When I meet someone new at church and strike up a friendship, one of my favorite questions to ask is: “So, how did you become a Christian?” Many people light up as they recount with joy how God opened their eyes to the beauty of the gospel, and how He has done such a mighty work in their lives and hearts.
Iain Murray’s new biography of Pastor John MacArthur was a joyful testimony of God’s work in and through this remarkable man.
Murray is, in my opinion, one of the best biographers of our day, and certainly the best Christian biographer. He brings his subjects to life on the page. He doesn’t just rattle off dry facts about their lives, but gets enough inside their heads to show you the man behind the writings. His two-volume biography of D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones was extensive and in-depth, and it was clear that it was a labor of love for Murray, who served as Lloyd-Jones’ assistant for three years.
His biography of John MacArthur is admittedly just an overview of the man’s life so far. As he’s still alive, the full story is still being written. But Murray is a friend and admirer of MacArthur, and he saw fit to commit to print the testimony of some of the more major events of MacArthur’s life, including the significant impact he has had on evangelicalism today.
I personally owe a great debt of gratitude to John MacArthur for much of my own Christian growth through his books, sermons, and even for the establishment of the Master’s Seminary, the school from which my own church’s pastors graduated. So it was stirring to read about how God called MacArthur to pastoral ministry, and then gave him an exceptional commitment to preaching and teaching the Bible and making it the authority, letting it inform his convictions and views instead of simply imposing pre-existing opinions on it. It shows in his writings, it shows in his preaching, and it shows in his life.
Murray touches on most of the important events of MacArthur’s life and public ministry, and reading about God’s faithfulness to glorify Himself through this faithful servant of God was a real encouragement. I love reading Christian biographies because I often marvel at the ways in which God has used ordinary people to do extraordinary things, and this always reminds me that the same God who made them extraordinary is the same God who makes me extraordinary.
There may never be any interest in my biography, but God knows my testimony, and He rejoices in it as much as He does MacArthur’s. Someday in heaven, MacArthur will hear me share the testimony of God’s faithfulness to me in my life, and his heart will be filled with praise because of it.