Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Book Review: John MacArthur: Servant of the Word and Flock

By Iain H. Murray
Banner of Truth Trust
240 pages

I received this book free from Grace To You at the end of last week. I had read a couple short reviews of it on the blogosphere (Challies and Anyabwile) and was looking forward to cracking it open. So Sunday, after I had finished reviewing my PM sermon, of course, I had a couple of hours to dive in. Between Sunday afternoon, and yesterday being a holiday, I finished the book.

 Let me tell you, this is a great book, though not what I expected. I have not read any other Iain Murray books (yet), so I didn’t know what to expect as far as writing style. I enjoyed the style. He does a great job chronicling the various decades of MacArthur’s life and ministry while simultaneously keeping the reader engaged with narrative. I think that Murray’s works on D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones and Spurgeon will be well worth a read in the future.

When I heard of the book I expected it to focus mainly on MacArthur’s ministry at Grace Community Church, with some emphasis on his writing and tape ministry. What I found was exactly the opposite. Murray focuses mainly upon the spread of the tape and writing ministry throughout the world, and then devotes a couple chapters specifically to the ministry at Grace Community Church.

Personally, I would have liked to see a more in-depth look at MacArthur’s ministry in the church at Sun Valley rather than how MacArthur’s influence has spread throughout the world. That said, I didn’t mind how this book was written, and I learned much about the spread of Grace To You in the past four decades. I especially enjoyed Murray’s chapter that focused on Patricia MacArthur and John’s family life. It was encouraging to me, a young pastor, to see that example of godly parents teaching their children around the breakfast table.

This is a good book for anyone interested in the life and ministry of John MacArthur, whether you are a fan or not. I have my theological bones to pick with MacArthur, but I find his ministry a compelling example of faithfulness to God’s Word and to God’s people. Praise God for this faithful servant of the Word and flock. I was encouraged by this ‘sketch’ by Murray, and trust you will be too.

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