2010 West Coast Conference - Session 2 - John MacArthur
The next speaker was John MacArthur. Dr. John MacArthur is pastor-teacher of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, Calif., as well as an author, conference speaker, president of The Master’s College and Seminary, and featured teacher with the Grace to You media ministry, which reaches major population centers across the United States, Canada, Europe, the Philippines, South Africa, and beyond. In addition to hosting the daily radio program, Dr. MacArthur is a prolific author, defending the faith in books including A Tale of Two Sons, The Gospel According to Jesus, and God’s High Calling for Women, and Ashamed of the Gospel.
Dr. MacArthur’s message was entitled Becoming a Better You. He began by noting that there are numerous best-selling books out there on “finding God” (The Secret, The Shack, etc.). The common story line is that we are sufficiently powerful to create reality. If we visualize our succeeding at whatever goal we set, it will happen. We are in charge of providence. We can rearrange the universe.
In a vast religious ponzi scheme (that makes the ones at the top of the pile filthy rich), there are many participants. MacArthur listed a dozen names (Robert Schuller, Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, etc.) and movements (e.g., word-faith movement) which play on this theme — Jesus is a force waiting to be activated — by you, knowing what you want.
But MacArthur focused on Joel Osteen. He called him “hyper-Pelagian” and a “quasi-pantheist”, who “makes Jesus a footnote in his ministry to satisfy his critics”. Osteen teaches that we were all made to be winners. When Osteen says “God’s Word” he is not referring to the Bible. He is referring to the positive inner message that an individual, if perceptive, hears God telling him or her. The message? You’ve simply got to “know what you want, speak it, and go make it happen.”
Osteen’s prayer: “I thank you Father that I have your favor. I know these principles work because they’ve worked for my wife and I. And I got the perfect parking spot at the mall the other day.”
MOUTHPIECE FOR SATAN
MacArthur called Osteen a mouthpiece for Satan. Why? Because he offers the unregenerate the things they already want. When Satan tempted Jesus, he appealed to Jesus’ immediate desires.
Why are guys like Osteen successful? Because they appeal to natural desires. Osteen has no biblical understanding of God or man. In reality, no man is either able or willing to come to God. He is far more interested in what Satan can give him in this life. The idea that you are an innate champion is appealing to the flesh, but embracing it has nothing to do with coming to God.
Osteen’s teaching has nothing of that most vilified doctrine, total depravity. The idea that man is helpless and hopeless – a loser – is also the most Christian doctrine. People are willing to acknowledge that they are sinners in their sin, but not that they are sinners in their goodness and in their religion. They put idols of their own making in place of the true God.
God does not offer sinners what already enslaves them – their natural desires. The gospel bids us to put our sins to death and to flee to Christ. The idea that this is our “best life now” is exactly what Satan would want us to believe. After all, Satan offers sins and pleasures for a mere season.
NOT YOUR BEST LIFE NOW
If you are a forgiven child of God, this is not your best life now. It has some pleasures, sure. But it also has a lot of pain. Our best life is what is to come. For children of God, this is the worst we will ever experience. We look for that which is to come.
In I Peter 1, Peter is writing to some scattered believers. These are the elect that are scattered. The theme of being called to suffer for righteousness sake pervades I Peter. Peter calls on these troubled believers, who are living their worst life now, to wait patiently for the inheritance that Christ has purchased for them. This is a call for exuberant joy. In this, our worst life, we live in hope for the possession of the inheritance to be received.
Sometimes we talk about ministerial burnout. We can get weary in doing good. And the responses of others can let us down. But it helps to have the right expectations. The less we expect of others, the less we are disappointed. We shouldn’t be so foolish as to the think that we can create our own reality.
In II Corinthians 3-4, Paul tells the Corinthian believers that they should not place their hope in the things that are temporary. Rather, they, like we, are to look forward to the glorious salvation to be revealed.
There are three senses of salvation: We were justified and saved from the penalty of sin. We are (present tense) being saved (delivered from sins power over us). And, in the future, we will be fully saved from the presence of sin and from the possibility of sinning.
Some say that heaven might be boring. What could there be to do? But think of this: The absence of the curse, the absence of decay, the absence of conflict, sin, and tears. Instead, unbounded peace, joy, and holiness. These are the true blessings of heaven. Our salvation is ready to be revealed to us in the last day.
THE SOURCE OF BLESSING - THE GOD AND FATHER OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST
The God we worship is the eternal God who is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (I Peter 1:3).
THE MOTIVE - MERCY
Why did He help us? He had pity on us. He is the Father of mercy (I Peter 1:3).
THE MEANS – REGENERATION
He caused us to be born again (regenerated) to a living hope. Nicodemus, to Jesus, says, “How can I be born again?” Jesus answer, “Don’t be amazed I said it. The wind blows wherever it wants.” Jesus’ answer, basically, is that you cannot do it.
But if you have been born again, then you have eternal life. To die is merely gain.
And in I Peter 1:20-23, Peter gives the context.
THE NATURE OF SALVATION - NOT SUBJECT TO DECAY
Our salvation is unfading. We are protected by the power of God from falling away. This is the perseverance of the saints.
The cross is validated in the resurrection.
The lie is that this is your best life now. It is not! No, the life to come is the best. The older I get the more I look forward to heaven. My assurance is based on having experienced numerous trials and tests of faith, because passing tests makes it clear that I have a supernatural faith. Many who lack assurance simply have not had enough tests. Tests demonstrate the reality of our faith – we need them, and the suffering that goes with them, to help our assurance grow.