I came home from work, there was a package on the porch waiting for me. I knew what it was. And I had been waiting on it. It was my copy of the new biography written by Iain Murray and published by Banner of Truth: “John MacArthur: Servant of the Word and Flock.”
I was introduced to the ministry of John F. MacArthur Jr. early in my pastoral ministry. I was being confronted with claims of Charismatic experiences in my congregation. And I needed a better understanding of the matter. Somehow – I think it was through a magazine advertisement – I heard about MacArthur’s Charismatic Chaos.
I went to a local Christian bookstore to find Chaos. When I asked the young lady behind the counter if they had the book in stock, she replied, “Yeah. But I wouldn’t recommend it. He doesn’t believe in the gifts.” I was shocked. I have never had a bookstore employee to discourage me from buying a book. It made me all the more eager to read the book. Honestly, I thought the MacArthur was harsh at points. But the book settled my convictions. And they have not changed. Chaos also deepened my passion to know the truth and strengthened my confidence in the sufficiency of God’s word.
I then began to pick up everything I could find by MacArthur. If he wrote it, I read it. I regularly listened to his “Grace To You” broadcast. And when I found out where his church was – about a thirty-minute freeway drive from where I lived – I would drive out to pick up tapes of his recent sermons.
During the first extended vacation time I took as a pastor; I spent my first Sunday off at Grace Community Church. This began my regular attendance in MacArthur’s Sunday night services. I remember with fondness the messages he preached through Romans 8 on Sunday evenings. Hearing them joyfully settled my convictions about Eternal Security, once and for all.
I knew that I was in love with Crystal when I invited her to join me for a Sunday evening service at Grace Church. I had never attended a service there with anyone before. I kind of viewed it as my own time to have my faith fed. Thinking that Crystal would one day be my wife, I wanted her to visit the church that was having such a profound impact on my doctrinal convictions and philosophy of ministry.
After the service, we were in the “Book Shack.” As we saw all of the books and tape series, we talked about the discipline required to produce this kind of work. When we were making our purchases, Crystal asked the young man what Dr. MacArthur was teaching on Sunday mornings. He answered 2 Corinthians. She asked was he in a series. He answered that Dr. MacArthur had been in 2 Corinthians for the past 3 or 4 years. I can still see the shocked look on Crystal’s face.
Some years later – being married with children – I was able to briefly continue my formal studies at The Master’s Seminary, which is on the campus of Grace Community Church and where Dr. MacArthur is the president. Though only there a short time, my understanding of scripture was deepened and my vision for pastoral ministry expanded.
I have never met John MacArthur. But he has been a dear friend to me for many years now. His example has challenged me. His preaching has nurtured me. His courage has inspired me. His books have taught me. His commentaries have aided me. His congregation has blessed me.
As I heard the news that Dr. MacArthur has recently completed preaching through the entire New Testament – verse-by-verse – I have been overwhelmed with gratitude for this faithful servant of the word. His defense and confirmation of the truth is formidable. Sure, there are times when I disagree with positions that Dr. MacArthur takes (It seems that most who read or listen to him give this qualification). But even when I disagree with him, I cannot easily dismiss him. He has done his homework on the text. And he forces me to do mine.
I know that it may not be best to write a biography on a subject while he is still alive. All of the evidence is not yet in. But I am grateful for the providential orchestration of circumstances that have caused this new biography of MacArthur to be written. And I am looking forward to reading the story of this man of God and his commitment to Christ, the scriptures, and the church.
Thank God for Dr. John F. MacArthur, Jr.