A Biblical Rebuttal of John MacArthur’s Statement that the Lord’s Return is “Imminent”
[Throughout this article, Dr. MacArthur's quotes appear highlighted like this.]
This series is a biblical rebuttal of Dr. John MacArthur’s article posted (at the time of this writing, Aug 2018) entitled and located at:
Is Christ’s Return Imminent?
[EDIT Mar 2022: As of this date, the article above is still active.]
The lead paragraph of Dr. MacArthur’s article contains three main points (posed as “questions”) apparently designed to answer objections to the so-called doctrine of the imminent ("at any moment") return of the Lord Christ.
[I’ll have a few more observations on this rather bizarre approach in a following chapter “Avoiding a direct defense of the so-called “truth of the imminent return of the Lord Christ”..]
The three questions Dr. MacArthur presents to defend his mistaken notion of the so-called “imminent” return of the Lord Christ are:
- Will the tribulation precede the rapture? (~21% of the article)
- 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? (~14% of the article)
- Why is believing in Christ’s imminent return so important? (~55% of the article)
Throughout this series, as I review the Bible texts Dr. MacArthur cites I apply a “grading” system of the validity of those texts relative to the point he attempted to make. The “grades” are:
[This key is reproduced at the top of each pertinent chapter.]
The position of SolaScripturaToday.org is that the Lord Christ will indeed return and rule for the 1000-year period typically known as the Millennium, but that that return is not imminent, that it can’t occur “at any moment” as Dr. MacArthur erroneously claims.
The latter point—the Lord Christ’s return is not imminent— is easily established by many texts; at this time I select just a pair:
Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming.
2 The 2.1-4
Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.
In Mat 24, the Lord Christ told us unambiguously that no one knows the time of His return. However, according to Dr. MacArthur’s descriptive phrases “at any moment” and “imminent” there is the inference of a time-frame that is near.
But the Lord said, “You do not know …”.
If we can't know the time—as the Lord Christ taught unambiguously—then how it is possible to declare that the time of his return could be near, "at any moment"? Does such a claim even make sense!?!?
Whom do you choose to believe: the Lord Christ or Dr. MacArthur?
The text from 2 The 2.1-4 is also unambiguous and pivotal.
Whatever else may be involved in the pregnant phrase “the day of the Lord”, one thing is certain: one of its necessary components must be the Lord’s return.
[EDIT Nov 2020: I completed an article which addresses this very large and vital topic in Feb 2019: The Day of the LORD.]
So what did the Apostle Paul just teach us from 2 Tim 2?
- The apostasy must first come (which it hasn’t, as of Jul 2022); and
- that the one known as the “man of lawlessness” will be revealed (who hasn’t been revealed, as of Jul 2022), and
- who must take his seat in the temple (which is currently impossible because there is no temple and for which not even the foundation has been laid, as of Jul 2022).
The Holy Spirit has told us in this great text what to expect before the return of the Lord Christ and none of these three very explicit events have taken place in the nearly 20 centuries since it was written!
Those who hold to the spectacularly contradictory, impossible and irresponsible interpretation of the “any moment" return of the Lord Christ willingly trample upon these very clear Scripture texts; sadly, that includes the well-known teacher/pastor Dr. John MacArthur.
The purpose of this series is to show from the Scripture that the return of the Lord Christ is not and cannot be “imminent” or "at any moment" and to therefore expose Dr. MacArthur’s erroneous position. It is not, per se, to denigrate Dr. MacArthur (though I will not sidestep his biblical carelessness in this topic).
This series is presented in 8 chapters:
- Confirming Dr. MacArthur’s definition of “imminent” as being “at any moment” (to eliminate any possible objection to this series as being a disagreement over "mere semantics").
- Dr. MacArthur’s avoidance of the direct defense of the so-called truth of the “imminent return” from Scripture.
- Dr. MacArthur’s Introduction: Problems in the Introduction.
- Dr. MacArthur’s “Question 1”: The logical detour injected into the presentation by discussing the Tribulation.
- Dr. MacArthur’s “Question 2”: The problem of how the early church could regard the return of the Lord Christ as “imminent”.
- Dr. MacArthur’s “Question 3”: The importance of the “imminent” return.
- Dr. MacArthur’s stunning error concerning the “delay” in the return of the Lord Christ.
- SolaScripturaToday summary.