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The Benefits of Suffering for Christ

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
October 10, 2022 4:00 am

The Benefits of Suffering for Christ

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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October 10, 2022 4:00 am

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Hi, friend.

This is Phil Johnson. Welcome to a special edition of Grace to You. I am here in the studio with John MacArthur, and we're taking a break from our brand new series called The World Versus the Kingdom of God to talk about something that, well, is related to that theme.

In fact, it concerns something that you may have heard about in various news outlets in just the past few days. So, John, thank you for taking the time to be here today. We've been talking both online and around a lot of water coolers, discussion and a little bit of debate with an open letter that you sent to the governor of California, and then you followed up that with a sermon to your flock at Grace Community Church later that same week. And that message is so important that we're going to preempt our normal Grace to You broadcasts tomorrow and the next day. But I wanted to spend today talking with you about this letter, why you wrote it, and what happened. You made some comments at Grace Church a week before the letter went out that sort of let people know it was coming.

We're going to play those and let our listeners hear that. Now, before you go, I have something that I want to talk to you about, change the subject for a moment. That is on my heart, and it's very, very important to me, and I need your help with this. So, we're watching a culture that is under divine judgment, and you can think about that in terms of a culture, or you can realize that the people who defy God in the culture are under divine judgment. It's very personal, and it struck me this week in a way that it hadn't in the past. Governor Gavin Newsom, who has decided that he is going to lead the nation in providing the slaughter of the children that God creates in the womb, has postured himself as if he were Herod. And I am deeply concerned for the jeopardy of his eternal soul. I have talked to him in the past, and I know he was raised in the Roman Catholic Church.

But a line was crossed this week that really, really gripped my heart. He began putting up billboards all across America, advertising the website in California that you can connect to if you want to have an abortion. And on all those billboards he included the words of Jesus.

This is what he put on those billboards. Jesus said in Mark 12 31, you shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these. He had the terrifying audacity to use the words of Jesus to support the slaughter of the ones that He creates in the womb. The jeopardy of his soul is evident. I say this because my heart is grieved that Christ should be so dishonored. Billboards across the country with the words of Jesus trying to support abortion, terrifying.

My concern is about his eternal soul because he will meet his maker. And there's a passage in Psalm 50. Listen to it. Verse 16, but to the wicked God says, What right have you to tell of My statutes and take My covenant in your mouth? What a statement.

Let me read it again. But to the wicked God says, What right have you to tell of My statutes and take My covenant in your mouth? You cast My words behind you. And then God says in Psalm 50, Now consider this, I will tear you in pieces and there will be none to deliver you.

The jeopardy is clear. But there's a closing verse in that Psalm. He who offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving honors Me, and to him who orders his way aright, I shall show the salvation of God. That Psalm ends with mercy and the offer of salvation. And as the church of Jesus Christ with compassion, we want the governor and all who follow him and all who reject the Lord to know that no matter what they have done, he offers salvation. He offers salvation. I think with a new kind of resolve, I want to ask you to begin to pray for the salvation of the governor and the people around him.

We can't do anything else. There's no political solutions to anything, but we can cry out to the Lord to be merciful because we care. This is why the church is in the world, and that He would understand what He has done, that He would turn from sin. He would repent along with those who accommodate that, follow that, and cry out for mercy from God who will grant it through Jesus Christ. Amen?

Amen. All right, so John, talk about what motivated you to write this letter. I think I could tell from your comments there that it's a sense of righteous indignation that someone would billboard a misuse of scripture such as the governor of California did. Well, I think I saw it as an assault on the person of Christ and on the Word of God, and that's exactly what it was. You don't support that kind of blasphemous criminal behavior of killing babies in the womb with quotes from Jesus. That is a gross, devilish misuse of scripture, and it is a blasphemy against the Lord Jesus Himself who said, permit the children to come unto me, for of such is the kingdom of heaven.

So I think I felt somewhat like the psalmist who said, zeal for your house has eaten me up. And then Jesus quoted that when He tore into the crime going on in the temple and said, you've turned my Father's house, which is to be a house of prayer, into a den of robbers. And I think that was stepping across the line to me when you try to get Jesus in support of rampant, massive transgression. You know, it's a Herod-like thing to want to massacre babies. That's what Herod did. And he did that hoping to kill the Son of God in the process. Same thing with Pharaoh in the Old Testament.

And Pharaoh did the same thing, and Moses was rescued from that. So I saw this as another misrepresentation of Christ and another attack on His creation that needed to be addressed. And how do we address it? I mean, we all resent abortion. We hate the idea of it. And I suppose there's a frustration among all of us because we can't seem to do anything about it. We can't vote it out.

We don't have enough power. Certainly in the state of California we don't. We can't stop it. Even though the Supreme Court removed the Roe-Wade case, they didn't eliminate abortion. It's still up to states to decide what they want to do. We would like to get rid of it. It's mass murder.

We can't do that. And I thought the frustration of that leads me to one conclusion. And that is there's no political solution to this. The only hope for righting this wrong is to go right at the head, right at where it originates. And in this case, it originated with the governor of California. And that is the biblical approach. You know, you go back into the book of Exodus and Moses confronts Pharaoh and indicts Pharaoh and says, Let my people go. So the prophet of God confronting authority is something you see throughout the word of God.

I made a list of, I don't know, 50 different occasions where this happens throughout the Old Testament and included those in the message that I preached. And you have the same thing in church history. You have rulers and kings and authorities being confronted by faithful preachers of the gospel all the way from the church fathers through to the Puritans. And speaking the word of God to the authorities is part and parcel of the church's mission in the world. So we speak to government. We speak to authorities and what our message is is you must conform to God's word. You must bow your knee to the revelation of God and the God of that revelation. So how do we do that? Well, it's just the pattern is direct.

You go to whoever the ruler is and you address that. And it was interesting to me that as it just became a compulsion for me to do this because this was a line that never should have been breached, that I had not noticed anybody doing it. And that's kind of the feedback has been since we put that letter together for the governor of California. People have been saying, why doesn't somebody else do this? Why has this not been done? Why are people in Washington lobbying with politicians to get righteousness into this nation when in order to even have an audience with them, you've got to compromise to start with?

Yeah. I wanted to follow up on that because you said earlier there is no political solution to this. And over the history of your ministry, you have stayed mostly out of partisan politics. And what you just said is stressed by scripture as well. Paul says righteousness doesn't come from the law. The law defines what righteousness is, but it doesn't produce righteousness. Paul says if righteousness could come by the law, then Christ died in vain.

So the gospel is about salvation from sin. It's not about political strategies and all of that. And you've made that clear over the years and thus stayed out of the realm of partisan politics. The problem is partisan politicians in America have not stayed out of the realm of morality, and government policy is becoming more and more a threat to the church. But this is not a political ploy.

You're not lobbying for any kind of political policy here or any of that. The gist of this letter is to call the governor himself to repentance. Well, that is what struck me. I had had a conversation with him on Larry King some years back, in which he claimed to be a Christian and said, I guess I believe the Bible. So I knew him, and that conversation was at the very time he was basically mandating same-sex marriage in the city of San Francisco.

That's right. He was the mayor of San Francisco at the time. Right, and that's what the discussion was about. So I knew he was lost at that point. And then when I see him go from that, years back, to having the brashness and the hubris to promote the slaughter of infants and quote Jesus, the jeopardy that—it struck me—the jeopardy of his eternal soul was just more than I could handle. And I would have, under some circumstances, just confronted him personally if there was some personal sin to be dealt with.

And I knew about that, and I had that access. But once he decided to make his transgressions public and blanket the nation with his sin, then a fitting response had to blanket the nation with the call to repentance. But there's nothing political about it.

There's no political answer to this. My concern is that this man is going into a horrendous eternity without God forever unless he repents and trusts Christ. And the punishment, the severity of that punishment is compounded not only because of his own rebellion, but because he's just reaching out to garner as many other rebels as he possibly can to dishonor the name of God and denigrate the person of Jesus Christ. The culpability is massive, and it struck me that it's his eternal soul that concerns me and all those who follow him. He's got lots of people around him who are buying into this. I doubt that he came up with that verse. Right.

Yeah. You know, and just from your tone, it's evident to me that your indignation is balanced by a genuine concern for his soul. That also came across in those comments you made to your church a couple of weeks ago. As I listened to that, I found it sobering and moving in a way and convicting that we need to pray for our leaders. We're commanded to do that in scripture.

Do you hold out any hope that he might hear that and repent? Is there any precedent for that? Well, it's rare, honestly. It's very rare when you get to that level of boldness. And the pattern, looking back in redemptive history, is that if you just take a general category of the prophets who confronted rulers, it didn't turn out well. There are some blessed exceptions, right?

Well, I was just going to say that the exceptions are rare. The king of Nineveh? In Jonah's time. In Jonah's time, repented.

That's an amazing scenario, and scripture doesn't give us all the details we'd like to have about it. And then in Daniel 4, Nebuchadnezzar, the king of the world, I mean, the known world in the Mediterranean, he was the ruler of the world. And one of the worst bad guys in all the Old Testament.

The last guy you'd expect to repent, right? Yeah, he was as bad as a pagan king could possibly get. And he was so, so severely evil that the Lord literally turned him into an animal wandering out in the wilderness for seven years of his life. But at the end of that, his senses came to him, and he bowed his knee to the true and living God. And I believe he'll be in heaven.

I believe he's there now. But even a more dramatic story is the story of Manasseh. Manasseh was the most evil king in the history of the people of Israel. He was wretched. He was as wretched as he could possibly be. And he was confronted and rejected that confrontation, but eventually he was literally hauled off by ropes. Hooks were put into his body, and he was marched off to Babylon.

And that would be about a four-month walk. And this is in humiliation from this wretched sin that he had perpetrated on the nation. And his sin was so bad, it was so bad that God even said that if Samuel and Moses had interceded for him, God still couldn't stop the judgment. So he created such evil everywhere that there was no way to stop the captivity, and the Babylonian captivity was a result of it.

In fact, the Bible says that Israel was, or Judah, the southern kingdom, was taken into captivity because of the sins of Manasseh, the worst. But the amazing story of Manasseh is he came to repentance. 2 Chronicles 33, this incredible repentance, and the Lord restored him back.

So here is this king who is the worst of all kings ever, and the details are almost unspeakable. But he repented, and the Lord showed him mercy. And so much mercy, and this is kind of an interesting footnote to it, that he actually appears in Matthew chapter 1 because he's in the line of the Messiah. It goes from Hezekiah to Manasseh to Ammon, his wicked son, and then to Josiah, and it proceeds to Christ. So evil Manasseh was in the messianic line.

That's a rare thing. You do have, in the New Testament, Sergius Paulus, who was a Roman official who believed the gospel, but very rare. Pilate, no. Herod, no.

Agrippa, almost, but no. But it doesn't mean you give up. And with that in mind, that you don't know the purposes and the will of God, and we do know that sinners are responsible for their rejection if they reject. You present the gospel to the sinner boldly and pray for his salvation. That's what Paul said in 1 Timothy 2. Pray for kings and those in authority over you.

Yes, talk about that. That's an interesting verse, given everything you're saying about the unlikeliness that an important ruler, a powerful ruler who's wicked in his heart, would ever respond to a call to repentance. And when Paul wrote 1 Timothy 2, Nero was on the throne, probably the most notoriously evil Caesar who ever sat on that throne, and yet Paul says, pray for him. He's saying, pray for his salvation, right? Yes, because the whole passage in 1 Timothy 2 is God our Savior who will have all men to come to believe, and Christ as the mediator for all.

He's talking about salvation. Pray for the salvation of rulers. Yes, it is amazing to think about pray for the salvation of Nero, who launched persecution. Nero was so corrupt in his own life, incest. I mean, he murdered family members.

He was the worst of the worst. And so here these people are, these believers are praying for the most wretched figure in their world and praying for his salvation, and he is coming after them to kill them. And that reminds me of what our Lord said in Matthew when he says, you're never more like God than when you pray for your enemies. So I'm sincere in saying I am praying for the salvation of the governor of California, the president of the United States, and every other leader for the sake of their eternal soul. Look, I don't have to pray for Christ to triumph in the end. That's pre-written. I don't have to pray for the return of Christ.

I can long for that. He will come and establish his kingdom. But I am told to pray for those in authority, and the result of that is that we can live a quiet and peaceable life with a measure of godliness. So the only way you can fix the culture is the salvation of the ruler. And that's what that's saying.

Now, we live in California, so this affects us personally, but the truth is the problems in California are just a microcosm of political issues that exist across the nation and literally around the world. The world seems to be barreling further and further into darkness as time goes by. As you look at that, are you hopeful? Are you discouraged? Do you think it's possible that there would ever be another reformation or revival and that the Lord would delay his coming, or do you think we're looking at the last days?

And is there any way to know? Well, yeah, I think we're looking at the last days, and there are a lot of reasons for that. But I don't get discouraged because we always triumph in Christ. But my concern is for the salvation of these people and the realization that there are degrees of punishment in hell.

And when you trample underfoot the blood of the covenant and count it an unholy thing, as the book of Hebrews says, when you know Christ's name and you know the gospel and you use and abuse that name for evil purposes, that is a horrific thing to face God with that kind of record because that's the severest punishment. So my concern is not to help Christ win the battle. The calling of the Church in the world is to cry out for non-believers to repent, starting with the people at the very, very top. And I don't see the Church doing that. I see the Church hiring people to go to Washington and lobby with politicians to get what they want, or suing or compromising. I think people were irritated at me writing that letter because they've been trying to convince the leaders of this country that we're harmless good guys and, you know, we want you to like us so we can keep building our church and keep drawing big crowds. And they don't want to make the powers angry. They want to appease them.

They want to appease them, which is a terrible compromise because if there's going to be a quiet life, if there's going to be any measure of godliness in a society, it's going to happen when the people in charge have been converted to Christ. And I mean, I pray for that. It can happen historically.

There have been times like that. There have been kings that were genuine believers in Christ and made a difference in their society. Again, sobering thoughts. And John, as we wrap up this broadcast, would you lead us in a prayer for kings and all who are in authority so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity? Lord, we do come to you and ask that you would, by your grace and for your glory, bring salvation to the rulers of this country.

We think of the governor of the state of California, Governor Newsom, we think of the president, Joe Biden, we think of senators, congressmen, judges, magistrates, governors, whoever they are, people in authority, even people in authority over the military and over the police, and people in authority over education and people in authority over civil issues as well as criminality. May there be conversion of these people. May they come to faith in Christ so that we aren't ruled in such a dominating way by the devil's henchmen. And we ask this for your glory that your grace could be put on display. It would be such an amazing, amazing, almost breathtaking reality to see well-known leaders who have shaken their fist in your face and worked against you even in blasphemous ways to bow the knee as Nebuchadnezzar did or bow the knee as Manasseh did and recognize you are the true and living God and you rule in the world for their own soul's sake and the souls of those around them. We pray that you would put your salvation on display for your glory.

Amen. Now, to help answer questions that you may have about the issues John considered today, we want to give you a free copy of a booklet by John called Chaos, Corruption, and the Christian Response. All you have to do is let us know that you want a copy. Request your free booklet when you get in touch with us today. Call us at 800-55-GRACE or go to our website,, to request John's booklet called Chaos, Corruption, and the Christian Response. Get in touch today. Again, we want to put a free copy of this booklet in your hands.

Ask for it now, Chaos, Corruption, and the Christian Response. You can go to our website,, or speak to our customer service staff during regular business hours, that is 730 a.m. to 4 p.m. Pacific time, Monday through Friday, and our phone number again, 800-55-GRACE. And if you'd also like a free copy of today's interview on CD, maybe that would be a helpful option for someone you know. Just ask for that CD when you contact us. It includes additional material that we were not able to bring you today. Request the CD called A Plea to a Governor Who Mocks God.

Again, it's free. Call 800-55-GRACE or go to Well, tomorrow we again interrupt our regular schedule to bring you a message John preached just a few days ago, titled Calling Rulers to Repentance. Be here for that and invite someone you know to tune in for 30 minutes of unleashing God's truth, one verse at a time, on Grace To You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-23 14:03:50 / 2022-12-23 14:13:10 / 9

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