A Biblical Rebuttal of John MacArthur’s Statement that the Lord’s Return is “Imminent”
Avoiding a direct defense of the so-called “truth of the imminent return of the Lord Christ”.
[Dr. MacArthur's quotes appear highlighted like this.]
The nature of Dr. MacArthur’s reasoning and argumentation apparently show he attempted to avoid the fact that there are no Bible texts which directly, unconditionally and unambiguously prove that the Lord’s return could occur “at any moment”.
Instead, he attempts to avoid that problem by taking a "literary detour" by means of his “three questions”:
- Will the tribulation precede the rapture?
- How do we reconcile the apparent belief of the “any moment” return of Christ in the time of the early church, since nearly 20 centuries have passed and Christ has not returned?
- Why is believing in Christ’s imminent return so important?
Let me demonstrate how silly and misleading this methodology of avoiding the direct use and exposition of the relevant texts of Scripture really is.
As an example, suppose that I want to prove the following statement from the Scripture:
The LORD is sovereign in all He does, that there are no limits to His power, authority, wisdom, providence, etc.
I should/could appeal to texts which state that grand truth directly and unequivocally:
But He is unique and who can turn Him? And what His soul desires, that He does.
The LORD has established His throne in the heavens, and His sovereignty rules over all.
But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases.
The LORD of hosts has sworn saying, “Surely, just as I have intended so it has happened, and just as I have planned so it will stand ... For the LORD of hosts has planned, and who can frustrate it? And as for His stretched-out hand, who can turn it back?”
Even from eternity I am He, and there is none who can deliver out of My hand; I act and who can reverse it?
Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: “I am the first and I am the last, and there is no God besides Me.”
Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to him again? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.
[There are many others!]
However, instead of citing the above texts for direct and unambiguous Bible proof, I use Dr. MacArthur’s approach and attempt to “answer” these questions instead:
- Why do some view the Sovereignty of the LORD as unfair and unjust?
- Why do some object to the LORD’s sovereignty?
- How did previous saints view the LORD’s sovereignty?
- Does this view of the LORD's sovereignty even make sense?
- How can I reconcile this view of the LORD's sovereignty with my experience?
- and so on...
There might be a time when it is necessary to ask and answer these questions. But in the context of proving that the LORD is sovereign, they are absolutely useless because clear declarations of the LORD’s sovereignty abound in Scripture!
This linguistic "sleight-of-hand" is precisely what Dr. MacArthur has done with his article: he obfuscates the fact that there is no Bible text to which he could appeal directly to prove his premise, namely, that the return of the Lord Christ is "imminent". Instead, he “grasps at straws” with silly and irrelevant “questions”.
Lacking clear biblical evidence, that was all he had—which is to say, nothing!
Dr. MacArthur’s approach is a literary sleight of hand to draw attention away from that real problem (that is, that he has no direct Bible proof for his claim). He appears so intent on proving his misguided notion of the “at any moment” return of the Lord Christ that he’ll use any text to make his point—even when they don’t apply (and there are many examples of just this method within his article as you'll see!).
Stated another way, he “steams full speed ahead” without biblical authority and attempts to make his point with his own defective reasoning. It should come as no surprise that the following chapters in this series demonstrate from the Scripture that he failed miserably to make his point.
There is one more matter to discuss: while Dr. MacArthur cites about 60 verses to support his premise, very few are reproduced in full in the text of his article.
[The current article has hyperlinks to the verses with a full-text popup for those who take the time to check his citations. However, I first found this article several years ago when it was hosted on another cite, without (as I recall) the convenient technology of hyperlinks to the texts.]
The issue here is that, because many “Christians” are lazy and typically very ignorant of the Scriptures, the copious use of references in place of a direct Bible quote aids and abets their carelessness. The typical “Christian”, when seeing the references, will think: “Wow, this must be true; look at all the references.” The hyperlinks might mitigate this problem—if the reader takes the time to click the link. I fear many/most will not and are therefore misled by the mere presence of the link. (Of course, their own carelessness adds to their culpability.)
[This is the primary reason that nearly every Bible citation on SolaScripturaToday.org presents the full text. I want the reader to see "first-hand" why I say what I say.]