Grace to You: An Interview with John MacArthur

Grace to You: An Interview with John MacArthur by John MacArthur | Reformed Theology Articles at

Part of my Sunday reading from the June issue of Tabletalk included this interview with familiar preacher/author Dr. John MacArthur of Grace Community Church. Though MacArthur is Baptistic and dispensational in his teaching (he keeps getting closer to full Calvinism!), he is known for his clear and powerful preaching and for his strong and faithful stands against many of the doctrinal and moral errors present in the church today.

I remember tuning in to his “Grace to You” radio broadcast as a young man and being greatly edified by his teaching, though I always cringed when his “dispie” positions came out. I have read and profited from many of his books as well. So, I found this little written interview to be quite interesting and beneficial too. It reveals the “classic” MacArthur.

Below are a few sections of the article. You may read all of it at the Ligonier link above.

TT: What do you see as the primary goal and purpose of the Master’s College and Seminary?

JM: The goal of both institutions is to produce a generation of young people who have a grasp on the Scriptures, a sound understanding of theology, and a commitment to proclaim and defend the truth of God’s Word.

Nothing in the universe is more important than divine truth. We’re saved by the truth and sanctified by the truth. We have hope in the truth. We live by the truth. We love the truth. The greatest need in the world is for truth — divine truth, as revealed by the Scriptures.

We want to give students a premium education at the highest level academically, with the highest level of clarity and the highest level of commitment to the truth. Both institutions seek to equip as many graduates as possible with a thoroughly biblical worldview and a deep, abiding love for Christ and His Word.

…The commonly held notion that strong convictions are inherently uncharitable is itself an uncharitable judgment, rooted in secular and postmodern rationalism rather than biblical values. Likewise, skepticism, not Scripture, is the source of the notion that we can never really be sure about anything because our interpretations are fallible.

It’s not “arrogant” by any biblical standard to declare our confidence in the truth of God’s Word or to say “Thus says the Lord” where God has indeed spoken. What’s truly arrogant is the notion that God hasn’t spoken clearly enough, or that He hasn’t told us enough to enable the faithful pastor to teach and preach with that kind of authority.

It’s true enough that the mind of God is inscrutable, especially from the narrow perspective of human wisdom. Notice, however, that when the Apostle Paul made that very point, he immediately added, “But we have the mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16). The immediate context, especially verse 10, shows that Paul was speaking of how the Spirit illumines our minds to understand what is revealed to us in Scripture. Luke 24:45 says Christ opened the disciples’ minds “to understand the Scriptures.” Though we cannot know everything perfectly, of course, it does not follow that we cannot know anything for certain. Confusion on that point is the Achilles’ heel of postmodern philosophy.

Our Emotions and the Psalms

What the Psalms Do – Desiring God.

Tony Reinke (author of that great book on reading I have been referring to here) posted this yesterday at the “Desiring God” blog. It is actually an excerpt from a sermon John Piper preached in 2008 under the theme “Songs that Shape the Heart and Mind”, based on Psalm 1 (You will find the entire sermon here). In the course of the sermon Piper showed the range of emotions which the psalmists expressed in their songs. This, he pointed out, is so significant because our own feelings have to be in line with the Word of God and the thinking of God.

As a lover of the Psalms and of Psalm-singing, this truth must certainly be part of my reason for being attracted to them – that my own emotions may be guided by God’s Word and not left to my own whim or to the standards of this world.

This also made me think of my son-in-law David, who had a tough weekend dealing with the effects of his chemotherapy treatments for lymphoma, even though this is supposed to be the “better” weekend (read yesterday’s blog post here). We missed him at the family dinner yesterday, and we (and Faith congregation) missed him at church as well. His emotions were clearly many-sided this weekend. Yet he too chose to bring his emotions in line with God’s Word. Specifically, Psalm 40, which is also the cry of Christ. How fitting!

What are your emotions today? What experiences or trials are you going through that prompt all kinds of feelings? Bring them in line with God’s Word. Read, pray, and sing the Psalms.

Here is the first half of the list Piper put together on emotions in the Psalms; you will find the rest at the “Desiring God” link above (Note: Piper quotes are from the ESV, not the KJV).

If you read the Psalms only for doctrine, you’re not reading them for what they are. They are psalms, songs, poetry. They’re musical, and the reason human beings express truth with music and poetry is to awaken and express emotions that fit the truth.

One of the reasons the Psalms are deeply loved by so many Christians is that they give expression to an amazing array of emotions. Listen to this list of emotions I pulled together:

  1. Loneliness: “I am lonely and afflicted” (Psalms 25:16).
  2. Love: “I love you, O Lord, my strength” (Psalms 18:1).
  3. Awe: “Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him” (Psalms 33:8).
  4. Sorrow: “My life is spent with sorrow” (Psalms 31:10).
  5. Regret: “I am sorry for my sin” (Psalms 38:18).
  6. Contrition: “A broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise” (Psalms 51:17).
  7. Discouragement and turmoil: “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me” (Psalms 42:5)?
  8. Shame: “Shame has covered my face” (Psalms 44:15).
  9. Exultation: “In your salvation how greatly he exults” (Psalms 21:1).
  10. Marveling: “This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes” (Psalms 118:23).
  11. Delight: “His delight is in the law of the Lord” (Psalms 1:2).
  12. Joy: “You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound” (Psalms 4:7).