John MacArthur – Subjectivity and the Will of God

If you rely on internal, subjective messages and promptings from the Lord, what prevents you from imagining the input you want from Him? Moreover, what reliable, objective mechanism exists to keep you from misinterpreting your own imagination as divine instruction?

As we saw last time, many good souls and even some heroes of our faith fall into that same error, mistaking imagination for revelation. Many—perhaps most—Christians believe God uses subjective promptings to guide believers in making major decisions. A thorough search of church history would undoubtedly confirm that most believers who lean heavily on immediate “revelations” or subjective impressions ostensibly from God end up embarrassed, confused, disappointed, and frustrated.

Nothing in Scripture even suggests that we should seek either the will of God or the Word of God (personal guidance or fresh prophecy) by listening to subjective impressions. So how are we supposed to determine the divine will?

Virtually every Christian grapples with the question of how to know God’s will in any individual instance. We particularly struggle when faced with the major decisions of adolescence—what occupation or profession we will pursue, whom we will marry, whether and where we will go to college, and so on. Most of us fear that wrong decisions at these points will result in a lifetime of disaster.

Continue Reading

Please follow and like us:
0

John MacArthur – Eliminating Spiritual Toxins

Consider a person who exercises fastidiously and holds to a strict diet but also abuses alcohol and drugs. That kind of schizophrenic behavior would raise a lot of questions, and rightly so.

The same goes for Christians who carefully guard their spiritual diet but make no effort to avoid or eliminate sinful, spiritual toxins from their lives. Faithfully studying God’s Word is vital to our growth, but it’s not the only factor. We need to recognize sinful attitudes and motivations as carcinogens that can wreak havoc in our spiritual lives.

Right now, these sinful toxins could be poisoning your life, eating away at your usefulness, and causing all sorts of decay and destruction. Peter recognized the threat these sins pose to our spiritual health and commanded his readers to “[put] aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander” (1 Peter 2:1).

The King James translation of 1 Peter 2:1 tells us to “lay aside” all of these negative things. The Greek word used here actually means to “strip off your clothes.” It’s the same thing that is meant in Hebrews 12:1 where we are told to “lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us.” Peter highlights five specific toxins we should strip out of our lives for the sake of our spiritual health: malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, slander.

Continue Reading

Please follow and like us:
0

John MacArthur – Watching Your Spiritual Diet

Most of us have known people whose bodies have not grown or matured properly. It’s sad to encounter people with cognitive handicaps, brain damage, or other developmental obstacles that have hindered their growth. Many of them remain locked in a child-like state—others tragically don’t progress even that far.

In a similar way, some Christians remain locked in a perpetual state of spiritual infancy. However, unlike those suffering with mental handicaps, Christians struggling with arrested spiritual development have no one to blame but themselves.

All Christians are supposed to be growing in Christlikeness: “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29). But there is often a disconnect between Romans 8:29 and what we see happening in the church. Some Christians simply don’t grow. Spiritually they remain stunted, never becoming what God has called them to be.

Worse still, if you challenge these believers, they may deny culpability for their stunted growth and indignantly argue that they are growing—albeit at their own pace! Everybody wants to grow; it’s just that some people want to grow with no effort, and that’s where the problem lies.

Continue Reading

Please follow and like us:
0

John MacArthur – The Gaping Holes in the Gap Theory

Scripture gives us a complete — albeit contested — account of God’s work on the first day of creation.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day. (Genesis 1:1–5)

Verse 1 is a general statement. The rest of Genesis 1 unfolds the sequence of God’s creative work, starting with a “formless and void” earth.

The Barren Planet

As day one emerges from eternity, we find the earth in a dark and barren condition. The construction of the Hebrew phrase that opens verse 2 is significant. The subject comes before the verb, as if to emphasize something remarkable about it. It might be translated, “As to the earth, it was formless and void.” Here is a new planet, the very focus of God’s creative purpose, and it was formless and void. The Hebrew expression is tohu wa bohu. Tohu signifies a wasteland, a desolate place. Bohu means “empty.” The earth was an empty place of utter desolation.

Continue Reading

Please follow and like us:
0

John MacArthur – Ruth: Ordained Romance

From a Jewish perspective, Ruth wasn’t a good candidate for adoption into the nation of Israel. An impoverished widow from the pagan nation of Moab was likely seen as someone to avoid or perhaps even deport. But the providence of God isn’t bound by human logic or perception.

As a matter of survival in Israel, Ruth gathered leftover grain from the fields of a man—Boaz—who turned out to be a close relative of her deceased Israelite husband. Moreover, Boaz looked on Ruth’s plight with compassion and kindness.

Boaz seemed smitten with Ruth from the moment they met. He invited her to eat with his workers at mealtime and personally ensured that she had enough to be satisfied (Ruth 2:14–16). He instructed his workers to permit her to glean among his sheaves, and he even encouraged them to let grain fall purposely from the bundles for her sake. Thus he lightened the load of her labor and increased its reward.

Ruth nonetheless continued to work hard all day. “She gleaned in the field until evening. Then she beat out what she had gleaned, and it was about an ephah of barley” (Ruth 2:17). That was a full half bushel, approximately enough to sustain Ruth and Naomi for five days or more–about four times as much as a gleaner could hope to gather on a typical good day. Ruth took the grain, as well as some leftover food from lunch, and gave it to Naomi.

Continue Reading

Please follow and like us:
0

John MacArthur – Ruth: Godly Resolve

Ruth was a Moabite who’d spent her whole life embedded in that pagan culture. But her surprising marriage to an Israelite alien brought her into contact with the Jewish religion of YHWH worship. Though her husband died soon after, Ruth’s remarkable allegiance to the God of Israel remained.

When Naomi — Ruth’s Jewish mother-in-law, who had also been widowed—decided to return to Israel, she tried to dissuade Ruth from going any farther with her: “Behold, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law” (Ruth 1:15). Naomi no doubt felt it was not in Ruth’s best interests to be shackled to an aged and destitute widow. On the other hand, she must have known that it would be spiritually detrimental for Ruth to go back to her people “and to her gods.” In all likelihood, Naomi was testing Ruth, hoping to coax from her an explicit verbal profession of faith in YHWH. It would be wrong to take Ruth to Israel and place a widow without financial support in that society if she had no genuine commitment to Israel’s God.

The Resolve

Ruth’s reply is a beautiful piece of poetry in Hebrew style:

Do not urge me to leave you
Or turn back from following you;
For where you go, I will go,
And where you lodge, I will lodge.
Your people shall be my people,
And your God, my God.
Where you die, I will die,
And there I will be buried.
Thus may the Lord do to me, and worse,
If anything but death parts you and me. (Ruth 1:16–17)

Continue Reading

Please follow and like us:
0

John MacArthur – Ruth: Rising from Ruins

The Old Testament book of Ruth is a flawless love story. Although it is brief (eighty-five verses), it still runs the full range of human emotions — from the most gut-wrenching grief to the very height of glad-hearted triumph.

Ruth’s life was the true, historical experience of one genuinely extraordinary woman. It was also a perfect depiction of the story of redemption, told with living, breathing symbols. Ruth herself furnished a fitting picture of every sinner. She was a widow and a foreigner who went to live in a strange land. Tragic circumstances reduced her to abject poverty. She was not only an outcast and an exile, but also bereft of any resources—reduced to a state of utter destitution from which she could never hope to redeem herself by any means. In her extremity, she sought the grace of her mother-in-law’s closest kinsman. The story of how her whole life was changed is one of the most deeply touching narratives in the whole of Scripture.

Ruth’s story began near the end of the era of the Judges in the Old Testament. It was about a century before the time of David, in an age that was often characterized by anarchy, confusion, and unfaithfulness to the law of God. There was also a severe famine in Israel in those days.

We are introduced to the family of Elimelech in Ruth 1:1–2. Elimelech had a wife, Naomi, and two sons, named Mahlon and Chilion. Their hometown was Bethlehem, famous as the burial place of Rachel, Jacob’s wife (Genesis 35:19). Bethlehem in future generations would gain more lasting fame as the hometown of David, and then, of course, as the birthplace of Christ. The story of Elimelech’s family became a key link in the chain tying the messianic line to Bethlehem.

Continue Reading

Please follow and like us:
0

John MacArthur – What Is the Relationship Between Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility?

The relationship between God’s sovereignty and human responsibility is not instantly obvious, and at first glance it seems paradoxical. But Scripture offers us considerable insight into how these twin truths harmonize within the plan of redemption.

The first step in understanding the compatibility between God’s sovereignty and human will is to recognize that they are not mutually exclusive, and Scripture makes this absolutely clear. In God’s design, human responsibility is clearly not eliminated by God’s sovereign control over His creation. That’s true even though evil was included in His grand design for the universe even before the beginning of time, and He uses His creatures’ sin for purposes that are always (and only) good. Indeed, in His infinite wisdom, He is able to use all things for good (Rom. 8:28).

Consider the Lord’s opening statement in Isaiah 10:5: “Woe to Assyria, the rod of My anger.” At first glance, this makes no sense. If Assyria is functioning as an instrument of God’s judgment, why is He pronouncing condemnation on the Assyrians? “Woe” is an onomatopoeic word (meaning the word sounds like what it means; in this case, a cry of agony) that warns of calamity or massive judgment to come. But how can a people come under divine denunciation and judgment while at the same time functioning as a rod of God’s anger? The rest of the verse says, “the staff in whose hand is My indignation.” Assyria, this pagan, godless, idolatrous nation, is the instrument of divine judgment against God’s own rebellious people.

Continue Reading

Please follow and like us:
0

John MacArthur – The First Adam, the Last Adam, and the Gospel

Was Adam a Real Person?

The church has historically affirmed that Adam was a historical man, yet with the acceptance of evolutionary science, some now claim that this is not the case. Those who believe that the earth is millions or billions of years old will not accept that God fully formed the human Adam a few days after creating the universe. However, Genesis presents Adam as a real historical man, not the result of eons of evolution.

The simplest and most natural interpretation of Genesis 1 declares that God created the specific person Adam on the sixth day of creation. Genesis 2 then offers more detail on the creation of Adam and Eve. Adam’s connection with other historical persons supports the claim that he was indeed a specific person. Adam is the father of Cain, Abel, and Seth (Gen. 4:1–2, 25; 5:1–3). Adam is also said to have had conjugal relations with his wife Eve to bear Cain and Seth, and Genesis 5:3 further states that Adam fathered Seth at age 130. These details cannot be legitimately identified as poetic or figurative language describing something other than reality.

Continue Reading

Please follow and like us:
0

John MacArthur – How Scripture Empowers Personal Holiness

Becoming More like God

Godliness, Christlikeness, and Christian spirituality all describe a Christian becoming more like God. The most powerful way to effect this change is by letting the Word of God dwell in one richly (Col. 3:16). When one embraces Scripture without reservation, it will energetically work God’s will in the believer’s life (1 Thess. 2:13). The process could be basically defined as follows:

Christian spirituality involves growing to be like God in character and conduct by personally submitting to the transforming work of God’s Word and God’s Spirit.

Holiness Embodies the Very Essence of Christianity

Christians have been saved to be holy and to live holy lives (1 Pet. 1:14–16). What does it mean to be holy? Both the Hebrew and Greek words for “to be holy” (which appear about two thousand times in Scripture) basically mean “to be set aside for something special.” Thus, God is holy in that he sets himself apart from creation, humanity, and all pagan gods by the fact of his deity and sinlessness. That’s why the angels sing of God, “Holy, holy, holy” (Isa. 6:3; Rev. 4:8), and why Scripture declares him to be holy (Ps. 99:9; Isa. 43:15).

Thus, the idea of holiness takes on a spiritual meaning among the people of God based on the holy character of God. For instance, the high priest of God had inscribed across his headpiece “Holy to the Lord” (Ex. 39:30). The high priest was especially set apart by God to intercede on behalf of a sinful nation to a holy God for the forgiveness of their transgressions.

Continue Reading

Please follow and like us:
0