt. 7:13-14). For this reason, 2 Corinthians 11:4 may be the most pertinent and yet underappreciated verse in the New Testament in our day, as the categories addressed by Paul remain the three key pillars of demonic doctrine plaguing the Church two millennia hence."Another Jesus"Demonic doctrines all have at their core a faulty view of Christ. Oh, its proponents may make all the right claims about Jesus and His divinitythat He is indeed the Son of God, who died and rose again for the sins of the world. They may endorse and uphold all the confessional statements, and dutifully insist their Christology is fully orthodox. They will prominently feature the name of Jesus in their teaching, and oversee philanthropic church ministries designed and promoted as being Jesus' contemporary "hands and feet." Their Jesus welcomes all who come to Him, helps those in need, exemplifies the humility by which we are to live, brings love to the outcast and highlights mercy in response to wrongsjust as the Bible declares.But here's the rub: false teachers who bring "another Jesus" will inevitably exclude those aspects of the Bible's Jesus that don't align with their concept of who He should be. In particular, they will abridge, revise or (most likely) completely omit Jesus' instruction regarding coming judgment. They will ignore Jesus' emphatic warning to fear God, because not only can He kill, but He can also cast whom He has killed into hell (Luke 12:5). Their Jesus does not bring a sword instead of peace (Matt. 10:34), require complete abandonment of all worldly relationships and affections as the price of salvation (Luke 14:26), and promise everlasting punishment to those who do not repent and believe (Luke 13:1-5; John 3:18; 8:24; Matt. 25:46). In no way is their Jesus One who returns, " . . . in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus" (2 Thess. 1:8). In no sense would He ever supervise the eternal suffering of rebels in hell (Rev. 14:10)."A Different Spirit"When you get Jesus wrong, you inevitably get the Spirit wrong. Why is that? Because the Spirit to which Paul refers is the very Spirit of Christ, whose arrival was predicted by Jesus and timed with His Ascension (John 16:7). This is the same Spirit of Christ who inspired the perfect and inerrant Scriptures (1 Pet. 1:11). He is the Spirit who begat (Luke 1:35), led (Luke 4:1), and empowered Christ throughout His ministry (4:14). He is the very Spirit who regenerates and lives within those who repent and believe in Christ's atoning work (Ezek. 36:26-27; John 7:38-39; Rom. 8:9). And He is the Spirit who convicts the world "concerning sin and righteousness and judgment" (John 16:8).A false Christ thus yields a false spiritthe spirit of the ageand all the attendant errors that reliance upon this spirit brings, including (and perhaps most importantly) invalid interpretation of Scripture. Don't miss this: the true Spirit of Christ is He who guides the believer into all truth (John 16:13). The Bible explicitly states that God's Spirit is necessary for one to know the "deep things of God," as found in His Word (1 Cor. 2:10-13). So when a false spirit is substituted, then all bets are off when it comes to proper biblical understanding. Without the real Spirit of Christ to decode God's Word, all forms of spiritual delusionthough dressed up as faithful biblical instructionare guaranteed to ensue. Consequently, you will find those who represent demonic doctrines marked by continual reimagining of passages to suit their purposes (the theological term for this is eisegesis, as opposed to exegesis). These false teachers will eschew expository preaching as unhelpful or even as "too easy," and will consult and rely upon their spirit of the age to ensure that none of their pronouncements ever offend popular thinking."A Different Gospel"Finally, those representing another Jesus and a different spirit will inevitably bring a different gospel. That such a false gospel can be foisted on those who have already believed and been saved astonished the Apostle Paul (Gal. 1:6-8; 3:1) and should likewise astonish us. Why? Because the true gospel is the most important message of the Bible, and is not at all veiled or obscure. Paul's definition is both pithy and frank (Rom. 1:16): " . . . the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes . . .." The true gospel is all about salvation that comes to every sinner who, by the power of God, believes. That could not be more simple or straightforward. Unfortunately, the gospel is under such tremendous assault from enemy forces today that its defense has never been more necessarywitness recent Pyromaniac posts on this subject by Phil Johnson and Hohn Cho (if you haven't time to keep up with their broadsides against the so-called "social gospel" in the latest controversy, here's a tip: when the gospel you are presented is one focused on present material conditions and earthly injustices, then you've found yourself exposed to "a different gospel").The perpetual and distinguishing mark of any false gospel is the addition of human effort. This is the common denominator in all onslaughts against the true gospel. Just last year, one influential mega-church pastor and author conceded to his congregation that, yes, the gospel involves the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for the redemption of the worldhe'd grant that is true. But then, he added, that wasn't all. For him, as for many, the idea that God might save those who merely repent and trust in His Son's substitutionary atoning work is just too artless, insufficiently redemptive, and, frankly, unbelievable to be everything God requires for eternal life (he contemptuously caricatured repentant faith as some sort of "minimum entrance requirement," in response to which God is obliged to let one into heaven). No, he insisted, there's more to it than that, and went on to emphasize his own "gospel" addition as what we must do for God in response to what He has done for us.But as Pastor John MacArthur has underscored throughout his teaching ministry, the one true gospel is always and only a gospel of divine accomplishmentnothing less and nothing more. Any variations adding some form of human achievement to the mix are fabricated facsimiles which ultimately derive from Satan. No matter the particulars, when human activity is presented as a necessary component of the gospel, it becomes demonic doctrine. The Apostle Paul writes (Gal. 5:4), "You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen from grace." Seek to add your own work to that which Christ has done to save you, and you are doomed. That was true when Paul wrote Galatians, and it remains true today.What's Behind Demon Doctrines?Ultimately, these assaults against God's Wordpresenting another Jesus, a different Spirit, and a different gospelare aimed at one target: undermining the truth of God's Word. Since Jesus is full of truth (John 1:14), came to bear witness to the truth (John 18:37), and in fact is the Truth (14:6), since the Spirit of Christ is the Spirit of truth (John 15:26), and since the gospel as found in God's Word is truth (John 17:17), what is clearly in the sights of Satan is truth. Truth is what matters most to God, which is why it is most assailed by His number one enemy. Why such a focused obsession? Because Satan knows if the truth of God's Word can be successfully undermined, then the only manner by which one might be saved (Rom. 10:17) can be thwarted. That has been Satan's strategy from the time his first temptation led to the first sin"Did God really say?" (Gen. 3:1)and it remains his modus operandi ever since.Fortunately, God has promised that His truth will endure throughout the ages. As Psalm 119:160 declares, "The sum of Your Word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever." Meanwhile, knowing the final outcome is secure, true believers are entrenched in a battle with demon forces over God's truth. We are vying against the enemy's doctrines of demons and their core depictionsanother Jesus, a different spirit and a different gospelwith the Word of truth God has spoken and now illuminates to those who are His. May those who claim to be of this truth be made worthy by Him for such a task.Dr. Colin L. EakinPyromaniacDr. Eakin is a sports medicine orthopædic surgeon in the Bay Area and part time teacher at Grace Bible Fellowship Church's Stanford campus ministry. He is the author of God's Glorious Story.Acknowledgement: In preparing this article, I am indebted to the teaching of Pastor Mike Riccardi of Grace Community Church, and his sermon on 2 Corinthians 11:1-4: "The Minister's Jealously, Part 2," delivered 4/15/2018.
Over the last several months and up to today, revelations continue to come out about the cover-up of sexual abuse among the clergy in the Catholic Church, which has now credibly extended to the Church’s highest levels. As a Catholic, I find myself heartbroken for those who have experienced sexual abuse at the hands of the very men whom they trusted the most. I also find myself angry that the very men who have spent so much of their lives studying and preaching about the teachings of Christ could be the ones who would leverage their status as priests and bishops to prey upon the trust of their flock.Nevertheless, here we are. It is undoubtedly a grace from God that all of these fetid revelations are now seeing the light of day so that the Church hierarchy can at long last begin to clean house, something that is decades overdue, and of which the lay faithful in the Church must hold the clergy accountable as best they can.At this point, the temptation for those of us who feel powerless to do anything to help right these terrible wrongs is to get bogged down in the minutiae of the all the accusations, denials, and rumors. While it is important that we stay as wise as serpents in the ways of the world, it is equally important to remain as innocent as doves (Matthew 10:16). Therefore, here are two essential points to keep our current moment in perspective so that we avoid becoming embittered and help to bring good out of even the most dire of circumstances, which is what all Christians are called to do.1. Sin Is Real and Has Real ConsequencesScripture tells us that even the early church struggled with the sexual immorality of the wider culture (see 1 Corinthians 5, among others). It seems that this tendency has only increased in modern times. At least since the Sexual Revolution in the 1960’s (if not earlier), it has become abundantly clear that the Christian church, no matter what denomination or tradition, has been particularly susceptible to being influenced by the wider culture’s view of sex. The Sexual Revolution’s chief export, which has taken root so overwhelmingly in our modern culture, is this: that the primary purpose of sex is for pleasure, which every person has an absolute right to no matter what their age or state in life happens to be.The wider Christian church has steadily ceded ground and influence in their opposition to this idea for the past several decades, the reasons for which are numerous and cannot be fully explored here. What’s important to realize is that God’s teaching about sex has been and always will be abundantly clear. It is summed up in the Sixth Commandment: “You shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14). Here is an excellent summation of the proper meaning of this commandment through the Bible’s authority:The [Christian teaching on sexuality] is also set forth in many other clearly worded texts from the Scriptures that forbid homosexual acts, adultery, fornication and other lewd conduct: Ephesians 5:5-7; Galatians 5:16-21; Revelation 21:5-8; Revelation 22:14-16; Matthew 15:19-20; Matthew 5:27-30; 1 Corinthians 6:9-20; Colossians 3:5-6; 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8; 1 Timothy 1:8-11; Hebrews 13:4; Leviticus 18:22; Leviticus 20:13; Genesis 19; Romans 1:1-18, and 1 Timothy 1:8-11, among others.The Sixth Commandment is clear — there is a universal call to chastity, and no one is exempt. There is simply no provision for sexual intercourse or sexual touching outside of valid marriage, and those who are married live chastity by complete fidelity to one another. No one is ever permitted under any circumstances to engage in sexual acts with anyone to whom they are not validly married. There are no separate rules for heterosexuals or homosexuals. There is to be no sexual intercourse or touching outside of valid marriage.I think it can be safely said that this is the most broken and least understood commandment and principle in Christianity, even among Christians. Just one sad example of this is the pervasiveness of pornography. It is no secret that pornography use is the number one sin confessed to Catholic priests and is also widespread in evangelical churches.The Sexual Revolution proved to be extremely successful at convincing much of society that it is okay to separate the sexual act from the confines of marriage. Once this was done, the floodgates opened. Sex outside of marriage is so culturally accepted that it is now considered a right of passage. The natural outgrowth of this line of reasoning could not be more clear: if unmarried people can have sex, who’s to say it has to be with someone of the opposite sex? What’s wrong with watching people do it on the internet? And so on and so on.This viewpoint is very convincing to the human psyche for the simple reason that sex is in fact very pleasurable in a unique and powerful way. “How can pleasure be sinful?” the culture asks. Perhaps the easiest way to answer this is to simply point out the current state of our sexual culture—awash in the #MeToo moment. When the fire of human sexuality is not harnessed within the prism of commitment and mutual self-sacrifice, the inevitable result is wildfire, in which people use and abuse each other.Our culture, along with a troubling segment of the Catholic Church’s clergy, has lost its sense of sexual sin. Perhaps the current devastation that all of this sin has caused will once again awaken a sense of sexual sin and its consequences. First, truly repentant sorrow and reparations must be expressed. Secondly, prayer, self-discipline, and the hard but infinitely fulfilling work of staying faithful to God’s teachings must be taken up with renewed hope and purpose.2. “From Everyone Who Has Been Given Much, Much Will Be Required” (Luke 12:48)A cursory review of human history reveals that we humans love power. We often long for it because we think that once we gain power and have more control, we can finally get what we want, and then we will be happy. But God has a far different purpose for power. Christ Himself specifically addresses the proper attitude we should have toward earthly power when He is brought before Pontius Pilate (who had the very powerful position as the prefect of the Roman province of Judaea at the time): “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above” (John 19:11).Christ’s lesson here is clear: Nothing we have gained on earth is because of our own efforts. Everything that we have is a gift from God.This is a hard lesson that all of those who have positions of power and authority must take to heart. They must humbly accept the power that has been bestowed upon them and use it for the greater good of their fellow man, resisting the urge to use it for their own pleasure or personal gain.As we have seen in recent weeks, this vital teaching from God has been tragically and systematically abused by the very men that God bestowed power and authority to within the Catholic Church—not only through priests who perpetrated the sickening sexual abuse of children, parishioners, and seminarians who held their trust, but also in bishops who used their authority to perpetrate the cover-up of abusive priests under their jurisdiction. We have also seen a pattern of abuse of power in other Christian churches, showing that no earthly hierarchical system is immune to sin.Indeed, the proper way to view power is to observe the life of Jesus and how he used his power. There couldn’t possibly be anyone more powerful than Jesus—He was God Incarnate. Yet, how did He use His power? In complete self-sacrifice. Those who witnessed His crucifixion were in fact dumbfounded that He did not use His power to save Himself, and derided Him for it: “You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, Come down from the cross and save yourself!” (Mark 15:30)It’s a perfect illustration of how God’s ways are often not man’s ways (Isaiah 55:8). But Christ continually calls us to strive for more than the tired habits of our fallen nature: “Be perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). Christ, then, is the ultimate model for how we should use power—as servant leaders in service of others.What We Are Called to DoSo what can the Christian faithful do who do not hold positions of authority within their churches to help their leaders stay faithful? It can be tempting to throw up our hands in resignation, claiming that we have no responsibility for what goes on in the hierarchy.Don’t give in to this temptation. First and foremost, believers are called to live out God’s commandments in their own lives so as to be salt and light on the earth (Matthew 5:13-16), testifying to the reality of sin and its consequences when we are called to. Just as importantly, ordinary believers can and must make their voices heard when institutional change is needed, by writing letters to church authorities, starting petitions, and even holding peaceful public protests if the situation calls for it.Let’s remember in this time of crisis that no person is an island, especially bishops, priests, and pastors, the great majority of whom are not involved in the sexual abuse of others. All of us, no matter what earthly position we do or do not hold, need the support of our brothers and sisters in Christ to get through difficult times. Let’s begin a great renewal of our churches in Christ, who makes all things new (Revelation 21:5).
by Phil JohnsonFriends of mine at Ambassador Advertising Agency do a feature on people in ministries they work with, and they are long-time partners with Grace to You. They very kindly included an interview with me in last month's issue of their newsletter. Their questions asked for some details I have never before revealed on the blog, so I decided to post the unabridged version of their interview. Here it isTell us how you first learned about Jesus. grew up going to a liberal church, so I heard a lot about Jesus from my earliest childhood, but I had never really been taught the gospel. About a month before I graduated from high school, I was sensing a great spiritual void in my life, so I picked up a Bible, opened it at random, and started reading. I don't think I'd ever carefully read more than a verse or two of Scripture at once. (I treated the Bible like a horoscope. Every now and then, I'd open at random, read a verse, and try to make some artificial connection to whatever was happening in my life.) That night it opened to the first page of 1 Corinthians, so I decided to try to read through the whole book.1 Corinthians 1 is not where you'd send a high school student looking for the gospel, but the dawn of true understanding started for me with that chapter: Paul's condemnation of human wisdom, wealth, power, and arrogance in those opening chapters—combined with his elevation of the gospel as something that sounds uselessly unsophisticated to the worldly wise (a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Greeks). Within a week, God providentially exposed me to clear presentations of the gospel three more times. It was as if everything in my life suddenly conspired to make the truth of Scripture clear to me. And by the end of that week, I had become a believer.Your relationship with John MacArthur is a long onehow did that connection get made originally?The first time I heard him was in 1977. I had never even heard his name, and I was pretty sure nothing good could come out of California. I was living in Wrigleyville, Chicago, working as an editor at Moody Press, and John was the speaker they invited that year for "Spiritual Emphasis Week." Moody Bible Institute would annually host some well-known speaker to preach in student chapel every day for a week. Because it was so special, employees could attend if they wanted to.That year Moody distributed a publicity sheet introducing "John MacArthur, Jr., a fifth-generation preacher, pastor of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, CA," and it said on that Monday he was speaking about "God's Will for Your Life." The guy I shared an office with read the flyer aloud and asked if I planned to attend chapel.I answered, "No way. I have a looming deadline. I don't have time to go hear someone whose claim to fame is he's someone's son speaking about God's will for my life. He's not going to say anything I haven't heard. Someone should tell 'Junior' that every speaker who ever comes to Moody speaks on God's will. I'm going to stay here and work." My co-worker mumbled something about my lousy mood and left.About 90 seconds later, this cute girl who was our newest employee stuck her head in and said, "I'm going down to chapel. Were you planning to go?"I said, "Yup. I was just coming."That girl was Darlene, whom I married a year later. But although I went to that chapel service just because it was an opportunity to spend time with her, from the time John MacArthur began teaching, I was transfixed. The message wasn't just recycled platitudes that I'd heard before. He actually opened the Bible and taught from it. During that very first message, it occurred to me that John's material was so rich, he needed to be writing books.When Darlene and I married the following year, we left Chicago and moved to St. Petersburg, FL to get involved with a local church there. The very first "Grace to You" radio broadcasts began about a week after we moved to Florida. Those original broadcasts were only aired in three cities: Tulsa (my hometown), Tampa (where I had just relocated) and Baltimore (which I have no connection to). But I began to schedule my day around those broadcasts. And every time I ever heard John preach, I'd always wish he had room on his staff for a book editor to help him craft his material for print. For the three and a half years we spent in Florida, if you'd asked me to design a perfect career for myself, I'd have told you without hesitation that I wished I could edit John MacArthur's material to help him get his teaching in print. It wasn't a goal I ever actively pursued, but I thought about it all the time.Then one day Jerry Jenkins phoned me and asked me to return to Moody Press. He had no way of knowing about my respect for John MacArthur, but one of the things he excitedly told me was that Moody was negotiating with MacArthur for a complete set of commentaries on the New Testament. The timing was perfect, and Darlene and I moved back to Chicago, where I rejoined the Moody Press staff. I spent the next 18 months there, editing John MacArthur's sermons for a couple of Moody Press books. John must have liked my work, because he invited me to come to California and join the GTY staff.That was 1983 and I've been here ever since. The thrill of it has never worn off. I have this deep sense that I'm doing exactly what I was born to do.As you've been closely engaged in working with John's materials and writing for ministry, what do you most appreciate about the relationship?His discipline and single-minded stamina still amaze me. I'm thankful for his mentorship, encouragement, and patience. For someone who is as steadfast and clear-cut as he is in the pulpit, his personal dealings with people are always profoundly gracious. I love him for that, and he is a joy to work with.My previous pastor was Warren Wiersbe. He likewise took a personal interest in me, and I worked with him on a book project or two at Moody. Wiersbe is a bibliophile, a history buff, and an evangelical polymath. I learned a lot from him and treasure that relationship, too. Both men have left an indelible mark on how I think and how I have approached preaching in my own ministry. I've also been blessed to have lots of close friends who are more or less my peers and fellow laborers.But John MacArthur has been a unique kind of model and mentor to me. I treasure his friendship. I'm grateful for all the opportunities he has given me. It would be impossible to put into words how much I appreciate the relationship with him.You and Darlene have been married for 40 years. How did you meet?We celebrated our 40th anniversary June 10. We met when she came to work at Moody Press, She was a recent graduate from Appalachian Bible Institute (as it was known then), a very conservative school, and that intrigued me right away. It really was a case of love at first sight. I invited her to a Cubs' game within 10 minutes of meeting her. That was our first date. There's a brick in the sidewalk at Wrigley with our names and the date and score of that first game we watched together. She's a fanatical Cubs fan to this day.You now have three grown sons. What do you hope they learned best from your example as a dad?Obviously, I hope they learned what it means to be devoted to Christ and His truth and to make that the center from which all their affections and all their convictions radiate. In practical, family terms, I hope they learned the same thing that was the best lesson I learned from my dad: How to love your wife.And now you're also a grandfatherwhat do you love best about this season?No question: Grandchildren. They're a thousand times more fun than having your own kids because you don't have the same responsibility to discipline and correct them. You can hand them back to their parents when they need that, and all you have to do is shower them with love and encouragement. It's tremendously fun. We're blessed in that all seven of our grandkids still live close by; they all still go to Grace Church, so we get to spend lots of time with them. It's impossible to state what a profound blessing they are. Psalm 128:6 speaks of grandchildren as the pinnacle of all earthly blessings. They make up for a lot of the pains and inconveniences that come with old age.We're going to assume you might mention John MacArthur as a spiritual mentor but is there anyone else pivotal to your spiritual growth you'd want to name?As I mentioned, Warren Wiersbe influenced me greatly. He was the first true bible expositor I ever heard. No one is better at outlining the logical flow of the text. He preached longer passages than John MacArthur typically tackles, and he didn't get into details with quite as much close study, but he excelled in the narrative passages, making both the story itself and its practical lessons crystal clear. I loved his gentle preaching style, too. Very different from John, but both have a valid place. Wiersbe whetted my appetite for Scripture; John MacArthur taught me the difference between the milk of God's Word and meat. His teaching has given me a craving for teaching that is truly nourishing and deeply satisfying, rather than the cotton candy so many evangelicals settle for.And of course Spurgeon has been a hugely formative figure in my doctrine and thinking. I love Spurgeon for his boldness, his clarity, and his refusal to back away from a truth in order to stay in step with popular opinion or the styles and preferences of a new generation.People sometimes tell me they think John MacArthur is the Spurgeon of our era. (I tend to think of Spurgeon as the John MacArthur of Victorian times.) Spurgeon and MacArthur have an amazing number of characteristics that they share in commonstarting with the fact that they were both born on June 19; they both have suffered from gout; both are prolific preachers and authors who remained in the same church for their entire ministries; and of course they share a similar commitment to (and common understanding of) the truth of Scripture.What's so great about Charles Spurgeon?Spurgeon took the senior pastoral role in London's largest, most historic, and best-known Baptist church when he was still in his teens, and he stayed there, faithfully preaching at least three new sermons each week for the remainder of his life. At the peak of his ministry, one of his sermons was published each week and distributed to millions on both sides of the Atlantic. But by the end of his life he had fallen out of favor with the majority of English Baptists. They thought he was an ageing old crank and an alarmist for warning against the dangers of modernism. Time has fully vindicated Spurgeon, and more people are reading his sermons today than were reading him during his lifetime. He is one of those rare, enduring figures of church history whose influence is felt across centuries of time.If you could invite three peopleliving or deceased (and not including Jesus or Spurgeon)to dinner, who would get the green light?All dead guys: Cotton Mather, Martin Luther, and Athanasius.You're a serious student of the Word but is there anything else on the nightstand for reading right now?I've just started reading a book recommended to me by my youngest son, who is an LAPD officer working in Hollywood at night. It's L. A. Noir, by John Buntin. It's a history of the relationship between Mickey Cohen (LA's most powerful underworld boss, who, oddly, has a role in Billy Graham's story) and William H. Parker, the LAPD's legendary chief. It's the true story of a time and a culture that became background for countless novels by Raymond Chandler, James Ellroy, and other authors in that genre.Writers need a break now and then. What do you do that gives you a mental break from the load?Every book editor I know who spends a lifetime doing that one thing has a nervous breakdown (or the equivalent) in his or her mid 50s. It's high-stress stuff, with endless deadlines, relentless pressure (and sometimes hostility) from people in the marketing side of the publishing business, monotony, headaches, critics, and more deadlines. With a book-length project it's hard (if not impossible) to shut down at night and think about other things. It's nothing like writing a column for the newspaper. Each book project typically takes a year or longer, and the editor can't fully release it from his mind and move on to the next thing until the book actually goes to the printer.I don't have many hobbies, nor am I looking for one. I can't afford to squander my spare moments on "me time." But I've been blessed with a wide variety of duties that make my work anything but monotonous. Between book projects I get to travel, speak at conferences, and deal with a whole wonderful staff of people at Grace to You. Our grandkids add a whole new dimension of joy and activity to my life. And of course, I love spending time with Darlene. These days, I leave the office early as many days as I possibly can.I'm now in my mid 60s and still thrilled to be doing all that I do. So I've managed to at least postpone my nervous breakdown.You created a blog titled Pyromaniacs . . . why that name?It's a reference to Jeremiah 23:29, where the Lord says, "Is not my word like fire?"
by Hohn Chohis morning, "The Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel" was released. Consisting of 14 main articles of affirmations and denials (plus an addendum), the entire statement is full of biblical truth and worth reading.Thabiti Anyabwile, who has been very involved in the discussion relating to social justice and the Gospel, called it "a great statement" and said he'd be "happy to sign it" even if he doesn't believe it's a "fair statement of the issues."I'll let the actual initial signers speak more about this as they see fit, but from where I sit, I don't believe the statement is supposed to be controversial or difficult to sign. My impression is that it's simply a set of fundamental biblical truths and principles that Christians broadly and generally ought to be able to agree on. And it does not prescribe a set of overly specific applications or attempt to micromanage Christians' consciences, which is one criticism I've had of quite a few "social justice" advocates.What it does is lay out a basic and fundamental set of principles for the discussion. If a large number of "social justice" advocates are also in agreement with the statement, I would consider that a very good and healthy thing. We would then be crystal clear about the ability to have an intramural debate, so to speak, and perhaps some of the perceived threats to the actual sanctity of the Gospel itself would abate.On that note, I believe the statement could also serve to flush out both theological extremists who are a threat to the Gospel, as well as pragmatic opportunists who might be so concerned about or swayed by public opinionor perhaps being perceived as a bad "ally" to other Christian or even secular "social justice" advocatesthat they are unwilling to stand for basic biblical truth.At a bare minimum, perhaps the statement will help to do away with the Gnostic-like notion that only people of certain ethnicities (or even worse, people of certain ethnicities who agree with the "social justice" advocates' views) possess the "secret knowledge" that permits them to engage in the discussion and expound upon the Scriptures relating to these topics.I've long said that people who are concerned about the direction of the "social justice" movement are more than willing to engage in the debate, despite claims to the contrary by many on the "social justice" side. (A future post of mine may address this very issue.) Hopefully we can do so in a civil way that has as our foundation the Word of God.One final note, as many already know, my pastor John MacArthur has been publishing a series of blog articles and preaching a sermon series on this topic. A number of people on the "social justice" side have commented that although they might not agree with every single nuance, the basic concepts and principles are not in themselves controversial or subject to dispute.Social Injustice and the GospelThe Long Struggle to Preserve the Gospel, Part 1The Long Struggle to Preserve the Gospel, Part 2Is the Controversy over "Social Justice" Really Necessary?Again, as with the statement, I think that's actually a good thing, and my hope is that after he's finished with both series, we can continue the discussion on a foundation of solid biblical truth that has been the hallmark of MacArthur's ministry for over five decades.So let's continue talking about this, and again, if the statement serves only to isolate the extremists and opportunists, that alone would be a helpful thing.
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