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Confront false beliefs from pulpit, MacArthur urges in seminary lectures

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–Confronting false beliefs with the truth of God’s word is one of the main duties of the pastor, John MacArthur said at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

The pastor of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, Calif., since 1969, MacArthur was on campus Oct. 22-24 to deliver the annual E.Y. Mullins Lectures, which are geared toward strengthening preaching skills.

MacArthur said that no epoch in history has witnessed the rise of as many dangerous belief systems as the 20th century.

And though these are dangerous days, MacArthur urged pastors to preach the truth in the face of the myriad of lies that seek to capture the minds and hearts of the people of God. Such false philosophies, he said, are prisons that ultimately become eternal tombs.

“In [these] fortresses, the prisoners are held captive who need to be delivered before the fortress becomes their tomb,” said MacArthur, who has written more than six dozen books including “Charismatic Chaos” and “The Gospel According to Jesus.”

“What is our objective? To smash the fortresses and take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. We want people to obey the Word of Christ. Preaching it is what we must be about.”

MacArthur recounted scores of dangerous teachings that have dotted history, from pre-Reformation sacramentalism to current-day postmodernism and inclusivism. All of these ideas, he said, run contrary to biblical truth.

He called for pastors to cast aside weak-kneed preaching and confront head-on contemporary heresies through the clear teaching of Scripture.

“This is a formidable reality that we are dealing with,” MacArthur said. “If you think that you can go into the ministry of Jesus Christ and be a guardian of the truth and a proclaimer of truth and not be capable of dealing with these issues from which your people need to be rescued, you are wrong.

“You have sentenced yourself to superficiality. This is not a time for weak men in weak pulpits in weak churches preaching weak messages.”

Pastors who root out lies with biblical teaching will not be well-received by either society or people within the church, MacArthur warned. But Scripture says Christians are to expect suffering when they take a stand for authentic faith, he said.

“There is a price for the proclamation of truth,” he said. “The price in the face of the world is persecution, the price in the face of the church is persecution among the unredeemed and the carnal who occupy the pew. The question is, how are you going to be faithful whatever the cost?”

Pastors will be emboldened for the task when they view the body of Christ as Scripture does: by seeing individual members as Christ himself.

“It doesn’t matter who they are, if they are in Christ, it is Christ coming to you,” he said. “I look at my people and this is Christ coming to me.

“And there is a sense in which he is coming to me and saying, ‘Your responsibility is to love this child of mine the way you love me; your responsibility is to be the shepherd and the feeder of the flock that leads this person to the fullest possible expression of spiritual maturity and virtue, consistent with who they are before God.”

He warned Christians not to waste time and energy “chasing demons” — that is, engaging in the fanciful and often sensational types of spiritual warfare sometimes taught by some evangelicals. MacArthur said that in 2 Corinthians 10 the apostle Paul makes clear that spiritual warfare is not to be carried out through mystical histrionics but by tearing down the fortresses of false teaching by proclaiming the truth.

“People who are doing that [‘chasing demons’] aren’t even in the battle,” MacArthur said. “We don’t use human weapons; this thing is too far beyond us. You can’t fight this with marketing savvy. You’re dealing with massive, dangerous epochs here that Paul describes as ‘fortresses.’

“We’re not firing at paper houses here. We’re not fighting cardboard shacks. We are engaged in a war against massive fortifications. We have to destroy those ideologies, philosophies, religions and theories. Anything that is contrary to the knowledge of God is a fortress that has to be destroyed.

“What are the fortresses? Evolution. The cults — they are all fortresses. The only deterrent against anything that is raised up against the knowledge of God is the truth. We are preachers of the truth. This is not about chasing demons. This is about assaulting the minds of people who are literally imprisoned in deception. It’s about capturing people’s minds so that they stop thinking the way they’ve been thinking and they begin to think the thoughts of God. This is the real spiritual war.”

The Mullins Lectures are named for Southern Seminary’s fourth president, E.Y. Mullins, who served from 1899-1928.
The Mullins Lectures can be heard on the seminary’s website at: http://www.sbts.edu/resources/audio/Mullins.php.

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  • Jeff Robinson

    Jeff Robinson is director of news and information at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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