My purpose here is not to rehearse the arguments over masking mandates, or to again work through the basics of biblical civics. If you need a refresher, you can find one here or here. Suffice it to say that the civil government does have legitimate authority around sacred things (circa sacra), but no authority whatever in sacred things (in sacris). And when the government abuses this basic distinction willy nilly, as our governments have been doing in their overt and discriminatory treatment of the church, it is time for the leadership of the church to take a stand. So with all of that running in the background, my purpose here this morning is simply to honor John MacArthur for his leadership in this.
“And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves.”
1 Thessalonians 5:12–13 (KJV)
John MacArthur has been standing faithfully as a biblical expositor for decades, and I simply want to outline why I believe he was prepared by God to be just the man we needed to have step up in this moment. And Gavin Newsom could do far better if he would simply heed the words of the Staple Singers.
If you don’t give a heck ’bout the man with the Bible in his handRespect Yourself
Just get out the way and let the gentleman do his thing.
So here are three basic reasons why I believe that John MacArthur should be honored by all of us, and recognized as our representative for this moment. I think that we have a responsibility to let him speak for us, and to be glad that he is doing so.
America Needs a Dad
The reason why the streets of Chicago are filled with violence is fatherlessness. The reason why so many young people flock to the false allure of socialism is fatherlessness. The reason why there is massive contempt for our institutions is fatherlessness, and the reason why our institutions have become so contemptible is fatherlessness.
In his statement, when he was explaining the actions taken by Grace Community, he was being the quintessential dad. That was a Dad Talk. He was exhibiting the demeanor which this generation so naturally detests, and which we so desperately need to love and embrace. And this is because our fallen nature kicks against fathers, and yet our created nature thrives when we heed our fathers. We must listen to them, and we must embrace their precepts. But we cannot thrive until we love the mere fact that fathers have fatherly precepts.
Good and godly mothers are essential, as every student of the Word knows, but when fathers abdicate on a massive scale, that vacuum is not filled with godly mothers who supplement and fulfill and glorify the work of fathers. Rather the vacuum is filled with sentimental and mollycoddling mothers, and other entities that want to be mollycoddling mothers too. And this is how, when the need of the hour has been the need for good and godly fathers, we find ourselves instead with a teeming crowd of ungodly mothers. This is why we are being suffocated with bad mothering from our mayors, our governors, our health officials, and all our other whatnots.
And in the midst of that sentimental and over-protective enchanting smoke, John MacArthur spoke a bracing word, the kind of word that smelled like burnt marshwiggle.
Evangelicals Need a Shepherd
In this shakedown time, we need to remember that God does this sort of thing so that what is unshakeable may remain. And it also has the side benefit of revealing how many of our shepherds were not ready for any kind of shaking. Apparently the MDiv does not come with a backbone.
“And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.”
Hebrews 12:27 (KJV)
“O God, thou hast cast us off, thou hast scattered us, Thou hast been displeased; O turn thyself to us again.”
Psalm 60:1 (KJV)
We live in a time when the evangelical world is disintegrating. Countless pastors are going woke, and countless others are simply accepting the contradictory edicts of our government officials as though they were gospel. Some are revealing themselves as shepherds in the devil’s pay, and others, orthodox enough, are revealing themselves to have been orthodox hirelings.
All over this country, faithful evangelical believers have been let down or abandoned by their shepherds. I know, I hear from them. Many of these believers are tempted to get discouraged, wondering if anybody anywhere is standing firm. And it is amazing how encouraging it can be for such people when they discover that one famous Christian leader didn’t flake. Such a shepherd provides a rallying point, which we most certainly need.
This Generation Needs a Prophet
In his statement, John MacArthur referenced the macabre nature of the double standard that is being applied. In California, in the course of their lock down, abortion clinics remained open as essential services. Pot shops remained open as essential services. Liquor stores remained open as essential services.
But worship of the Most High is not essential, at least not in California.
This kind of high hypocrisy — and it is the highest sort of hypocrisy — needs to be called out. And in Scripture, it is the prophetic voice that is assigned to call it out. The prophet has no formal office in the court of the king, at least not usually. Prophets are rarely courtiers, although Isaiah may have been an exception. But prophets of whatever stripe do have access to those who hold political office. When the prophet comes out of the wilderness with a word, he brings the word with authority, and that word has a way of getting to the court.
This means that Gavin Newsom needs to reckon with John MacArthur, and I don’t believe that he has the resources to do it. If your central strategy has been manipulation and lies, then you don’t really know what to do with a preacher who doesn’t believe them. And everybody is looking at the two of you.
Chopping children up is an essential service in California, but teaching them to sing songs about Jesus isn’t? We await your response, governor.
Of course, John MacArthur and I do have our differences. I have, for example, baptized way more babies than he would think appropriate. But those sorts of differences fade way into the background when we consider the dreadful situation that all orthodox believers are actually in.
And so I thank God for John MacArthur, and I would ask you all to do the same. Honor him, and look for some public way to do it.