John MacArthur Jr's speech at the 2016 WCS conference (Sunday morning)



Below is the transcript of John Macarthur’s speech on Sunday, July 3, 2016.
You can find the video at the two links below.

> https://worldlysaints.wordpress.com/2016/07/14/the-western-conservative-summit-john-macarthur/

> https://www.tms.edu/news/john-macarthur-wcsummit/

[MacArthur speaking]

Thanks first of all to Ken for kind words that um... I really appreciate that introduction. And for the opportunity to be here. I owe a word of thanks to Jeff Hunt, who happened to be listening to Grace to You when a broadcast came on of a message I had given from the Sunday night before. And then the next thing I knew, an email came and here I am. And very, very grateful.


It's exciting to be a part of the world of Christian universities. The Master's College is now transitioning to become the Master's University even as I speak. And we have been able to flourish on the same principles that Colorado Christian University has flourished and going down the same path of the Biblical commitment. It is really fun to work with college students. I'm reminded of a book on mathematics by Joseph Calandra who was a professor at Washington University in St. Louis. And in that book, he told a story about a student who was in a physics class, and there was one question on the final. And the question on the final was how do you tell the height of a tall building with the use of a barometer. One question.


One student turned in his answer and this was it. Go to the top of the building, tie the barometer to a long rope. Lower the barometer to the ground. Measure the length of the rope and you have the height of the tall building with the use of the barometer. [audience chuckles] The professor looked at the answer and called the student up and said "This does no certify that you know physics." Do you want to take another try? The student said "Of course. There are many, many answers. Many. The student said is another way to do it is to go to the top of the building, lean over the edge, and drop the barometer. Measure its fall according to the speed of gravity and by simple deduction related to the time, you could then determine the height of the tall building." The frustrated professor then said "And you have more?" "Oh yes", the student said. "Go out on a sunny day, put the barometer on the ground, measure the length of its shadow, then measure the shadow of the building - by the calculation of proportion, you can tell the height of the building because you know the height of the barometer. But maybe you'd like this one better. Go to the bottom floor, start up the stairs, put the barometer on the wall, mark a pencil mark every time you move the barometer up, and when you get done go back down, count the marks and then you have the height of the building in barometer units." But then he said, "Actually, the simple answer is this.  You go to the basement. You find the office of the superintendent and you say to him - sir, if you tell me how tall this building is, I will give you this fine barometer." [audience laughs] Now, this is just some of the challenges with working with college students. But how much fun is that?


It's a privilege. It really is a privilege to be investing in this upcoming generation. But let’s talk about more serious things. It was the tenth of June, and the year was 1900. At the age of 84, The bishop of Liverpool, a man named James Chares Ryle, went to heaven. Bishop Ryle was called the “man of granite with the heart of a child”. During his long years of leadership in the Church of England and his relentless faithfulness to the Bible – the Word of God – Bishop Ryle had been intensely loved and intensely hated. And both for the same reason – because he was a lion for the truth. For that, those who loved the truth loved him; for that those who hated the truth hated him. His legacy lives on today – probably most popularly in his book “Holiness” or in his second-most well-known book “Practical religion”. His legacy lives; he is far more influential today – long after his death – through those books that have been translated into many languages and spread across the globe. The scope of J. C. Ryle’s influence is vast and his writings address even matters related to government and God (or the church and the state). He recognized foundational truth and he articulated it to his nation in his time. And it had to do not just with individual responsibility to God, but with what God required of a nation – national duty to God. I hear very little about this if anything. I don’t know that I’ve ever heard anyone speak on the subject of a nation’s duty to God – a nation’s obligation to God. I’m not talking about a theocratic nation: I’m not talking about Israel. I’m talking about any nation and every nation. Not understanding this duty to God is a critical omission in our minds today – even with regard to people in the church. Bishop Ryle understood it. Bishop Ryle saw what all generations and all people in all nations must see.

#1. Man was created by God in the image of God for the glory of God. Every person is given as part of being human the knowledge of God’s nature and God’s law. First of all, the knowledge of God’s nature is written in creation - Romans 1. The knowledge of God’s moral law is written in the heart - Romans 2. As we heard earlier from Eric, “that which may be known of God is evident in them for God made it evident to them”. And the nations who do not have the Biblical law, Paul says, “show the work of the law written on their hearts, their conscience bearing witness, accusing or defending them”. To be human is to have a rational process that leads to a first cause. Thinking is about cause and effect. That’s what thinking is. It’s following the path of cause and effect; and if you follow it in a rational way, you end up with the Great Ultimate Cause. And the law of God is written in the heart, embedded in every rational mind is moral law. And God has given a mechanism or device that activates itself when we disobey or obey that law – it’s called conscience. It either excuses us or accuses us. Another way to say it is: the instinct to worship is strong in every soul. It is designed to draw the soul toward the true God.

But as we know from the book of Romans, mankind rejects the true law of God and rejects God Himself. Romans 3 says there is none who seeks for God, there is no fear of God before their eyes. Every mouth is stopped and all the world guilty and accountable to the one true God. Bishop Ryle understands that man was created by God in the image of God for the glory of God.

#2. And secondly that all people are to worship the one true God. Mankind worships, but in the words of Jesus in John 4, “you worship you know not what”. What Paul says in Romans is true – that humanity has rejected the true God and created gods of its making. Bishop Ryle said it this way – any worship is more pleasing to the natural heart that worshipping God in the way our Lord Jesus describes it as “worshipping in Spirit and in truth”. Any worship is more pleasing to the fallen human heart than worshipping the true God in the true way. And yet all people and all nations – for nations are merely collections of people, obviously – all people and all nations are commanded to worship the one true God. Deuteronomy 32 says “there is no God besides Me”. In fact that same chapter says that “all the gods of the nations are demons”. If you do not worship the one true God – you worship demons. What is the first commandment – “you shall have no other gods besides Me. You shall not worship any other god for the Lord our God whose name is Jealous is a jealous God. You shall not worship them or serve them, for I, the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children on the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing loving-kindness to thousands – to those who love Me and keep My commandments.”


We’re not talking about personal salvation there; we’re talking about thousands. We’re talking about collective blessing and national societal benefit by worshipping the one true God. When that doesn’t happen, the corruption is so deeply and profoundly embedded that it can’t be rooted out generation after generation after generation. God said to the pagan king Cyrus – Isaiah 45 – ”I am the Lord God, besides Me there is no god that men may know from the rising of the sun to the setting of the sun that there is no other beside Me – I am the Lord and there is no other – the one forming light and creating darkness, causing well-being and creating calamity, I am the Lord who does all these things.”
Therefore the great commandment expressed in Deut 6:5 and repeated by our Lord in the gospels is this: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, with all your strength.” With all your capacities you love the one true God. That love fulfills – says the apostle Paul – the entire law. The true worship of the true God singularly and comprehensively is fundamental to life and blessing. And again, we’re not speaking of personal salvation in this context, but national, temporal well-being, generation after generation enjoying – I like to put it this way – the fullness of common grace, by collectively acknowledging the true God and the law of the true God


#3 Ryle understood a third point – failure to worship God or worship any other god brings judgment. It brings judgment, it brings damnation, it brings condemnation on an individual and it brings condemnation on a country. When reverence for the true God is gone, morality is gone, fear is gone, hope is gone. This has been occurring through all of human history. Acts 14 says God has allowed all the nations to go their own way; they all go the same way – it’s the cycle of Romans 1. They knew God, because He’s revealed to them in creation and moral law, they refuse to acknowledge Him as God, they were empty in their imaginations, they invented gods of their own, and that catapulted them into the wrath of God. Now there are numbers of ways to explain the wrath of God. There’s escatalogical wrath, eternal wrath, cataclysmic wrath. But the wrath of Romans 1 is the wrath of divine abandonment. God gave them over, God gave them over, God gave them over. How do you know when a nation is experiencing the wrath of God? When God gave them over, because God tells you exactly what He gave them over to. When God turns His back on a nation, Romans 1 says in the beginning of that, there will be a sexual revolution. He gave them over to lust, passion – Romans 1:26. And then there will be a homosexual revolution – He gave them over to homosexuality, lesbianism. And then finally, He gave them over to a reprobate mind - the mind doesn’t function.

When God abandons a nation, first there will be a sexual revolution, then a homosexual revolution, and then a reprobate mind, where you can’t think straight about anything. And you call it political correctness, but it’s a reprobate non-functioning mind. God gave them over to lusts, to impurity, they dishonor their bodies. God gave them over to unnatural degrading homosexual passions. God gave them over to a depraved mind, and they heartily approve behaviors that lead to judgment. Where am I going with all of this? This is where our nation is. The homosexual agenda itself, by itself it seems, could crush this entire culture. There has been introduced in California SB 1146, which is the biggest threat to Christian education in the history of the United States of America. This is a bill in the California legislature that basically says – Christian colleges and universities specifically cannot discriminate against LGBTQ people. What happens to this bill in California? Is this going to be the first in a series of dominoes? Why am I talking about this? Because I want you to get this point which Ryle knew so well and we all need to know. When government separates from God and God’s law revealed in Scripture, when government separates from the church and the people of God – it invites judgment on a national scale. When the church thinks that its only responsibility is for the religion of the people and not for their physical temporal material needs, it makes a grave mistake and rejects its full purpose in the world. But on the other hand, when government thinks that it is only responsible for the physical material and temporal needs of people and not their spiritual needs, it makes a grave mistake – which seals its own destruction.

Bishop Ryle affirmed to his nation that “Biblical Christianity”, he said, “should be recognized nationally as the true religion, and Holy Scriptures established as the foundation of all moral law for the benefit of, the good of, the well-being of society. That is government’s calling. Bishop Ryle wrote extensively against those who wanted to separate the Christian Church from the State. He said the results would be disastrous.” The reformers used to say that the law of God had three purposes. The first purpose of the law is to lead the sinner to the Savior. When you look to the law of God and its perfection and you compare that law to your own life, you know you fall terribly short.  You’re rendered guilty before God. You have no means within yourself to escape the judgment that you deserve, and you flee to the Savior and the provision He’s made through His death and resurrection. The Law is the school-master to leads us to Christ – that’s the first use of the law. The third use of the law as the reformers talked about it, was to establish the moral boundaries and the moral patterns for Christian living. But the second use of the law was to restrain sin in society. That second use of the law is absolutely critical. And it is even expanded in Romans Chapter 13 – here are some familiar verses: “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior but for evil. For government is a minister of God to you for good, but if you do what is evil – be afraid – for it does not bear the sword for nothing – for government is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who does evil.” The Bible says government’s primary responsibility is not economic; it is in the realm of good and evil. Law restrains evil! But it only does that when the law is recognized! And government bears a sword!

Look, God knows what a fallen world is like and He has restrained sin on an individual level by writing the law of God in the heart and giving you a conscience that whips you when you violate it. God has restrained evil in the family by having parents instruct their children in what is true and what is right and using a rod if they violate it. The conscience is the weapon in the individual, the rod is the weapon in the family, and the sword – the instrument of death – is the weapon that government bears to uphold good and evil. That is government’s calling. Bishop Ryle wrote extensively against those who wanted to separate the Christian Church from the State. He said the results would be disastrous. He said – and I’m quoting him: “The government of England would allow all of its subjects to serve God or Baal or go to Heaven or go to hell just as they please. The state would take no cognizance of spiritual matters and would look on with epicurean indifference and unconcern.” Ryle went on: “In what manner God would punish England if English government casts off all connections with Him, I cannot say. Whether He would punish us by some sudden blow such as defeat in war and the occupation of our territory by a foreign power, whether He would waste away our people gradually and slowly by loss of commercial prosperity, whether He would break us to pieces by letting fools rule over us and allowing Parliament to obey them, whether He would ruin us by sending us a dearth of wise statesmen who wouldn’t be listened to. But one thing I am sure: the state that sows the seed of national neglect of God”, said Ryle, “will sooner or later reap a harvest of national disaster and national ruin.”


England today is a spiritual waste-land… a spiritual wasteland. Scripture teaches plainly that God rules everything. And God deals with nations as they deal with Him. Without His blessing and protection, no nation can prosper; and without acknowledging Him and following His law, no nation has hope. The first duty, says Scripture, of the government is to recognize God, is to honor God, is to uphold the Bibical definition of good and evil, and control people with firm, even fatal, threats… or violations. My good friend Iain Murray, who recently wrote a wonderful biography on J. C. Ryle, says this: “the government which ignores true religion and coolly declares that it does not care whether its subjects are Christians or not is guilty of an act of suicidal folly.”

The second use of the law restrains evil. Listen, there is no true God but the God of the Bible. There is no true law but the law revealed by Him in the Scripture. There is no true worship but the worship of the true God in Truth and Spirit. There is no true blessing apart from honoring Him, and there is no way to Him except through His Son the Lord Jesus Christ. (applause) The chaos of the world, the chaos of a nation is always related to the rejection of God, His law, and His Son. All irreligious immoral governments will self-destruct in indifference to God and His Word. Such a society will be open to all religions, all moralities, all immoralities, all freedoms, all preferences, all opinions, all lies, all deceptions, all sins, all iniquities. It will lose control of everything. Chaos will begin to take over. The reprobate mind will dominate. Then you’ll end up with gender fluidity. Joshua 24:20 says, “If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, then He will turn and do you harm and consume you after He has done good to you.”


I know in America, we like to say “We welcome all religions.” We can’t force people to believe in the true God. But we cannot exalt false religion and make it equal to the true religion of Scripture. (applause) Removing the worship of the true God, the authority of His Word, the voice of His Church, the moral education of youth, and the elevation of the gospel is the path to national destruction. In Exodus 9:16 we read, “But I have raised you up”, speaking of Israel, “for this very purpose – that I might show My power, and that My Name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 1 Kings 8:60 “So that all the nations of the earth may know that the Lord is God and that there is no other.” Every nation in the world is to acknowledge the true God and no other god; and to fail to acknowledge the true God is to come under His judgment.

Psalm 117:1 says, “Praise the Lord all you nations! Extol Him all you peoples!” This begins with rulers and leaders, judges, representatives, senators, presidents, appointed people in cabinets. Psalm 72:11 says “let all kings bow down before Him; all nations serve Him.” We have an Old Testament illustration of what happens when a ruler doesn’t do that: Daniel Chapter 4, Nebuchadnezzar who thought of Himself as God. God struck him, punished him - along with obviously his entire empire - struck him down and turned him into an animal for seven years living in the wilderness, with his fingernails growing like birds claws, completely insane – as a divine judgment. And it was Nebuchadnezzar at the end of the seven years who said in Daniel 4 – at the end of that period – “I Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward Heaven, and my reason returned to me and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever, for His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His Kingdom endures from generation to generation. He does according to His work in the host of Heaven and among the inhabitants of earth. All His works are true and His ways are just and He is able to humble those who walk in pride.” That’s what every ruler who expects to be blessed must acknowledge.


In the New Testament, you have Herod Antipas in Acts 12 who declared Herod Day – exalted himself. God struck him instantaneously in the middle of Herod Day and he was eaten by worms and died. The call to all people, all nations, all rulers, is to worship God according to His Word and obey His law. Proverbs 16:12 says, “It is an abomination for rulers to commit wicked acts. For a throne is established in righteousness.” Proverbs 29:2 “When a wicked man rules, the people groan.” 2 Samuel 23:3 “He that rules over men must be righteous, ruling in the fear of God.” Proverbs 17:7 “Excellent speech is not fitting for a fool, much less lying lips to a ruler.” David prayed a prayer in Psalm 72 over Solomon; here is his prayer: “Give the kingdom your judgments, O God, and your righteousness to the king’s son. May he judge your people with righteousness and your afflicted with justice. Let the mountains bring peace to the people and the hills in righteousness. May he vindicate the afflicted of the people, save the children of the needy, and crush the oppressor. Let them fear you while the sun endures and as long as the moon throughout all generations. In his days may the righteous flourish and there be an abundance of peace.” That was a prayer of David over his son, Solomon.


An unrighteous leader is like a contaminated surgeon. And God’s standards are the only standards by which any leader will ever be measured and the only standard by which any nation will ever be measured. Do you remember when the children of Israel went into the Promised Land? They were the weapon of God. And they were to destroy the idolaters, under a very unique calling. And then they were never to allow the worship of false gods or idols. In our desire to be free, in our rush to be all-embracing, we have filled the land with idols and idolaters – they come in en masse, and we will forfeit the full benefits of common grace. And along with that we are living in the cycle of Romans 1. The judgment of God has already begun. We’ve had our sexual revelation, our homosexual revelation, we are now fully in the category of the reprobate mind.

So what is the answer to this? Listen to Psalm 2: “Why are the nations in an uproar and the people’s devising a vain thing? The kings of the earth take their stand against the rulers, and they take council togeth… uh, the king’s take their stand and the rulers take council together against the Lord and against His Annointed, saying ‘Let us tear their fetters apart and cast their cords away from us’. (The kings of the earth taking a stand against the Lord and against the Son of God.) He who sits in the heavens laughs. The Lord scoffs at them. Then He will speak to them in His anger, and terrify them in His fury saying, ‘But as for Me, I have installed My king upon Zion, upon My holy mountain. I will surely tell of the decree of the Lord: He said to Me, ‘You are My Son; today I have begotten You. Ask of Me and I will give you the nations as Your inheritance and the very ends of the earth as Your possession. You shall break them as with a rod of iron; you shall shatter them like earthen-ware.’ Now therefore, O kings, show discernment. Take warning, O judges of the earth. Worship the Lord with reverence, and rejoice with trembling.” (And then this) “Kiss the Son, that He may not become angry, and you perish in the way for His wrath may soon be kindled. Now blessed are all those who take refuge in Him.”

What do we do? Well, as individuals we turn to Christ… we turn to Christ – the only hope of our personal salvation. Whoever doesn’t love the Lord Jesus Christ – 1 Corinthians 16:22 says, “Let him be damned.” We kiss the Son. And not a Judas kiss, not the kiss of a hypocrite. But what about nations? What do we do? We kiss the Son. We acknowledge God – the true God. We acknowledge His Annointed – the Son. We bow: that’s the only hope for us as a nation. What that does is put the responsibility to call this nation to God, squarely on the back of believers and believing churches – many of whom have abandoned their responsibility. It’s a sad time for churches to be more concerned with the style of their ministry than they are with the message. Is there any hope? There is. In Psalm 81, God said, “I am the Lord your God – open your mouth wide and I’ll fill it. But my people didn’t listen to My voice. (They didn’t obey Me.) So I gave them over to the stubbornness of their heart to walk after their own devices. (That’s Romans 1.) Oh that My people would listen to Me, and would walk in My ways. I would quickly subdue their enemies, turn My hand against their adversaries. I would feed you with the finest of the wheat and with honey from the rock I would satisfy you. “ That’s even economic flourishing for a nation that turns to God and hears His Word. National blessing comes to those that listen to God. And we who speak for Him must speak loudly and faithfully. America is burning. The fire was lit by the rejection of God, His Word, His Son, His gospel. Idolatry and paganism is everywhere. And in judgment God has poured fuel on the fire, the fuel of divine wrath. Some politicians and educators and even pastors are fiddling while America is burning. The gospel is the only hope. We must preach and worship the one true God and the one true Savior – the Lord Jesus Christ. Peter said then judgment must begin where? At the house of God. It begins with us first. What will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel? There has to be repentance in the church if there’s going to be repentance in the nation. Thank you.