Grace to You Resources
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AUDIENCE: Good evening, Pastor John. My name is Nate.

JOHN: Hi, Nate.  

AUDIENCE: My question is there are many Christians in their life who experience friends or family members who once walked with the Lord, but later turned away from the Lord and walked away from Christianity. What is a biblical response to that? And how do we as their friends or family respond to them and work with them?

JOHN: Well, there are two passages that immediately come to mind, Nate. One, of course – and this is the watershed passage on that subject – is in Matthew 13, the parable of the soils. You have the Lord telling the story about the sower who went out to sow. Some fell on hard ground, some fell on sort of rocky ground, some fell on ground that had thorns and weeds, and some fell on good ground. You have six responses. Three of them are three different kinds of good ground: 30, 60 and 100 fold. The other three are the times when the Word of God or the gospel falls on soil and produces no fruit.

The first, the hard ground, our Lord says, “The birds come and snatch it away.” It’s as if Satan just snatches away the truth before it can penetrate at all. And then you have two kinds of soils, where the word goes into the ground and something comes up, but it never bears fruit. So the Lord acknowledges that there will be people who are completely impervious to the gospel and will have no response at all. The Lord also acknowledges – and it’s to be expected, as He’s instructing His disciples – that there will be people who have an immediate response to the gospel. But He goes on to say tribulation, or trouble, the price is too high, or the riches of this world, the cares of this world cause the plant to die. So we know from the lips of our Lord that there are going to be people whose initial response is superficial and not genuine and not lasting.

We also know that there are people who can make a superficial response to Christ and it can go on for a very long time, because our Lord says in that same chapter that there will be in the kingdom wheat and tares. Wheat would be the true believers, tares would be the false believers. And He says, “Don’t try to separate them because you don’t have the criteria to separate them. Wait until the angels in the harvest of judgment make that distinction.”

So it has to be said then that we should expect that not everybody who responds to the gospel is going to have a lasting response. There may be emotion at the frontend. There may be excitement at the frontend. In some cases, they will wither and die rapidly. In some other cases, they will grow but be fruitless, and we may not even know the difference; and that would be kind of like a Judas who is among the disciples, and they don’t even know that he’s the betrayer. So when Jesus says, “One of you is a betrayer,” they all said, “Is it I? Is it I? Is it I?”

Now along the way there are people who believe for a little while, as I said, and go away. First John 2:19 is the most important verse on that. It says, “They went out from us, because they were not of us. If they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out from us that it might be made manifest they never were of us.”

So when someone walks away from the confession of Jesus Christ as Lord, there is in that turning away evidence that that was never genuine to start with. That means that that basically is a person who is an apostate, having known the truth, turns from the truth, walks away from the truth. The warnings of Scripture to the apostate are that if you walk away from that with full knowledge, it’s impossible to be renewed again to repentance, because you’ve heard the truth, known the truth, confessed the truth, turned your back and walk away from the truth. That’s the most horrific of all things, because Hebrews 10 says, “How much greater will the punishment be to the one who has trampled underfoot the blood of the covenant and he counted it an unholy thing.” That’s the person who knew the truth, confessed the truth, turned from the truth and walked away. The hottest hell is reserved for that kind of apostacy.

So that’s just kind of a big picture of the reality there will be temporary believers who may have an emotional response. There will be some long-term hypocrites who aren’t real, but we won’t know that until the judgment. There will be people who are apostate.

Now a number of years ago I wrote a book called The Gospel According to Jesus because there was being propagated all across evangelicalism the idea that you could be a true believer in Christ, make a true confession of Jesus as Lord, and have no evidence of it in your life, and even turn against that and deny the Lord. And it was believed that if you ever confess the Lord once, you had a salvation that was secure, even if you became – and this was the phrase they used – an unbelieving believer. That’s why I wrote the book The Gospel According to Jesus, The Gospel According to the Apostles and dealt with all of that.

A true believer, a true believer will manifest that transformation in life over a long period of time. Time and truth go hand in hand; given enough time, the truth is known. Again, that doesn’t mean there won’t be hypocrites who are good at faking it, because that’s possible as well. But true believers will from the heart manifest the evidence of that transformation. They will love the Lord and they will seek to honor the Lord.

When someone turns away having had a full understanding of the gospel and made a profession of Christ, the warning of Scripture is that that is a kind of defection from which there is no remedy. So in the event that you know someone in that situation, they need to be severely warned. And there are a number of those warnings in the book of Hebrews that you might want to look at. How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation? If you know it and you walk away from it, that is the severest. And go to chapter 10 and read that section in chapter 10 about the most severe judgment.

And again, we do understand that eventually the truth is known. Even a fake Christian is known to be fake by the people closest to them. Generally speaking, we might not all know in the church, but there are people close to those false Christians who no doubt are having questions. And I would then at that point say, look, if you know somebody who is claiming to be a Christian but you have very serious doubts about the genuineness of that claim, you need to confront that person about the salvation that they claim and make sure it’s real. Okay? Thanks, Nate.

Yes, sir?

AUDIENCE: Hi, Pastor John. My name is Robert.

JOHN: Hi, Robert.

AUDIENCE: I know that inerrancy is one of the foundations that we rest upon as far as the Word of God is concerned. Recently there became known to me an article that questions that where –

JOHN: An article where?

AUDIENCE: You know, I can’t remember.

JOHN: Oh, that’s okay.

AUDIENCE: Yeah. I think it’s out of Deuteronomy because it actually appeared as an answer on Jeopardy. It’s true, where a group of people was supposedly annihilated. And now genetic evidence of their existence has become manifest, has become known. So therefore, the inerrancy is thrown into question because of a certain group of people who was testified to have been annihilated, and now they do exist. I was just wondering if you had heard of this.

JOHN: No, I haven’t heard of that. But I wouldn’t trust any theology on Jeopardy.

AUDIENCE: I don’t either. I don’t either.

JOHN: I have absolutely no idea what somebody is talking about. But I will tell you this: the Bible will stand the test of the most rigorous scrutiny by the most rigorous scholars on the planet who are most enlightened by the Spirit of God to dig into the Scripture and validate the evidence of its inerrancy.

What happens in the world is they throw the Bible around like a play thing and all they do is reflect their ignorance. In the conversation I had with Ben Shapiro, following that conversation some months ago, he said to me afterwards, he said, “You can’t know how refreshing it is to have a conversation with someone about the Bible who actually knows what it says because I’m so used to being confronted by people who deny the Bible and don’t even know what’s in it.”

So you don’t want to play fast and loose with the Word of God. You don’t want to make those kind of ridiculous statements about the inerrancy of Scripture that could never be supported. But there’ll always be an audience willing to hear that, and that’s those people who want to reject it and they want more justification for their rejection.

But we’re going to put the Bible in the hands of the people who are the most capable and most diligent to discern its inerrancy, not in the hands of foolish people. Okay?

AUDIENCE: All right.

JOHN: Thanks, Robert.

AUDIENCE: Thank you.

AUDIENCE: Hello, Pastor.

JOHN: Hi.

AUDIENCE: My name is Billy.

JOHN: Hi, Billy.

AUDIENCE: So me and some other guys are studying Revelation and we need help.

JOHN: Okay.

AUDIENCE: So after the rapture and after the seven years after the great tribulation, when the new heaven and earth is made and the New Jerusalem comes down, and we go to live there with our Creator – so that’s not made yet. And now my mom and dad and all the believers are in a place with God. So are they going to move from where they’re at to the New Jerusalem? And what’s going to happen to the place that they’re at now?

JOHN: Well, yeah, let’s not get too carried away here. Jesus said in John 14, “I’m going to go and I’m going to prepare a place for you in My Father’s house,” and He said that then to them then. The Word of God says, “Absent from the body, present with the Lord.” Paul says, “Far better to depart and be with Christ.” Jesus says to the thief on the cross, “Today you’ll be with Me in paradise.”

So heaven is wherever the Lord is. It’s wherever the Lord is. That’s why in the book of Revelation it says, “There’s no need of light there because the Lamb is the light of it.” So when a believer dies he goes into the presence of the Lord. That is perfect holiness, perfect joy, perfect satisfaction, eternal life, the absence of all that is sinful and evil and decaying and dying. It is the realm of things that are eternal.

Now through the plan of God we know that there are ways in which God will design that dwelling place that are suited to His purposes. For example, there will be a new heaven and a new earth, okay. That means that the final state of our eternal dwelling is at this point not yet created. It’s not yet created. It will not be created until the complete abolishing of that which exists. That’s why Peter says in 2 Peter 3 that the elements will melt with fervent heat. Now this is basically an atomic implosion. The Lord created the entire universe out of atoms. That will be an uncreation in which the entire universe as we know it; that is everything material in it will be out of existence as fast as it came, or even faster than it came into existence, and in its place will be a new heaven and a new earth.

All that that is saying for us is this: currently the realm of God, the dwelling place of God where God is with holy angels and is with His redeemed people, is still in a universe, though in another dimension. It’s still in a universe that is corrupt. So the final eternal state will be a universe with no corruption because the current universe will go out of existence. So from the standpoint of the believer, there won’t be some kind of angelic van showing up in front of their current house to move them to a new neighborhood or a new city. And all that the New Jerusalem is is sort of the capital city of eternity, the throne of God. That is to say that there actually will be a throne of God. It is described for us as a cube. I think it’s fifteen hundred miles cubed, the capital city of the new heaven and the new earth. You could say right now that it already is designed. It may already be fabricated in whatever way God has done that. But it will eventually become the capital city of the new heaven and the new earth. That’s all we need to know.

Again, we can’t get any further into understanding all of that than what is in Revelation.

AUDIENCE: And then just real quick, in chapter 4 when he talks about the twenty-four elders, day and night worshiping the Lord, now is that in the translation that means all the time, or is there really day and night?

JOHN: No, there’s not day and night, it’s just a euphemism for saying all the time. There’s no night in heaven, so there’s no day. It doesn’t operate as we do in our solar system. But night and day is just a way of expressing all the time. Okay?

AUDIENCE: Thank you.

JOHN: Yeah, you know, this is a good question you ask, because some people get caught up in over-spiritualizing obvious things. If there’s a number there, it’s probably an actual number. If it’s saying day and night and we know there’s no day and night in heaven, it’s just a way of expressing a period of time that covers all the time. So, yeah, just take it at its face value in what is the simplest explanation is usually the right one. Okay?

AUDIENCE: Thank you.

JOHN: Good.

AUDIENCE: Hi, Pastor John.

JOHN: Hi.

AUDIENCE: Hi. I’m Juliette from GraceLife London.

JOHN: Oh, hi, Juliette from GraceLife London. Wonderful.

AUDIENCE: Yeah. Thank you so much for your ministry here and serving the Lord so faithfully. I have a question. Since I’m a believer, can the devil influence my thinking on any part of my life, including my dream?

JOHN: Did you get that? Yeah, there’s nothing in Scripture to indicate the devil can access your mind in some supernatural way, okay. “Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.” The Holy Spirit lives in you. If the devil is going to access your mind, he’s going to access your mind through what he does in the world around you.

AUDIENCE: Right.

JOHN: And you’re going to be picking up and observing things that are happening in the world around you. You are the temple of the Spirit of God, which you have of God, and you are not your own, for you are bought with a price. The Lord bought you, purchased you to become His temple. You are one with Christ, Christ is one with you. You are in Christ, Christ is in you by virtue of the Spirit of Christ that dwells in you. It’s as if what Jesus said what the Bible says concerning Jesus that Satan had nothing in him.

AUDIENCE: Right.

JOHN: There’s no reason to think that Satan has anything in you. But he has a whole lot going on around you because he’s the prince of the power of the air. He’s the god of this age, the god of this world, and as such, he controls the environment that you’re living in; and that environment obviously creates the realities that capture your thoughts.

So it isn’t that you need to chase the devil away. All you have to do is resist him. He’s on the outside. You resist him and he will flee from you. But no, if you have a bizarre dream, that bizarre dream is probably likely related to some idea, some notion, some thought that settled in your mind at some point and involuntarily popped up. Don’t overthink your dreams.

AUDIENCE: Thank you.

JOHN: Okay.

AUDIENCE: Thank you so much.

JOHN: You’re welcome. Thank you.

AUDIENCE: Hello, Pastor John. My name is Aaron and I’m a junior at UCLA.

JOHN: Hi, Aaron.

AUDIENCE: Throughout the centuries orthodox Christians have upheld God’s immutability, meaning that He doesn’t undergo any change. And also, His simplicity, meaning that He is not composed of any parts, but is of one pure self-existent being. At the same time though, we also know that the Word, Jesus, became flesh. So my question is, how do we understand the incarnation of Christ without compromising on God’s immutability or simplicity?

JOHN: Well, it’s pretty simple. When we talk about God’s self-existence, theologians call that the aseity of God. God cannot change because God is eternally who He is. God is not becoming. Everyone that God creates is becoming. That means we’re in some life processing moving from one thing to another. There is a kind of theology that has floated around particularly over the last twenty years that wants to say that God is in the process of becoming, and it wants to say that God doesn’t know everything until it happens, He doesn’t know anything unless He can see it happen, God is subject to added information and subject to experiences of gaining knowledge. And the reason they come up with that idea is they think that disassociates God from all that’s bad in the universe. If God doesn’t even know about it, then He can’t be blamed for it.

The truth of the matter is God is not becoming, God is. And God is who He is: “I Am That I Am.” That’s why the first person singular verb to be is the name of God: I Am. He is not becoming anything that He is not already. He is eternally the I Am. So we don’t know, we don’t experience life like that. Life for us is all a process. You saw little babies up here, you see people at all ages here; we’re all in the process of becoming. That is not true of God.

Now, does that mean that God cannot appear in some form? God could appear in a flame of fire in the Old Testament. God could appear in a whirlwind in the Old Testament. God could appear as an angel, as the Angel of the Lord in the Old Testament. And God, who is God, the I Am, can appear in human flesh, and did that in the person of Jesus Christ. That did not advance or alter or change His nature in any way. That’s why Hebrews 1 says that God spoke in His Son who is the exact representation of His nature in human form.

That was very important for us for two reasons. Reason one, so that He as man could die for man; and two, so that He as man could live a righteous life that we could see. It’s one thing to try to understand the attributes of God in the invisible reality of God. It’s quite more clearer to understand the attributes of God in the visible life of Jesus Christ. There we see what love and kindness and mercy and tenderness and righteousness and all look like.

So nothing in the nature of God is altered. Nothing is changed. Nothing is subtracted. Nothing is amended. Nothing is moved to another place. God is eternally I Am. He is not becoming, but He can and did manifest Himself in certain ways and in the ultimate way in order to be the substitute for us and to demonstrate what God looks like in a form that we can comprehend. He came in the flesh in the form of Jesus Christ.

That had nothing to do with any altering of His nature. That’s why even as Jesus, He said, “You don’t need to tell Me what’s in a man, I know what’s in a man. I can read their minds.” That’s why He said, “I can call legions of angels if I want.” “All the deity of God, in Him the fullness of deity dwells,” says the apostle Paul. So there’s no altering of His nature. Okay?

AUDIENCE: Okay, thank you.

JOHN: Good question.

AUDIENCE: Hi, Pastor John. My name is Christian.

JOHN: Hi, Christian.

AUDIENCE: My question is on children actually.

JOHN: On what?

AUDIENCE: On children.

JOHN: Sure.

AUDIENCE: Suppose a child five years old, a child is five years old believes in Christ as Lord and Savior, you know, believes in His death and resurrection for salvation, loves to serve in the Lord, correctable by His word. Should we as parents recognize that to be true faith or should we actually dismiss that?

JOHN: No, you should not dismiss it. There is no reason in the world to dismiss it, because you don’t know. I’ve said this through the years: anytime a child ever affirms faith in Christ, you affirm that. You praise the Lord for that, you thank the Lord for that, and you encourage the child with that. The worst thing you can possibly do is deny what a child affirms as something they believe. The fact of the matter is, a five-year-old in a Christian family is very likely to actually believe that, because it’s never been tested, and because the people they love the most believe that, and it’s just very natural for them to affirm that.

So at all points in the life of the child, when a child says that, “I believe,” you affirm that. You affirm that and you say, “I’m so thankful for that, that the Lord is at work in your life.”

We had a little incident with our youngest granddaughter. She called us, I think – how old was she? Seven maybe, six or seven. And she said, “Papa and grandma, you have to come over, because I tried to be a Christian and it didn’t work. But if you come over, it’ll work.” So Patricia and I went over to the house, and she was ready. She had had another little friend in school say that he had become a Christian, and she wanted to be a Christian too, and it didn’t seem to work for her. And I don’t know why she thought it didn’t work other than that she probably felt the same about her brother that she had felt before she prayed the prayer, so she didn’t have a whole big category of transformation to look at.

But anyway, we just sat down with her, went through the gospel very carefully, and if she was affirming and affirming and affirming and affirming that she believed all that, we rejoiced in that. We shared the joy with her. We prayed with her. Anytime since then if you say to her, “Are you a Christian?” “Yes, I am a Christian.” It also provided some interesting new leverage for her mother, because not long after that she had misbehaved, and her mother said to her, “Christians don’t act like that,” and she melted into tears.

So for that reason alone you hold up the standard. You need all the leverage you can get. But it is very possible that at five or six years of age the Lord can grant true faith. I don’t know. Time will tell. But you always, always affirm that. Every time they want to acknowledge Christ, you affirm that. You don’t put doubt in their minds about that. Okay?

AUDIENCE: Hello, Pastor John. My name is Noah.

JOHN: Hi, Noah.

AUDIENCE: I wanted to ask, how or where would you direct a student of the Word to learn in a practical way their role as a husband, wife, or even a counselor to family members whose marriages do not reflect the character of Christ?

JOHN: Now you’re asking, “How can you – where would I send you to develop those skills?”

AUDIENCE: I know that Ephesians 5:22 through 6:4 is all on that. But what would be a practical way if you’ve read that many times and you apply it to your life and you try your best to do that? What are some practical ways to incorporate that?

JOHN: Yeah. There’s a lot of good resources. I’ve written a number of books. There’s a lot of books in the bookstore that’ll help you interact with that truth. But I want to go back and make it as simple as I possibly can.

Look, you’re to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, right? That’s the fulfillment of the Law, and your neighbor as yourself. So the whole of Christian living is loving God and loving the people around you. That’s not complicated. And that kind of love is sacrificial, unselfish, selfless love. So the simplest illustration of that is in John 21 where Peter has again disappointed the Lord. He was told to obey, he goes to Galilee. He’s supposed to wait till the Lord comes and he’s going to commission him into ministry. And instead he gets his boat is fishing, and he gets all his buddies, and all seven of those disciples go back to fishing. And this is a serious disobedience on his part, and he led the others in it.

So the Lord confronts him, and He asks him three questions, and they’re the same question three times: “Do you love Me? Do you love Me? Do you love Me?” And it almost seems simplistic. What’s at stake is the future of the church, because Peter is going to be the great preacher on the day of Pentecost in the first twelve chapters. Until you get to chapter 12 of the book of Acts it’s all about Peter preaching. So a lot is at stake. And the Lord wants Peter to preach. He wants Peter to do the ministry.

So here is a guy who has failed so many times. He’s lost his own self-confidence, he doesn’t trust himself. And the Lord says to him, “Do you love Me?” And then He says, “Do you love Me?” and then He says, “Do you love Me?” And I won’t go into the details of the conversation, but this is the simple understand of what it means to follow Christ. “Do you love Me? If you love Me, you’d keep My commandments. If you love Me, you’d do My will. If you love Me, you honor My name. If you love Me, you’d do that which pleases Me and glorifies Me.”

And I think in a marriage it’s the same thing. It’s not psychological technique, it’s maybe retraining some of your habits. But what has to drive your relationship is love. And we’re not talking – even a marriage, we’re talking about something beyond romantic love. We’re talking about sacrificial, selfless love. So consciously in my mind, I think when I think about Patricia, “What can I do that will bring her joy and spiritual benefit?” Whatever that is, I want to do that. I want to do that, and I want to do that all the time and never anything but that.

So it’s a constant work of selfless giving for the spiritual benefit of your partner. I think if you start navigating this thing with a lot of confusing gimmicks or little tricks and things like that, you know, go on a date, do this, do whatever, pick a date night every week, that doesn’t do anything. I mean, you ought to do it once in a while. It’s not what you do on the date night that’s going to make the relationship, it’s what you do when it’s not date night that makes the relationship. So I think you just need to continually ask the Lord to give you more and more and more love for your spouse, and to love Him supremely, and to love your neighbor as yourself; and the nearest neighbor is the one in your house.

AUDIENCE: As a family friend or something along those lines, someone else in their marriage, it would also be just encouraging them in those same things?

JOHN: Again, to give you an illustration, I remember reading an illustration about a guy who had four hundred pianos that he was supposed to tune to an accurate tune – tuning. And at first he tried to tune four hundred pianos to each other, and then somebody brought him a tuning fork; and once they were all tuned to the tuning fork they were all tuned to each other.

I think it’s just focusing on loving Christ; and in loving Christ, I mean, the call to the husband is, “Love your wife as Christ loved the church.” You are to love Him supremely, and everything else falls into place. And encourage people that way.

And listen, what stimulates that love is not absence from the church or absence from the Word of God, but communion with the Lord in His Word and with the people of God and listening to the Word of God being taught. Okay?

AUDIENCE: Thank you, Pastor John.

JOHN: You’re welcome.

AUDIENCE: Family and us, we’re all praying for you.

JOHN: Thank you so much. Thank you. Hi.

AUDIENCE: Hi. I’m Alina Valdarian.

JOHN: What’s your name again?

AUDIENCE: Alina.

JOHN: Alina. Hi.

AUDIENCE: And I was wondering, so in Revelation 19 it talks about how Jesus comes from heaven riding a white horse. And my question is, are there animals in heaven?

JOHN: What a good question; and I know you’re hoping there are. No – which somebody said means there’s also no shovels in heaven, so...

We don’t have any indication that any being is eternal except human beings. But that is a way to illustrate or demonstrate that the Lord is coming back as a conquering hero. He’s riding on a horse, He has crowns on His head. He has a sword, and with that sword He brings judgment. Now that’s not an actual sword in the actual sword actually brings the judgment to every individual, those are images; and the great image of a conquering general in the ancient world was riding on a great white horse in triumph. So that’s a picture of the triumph of Christ. But heaven is for holy angels and for redeemed people.

Now animals are a common grace; we all enjoy animals. Some of you are so attached to your animals, the thought that they’re not going to be in heaven is disturbing to you. But they are creatures for earthly comfort that will play no role in the perfect comfort of heaven. Okay?

AUDIENCE: Thank you.

JOHN: You’re welcome, honey. Good question.

AUDIENCE: Dr. MacArthur, thank you for taking our questions this evening.

JOHN: Sure.

AUDIENCE: My question – my name is Dave. My question has to do with eligibility for church leadership. Does divorce disqualify a man for leadership? And if so, is it always the case, or are there mitigating circumstances such as being the so-called innocent party, or as long as he remains unmarried?

JOHN: Well, it depends on what kind of church leadership you’re talking about. A pastor or an elder explicitly is to be a one-woman man. That’s not only commentary on him having one wife, that’s obvious. But it’s a demand that he be completely faithful and loyal to that one wife, and that he have demonstrated that he has managed his own household well. This is because pastoral ministry in the church is not only a teaching position, it is a modeling position, it is an exemplary position. That’s why Paul says to Timothy, “Be an example to the believers in word or deed.” That’s why Paul says, “Follow me as I follow Christ.” So when you’re talking about elders in the church, this is for someone who is demonstrably known for his utter faithfulness to his wife, and who has demonstrated the spiritual leadership that is needed in the church in his own family, having raised a godly family with believing children.

Now, is it conceivable that there could be someone who was divorced, say, before he came to Christ, maybe in his early 20s, and 30 years later he’s serving in a church and they need spiritual leadership, and he’s been married to somebody else for 25 years and has godly children; would he be disqualified? That’s not the intent of that text. The intent of that text is to look at the man’s life and see if he demonstrates fidelity to those standards.

So I wouldn’t want to say that if that happens in someone’s life before Christ that it is a permanent disqualification. Basically all the qualifications for leadership in the church are, “Now that I’m in Christ.” I mean, Paul says, “I was a blasphemer, I was a persecutor, I killed Christians.” All of that would disqualify him from being a pastor, except for the fact that that was before he was saved.

So everything kind of starts afresh and anew. But if there is a divorce in someone’s background, I think there has to be time to see the life of that person over a period of time to validate that that person can be an exemplary husband, father, and raise a godly family. So I don’t think the point is to stretch the qualifications back all the way to somebody’s birth, but rather that this is the reputation that is widely known and affirmed about this individual.

The other thing to say about that is this is talking specifically about pastoral or eldership leadership. There are so many other ways to serve and lead in the church, and the Lord has distributed among the spiritual gifts gifts of leadership; and there are lots of ways that one can lead effectively in the church that don’t necessarily carry the responsibility that that particular role does. That’s just a unique role, doesn’t mean even that an elder or a pastor is more effective, more influential, has a stronger witness or testimony are more useful to the Lord. It’s like in the Old Testament; a priest couldn’t have certain wounds. He couldn’t have a bad eye or he couldn’t be in the priesthood. He couldn’t have certain scars on his body, because there was – the Lord was sort of putting a model in front of one who comes between man and God. There was almost a picture of what Christ’s perfection would be like.

So it’s a unique role. It doesn’t mean that someone with a divorce in their background, even a divorce as a Christian can’t serve the Lord in some other way; because I think they can.

AUDIENCE: Thank you.

AUDIENCE: Hi, John. It’s Richard.

JOHN: Hi, Richard.

AUDIENCE: First, thank you for fifty years of God-honoring, expository preaching.

JOHN: Thank you, Richard.

AUDIENCE: Titus 3:2 –

JOHN: Thank you for turning on the mic for me so I could be heard. He does that all the time.

AUDIENCE: Thank you. Titus 3:2 tells us to malign no one. How do we confront unbiblical thinking and behavior without maligning those people and still being faithful to Scripture? Thank you.

JOHN: Yeah, when the Bible talks about maligning no one it simply means that you’re not to be malicious in the way you talk about people. That doesn’t mean that you don’t identify dangerous people. You must identify dangerous people. I mean, the apostle Paul does that. He talks about Diotrephes who loves to have the preeminence; beware of him. Talks about Hymenaeus and Alexander who have led people into shipwreck in their faith. The Bible is full of very specific warnings. The apostle Paul even talks about, “Demas who has forsaken me, having loved the present world.” Paul talked about Mark who was a huge disappointment to him.

So it is very important for us to point out those people who are dangerous to our children. I look as a parent. People ask me a lot, “How do you bring your children up so that they come to know Christ?” And one of the ways you help your children in that process is to be very, very firm as to who their friends are.

Now you could say, “Well, it’s maligning someone not to allow them to be around your child.” I’m not maliciously maligning anyone; but there are people that I don’t want influencing my family. There are people I don’t want influencing you.

Sadly, we live in a culture today where being malicious is a sport. Maligning people is a sport. The Internet has led to very, very brutal, brutal statements about other people, and it’s so common that even the President does it all the time. And it is malicious, it is hurtful, it is cutting, it is unnecessary. It’s one thing to warn someone about a person who is a danger and identify that person as a spiritual danger or any other danger; it’s something else to garner laughs at the expense of some malicious talk about another person. Even those who are enemies, according to what the Word of God says, we are to love, right? “Love our enemies.”

I remember when I was called up during the Bush administration. They asked me to come back to Washington for a meeting with the Bush people in the cabinet. And the issue was that there were some Christians that were in the White House who were becoming very concerned about their attitude toward the opposition party. And I had given a message called “The Dangers of Moralism,” and it circulated in the White House, and as a result led to a number of conversations, and eventually going back there and talking to some of the people. And they said, “That message caused us to realize that when we get caught up in this political fight, we wind up maliciously assaulting our political enemies. But as Christians, what we’re doing is attacking the very mission field the Lord has called us to reach.” Don’t turn your mission field into your enemy. And that was a kind of a revelation for them. And they were having a Bible study about it and they engaged me to talk more about that.

This is a bad thing that Christian people getting into politics end up with painted or tainted with the same maliciousness that’s thrown around in Washington. If there’s not a hundred other reasons not to get involved at that level, I would never get involved at that level, because I don’t want to be painted with the dirt that flies in Washington all over the place. I don’t want anyone, including left-wing, pro-abortion, pro-LGBTQ, pro-same-sex marriage, pro-transgender democrats, I don’t want them to think for a moment that I hate them. While I certainly don’t affirm what they believe, and I could never bring myself to vote for a platform that put all that in as the direction the country’s going to go, I don’t need to turn them into an enemy by being malicious.

So I think that’s what the Word of God is reminding us of. We don’t want to turn the mission field into the enemy, we need to reach these people. They need the Lord. I mean, you see these people, and I know you get irritated at them, the politicians. Politicians in general, just generally can be very irritating people because you wonder what they ever do. It’s like a job where you don’t do anything. It’s easy to think lowly of them. And then when they take on some issue that is so against the Word of God, against the plan of God, against the will of God and they start to make laws about that, like in the state of California, it’s easy to become a hater of the very people that we need to reach. And that’s why the New Testament says that we are to pray for those who are in authority, right, to pray for kings and rulers and leaders, and God our Savior who will have all men to come to the knowledge of the truth – all men, meaning all those in all walks of life and all kinds of professions.

Yes, we have to warn about dangerous people, but we don’t have to become known for being pejorative and angry and hostile toward people who disagree with us. Okay?

AUDIENCE: Thank you.

AUDIENCE: Hey, Pastor John. My name is Nick.

JOHN: Hi, Nick.

AUDIENCE: It’s good to meet you again. So in light of celebrating fifty years of pastoral ministry, have you seen your leadership change from when you first started until now? And what advice would you give to a young leader in a church in light of that?

JOHN: Have I seen my leadership change? I hope. I think I’ve become a little more patient. Early on, I was basically a Type A personality, you know, “Okay, I know what we need to do, I know how to get it done; let’s go do this,” and there was a certain hurriedness in my approach to everything. And it basically mellows as the years go by, and you begin to realize that the goals and objectives of spiritual ministry are not achieved in a year, or five years, or ten years, or twenty years.

I have the most amazing experience of being in a church where the work of the Word has been going on for fifty years. It’s hard for me to convey to a young pastor the most important thing that you can possibly do is be enduringly faithful to the Word of God, enduringly patient with your people, love them and just stay where you are long enough to see the Word to its work. Don’t be in a big hurry. That’s hard for young guys because we’re full of energy; and you know the truth and you want to go fix the church and straighten the church out. And we often have guys that come out of The Master’s Seminary very well-equipped for ministry, but too impatient to last. And so when they go in and ride roughshod over people and the way they’ve done things they find themselves looking for another church in a year or two.

So realize this, that the most important thing you can do is as a young minister is to love your people; and it’s teaching them the Word of God while loving them at the same time that allows you to have the time to see the change take place. Okay?

AUDIENCE: Thank you.

JOHN: So, yeah. Would I do things differently? Sure, yeah. I mean, of course. I remember one night I preached on why the Antichrist will be a Jew, and then the next Sunday night I preached on why the Antichrist would be a Gentile because I thought I got it wrong. Sure. I don’t know which tape I finally landed on, but you can find that.

There are things that you would always change about ministry, but I’ll tell you one other thing, and this is so very important. In the end it is your character that attracts people close to you. So if you want to be surrounded by people of character, then they have to see it in you. And what strengthens any man’s life in ministry is the people around him. I am not the explanation for what happens here or anywhere else. It is all these people that the Lord has collected around me. I basically have a simple life. I get oatmeal Sunday morning Patricia makes with brown sugar and fruit. I come down here, I preach a few times, and then all this other stuff happens, and it happens because the truth and the integrity that backs up that truth gives validity to the ministry and attracts people who are attracted to that integrity. It’s the integrity of your life and the faithfulness of your teaching, and it’s a slow process. From the beginning I used to say, “I want to do two things: preach the Word of God, hopefully through the New Testament, and train men. And through the years I have not attracted men who don’t want to do what I do. But I have attracted men who want to do what I do. And that’s what makes ministry so powerful is you’re just multiplying yourself again and again and again and again. I mean, if you take a kind of a pastor that has a rock-n-roll church and does some kind of schtick, you know, on a platform, and he’s kind of a cool dude communicator, he’s not going to attract expositors, he’s going to attract those kinds of people, those kinds of people who are interested in theatrical display. That’s not a formula for building a great church. Maybe a formula for getting an audience. But if you’re faithful in teaching the Word of God over the long haul it’s amazing how cumulatively and exponentially this begins to explode. My whole life has just been this continual flow of men coming here who want to do what I’ve done, and not necessarily a style, but with integrity teaching the Word of God and building a church according to what the Word of God says.

So just be patient. And I’ve said this many times: you worry about the depth of your life and ministry, let God take care of the breadth of it. You be who you need to be and watch the Lord collect around you the people who want what you are doing to be the mark in their life. And as the Lord grows that, it’ll multiply, and one day you’ll wake up fifty years later and say, “How did this ever happen?”

So I’m not the explanation for it, but the nature and character of biblical ministry is what attracts men with that same conviction. And that’s why if you had a non-biblical ministry and just keep attracting non-biblical people, the thing spirals completely out of control. But if you have a biblical ministry and you keep attracting people committed to biblical ministry, it just gets richer and deeper and broader and higher and wider; and that’s what we’ve experienced here. Does that help?

AUDIENCE: Yes. Thank you very much.

JOHN: Thanks.

AUDIENCE: Hi, I’m Judah.

JOHN: Hi, Judah. How old are you?

AUDIENCE: Six.

JOHN: Six, wow.

AUDIENCE: I’m going to ask, what’s the youngest that you can go to seminary?

JOHN: What is the youngest that you can go to seminary? Judah, you’re old enough to go to seminary, you just can’t stay there. So whoever your mom and dad are they need to get you over to that seminary and give you a full tour and plant in your little heart what might be in the future. Okay? You’ve got to get your mom and dad to give you a – get somebody in the seminary, give you a personal tour so that you can experience now in a way that’ll indelibly plant itself in your mind what may be the Lord’s plan for you in the future. But having said that, you really have to be like 21. Okay?

AUDIENCE: Yes.

JOHN: Thank you, Judah.

AUDIENCE: Hi. My name is Adrianna and I’m from Romania. I’m really grateful that you had the flu a couple of weeks ago, because I cannot attend in other weeks, I’m here only today.

JOHN: So you’re thanking the Lord for the flu, right?

AUDIENCE: Yes. So you mentioned politics, and I wanted to tell you about my country is very corrupt. The government is corrupt, and a lot of people are getting involved now in politics and protesting on the streets against corruption. What should a Christian do? Should a Christian protest against the government? And how and when should a Christian be involved in politics?

JOHN: Being involved in politics in the sense that you vote?

AUDIENCE: No.

JOHN: Yeah. So, but I mean if you voted, that’s how to be in politics in a way that’s not disruptive. No, no Christian should be a part of a protest or a march or any insurrection or any anti-government activity. We are to live quiet and peaceful lives. We are to honor those who are over us. And remember, all that was written when Caesar was on the throne and Christians were being massacred. So we are not of this world, right? This is not our kingdom. Our battle is not this kingdom. It’s not for the government of Romania.

I’ve been in your country. Some would say it was worse when Ceausescu was there. But whenever a dictator is overthrown, that doesn’t get the corruption out, it just spreads the corruption over more people; and I understand that. But as a Christian, we don’t protest. We don’t take up arms. We don’t throw bombs. We don’t do graffiti. We submit to the powers that be because they are ordained of God. And by that, it doesn’t mean that the leaders of Romania are necessarily doing the work of God, but government as an entity brings a measure of order to an otherwise chaotic environment.

So breaking down the authority of the government leading to anarchy is not good for anyone; and Christians are basically forbidden to be a part of the tearing down of any governmental authority, whether it’s communist Chinese authority, or corrupt Romanian authority, or disturbing American government, which is legalizing immorality fast as possible. We pray for our leaders. We submit. We lead quiet and peaceable lives as good citizens of this world, knowing that our citizenship is in heaven; and we fight for the eternal kingdom, not for political change on the surface. This is what I was saying in that message on “The Dangers of Moralism.” When you’re just getting in a battle to change the external morality of a government, you’re dealing with things that are temporal and superficial.

And one other thing to say about it. I pointed out this week at The Truth Matters Conference that we’re living in Romans 1. When God judges a nation, it says in Romans 1, “He gave them over to immorality.” We had a sexual revolution; that was a judgment of God. Then it says in Romans 1:26, “He gave them over to homosexuality.” We’ve had a homosexual revolution. Then it says in Romans 1:28, “He gave them over to a reprobate mind, a mind that doesn’t function.” And I used to wonder, what is that, a mind that doesn’t function? That’s when you’re a man and you think you’re a woman. That is insanity. But that’s where we are.

Now you could say, “Well, I don’t like this, I’m going to fight against it.” Remember this: a sexual revolution, followed by a homosexual revolution, followed by insanity that leads to all kinds of iniquity is the judgment of God. According to Romans 1, it is the judgment of God. This is divine judgment.

So while you’re fighting against that on the one hand because you’re trying to uphold righteousness, understand this, that God Himself is exercising judgment in that very thing. So we don’t want to get caught up in what God is doing in a society other than with the work of the gospel. Okay? So glad you came. Thank you.

AUDIENCE: I am so glad I came.

JOHN: Thank you. Thank you.

AUDIENCE: Thank you.

AUDIENCE: Hi, Pastor John. My name is Ashley.

JOHN: Hi, Ashley.

AUDIENCE: The first thing I wanted to say is I like oatmeal too; so, yeah.

The second thing I wanted – so I wanted to ask a question just about growing up. So I’m a college student, I’m a second-year student, so a sophomore at UCLA, and I feel like I’ve been starting to be more knowledgeable and more set in my faith. I’ve been reading the Bible more, I’ve been praying more, and so just praise the Lord for that. But I’ve also noticed that I’m growing up. How do you increase in childlike love for the Lord as you start to get older? How do you rely on the Lord more and more and depend on Him more and more, even if you feel a little bit jaded at the world that the Lord has created and sustained? What verses can you point to me regarding childhood in adulthood?

JOHN: You know, we’re all in spiritual growth. Peter says, “Grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” The spiritual growth is directly connected to your knowledge of Christ. Second Corinthians 3:18, “As we gaze at His glory, as we gaze at the glory of the Lord, we are changed into His image from one level of glory to the next.” That’s progress by the Holy Spirit.

So spiritual growth, growing from being a spiritual child, to a spiritually young man, to a spiritual adult, in the language of 1 John 2, is a process of taking in the glory of Christ. So whether you’re reading the Old Testament, you’re looking for Christ. You’re reading the Gospels, the book of Acts, the Epistles, the book of Revelation, you’re always looking for the revelation of the glory of Christ, the glory of God shining in the face of Jesus Christ. And as you look at that glory and gaze on His face, you’ll be changed into His image.

Now I want to just follow this up. Recently there was a book written by Andy Naselli and he asked me to write an afterward for the book; and I wrote an afterward for it – it’s recently come out, I can’t think of the name of it – and tried to explain sort of my own spiritual journey, which was somewhat frustrating when I was your age, because in my youth, the big thing with spiritual growth was the Holy Spirit. And Campus Crusade was everywhere, and they had a booklet, The Spirit-Filled Life and how to be filled with the Holy Spirit, and sanctification was all connected with the Holy Spirit, continually with the Holy Spirit. I was very frustrated, to be honest, because the Holy Spirit is a spirit, and there was nothing tangible. To say, “Be being kept filled with the Holy Spirit,” okay, I get that. But that’s not tangible to me. And so there was a lot of frustration in my own spiritual growth, and a lot of other young people trying to grow in that kind of environment were struggling equally, because the Bible never tells us to focus on the Holy Spirit. And even in our Lord’s statements in the upper room, He says, “The Spirit will come and show you things concerning Me.” Somewhere along the line it finally dawned on me after trying, trying to follow an invisible spirit that I needed a visible model. And when I began to focus on Christ, when I, for example, spent the first couple of years here at Grace back in 1969 and ‘70 going through the gospel of John, and Christ became more glorious to me. Week after week after week I’m studying the gospel of John. And then I went into the book of Revelation and saw His glory. Then it was eight years in Matthew, and then it was nine years in Luke, then it was years in Mark, and then some few years back we went through John again. And twenty-five years of my preaching here has been in the Gospels where I’ve just seen Christ constantly before my eyes. And then I wrote commentaries on all those Gospels, and then I see Christ in the book of Acts being preached and in the Epistles, His life and ministry being explained as to its theological implications. And I went through the book of Revelation again and I kept writing more and more commentaries. And then I couldn’t leave it alone, so I went back and we did something called One Perfect Life which blended the life of Christ. And I just think if you keep your eyes on Him, imperceptibly just like you grow physically, you don’t see the change every day. But if you keep your eyes on Him, the Holy Spirit uses the reality of the revelation of Christ in your mind as the tool by which He grows you up to Christlikeness. Okay?

AUDIENCE: Understood. Thank you.

JOHN: You’re welcome.

AUDIENCE: Good evening, John MacArthur. My name is Roman, and I’m very grateful for your faithful ministry for fifty years. That is great encouragement to me.

JOHN: Thank you.

AUDIENCE: And I have a question that’s not my question, I’m basically footnoting my friend’s question, And his statement is as follows: “When Jan Hus was about to be executed by burning 1415 he said to his executioner there will come a swan in a hundred years that you will not be able to silence in the regards of defending the truth and inerrancy of the Scripture.” Martin Luther seemed to fulfill this prophecy. So then the question is, did Jan Hus have the gift of prophecy? Does the gift of prophecy exist during that time? And does the gift of prophecy exist right now?

JOHN: Well, depends on what you mean. The gift of preaching exists, the gift of predicting the future does not. But Jan Hus, I don’t think he said in a hundred years. I can’t remember exactly.

AUDIENCE: It would Jan – Martin Luther came into existence 68 years later.

JOHN: No, I know that, but I don’t know that Jan Hus identified that it would be a hundred years or exact time. Jan Hus did say – because Hus means goose. So Hus said, “You may kill this goose.” That’s where the phrase “cooking the goose, your goose is cooked” comes from, the martyrdom of Jan Hus. He said, “There will come a swan you will not be able to silence.” And if you look at medieval art you often see a picture of Hus painted, and it’s a picture of Hus in part of the painting and a picture of Luther, and behind Hus is a goose and behind Luther is a swan. All Hus was saying was that, “You’re not going to be able to stop this Reformation. There will come a swan.” I don’t think that that was prophetic, I think that was hopeful. I think he was trusting in the purposes of the Lord.

Now it was the bishop of Constance who sentenced Hus to death, and it was to the bishop of Constance that Hus said, “You may silence this goose, but there will come a swan that you will not be able to silence.” And he was speaking in humility, because a swan is more beautiful than a goose, and he knew the Lord would provide someone else.

There is a fabulous reality. There’s a church in Erfurt – Patricia and I were there – and in that church is buried the bishop of Constance in a crypt on the floor. When Martin Luther was ordained in that church he was ordained lying on the grave of the bishop of Constance. So in a marvelous sort of historical, divine serendipity, Luther was ordained on the very crypt of the bishop who had executed Hus.

I don’t know that Jan Has knew anything more than just the hope of his own heart that God would bring another who would have an even greater ministry than he did, and that was Luther. Okay? Good.

AUDIENCE: Good evening, Pastor. My name is Charles Peoples, first-time visitor.

JOHN: Hi, Charles.

AUDIENCE: And I must say, you’ve given me a lot of – your sermons have given a lot of sleepless nights, so it’s a pleasure to be here today.

JOHN: Sorry about that.

AUDIENCE: No, I’ve enjoyed your sermons a lot. My question is a lot of churches teach that love is a choice. I believe it is incorrect, and a specific example, when my child was born, I did not sit and choose that I will love my child unconditionally. God is love and I feel love flows specific, unconditional, sacrificial flows from God. So in respect of what my child does, I will continue to love him till I’m alive. So is it correct to teach that love is a choice?

JOHN: Well, it’s just too simplistic. Love is a command. Love is a command. To start with, it’s a command. We are commanded to love: “Love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and love our neighbor as ourselves.” In the New Testament we are commanded to love: “Love one another as the fulfilling of the whole law.” We are to be known by our love: “By this shall all men know that you’re My disciples, that you have love one for another.”

So it is a command, so that anybody who doesn’t love God and love others is in violation of that command. Culpability enough to send people to hell forever comes for just not loving. You don’t need to be a criminal. The sin of omitting love to God and love to others is enough to condemn to hell.

So first of all, it is a command. For believers, we go one step further. For believers, it is an expression of their regeneration. John says in 1 John, “How do you know someone’s a believer? By their love. By their love.” And John even says, “If you see a man in need and you don’t meet his need, how does the love of God dwell in you?”

So for everyone, it is a command to love God and love others. For believers, it is an expression of their new life. We love because we have been begotten of God. Paul Twiss was talking about this a few Sunday nights ago in 1 John. We love because we are in God and God is love. That’s why our Lord says, “They’ll know you by your love.”

So for us, it isn’t just a command that like for everybody else is impossible to fulfill. For us, it is a command which we eagerly and joyfully desire to fulfill. We love because He first loved us. We love because He dwells in us. We love because the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control. So as a general reality, we are more loving husbands and loving wives and loving parents than non-believers, because we love with a supernatural love. We love with a supernatural love, which by definition is sacrificial.

Having said that, it is still, it is still necessary as a matter of course in life that you choose to express that love. You know what I’m saying? You can withhold that love. You can be angry, you can be unforgiving, you can be resentful, and you can withhold that. In other words, you can go against the grain of your own identity as a Christian. If you love, the apostle Paul says, “May your love excel more and more,” which is to say that that means as believer we could love a lot more than we love. So we do love by nature, but we need to love more. We need to be more devoted to the work of the Holy Spirit so the fruit of the Spirit is love. And that would come down then to cultivating that love as a conscious reality.

What I was saying earlier, I just want to express my love. That’s the goal in every single relationship I have. That goes beyond my own family even. And I’m always in a very difficult situation because I’m the guy who has to say this is true and that’s not, right? So I mean, I basically live as an offense to most people. I don’t like that necessarily, but I accept that responsibility. But the best I can, I try to speak the truth in love. And I would hope that – and even though there’s strength in dogmatism in preaching the truth – that I would be known as someone who expresses that in love. That’s a choice.

And so, while it’s too simple to say love is a choice, love is not. Love is an expression of our redeemed nature, and we should love more and more and more. And as we grow in grace and in the knowledge of Christ and grow in the Spirit and walk in the Spirit, that love will flourish and increase and increase and increase, so that I should now in my life be far more loving than I was twenty years ago. I hope that is true. Still, at each interval in a relationship in life I have to choose to express that love and overpower anything that would stand in the way of that. Okay?

AUDIENCE: Okay.

JOHN: Good.

AUDIENCE: Good evening, John. My name’s Andrew. I just had a basic question about best practices when it comes to Scripture outside of church, non-academic-related, and I just wanted to know, you know, what’s been tried and true for you with your family, your grandchildren that’s just something that you’ve been consistent with that just helps you grow in intimacy with the Lord just for those purposes only? Does that make sense?

JOHN: Well, I mean I’m reading the Scripture constantly, unendingly. It’s where I live and move and have my being. It’s swirling in my mind all the time, because every day I have to interact with the Word of God because I’m preparing to preach. I’m reading books. I’m reading through a book right now called The Great Awakening. It’s a Banner of Truth book that gives the historical background of the Great Awakening that happened in the 1700s with Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield, and it’s just loaded with how that generation was interacting with the Word of God.

For me, I know this is different than most people. I’ve always suggested that the most effective way that I found when I was young was to read the New Testament books thirty times in a row. If it’s a short book like – I started with 1 John thirty days in a row, read the whole thing. It started to make so much more sense to me because it is a book, it’s going from beginning to end, that I read it another thirty days, and I read it another thirty days. So I’d read 1 John ninety times. So I basically knew what was in it. I knew where were verses on what side of the page, halfway down the page, in what column. I mean, I knew what was there. Then I went to the gospel of John and I took seven chapters for thirty days, the second seven for thirty, the third seven for thirty, and in ninety more days I had read; and by just reading it over, over and over and over, I became familiar with it.

Now it’s part of my memory bank. Now I don’t need this to have the Word of God ruminating in my soul. And I’m comparing what I read in John’s gospel with what he wrote in his epistles. And I went back and I think Philippians was next, and I did the same thing. In two-and-a-half years you can basically do the whole New Testament. While you’re doing that you can read kind of gradually through the Old Testament as the backgrounds and the examples, as Paul calls them.

So I think the way you really apprehend the Scripture and it begins to interpret itself is by repeatedly reading it. And then in the process I read good theology which enriches all of that. Okay? Does that help?

AUDIENCE: Thank you, yes.

JOHN: You’re welcome.

AUDIENCE: Good evening, Pastor John. My name is Jerry.

JOHN: Hi, Jerry.

AUDIENCE: Thank you for being an incredible beacon of truth and elevating God’s Word to my family three thousand miles from here. Can you speak on the right godly balance of honoring parents and honoring God? We have a brother who is bringing his homosexual lover to family Christmas and Thanksgiving dinners. We have stated if they as a couple are invited, we do not recognize their union, we do not feel God recognizes it, and we do not want to gather with them as if everything were normal. We are being ostracized by our parents, our siblings, as being unloving and a poor example of Christ’s love for sinners, because Christ mainly hung out with sinners while He was here on earth.

JOHN: Well, here’s the answer to that. You need to say, “Okay, we want to do what Christ did, so we will come and confront them with their sin, and we’ll do that because that’s the most loving thing to do. We will be happy to be there if you will allow for us to have a time in front of the whole family to address the sin and to warn them of the direction of this sin and its ultimate eternal consequences and call them to repentance.” That’s a loving thing to do.

It’s not loving to come and act as if nothing’s wrong. So under those circumstances you would be doing what Christ did, you would be confronting their sin, because Jesus said He did not come to call the righteous to repentance, but sinners. So what did He do when He was with those sinners? He called them to repentance. That’s the loving thing to do.

That might change the dynamics a little bit. If they refuse to allow that to happen, then I perfectly understand your desire not to be there in some tacit, approving way. Okay?

AUDIENCE: Thank you.

JOHN: You’re welcome. Yes, ma’am?

AUDIENCE: Hi, Pastor John.

JOHN: Hi.

AUDIENCE: This question comes in light of the last Q&A that you did at the Truth Matters Conference.

JOHN: Oh, yeah.

AUDIENCE: Okay. I have a concern about someone who is having a lot of influence on young men in our society, who provides common sense direction for living in this world. The problem is that it is giving them a false sense of understanding of true righteousness when they follow this – when they follow the directions of this person: Jordan Peterson, right? It gives them the sense that they are doing well as men, but it obscures the real state of their being and need for Christ. I was wondering if you have any plans of meeting with Jordan Peterson in the future.

JOHN: Well, I’d be happy to meet with him. Jordan Peterson is a phenomenon in the world today. He’s a psychologist who is basically saying that you are completely responsible for your situation. You can’t blame anybody else, you’re not a victim, you are responsible. And particularly with men, he says basically to be a man is to take full responsibility. That in itself has alienated him from the entire world of psychology because he doesn’t want to blame anybody.

The good thing about Jordan Peterson, this simple way to understand it is this: it’s really helpful to tell people to take responsibility for what they are. That is a helpful reality. But by his own confession he does not acknowledge that he believes in God or Christ or the gospel or the Bible.

Again, a doctor can do good. An exercise therapist can do good on a human level. And I think this kind of psychology is so different and men are being so crushed by the sheer force of the feminist movement that it is helpful to have at least somebody telling men to stand up and take responsibility on a human level. It’d be nice if we ever got into a situation in this country where we had to go to battle if we had enough men to form an army, enough men with courage and manliness.

So I think Jordan Peterson is saying something that’s so infuriating to the feminist agenda, and he also goes so far as to say, “If you’re a man, you’re a man; if you’re a woman, you’re a woman.” And that is simple reality that anybody with half a brain would say is true.

I just like the idea that he is forcing people to take responsibility for their conduct. And I think this helps us with the gospel, because if you are responsible for your conduct and you’re not a victim, then you’re the one that’s going to have to deal with it.

When I did – some months ago I did a series on Ezekiel on the social justice issue, my whole point in that series was if we turn sinners into victims, we remove them from the gospel, because if they’re all victims, if they’re all categorical victims in some victim category who are not responsible for the things in their life, we’re pushing them away from the primary necessity that drives people to the gospel; and that is, “I’m responsible, and look at the mess I’m in. Where do I go for hope?”

So I like the idea that he’s holding men responsible, and also women responsible for their own behavior and the character of their own lives. It’s better than removing responsibility, which makes it harder to bring the gospel, because people see themselves as victims of somebody else’s behavior, not their own. Okay?

AUDIENCE: Thank you.

JOHN: Good question.

This sermon series includes the following messages:

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Unleashing God’s Truth, One Verse at a Time
Since 1969

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Unleashing God’s Truth, One Verse at a Time
Since 1969
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