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John MacArthur – Servant of the Word and Flock

By Iain H. Murray
January 2012 | Review by Paul Brown

Synopsis

Through more than forty years, John MacArthur has opened and taught the Word of God in one local congregation, Grace Community Church, Los Angeles. Consequences have followed which no one anticipated, and which the preacher attributes to 'the sovereign hand of God'. A people united to Christ, and to their pastor, became a channel for blessing across the earth. It has been a ministry marked by characteristics that re-appear in every spiritual advance- not concern for 'relevance'; not special attractions for young or old, male or female; but love for God and dependence on his Word and promises. MacArthur has proved, without ever intending to do so, that true preaching of the Word of God is international, 'because if you teach the Bible it transcends every border, every language, every culture. It is as relevant today, and will be tomorrow, as in all the years since God put it down.' That is why his sermons are heard or read in more than two hundred countries around the world today. But this is also a human story, including the shaping of his youth, the strength of marriage and family, the refining influence of trials and controversies, and the building of a man whose staff have never known him to be angry. There are friends who, for all their love of his ministry, say his life is his best sermon.

  • Publisher: Banner of Truth Trust
  • ISBN: 978-1-84871-112-9
  • Pages: 250
  • Price: 14.50
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Book Review

John MacArthur – Servant of the Word and Flock
Iain H. Murray
Banner of Truth Trust
250, £14.50
ISBN: 978-1-84871-112-9
Star Rating: 0

The author calls this book ‘little more than a “sketch”’ and adds, ‘It is not the time for a full biography while a person’s life is still in progress.’ While the latter statement is true, the former is certainly not – at least in terms of interest and spiritual value. It often happens that after a major biography has been published someone later writes a briefer, more focussed volume, bringing out the salient facts and principles which can tend to be obscured by the length and breadth of the earlier work. It seems to me that Iain Murray has succeeded in anticipating this process and produced a highly readable volume which excels in drawing our attention to many matters crucial to gospel work in these days.

      Following an Introduction there are seventeen chapters, so it is easy to read a chapter at one sitting. The book generally follows the chronology of MacArthur’s life, but some chapters deal with more specific aspects of his ministry, for example one chapter is entitled ‘Controversy’ and another ‘The Changing Scene in the United States’. No reader is likely to imagine that his own ministry will closely resembles MacArthur’s, but this does not mean that there are not many things that every Christian and minister can learn from this account. Quite the reverse; there are helpful examples, principles and comments on page after page. Towards the end of the book there is a chapter entitled ‘A Visit to Grace Community Church’. It is fascinating to read that during both the two main morning worship services there are numbers of other gatherings taking place with hundreds present. It is moving to read of a meeting for the mentally disabled and another for the deaf.

      MacArthur’s ministry in all its facets is based upon clear, authoritative, powerful preaching of the Word of God. He studies the Bible for thirty hours each week and his great concern is to allow the God who speaks in it to do his work in the lives of those who hear. This is the heartbeat of Grace Church and provides the impetus for all its ministries and those that radiate beyond. It is immensely encouraging to read this book and I thoroughly recommend it to all believers – especially young men contemplating the ministry.

 

Paul E Brown

Halton, Lancaster

 

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