Sunday, October 10, 2021

A Primary Calling

 


I respect MacArthur's biblical scholarship - it really is first class, and arguably he would (along with the late R.C. Sproul) would be my standard against which I would measure late 20th Century pastoral teaching (his knowledge of New Testament Greek sets him far above most others) - even as I sometimes deplore his lack of tact.  

But that said, this statement struck me as powerful, especially given yesterday's post and frame of mind.

To be clear (and I have followed MacArthur for over 20 years), he is very consistent on this point.  He has not been one to discuss or monitor national or international trends of social or political import.  He has always brought the conversation around to the Church as witness in a dead and dying world.

It seems such a different message now from some much of what passes for church, does it not?  But I think MacArthur would say (of course, I am not speaking for him) that all of that can come from a people that are redeemed.  Otherwise, one is merely continuing to make repairs on a structure that is continuing to fall apart - and people can do all the "right" things in life and still be condemned in the afterlife.

The other thing that strikes me is the phrase "the lost and condemned world in which you live".  Not a phrase one hears at all any more.  The world systems are just flawed and can be repaired, not lost and condemned.

Believing that a society is flawed and can be repaired is a hallmark of utopianism.  Believing that a society is lost and condemned would completely change the focus for the larger Church in how the interacted with it.

Be the light that cannot be hidden under the basket, understanding that as a light our primary job is not to  make the house better or cleaner but rather to show the fact that it is falling apart, and that there is a ultimately a way to make it better.  But it will require something more than minor fixes.


14 comments:

  1. Hmmmmmm.

    I’ll just say I don’t think that fella is saying what you think he is, TB.

    But whadda I know?

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    1. Maybe Glen, maybe. I will say that MacArthur has been pretty consistent in all his years of preaching that the primary purpose of the church is to save the lost, not become involved in social or political vagaries.

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    2. I am feeling something is missing here. Such a statement is meaningless without some kind of context. Politics, sin, evil and social vagaries walk hand in hand these days. Does he say anything else or go into detail?

      Im confused because when I read that thing, the bible seemed to be exactly about disrupting the existing cultures of the day, and spreading the Word and values of God…? Curious, because if you and this fella are right.. something has changed, or I am misunderstanding something.

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    3. Glen, the world is literally going to hell. We can't fix that.
      We do have to offer God's plan of salvation, and we do have to obstruct and delay the destruction.

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  2. Anonymous6:10 AM

    I so agree, except I'd say,

    ... that the Lord has called you and offered you the privilege of being His witness ...

    - Keith

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    1. Indeed, Keith. What I am taken with more and more is the fact that in many ways, a great many Christians do this part less and less, or only see their witness as extending to that being another societal group.

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  3. I used to listen to John McArthur on the radio from 1230 to 1300 after my morning classes, and before I reported in to work at the USDA experiment station.... That would be Sept 1981. He was a super star student.

    Interesting to me that you mention Dr. Sproul. I have a load of his teachings. One of the clearest teachers I've ever "sat" under. As a good protestant, I have a couple areas I don't agree with in either man's teaching, but very minor points with Dr. Sproul, and close to the CG with McArthur. But it doesn't detract from other teaching he has. He is a good man, and a great scholar.

    The early Christians were marked by their willingness to suffer death rather than dishonor Jesus. The eternal was their most important consideration. They rightly viewed life here and now as the prerequisite course work to what was of lasting, eternal importance and value. "Eye has not seen..."

    This, coupled with OAFS post today, was a needed reminder for me. I need to raise my eyes to the hills, whence comest my help so to speak. This world system is wicked and will be until it is gone. My "job" is to be salt (purifying by it's very presence, makes one thirsty for the Water of Life, has no business hanging out in the shaker because it needs to be out and about to useful), and light (shining on the obstacle or the danger so you can make the right decision). Job isn't the right word..... It is the essence of the Christian to be that.

    Long years ago, I heard a trucker on the ham radio asking for help. He had a problem with his radio, and needed to buy another one. Communications of pecuniary interest are a violation of the law, so I called a couple guys I knew and we all met in a parking lot. Me and trucker met up first. He was 450lbs, teeth were almost covered by his gums. He started regaling me with his spiritual credentials. Very odd. He was a wiccan. Asked if I knew what the was. I did. He told me of a demonic episode he witnessed, and how he barely managed to escape it. "And knowing my luck", he said, "I'm talking to a born again Christian!!!" I just smirked a bit, and said, "I AM." He feel back, and looked like he had seen a ghost. The other guys showed up and a deal was done in 2 minutes and he was gone. Nothing else had to be said. The essence of my Indweller did everything that needed to be done.

    Thanks for this post today, good memories of hard days. Now that I'm older, I want to ice the cake of my life, not ruin it.

    Happy Son-day! God's blessings on you and yours.

    Far gesund, Toirdhealbheach Beucail

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    1. STxAR - I, too, have my own minor disagreements with both MacArthur and Sproul but, in the modern parlance of today, as I have not studied to the extent that they have in Scripture I should be willing to learn in my disagreement.

      I am going to have to give some more thought to this idea of utopianism, as between your words and Sarge's and this quote, it makes me wonder if the Church is not really chasing the wrong thing. My proposition is that we are trying to convince the world of the power of our message by acting a certain way. Yes, actions give credibility to our words but they have no inherent power to save. Only, as Paul would say, the words of the Gospel do.

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    2. With the tools of the day, 2000 years of writings, dictionaries, witness stories, extant copies of scripture from the first century, masses of commentaries, and more spare time than any other generation before us, we should be living out Acts 2:15. But instead of that, we have Christians that look like every other worldly hooman out there. Me included at times, much to my shame.

      We are seeing the exact thing: A wicked government, hell bent on blaming all their ills on a few that really aren't a threat. They won the world of their day by how they responded. And they didn't have it in them until they came to know Jesus. He put that kind of spine in them. They wouldn't pour out a cup of wine to save their own hides, because that was idol worship. They may have done it before but not after meeting Jesus. And the willing sacrifice of their very lives showed the rest that there was more to living than just this life here and now. Those watching, wanted to know who or what could bring that level of resolve into their old drinking and whoring buddies. Not to mention the softness and care that these Christians had for every one.

      Acts 3:1-10 has a great example of what we are talking about. Peter said in vs 6, "Silver and Gold have I none...." We can't say that now. Churches and Christians in the west are filthy rich compared to the rest of the world. And we can't say the rest of it either, "but such as I have give I thee: in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth RISE UP AND WALK." I'm not saying that the riches keep God's power away, but I am saying the friendship with the world is enmity with God. And a Wise Prophet said you can't serve God AND money.

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    3. STxAR, fair to say that we have more knowledge about Christianity available now than at any other time of history - and yet in the West, we seem to be doing a terrible job.

      Part of is in fact believers not being committed wholeheartedly. But is also the Church not acting differently than the world -up to and including how it expects its members to act. Church discipline? Church expectations of behavior? Unheard of in this modern world.

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  4. A couple days of good posts and comments, TB. Thanks for the thoughtful posts.

    You all be safe and God bless.

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    1. Thank you Linda! Honestly, that is the point, right? To have thoughtful conversations. We can have different points of view and still speak civilly to each other.

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  5. As a newish and random reader of your blog, I'm so glad I popped in today. That quote is very powerful, and I believe true. I appreciated your additional thoughts as well.

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    1. Becki - Thank you so very much for the kind words and for taking time to stop by and make a comment.

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