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PHIL: Well, John, I know everybody’s been saying this to you all day, but I want to say it too; welcome back, we missed you

JOHN: Well, thank you, thank you. It’s good to be back. Thank you.

PHIL: This is fast becoming my favorite time of year: you come back to the pulpit, the college students come back, and –

JOHN: It’s a great time.

PHIL: college football is about to start.

JOHN: That too.

PHIL: I’ve got some questions. You know, normally when people know that I’m going to be doing one of these Q&As I’m flooded with suggestions and questions; and today I’ve asked dozens of people, “What should I ask?” and every single person has said, “I don’t have any questions.” So this is a well-taught church.

JOHN: Either that or they’re totally disinterred in me.

PHIL: Well, I’ve got some questions.

JOHN: Oh, good. By the way, this is Phil Johnson for those of you who don’t know. Phil Johnson, an elder here; gifted, gifted teacher of God’s Word, preacher, theologian, and the Director of Grace to You and all of its ministries all over the world. And you and I have been working together for – since when?

PHIL: Since – well, when I was working at Moody Press, 1980, 1981.

JOHN: Yeah, that’s where we first met. I was doing a book on the family and you edited that book, and that started a relationship. And hired him away from Moody, brought him here, and the rest is history.

PHIL: It was the best thing that ever happened to me.

JOHN: From my viewpoint it sure was, so I’m glad you feel that way.

PHIL: Yeah. In fact, you made me nervous this morning when you said that you liked to livestream the service while you’re gone.

JOHN: Especially when you’re preaching.

PHIL: Ha. Now you told me once, years ago, 35 years ago I think you said to me that it’s hard for you to listen to other preachers because you’re always thinking, “He should have gone to that text. He should have included this cross-reference.” And, yeah.

JOHN: I never think of that when I’m listening to you. I love to listen to the men who preach here.

PHIL: I know better than that.

JOHN: You know, you told me years ago that you would never preach.

PHIL: I did, that’s right.

JOHN: You said, “I will never preach; I can’t do that,” and I said, “You’d better be careful of what you tell the Lord you won’t do.” So, no, I love listening to you especially, but to all the men who preach here. I have no criticisms at all, I’m just delighted.

PHIL: We’re glad to have you back.

JOHN: Oh, thank you.

PHIL: I’d rather listen to you than me any day.

JOHN: Well, yeah. No.

PHIL: All right. Well, it’s been – I did the math on this today and was surprised to realize; it’s been almost three years since the Strange Fire Conference. And I’ll bet you’ve had the same experience I have; everyplace I’ve spoken since then – and this is literally true without an exception – everyplace I’ve spoken in the past three years I encounter people who tell me they are former charismatics who were led out of the movement because of the book or the conference, and those messages that are out there on YouTube are still having an impact. Is that your experience as well?

JOHN: It is. You know, when we decided to do the Strange Fire Conference, you know, the whole charismatic movement had run loose, it had run free, and there had never been any public widespread outcry from the evangelical church. I mean you know this because you live in the world of the evangelical ministries, media ministries and publishing. Nobody was writing a book to call this into biblical account. Nobody was confronting it. Nobody was willing to step and criticize the movement, and the movement was wreaking havoc. It always does; it still does. It was wreaking havoc here; but maybe the greatest damage it was doing was outside of America. One could argue that the greatest damage it has done is in Africa.

PHIL: Yeah. I don’t know if you saw the news story this week. There was a story about a charismatic pastor who literally killed a woman in the service because he put one of the speakers on top of her and claimed a miracle that she would live, and he jumped on the speaker and it crushed this woman to death.

JOHN: Yeah.

PHIL: That kind of thing is fairly regular.

JOHN: We don’t see the extreme horrors of it, we see enough. But my obligation as a faithful servant of the Lord was to basically lead an outcry. So that’s why we had the Strange Fire Conference and we made no attempt to soft-pedal the issue. We hit it head-on; brought in a lot of people, including Conrad Mbewe from Africa, and he gave a great message. If you haven’t heard that you need to download it and listen to what he says about what’s going on in Africa.

I knew there would be a number of effects. I knew, for one, that we would be attacked back; and we were from some people who are sort of the quasi-intellectuals – and you got into some broadcast conversations on that level – from the people who just hate us because we question the legitimacy of their experience in all of that. But I also knew that there were lots of people out there who just needed to know the truth. And you’re absolutely right; everywhere I have gone since that conference, people have told me they have listened to that and it has led them out of the movement. It has delivered them from what they now see was a very dangerous situation.

This is a great time to be alive in the sense that when you do something once, it lives on forever in the media, whether it’s YouTube or some other media forum. It’s a good thing that truth lives on, because everything else does too. So we were able to create an event that has almost a permanent life, and those messages keep going and going and going. And I had first begun to experience that one back in the ‘70s.

I wrote a book called Charismatic Movement; it was called The Charismatics. And then we did another one, Charismatic Chaos, and I saw the fruit of those books, people coming to a true faith in Christ out of that movement, out of that movement. And so my experience with the fact that God had His people out there and they just needed the truth led to the conference. And it’s even exponentially beyond what the books have done. Those messages on YouTube and other forums have been a tremendous tool to bring people out of that movement.

PHIL: Yeah. And, you know, don’t overplay the critics. Actually, there have been two vocal critics – Michael Brown who occasionally still takes pot shots. The other was Rodney Howard-Browne, you know, the Holy Ghost bartender guy, the laughter guy who threatened me with a lawsuit because I put one of his videos online that he tried to take off because it had the record of how foolish his foolishness is. But beyond that, most of the feedback I’ve gotten has been entirely positive.

JOHN: Yeah. And I think there’s a short shelf life in the lives of people in that movement. I think the movement keeps going because it finds new people. But when you buy into that and you’re not healed, and you’re not well and you get cancer, and your friends die and life is bad, you begin to question the prosperity gospel, you begin to question the lies. So the turnover in the movement is constant, it constantly doesn’t deliver what it promises; and that’s stock and trade for lots of preachers, not just the charismatics.

Joel Osteen – who is a charismatic by the way, many people don’t know that – is telling people everything’s going to be wonderful if they just think that way. The turnover in any ministry that talks like that, that advocates that is going to be great. But there are always enough new people to come in the backdoor when the disillusioned people go out. But knowing those people that are in that movement are so totally disillusioned.

I go back to a story in the biggest charismatic church in our area a few years ago, announced that they had appointed a new prophet who was going to evangelize the world, who was going to do signs and wonders and miracles; and an apostle from Kansas City came and laid hands on him and he fell over dead with a brain aneurism.

PHIL: In that very service?

JOHN: In that meeting. And the response was, “Well, he was going to do that, and the prophecy was so powerful, and his power was so great that the devil killed him.” Well, if you’re in a church that you think the devil is in control of, you’re going to leave.

I remember talking to people who came here and I said, “Why did you leave a charismatic church to come here?” and they said, “Because we cannot live under the sovereignty of Satan.” So that’s an illustration of the nonsense that when exposed over time or in an incident like that makes people wonder what the real truth is. And we’ve always been eager to put books and messages and even the conference out there so people who are questioning can find real, biblical answers.

PHIL: The question I keep getting is, “Is there going to be a sequel either to the book or the conference?” Would we do another conference?

JOHN: So what do you tell people when they ask you that?

PHIL: I say I hope so, that’s been my answer. I’d love to do Strange Fire Part Two, at least a conference if not the book.

JOHN: Maybe we could call it Stranger Fire.

PHIL: Yeah. Or I thought a good sequel would be Holy Smoke.

JOHN: That would be good. That would be good. Or maybe Unholy Smoke.

PHIL: Even better.

JOHN: Look, you know me, I’m game for anything.

PHIL: All right.

JOHN: So I mean we just want to proclaim the truth.

PHIL: We’ll start planning it. Does it ever trouble you that it seems like none of the other A-list evangelical leaders are willing to speak out with any kind of force or clarity on this issue? It’s like this is suppose to be off the table for criticism.

JOHN: Sure it bothers me; we’ve had that conversation. I don’t understand that. I understand sort of the personal human desire to be loved, and to be popular, and to develop a widespread audience and not offend people. But I’m just compelled by the truth. The truth is everything. I do not understand how anybody can say he’s a minister of God, he’s a man of God, he’s a minister of the gospel, he’s a teacher of the Word of God and let a massive, massive movement of gross misrepresentation of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and the Scriptures go on unassaulted. I think if we don’t contend earnestly for the faith, we aren’t faithful to Scripture.

PHIL: Do you think the time is coming when circumstances and just the sheer weirdness of all that’s going on is going to force more people to speak out, or do you think –

JOHN: Well, I’ve been thinking that for a long time, Phil. I’ve been thinking that for years and years and years, and I’m still asking the question, “Why don’t people say anything?” But you can remember, even Christian publishers in the past who wouldn’t publish a book that was anti-charismatic, or they called into question anybody that had deviated from biblical truth unless it was some kind of real open heresy. But even that was hard for them to confront.

There’s a pervasive tolerance in our whole culture, and it shows up; it shows up in the media world too. And I don’t think it’s just the threat of lawsuits, although that’s a reality. You said lawsuits were threatened to you; I’ve had the same kind of threats as well.

PHIL: Yeah. I told them, “Bring it, come on, let’s do it.”

JOHN: The reason these little ropes are here in the front is because we had a prophet from Scotland come up –

PHIL: That was a year ago this week in fact.

JOHN: Was it really?

PHIL: Yeah.

JOHN: I tried to forget that.

PHIL: It’s on YouTube; you’ll never forget it.

JOHN: It’s on YouTube. He started screaming at me, and he had been sent by his charismatic church in Scotland to confront me as a heretic and all. No, I honestly – look, I don’t understand how you can say you are fulfilling your calling in ministry and not confront error. How can you do that? It was Luther I think who said, “You can fight on a lot of fronts, but if you’re not fighting on the front where the battle rages the hottest, you’re unfaithful.”

PHIL: Yeah.

JOHN: I mean it’s always been, to me, as just a sense of obligation. I don’t want to particularly pick a fight. I’m not a kind of combative person personally. But for the truth, for the sake of the truth and the honor of the Lord, I think we have to fight where the battle rages.

PHIL: Well, and particularly the prosperity gospel, which let’s be honest, that is the vast majority of the charismatic movement. That is the dominant view among charismatics, and it’s massive worldwide, and it’s a corruption of the gospel. So if what binds us together is the gospel, then it would seem to me, even some of the mild charismatics ought to be making that a focus of their polemic; and, yet, that’s not happening.

JOHN: Yeah. I mean it’s very similar to the cry that you hear all the time to Muslims: “If they don’t support terrorism, why don’t they expose the terrorists in their ranks?” And the same thing would be true: if you say you’re an evangelical and you’re unwilling to expose the spiritual terrorists, then you’re a part of it, you’re clearly a part of it.

I have to be honest and say that my spiritual hero – you know this – is the apostle Paul, and the apostle Paul said things like this: “If anybody preach another gospel let him be damned.” You don’t hear that. If you’re preaching a truncated gospel, a warped gospel – and there’s a lot of components to the gospel that have to be right or it is a warped gospel, it is another gospel – let him be damned. But that’s exactly the way Paul spoke. And he even gave lists of sinners that would never enter the kingdom of God; it was specific sins, specific iniquities.

Evangelicalism has been redefined by the psychology of the age, the Zeitgeist, you know, the attitude of the culture; and what we see in the prosperity gospel or any sort of culturally adapted perspective on the gospel that makes things acceptable is a massive level of unfaithfulness to God. We have to speak the truth.

I know you read this because it was everywhere. In the last two weeks the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton did a study of evangelism techniques with LifeWay, which is a Southern Baptist publishing arm, and they concluded that, “We can’t evangelize anymore by talking about death and hell, because nobody cares. So we’ve got to stop talking about death and hell, because nobody cares. What they care about is here and now, life and success, prosperity, me becoming everything I can be.” It’s such a narcissistic culture. So the takeaway from this study was, “We’ve got to change our evangelism, because people aren’t interested in life after death.” I mean they’ve basically been sort of conditioned to believe that we have nothing to fear, people die and go to heave and come back, and it’s all, you know, rainbows, and pretty horses, and beautiful music.

PHIL: That’s actually a recipe for the spread of the prosperity gospel.

JOHN: It is. It is.

PHIL: The idea is we have to give people a message that offers what they’re interested in.

JOHN: And what they’re interested in is here and now. So the takeaway was we’ve got to stop evangelizing people on the basis of death and hell, because they don’t care about that. My takeaway was this: if they don’t care about that, we’ve got to double-down on death and hell, because that’s what they have to care about, because that’s the reality.

So the evangelical takeaway is, “We don’t want to talk about that anymore because nobody’s interested.” My response was, “Because nobody’s interested, we must talk about that.” And I don’t know why I’m the guy who seems to always be the odd man out confronting everything.

PHIL: I don’t know why either, but it’s what I love about you.

JOHN: I don’t know how I got to this point. Even Patricia said to me one time some years ago, she said, “Why don’t you just write a book that everybody likes.”

PHIL: Because Phil Johnson is his editor.

JOHN: No. So I wrote a book called The Love of God and a whole bunch of people hated it. Do you remember?

PHIL: Yeah, I do, I do.

JOHN: You know, it’s about the truth. I was saying to some of the people over at the university at Master’s yesterday that if you go back just a little way to kind of look at history, if you go back before the Enlightenment, before the Reformation, before the Renaissance, you have a premodern world; and in a premodern world – talking about Western World, our heritage – it was impossible not to believe. It was impossible not to believe in God. It was essentially possible not to believe in the Bible, because it was a dominant force, the Roman Catholic system. It was an abhorrent form of biblical Christianity.

But it was impossible not to believe, because there was no alternative world view. There wasn’t an alternative world view. There was no evolution. There was essentially no secularism. There was no skepticism. It was a world made by God and everybody knew it, and that’s the way it was. So it was impossible not to believe.

And then when the Enlightenment comes and the Industrial Revolution after the Reformation, it became possible not to believe, because now there’s an alternative world view: “There is no God. Evolution is the reason we’re here. We have no authority. There’s no ultimate fixed spiritual law.” So for the first time modernism could be defined as it’s possible not to believe; and then now that it’s possible not believe, you have to kind of search for the truth.

Now we’re in postmodernism. Postmodernism says it’s impossible to believe. We’ve gone from, “It’s impossible not to believe,” to, “It’s possible to believe,” to, “It’s possible not to believe,” to, “It’s impossible to believe.” So we have a culture that doesn’t want to accept the Bible at all, at all, on any level. And they still call themselves Christians, if that’s their sort of traditional group. But, basically, postmodernism says, “Whatever I decide is the truth is the truth, my truth.”

So the truth had to be proclaimed by faithful men when it was the dominant reality, but it had to be truthfully proclaimed. It had to be proclaimed by the Reformers and those who followed them, and the Puritans, when it was possible not to believe; and they had to give evidences to believe. And now that it’s almost impossible to believe, all the more reason that we’ve got to focus on truth. You know I’m driven by the truth; it’s what drives me every single day of my life: “What is the truth?” and, “How many ways can I proclaim the truth?”

PHIL: Yep, yeah. Well, you mentioned postmodernism. The idea there is that truth is a socially constructed idea.

JOHN: But it’s not even socially constructed now, it’s personally constructed.

PHIL: Right. But the more people who believe something, the more like – if you can get a majority to believe an idea, then it becomes the de facto truth; and that kind thinking has seeped into the church, and I think, frankly, that’s at the root of why you can’t get evangelical leaders to challenge the charismatic chicanery and all that, because it’s too popular.

JOHN: Well, we determine what’s right by a survey, a poll. The only one way to determine what’s right, and that’s here. So, you know, you and I – I want to include you so I have some company – we’re both anachronistic. I mean we’re like people out of a different era.

PHIL: Yeah, it’s a premodern idea of truth. Yeah. Well, all right. So let me shift to a different subject. There’s been a controversy going in the evangelical world this summer that you haven’t really been involved in, and that’s unusual.

JOHN: Really? I’ve got to get in it.

PHIL: Yeah, that’s right. And I just wonder if you’ve been watching the debate over the Trinity and the disagreement between men like Bruce Ware and Wayne Grudem who take a kind of novel view of Trinitarian doctrine. Have you been watching or following that? And can you shed any light on it, or do you even want to?

JOHN: No, no. Well, I know what the Bible teaches about the Trinity. I don’t know what those guys think particularly. But, again, why are we now in 2016 coming up with novel ways to define the Trinity.

PHIL: That’s where I hoped you’d go with this.

JOHN: What?

PHIL: Yeah, because that’s –

JOHN: What’s wrong with the way it’s always been proclaimed in Scripture and understood?

PHIL: Because it’s something I wanted to ask you about. This is one of the most important things I learned from you when I met you as a young guy, fairly fresh out of Bible college, and it was my idea that, and it was my idea that a great preacher is the one who finds something in the text that nobody else has ever seen, you know. That was my idea. A lot of people have that idea.

JOHN: Yeah, yeah.

PHIL: You taught me otherwise that the really profound truth is what the text says on the face of it, and all these invented secret messages are really a kind of gnostic approach to biblical interpretation. Talk about that.

JOHN: Yeah. Well, Patricia and I were up at Lake Geneva at a Bible conference, and there was a very, very famous preacher there; and I was preaching and he was preaching – this was years ago – and I said, “What are you going to preach on tonight?” and it was his time and he said, “I’m going to preach on the rapture of the church.” I said, “Great.” I said, “That’s great. You’re going to use 1 Thessalonians 4, verse 15?” “No. No, no.”

“What are you going to use?” He said, “John 11.” I said, “John 11? What happened in John 11?”

PHIL: That’s the raising of Lazarus, isn’t it?

JOHN: That’s the raising of Lazarus. So he got up and he preached the rapture of the church from the raising of Lazarus. And afterwards he said to me, “Have you ever seen that in John 11?” and I said, “No, because it is not in John 11. What were you doing?”

You know, there have been a few lessons like that that reinforce the idea that you let the text speak, right? Don’t we talk about that, unleashing God’s –

PHIL: Yeah.

JOHN: truth one verse at a time? But the travesty of using the Bible to say anything you want to say is rampant and it has been since Scriptures were written, we understand that. But, again, back to the Trinity thing; we have to get that right, and there’s some people who have it wrong, and there are very popular. T. D. Jakes essentially is, with regard to the Trinity, a Unitarian. He does not believe that there are three members of the Trinity. He believes there is one God who manifests Himself in three different ways at different times. This is a heresy. Modalism.

PHIL: It’s called modalism.

JOHN: Yeah. This is a heresy, declared a heresy thousands of years ago. But it doesn’t seem to bother anybody, because the view of the Trinity doesn’t seem to matter. Doctrine is unimportant, and it’s viewed increasingly in a world that pleads for tolerance as a divisive force.

PHIL: Right. And, again, because he is so popular with such a large audience, you can buy his books in most Christian bookstores, most evangelical bookstores.

JOHN: Yeah. You can go to most evangelical bookstores and buy the very books that condemn the truth, along with the books that proclaim the truth.

PHIL: Well, back to the idea of, you know, not being novel. The last time I –

JOHN: No, novel – look, look: preaching is not inventing something. It’s not being clever. it’s simply opening up the Word of God and letting it speak. Now that’s why people say, “Well, why do you do only Bible exposition?” and my answer is, “What else would I do? What do you want, my ideas?” I can’t even get my ideas across to Patricia; they don’t even have weight with her. Why am I going to pass my idea, the idea of piecemealing the Bible together to show my cleverness? All I want to do as a preacher is preach the Word, and that means I have to explain what the Bible means by what it says; that’s the whole purpose of preaching. Reading into it is not just not the best, it’s wrong.

PHIL: Yeah. The last time I did a Q&A with you and I asked people to submit questions, I kept this one. This guy sent me this question, so he wrote this, it’s not my words. He said, “I recall laughing loudly at one of the Together for the Gospel conferences, when as an aside in his message, John MacArthur said, ‘I hate creativity.’” He says, “Could you ask him to expand on why he hates creativity?” I think this is what you were saying.

JOHN: Yeah. Look, I don’t mind creativity in art or design or whatever, some kind of a human expression; but God isn’t asking us to create anything. I hate creativity in preaching. I don’t want people to be confused between my creativity and the truth of Scripture. I don’t ever want to be the issue. I don’t want to get in the way of the Scripture speaking, I want to be out of the way. And one of the things I’ve said, just to kind of emphasize that, is if you go to a lot of churches, particularly churches that are this large, you might see a big screen with the preacher’s face on it.

You’ll never see that here, because you don’t need to see my face, you need to see your Bible and hear my voice. That’s all you need. All you need to do is look at your Scripture and hear what I say to explain it to you. I’m not the issue; focusing on me is irrelevant. I don’t want to get in the way of the Scripture, I want to be diligent enough to point you to the Scripture and get you caught up in seeing what it says. So when I say I hate creativity, I hate the idea that we could impose on the Bible some of our own novelty that would in some ways not necessarily counteract the Bible or give a contrary interpretation, but somehow allow us to miss the true depth of the text, which can happen if you just start being creating, and picking and choosing things in Scripture, you don’t get the depth of it. But if you’re committed to digging out everything that it says, that’s when you penetrate the depth of it.

PHIL: Yeah. I have this theory that a lot of that stems from the fact that our culture is so hyper-entertained. We are the most – I mean we’re assaulted with –

JOHN: Sure.

PHIL: entertainment everywhere all the time.

JOHN: Well, look, I am not an entertainer; this is a talking head experience. I just stand here and talk. I’m amazed that people keep coming back. This is not entertainment. There’s nothing high-tech about me, nothing electronic; there’s no flashing lights. Even when we worship here we just do what the Bible says; we take the instruments and the voices and we praise the Lord. We’re not trying to create an atmosphere, we’re not trying to induce a feeling, and the last thing we’re trying to do is entertain anybody.

And I will say in all honesty, an hour of exposition of Scripture is an acquired taste; it’s an acquired taste. People who aren’t used to this get fidgety. I’ve preached in situations where maybe kind of a charismatic environment where I’ve been asked to preach, and when I do what I do here they don’t really know what to do with me, but they know they’re bored out of their minds, because there’s just nothing that grabs them, you know, sort of by the nap of their emotions and shakes them around. There’s just none of that. What I’m doing is talking to the mind, talking to the reason. I’m talking to you to reason these things through to the truth. That’s not entertainment, that’s education; but it’s education that’s beyond education, because it’s empowered education, because the truth is divine, and it’s carried and conveyed by the power of the Holy Spirit.

PHIL: You may actually overestimate how many people are bored. I remember the first time I ever heard you – and I came kind of reluctantly – but you definitely grabbed –

JOHN: No, you came because Darlene invited you to come, and you wanted to date her.

PHIL: That's right. We don't have to – yeah, okay. It's true.

JOHN: For real, I know it’s true.

PHIL: And yet you grabbed me by the hair and shook me around pretty well in that first one message, yeah.

JOHN: Well, I think the Lord was working on a connection.

PHIL: It’s the power of the Word of God too, and the clarity with which you give it I think all of us would attest that at times you have –

JOHN: Well, look, I get that, the Word has power, but it’s not because of my experience that I get it; that’s what Scripture says: “The Word of God is alive and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword.” It is a heavenly weapon. It is the sword of the Spirit. It can do some serious damage. It can tear up a person; it can put them back together again.

The Word of God in Scripture is called a lot of things. It’s called a sword; it’s called a hammer; it’s called a plumb line; it’s called a fire. So I believe in it. And this is the foundation of everything for me. I believe in the absolute authority and power of this book, and I believe in the Holy Spirit, and I believe that the combination of the Holy Spirit empowering this already powerful divine revelation can transform lives, radically transform lives. That’s all I need to know.

When I came to Grace Church I only knew one thing for sure: God would honor His Word, His Word was powerful, and His Holy Spirit did His work through His Word. So for whatever reason – and it wasn’t common for people to approach the Bible the way I did, I just began to say, “I’m just going to open the Word and let God do what He’ll do through the power of His Word by His Holy Spirit.”

That happened the very first Sunday I ever showed up here back in 1969 and preached on Matthew 7: “Many will say unto Me, ‘Lord, Lord.’ I’ll say, ‘Depart from Me; I never knew you, you workers of iniquity.’” Pretty strong stuff for your first Sunday, Matthew 7. But I had no fear, because I know this is the powerful Word of God, and in the hands of the Holy Spirit it’s going to do powerful work. That has never changed in all the years I’ve been here.

So I know it’s not about me. When people come and they say they listen to me, they appreciate – I know the real experience isn’t me, the real experience is the Word of God. In fact, there’s not a lot of me even in a sermon – not personal things and personal illustrations, because that’s not – I’m not a part of the Bible story, I’m not in it, so why would I inject myself? So I think the experience that people are having under the preaching of the Word of God is with the Word of God and not so much with me.

PHIL: Yeah, no question about that. But when you preach, it does come – the depth of your conviction is obvious. And, you know, you said you’re absolutely sure of the truth of the Word of God. And I wonder, was there ever a time in your youth or childhood where you entertained doubts about whether the Word of God was –

JOHN: Never was. And, you know, I mean that’s a gift from the Lord.

PHIL: Yeah.

JOHN: When you ask why I trust the Bible, it’s not because somebody laid out a bunch of evidences when I was nine years old. I trust the Bible because I trust the Bible. I mean the Lord did a work in my heart; and the more I’ve studied the Bible, the more it validates itself.

PHIL: Yeah. Well, that was true. I noticed that was the thing that kept going through my mind this morning during your message, because you’re giving all of those ties between the Old Testament prophecies and their fulfillment in the crucifixion of Christ; and I don’t see how anybody can look at how meticulously the Word of God, these ancient prophecies were fulfilled in Christ and have any doubt about whether the Bible is the Word of God.

JOHN: But, see, that’s the point. I don’t need to defend the Bible, the Bible will defend itself if it’s taught right.

PHIL: Yeah.

JOHN: It is its own defense, and I’ve seen that reality. It isn’t that all of a sudden people say, “Wow, this is the Bible because of these five reasons.” The longer you sit under the preaching of the Word, the longer I study it – and it’s obviously been a long, long time – the greater that conviction grows.

I’ve never had any other – I’ve never had any doubt about that, and I think maybe because my father had no doubt about it, my grandfather, both of them preachers. My dad had an absolutely fixed confidence in the Word of God, and so I sort of saw that in him. And he was a preacher who studied the Word of God, and the more he studied it, the more the truthfulness of it gripped his heart, so I kind of built on that foundation. And then I went to study under Dr. Charles Feinberg who was the most brilliant person I’ve ever known, and he had that same exact unwavering confidence in every word in the Bible; and that was another part of the foundation for me, and so I had that commitment to Scripture and that has never wavered at all.

People sometimes say to me, “Do you worry about what people are going to think when you say something, when you get up to preach and you know you’re going this way or that way, or you’re going to say this or that? Do you worry about what people are going to think or if you’re going to offend somebody?” and I can honestly say that thought has never entered my mind, never. I never think, “What’s somebody going to think about this?” All I think is, “Is this the Word of God?”

PHIL: That’s an amazing gift too, because, you know –

JOHN: Well that’s the basis of conviction.

PHIL: Personally, when I think, “John MacArthur’s livestreaming this,” that’s all I think about, “What’s he going to think?”

JOHN: No, you know better than that. But, look, conviction – oh, conviction is a lost word in this culture.

PHIL: Yeah.

JOHN: Conviction is everything for the preacher, it’s everything. Starting this week, Tuesday morning for four hours or whatever, I’m going to have a new batch of seminary students coming in, and I’m going to talk to them about being expositors of Scripture and having convictions. Convictions, they’re the strength of your ministry. In fact, leadership is about conviction. You can’t lead if you don’t have certain convictions in any way. You’ve got to say, “This is true; this is what we must do.” And certainly from a biblical standpoint, it is confidence in the Word of God that leads to faithful study of the Word of God that produces fixed convictions, and those convictions become the fiber of your preaching.

PHIL: Now when you told me we’re going to do a Q&A and you wanted me to ask you questions, the one thing you said was you didn’t want me to ask you about this year’s election, the politics and all that. So I have to ask you that, because, because I’m full of mischief, plus –

JOHN: Yes, you are.

PHIL: everybody – that’s the question we’re getting at Grace to You and everything.

JOHN: I know, I know.

PHIL: So here’s the way I want to ask it. As a practice, I don’t think in all the years I’ve been with you, I’ve never known you to endorse a candidate or get involved in party politics or any of that. Why is that? Explain why you pretty much steer clear of politics.

JOHN: Well, first of all, because – this is important – what happens in America politically has absolutely nothing to do with the kingdom of God, nothing. Whether America is republican or democrat, whether it is libertarian or socialist, whether it becomes a communist country or whether it becomes a dictatorship, what happens in America has absolutely nothing to do with the kingdom of God. Jesus said to Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, my servant would fight.”

We don’t fight on that level. I got a lot of battles; none of them are political. That doesn’t mean that I’m indifferent. Look, I hate sin. I have no tolerance for those who advocate sin, for the platform that says, “We think you should kill unborn babies, and we think homosexuality is some kind of norm, and we’re supportive of transgender, and we want everybody to be free to be whatever they want to be.”

I have no tolerance for those sins, because the Scripture has no tolerance for those sins. And we have to preach against them, because they need to be exposed so people know they’re sinning and can hopefully be rescued from their sin. We have to say that no adulterer, no homosexual will enter the kingdom of heaven. So that immediately makes me a problem politically, because politics is the art of compromise; and you’re seeing that now.

I can go back to a previous election and the Bush election and there was a group called the Moral Majority, Jerry Falwell’s group. The Moral Majority was big stuff, so the republicans tried to define themselves as moral, moral, moral. Here we are now, later, and who’s moral? Who’s moral. Who cares who’s moral? There’s no moral majority. There’s not even a moral minority.  And you have somebody who’s so conservative like Rubio saying we’ve got to stop being negative on homosexuals.

Well, I can’t do that and represent the kingdom of God. I don’t have to pick them out, but I have to preach against every sin and call every sinner to the recognition of sin and judgment, and call them to gospel repentance and faith. So we’ve seen, well, during Obama’s election, for the first time, the democratic party had an anti-God, anti-Bible, immoral agenda: kill babies, pro-homosexual, pro-homosexual marriage. That’s new in our nation in the last couple of elections. Now the republicans can’t survive unless they get on that bandwagon to some degree. Maybe not abortion. The abortion train has been slowed down by videos of babies in the womb; that’s what slowed it down. It’s not the right or wrong of it, it’s the reality of it, the human reality of it.

So I’ve never believed that politics has anything to do with the kingdom of God. If we were a low taxation, capitalistic, self-enterprise, everybody takes care of himself kind of country as the right-wing believe, I would be glad for that, because I think that’s biblical: if a man doesn’t work, he shouldn’t eat. Right? If you don’t take care of your household, you’re worse than an infidel. I don’t think handouts help anybody, I think they’re destructive.

I think we were watching the death of inner cities – massive immorality: 75 percent of kids born out of wedlock, without a father. And these are all devastating realities of a society that has been stripped of its dignity. So, yeah, I think there are biblical models for how society ought to function.

PHIL: But none of the candidates really promote that.

JOHN: No. No. No, they don’t. But I’m just saying, but even so, even if we were that way – maybe we used to be that way – it has nothing to do with the kingdom of God, because the kingdom of God is built one soul at a time as a sinner puts his trust in Christ. Look, if you’re in a first century Roman Empire, you’ve got rampant sin and no Christian influence, right, because Christianity just came into existence. So nobody had any Christian influence; there was no Christian morality. The Roman Empire was just infested with every vile thing, but it had nothing to do with the growth of the kingdom of God, the proclamation of the truth. What happened sadly is the churches try to straddle that, and then they lose their voice.

I spoke first part of my time away. I went to the Western Conservative Summit in Denver, which is the largest conservative meeting outside Washington D.C. Thousands of people gathered into the Denver Convention Center. They said, “Would you come and speak?” and I said, “Well, look, I will; but I don’t know if you want me, because I’m going to say some things that probably are going to surprise some people.” So I just give a biblical message. I kind of reiterated the two messages I did here: “What kind of candidate can God bless?” and, “What’s God doing in the world?” and then I preach the gospel and call people to put their trust in Jesus Christ as the only hope for anybody, regardless of what happens in America.

Missionaries through the years have gone to countries all over the world to preach the gospel to every creature, fulfilling the Great Commission, without regard for what the government was, what the social structure was. But that’s irrelevant. Having said that, however, I think we have to always come down on the side of righteousness and what is right. So, personally, I have to find a way to vote to support that which is closest to what is right. But that’s the only choice I’ve got. I can’t stand idly by and say everybody’s bad. I’ve got to say that’s worse, and I’ve got to act in that way, personally.

But there’s no sense in talking about politics, because again, that has nothing to do with the gospel and the kingdom of God. If we go down the train we’re going, and if it continues that way and we get Hillary Clinton as President, and everything that is part of that whole platform that is against God, against the Scripture, everything that is not just criminal but immoral escalates and escalates and escalates, in now way does that hinder Christ building His church. It’s just that we’re going to have to approach it honestly. My concern is not what’s happening in the country, my concern is what’s happening in the church as it gets sucked into this stuff in the country and no longer will speak to those issues.

PHIL: Yeah, that’s a remarkable thing about your ministry over the years that I think escapes some people. If you survey the books you’ve done – and like you said, there have been a lot of books that are controversial. But your critiques have always been aimed at the church, not the culture, and it’s as if you believe the moral meltdown even in America is more the responsibility of a church that’s failed its duties –

JOHN: Exactly.

PHIL: than the secular cultures. No point in berating the secular culture if the church is putting on a circus.

JOHN: Well, I mean look at the Scripture. In the book of Revelation Jesus wrote seven letters. He didn’t write them to the city hall, He wrote them to the church.

PHIL: That’s a good line.

JOHN: We are salt and light in the world, we are the only hope, we are the pillar and ground of the truth, and when men twist, pervert that, or are unwilling to proclaim it, the church becomes useless. And that’s, again – I mean that’s the point in Revelation. Jesus said, “You keep going that direction and I’ll blow out your candle, I’ll remove you; you’re useless. I’ll spew you out of My mouth,” He said to Laodicea.

So in order for the church to its work in the world it has to be faithful, it has to be bold, and it has to proclaim the truth. You do it in love; I don’t think we could be accused of being unkind or harsh. We don’t rail in inflammatory against homosexuality as if that was the only sin. And we understand that we live in a world where that will be a sin, and even more so all the time because it’s being advocated as if it’s normal. But it’s not a matter of picking on things like that, but it is a matter of being faithful, to call sin sin, and to point people to the truth, the only hope in the gospel.

PHIL: Next year will be the 500th anniversary of Luther nailing the 95 Theses to the church door at Wittenberg. I’ve commented several times that it seems to be the evangelical movement of today is in a worse state than medieval Roman Catholicism was.

JOHN: Yeah, sure. Well, we can find the right church door, and you can edit the 95; I’ll put it up again.

PHIL: Yeah. I’m only capable of three points –


PHIL: and they have to be alliterated.

JOHN: Look, we post theses every day.

PHIL: Yeah.

JOHN: Every Sunday I post one here. Every day of the week we post them on – if you all don’t read the Grace to You Blog you need to do that on a daily basis. There are other really fine blogs. The Seminary Blog is really good; and The Master’s Summit, Cripplegate Blog written by some of our graduates; great stuff. There are doors where this stuff is posted all the time. The problem is there’s so much other stuff being posted all over the place that you can’t find your way to the truth very often.

But I just did a series some months ago on Christ’s Call for Reformation, those seven letters. I forget when, just not too long ago. And then I did a message at T4G, which I summed up that, and that’s heading toward a book, and that book will come out called Christ’s Call for Reformation. So let’s just call that my thesis nailed to the door of Grace Church.

PHIL: All right. That was a great series too.

JOHN: Well, look, it seems to me that there has to be one just about every two or three months. Some other error begins to get life and we have to confront it, which is the wonderful thing about being in a church, and having a pulpit, and having a daily radio program and television program and writing, and having so many fronts and so many people coming out of our ministry who help us with all that, that we can continue to contend for the truth on so many public fronts.

PHIL: Yeah. And not to sound too pessimistic, though I have said I think evangelicalism, the evangelical movement is in a deplorable state; I have to say that having been a Christian now for 40 years, looking back, I think things were worse in the ‘70s when I got saved than they are today. Would that be your perspective as well? I mean it’s easier to find a church with expository preaching – not that it’s easy by any means. But there are a lot more people out there, many of whom have been influenced.

JOHN: I think we’ve been able to generate a commitment to Bible exposition, a widespread commitment. Some of it I hear and it makes me shutter. But, look, back in the ‘70s, evangelical church was kind of church. It kind of was one size fits all, right? I could go to your church, you could go to my church; we could go to this church, that church, the other, and they all kind of sang the same hymns, had the same stuff.

PHIL: Yeah, and everything was about an inch deep.

JOHN: You know, it’s like a birdbath, an inch deep. But it was kind of the same. You could go from church to church to church, and it was kind of the same. Now you have absolutely no idea what is going to come out of a church. It’s kind of the day of the unchurch. People don’t even want to call it a church, they give it some goofy name. And it’s very often – quasi-churches are basically planted by entrepreneurial people with no training.

But at the same time reform theology has made a massive, massive resurgence, and the truth is being proclaimed across the world. Sound, biblical doctrine is being preached across the world, but it’s never, in my mind, it’s never had so much competition. I grew up and I could say churches had a kind of a traditional approach, and then they were all sort of the same, and they preached the gospel, and they talked about the Lord, and they talked about living a life of obedience, but it didn’t have a defined theology. Theology is much more defined today than it was. But at the same time, there are so many more aberrations than there have ever been. It is the greatest revival of sound doctrine in the history of the world we’re living in right now, and it’s being spread all over the globe.

At the same time, there is an equal proliferation of every possible kind of deviation from what would be sound doctrine. So in one sense it’s the best of the best, and in the other sense it’s the multiplication of the worst of the worst.

PHIL: It’s as if we’re living in the last days.

JOHN: Yeah. It’s like everything has exploded. The truth has exploded, error has exploded, and now labels don’t mean anything. You say you’re an evangelical; what does that mean?

PHIL: Yeah.

JOHN: It doesn’t mean anything.

PHIL: Give us an update on this measure that got quite a bit of news, SB 1146 which was a threat to the university.

JOHN: Well, the California Senate – there’s a congressman by the name of Lara who’s a homosexual, and he put through a bill to the California Senate that would force Christian universities, Christian colleges and schools to stop any discrimination against homosexuals at all, or they would, first of all, be subject to lawsuits. This is what this is all about. All these bills are about is to allow somebody who’s a homosexual, who believes he’s being offended, or somehow his rights are being violated, to sue.

PHIL: He needs safe space.

JOHN: He will. Yeah, that’s another issue. That’s the trend toward the loss of the most defining American freedom, which is freedom of speech.

PHIL: Yeah.

JOHN: That’s going to go away in the reverse of everything. But, so the idea was if you’re a Christian school, you are discriminating against homosexuality, and you’re in violation of the law. So your students will not have access to any government loans or any government scholarship funding. Even though Christian people pay taxes, they’re not going to have access to that money. We don’t get any money from the government, but students do, because the government provides Cal Grant in the state of California. So they were going to say that you can’t get Cal Grants for students at your school unless you’re in full compliance with all the rights of homosexuals. So they targeted specifically Christian schools, that what it said. So some other Christian colleges and universities leaders got together and they contacted us and they said, “Would you sign this letter? We’re going to write this letter to the senate, state.”

I looked at it, I said, “I can’t sign this. I can’t sign this,” because this was arguing from a platform, a social platform. I said, “I can’t sign in an argument on a social platform for this; I’m going to write my own letter.” So I wrote my own letter from a biblical standpoint and I sent it to the California Senate: “We can’t comply with this because of Scripture, because of the Word of God,” and just, you know, a couple of pages of all of that. If that happened it would probably mean that The Master’s University students would lose about $2 million a year. I’m not worried about that. The Lord will provide another way, and I was ready to see that happen. But all of a sudden things began to change, and they began to change really dramatically.

Well, I have to add one other component. There was a thing called Title IX, which came in in 1978, which the federal government passed to make sure that – this was part of the feminist movement – to make sure that schools were giving equal amount athletic scholarships to women as men. So everybody kind of has to acquiesce to Title IX. You know, we’re always, you know, working to be sure we do that, giving equal privileges to men and women in terms of athletic scholarships, things like that. The federal government then extended that without writing anything else, extended that to include homosexuals.

So they said that means you have to have equal rights to all transgender, homosexual, whatever – LBGTQ people. So we said we can’t do that. A lot of schools said, “We can’t do that. We’re not going to do that.” So the federal government came up with an exemption, and they granted an exemption to institutions that filed for an exemption from that mandate. So The Master’s University received the exemption that we are exempt from the requirement to accept the LBGTQ person on all levels. We’re exempt from that by the federal government allowing it.

Well, the federal government doesn’t like that exemption, so the administration, the current White House administration published a shame list – public list of all the schools that have that exemption to heap shame on us. That list then became the list that the homosexual lobby would go after, because we already have declared our position against homosexuals. So we would then be the target schools that they would come after and sue. So it was not just the loss of scholarship money to the students who come there, it was the threat of lawsuits, and they already knew who we were. So they wouldn’t have to try to find us, because we’d already declared who we were. So this was going to go down all the way to Governor Brown’s desk, and it was pretty much agreement he was going to sign it, until this happened.

They all of a sudden realized that 80 percent of the students that receive a Cal Grant are minority students, 80 percent of them, and that this would be a devastating blow to minority families who couldn’t go to their college of choice. It had nothing to do with the morality of it or the immorality of it; it fell on its face because this guy wasn’t going to be able to survive the animosity that would come from the minority community. So all of a sudden in a couple of days it went away. I don’t know that that’s permanent; they’re not going to quit on these kinds of things. Just gives us an opportunity to be faithful, and to lead the parade and be the point of the spear; and we’ll continue to do that. The Bible’s not going to change and we’re not going to change.

PHIL: It seems clear that there is a time of persecution coming if the culture keeps going the way it is. And, you know, maybe that’ll lead to the purification of the church, because the prosperity gospel –

JOHN: Right. Persecution always leads to the purification of the church. We’re going to be fine no matter what, no matter what they take away. Again, it has nothing to do with the kingdom of God; the Lord will find another way to accomplish His work. I’m excited to see what that’s going to look like. Compromise is not an option for us. We’re going to live and die for the truth to the very end. That’s our commitment.

PHIL: That’s what I love about you. Some personal questions, I mean personal in the sense that you said this morning, for example, that you’ve spent the summer reading and thinking about stuff, and I was curious; what have you been reading, and what are you thinking about? Or do we have to wait until we hear it in your sermons?

JOHN: You know, Austin Duncan came to see me, and he opened up the back of his car and he had a whole bunch of books laying there. He said, “I’m giving you all these books to read.” So he gave me a bunch of books to read. And then Jay Flowers gave me a book to read. And I’ve read some really fascinating books. One that I would recommend to all of you that’s called For the Glory. It’s by Duncan Hamilton, and it is the story of Eric Liddell, the great Olympic 400 meter champion from the ‘20s who went to China and died as a missionary in a Japanese concentration camp. It’s incredibly, brilliantly written testimony. I think every seminary student should be required to read that, because it demonstrates such grace and humility in a dire situation – Eric Liddell, his story. We all know the Chariots of Fire side of the story, but the rest of the story is what is so absolutely incredible; beautifully written. It was a riveting experience to read that.

Then Jay Flowers gave me a book called MacArthur at War, and I looked at it and thought, “Was this a biographical?” But it turned out to be General Douglas MacArthur, and –

PHIL: A distant cousin of yours.

JOHN: Yeah, he’s a distant relative. And I read that; and you know what struck me through that whole thing was the sacrifice that people in this country have made. The hundreds of thousands of American in World War II on the South Pacific front, the Pacific front, and the European front who give their lives for the freedoms that people are literally trashing today, who don’t understand the sacrifice. We’re talking about hundreds of thousands of people who died. And the chronicle of the book is just a death chronical, day after day after day.

At one point, MacArthur has 1.5 million troops under him in the Pacific, and that means you’ve got to feed them all, house them all, move them all. He’s got hundreds, if not thousands of ships and airplanes and fronts he’s fighting on; and you just go back and realize that we weren’t the aggressor in this, you know. The Japanese came and just literally bombed Pearl Harbor and devastated America; and at the same time, Hitler’s doing what he’s doing in Europe. But through the years these men, these great leaders, and the men that serve and the women that served under them made the ultimate sacrifice; and they’re still doing it today. And I just don’t think – I mean I think that’s noble stuff, and I just don’t think people who trash America and what America is understand the sacrifices that have been made. It’s a travesty. So I enjoyed reading that.

And then I’m always interested in Israel. I love Israel. All my favorite people are Jewish, with a few Gentile exceptions – Jesus, Paul, Peter, you know. So I read Operation Thunderbolt, which is a chronicle of the Entebbe raid back in the ‘70s under Idi Amin. Incredible story of another moment in history when God preserved His people Israel. Brilliantly written by a man named Saul David.

Also I’ve purposefully been reading through and trying to analyze the book of Isaiah with a view to maybe when I finish the gospel of John taking a look at Isaiah, because it’s always been a book that – I can’t go through the whole book, it’s 66 chapters. You know, we’d all die in chapter 6. But there’s some elements of Isaiah that I’m fascinated with, and it’s primarily the last part, which it’s God’s promise for the future. So I did some work on that.

PHIL: Now I’ve done the math on this, and your dad lived until age ninety or thereabout.

JOHN: Ninety one.

PHIL: Ninety one, and he preached a month before he died, and I figured you’re in better health than he was. If you get cracking on Isaiah, you might be able…

JOHN: I’m not tottering up here when I’m ninety, I promise you that. No, look, you don’t want to tell them that; that’ll frighten the daylights out of them, I’m still going to be around here ten years from now. You now, I don’t know what the timetable is. I know I’m in that time in my life by the goodness of God where I know the Word of God because I’ve spent all these years studying it, and I don’t have Alzheimer’s yet. So I’m just trying to make the most of this little window before I end up with a walker somewhere trying to figure out, you know, what I’m supposed to do.

PHIL: I have much more confidence in you than that.

JOHN: Well, yeah. I want to do what the Lord wants me to do, but there’s so many young – great young preachers here that need to preach, and their time is coming; but as long as I can proclaim the Word of God. This isn’t a job for me, this is a calling, so it’s really in the hands of the Lord.

PHIL: One more question then we’ll quit because we’re over time already. You’ve got a couple of books on the horizon: The Gospel According to Paul and the systematic theology. Did you want to do a commercial for either of those?

JOHN: Yeah. Thank you for your work on editing The Gospel According to Paul. I did a book Gospel According to Jesus. Another book, Gospel According to the Apostles, and this was the final in that three-book trilogy.

PHIL: Though I proposed we take the Isaiah 53 and call it The Gospel According to God.

JOHN: Okay, that is. So this is The Gospel According to Paul. When is it going to be released?

PHIL: In time for Shepherds’ Conference.

JOHN: Shepherds’ Conference.

PHIL: February I think.

JOHN: That’ll kind of be I guess the next step. And then The Gospel According to God is Isaiah 53.

PHIL: Right.

JOHN: That’s ready to go as well, so, yeah. There are some other books. I’m doing a series of books with Ligonier, and the first one will be out in a few months, and it’s called There Is No Other, and it’s a wonderful little book on the doctrine of God; There Is No Other. There’ll be three more.

PHIL: Yeah, it’s amazing too. It’s maybe worth saying something about that. Those were all the sermons – they’ve taken all the sermons you’ve given at the Ligonier conferences over the years, and it’s surprisingly a large number of sermons.

JOHN: Well, it’s been about 30 years off and on that I’ve gone to Ligonier conferences; and they kept all the messages, and they pulled them into categories, and they came up with four books built around themes. The first one on the nature of God, those are messages taken from all different years. And, yeah, they’ve pulled it all together, gave it to us; and your gifted son, Jeremiah, took a look at those and did some edit work on them.

PHIL: He’s better than I am. I should retire and let him take over.

JOHN: We need you both. We need you both. So, yeah, there was a little book that came out, just got one called Remember and Return. It’s a little 30-day devotional taken from the message to the church at Ephesus. That was done by Baker. What is it, Baker Publishing? I don’t know. But, yeah, you know. I think when I preach as long as I have and there’s this much material, there’s always the opportunity to do that.

One thing that was in the bulletin this morning that was really good was the index for the commentary series.

PHIL: Oh, yeah.

JOHN: Moody did an index so that you can literally have an index to what’s in all 33 volumes. So if you were looking up like the word “atonement,” you could look in there and it would tell you every volume, every page where that’s discussed, so you can kind of pull that together.

Systematic theology is about 1,100 pages. Dick Mayhue and I – this has been his project for 15 years, and when I finished the commentaries I finally got onboard to help him with it; and the faculty from the seminary gave us a tremendous amount of input on it. But it is a comprehensive one-volume systematic theology covering every category of doctrine. It’s exceptional. It’s really, really good, and it’s called Biblical Doctrine. It is coming in December or January. And the real objective of this is to get it translated into as many languages as we can so it gets into the hands of our missionaries in TMAI so they can use it as a systematic theology for the training of pastors and leaders around the world.

PHIL: Great. Great. Well, we are over time. Would you like to close in prayer.

JOHN: Phil, thank you.

PHIL: Thank you.

JOHN: Thank you very much. Thank you. And thanks to all of you for coming tonight.

Father, thank You again for what You’ve done in our lives through Your truth, through Your Word. Thank You for Phil and his friendship and partnership and support, strength, and loyal love, and great help through the years. Thank You for so many others like him who have enabled this ministry to be sustained and to be carried literally around the world. And this is Your Word, and we are so honored to have been called to proclaim it. We don’t invent the message, we just preach it. Ours is a ministry of delivering the truth what you have already revealed. And You have honored Your Word that You’re never going to allow Your truth to return void, but always accomplish what You intend. I’ve seen that for about a half a century. I’m so grateful to have seen it. And we thank You that we’re continuing to see it, and will even in the future.

We thank You for all that You’ve done through Your Word around the world and in this wonderful church. Thank You for these precious people. Thank You for using them for Your glory and for enriching our lives through them. We give You thanks and praise for not only what You’ve done, what You’re doing, but what awaits us as we walk in obedience to You, we pray in Christ’s name. Amen.

PHIL: Amen.

JOHN: Thank you.

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