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Sign of the Times: An Interview with John MacArthur and Phil Johnson B

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
February 20, 2024 3:00 am

Sign of the Times: An Interview with John MacArthur and Phil Johnson B

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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February 20, 2024 3:00 am

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The Christian Worldview
David Wheaton
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Our Daily Bread Ministries
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Wisdom for the Heart
Dr. Stephen Davey

Welcome to Grace to You with John MacArthur. I'm your host, Phil Johnson. As we did on yesterday's broadcast, today we are going to step away from our usual verse-by-verse teaching format, but biblical truth will still be at the center of what you hear over the next 30 minutes as John and I continue a conversation about some of the most troubling trends in society at large and in the church.

And even though we're going to consider some discouraging subjects, our hope is that you actually will find this broadcasting encouraging. That's because God still is sovereign. He's not surprised by anything that happens in this world, and he has put you right where you're supposed to be at this time in history. So John, let's get back to the discussion. We ended last time talking about dealing with sin in the church. The Bible's clear about the need to confront sin, but one thing that concerns me is that there are those who argue that the church should commandeer the mechanism of secular government, that the church should take the sword out of Caesar's hand, so to speak, and give that power to the church in order to bring about a righteous society by force. But I don't see a command in Scripture for the church to do anything like that. Would you agree?

Well, yes, absolutely, 100 percent I agree. In fact, we are told as believers to obey the government, not run the government. We're told to submit to the people in authority. We're told that they have a right to wield the sword, to punish evildoers and reward those who do good.

We're to pray for the people who are over us, for kings and leaders. And the separation of the church and government is crystal clear in Scripture. There is no place in the Bible where you can find the church blended together with government until you get to the millennial kingdom of Christ.

Right. Now, I'm certain that in the minds of lots of our listeners right now, there's a looming question, because you said it's our task as believers to obey the government. And yet, probably the best-known thing you've done that's gotten you in the news over the past three or four years was to open Grace Church when the county government was saying, keep it closed. What's the difference there? The difference is when the government tells you not to do what the Bible tells you you have to do, or when the government tells you to do something the Bible forbids, then you're in an Acts 5 situation where you say, you judge whether I obey God or men.

There was not five seconds of equivocation in my mind. When the government said, shut the church, I said, that can't happen. They're not the head of the church. I can't say, shut the government. I could make a case that the church is above the government, right, that because the church belongs to God in an eternal way, and he wields his power through us, I could say, shut down the government. But that would be folly, and the church would—how would the church pull that off? We'd have to go to war to do that. So, conversely, the government has its area of operation, and it has no right to step into the church and command the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. So that was the clear cut.

That wasn't even a difficult decision for me. All right, so we don't go to war in the literal physical sense, but we are in a spiritual warfare. This is a battle. What would you say is the church's duty as we confront this massive moral decline that's affected not only secular culture, but it's seeping into the church? Well, look, the church advances, the kingdom advances one soul at a time, right? There's nothing we can do beyond individual salvation, right?

People don't get saved in groups. Salvation is a very individual thing. So if there's going to be a change in society, it's going to be because people's lives are changed by the gospel, and that's the church's mission. Is it necessary for the church to try to adjust that message so that it's more palatable?

I mean, I know your answer to this because you've written several books on it, but I want you to say it. No, you don't adjust the gospel. You don't soft sell the gospel. You don't take the offensive part out of it. You don't try to create a message that's tolerable to everybody. In a postmodern society like we live in, if you do that and proclaim the truth in an unvarnished way, you're going to be accused of being hateful. They'll say it's hate speech.

They do say it's hate speech. You'll be accused of being arrogant or whatever for saying, I believe this is true in an era when you're not supposed to be totally convinced about anything. What's your advice to Christians who are intimidated by that pressure? Yeah, I think, first of all, you have to start with the Bible. It's absolutely true. Okay, then you have to understand the doctrines of Scripture, and they have to become convictions.

And when I say a conviction, I mean something that you don't change. This is the structure of your life. And where you have convictions based upon Scripture, you are more likely to have courage, because you know you're doing the right thing and that God is on your side. So I think that's the simple way that I think about it. The Bible is the absolute authority.

It's true in full. I want to know what its principles are, what its doctrines are, what its truths are. They become not only something I believe, but something that I hold to and something I would fight for. They're the convictions of my heart. And what those convictions are then overpowers my fears and overpowers my weakness or my thoughts of being popular or being nice.

No. I want to be kind, and I want to be gracious, but I'm conviction driven, and conviction is always tied to courage. Where you have no convictions, you have no courage. Now, what you just said, to have a conviction that you're right and God is on your side, based on what Scripture says, the Word of God, that's the very thing our culture constantly, relentlessly tells us we're not supposed to believe. We're not supposed to be that certain.

We're not supposed to be settled in any conviction like that. You're not going to win any popularity contests with your view. Well, no, but I'm not trying to do that. The other thing that comes into this is, and so vital, is I can't advance the kingdom. No matter what I do, only God can do that.

So some of these guys who don't have convictions and don't have courage and alter the message and change it and make it palatable to anybody and everybody trying to win over people, they literally abandon the very purpose for their existence, which is to boldly confront the sinner with the saving truth of the gospel. If you don't have the courage to do that, if you don't have the strength to do that, then you should be silent because you're just heaping up judgment on yourself. And I would say there's one other thing that you have to keep in mind. I never, ever consider the outcome. I never think about, well, if I say that, what might this guy think? Whatever it is, that thought never enters my mind because I understand that God does his work with the truth and the Holy Spirit. So I just want the truth out there. I'll leave the consequences to the Lord. Recently, in October of 2023, the Unconditional Conference was lobbying for the inclusion and acceptance of sexually deviant people in the church, not just inviting them to come and hear the word of God, which we would do, but he was saying we need to embrace them as members of the church and brothers and sisters in Christ, and that does seem to be the way the drift is going, John. Your perspective on this puts you in a small remnant, and of course I agree with your perspective on it. Do you think it's time for a massive separation within the evangelical movement? Is it time to go the other way? Is it time for those of us who are absolutely committed to the truth of Scripture to split off from these people who are trying to follow the world?

Yeah, and I think basically we do. I mean, the Grace Community Church, we don't have any alliances with people who advocate homosexuality or tolerate sex before marriage or sex outside of marriage or pedophilia or drag queens. I mean, we have nothing to do with anybody like that, so we're already—I mean, come out from among them and be separate and touch not the unclean thing. That's what Paul told the Corinthians.

You can't join Christ to Satan or Belial, so yeah, we're doing that all the time, but it isn't that we have to sort of reinvent ourselves all the time. We just keep doing what we've always done, preaching, teaching what the Word of God says, and it puts us in a position that is adversarial to all these aberrations. Right, so you're still preaching the Word of God out of season, like Paul said. Right, it's either in season or out of season, and either way you preach the Word, and you preach it positively, and you confront sin, and you preach the truth. It's the Word of God.

One verse at a time, we unleash the Bible. Trends come and trends go, and I think this is something that's defined our ministry. We're aware of the trends.

We're aware of what's going on. Obviously, we can't escape it, but it never changes the message for us. Obviously, the Bible speaks to all these issues, and I'll take the Bible at a certain point when I see a certain issue and drive what the Bible says right at that issue, but again, it's all the Word of God. When you get to the point where you have to hide what the Bible teaches or you have to discount the Bible as such as the authoritative Word of God, this is the foundation of all heresy. You have led the way in all of that.

I know a lot of our listeners would love to thank you personally, because most of us sort of feed off your example and your courage to do these things. I know you hear it like I do relentlessly from people who tell you, you're going to be on the wrong side of history. Your narrow perspective is relegating you to a position of insignificance. You're not deterred by any of that, are you? Well, no, because that's not where the Bible is.

That's not where I find my authority. And it goes beyond that. It goes beyond people criticizing a position or a stance or a doctrine or a conviction. I mean, they pick at me in all kinds of ways, trying to say I lied about certain parts of my life, I lied about certain things that I did in my life or places I went or whatever it is, even back into my youth and my time of education. They say that I abused women in the church. I mean, there's no end to what people have accused me of. And there's always a gang out there who feed on that. They get their satisfaction on imbibing and passing on lies about not just me, but any faithful person.

And what you have to do in a situation like that is you look at your own heart and you say, is that true or is that not true? If it's not true, then you can say, and this is a privileged thing to be able to say if you examine your heart, look, they falsely accused Jesus too and they falsely accused the apostles to the point where they martyred them. They falsely accused the reformers. I mean, terrible, terrible things have been said by the people who hated the truth against the most faithful people through church history. So that goes with the territory because Satan is a slanderer, right?

And that's how he's coming at you. So again, I think you have to make sure that your life is consistent and that what they say about you can never be validated by the truth, but it's always going to be manifest to be a lie. And then you just boldly preach the truth and let God do what he will do. This idea that really dominates big movement to evangelicalism, the idea that we must make the world like us or we're not going to have an impact.

We have to be winsome or we can't win the world. We have to go with the flow of history or we're not going to be relevant at all. This whole notion of relevancy and academic respectability has driven and obsessed evangelicals all my life, at least back to the 1950s. And it's a poison these days.

It's just everywhere. And yet, I think it's true. I think you'd agree that anti-Christian sentiment in the secular world has never been greater than it is today.

They're not winning the world by this strategy. In your judgment, does the visible church bear any responsibility or how much responsibility for the decline in the secular world all around us? Do you think if the church had been doing its job for the past half decade, the world would be any better than it is today? Well, yeah, I think we have to say that. Otherwise, we would not be responsible for anything. Of course, if we were more of what the church should be, it would have a greater impact on society.

Yeah. Look, just take the seven letters to the churches in Revelation 2 and 3. Our Lord just blistered five of those churches. He didn't say, well, you know, it's all going to work out anyway because they got it all planned.

It doesn't matter what you guys do. No, he pronounced judgment on those churches, told them he was going to literally come and blow the candle out. And he did eliminate those churches. I mean, no, the church has the responsibility in the world. And again, the problem is that the church has gotten this notion that they have to be popular with the world.

And it's so simple. You go back to Jesus and ask yourself, sort of before the Lord comes, let's just say we're living in Israel. And all of a sudden, the Messiah shows up. And he feeds people. He creates food. He basically heals every disease day after day after day for the three years of his ministry. He is a manifestation of love of the likes of which the world has never seen. Little children are drawn to him. Outcasts are drawn to him. Wretched people are drawn to him.

He even goes to their places and has meals with them. That's what the Pharisees condemned him for, being with tax collectors and sinners. And he banishes disease from the land of Israel for the duration of his ministry. And he promises the forgiveness of sins, and he promises heaven, and he promises a kingdom. And they kill him. If you wanted to develop a strategy for church growth, healing everybody, feeding everybody, demonstrating love and offering forgiveness to everyone, I mean, nonstop, all of that, you ask, well, why did they kill him? And he says it in John 7.

He says, you hate me because I tell you your deeds are evil. Sooner or later, that is the message that that is the message that he had to give. And yet that's the starting point of the gospel.

Well, that's the whole point. The gospel starts with the recognition that you're a sinner, can't save yourself. You need a savior. So if you if you don't have the courage to say that you've prostituted the ministry, because that's that's that's the gospel. That's good news. It's good news to find out, right, that I'm I have no capacity to be reconciled to God. It's good news to find out.

I have no means by which God will accept me. It's good news to find out that, because then I can say, well, what do I do? And I can hear, put your trust in Christ, and by faith, God will declare you righteous. That's that's all good news. It's all good news to know you're a sinner, but you can be forgiven and given eternal life.

That's the that's the good news. But the willingness to speak the truth is very rare. It's far more rare than it needs to be. And it's maybe because they don't believe it.

But I think more often than not, it's because they want to be popular. You've echoed a lot of things that I've heard you teach from the beginning of your ministry. And it's it's interesting that lots of Christians, I think, think that it's our task to sort of stand aside and tell the world what's wrong with them, what they need to change. But your ministry has been more focused on an effort to call the church to faithfulness.

And a lot of what you've said today, same thing. Your focus is on telling Christians, look, we need to clean up our house first. Let me read a verse in closing and let you comment on it. This is from 1 Peter 4.17, where Peter writes, For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God.

And if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? What was Peter saying there? Well, Peter is saying, you have to understand that being part of the church does not exempt you from judgment. The truth of the matter is judgment is going to begin at the house of God.

And this is part of the principle of to whom much is given, much is required. You can't play church. You can't play fast and loose with the truth and think that because you're in the church you're okay. You can't be a religious fraud or hypocrite. You know, you can't trample underfoot the blood of the covenant and count it as an unholy thing like the book of Hebrews says. If you deal with the gospel, even though you're religious, you deal with the gospel in a trivial way.

That is extremely serious. In fact, in Corinthians, we read that there were certain believers who literally the Lord killed them because of the way they approached his table. So the most, well, look at the, go back to Acts 5 for a minute. What happened in the church there? Ananias and Sapphira were killed in front of the church for lying to the Holy Spirit. And it says in that chapter of Acts that nobody dared join the church. You don't want to join that organization. People die there. It's not very seeker sensitive.

Not very seeker sensitive is right. But the Lord added to the church, constantly built up the true church. So judgment will come to the church. And we see that again in Revelation 2 and 3 where the Lord literally judges five of those seven churches in Asia Minor. So the church is not a safe place to be a hypocrite. Judgment will come. And I think judgment could even encompass the fact that you wouldn't want to spend your life as a leader in a church and come one day because maybe you're a true believer, but you just cowardly come before the Lord and have the Lord say, you know, you brought shame on my name.

You want to hear well done, good and faithful servant. But again, I think the picture of Christ and the apostles and Paul, they all lost their lives. I mean, even going to the Old Testament, Jesus said about Israel, you kill the prophets. You stone those that are sent to you. I send my son, you kill him. And it's because the truth always attacks man at the point of his ego, his pride, and it crushes him under the weight of his guilt before God.

And if you don't, if that's not your message, you're not being faithful because that is the message that leads the sinner to brokenness and penitence that brings about faith and salvation. Good insights. Thank you, John. Thanks for your time today. Thanks for your faithfulness over the years. Thanks for the example that you give to all of us. And I know I speak for countless numbers of listeners when I say thank you for being example. Well, Phil, thank you for your partnership and your friendship. And thanks to all the folks who support this ministry.

I don't deserve any special accolades. I just want to be faithful. I know what the Scripture requires of me, and it's a credible joy to be given the privilege of endeavoring to be faithful to that. Well, friend, you're listening to Grace To You with John MacArthur. I'm Phil Johnson, and today you heard part two of a discussion we began yesterday that we call Signs of the Times. And John, certainly it's not often that we break from the normal teaching format on this broadcast, but I think it made sense and I trust it's been helpful for our listeners to dialogue about the current chaos in the world. Hopefully we brought a biblical perspective that is useful and related to the issues we discussed today.

I think of a book that you wrote several years ago that actually seems very current because of the subject. Yeah, Phil, you're referring to the book Terrorism, Jihad, and the Bible. And that came out of a message I preached the Sunday after 9-11. But between that event, which I think was on a Tuesday and Sunday, I had to try to sort that out and clarify what was going on, the dynamics of Islam and prophecy.

And you did. That was your longest sermon ever, I think. Yeah, I think I preached over an hour and a half on that. Right.

Well, I was so loaded because I spent so much time trying to prepare for it. And it just so happens that the book—I looked over it a few weeks ago, and I thought, this is absolutely pertinent to today. If you just change the date from 9-11, 2001 to October 7, 2023, everything else would stay the same. It's a book that still feels timely. In fact, it feels like somebody must have written it in the wake of what just happened, because the issues are so much the same. And the book, again, the title of the book is Terrorism, Jihad, and the Bible. And in the book, it drills down into questions like, does God ever condone war? Or when, if ever, is war justified? Or what is God's purpose in war? Or that most compelling question that I was asked back after 9-11, where was God?

People have asked it again, where was God on October 7? Well, the biblical principles apply to atrocities like the attacks on Israel on October 7, and to similar violence that has happened before and since, and will happen not only in Israel, but many places in the world. In fact, I think there's going to be more of this, as we can tell, in the future. When you see the hostility of the Islamic radicals all over the planet, you can be certain that there are going to be more of these kinds of events in the future.

And the question that is most important is really the key chapter in the book. Is there hope? Is there hope?

And it gives a clear presentation of the gospel and is an ideal resource to give to someone who is an unbeliever concerned about current events. There is hope. That hope is in Christ. God has a plan. God has pre-written history. And you can triumph over all the devil's worst attacks if you are safe in Christ. So deepening chaos in the world must point us to Christ. The book will help you to do that.

It'll direct you to the hope found only in Him. Get a copy of Terrorism, Jihad, and the Bible. You can do that today by contacting Grace to You.

Thank you, John. And friend, you're going to find this book as timely as ever. I encourage you to order a copy of Terrorism, Jihad, and the Bible when you get in touch today. You can call us at 800-55-GRACE, which translates to 800-554-7223, or visit our website at

Terrorism, Jihad, and the Bible is available for $10, and shipping is free. Again to order, call us at 800-55-GRACE, or go to And if John's teaching today has helped you understand what faithfulness to Christ looks like in a fallen world, or if you were encouraged by John's recent study on biblical love, or if someone you know has confessed faith in Christ, after hearing John's teaching, we want to hear your story. And be sure to let us know how you're listening, whether on your local radio station, or online, or through our sermons app, or a combination of sources, when you email us here at letters at Or you can drop a note in the mail to Grace to You, Post Office Box 4000, Panorama City, California 91412. Now for John MacArthur and the entire Grace to You staff. I'm Phil Johnson. Be here tomorrow as John launches a compelling study titled How to Live in a Dying World. Join us then for another half hour of unleashing God's truth one verse at a time on Grace to You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-20 05:49:55 / 2024-02-20 06:00:10 / 10

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