“Grow Up: Advice for YRRs” (Young, Restless and Reformed) (part 2) by John MacArthur

Dr. John F. MacArthur

John MacArthur,

If I could impress on Young, Restless, Reformed students just one word of friendly counsel to address what I think is the most glaring deficiency in that movement, this is what it would be: “Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature” (1 Corinthians 14:20).

I’m very glad the ranks of YRRs are growing numerically. Many good things about that movement are full of promise and potential. In order to fulfill that potential, however, this generation of Reformers desperately needs to move past the young-and-restless stage. Immaturity and unrest are hindrances to spiritual fruitfulness, not virtues.

When Paul told Timothy, “Let no one despise you for your youth” (1 Timothy 4:12), he wasn’t suggesting that Timothy should forbid people in the church to disapprove if the pastor were to display immaturity, juvenile misbehavior, youthful indiscretion, or other traits of callow character.

Much less was the apostle suggesting that Timothy should cater exclusively to young people while purposely marginalizing the elderly. That, I’m sorry to say, is the kind of advice we sometimes hear nowadays from many self-styled church-growth
….[continue reading at Grace To You]

“Grow Up. Settle Down. Keep Reforming. Advice for the Young, Restless, Reformed” by John MacArthur

John MacArthur

John MacArthur,

It has been five years since Christianity Today published Collin Hansen’s article titled “Young, Restless, Reformed.” Hansen later expanded the article into a book with the same title (Wheaton: Crossway, 2008). He has carefully documented a very encouraging trend: large numbers of young people (college age and younger) are discovering the doctrines of grace, embracing a more biblical and Christ-centered worldview, and beginning to delve more deeply into serious theology than most 20th-century evangelicals were prone to do.

In short, Calvinism, not postmodernism, seems to be capturing the hearts of Christian young people.

Hansen cites evidence that Calvinistic seminaries are growing. Several new national conferences feature speakers committed to reformed soteriology (R.C. Sproul, John Piper, Al Mohler, Mark Dever, and others)—and these conferences are consistently full to overflowing with students. Books rich with meaty doctrinal content rather than relational fluff have begun to show up on Christian best-seller lists. There is even a surge of interest in Jonathan Edwards….[continue reading at Grace To You]

What is Worldliness? — Iain H. Murray

Iain Murray,

Worldliness is departing from God. It is a man-centred way of thinking; it proposes objectives which demand no radical breach with man’s fallen nature; it judges the importance of things by the present and material results; it weighs success by numbers; it covets human esteem and wants no unpopularity; it knows no truth for which it is worth suffering; it declines to be a ‘fool for Christ’s sake’. Worldliness is the mind-set of the unregenerate. It adopts idols and is at war with God.

Because ‘the flesh’ still dwells in the Christian he is far from immune from being influenced by this dynamic. It is of believers that it is said, ‘the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary one to another’ (Galatians 5:17). It is professing Christians who are asked, ‘Do you not know that the friendship of the world is enmity with God?’ (James 4:4) and are commanded, ‘Do not love the world’, and ‘keep yourselves from idols’ (1 John 2:15, 5:21). Apostasy generally arises in the church just because this danger ceases to be observed…the church devises ways to present the gospel which will neutralise any offence. The antithesis between regenerate and unregenerate is passed over and it is supposed that the interests and ambitions of the unconverted can somehow be harnessed to win their approval for Christ. Then when this approach achieves ‘results’ – as it will – no more justification is thought to be needed. The rule of Scripture has given place to pragmatism. The apostolic statement, ‘For if I still pleased men, I would not be the servant of Christ’ (Galatians 1:10), has lost its meaning. . . .

. . . .That this has happened on a large scale in the later-twentieth century is to be seen in the way in which the interests and priorities of contemporary culture have come to be mirrored in the churches….Instead of the churches revolutionising the culture, the reverse has happened. Churches have been converted to the world.

from: Iain Murray, Evangelicalism Divided (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 2000), pp. 255,256

Charles Spurgeon: On Why the Church Has Lost Influence in the World

Another great quote I found at Grace Christian Quotes:

“I believe that one reason why the church of God at this present moment has so little influence over the world is because the world has so much influence over the church.” — Charles H. Spurgeon (1834-1892)

Martyn Lloyd-Jones: On One of the Worst Forms of Worldliness: Desire for the World’s Acceptance

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981)


The Christian church in her utter folly during this present century has been recognizing a new authority. And the new authority of course is the man of knowledge, the man of culture, and particularly the man of scientific knowledge. And the church has been at great pains to do everything she can to please this new authority.

This man of learning must never be offended. And in order to please him and duplicate him, the church has been ready to take things out of the Bible. She rejects and throws out the whole of the first three chapters of Genesis, much of the other history, throws out all the miracles . . . She’ll throw out anything in order to make her message pleasing and acceptable to this new authority—the man of knowledge, the man of learning, the man of science.

(This post was adapted from [Lloyd-Jones Saw It Coming] at Pyromaniacs).

“The Messenger is Not the Means” John MacArthur: On the Problem of Market-Driven Ministry

John MacArthur,

The dominant myth in evangelicalism is that the success of Christianity depends on how popular it is. The perceived mandate is that, if the gospel is to remain relevant, Christianity must somehow adapt and appeal to the latest cultural trends.

That kind of thinking used to be limited to the seeker-sensitive crowd, but it has recently made the leap into more Reformed circles. There are entire movements that would agree to the truths of predestination, election, and total depravity, but then also, inexplicably, demand that pastors act more like rock-stars than humble shepherds. Influenced by the emotional rhetoric of bad theology, people tolerate the idea that cultural shrewdness of a pastor determines how successful his message is and how influential his church will be. Current church growth methodology claims that if an evangelist wants to “reach the culture” (whatever that means), he must emulate the culture in some way. But such an approach runs contrary to the biblical paradigm. The power of the Spirit in the gospel is not found in the messenger, but in the message. Thus, the motivation behind the seeker-driven mind-set might be noble, but it is seriously misguided.

Any effort to manipulate the outcome of evangelism by changing the message or stylizing the messenger is a mistake. The idea that more people will repent if only the preacher were cooler or funnier invariably causes the church to suffer through a ridiculous parade of entrepreneurial types who act as though their personal charm can draw people to Christ. ¹

¹ John MacArthur et.al.,The MacArthur Pastor’s Library :: Evangelism: How to Share the Gospel Faithfully (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2011), pp. 3-4

See also:

Martyn Lloyd-Jones: On The Perpetual Fads of Market-Driven Churches
“Pragmatism: Modernism Recycled” by John MacArthur
John MacArthur on Charles Spurgeon & Worldly Preaching [VIDEO]
The Failure of Contextualized Theologies and the Need for Sustained, Biblical Preaching — David F. Wells

Winning The World By Being Different From The World — Charles Spurgeon

Charles H. Spurgeon (1834-1892)

Charles Spurgeon,

The church is a separate and distinct thing from the world. I suppose there is such a thing as “the Christian world”; but I do not know what it is, or where it can be found. It must be a singular mixture. I know what is meant by a worldly Christian; and I suppose the Christian world must be an aggregate of worldly Christians. But the church of Christ is not of the world. “Ye are not of the world,” says Christ, “even as I am not of the world.”

Great attempts have been made of late to make the church receive the world, and wherever it has succeeded it has come to this result, the world has swallowed up the church. It must be so. The greater is sure to swamp the less.
They say, “Do not let us draw any hard-and-fast lines. A great many good people attend our services who may not be quite decided, but still their opinion should be consulted, and their vote should be taken upon the choice of a minister, and there should be entertainments and amusements, in which they can assist.”

The theory seems to be, that it is well to have a broad gangway from the church to the world: if this be carried out, the result will be that the nominal church will use that gangway to go over to the world, but it will not be used in the other direction! It is thought by some that it would, perhaps, be better to have no distinct Church at all! If the world will not come up to the Church, let the Church go down to the world—that seems to be the theory. Let the Israelites dwell with the Canaanites and become one happy family! Such a blending does not appear to have been anticipated by our Lord in the chapter which was read just now—I mean the 15th Chapter of John. Read verses 18 and nineteen—“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love his own: but
because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”

Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892) Picture from Vanity Fair, 10 December 1870

Did Jesus ever say—“Try to make an alliance with the world and, in all things, be conformed to its ways”? Nothing could have been further from our Lord’s mind! Oh, that we could see more of holy separation—more dissent from ungodliness, more nonconformity to the world! This is “the dissidence of Dissent” that I care for—far more than I do for party names and the political strife which is engendered by them.

Let us, however, take heed that our separateness from the world is of the same kind as our Lord’s. We are not to adopt a peculiar dress, or a singular mode of speech, or shut ourselves out from society. He did not do so! He was a man of the people, mixing with them for their good. He was seen at a wedding feast, aiding the festivities. He even ate bread in a Pharisee’s house, among captious enemies! He neither wore phylacteries, nor enlarged the borders of His garments, nor sought a secluded cell, nor exhibited any eccentricity of manner. He was separate from sinners only because He was holy and harmless—and they were not. He dwelt among us, for He was of us. No man was more a man than He and yet He was not of the world, neither could you count Him among them. He was neither Pharisee, nor Sadducee, nor Scribe. But, at the same time, none could justly confuse Him with publicans and sinners. Those who reviled Him for consorting with these last, did, by that very reviling, admit that He was a very different person from those with whom they went. We want all members of the Church of Christ to be, manifestly and obviously, distinct persons, as much as if they were of a separate race, even when they are seen mingling with the people around them!

We are not to cut ourselves off from our neighbors by pretense and contempt. God forbid! Our avoiding of pretension, our naturalness, simplicity, sincerity and amiability of character should constitute a distinction. Through Christians being what they seem to be, they should become remarkable in an age of pretenders! Their care for the welfare of others, their anxiety to do good, their forgiveness of injuries, their gentleness of manner—all these should distinguish them far more than they could be distinguished by a particular mode of dress or by any outward signs. I long to see Christian people become more distinct from the world than ever because I am persuaded that until they are, the Church will never become such a power for blessing men as her Lord intended her to be.

It is for the world’s good that there should be no alliance between the Church and the world by way of compromise, even to a shade! (from: The Lord’s Own View of His Church And People, Sermon #1957, delivered by C.H. Spurgeon at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington)

“Against Compromise” By John MacArthur

“Against Compromise”

John MacArthur

It was Martin Luther who said:

“The world at the present time is sagaciously discussing how to quell the controversy and strife over doctrine and faith, and how to effect a compromise between the Church and the Papacy. Let the learned, the wise, it is said, bishops, emperor and princes, arbitrate. Each side can easily yield something, and it is better to concede some things which can be construed according to individual interpretation, than that so much persecution, bloodshed, war, and terrible, endless dissension and destruction be permitted.

“Here is lack of understanding, for understanding proves by the Word that such patchwork is not according to God’s will, but that doctrine, faith and worship must be preserved pure and unadulterated; there must be no mingling with human nonsense, human opinions or wisdom.

“The Scriptures give us this rule: ‘We must obey God rather than men’ (Acts 5:29).”

It is interesting to speculate what the church would be like today if Martin Luther had been prone to compromise. The pressure was heavy on him to tone down his teaching, soften his message, stop poking his finger in the eye of the papacy. Even many of his friends and supporters urged Luther to come to terms with Rome for the sake of harmony in the church. Luther himself prayed earnestly that the effect of his teaching would not be divisive.

When he nailed his 95 Theses to the door, the last thing he wanted to do was split the church.

Yet sometimes division is fitting, even healthy, for the church. Especially in times like Luther’s–and like ours–when the visible church seems full of counterfeit Christians, it is right for the true people of God to declare themselves. Compromise is sometimes a worse evil than division. Second Corinthians 6:14-17 isn’t speaking only of marriage when it says,

“Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I will dwell in them and walk among them; And I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”

Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,” says the Lord.
This article here originally appeared at Grace To You. – © 1969-2010. Grace to You. All rights reserved. www.gty.org

“Pursuing Excellence” by John MacArthur

John MacArthur

There’s the story of a pilot who came on the loudspeaker midflight and said, “I have some good news and some bad news. The bad news is, we’ve lost all our instrumentation and don’t know where we are. The good news is, we have a strong tailwind and are making great time.” That’s an accurate picture of how many people live: they have no direction in life, but are getting there fast! We as Christians are to be different because we have divine guidance and eternal goals. Our lives are to be marked by a confident trust in God and a pursuit of spiritual excellence.”Excellent” in Philippians 1:10 speaks of things that are worthwhile and vital. “Approv[ing]” what is “excellent” refers to testing things as one would test a precious metal to determine its purity and value. It goes beyond knowing good from evil. It distinguishes between better and best. It involves thinking Biblically and focusing your time and energy on what really counts. It involves cultivating spiritual discipline and not being controlled by your emotions, whims, moods, or circumstances.Many organizations and businesses have rightly adopted the motto “Commitment to Excellence” to convey their desire to provide the finest product or service possible. If secular-minded people strive for that level of achievement, how much more should Christians pursue excellence for the glory of God!Look at your life. Is it filled with godly love, discernment, and the pursuit of excellence—or has worldly trivia crowded out these virtues?

(John MacArthur, Drawing Near [Wheaton: Crossway, 1993], excerpted from the devotion for February 20)

“Seeker-Friendly Churches” by John MacArthur

“Seeker-Friendly Churches”

John MacArthur

Many in the church today believe that the only way to reach the world is to give the unchurched multitudes what they want. Hundreds of churches have followed precisely that theory, actually surveying unbelievers to learn what it would take to get them to attend.

Subtly the overriding goal is church attendance and worldly acceptability rather than a transformed life. Preaching the Word and boldly confronting sin are seen as archaic, ineffectual means of winning the world. After all, those things actually drive most people away. Why not entice people into the fold by offering what they want, creating a friendly, comfortable environment, and catering to the very desires that constitute their strongest urges? As if we might get them to accept Jesus by somehow making Him more likable or making His message less offensive.

That kind of thinking badly skews the mission of the church. The Great Commission is not a marketing manifesto. Evangelism does not require salesmen, but prophets. It is the Word of God, not any earthly enticement, that plants the seed for the new birth (1 Peter 1:23). We gain nothing but God’s displeasure if we seek to remove the offense of the cross.

My complaint is with a philosophy that relegates God and His Word to a subordinate role in the church. I believe it is unbiblical to elevate entertainment over biblical preaching and worship in the church service. And I stand in opposition to those who believe salesmanship can bring people into the kingdom more effectively than a sovereign God. That philosophy has opened the door to worldliness in the church.

Adapted from Ashamed of the Gospel, © by John MacArthur. All rights reserved.
This article here originally appeared at Grace To You © 1969-2010. Grace to You. All rights reserved. www.gty.org