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Hip and Thigh: Smiting Theological Philistines with a Great Slaughter. Judges 15:8

Monday, September 12, 2005

MacArthur Returns

I have had the blessed privilege of attending Grace Community Church the last 13 years and listening nearly every Sunday to the preaching of John MacArthur. I believe I can confidently conclude after listening to roughly a 1000 sermons from John during this time, that he is not the soul eating demoniac some independent Baptist make him out to be.

At any rate, John has been on an extended sabbatical and away from his pulpit for 3 months this past summer beginning last June. Yesterday, September 11th, marked his return and his first time preaching at Grace for those 3 months. I have seen him off and on here at Grace to You during the summer, but it was especially good to see him looking rested and energized and doing the one thing he loves: preaching the Word of God to his congregation.

During the announcement time, which sits right between the last congregational song and the taking of the offering and special music, John provided us with a synopsis of how he spent his time.

The first part of June was spent attending to his sick and dying father, who eventually passed away on June 15th at the age of 91. It was special to hear John speak of his time praying and reading scripture with his dad in the days leading up to his home-going.

After wrapping up all the details that generally follow a loved one's death, John moved onto editing his forthcoming commentary on the Gospel of John. It is taken from the study of the book of John back in the early seventies, and as John aptly put it, at the time in his earlier life when he didn't really know a lot. His main concern as he began the process of editing the commentary was the scant amount of material he would be pulling together. He didn't want to produce a commentary that was just 47 pages. But, he tells us that it turned out better than he expected and volume 1, covering chapters 1-11 is going through its final edit now and will be published in the near future.

He then spoke about finishing up a doctrinal series on Sunday evening he had started back in the spring, and then will move into a study of key Roman Catholic doctrines. I am personally curious to see how this series will play out, particularly how we as a church will be scrutinized by the leading Roman Catholic pop-apologists.

Then, after the offering was taken and the special music finished, John got up into the pulpit and preached a stellar message on identifying a good Church. It was material he has covered before; at least I have heard him address the issues he raised at other times. He introduced the topic by explaining how the one question he is repeatedly asked is, "Where can I find a good Church?" So, John turned to Matthew 16 and began to lay out 7 elements that identify a good church. I can only provide the first 2 points because John finished the message on Sunday night and we don't attend Sunday evening regularly (it is a lot of driving for a family on Sunday from where we live in relation to the Church), and though we had planned to make this rare exception and attend this one time to hear him finish it up, my wife got ill and I needed stay back to help here with the youngins.

First is a church must have a great confession. Peter's confessed that Jesus was the Christ, the son of the living God. This is the key confession for any church. A church that claims to be Christian, yet corrupts the person of Christ is a false church. "The life of God does not dwell with people," says John, "who have a false view of God and Jesus Christ."

The second key element to identifying a good church is a great communication. Jesus told Peter that he did not have flesh and blood reveal the truth of Christ to him, but it came directly from God. A good church recognizes the creator-creature distinctive and that the creature is dependent upon the creator for revelation. Hence, a good church will be a "Word" driven congregation, one dependent upon God's revelation as revealed in scripture for defining its purpose.

Like all good preachers who have been a long time away from their people, John went 10 minutes late. We normally get out at 10 AM for our first service, but it was obvious our pastor had a lot of rich thoughts in his mind he wished to impart to us. I am certainly grateful for him and the standard of commitment to God, His word, and His people he manifests all the time he preaches.

A hearty welcome back John.

4 Comments:

Blogger Impacted Wisdom Truth said...

Ditto.

John was definitely in the zone on Sunday. I was very glad to see John get the ovation he did. Do you think he has any idea that C.J. set him up?

8:38 PM, September 12, 2005  
Blogger Genealogy Lookups said...

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9:59 PM, September 12, 2005  
Blogger Genealogy Lookups said...

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10:05 PM, September 12, 2005  
Blogger Genealogy Lookups said...

Would be nice to have you guys there Sunday evenings. Hope she's feeling better.

10:06 PM, September 12, 2005  

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