In Defense Of Integrity -- By: John F. Macarthur, Jr.

Journal: Masters Seminary Journal
Volume: TMSJ 08:2 (Fall 1997)
Article: In Defense Of Integrity
Author: John F. Macarthur, Jr.


In Defense Of Integrity1

John F. MacArthur, Jr.

President and Professor of Pastoral Ministries

Spurgeon’s defense of the truth and concern for integrity follow the pattern set by Paul in dealing with his opponents in Corinth. In 2 Corinthians, Paul’s response to criticism consisted of a defense of his integrity, without which his ministry would have been ineffective. He placed before his readers a number of reasons to reassure them of his integrity. They included his reverence for the Lord, his concern for the church, his devotion to the truth, his gratitude for Christ’s love, his desire for righteousness, and his burden for the lost. In defending his integrity, he risked being called proud by his enemies, so he also displayed several marks of his humility: an unwillingness to compare oneself with others, a willingness to minister within limits, an unwillingness to take credit for others’ labors, a willingness to seek only the Lord’s glory, and an unwillingness to pursue anything but eternal commendation. Paul had right motives and he defended them for the right reasons, that is, to glorify God and to promote the truth of the gospel and Christ’s church.

* * * * *

Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the gifted nineteenth-century London preacher, said this in one of his later sermons, “I feel that, if I could live a thousand lives, I would like to live them all for Christ, and I should even then feel that they were all too little a return for His great love to me”2

Spurgeon was a pastor and Christian leader who clearly loved the Lord and defended His cause with integrity. That fact never exhibited itself more clearly than during the late 1880s, just a few years before his death. That is when he was a central figure in a major British church struggle known as the Downgrade Controversy. This doctrinal debate began within the Protestant churches of England (most notably the Baptist Union) when Spurgeon could no longer refrain from criticizing the church’s alarming departure from sound doctrine and practice. Many churches and their pastors, who previously had been firmly conservative and

evangelical, became more tolerant of theories that undermined the authority of Scripture and its view of man. Spurgeon also observed a deviation from the great Reformation doctrines and the proper role played by God’s sovereign grace in salvation. From his pulpit and the pages of his magazine, The Sword and the Trowel, he courageously and consistently spoke out for the truth and urged average believers to resist false teaching and stand firm on t...

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