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John MacArthur: Servant of the Word and Flock

Friday, June 10, 2011 | Comments (14)

But to this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word. Isaiah 66:2

When John MacArthur said “Amen” at the end of his prayer last Sunday night, he had just finished his exposition of Mark’s Gospel. The evening was the final punctuation on a monumental body of work—the verse-by-verse exposition of the entire New Testament. After praying, John looked up at his congregation, and with a meek grin said, “There we are.” The church erupted in applause and a standing ovation, which he quieted in short order so he could thank everyone for allowing him to minister to them for more than four decades.

I was grateful to the Lord that I could witness that moment. And I’m especially thankful for the release of Iain Murray’s biography of our beloved pastor: John MacArthur: Servant of the Word and Flock. His book has helped help me understand the significance of what I witnessed last Sunday night.

Iain Murray is the preeminent Christian biographer of our time and has given us an appreciation for such gifts to the church as Jonathan Edwards, Charles Spurgeon, and D. Martyn-Lloyd Jones. The strength of Murray’s biographies is not simply in his unique ability to sift through the vast details of a person’s life and distil them into interesting narrative, but in his acute and perceptive theological analysis. As a student of church history, Murray is able to see the implications of a man’s life and ministry. He helps the reader understand where the subject fits in the historical and doctrinal development of the church, which allows him to appreciate not just the man, but more importantly, the wisdom and glory of the God who gave him to the church.

Murray applies that same pattern to his current biography of John MacArthur. The overview of his life chronicles and begins to explain what God has done through John’s life to bless people all over the world. And it’s a fascinating story. The vantage point of hindsight allows us to see the fingerprints of God’s providence in gifting, shaping, equipping, and enabling John MacArthur to be what he is—a faithful servant of God’s Word and a loving shepherd to God’s flock.

Young “Johnny” MacArthur was a typical athlete—football was at the center of his life and he was uninterested in books and study. But God used a car accident to get John’s attention. He refined him through the trials of responsibility and suffering, fashioning him into a uniquely useful servant for our time. He’s now known as a diligent student of Scripture, enraptured with the glory of Christ and passionate about the truth. His church knows him as a meek man, a shepherd marked by humility, compassion, and generosity. His family knows him as a husband who loves his wife, Patricia, a tender father of four children, and a gentle grandfather of fifteen grandchildren.

In the book, Murray accurately portrays John MacArthur’s passion for theology, and his courage in proclaiming it publicly. Armed with an insatiable curiosity and a zeal for the glory of Christ, John has read extensively and deeply. What he’s learned has enabled him to lead the charge in some of the most important theological battles of our time. Murray pulls back the curtain on his thinking about doctrinal controversy and personal confrontation, and actually chronicles some of the better-known episodes.

No one could anticipate all that God has accomplished so far through John’s life and ministry, which provides us yet another opportunity to praise the wisdom and power of God. John MacArthur is yet another illustration of 1 Corinthians 1:26-29.

For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised, God has chosen, the things that are not, that He might nullify the things that are, that no man should boast before God.

Let me encourage you to read Iain Murray’s absorbing biography for yourself. At 240 pages, it’s very accessible and totally engaging—you’ll have a hard time putting it down.

You can get a copy of John MacArthur: Servant of the Word and Flock here, or, if you are already on the Grace to You mailing list, check your mailbox for an offer to receive a free copy of the book.


Travis Allen
Director of Internet Ministry


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#1  Posted by Micah Marchewitz  |  Friday, June 10, 2011at 5:33 PM

Can't wait to read it

#2  Posted by Darrel Robertson  |  Friday, June 10, 2011at 5:35 PM

I was saved in the Pentecostal Church 42 years ago, and enjoyed my faith for about 4 years untill I began to question some of its doctrinal Ideas, went to Bible College in the local area that was non denomational, mainly to learn the truth because Church leaders were not focused on truth but denomanational doctrine, a good friend of mine told me to listen to John Macarthur and tell him what I thought, I did along with many other TV pastors, and I told my wife 10 years later we need to get out of the Pentecostol Church, they are not testing the spirt in anything that happens and I think we should attend a non denomational Church I was hearing about out by where we live. John Macathur has been the most influentual person in my life other than my Dad, I dont think Johnny Mac knows the people he has touched in his life, mine being one...some say he is boring and dont smile much....maby to some people but, if you take a John Macarthur pill....it may just save your soul from Hell...John does one thing that is lacking today and that is he will smack you right in the mouth with truth, And I for one am the type that needs to be hit over the head with a 2x4 every now and then....If I fine a fault with Johnny Mac it is one but a little one, My Mother had full blown TB when I was born and I was seperated from my mom for 2 1/2 years while they made sure I was ok, the medacation she was taking back in the late 40,s may have gave me a attention disorder that made it difficult for me in school, if it wasnt for athletics, I may have followed the wrong croud, but God is good, His Grace made sure I came out OK....But John uses words that I have a hard time understanding, he is very intellegent, but sometimes he leaves a Dult like me in the dust...his Dad Jack was very intellegent also...I just think sometimes they know it and are proud of it to where they dont realize..they may have some mental midgets out there sometimes like me...People sometimes rag on a person like Johns salery...WHY? THERE ARE SOME PEOPLE on TBN that dont deserve squat...but what John has done for me he is not paied enough..... Do I agree with everything John says....NOPE!...but lets say its a Gentelmens disagreement...The way Johnny Mac beings forth the word as truth proves to me John could of been one of the best trial Attorney this country has ever sceen,if he so inclined to do so, but thank God he didnt.

I will get this book, and Pastor John I shurly holpe the People at Grace Church fully understand who they have as a Pastor, and dont take you for just another Preacher I highly admire you as a gifted Man whos footsteps you only follow is thoes of your Lords, And I know I am in truthfull hands my friend when I learn of him from you...God Bless you.

#3  Posted by Keith Stokes  |  Friday, June 10, 2011at 6:37 PM

I'm so blessed to have Dr.MacArthur's work available to me in so many ways. If my eyes are tired I've got his 3,000+ sermons to listen to.If my ears feel like they are going to explode from all the days garbage, I put some plugs in and drink deep from MacArthur's wealth of books. I don't know of any other Pastor/Teacher I throughly enjoy listening,learning and watching as I do Dr.MacArthur. His study bibles,especially NASB have been a blessing words can't describe. I have worn out three over the years and praying he does a KJV one someday. I remember when I first heard of Dr.MacArthur, I would not even listen to him because he spoke truth. Truth I did not want to hear and would not hear but, as God will do He had Dr.MacArthur on every Christian radio channel I tuned in to. Finally the Lord said "I will not always be heard so easily,that one day I will withdrawl and hardness will settle in and you will not be able to hear or accept the Word". So again, I'm so thankful that Dr. MacArthur was a thorn in my flesh and I repented and until this day still working out my salvation with fear and trembling and taking MacArthur with me where ever I go. Thank you Pastor MacArthur not only for faithful service, but faithfully preaching the Word without compromise and confronting error boldy,yet with God honoring class.

#4  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Friday, June 10, 2011at 7:09 PM

I brought a ESV John MacArthur Study Bible. The NKJV one was falling apart and needed a new one. Smiles. So, I will most surely to enjoy the new one. Just letting you know.

#6  Posted by Arturo Gomez III  |  Friday, June 10, 2011at 8:27 PM

So looking forward to reading this keeper of a biography. Thanks to GTY and Mr. Iain Murray. Thanks too all the staff as well. I have had the honor and privilege of absorbing the teaching and preaching of Dr. John MacArthur for some time now. It was in about late 1986 early 1987 when I first became attuned to Grace To You on radio. I was working as a newspaper carrier here in San Antonio. I can remember it as if yesterday. It reminds me of the Scripture in John's gospel chapter 10 verses 4 & 5. To this day when I hear Pastor MacArthur, right away I know it's him. When me and my son are out of town and I'm fumbling around the radio station, his voice is very recognizable and its then when I hear his voice I know I'm in for real truth fore-telling and forth-telling. In other words, I'm looking and searching for his voice, if you will. It's the authority and the veracity of the Scriptures themselves that captivate, yet, it's Pastor/Teacher John MacArthur and others like him who has been given the true calling of a slave to Christ to receive and deliver, thanks be to the Spirit of the Triune Godhead. Blessed be the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, to God be the Glory alone! Thank you Johnny.

#7  Posted by Trent Whalin  |  Saturday, June 11, 2011at 9:46 AM

Definitely looking forward to it!

I was going down the wrong theological way for awhile, even wanting to go to a small assemblies of God college, but their beliefs started to upset me. I was also getting into the prosperity gospel a couple years ago, and when I saw none of the changes (ungodly changes like getting a girl) I wondered why, but I tried to hold on to it with no avail. Now I can say because of reading his commentaries and sermons, I believe I am firmly grounded in the truth of scripture and let it speak for itself.

#8  Posted by Mary Elizabeth Palshan  |  Saturday, June 11, 2011at 9:58 AM

Without a doubt, when the book and chapter of John MacArthur’s life closes here on earth, another more prominent Author will have Dr. MacArthur’s name not only mentioned in passing, but also written into eternity. It will be The Lamb’s Book of Life that his name will be enshrined in.

Can you even imagine being made mention of in this book, by this great Author and finisher of our faith? We serve an awesome God!!!

And one day, when the hour and time finally comes for John MacArthur, and his life’s story reaches “The End,” he will be emboldened to say, with overwhelming tears of joy and happiness, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory 1 Cor 15:55)? But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor 15:57).

And all the children of God sing (In Chorus), “We serve an awesome God!!!!!”

#9  Posted by Douglas Grogg  |  Sunday, June 12, 2011at 6:26 AM

Travis, it was around 10 years ago that I can remember listening to John on the radio and telling my wife “that’s not what that scripture says”. Then I’d get out my exhaustive concordance to prove it, but sure enough, out the door went one more error that I had picked up from some “preacher” along the way. You remove enough error and the scriptures really come alive. Before long I began to tell my wife “I think John MacArthur has a microphone hidden in our house somewhere. It was during those “precise times” that his message on the radio or internet was addressing the very issue I had been trying to deal with. Eventually it came to pass that on rare occasions I would read something that he wrote several years ago and I’d say “he missed that one” but then I would search it out and find one of his more current messages or writings and once again we were “saying the same thing”. I cannot tell you how encouraging those times are. You see, I’m a nobody, an absolute nobody, and it is on those rare occasions that I am able to marvel at the fact that my Master’s hand truly is on my life. There is a very special place in my heart for John. It really isn’t so much for John as it is for my Master’s Word and the glory of my Master being revealed in that precious vessel of clay. –His Unworthy Slave

#10  Posted by Rudi Jensen  |  Sunday, June 12, 2011at 6:29 AM

I once heard John MacArthur say, that his very best friends are jewish: Paul, John, Peter, Matthew....

I feel the same way. I have never met my best friends, and they have never met me. John, I have spent many many hours with you!

Thanks friend, for showing me more and more and more of our Lord.

#11  Posted by Tom Jourdan  |  Sunday, June 12, 2011at 11:47 AM

Thank you Dr. MacArthur for you ever steadfastness to the teaching of the Word of our Lord, the Creator, Sustainer, and Redeemer of Life. It is men like you that encourage men like me. I always look forward to your exposition of the scriptures. I feel blessed that the Lord revealed your ministry to me in 1996, the first year I was saved by His grace. Thank you again- If we don't meet this side of Heaven I look forward to praising the King of kings with you in eternity.

#12  Posted by Darrel Robertson  |  Sunday, June 12, 2011at 3:25 PM

I might also add.... In my opinion Johnny Mac has two Preaching modes

The first is where he teach from a high intellectual tone where every thing is very precisely laded out...and One must follow him closely...and Then ends with a very good reason to need repentance...Those That are a against John label him as a hard core Calvinist....bla...bla Listren folks there is not one Bible teacher on the face of this earth that don't or was not taught by another Author of some sort, even in Pauls day there were those who said "I follow Paul," and another, "I follow Apollo," are you not mere men?...and John is a mere man but listen up folks John is the best when it comes to waking you up to the fact that Jesus Christ is Lord.

And Johns second preaching mode is when the Holy Spirit reaches down and takes the leash off John and says "SICK-UM"...for Me this is when John is at his best this is when he puts Heavens Dynamite in hells dark cave in the unbelieving heart..Again Can't wait to read the Book Pastor John.

#13  Posted by Chris Young  |  Monday, June 13, 2011at 6:39 AM

All glory to God for raising up a man of faith like John MacArthur: A slave of the gospel who has been unwaivering in his stand for the truth! Praise God!

Congratulations on your completion of preaching through the New Testament, and thank you; I have been very blessed by your resources that have come forth as a result of your devotion.

#14  Posted by Greg Moering, Jr.  |  Monday, June 13, 2011at 10:28 AM

First off, congratulations on preaching through the entire New Testament; this is an amazing thing and I rejoice greatly over this. My wife and I have both been impacted greatly in our understanding by the teaching of John MacArthur. I am so grateful for men of God like Dr. MacArthur who faithfully preach the word of God and as a word of encouragement I would like to reiterate the Apostle Paul, "I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction" (2 Timothy 4:1-2). Thank you, John, as a brother in Christ, thank you for your faithfulness to the Lord and the faithful preaching of His word. You have truly made a difference in helping both me and my wife being able to study the word for ourselves. God bless you brother. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

#15  Posted by Mitch Eddards  |  Monday, June 13, 2011at 4:52 PM

Congratulations for such an Wonderful Service in the Lord these many years. I stumbled across Dr. MacArthur's Teaching some years ago or so on YouTube or something there isn't that many Biblical Churches where we live I go to a biblical church now at least. Dr. MacArthur's teachings has helped me understand many of the things of the Word and have a Passion for Studying God's Word. I got Dr. MacArthur's NASB Study Bible about a year ago or so from a friend I told him I was looking at getting it but due to Financial I wasn't sure if i could so I got it as a gift. The Lord is so good and everyday brings forth another opportunity to Open God's Word and Dr. MacArthur is about #1 on my list of Recommended Bible Study Teachers now.