WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP)–Correctly explaining God’s Word is the most important thing pastors can do for their churches, well-known pastor and author John MacArthur said during a three-day lecture series at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.
MacArthur, whose messages focused on why ignoring God’s Word is so destructive to God’s people, is pastor of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, Calif., where he has served for 34 years, and president of The Master’s College and Seminary in Santa Clarita, Calif. He also is a conference speaker and featured teacher on the “Grace to You” radio ministry, which airs more than 1,500 times daily around the world.
Underscoring the importance of biblical exposition, MacArthur listed 15 unintended consequences for a pastor who fails to base his messages on God’s Word.
“I think Christian ministry, as such, has one clear duty — and that is to bring people the truth of God by explaining the meaning of the Bible,” MacArthur said during his Sept. 2-4 visit on Southeastern’s Wake Forest, N.C., campus. “You have an obligation to God to get it right.”
Throughout his messages, MacArthur took a stance against the modern seeker-friendly movement, which he said is often guilty of exchanging biblical exposition for cleverly crafted yet shallow messages, omitting potentially offending truths and conforming itself to resemble a lost world.
MacArthur noted that this kind of failure to exposit the Word usurps the Lordship of Christ over His church and hinders the work of the Holy Spirit.
“At the beginning is the question of authority,” MacArthur said. “Who is sovereign? Who has the right to be heard? I have no authority in my church unless I say, ‘Thus says the Lord.’ I’m there to be the voice of God, nothing less.
“Your ideas will come and go and be forgotten,” he continued. “But [God’s Word] will not go…. People do not grow because of insightful stories or clever analogies. The Word of God is the only true source of help…. [It] alone cuts deep and then heals.”
MacArthur added that preaching should not reflect a pastor’s own ideas and intuition but, instead, the mind of Christ.
MacArthur also was adamant that the church should not be influenced by the world or take its cues from culture. Stating that the church should be a reflection of heaven, he said it is a travesty to make sinful people comfortable in a church.
“I’m not trying to make the church as much like the world as I can,” MacArthur said. “I’m trying to make the church as much like heaven as I can. People should walk into church, and it should be nothing like the world.”
MacArthur encouraged students that by expositing the Word, they could protect their churches from error and defend their flock from those who marginalize the Gospel and preach “feel-good” theology. “The enemy wants to come into the church and attack the truth,” he exhorted. “We have a responsibility to protect the sheep. We need to be … ‘warrior preachers.’ ”
MacArthur’s 15 unintended consequences of failing to preach the Bible expositionally were:
1. It usurps the authority of God over the mind and soul of the hearer.
2. It usurps the Lordship of Christ over His church.
3. It hinders the work of the Holy Spirit.
4. It manifests a lack of submission to Scripture.
5. It severs the preacher personally from the regular sanctifying grace of Scripture.
6. It removes spiritual depth and transcendence from the souls of people so that it cripples worship.
7. It limits the preacher from fully speaking the mind of Christ.
8. It depreciates by example the spiritual duty and benefit of studying Scripture intensely.
9. It breeds a congregation weak and indifferent to the glory of God and Christ.
10. It robs people of their only true source of help.
11. It creates a destructive disconnect between sound doctrine and life.
12. It denigrates God by omitting those truths that trouble, offend and terrify the soul.
13. It disconnects people from the legacy of the past.
14. It removes protection from error that is so deadly to the church.
15. It deceives people into thinking they’ve heard from God when they haven’t.
(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: MACARTHUR’S EXHORTATION and LECTURES PLUS Q&A.