Similarity No. 1: The Authority of Scripture
The similarities between Lloyd-Jones and MacArthur begin with their unwavering commitment to the authority of Scripture. Both these pulpit stalwarts have strongly affirmed the sovereignty of Scripture over the life of the church and every individual. For both men, the Bible is, indisputably, the inspired, inerrant, and infallible Word of the living God, fully sufficient to accomplish God’s purposes upon the earth. Herein lies the underlying genius for their powerful expositions.
The Sovereignty of Scripture
With unshakable certainty, Lloyd-Jones asserts that “the Scriptures are a divine product breathed out by God.” He maintains, “They were produced by the creative breath of the almighty God.” “It is not merely that the thoughts are inspired, not merely the idea,” Lloyd-Jones contends, “but the actual record, down to the particular words.” Regarding the divine inspiration of Scripture, he states, “The Holy Spirit has thus overruled and controlled and guided these men, even in the particular words, in such a way as to prevent any error, and above all to produce the result that was originally intended by God.” With deep conviction, Lloyd-Jones insisted that the Bible is the very breath of God, and that it speaks with perfect accuracy and divine authority.
To this point, Lloyd-Jones affirms: “This subject of authority is indeed the great theme of the Bible itself. The Bible presents itself to us as an authoritative book.” The Doctor adds, “The authority of the Scriptures is not a matter to be defended, so much as to be asserted…it is the preaching and exposition of the Bible that really establish its truth and authority.” “The Scriptures themselves claim that authority”, Lloyd-Jones asserts. “They come to us as the Word of God…You cannot read the Old Testament without feeling that everywhere there is the assumption that this is the Word of God.” He further notes, “Our Lord Himself fully accepted that position. How often does He say, ‘It is written’! And He directs men to that as the final authority. He meets the attack of Satan by quoting Scripture.” Only when the Scripture is held to be supremely authoritative can the preacher wield the sword of the Spirit with power.
Regarding the Old Testament, Lloyd-Jones writes: “To the Lord Jesus Christ, the Old Testament was the Word of God; it was Scripture; it was something absolutely unique and apart; it had authority which nothing else has ever possessed nor can possess.” Similarly, this distinguished preacher recognizes this same authority in the New Testament: “The authority of the apostles undergirds and underlies the authority of the Gospels and the Epistles, the Book of Acts, indeed the whole of the New Testament. And we either accept that or we do not. It is the only authority: it is the final authority.” To be sure, Scripture is the highest authority and final word in the Westminster pulpit, the undisputed arbitrator in all matters.
Assuming this same stance, MacArthur likewise affirms the absolute authority of Scripture. This noted expositor believes that this fundamental truth is rooted and grounded in the verbal, plenary inspiration of the Bible: “All Scripture, is God’s inerrant Word. He writes, God divinely superintended the accurate recording of His divinely breather truth by His divinely chosen men.” MacArthur believes that divine inerrancy is inseparably connected with biblical authority: “Those God-given, humanly-recorded words became God’s written Word, inerrant and authoritative as originally given.” He further asserts, “If the Bible is infallible and inerrant, it must be the final word—the highest standard of authority.” Consequently, MacArthur argues that “the truth of Scripture…has the full weight of God’s own authority behind it.” Because the Bible is divinely inspired, it is divinely authoritative, a truth that mandates biblical preaching.
“If the Bible is true,” MacArthur insists, “then it is also authoritative. As divinely revealed truth, it carries the full weight of God’s own authority. If you claim to believe the Bible at all, you ultimately must bow to its authority.” To this end, he states: “Preaching the Bible establishes the authority of God over the mind and the soul. When we preach the Word of God, our people understand who has sovereignty over their souls—it is God alone who reigns over their thoughts and their actions.” The Bible, MacArthur notes, “is not a book of suggestions. Its divine mandates are authoritative and binding. Those who treat it lightly place themselves in eternal peril. Those who take it seriously find eternal blessing.” Consequently, “The Bible claims complete authority over our lives.” This is to say, Scripture possesses supreme authority over every part of every life.
Such biblical authority, Old notes, breeds great confidence in MacArthur as he preaches: “What he seems to have is a witness to true authority. He recognizes in Scripture the Word of God, and when he preaches, it is Scripture that one hears.” He adds: “Surely one of the greatest strengths of MacArthur’s preaching ministry is his complete confidence in the text.” Therefore, MacArthur’s approach to the biblical text must surely be defined by his complete reliance upon its unrivalled authority. Old further stresses: “This basic assumption that the text of Scripture is reliable is part of the foundation of his effectiveness as an interpreter.”
Unquestionably, MacArthur’s firm commitment to the absolute authority of Scripture emboldens his preaching. In this, both Lloyd-Jones and MacArthur speak with one voice.
Journal Article written by Dr. Steven Lawson (used with permission).
TO BE CONTINUED