Meeting Dr. John MacArthur

// October 6th, 2013 // Blog, Uncategorized

Today was a great day for me as by the grace of God I was able to meet someone whose faith and ministry I’ve greatly respected and admired, having listened to hundreds of his sermons. I met at a church service Dr. John MacArthur, president of The Master’s Seminary and author of almost 300 Christian books, pastor of Grace Community Church (a 5th generation Pastor), and primary host of the Grace To You radio program. When thinking about John MacArthur who could forget his defense of the Gospel several times on Larry King Live or The Shepherds’ Conference, where he pastors other pastors? It was wonderful to finally meet him in person. He’s someone who’s teaching has had a significant influence on shaping my faith — I’ve listened to hundreds of his sermons of the years, some of them a half-dozen times when I realized how important they were, and some years nearly every day. Today he visited and preached a sermon on Isaiah 53, one of the greatest sermons I’ve heard him preach. I had a wonderful shot of the back of his head for the entire hour.

This sermon illustrated why I took an interest to MacArthur and his preaching. He highlighted the contextual importance of the chapter and gave a long introduction to his sermon by talking about the history and important of Isaiah, particularly this one chapter. He riddled biblical facts about Isaiah and brought in how it mirrors what’s in the Gospel. He got to the text and talked about the Hebrew and the the meaning of the changes in tense behind this particular chapter.

He then dissected each verse and gave his meaning, first by passage and then by individual verse, and then highlighting phrases. It was incredible. I love MacArthur’s teaching because he sticks to the teaching of the Word. He majors in teaching and focuses on conveying the meaning of the text and its importance. What we heard was actually the summarized points of a 10-week, 10-hour sermon series he preached on Isaiah Chapter 53. He was really in town on vacation with his wife visiting his children and grandchildren, as he’s taking 50 days off with his wife Patricia to celebrate 50 years of marriage (what a great shepherd of church and family).

MacArthur’s great teaching stands in stark contrast to some of the prominent heretical teachers of our day in popular media and on TV, whose teaching is found mirrored nowhere in church history. MacArthur wasn’t afraid to call out false teachers even in today’s sermon, also, always looking to shepherd the flock against the major heresies of our day. One thing I admire about MacArthur’s teaching is that it’s just so biblical. Where others would fill in an illustration with some funny story in the media or news he gives illustrations about the faith of Abraham or from the life of the Apostle Paul, comparing scripture with scripture. He teaches chapter by chapter, verse by verse, and dissects deeply into passages, having a great understanding of the original languages. I’ve listened to enough of his sermons to know he’s also very well-read as he reads a lot of commentaries and works from theologians and bible scholars so that he’s not alone in his interpretation.

This was a really treasured opportunity to me — I said after introducing him, “I’ve listened to hundreds of your sermons, mostly while jogging!” He said, “Better while jogging than before you go to sleep!” with a smile. My wife Kristen snapped this picture of MacArthur and I, with my John MacArthur Study Bible in hand. I’m praising God for the opportunity to meet this gentleman. because to me it’s like meeting someone admired from church history (A.W. Pink, Charles H. Spurgeon, George Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards) — I think that after MacArthur is done here on Earth his teaching and ministry will be remembered on that scale. MacArthur is definitely a lion in the pulpit but a lamb in the pews — he took the time to be kind to everyone at the door that wanted to speak with him and shake his hand (like myself), joking with people and exchanging smiles, just like Mark Dever who invited him to preach today. MacArthur has a lot of energy.

John MacArthur, Isaac M. Dodd

John MacArthur (left), Isaac M. Dodd (right), with The John MacArthur Study Bible (a.k.a., the “JohnnyMac Bible”

John MacArthur praised Pastor Dr. Mark Dever, his church, and his ministry. I think that one of the most important ministries and men of our day besides MacArthur is actually Mark Dever and the 9 Marks ministry (and to be complete R.C. Sproul’s ministry Ligionier Ministries and also Ray Comfort’s Living Waters ministries). The Word says to honor men who labor in the teaching and preaching of the Word (1 Tim 5:17). I praise God for these mighty men of God of whom I am learning very much. I aspire to be like these men of God that the Lord obviously uses in a mighty way to challenge our day and age.