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Tuesday, August 23, 2011 | Comments (24)

The “restless” aspect of the Young, Restless, Reformed movement is something of a mixed blessing. Restlessness per se is is of course no great virtue. But the energy, intensity, drive, and passion that underlie the restless tendencies of our young adult years are wonderful assets that hold great potential for good. They can be—and should be—harnessed and put to work for Christ’s kingdom.

As a matter of fact, a lively enthusiasm for spiritual things is one of the best features of the YRR movement, and it is precisely what the church of Christ needs after a few generations of increasing indifference about sound biblical doctrine.

Apathy is malignant. It breeds lukewarmness, which is more despised by our Lord than either complete coldness or fiery fanaticism (Revelation 3:16).

So I’m grateful for the keen interest the YRR movement has shown in gospel-centered doctrine and preaching. I understand the value of the energy and enthusiasm young adults seem to bring to every conference and each conversation I have with them.

My encouragement to them is this: Don’t squander your youthful vigor on mere restlessness. Apply yourself to humble service for the cause of Christ within the context of the church. Remember that “whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all” (Mark 10:43-44).

Meanwhile here are three crucial biblical virtues to cultivate. These will keep us from becoming unsettled and restless:


One mark of spiritual health and stamina that gets far too little notice these days is steadfastness. Stability. Constancy. Firmness of heart.

Those are qualities Scripture repeatedly and emphatically commends. The righteous person “is like a tree planted,” while the wicked “are like chaff that the wind drives away” (Psalm 1:3-4).

Paul told the restless Corinthians, “Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58). In Colossians 1:23, he encourages believers to “continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard.” Firmness of faith is a grossly undervalued quality (Colossians 2:5; 3:14).

To be sure, there is a variety of stubborn obstinacy that is carnal and sinful, but true steadfastness—unwavering commitment to the truth God has revealed in His Word—is high virtue. Secular culture tells us that is not the case. In fact, one of the few remaining taboos our culture more or less universally insists on nowadays is the unwritten social ban against believing that the Bible really is the authoritative Word of God.

Sadly, even in the church, real steadfastness is a pretty rare commodity. I know a few Christian leaders who take pride in shifting their theological stance every few years or so, renouncing the very truths they formerly were best known for. One man who does this on a fairly regular basis published an article a few years ago, explaining that in his view the quintessential mark of true humility is a tendency to change one’s mind. That is far from the biblical perspective, of course.

But it highlights one of my concerns about the current popularity of the YRR movement. Does this movement truly respect rock-solid convictions on the part of its adherents, or is it just another temporary fad? No less than Time magazine cited “The New Calvinism” as one of ten ideas currently changing the world. At first glance, that certainly seems a reason to celebrate. If, on the other hand, the current popularity of the YRR movement is merely a passing fad (like its immediate predecessor, the so-called Emerging Church movement), it could leave serious disaster in its wake. Such an outcome might have a negative impact on the health of the church for years.

Don’t follow trends just because they are trendy. More specifically, don’t affirm any doctrinal stance just because it happens to be in vogue. In fact, an appeal to what’s stylish is a very good reason to regard a movement with the utmost suspicion. We’re not to be blown about by every wind of doctrine (Ephesians 4:14).

But hold fast to your confession of faith with rock-solid conviction and without wavering (Hebrews 10:23). If we truly believe as we should, when the truth of God’s Word falls far enough out of fashion, we must be willing to die for our faith. That is precisely what Jesus meant in Matthew 10:38, when He said, “whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.”


That reminds us what a serious business it is to serve Christ and be faithful to the gospel. Despite what you may have heard, Christ’s call to follow Him is not an invitation to a party. Following in His steps is not a light-hearted jubilee—not on this side of heaven, anyway. He calls us to sober-minded maturity and serious self-sacrifice:

Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, “This man began to build and was not able to finish.” Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? (Luke 14:27-31).

Scripture is full of commands to be sober-minded, circumspect, grown up in our thinking, mature in our understanding, and fully grounded in sound doctrine:

“Think with sober judgment” (Romans 12:3). “Do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature” (1 Corinthians 14:20). “We [should] no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine” (Ephesians 4:14). “Let us keep awake and be sober” (1 Thessalonians 5:6). “You ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child” (Hebrews 5:12-13). “Always be sober-minded” (2 Timothy 4:5). That is just a small sampling of texts that stress this truth.

Sobriety is counter-cultural nowadays. Even the most-watched “news” programs on television are those that parody everything. To follow that pattern in our thinking—much less our public ministry—is to disobey many clear commandments of Scripture.


Finally, there is perhaps no more important or more valuable application for youthful energy than the pursuit of self-control. Scripture instructs us to flee youthful lusts (2 Timothy 2:22). That admonition includes an emphatic warning against every kind of sexual immorality, of course (1 Corinthians 6:18). But it is by no means limited to that. We are likewise commanded to flee the love of money (1 Timothy 6:10-11); flee idolatry (1 Corinthians 10:14); and flee every other kind of fleshly passion that wages war against the soul (1 Peter 2:11).

The reason Paul refers to such things as “youthful lusts” is that we never feel those passions more powerfully than when we are in that young-and-restless stage of life.

Postmodern Western society thinks it’s a good thing to indulge in youthful passions—particularly in one’s youth—and sadly that mentality has to a very large degree crept into evangelical culture. That’s the main reason so many church programs and activities aimed at students for decades now have emphasized fun and games at the expense of biblical teaching. Over the long term, that approach has been disastrous. It has stunted the growth and spiritual prosperity of the church.

One of the bright hopes of the YRR movement is that it presents us with a golden opportunity to see a true change of direction. Though the world expects and encourages people to indulge youthful lusts, we know that God demands something different.

May He empower you to live out such a difference.

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#1  Posted by Joanne Hopper  |  Tuesday, August 23, 2011 at 6:01 PM

Excellent - very solid advice and I particularly appreciated the section on steadfastness - you are so right - it is so very often overlooked and underrated!

You all are the greatest -


#2  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Tuesday, August 23, 2011 at 6:05 PM

Pastor John, so many good points. Hard to know where to begin. I hear you calling young men and women to take that energy, that passion and be young people of valor! Not to be smug about who they are. Not to strut. Not to let their lusts cause them to chase after the wind. Because, in the end, there truly is no profit. Ecclesiastes 2:11.

The part about being willing to die for our faith is a must to be a men and women of valor. To be willing to die for your beliefs. Then it will be said you are a person of true convictions. You are a committed and loyal Christ follower. Psalm 37:5

We live in a world where commitment and loyalty are fading. Many young people don't realize the importance of loyalty. It's not stylish. Loyalty gives way to commitment which is a virtue and as already pointed out, will keep you firmly planted on and in God's Word. Mean what you say and say what you mean. Too many will respond with, "I have a right to change my mind." Forget about your rights, your freedoms, your liberties. You are a slave! Act like one!

And Pastor John's warning...that there is more to youthful lusts than sexual sin. Amen, Amen and Amen. And the word "harness" is a perfect word picture for out of control energy and passions that, without boundaries, can manifest itself in many sinful lusts. Beware.

I would like to see young people get excited about having teachers such as John MacArthur, men so devoted to Christ. Such wisdom. Proven to be reliable men. 2 Timothy 2:2. Men willing to boldly teach God's truths, how thrilling to be a part of a movement like that!

Young people, are you willing to take your passion, your abounding energy and sit up all night and listen to a man of God impart such wisdom as many did when Paul was preaching? Acts 20:7. Does that excite you? Do you get caught up in every word? Or are you more caught up in blending in with the culture? The cool scene? If it's the latter, you're missing out. You really are.

Thank you, GTY and John MacArthur for, your boldness and generosity to teach and share with me your wisdom. I am old. But your teaching of God's word makes me feel young again! I am drinking it all up! John 4:14

#3  Posted by Mark Cooper  |  Tuesday, August 23, 2011 at 7:50 PM

#2 Rebecca: I'm right there with you. Learning from Pastor John and others (Such as Paul Washer, Voddie Bachman, John Piper) makes me feel young and brand new as well. My energy is the Holy Spirit and the Bible and I just love it when people ask me why I have this big smile on my face.

@ 43 years young, I can look back and truly wish that I had not wasted my younger years on such things as worshipping heavy metal bands, pornography, junk food addiction and seeking the approval of men (and woman). Like Piper says: "Don't waste your life". Well, I did. No direction and no clue. It wasn't until I was driven to my knees and came to end of myself that God got ahold of my heart.

I feel like I've still got, Lord willing, many years ahead of me to reform and spread the Gospel. But, man oh man, I wish I had been doing that in my teens and 20's. My energy level was twice what it is now.

Attention YRR's: Put your energy into hours of prayer, Bible study and planting seeds. Don't get caught up in fads. In 10 years you will cringe when you see your old haircut in a photo, you will wonder why you ever liked that movie or song. Get your mind OFF of yourself and the image in the mirror and ONTO Christ. You will NEVER be ashamed of that!

God bless you all! More power to ya!

#4  Posted by Andrew Smith  |  Wednesday, August 24, 2011 at 4:23 AM

All the money in the world couldn't buy anything as valuable as this advice. Let us now not be hearers only but doers(James 1:22)! Thank you John and all of you at Grace to You who labor for our growth in the Lord.

#5  Posted by Steve Cornell  |  Wednesday, August 24, 2011 at 7:16 AM

This is the tone that will leverage the strong influence that John has in many of the lives of the so-called YRR. With the younger generation, whether we like or not, tone matters. The simple fact is that the younger generation, shivers at overstatements, mischaracterizations, exaggerations and wrongful impugning of motives. Many of them can stomach Driscoll like in your face truth telling. It almost seems like they prefer it. But notice how quickly Mark D. loses ground if he attaches overstatements, mischaracterizations, exaggerations and wrongful impugning of motives.

Many of those of us who have known and loved John for many years have looked past "tone" issues. His heart and commitment to the body of Christ has been undeniably clear! But I am grateful for this letter because it shows his humility (a strength of John's character) in trying to find the best way to serve those he loves. This is an influence we cherish and one we need. Grace to you!

Steve Cornell

#6  Posted by Helena Pecani  |  Wednesday, August 24, 2011 at 8:24 AM

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#7  Posted by Justin Garcia  |  Wednesday, August 24, 2011 at 8:24 AM

Extremely helpful. Thank you Dr. MacArthur.

#8  Posted by Joshua Prasatik  |  Wednesday, August 24, 2011 at 8:28 AM

Thank you Dr. Macarthur. As a young reformed person, I really do appreciate your advice and encouragement in this post. I want to take these words to heart.

#9  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Wednesday, August 24, 2011 at 8:47 AM

#3 Mark - I love to listen to the wisdom of Voddie too. Paul Washer is the guy that will go against the "Christian" culture & not bat an eye. I heard his famous speech to the youth years ago. But one that really spoke to me, because I had seen it at my own church, was to young women about dressing modestly. It wasn't all about low cut shirts or tight pants or even short skirts. That was part of it. It was more about what people see the moment you walk into a room. Do they see trendy clothes? Do they see eye makeup done so you look as if you have dreamy bedroom eyes? I'm paraphrasing a lot. But it was about being humble before the Lord which produces modesty.

Do others see Christ in you when you first walk in? Do they? Do they see FIRST a Godly young woman? Or do you have a reputation for your style, always having the bling that can't be avoided? And what about that sexy fake and back tan? Is that a main staple for you?

When you walk into a room, is it difficult for other young men to not have lustful thoughts about you? Are you putting your physical beauty on display? Are you considered sexy? Now there's a badge that many young women wear today.

I have seen some young women leaders post pictures of themselves that are very seductive looking. Just the look out of their eyes. If you wouldn't do a head shot like that for the Lord, then it shouldn't be done for anyone. Imagine the conflicting feelings a younger girl is getting about the one she admires so much? On one hand, the older one seems devoted to Christ with all her activity but on the other.....people tell her she looks hot! And she's OK with that. I see and hear it all the time. Mark 9:42

When you walk through a door, do other women see you as safe, as reliable, as loyal, as a devoted servant of the Lord? Is that what they see first? Proverbs 31:25 You can be physically beautiful, naturally beautiful & it still be a distraction to the things of God if you allow it. If you want a man with a good Godly reputation, then you must be that woman as well. It should all be about exalting God & not making physical beauty your badge.

Young women, examine yourselves. Are you giving to the culture what it wants? Do you enjoy the stares you get? Do you enjoy that some young men are so tempted by you? Proverbs 7:10 Do you want attention or respect?

There used to be two commercials out that may or may not have been before your time. The catch phrase to one was,"Don't hate me cause I'm beautiful!" And the other was "If you've got it, flaunt it!" Do you flaunt your femininity, your sensuality as your badge?

Before you accuse me of being Pentecostal, let me assure you I'm not now & have never been. In fact, I love fashion, I love design. I love being female! I'm not suggesting we dress in potato sacks. I'm suggesting the Glory go to God. Let His light shine, at least outshine, your makeup!

Young woman, as a YRR, how do you use your youthful energy? What is your passion?

#10  Posted by Greg Moering, Jr.  |  Wednesday, August 24, 2011 at 9:38 AM

Thank you Pastor John for your words of wisdom. I can thankfully say that my youth pastor, Kevin, and my pastor, Terry, were men of the Word. They are younger guys, Kevin barely in his thirties and Terry barely in his fourties, but they are nothing like what has been described in the negative and I am thankful for that. These men have shaped my view of what it means to be a Christian more than any other. These men discipled me and showed me the importance of the Word of God in the believer's life. I have been a Christian for 9 years and these men of God have been such a great encouragement to me. I cannot thank God enough for what He has done through these men. They helped cultivate my passion and direct it to the throne. If I did not have these men in my life, who knows, I may have someone who was concerned with living out my youthful lusts, rather than seeking to please my King in all things. Once again, I am 25 and I am thankful for men like Kevin, Terry and Pastor John that are unabashed in their faithfulness to the Word of God. May God continue to raise up men who preach the Word and only the Word (2 Timothy 4:2). May God continue to raise up men who train others and encourage others in the Word. God bless.

In Christ,


#11  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Wednesday, August 24, 2011 at 11:47 AM

Proverbs has alot to do with this blog.

Thanks for the encouraging blog. I was going to sleep one night. I looked out of the window in my bedroom and saw the tv on then I close my curtain to sleep then I wake up the next morning to get the paper and see the tv on still. It's none of my business but it shows a lack of energy and passion to not get out more. More I see in real life, seeing people text messaging and etc. Seems to me they enjoy this more than living for God. When I pray and read God's Word, God helps me to grow and not to lose my passion and energy. It's hard but trusting Jesus, it easier for He picks us up each time we fall or fail. God bless.

#12  Posted by Scott Davidson  |  Thursday, August 25, 2011 at 1:03 AM

Rebecca, I as well enjoy listening to Paul Washer. He mentions his wife in sermons and the way she makes mention of young women and their appearance. To paraphrase she says where is the picture frame being placed, the beauty of your face or your body. Unfortunately many young women and men who say they are Christian do not take seriously modesty. Paul Washer would say the blame is to be spread between pastors who are too afraid to speak the truth as not to offend and parents who are too afraid to parent. We parents are in a battle against the culture that stresses young people to be self indulgent and to look good and flaunt it. We as parents need to be on our knees daily praying over our children that they will not be led astray by this worldly culture that so desires their attention. And be willing to love our children so much that perhaps we be unpopular with them while guiding them through their teenage years. (I have 3 of them)

#13  Posted by Helena Pecani  |  Thursday, August 25, 2011 at 7:55 AM

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#14  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Thursday, August 25, 2011 at 8:53 AM

#13 Helena Pecani - I am so touched by your comment. It is full of wisdom. And you have such discernment. Really refreshing.

It is so true, with teenagers we can spend days telling them,"No you can't. No you won't. That is wrong. You're being foolish." and on and on.Ephesians 6:4 We must FILL them with God's Word and do it in joy. We need to let them see God's Word as exciting and a privilege and not a punishment. If they aren't fed enough, it can't take root because this world will trample these new seedlings daily and pull them out before they can produce their first flower. Actually, that works for adults too that are struggling with a sin. Soak up God's Word and the temptation starts to fade away.

Helena, I don't know if you know this song or not...Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus? One verse says, "Look full in His wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glorious face." I think that is what you were saying. Feed them God's Word consistently and over time, the worldly temptations, the appeal will start to grow dim.

Thank you, little sister. I really appreciate you and your comment. Stay strong. You are a delight. Psalm 127:3

#15  Posted by Scott Davidson  |  Thursday, August 25, 2011 at 9:16 AM

Helena #13,

Trust me when I say this Helena, you have Godly wisdom more than you know. Thanks for the encouragement. I do Bible study with my 2 younger teenagers. The only way for any of us who are Christ followers not to fall into the trap of the culture is to know what God's word says. Sadly there many professing Christians who have no idea what scripture says about almost anything. It seems they are winging it. I know because I was just like that. As I am sure you know we are always in the process of sanctification so just make sure that you are continuing upward in that process and weather the storms (trials) along the way. I pray that your parents will see through your example how joyful a life with Christ truly is and will come to Jesus. Take care my young sister in Christ.

#16  Posted by Helena Pecani  |  Thursday, August 25, 2011 at 9:51 AM

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#17  Posted by Helena Pecani  |  Thursday, August 25, 2011 at 9:56 AM

Scott#15- That is truly great to hear brother, I pray the best for you and your families and that your daughters would see a hunder for God in you that would cause them to seek him with all they have.And I agree with what you said about knowing what the word of God actually teaches about everything, it is the truth that will set us free.Thankfully God has provided us with awesome study tools and solid teachers like Dr. John MacArthur to help us along the way, God has used much of them in my life(and I'm sure many other's) to grow and santify them.It's getting hard out there and a spiritual darkness seems to be spreading, but at the same time, there seems to be some kind of reformation and growing appreciation for the truth.God is always in control.Thank you for the encouragement concerning my parents.

#19  Posted by Rebecca Schwem  |  Thursday, August 25, 2011 at 10:46 AM

#16 Helena Pecani - Helena, are you sure you are just a teenager? I may have to card you! What amazing insight. Our Lord is using you in a mighty mighty way! So much discouragement and then, WHAM! here comes this delightful young woman.

God is so good to us like that. It seems like there are clouds everywhere and then suddenly there is a break in the clouds. I have come to expect that God knows when we need those breaks. And yet, each time, I get so excited when the break comes, it's as if I am caught by surprise. I guess it's His timing. We never know what sort of break it might be or when. His timing has always proven to be perfect and His grace is completely sufficient. Such sweet grace. 2 Corinthians 12:9

You can find Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus on youtube. My personal favorite is the recording done by Cynthia Clawson. She's old like me but I think has the purest sounding voice, so sweet to the ear.

You are on the right path and giving a wonderful witness to all who know you. Proverbs 15:21 I am thinking God has a ministry for you helping other teens and their parents, Helena. You've already done so much here to raise awareness.

Guard your heart, sweet girl. Satan knows how mighty you can be for God's kingdom! Deuteronomy 4:9

#20  Posted by Mark Cooper  |  Thursday, August 25, 2011 at 11:37 AM

Helena, Rebecca and Scott: This is a wonderful blog session! Very encouraging for sure. Thanks to all of you for being so open and transparent!

I've noticed that in this blog there hasn't been even a hint of negativity or self promotion. Just out and out encouragement! Great stuff!!!

Helena: You keep going after that prize. You keep running. Throw off ANYTHING that would hinder you from going hard after God. If you have not, I so recommend The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan to you. It may turn out to be, as it has been for me, a once-a-year read for you. It's so encouraging.

You know what? I think Paul Washer and John MacArthur should tag team on a project together! Would that not be wonderful? Words cannot fully describe how much Washer is kicking my tail right now....In a good way of course!

To all: What a wonderful God we serve! Amen?! He deserves ALL the glory! We deserve.....Hell! In God's unending love, He has sent His Son to die for our sins. How unreal sounding is that? But, alas, it is real. We are, as Helena said, called out of this world. Let's live like it and stop giving in and attempting to just blend into our culture. Let's not try so hard to be "Relevant" that we wind up being plastic and coming off like a bad 2am info-mercial. Personally, I'm happy to be an 8-Track in an MP3 world. :-)

Praise God that he can bring us all together, with all of our differences and quirks, and have us worship Him together.

#21  Posted by Helena Pecani  |  Thursday, August 25, 2011 at 8:26 PM

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#22  Posted by Helena Pecani  |  Thursday, August 25, 2011 at 8:34 PM

#20 Mark- That was one amazing comment brother Mark. I thank you for the encouragement, and I Know God will be faithful to cleanse us all from all which hinders us from knowing and serving him like he has commanded.You know, I began reading Pilgrim's Progress.I downloaded it on my laptop but then my laptop broke and had to get fixed and I lost the book. But I have seen a cartoon movie version of it and it is pretty incredible and so good in describing our daily pilgrimage as Christians.

Paul and John working together would be brillant to say the least, probably very convicting but I'm sure it would do much to edify.I also would like to see others like John Piper or Eric Ludy team up and do some work with GTY, they would definetly be such a blessing.

Amen to the last part of your comment.We serve much an amazing God, a God who can bring the most diverse together in perfect unity, a God who can take wretches and conform them to his amazing likeness. Holy, holy, holy is he and he shall be exalted in this world and beyond! Glory to God!! :)

#23  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Friday, August 26, 2011 at 4:52 PM

Hi Helena,

I am glad you are here. May God bless you. Thanks for sharin and keep learning and growing.

Yes, God is awesome and He is alive. I remember as a teen, I had struggles and God was there, but I did'nt know. My brother taught me Jesus and encouraged me. My parent did'nt and others for I was deaf. My heart is forgiving and know Jesus is charge of my life. God bless you for your encouraging posts. God bless.

In Christ,


#24  Posted by Helena Pecani  |  Friday, August 26, 2011 at 4:59 PM

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#25  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Friday, August 26, 2011 at 6:31 PM

you too. Good evening. Smiles.