Grace to You Resources
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JOHN: Well, we haven’t done this in a long time. And I’m older than I’ve ever been, so I don’t know what I remember until I’m tested, so this will be a wonderful, wonderful opportunity. We have done this through the years and always felt like it was an important part of our ministry to know what was on your heart. I think one of the things that a preacher fears is that he’s answering questions that no one is asking, and so we solved that many, many years ago by making sure we knew the questions that you were asking.

So we’ll begin, and I think we’ll begin on the right. And give me your name and your question. I think I’ll be able to hear fine.

AUDIENCE: Good evening. Good evening, Brother John. Good evening, Brother John. This is Arno Babajanian, yeah, Arno Babajanian.


AUDIENCE: Yeah. Yeah. My question is this: Since the theological conclusion of the Great Commission is the victory of the Messiah, how should we consider biblical Christian nationalism, theonomy, and hopeful eschatology?

JOHN: That’s a pretty big question, so let’s just pick off Christian nationalism. I’ll give you a simple answer: There’s no such thing. There is no such thing as Christian nationalism.

The kingdom of God is not of this world. Jesus said that. He said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would [fight].” His kingdom is not of this world. The kingdom of this world is a separate world; they’re not linked together.

Let me say it another way: Nothing that happens in any nation, whether it’s a Communist nation, a Muslim nation, or a “quasi-Christian” nation, or an atheistic nation—nothing in that nation politically, socially has anything to do with the advancement of the kingdom of God, because the kingdom of God is separate from that system. God, in His sovereignty, is building His church, “and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it,” Jesus said. So the idea that you should link up some political effort, some political process, some social process, some gain of power or influence in a culture as part of the advance of Christianity is alien to Christianity. You never have our Lord approaching anything like that, nor the apostles, and particularly the apostle Paul. He sought to gain no favor with the Roman Empire whatsoever, or for that matter, with any other of the rulers that he ran into during his life.

Now, that is not to say that we are indifferent to what happens in the nation. We’ve been talking about that the last couple of Sunday mornings. We have to be the people who uphold righteousness. When we come to vote, we want to vote for that which is the most righteous option. Obviously, we can’t vote in righteousness, but we have to vote in a way that reflects our commitment to the righteousness of God. So we couldn’t possibly elect somebody who was an abortionist, somebody who was LGBTQ or LGBTQ-affirming, or any other deviation from God’s righteous moral standard.

So it gets harder, doesn’t it, nowadays, because even sometimes when politicians are more conservative and anti-abortion, they may be sinful and wicked in some other categories, and it’s very hard to find out who is really honest and who is simply dishonest and seeking power. But in the end, we do what we can with the understanding that the responsibility of the church is not to advance the kingdom of this world. That’s a faulty viewpoint. Christian nationalism is usually tied to what is called post-millennialism, and that is the view that the church, somehow, by influencing the culture, can bring in the kingdom of Christ. In other words, it’s the idea not that Christ returns and sets up His kingdom, but that the church establishes His kingdom and then hands it to Him.

That is not what Scripture teaches. What Scripture teaches is what we’re learning from the book of Revelation. Things are going to get worse and worse and worse. And the end of human history is not the church triumphant, reigning in the world and taking over the structures of human kingdoms; that’s not what happens. At the end of human history, the believers are persecuted and murdered, and that’s the very opposite of what Christian nationalism would anticipate. So we believe the Bible teaches that things get worse and worse, headed toward the wrath of God, which we’re seeing in Revelation, and then our Lord returns, Himself, to establish His kingdom is clearly what we read in the book of Revelation. OK?

AUDIENCE: Hi, I’m Edith Carter. So thankful for you, John. So my question is from Matthew 24.

JOHN: Could somebody turn the speaker on, up here? I’m not hearing very well. That’s another thing that may be happening to me.

AUDIENCE: I can just—

JOHN: There it is.

AUDIENCE: —yell really loud.

JOHN: There it is. Thank you.

AUDIENCE: There we go. So in Matthew 24:24 it says, “For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders so as to deceive, if possible, even the elect.” So by “if possible, even the elect,” does this mean it may be possible to deceive some portion of the elect, or is it always impossible to deceive any of the elect?

JOHN: It’s always impossible to deceive the elect—not to deceive them about some things, but to deceive them about who is Christ. Yes, it’s impossible because we know the true Christ. It’s what you see in John 10, where our Lord says, “I am the good shepherd, and My sheep know My voice and they follow Me, and they will not follow a thief and a robber. They will not.”

So we don’t have to fear the fact that we would be led astray by a false messiah. That’s not going to happen. OK?

AUDIENCE: I think the thing that made me ask this was some Christians even seem to be deceived in the last few years by some of the lies regarding that whole thing with the coronavirus, and it just kind of made me wonder, Is that a matter of Christian discernment or not?

JOHN: Yeah. Well, let’s back up and say that’s different. Being deceived about Christ is not possible to a believer. Being deceived about other things is possible. And understand this: The fine art of deception is the stock and trade of Satan, and that’s what the whole society lives with.

Look, people, things are not what you think. Just generally they’re not what you think. They’re not what you think in this nation or any other nation. They’re not what you think. You can be as noble as you want in thinking about the best of humanity, but Satan is a deceiver, and he’s a liar, and he is the father of lies and the father of liars, and we are all trying to navigate to find the truth in the midst of lies; and that is why the premium is on the truth. And you’re absolutely right. To know the truth is to have discernment.

And I will tell you this. I was saying this to our elders the other night, that it’s amazing to me how many people in spiritual leadership have demonstrated no discernment over the last three years through all of this, including the lockdowns, including social justice, including wokeness. I mean, there was a time three or four years ago when there was a panoply of evangelical leaders that everybody knew; they were respected. The woke movement came in, and they got on the wrong side of that issue, and they began to disintegrate and disappear from the scene. So discernment is available if you rightly divide the Word of truth.

So can a believer be deceived about some things? Yes. Can he be deceived about Christ? No.

AUDIENCE: Thank you.

JOHN: Good question. Yes, sir?

AUDIENCE: Good evening, Pastor. My name is Winston Ekbal. I have two questions. The first one is, What inspired you to remain dedicated as a pastor every Sunday for fifty-five years? And the second question I have is, Where in the Old Testament is Jesus mentioned?

JOHN: What inspired me be a pastor for the last fifty-five years? I could say Patricia woke me up every Sunday and said, “Get up, you have to preach.” And that would be true. I will tell you this: There has never been any lack of motivation for me. Never ever, ever have I awakened on a Lord’s Day and said, “I wish I could do something else.”

The only time that I was a little bit reluctant was when I wasn’t as prepared as I would like to be. But apart from that—and that, I can deal with that by making sure I am prepared. It is the highest joy. It is the greatest privilege. You have to experience it, I guess, in some ways, to understand what happens to the preacher. My son Mark said to me one time, sitting on the bed when he was in high school, he said, “Dad, I don’t understand you.” He said, “When you preach, you’re really different, you’re really something, and the rest of the time you’re just kind of normal.” And that was intended as a compliment, I think.

This is a gift that the Spirit of God has given me, and there’s nothing as exhilarating as taking that gift and bringing it to bear upon the truth of God’s divine Word. There’s a power in that. There’s an energy, a spiritual energy that is something—I mean, look, I’m old enough to retire, but I can’t imagine not doing this, because this is such an exhilarating and such a great privilege.

And your second question, Is Jesus mentioned in the Old Testament? Everywhere, starting in Genesis chapter 3, He is the One who is the seed of the woman who crushes the serpent’s head, and that starts in Genesis 3, and He’s mentioned through the whole entire Old Testament. And that’s why in Luke 24 He said—and you heard it earlier—He said, “You need to read the Old Testament, for they speak about Me.” And opening the Old Testament, He revealed Himself to those disciples on the road to Emmaus. So yes, He’s all through the Old Testament.

I think it was some months ago when Andy Stanley said you need to disconnect from the Old Testament. That is a horrendous thing to say. If you disconnect from the Old Testament, you would miss all the Old Testament evidences that Jesus was, in fact, the Messiah because of how explicitly He fulfilled Old Testament prophecy. Thank you.

AUDIENCE: Thank you.

AUDIENCE: Good evening, Pastor John. My name is Daniel Acosta. Thank you for yours and Patricia’s faithful ministry to the body.

My question is in regard to home Bible studies. Can you comment how foundational home Bible studies have been to the historical church and how critical they will be to Grace Church and the church at large, moving forward?

JOHN: Well, Bible study is critical, so Bible study in any format is a benediction and a blessing. You have an illustration of that in the book of Acts because in the book of Acts when the church is born, what were they doing? It says they were coming together for fellowship and prayer to study the apostles’ doctrine, and they were coming together every day. They were going from house to house to house as well as collecting in the Temple. It wasn’t that there was some official structure for house churches, it was just that whenever they came together in the normal course of life, the Bible and the things that went along with Christian worship and ministry were the priority.

You have in the earliest part of the church, they were meeting, of course, in any place they could meet because they didn’t have church buildings. But eventually, as the church began to grow, churches developed, and that would have been pretty obvious in the day of Pentecost when you had three thousand people converted in one day. Immediately, the only place they could meet was the Temple; and that was not for them, and that was not their place, but that’s what they had to do until they could find—they could meet outdoors, of course, and they did that very often, as we know. In the ministry of Jesus, He taught outside as well.

But I would say I don’t have a problem with personal Bible study. That’s a priority—group Bible study, family Bible study, home Bible study, or any other kind of Bible study, because I think that the Word of God is the most important thing. Any kind of format doesn’t matter.


AUDIENCE: Hi, John. My name is Richard.

JOHN: Hi, Richard.

AUDIENCE: I wanted to follow up with some questions about the Puritans.


AUDIENCE: We talked about it back in 2020. We were trying to figure out if the conference was going to happen, and you talked about the importance of the Puritans in this church and so forth. So my first question is, When will be the next conference?

JOHN: I think we’re talking about that. That was such a wonderful conference that—are we thinking 2025?

MALE: Fall of ’25.

JOHN: Fall of 2025. We’re going to have another Puritan conference. That was well received by everyone.

AUDIENCE: OK. And I did purchase a book, and, no, you didn’t write it, and—because the last time I brought up on the subject about a book, you asked me if you wrote it. And no, you didn’t write this one. It’s called A Puritan Theology: A Doctrine for Life. And I bought the study guide, and I’m asking you, did I get in over my head on that one? It’s very difficult, but, you know, your comments on that.

JOHN: Yeah. So take small bites—


JOHN: —because you’ll overwhelm yourself. That is an anthology. So just take small bites, and stop when you find something that captures your heart, meditate on it, thank the Lord for it, think about it a little bit, and then go to the next bite. OK?

AUDIENCE: All right. Thank you.

JOHN: But I’m glad you’re doing it.


JOHN: Yeah. You maybe should have started thirty years ago so you can get through the book.



AUDIENCE: Hi, Pastor.


AUDIENCE: My name is Christian Nuesa. It’s good to see you again in the Q&A session, I have to say. My question is in regards to a friend of mine who moved away, for years, actually, and came back.

JOHN: Moved away from here?

AUDIENCE: Move away from here, yes, from different—

JOHN: And came back.

AUDIENCE: —and came back. The only issue there was he has a new wife. She’s a believer as well; however, their marriage came from an unbiblical divorce. So my struggle is should I actually continue to have him as a friend and, further, accept his new wife as my friend as well?

JOHN: Yeah. No, that’s a really good question. The Bible talks about legitimate grounds for divorce, and there are therefore non-legitimate grounds for divorce. That does happen. It happens a lot obviously. And even among Christian people it happens. But once you remarry, you’ve established a new relationship.

AUDIENCE: Correct.

JOHN: There’s no reason to break that up, because you can’t go back to the first wife; the Bible is explicit about that. You cannot divorce a new wife and go back to the original one. So this is a new beginning. There should be a recognition of the sin of that marriage and then an effort to make the most out of it, in the grace of God, and not compound the problem by another divorce; and that means that we have to be forgiving and understanding and loving and embrace people in the situation that they are in.

You know, Paul says that in 1 Corinthians, essentially because Christians were saying, “OK, we’re new Christians. We’ve got these confused marriage relationships. Now that we’re Christians, should we divorce our unbelieving spouse and try to undo these things?” And he says, “No, remain with an unbelieving spouse, and perhaps that unbeliever will be won by the testimony of the Christian partner.”

So the Scripture recognizes those relationships that are on an illegitimate, sort of, footing to begin with. But I think it’s for us to then uphold the sanctity of that marriage as it is, and encourage people to be repentant and acknowledge the sin of the past, and do everything they can to make the most of the current marriage, and coming alongside to help them—and that would be a good thing to do. OK?


JOHN: Good.

AUDIENCE: Thank you.

AUDIENCE: Hi, Pastor John. My name is Stephanos. How can families biblically consider raising a family in California, when the husband is called to be the provider, but the wages are not keeping up with the cost of living? And what options do we have?

JOHN: Well, you really don’t have an option. California may be worse than other places now, but it’s not going to be long before everything’s going to be the same. Now, trying to run from California is maybe a short-term issue because of the economy of this state. But I think if you’re here and God has you here, you have to be creative. You have to do what God has called you to do—support your family the best you can, work as hard as you can, downsize your life, do what you can to be efficient with the resources you have. A wife can certainly be enterprising. We see that in Proverbs 31, right? She can be very enterprising and contribute to the family as long as it doesn’t harm the relationship with the husband and the children.

I think this is a pertinent question because I think this could get worse before it gets better. As I was saying this morning, there are concerted efforts to, basically, destroy. I think about the first couple of hundred years of American history, when people in the United States were busy building a nation. And now they’re busy destroying it, tearing it down, destroying it every possible way you could destroy it—destroying families, destroying marriage, destroying sexual identity, the insanity of all insanities, destroying the economy by overindulgence and high taxation and all the rest. It’s very destructive stuff. And it’s being led, of course, by the ideologies that are propagated in the university system and among the elites, and so they are the ones that are the educators of the people who lead in the future; and so down the path of destruction we go.

So it behooves us not to be looking for the upward move toward the once-called American dream but to be realistic about life, and careful and thoughtful; and commit your way to the Lord, and He’ll direct your paths, and I think He’ll provide for you if you’re faithful and work diligently.

AUDIENCE: Dear Brother John, forgive my voice. I—little sick. I wrote you an epistle: “Our righteousness and love and perfect union holiness, is it we are repelled by His righteousness but attracted by His love? Is the gospel powerful because at its core it is God’s truth and God’s love, the very nature of God? Is the sin of the church that we drink deep of its truth but neglect His love? For truth with no love is not truth, but spiritual pride. And love with no truth is not love, but tolerance. Unless we eat His truths and drink His love in equal measure, we will not grow in holiness; for love is motivation, and if we are not motivated by God’s love, we will operate on our own self-love and become tinkling cymbals. Yet there’s hope, for God’s love drives out self-love, and self-love is the sin nature. My little children, become little children. Let us go before our holy Father and cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ Let us drink deeply of His love, and we shall mount up with wings as eagles.”

JOHN: Amen. I think there might have been a question in there, but I didn’t hear it. But no, I sign up for that.

AUDIENCE: Hello, Pastor. Pastor John, my name is Peter Montgomery. Share with us your opinion of the Gospel Coalition. And should we platform those who are in it, especially in light of scriptures such as 2 Corinthians 6:17, Galatians 5:9, and 2 John 10 and 11? That last one, Phil Johnson recently preached on very well down in Florida.

JOHN: Yeah. So there are some major organizations that have been around for the last, at least, ten years. One was The Gospel Coalition. Started out with noble intent to bring different people together—leaders, pastors, theologians—around the gospel. It was very much like T4G, Together for the Gospel, that had that conference. We had as many as ten thousand people. I was a part of that every year at these huge conventions, and it was Together for the Gospel. But both of those organizations—well, T4G is basically nonexistent. They bought into the deceptiveness of the woke movement and the racial baiting that was going on a couple of years ago, and it literally put them out of existence.

I was thinking the other day how interesting it was that the last panel discussion that I was on at a T4G event was to honor R. C. Sproul, who had died, and I spoke at his funeral. This was, I think, 2017 or 2018. So the T4G guys wanted to honor him with a panel. And we spent an hour, an hour and fifteen minutes, and it was just beautiful tributes to R. C. from all of us who knew him so very, very well. And the strange irony was a year later they did the same thing for Martin Luther King, who was not a Christian at all, whose life was immoral. I’m not saying he didn’t do some social good. And I’ve always been glad that he was a pacifist, or he could have started a real revolution. But you don’t honor a nonbeliever who misrepresented everything about Christ and the gospel in an organization alongside honoring somebody like R. C. Sproul. This was a symptom of the impact of the woke movement that basically displaced that whole organization. That was really—it was over after that. And some of the effects of those men who were leaders there are still going on. And it had a negative effect on their leadership and, I think, even the role they play in evangelicalism today.

Well, The Gospel Coalition kind of followed the same pattern. And today, The Gospel Coalition is propagating just about anything and everything—good, bad, and indifferent. So no, I wouldn’t feel comfortable with The Gospel Coalition.

Once, a few years ago, we tried to be friends, warm up with them, and they said they would like to have a conference at Grace Church, and so we said, “Well, that would be great.” They said, “We’ve associated with some of the wrong people, some of the compromising people, and we’d like to identify with you.” And so we said, “Well, we’ll certainly consider that. Send us the program that you would like to have here.” And I remember they sent us a program of speakers that we would never ever, ever have here, dealing with issues of gender and all that kind of thing.

So these amorphous evangelical organizations without diligent, fastidious, vigilant leadership to keep them faithful to the truth of Scripture just wander off into everything, and they become, I guess in a sense, useless as an entity. There would be people in all of these that are still good people and honor the Lord, but the inability to discern what was really going on broke them into pieces. The Gospel Coalition is like Christianity Today—it’s Christianity astray. OK.

AUDIENCE: Hi, Pastor John. I’m Steve.

JOHN: Hi, Steve.

AUDIENCE: Do young adults have an obligation to obey their parents? Is there a God-honoring way to navigate disagreement with parents as you get older?

JOHN: Yeah. I think adults have an obligation to obey their parents. It depends on what you mean by obey. You’re not going to get spanked if you don’t obey, but you might get left out of the will. I mean, what you want to communicate to your parents is respect and honor, and you can navigate that wisely and thoughtfully and lovingly.

Look, this comes down—I think the most difficult conflict comes down to the young adult wanting to marry someone that his parents don’t want him to marry, because that’s for life. And you, at that point, need to listen to your parents because they’ve lived it. I’ve told parents through the years, “If you don’t think somebody’s right for your child, you’re probably right, you’re probably correct, and they’re probably not able to understand that because they don’t have your wisdom and because they’re emotionally involved.” That’s where most of the conflict comes. And so I would just encourage young people, “Listen to your parents.” And I would encourage parents, “Don’t let your young people change your mind, if you think that this is not the right person, because you are probably right.”

In all other cases, I think you need to—and even in that case, you have to be honest and loving and respectful and honoring to your parents, and negotiate what you can out of that. And if they’re hesitant about somebody you’re choosing as a partner, take the time and the effort to see if you can’t change their mind patiently. That’s the best way you could honor them. And again, understanding that they know what you don’t know about a life of marriage, you ought to be eager to listen.

AUDIENCE: Thank you.

AUDIENCE: Hello, Pastor John. My name’s Ramon. I just had a question regarding Israel. My question is, considering the spiritual state of Israel now in relation to their rejection of Christ, are we as Christians obliged to stand with the nation of Israel, politically speaking?

JOHN: Yeah, I think we are obliged to stand as protectors of the Jews, OK, that’s Genesis 12: You bless the seed of Abraham, you’re blessed; you curse them, you’re cursed. God puts the whole world on notice: “These are My chosen people. I have a plan for them. Yes, they have followed idols. Yes, they have been punished and judged. Yes, they rejected their Messiah. Yes, they are still this—”Jews are living and dying and going out of the presence of God forever, now, but still, God has a future plan for the Jewish people, and we have to be protectors of them. I think any nation that tries to eliminate the Jewish people has made a bad, bad decision because the Bible is filled with the promises of God that no one will annihilate them, and anyone who tries will be annihilated.

Now this doesn’t mean that we are required to give them money for what they do politically or militarily; I think that’s a different issue. But we are to understand that God has a plan for Jewish people and that we want always to pray for the peace of Jerusalem and the preservation of the Jewish people, until the time when they see their Messiah and salvation comes to Israel. So it’s not the governmental entity of Israel that we support, it’s the Jewish people. And they’re constituted now, obviously, globally in their own nation, and so we should be protectors of that people and that nation. There is no biblical promise about protecting Arabs or Scottish people or English people or Hispanic people, but there is a warning from God to be sure you’re protecting Jewish people. And if you do that, God promises to bless you. OK?

AUDIENCE: Hello, Pastor John. I’m Naomi.

JOHN: Hi, Naomi.

AUDIENCE: Last December, former U.S. Navy Pilot Michael Cassidy beheaded a satanic statue displayed in the Iowa State Capitol in defense of Christianity. He was then taken by police officers as he surrendered himself willingly. The Satanic Temple of Iowa wants to press charges against him. In response he quotes 1 Peter 5:8 on his Twitter in defense to his actions. Would you deem his actions commendable? If so, should we as Christians openly resist the increasing promotion of satanism? I’m reminded of Gideon’s act of destroying the altar of Baal in the book of the Judges.

JOHN: That is a great question. And yes, I support what he did, absolutely. You have to take the consequences if you do it, but that was a noble thing to do. I mean, that was something that he felt very deeply in his heart. I know the whole story, as all of you, of course, do.

What are they doing, having an altar to Satan in a state public building? That is the offense. The offense isn’t that it was removed, the offense was that it was there. But it demonstrates where the culture is: that he gets punished, not the people who set it up. So you have to understand, you can do that, you can do that, but you will have to take the consequences. And the consequences have turned on him.

But we see this in a lot of things: that the people who are doing what is right are the ones being punished. That’s the nature of our society. No, I think that kind of a noble stand is almost biblical to do that. OK?

AUDIENCE: Thank you.

JOHN: Good question.

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

JOHN: Hi, Brandon.

AUDIENCE: And my question for you is around pastoral ministry. So as someone who’s faithfully served the church for the past fifty-five years, I was hoping you could comment on why, statistically, the average tenure of men in pastoral ministry is only about five years or even less.

JOHN: Well, the actual duration is maybe a little less than five years. I don’t know. I do know that to get to that as an average, when you have some people who’ve been 10, 15, 20, 25 years means there’s a massive aggregate of people that are less than that.

So I think the first thing that always comes to my mind is they shouldn’t have been there in the first place. In other words, if you give up in a couple of years, maybe you weren’t called by God. Or secondly, maybe you had too-high expectations of your influence. It’s a long-haul operation.

I felt, when I came to Grace Church, that I didn’t even think the leadership began to capture the essence of what I was trying to teach them about what a church should be till maybe seven or eight years in, and that’s because the people in a given church have attachments from the past and viewpoints from the past, and they were influenced by people they loved and prior pastors and whatever or whatever. So somebody who’s new comes in, and if you expect in a year or two to shift all that allegiance to you, you’re foolish, you’re foolish. That has to be earned, and that is earned methodically over a long period of time. And it’s not even how good you are as a communicator, it’s, do they grow to trust you? Do they grow to trust you? Do they feel like they’re loved? And return that love. That takes years.

And I would say some people say, “Well, this church isn’t coming along the way I think it should, so I’m going to go to another one.” If you’re trying to get that done in three or four years, you’re dreaming. It takes so long to do that. It’s not always fifty-five years, but if you’re somewhere fifty-five years—people say to me, “What is most rewarding about fifty-five years at Grace?” And my answer’s always the same: It’s multigenerational impact of the Word of God. I mean, I’m literally ministering to the great-grandchildren of the people who were here when I came, and I’ve seen the work of the Word in generation after generation after generation, and I’ve seen the maturing of the saints one generation, another generation; and they’re all over the world, and many of them are in ministry pastoring and mission fields and Christian leadership. I mean, this is the great reward of long-term ministry.

But the key to long-term ministry is not the congregation, it’s the pastor. It’s, Can you get them not to throw you out. Can you survive the foolishness that you’ve brought up? Can you survive the mistakes or the indifference that some people think you have toward them, or someone in their family who’s ill and you paid no attention? If you can survive that, the love bond that comes between a church and a pastor over half a century is beyond description. It’s joy unspeakable, really, and full of glory for me. OK.

AUDIENCE: Good evening, Pastor John. My name’s Neal McCloud. I’m a Scot. They’re not going to get rid of us.

John, I have a question that’s been heavy on my heart about one of our Scottish brothers. Will you comment and guide us as to why Alistair Begg is mistaken in advising a member of his flock to attend and solemnize a marriage of her granddaughter to a transgender partner? Can you guide us as to why we should not bend to do this?

JOHN: Yeah, that question—

AUDIENCE: Thank you.

JOHN: —came up and has gotten all over the Internet. Let me say, first of all, that Alistair and I have been friends for, well, forty-five years. When I was in Scotland forty-five years ago, I was pushing his forty-five-year-old son in a pram. You know what a pram is, Neal? It’s like a baby buggy. So we’ve had a lot of history together. And I have a great affection for him. I also want to say that you shouldn’t judge a man by his weakest moment. All of us will have a moment of weakness.

Having said that, I have to disagree with the answer that he gave to the question. A believer should not go to a homosexual, transgender wedding for a lot of reasons. But he was making the argument that you go out of compassion rather than condemnation. You go to show love to them, as a means to reach them.

My response to that is the most loving thing you could possibly do would be not to go and to condemn the relationship. That is loving. It’s not loving to help somebody celebrate stepping into the fury of God’s judgment. “No transgender person, effeminate, homosexual will enter the kingdom of heaven.” This is not a time for you to celebrate thinking that your affection for somebody is the means of their salvation. They will come to salvation when the Lord exposes their sin.

That’s why the Holy Spirit, John 16, convicts of sin and righteousness and judgment. And what should be said to somebody is, “This is wrong. This is against God’s order. This is not marriage. It is not a marriage because you can’t have a marriage between two people of the same sex. It’s not a marriage at all. It is defying God, who ordained marriage and ordained male and female and designed procreation. It is a blasphemy against God, as is transgender life and homosexuality as well.” That is the message to give in love.

Beyond the theological reasons and the biblical reasons, I couldn’t affirm that. If I went, I would affirm that. Not only could I not affirm it, I don’t think I could tolerate it. I don’t think I could survive sitting in something like that and feeling like I was supportive of it. And then to give them a gift, that is to aid and abet the celebration of something that is defying God’s design and the very, very, I would say, point of the spear, currently, of the corruption of this entire culture. So you can’t be a part of that.

AUDIENCE: Thank you so much.

JOHN: Well, it’s my pleasure. I do say this. I don’t understand why you would answer the question that way. I thought if somebody was in that situation and had that view, and you’re on the radio and somebody says—and you’re recording this, right? So whoever your host is is going to ask you a question, and the host says, “What would you tell this grandma about going to a transgender wedding?” I would immediately say, “Ask me another question,” particularly if I was at all prone to suggest that that might be OK. I would never say that, because you have to calculate the cost of that. And how do you calculate that? I mean, the price for that is really epic. It’s really epic.

And there’s so much more about him that is wonderful and faithful, and his ministry just passed forty years of pastoral ministry in that church, and was a great celebration. And now he’s going to be defined by that. I don’t know how you calculate doing that for that reason, unless there is some very personal relationship with someone you’re trying to win over or protect. But that’s, really, speculation in my mind.

AUDIENCE: Good evening, Pastor John. My name’s Timothy.

JOHN: Hi, Timothy.

AUDIENCE: Well, I just started at The Master’s University last month in January, and I’m hoping to—well, after I graduate from there, go to the seminary and become a pastor at my local church where I grew up in. I grew up in a reservation out in Florida, and—

JOHN: Yeah, you’re a Seminole, aren’t you?

AUDIENCE: Yes, sir. But anyways, so where I grew up, the people are hostile towards Christianity, towards the gospel. They call it white man’s religion, and they say, “We want nothing to do with that; that’s white man’s religion.” And now there’s the wokeness coming into the tribe, and there’s more and more kids saying they’re gay or lesbians, nonbinary, you know, whatever that means.

But anyways, so how do you reach a people that’s already against Christianity in the culture? And now you got also the world against it as well, that influence as well. And also, how do you be friends with people who are indifferent or hostile towards Christianity, because all my friends aren’t Christians out there, because there is no one else like me. I’m the only—I’m about to be twenty in March, I’m the only twenty- or even up to thirty-year-old in the community, and maybe even the entire tribe.

JOHN: Wow. OK, here’s the plan. You go to The Master’s University, you graduate, you go to The Master’s Seminary, then you go back and you say, “Lord, help me reach these people.”

The Lord has you here for a reason. We talked the other day, and I’ve thought about that, that you may be the man for that tribe of people. How will they hear without—what? A preacher. They need a preacher. And over the next few years we would love to make you into that preacher and then see what God would do. That would be a wonderful mission field that Grace Church would support you, if you decided to go to. OK?

AUDIENCE: All right. Thank you.

AUDIENCE: Hello, my name is Anita. My question is, when we die, we go immediately in the presence of the Lord; so based on this, can you please explain Matthew chapter 27, verse 52? And I’m just going to read the verse: “The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised.”

JOHN: So you’re saying, “What happened to those people? Did they have to come back from heaven to earth?”

AUDIENCE: Yeah. My question is, if we go to heaven, why is our body that’s buried coming back to life, or what’s happening—

JOHN: Yeah, they have died and gone to heaven, but they had a resurrection. So that’s the only way you can explain it. They were dead, they were saints, they were brought back to life to validate the resurrection power of Christ which was going to take place soon after His execution. So that’s a very unusual situation. It’s a great question. Very unusual situation.

I’ve often thought about the fact that what was going on in heaven when the Lord showed up one day in heaven and said, “OK, who wants to go back?” And then everybody said, “Uh, uh, uh. . .” “Are you kidding? You want to send us where? You want to send us to Jerusalem at the crucifixion of the Messiah?” But that’s what happened. The Lord showed His resurrection power even in the death of Christ, and those saints had a purpose in God’s plan. And then in the appropriate time, He took them back to glory, so it was a temporary mission.

AUDIENCE: But doesn’t that mean we’re going to be judged again, or—

JOHN: Pardon?

AUDIENCE: Does that mean we’re going to be judged again during the Tribulation? That’s what’s confusing me about the bodies coming back.

JOHN: I’m not sure I understand your question.

AUDIENCE: So, if the buried is going to come back to life—

JOHN: No, just that group at the crucifixion.

AUDIENCE: Sorry. I don’t understand.

JOHN: Am I missing it?

AUDIENCE: I think I’m missing it, yes.

AUDIENCE: Pastor John, I think she’s asking that if when we die, we go immediately to heaven, what’s going on in Matthew 27 when these folks are—their bodies are resurrected. Are they going to be judged again, or are those bodies cleared to be in heaven with God forever?

JOHN: Well, we don’t know. I mean, we can assume that they came back in bodies because that’s what a resurrection is. So that would be a special body. It wouldn’t be a fallen body, right? I mean, it’s very much like the Mount of Transfiguration, where Moses and Elijah appear on the mountain with the apostles in visible form. The Lord can accommodate His purposes. If He wants to send the saints back for a purpose, He can give them a body. No, they won’t have another judgment. I mean, that’s all settled. OK? Good question.

AUDIENCE: Thank you.

AUDIENCE: Good evening, Pastor John. My name is Hammi. My question is, what do you think of the idea of Christ-centered preaching that a lot of Reformed churches promote, such as in this book written by Bryan Chapell? They believe there is a deeper meaning beyond the original one, and if you explain the Bible in most situations you need to explain how the verses relate to the gospel or redemption. I’m from China. A lot of churches are doing this. Thank you.

JOHN: How did you come up with such a big hermeneutical question? No. Yes, she’s put her finger on something that’s really important.

There’s a trend in—it’s been around for a long time—a trend that somehow every passage has to have Christ in it or you haven’t dug deep enough, that if you’re in the story of David and Goliath, somewhere Christ has to be there in any other biblical account. It has to be about Christ; He has to be the main feature there.

I think that is not required. I think we don’t accept that hermeneutic, the Christological hermeneutic, that every passage is about Christ. And what happens is you start creating allegories and metaphors and sort of spiritualizing the text to put Christ in the text. No, you don’t ever inject anything into a text, even Christ, that doesn’t come out of the text. So that’s the law of hermeneutics, hermēneuō, to interpret, to translate.

So Bible exposition says, “What is this text saying?” not, “How can I make this text say something?” And if you have a Christological demand that everything has to have Christ in it, you’ll be unfaithful in interpreting that text, and you’ll be reading something into it, and that confuses Scripture no end. We never want to read anything into the Scripture that isn’t there. And while, obviously, Christ is the theme of Scripture, He’s not in every incident and every part of Scripture. OK? Really good question.

AUDIENCE: Thank you so much.

AUDIENCE: Hello, Pastor MacArthur. My name is Juan Carlos, or J. C. for short. In Old Testament times, did the Jews understand that the Messiah was going to be God in the flesh? In—even early in Matthew, Peter exclaimed and declared that Jesus was the Son of God. But then Philip later on in John says, “Show us the Father.” So to me, it appears like the disciples hadn’t fully understood who He really was, or am I really—

JOHN: No, I think that’s fair. I think it’s fair to say that the Jews did not necessarily understand that He was fully God. You can see that even in orthodox Judaism today, right, that they’re looking for a messiah, but it’s not Jesus. They’re looking for a human deliverer. That is traditional, sort of orthodox Jewish messianic theology.

There are evidences in the Old Testament that the Messiah is God. In the Psalms, “The Lord said to my Lord,” but it is not so explicit that every Jew knew that the Messiah would be divine. So that is true. And when Jesus claimed to be divine, this is the proof of it: They called Him a blasphemer, which then reflects the fact that they didn’t have that as a part of their messianic theology. OK?

AUDIENCE: What about the disciples though?

JOHN: Well, the disciples had to be taught. They were a tough crew to teach. It took them time. But finally the confession, “You are the Christ, the Son of God,” comes forward. This is dawning on them eventually, by His words and works.

AUDIENCE: Thank you.

JOHN: I think we may have—oh, everybody disappeared. We’re going to have to end it.

AUDIENCE: Hi, Pastor John. My name is Nathan Wright. I’m here from Nashville. First of all, I want to thank you for your Grace to You ministry. I’m actually a former charismatic, and I have many loved ones trapped in this movement. My question to you is, How do I talk to them about the true way, when they think that they are already following it?

JOHN: Well, we all have that problem. We all face the fact that everybody who’s not in the truth is in some form of deception, right? Yeah. But I think the way I would approach that is not to argue about the features and elements, but to go at the heart of the issue. Can you—and I read it in Romans 5 this morning—can you say without hesitation, without fear of contradiction that you have been reconciled to God, you stand in grace, you have the hope of glory to such a strong degree that you know the Lord will never leave you or forsake you, and that all that the Word of God promises you is yours in Christ, and your salvation is sure, and there is evidence of it by the transformed character of your life? Put the burden on them.

And for people who have had a emotional experience—if you start pressing them on the depth of the security that they have in their relationship to Christ, they get very, very tenuous because they don’t have enough sound theology to define it, and they bounce from experience to experiencel, which means they bounce from feeling secure and feeling insecure. So go for the jugular on the issue of, “Are you absolutely confident that your salvation is real, that your life is transformed? Do you live with the hope of glory? Do you believe the Spirit of God lives in you and you have all things pertaining to life and godliness, and the Lord is preparing a place for you in heaven, and you have no question about that, and has secured you everlastingly in His love?” And if there’s any hesitation of equivocation, then you can say to them, “Then whatever you have had by way of spiritual experience isn’t the salvation defined in Scripture.”

AUDIENCE: Thank you.

JOHN: OK. Two more, quickly.

AUDIENCE: Hello, Pastor John. My name is Ulysses, and my question is regarding marriage, since it’s a topic that’s been brought up in fellowships lately. And so, for example, Pastor Brian mentioned in one of his sermons that in traditional weddings, the groom would present his bride to his father in the altar. And if this seems more like a picture that depicts how Christ will present His bride to the heavenly Father, why don’t modern churches revert back to this practice instead of having the father present his daughter to the groom, which seems to be less biblically aligned than the other?

JOHN: Yeah, well it doesn’t mean—it doesn’t have to be biblically aligned. It might be a nice gesture, but I mean, there’s nothing in Scripture that says that. It’s very natural, however, for the father to present the bride to the bridegroom because as a father, you do understand, right, that I’m giving you my daughter, and I’m realizing that everything I’ve told her never to do, you’re about to do with her—I mean, just to be blunt. And the father holds the responsibility for that daughter. I mean, he’s the caretaker of that daughter, and I think it makes perfect sense that he reaches a point where he passes that responsibility to a husband that he trusts. OK?

AUDIENCE: Thank you, Pastor John.

JOHN: Good. Last, but not least.


JOHN: Thank you for your patience.

AUDIENCE: I don’t know how I follow up that one. My name is John. So I watched an interview recently with an Iranian woman who—she became a Christian, and she was imprisoned for her faith and had friends that were severely persecuted. She was let go and seemed very credible. And at one point when she was asked about how she came to faith, she had mentioned that it was partly because of a dream of Jesus. And I know that there’s been other claims and reports over the years of that. So I just wanted to ask you how do we think biblically about that.

JOHN: Yeah, it’s an important question, and I’ve read a lot about supposedly Muslims coming to faith in Christ through a dream. I’m not a believer in that. I think maybe there could be the thought in a dream, because dreams are your real fears and hopes and thoughts. But you would have had to have had an exposure to the gospel. Maybe in a dream there was a fear, a frightening dream that you were left out or that you didn’t know Christ or that you became violently ill or your life was taken away. So I think there could be some motivation as the mind works while we’re sort of in that sleep mode.

But salvation is not going to come by a dream. “Faith comes by hearing the word of Christ,” Romans 10. Faith comes by hearing. So “how will they hear without a preacher?”—not “without a dream.” I just think that there has to be the truth of the gospel clearly rehearsed for people from the Word of God. And there might be some experience of a fear of something in a dream that could move a person’s emotions in that direction. OK?

AUDIENCE: Thank you.

JOHN: Good.

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


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