In This World You Will Have Trouble

…the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.
Mt 8:20, Lk 9:58

The Lord is our only stay. We have this fantastical image in our minds of Daniel in the lion’s den: where the lions all have smiles on their faces and Daniel is petting their manes. But the man beloved of God whom the Lord ordains to be thrown in with the lions will shortly find that their den is no such place. The lions may well be subdued and have their mouths held shut from truly harming him; but they nonetheless have every intention of ripping at and tearing apart the man of God, and will mercilessly intimidate him day and night. Even in the envelopment of our Lord’s protection, there is every earthly reason to abandon faith and be devoured.

When the Lord our Shepherd prepares a table before us in the presence of our enemies, we are no less in their presence. We may eat and rejoice at the bounty of the Lord, yet the ravenous wolves stand across from us, at every moment spitting and shouting curses upon the Food and Drink of which we partake, seeking to shame us from partaking in the table of His sufferings. But the one whom the Lord upholds will not give in to fear.

We shall find no rest in this world of rebellion. We will be afflicted on all sides. Our blessed hope is a heavenly one, and it is one which we yet await. Let our running therefore not be stumbled by vexation with trials, as if a temporary world of tribulation is not worthy to be suffered for His eternity victory.

Rejoice in affliction!

A mighty fortress is our God,
A bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood
Of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe
Doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and pow’r are great,
And, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

Did we in our own strength confide,
Our striving would be losing,
Were not the right Man on our side,
The Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is He
Lord Sabaoth, His Name,
From age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.

And though this world, with devils filled,
Should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed
His truth to triumph through us;
The Prince of Darkness grim,
We tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure,
For lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.

That Word above all earthly pow’rs,
No thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours
Through Him Who with us sideth;
Let goods and kindred go,
This mortal life also;
The body they may kill:
God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.

– Martin Luther

In Defence of a Brother

A false witness will perish, but the word of a man who hears will endure.
Proverbs 21:28

I am compelled to break momentarilly from my usual format (and even tone) due to a particular greivance which is needlessly ongoing. It is not a matter to which I actually have much to ad, and I would not typically consider speaking of a thing which has nothing to do with me. But I am compelled to speak nonetheless, if perhaps only to show my small audience how perfectly illustrative this matter is of a severe plague among those who name the Name of Christ in our day. The malady of which I speak is the bearing of false witness.

The particular case which I am about to explain in adressing this issue has been a public one for some time, and the accused has reponded publicly to the extent that he needs to: which is not much, considering the glaring lack of integrity and maturity on the part of his accusers.

Any suggestion made that I should not comment on this matter is therefore pointless. It is an already public fiasco to which I seek to add no more fury, but only cool water (for the handful who read this). In fact, by virtue of naive people still wanting to dig up old news like this and call it new, you might consider the present article just another signpost reading: “Been there, done that. Now let us grow up, shall we?”

I believe (or at least hope) that we can learn from matters like this, not to be so foolish.

THE MATTER:

This has been brought to my attention more than once, always by those who learn little except through the teachings of many unstable “christian” internet ministry gurus.

The matter calls into question the integrity of one John MacArthur.

He has more than once been accused of saying that a person can take the mark of the beast and still be saved: and this is almost invariably couched as though he said it in such a way that he treated our salvation flipantly, or that God’s holiness was being trifled with.

THE CASE OF THE ACCUSED:

MacArthur was answering the question of whether an unbeliever could take the mark of the beast and be subsequently be saved afterwards.

His answer was based upon his own eschatological view that the church will be raptured before the mark of the beast is administered; and all those who take this view of end-times must in fact say “yes” to this question if they are going to be biblically consistent, since the scriptures indicate that there are people out of the great tribulation who will be saved.

Additionally, he defends his position with Matthew 12:31: “Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.”

Based on MacArthur’s eschatological position, this would only make sense. And this also brings in some irony, since most of the people accusing him hold to the same view of the end-times: that a rapture of the church occurs before that mark comes.

I do not necessarily agree with this eschatological view personally, but that is not the issue at hand. The issue here is that a man of great integrity is being called into question based upon a stance taken on an eschatological issue. And clearly, for most North American christians,eschatology is very fuzzy due to the mammon-worship and politicizations of their many corrupt instructors over the last century. The man cannot be entirely blamed for his view here.

And if you have actually heard the gospel he preaches, it is the gospel of Jesus Christ. He is neither an antinomian, nor a preacher of works unto salvation. (He is however accused of being both, which is to be expected.)

Now, because I do not hold to MacArthur’s eschatology, I would not answer the same question he was asked even with a qualified “yes” as he did (and I would say that I am being far more consistent with the biblical text therefore); but he clearly did not in the least intend to downplay its seriousness in either case, and he is far from actually preaching a different gospel. Perhaps I should not expect that to be known by those who are quick to accuse him in this matter, since evidently few of them have actually heard much (if any) of the man’s teaching…

THE CASE (& STATE) OF THE ACCUSERS:

MacArthur’s remarks on this matter are constantly being made referrence to in this matter without the consideration of any of this context. He is rarely being actually quoted, and then I have found only in broken fragments.

Among the most popular and highly recommended responses you will find to this matter include that of one Jacob Prasch, a man who so despises almost any notion of God’s sovereignty in salvation, that those who hold to the clear teachings of Romans 9 he calls “satanic” in his frequent, sad, small-screen rants. His countenance in every video I have seen is that of a raving madman with a mere vendetta, not even a raving madman who has encountered God’s mercy and actually has something to say. All of his messages are fraught with bitterness and accusation regarding things which he clearly does not care to know the true substance of, lest it fail to feed his undying rage. This is the depth of character we are dealing with – and he is the most credible accuser according to most.

Prasch does almost convey one fair point through his yelling and seething: a point about how Dr. MacArthur’s cessationism is frequently overbearing and unecessarily divisive; but here Prasch falls into hypocrisy by his own overbearing and unnecessary divisiveness over reformed theology. He is evidently a man obsessed not with the word of God, but rather with his own emotional opinion of others.

This apparent teacher of God’s people also continuez ranting on to display a vulgar twisting of history by accusing John Calvin of ruling Geneva in an “Islamic Jihadi fashion,” charging him directly with the execution of Servetus; whom Calvin actually warned against coming to Geneva because the authorities were already looking for him. Calvin was not yet even a citizen of Geneva at the time; and once the authorities had captured Servetus, he requested that at least they treat him more humanely than to burn him – this was not granted. Such were regretfully the times.

A CALL TO INTEGRITY

It is utterly shameful for those who have a public platform, who should know better than to simply run with a word-of-mouth story without having vetted actual sources, let alone using wisdom and clear thinking once having done so, to run with the rumour anyhow.

Integrity is not optional; but required.
Unstable men despise integrity. They tear it down in others because they themselves have little or none. Do not be seated at their table.

I felt compelled to mount this defense of a man who I am certain would himself rebuke me for my view of the nature of the church, and would be troubled by my continuationism regarding the Spirit’s gifts; but just because someone whom I have no reason to believe is not a brother would ignorantly do these things, does not warrant that I should therefore tolerate his being witnessed against falsely. Let us ensure that we are walking in our own integrity before engaging in the spread of what may turn out to be unsubstantiated or overexaggerated claims regarding another.

John MacArthur will leave an undeniable legacy which has already been a blessing to countless many. The man evidences great integrity. There is arguably incompleteness in his revelation (he would agree, just not regarding what those things are); but we do not help ourselves grow into greater completeness by despising what is good and finding satisfaction in slander and reactionism. This should go without saying.

But sadly the words of our Lord ring all too true, “The sons of this age are more prudent than the sons of light themselves are in their generation.” (Lk 16:9)

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.
The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.
PSALM 1