John MacArthur: The Christian’s Responsibility In a Pagan Society–Part 1

Concerning the post below this one, Picketing John MacArthur’s Church, its only right that we look at exactly what John MacArthur said.

This is the message (part 1) which was linked to in the article, and the basis for why the group, Concerned Citizens for the First Amendment are planning to picket outside John MacArthur’s Church.

You read it–then decide biblically, based not on your feelings, emotions, or personal opinion, but only on the word of God if he is correct. I would ask if you decide he is not correct, you provide scripture which points out where he erred.

We are having a great time studying the book of Titus and I want you to open your Bible, if you will, to Titus chapter 3. I believe we come into one of the most challenging and relevant sections of this brief epistle as we approach this last chapter. I want to begin this morning to address the first eight verses. And I want to look at those verses under the title, “The Christian’s Responsibility in a Pagan Society.”

Before we look particularly at the text, I want to say some things that I trust will create a setting for our understanding of it.

America is a pagan society. I think all of us have come to the place reluctantly where we can see that that is in fact the case. We have experienced as a nation over 150 years of strong Christian biblical influence. But that is rapidly declining. People still attend religious services. They still say they believe in God when they are polled. But there exists a kind of practical atheism and at best a situational morality. For the most part, whatever vestiges of Christian religion still pervade our culture are weak and compromising if not cultic and apostate.

Some have said in years past that we are living in a post- Christian America. Perhaps it could be better said, we are living in a sub-Christian America. We want to say we’re Christians, we just don’t want to commit to what Christianity is. Our Christianity has become hollow. We are clearly pagan but we wear the mask of religion. Our nation is now affirming through its leaders, through its congresses, its legislative bodies, its courts and its judges a distinctively anti-Christian agenda. Anything and everything that is distinctively Christian is being swept away under the aegis of equal rights, moral freedom. And as believers, frankly we tend to resent this.

The Christianity that once was part of the fabric of our nation that created some cultural props to hold us up and to give us a biblical morality and some divine standard in which to judge behavior is now gone. Cultural Christianity, whatever it was, is dead. Biblical morality is assaulted constantly. Moral freedom reigns as God. Materialism, family breakup and breakdown is epidemic. Abortions go on. Sexual evils, drugs, crime, pagan education is flooding our nation like the Mississippi River. And we can’t come close to coping or dealing with this flood of evil. We have torn down all of the standards and now we can’t figure out what is right so we don’t know what to teach anybody so we can’t control behavior in the early years of childhood.

We now have a generation of people who have taken the agenda and are running with it. We don’t have enough standards to control them. We don’t have enough police to arrest them. We don’t have enough courts to process them. And we don’t have enough jails to keep them in.

For those of us who watched the great revival of the seventies, and I believe it was, when we saw the tremendous movement that started out as the “Jesus Movement,” a sweeping movement of campuses and young people, we saw those great movements of students toward Christ, we saw mass baptisms in the oceans. We thought it was all going to lead us to days of glory and blessing.

We saw Bibles being translated so that we could have them in a fresher English translation. We saw the proliferation of books and publishers and tapes and new music and there was a definite wind of the Spirit of God blowing in our country. And those were wonderful days.

But the revival of the seventies and the early eighties has turned into the debauchery of the nineties. And the change is sad. And we feel the sadness. And after a while we begin to feel resentment. We don’t like what the President is doing. We don’t like his agenda. We don’t like his decisions. We don’t like what our governor and even our mayor is saying about homosexuality. We don’t…we don’t like the kinds of things that our senators and our congressmen are doing. We’re not happy with the decisions they are making.

We are repulsed by the verdicts that are being rendered in courts that are exonerating people of criminal intent and act and letting off people who have no intended ill. I should say…who are judging people who had no intended ill and letting off people who are guilty of things we think are heinous. We aren’t happy with the agenda all the way down, whether it’s the judicial branch or the legislative or the executive branch.

We are tired of the evolution of freedom to the point where anybody can do absolutely anything. We are angry that perversion is legalized in our country and the will of God is blatantly rejected. It’s one thing to have sin, it’s something else to redefine it as acceptable human behavior.

And I really believe that these are times that can…that can breed not only a sadness in the life of Christians but even hostility.

And I sense that in conversations and meetings I have in various places with people that, first of all, we were sad at the trends and now we’re a bit angry about it. And then we get even angrier when they decide to raise our taxes so we can fund more of this agenda. And we fear for ourselves and mostly we fear for our children and we fear for our grandchildren, don’t we? And the worst we know is yet to come and it’s going to come on our children’s children.

And the question that I want to pose to you this morning is this…how are we to respond now that our society is so pagan? How are we to react? What is a proper Christian response in a pagan culture?

Paul answers that very question in Titus 3:1 to 8, that is precisely the issue here. Titus, as you know, is on the island of Crete. He is there to set in order the things that remain in the churches. There were at least a hundred cities on this island. We don’t know how many of them had churches, but many. He has a very great responsibility to set the church in order to ordain godly leaders against a very corrupt culture. Cretans, you’ll remember, according to chapter 1 verse 12, were basically designated by a prophet of their own as liars, evil beasts and lazy gluttons. Unquestionably they were engulfed in idolatry and all of the extant paganism that made up the Greek and Roman world of the time. Titus then had these churches as little pockets of righteousness in a sewer of paganism and needed to instruct them about how to react to the culture around them. Very important.

Now just a footnote before we read the text.

I hear a lot of talk today about the church impacting culture. Coming back from Atlanta where I went to the Christian Booksellers Convention this week I read a couple of books on the plane, both of them had to do with confronting our culture, effecting and impacting our culture. But frankly, folks, that’s not our goal. That is not our goal. It sounds like a noble goal and I’m sure there are people who can see certain noble aspects of it and there may be some.

But our goal is not to impact our culture by changing their moral values. Our goal is not to impact our culture by creating traditional values, family values through legislation or judicial process.

Our goal is not to make sure that the United States of America adheres to a national policy that equates to biblical morality.

That is not our goal. We are not involved in altering social morality. We are not involved in upgrading cultural conduct. We are interested in people becoming saved. That is our only agenda. If we’re going to change our culture we’re going to change it from the inside out.

You see, the church has one mission, we are a nation of priests. And a priest had one simple function, to bring people to God, to usher them into His presence.

It is the only thing we are in the world to do.

Frankly, if people die in a communist government or a democracy, it really doesn’t matter if they end up in hell. If they die under a tyrant or a benevolent dictator, it doesn’t matter if they end up in hell. If they die believing that homosexuality is wrong or believing that homosexuality is right and end up in hell, it doesn’t matter. If they die as a policeman or a prostitute without Christ, they’re going to end up in the same place.

Whether they die moral or immoral will make no difference in their eternity. Whether they stood on the side of the street with the pro-abortion rights group and screamed for legalizing and maintaining legal abortions, or on the other side of the street against abortion and screamed to stop the killing, if they didn’t know Christ they’re going to end up in the same place. Right?

That isn’t the issue, the issue is salvation…the issue is salvation. And the sad reality is that when the church gets a moralizing, politicizing bent it usually has a negative impact on its evangelization mission because then it makes the people hostile to the current system and they become the enemies of the society rather than the compassionate friend.

If we are going to see our nation transformed, it has to be done from the inside out, that’s our agenda. And so we’re here to preach Christ and to know nothing among you except Christ and Him crucified.

But behind that preaching must come some manner of living, some kind of life that makes our message believable. It is to that which Paul addresses himself in chapter 3, let’s read it. “Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, to malign no one, to be uncontentious, gentle, showing every consideration for all men for we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior that being justified by His grace we might be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy statement. And concerning these things I want you to speak confidently so that those who have believed God may be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men.”

I want to start with that last line...”these things are good and profitable for men.”

What are you talking about, Paul? What are you saying? What I’m saying is if you live this way it’s going to benefit everybody around you. It’s very important how you conduct yourself. In what sense is it good and profitable for men?

Go back to chapter 2. In chapter 2 he was also talking about Christian conduct and he says in verse 5 that we are to so live that the Word of God may not be dishonored, verse 8, that our opponent may be put to shame having nothing bad to say about us. And the end of verse 10, that we may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect.

What’s the point?

We want to so live as to exalt the Word of God, shut the mouths of the critic and put on display God’s saving power. We want the world to know that God is a saving God, that God transforms people. And how can we convince them of that? By showing them our transformed lives. Right? We are to be displaying God’s saving power.

Now remember that chapter 3 follows this wonderful discussion in chapter 2 verses 1 to 14. And in that section of verses 1 to 14 of chapter 2, Paul was also telling Titus that he needed to instruct the church about their behavior. But in that chapter it was the behavior among Christians. And how we conduct ourselves together as Christians is going to give a testimony to the world of God’s saving transforming power when we live holy, gracious, loving, wise, kind lives, all of the things that he said in chapter 2.

It is very evident that we are not like everybody else to the watching world, that is going to make the Word of God honored, that is going to silence the critics and that is going to adorn the doctrine of God as a saving God, one who can totally transform people. So the way we live within the church and among ourselves is crucial as a platform for our proclamation.

Then in chapter 3 he’s concerned not with how we live among each other in the church, but how we live in the society. How we live among non-Christians, how we live in our culture.

If we’re going to make God’s saving power manifest, we have to make it manifest in our relations with Christians and with non- Christians. And never is the time more crucial for careful Christian behavior than when believers are engulfed in pagan culture.

I mean, that’s how it was, you understand don’t you, in Paul’s day?

There was no cultural Christianity. There was no Christianity until he introduced it. In the Gentile world it was just blatant comprehensive paganism with all of the trappings that Satan could develop into it. It was totally and exclusively with the exception of a few Jews a Satanic system. All the existing religion, all the existing ideology, philosophy and thought, all the existing law and order, all the existing values, mores were derived from a non-Christian system. It was thoroughly pagan until Paul arrived. And the clash was so great that it cost him and many others their lives.

Paul knew what it was like to live in a thoroughly pagan culture, far more pagan than what we experience. And he knew what it was to be in a world of abusive deadly inequality and slavery. He knew what it was to be in a culture of tyrants, petty dictators who were murderous. He knew what it was to be under abusive leadership. He knew what it was to see a society engulfed up to its ears in sexual perversion, the breakdown of the family.

We read in some ancient documents about people who had 26 and 27 wives and or husbands, depending on the situation. The world was literally flooded with idols, petty gods. People were heavily taxed and the tax collectors were extortionists who took what wasn’t justly due them. If anybody complained they would take their life as soon as look at them. And the world was full of terrorists, people who were going around executing those who had done something against them.

Even in the Jewish world there were the Zealots, the Sacarei(??), the guys who carried the daggers and came up behind the authorities in Israel and stabbed them to death, terrorism was everywhere.

It was an ugly world. And Paul never ever says in any of his letters, “Now, ladies and gentlemen, we need to moralize our pagan culture. We need to impact our culture some how.” No, all he ever said was, “We need to evangelize it.”

And he wasn’t calling for any kind of protest. He wasn’t calling for any kind of contention or any kind of war against the existing mentality, he was calling for the preaching of the gospel that transforms the life.

But it wasn’t just the preaching, it was the living within the church and outside the church that gave a platform that made the message believable. You see, what God had done for the Christians in Crete He wanted to do for a lot of other folks, too. And the conduct of the believers there was crucial to that saving work, that saving enterprise. So he tells Titus to instruct the people with authority. Remember that in chapter 2 verse 15? With authority regarding their duty in a pagan world.

Now first, let’s look at verse 1. He says just two words, “Remind them.”

And I want to point out to you that he’s simply saying this isn’t anything new. Obviously he had covered this in the past, certainly the folks knew the responsibilities they had for living in a pagan culture but they needed to be reminded. And that is a duty that belongs to everyone who stands behind the sacred desk, as it were, and proclaims the truth to God’s flock. We are basically here to remind you of what you know. Present imperative means it’s a regular ongoing continuing duty of reminding them. And he wants to remind them of the necessity for behaving themselves in a pagan society.

Now what he does in these eight verses is sum it up by asking them to remember four realities…four great realities. It is wonderfully organized around these realities.

  • First, remember your duty.
  • Second, remember your former condition.
  • Thirdly, remember your salvation.
  • And fourthly, remember your mission.

And if you will remind the people of those four things, it will keep their behavior, as Peter put it, excellent among the pagans. Remember your duty and he outlines them in verses 1 to 2. Remember your former condition and he outlines that in verses 3 to 4, actually verse 3. Then he says remember your salvation, verses 4 through 7. And finally in verse 8 he reminds them, remember your mission. And if you keep those things in mind, they become the motivation for living excellently in a pagan world.

I wish I could give them all to you this morning…well I could but I won’t, so you have to come back next week for the last. But let’s take point one…remember your duty. What is our duty?

We may be hurt. We may be disappointed. We may be angry as we watch the vestiges of Christian influence die. We may be angry at what we see happening in the courts and in the congresses and the executive offices of our land. What is our response? We may not agree with the decisions that they are making. Here’s what he says,

“Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, to malign no one, to be uncontentious, gentle, showing every consideration for all men.”

Seven virtues are listed there. Seven virtues. Now listen to this. It doesn’t matter whether your ruler is Caesar, Herod, Pilate, Felix, Fetus, Agrippa, Stalin, Hitler, Winston Churchill, Bill Clinton, it doesn’t matter who it is, he says be subject, you teach them to be subject.

Rulers were tyrants. They lacked integrity. They were murderous. They were not noble. Governments made laws and maybe all the laws weren’t equitable, just and fair. But he says you be subject to rulers, to authorities. He is reiterating a very very commonly given biblical principle, Matthew 22, the Pharisees were always trying to trap Jesus. They want to trap Him publicly because they wanted to discredit Him publicly and turn some element of the population against Him.

So they sent disciples to Him along with the Herodians and they said in verse 16, “Teacher, we know that You’re truthful and You teach the way of God in truth and defer to no one for You’re not partial to any.”

And that was a whole lot of sinful flattery.

“Tell us therefore, what do You think? Is it lawful to give a poll tax to Caesar or not?”

Now what they’re trying to do is to get Him to say it is or it isn’t. If He says it is lawful, all the Jews are going to hate Him because they hate Caesar, they hate the poll tax, they hate the whole idea of being in occupied country ruled by a bunch of pagans. If on the other hand He agrees with the Jews and says no it is not right, it is not lawful before God to pay tax to Caesar, don’t pay your tax, then they’re going to tell the Romans. One way or the other they’re going to get some element of the power of the populous against Him.

But Jesus perceived their evil intent and He said,

“Why are you testing Me, you hypocrites? Show me the coin used for the poll tax. They brought Him a denarius. He said to them, Whose likeness and inscription is this? They said to Him, Caesar’s.”

And you know what? They hated to use those coins because anything with an image on it constituted…what?…an idol. And they hated that. And, of course, Caesar was a god. And this was idolatry to them. They hated not only the idea of taxation but they hated the idea of the inherent idolatry in it, a graven image made after a god. It was a violation of the first commandment.

But Jesus was so wise, He said to them,

“Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.”

And He upheld both. He said on the one hand pay your tax, on the other hand this had nothing to do with God, you must give to God what is God’s.

The point for us today is Jesus paid His tax, even with the inherent idolatry. He said pay your tax. What were they doing with that tax? Things that surely Jesus was not pleased with. But the general overall thrust of government was positive and Christians are to submit to it.

Go to Romans 13 and here you have the most comprehensive statement about this from the Apostle Paul, the first few verses of chapter 13. Verse 1,

“Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities.”

That’s just plain and simple blanket statement. Everybody is in subjection. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a democracy or communist form of government, it doesn’t matter whether it’s a monarchy or whether it’s a dictatorship, you’re in subjection…good, bad, whatever form, you’re in subjection to the governing authorities. Then he gives you seven reasons why.

Reason number one, government is designed by God. “There is no authority except from God and those which exist are established by God.” God has designed human government. He has designed it to exist in a number of forms and it is there because of His design for the control of human life. So submit. God designed it.

Secondly, reason number two, resisting is resisting God, verse 2, “He who resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God.”

Reason number three, resisters will be punished. End of verse 2, “Those who oppose will receive condemnation upon themselves.” So you submit to the government…why? It’s designed by God, resisting is resisting God and resisters will be punished.

Reason number four, government is designed to restrain evil. Verse 3,

“Rulers are not a cause for fear for good behavior but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you’ll have praise from the same.”

In other words, government is designed to restrain evil.

Fifthly, it’s designed to promote good. Verse 4,

“It is a minister of God to you for good. If you do what is evil, be afraid.”

Reason number six, government is empowered to punish. It is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. And that’s why it doesn’t bear the sword for nothing. God has given it the right of capital punishment. That’s what bearing the sword means, God has even given government the right to take a life.

And then finally in verse 5 the seventh reason, submit to the government for conscience’s sake, not just because you fear the wrath that’s going to come if you disobey but for the sake of conscience because it’s right.

So, submit to the government. Why?

It is designed by God, resisting is resisting God. Resisters will be punished.

Government is designed to restrain evil and promote good. Rulers are empowered to punish and do it for conscience’s sake. Then the sum of it, verses 6 and 7, “So pay your taxes,” verse 6 says, “for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing.” And then verse 7, “Render to all what is due, tax to whom tax is due, custom to whom custom, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.”

The whole point is God has put government in place and you are to submit to it.

Now he gives all those reasons. The one reason he doesn’t give is the evangelistic reason so that we can live and demonstrate that this world is not an issue to us. What’s the difference how much tax we pay? That’s not our concern. It is not our concern to be worried about legislation. It is not our concern to be worried about what the President does. It is our concern to live holy lives and call people to Christ. And our citizenship is in another world. We are only strangers and aliens here. We’ll do whatever we’re asked so that we do not mar our testimony because that is the greater and compelling issue.

First Peter 2 adds the very important note of evangelism. In 1 Peter 2 verse 9 says, “We are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation and we are to proclaim the excellencies of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light.”

In other words, we are to demonstrate what salvation look like. We’re to show people what a saved person is. How do we do it? Verse 12,

“Keep your behavior excellent among the pagans.”

What do you mean by that? Verse 13,

“Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution whether to a king as one in authority or governors as sent by him for the punishment of evil doers and the praise of those who do right. This is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. Honor all men…verse 17…love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.”

How you live in a pagan culture is crucial to proclaiming the excellencies of the one who saved you, to demonstrating your transformed life, that’s the issue.

Now that takes us back to Titus again. The Apostle Paul is saying you need to be subject to rulers and authorities for evangelistic reasons. Back down to the bottom of verse 8, “This is good and profitable for the watching world.”

Then he says you need to be obedient, verse 1, to be obedient, the second one. You are to obey whatever it is they say.

You say, “Are we ever to disobey?” Yes. There’s one occasion when we disobey, that is when they ask us what the Bible forbids us to do or when they ask us not to do what the Bible commands us to do. And the best illustration of that, as you know, is in Acts chapter 4.

They told the Apostles not to preach. You remember they summoned them in Acts 4:18, commanded them not to speak or teach. Peter and John said to them,

“Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge.”

You judge whether we obey you or God. “For we cannot stop speaking,” they said.

Chapter 5, they flogged them, whipped them, verse 40, ordered them to speak no more. They went on their way from the presence of the council rejoicing they had been considered worthy to suffer and verse 42, every day in the temple from house to house they kept right on teaching, preaching Jesus as Christ.

There comes a point in time when the state turns against the church and tells the church not to do what God has mandated to do, then we have to obey God and suffer the consequence…be it prison or death. The only time we disobey is when we have been mandated by Scripture to do something we are forbidden to do or not to do something we are being compelled to do. We are obedient.

Then he says, at the end of verse 1,

“Remind them to be ready for every good deed.”

This is so good. Remind them to be ready for every good deed. This is aggressive goodness. This isn’t reluctant saying, “Well I’m not going to make an issue, I’m going to dutifully grit my teeth and pay my tax, I’m going to keep my anger under control.” No, this is…this is an internal eagerness…the word ready means eager…eagerness to do every conceivable good deed.

Approach life no matter how volatile the culture is against Christianity, no matter how pagan it is to the very core, how engulfed in idolatry and sin it is, we aggressively pursue every good thing as Galatians 6:10 says,

“We are doing good to all men, especially those of the household of faith.”

By the way, this is in direct contrast with the behavior of false teachers.

Look back at chapter 1 verse 16. Remember the description of false teachers, they are detestable, disobedient and worthless for any good deed.

One of the things, beloved, that sets believers apart from false teachers and their followers is the eager goodness in the lives of believers that demonstrates transformation, that demonstrates new birth, salvation, the life of God, the power of the Spirit, righteousness, virtue.

We’re to be known in society for our goodness, for our aggressive goodness.

Then in verse 2 he moves on in his list of seven virtues,

“To malign no one.”

Not even one person is the idea. It’s the verb blasphemeo from which we get the word blaspheme, it means to slander or to treat with contempt. We must confront sin. We can confront sin. We can confront the sinner because of his sin, we must call sinners to repentance but we do not stoop to blasphemy, slander, cursing and speaking contemptuously of people.

I don’t appreciate that when Christian people do that with regard to leaders. That’s not the Christian approach.

We may not like what they do but we must remember, folks, the condition they are in. Do we forget that they are blinded in their minds by the god of this world? How else do you expect unconverted people to act then like unconverted people? And how do unconverted people act?

They act under the influence of Satan and his current system and they’re just carrying out the only agenda they can comprehend. Maligning them is unacceptable.

Look at 1 Timothy for a moment, chapter 2. First Timothy chapter 2 verse 1, here was Timothy in Ephesus, another corrupt idolatrous city. He says to Timothy,

“I want to urge you that entreaties and prayers and petitions and thanksgivings be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority in order that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.”

Listen to that. We’re to be tranquil, that’s peaceful, quiet, godly, dignified.

And what is our attitude toward the President and the Congress and the judges, the kings and everybody in authority?

We pray for them. This is what God wants us to do, to pray for them constantly, making petition, prayers, entreaties for those in authority that God will work in their lives, that God will save them because God, it says in verses 3 and 4, is a saving God who has sent, verses 5 and 6, Jesus Christ to provide salvation. God wants to save and we want to pray for their salvation.

Don’t malign them, pray for their salvation.

Then he says to Titus another interesting thing that Christians are to be uncontentious, amachos, not fighting. We’re not to fight, we’re to be peaceful, friendly, don’t quarrel with government, don’t fight leaders. We’re not to be combative. That’s not the agenda for us. We’re not even of this world.

This isn’t even our country, in a sense. We’re just kind of sliding through.

It’s so easy to be contentious and hostile and angry about what happens in the pagan culture in which we live, and especially if it elevates our taxes or if it changes our neighborhood or our culture or whatever it is and we get angry about that. We don’t like to see God denied His proper place and Satan exalted to be the leader of everything. But we are not to be contentious, we are not to fight. This is a passing world for us. All we can do is reach out as we move through and by the grace of God touch some life with the saving gospel both by what we say and what we are.

Then he says we’re to be gentle.

It’s a beautiful word, epieikes, it means to be reasonable and forebearing. I think the simplest synonym is kind, considerate of human weakness, very patient with sinners. One writer says, “Sweet reasonableness.” Not cantankerous, not argumentative, not angry, not hostile, sweetly reasonable, graciously kind, gentle.

And then he closes in verse 2 with the last of the seven,

“Showing every consideration…showing every consider…” that’s the word meekness in the Beatitudes, Matthew 5:5, prautes, meekness.

We’re meek, that’s power under control, you’ll remember. Never asserting one’s rights, is what it means. Never fighting for one’s rights. Christians don’t do that. We’re not in a fight for our rights. We don’t have any political agenda. We don’t have any legislative agenda. We’re not after any rights. We don’t want any particular rights with this society, we’ll just live for Christ come what may.

It refers to patient trust in God. We commit our lives to Him. Second Timothy 2 says if we live like this, meekly, gently, God may use us to lead people to repentance and the knowledge of the truth, 2 Timothy 2:25. You see, everything we do has an evangelistic goal.

And as we live in this world, subjected to the authorities and the rulers, obedient to all the things that they lay out that don’t directly violate Scripture, as we are eagerly pursuing every imaginable good deed within our society as we malign no one, fight with no one, but rather are patient with sinners, gentle, kind, we’re going to demonstrate salvation because only transformed people can act like that.

And then he closes in verse 2 by saying,

“For all men…for all men.”

You need to do this before everybody. That little phrase is very important. It appears a number of times in 1 Timothy and I want to point them out to you and we’ll close. First Timothy chapter 2 verse 1, why does he say for all men? Why does he throw that in there? Because “all men” has become an important term in Paul’s mind. First Timothy 2:1,

“Prayers…he says at the end of verse 1...should be made on behalf of all men.” Why?

Verse 4, “Because God desires all men to be…what?…saved.”

Verse 6, “Christ Jesus who gave Himself as a ransom for all.” God desires all men to be saved, and then he says to believers, live your lives this way for all men to see. That’s consonant with God’s saving purpose. First Timothy 4:10 says, “God is the Savior of all men.”

All men need to see our testimony. They need to see the transformation. Titus 2:11, “The grace of God has appeared bringing salvation to all men.” See, he repeats that phrase again and again and again.

God loves all men. God desires that all men be saved, he says. God wants you to pray for all men. The grace of God has appeared to all men. You live your life before all men so that they can see the transformation.Only Christians can live like that. That’s our duty. That’s how we have to live.



8 comments on “John MacArthur: The Christian’s Responsibility In a Pagan Society–Part 1

  1. Wow!
    I’m moved. Thank you for posting this!
    This is a “clear sound” in a cacaphonous world.
    I’m going to give this to the man who pastors the church where we now attend.
    No dominionism here. That is why they are picketing him. Christians are citizens of heaven, and merely sojourners in the kingdoms and states of men which are all of this world and under the evil one.
    Post part 2 soon.

  2. This is just so good and so true and so applicable for our day. It was truly a prophetic sermon in every sense of the word. It covers all the bases when it comes to how a Christian should interact with the surrounding society. For our day, it represents incredibly sound doctrine on a given subject. But it would not be likely to make the best seller list in the marketplace.

  3. John MacArthur indeed spoke the truth. Its very difficult for me to understand how any Christian could doubt it…like the group planning on picketing his Church.

  4. pj, you might be interested to see this blog which was just posted at Following Judah’s Lion
    Rick is one of my favorite bloggers. Perhaps you’ll be blessed by perusing his site, going back even a couple of years. He has a heart of humility.

  5. Whatever became of their picketing? I told my wife last night that if they had only listened to the ENTIRE message, or read the ENTIRE transcript, then they wouldn’t have done these things. It seems that most of America serves only the god of freedom, which says you can have anything you want at the price of good sense and what’s right. To quote the great philosopher Ian Malcom, “You became so obsessed with whether or not you could, you didn’t stop to think if you should.”
    Praise God for men like John MacArthur who serve the Lord with courage and steadfastness in this cowardly generation; who cry for peace and freedom at any cost – even the truth.

    • I meant for that last part about those who cry for peace and freedom to be descriptive of the cowardly generation – I realized afterward that it sounds like I’m talking about Godly men – I am not.

  6. How in the world does anyone who considers themself a Christian (uh hem) get their undies in a bunch over this?????

    Praise God for John MacArthur…this was fantastic. I listened to this a while back and reading it again today made me think of just how spoiled and entitled Americans are….what if they were living under Nero or Domitian? Times are in no way as vile or corrupt as they were then, and what will people do when things only get worse?

  7. So then I’m being led to understand that basically all of Christians in history were wrong? The Christian nations and kingdoms of the past, Christianized cultures and societies. They had “missed the gospel”? Should we have the Puritans, Covenanters, and Colonials excommunicated, ex-post facto? Good thing John Macarthur came along to straighten everyone out with his pre-mil baptist neo-Calvinism- glad someone finally got it right! Now let’s all hunker down for the kind of persecution that we ought to have been experiencing all along!

    Or could it be that because the American church has retreated and thereby lost the culture, we are reconstructing our theology of the Kingdom accordingly?

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Rooted and Grounded In Christ

Teaching Sound Doctrine & Glorifying Christ

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