In a Palm Sunday sermon titled “Chosen for Him,” California pastor and author John MacArthur warned that America is already experiencing the judgment of God, in part for its sexual sins. Like the Old Testament Israelites and the Jews of Jesus’ day, he said, “It is too late. Judgment is already in motion.” Only for a “remnant,” or “the elect,” is that not the case, MacArthur added.
The controversial preacher, who has repeatedly pushed back against coronavirus-related church closures, spoke Sunday at Grace Community Church in Sun Valley. His main text for the hour-long sermon was the parable of the vineyard owner in Mark 12, a parable MacArthur labeled as one of judgment and destruction. In that story, the tenants kill the landowner’s servants—and even his beloved son, the heir.
The Judgment of God: Destroyed Due to Willing Unbelief
The chapter preceding that parable features Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, as well as his cursing of the barren fig tree and his clearing of the moneychangers’ tables in the temple courts. Those acts of cursing and clearing are the opposite of what people would have expected from Jesus on Palm Sunday, MacArthur said. “The people welcomed Jesus as a king; he came as a judge. The people wanted him to bless them; he cursed them. The people thought they were the people of God; Jesus described them as the children of the devil.”
Although the people of Jesus’ generation received signs, said MacArthur, many still refused to believe (John 12:37). In the final verses of Acts, the Apostle Paul also describes willing unbelief, noted MacArthur, resulting in God’s salvation being sent instead to the Gentiles.
In his sermon, MacArthur also referenced Isaiah chapter 1 and its series of “woes.” God, as the vineyard owner, sent numerous Old Testament prophets to warn his people, but the Israelites rejected them all, and vengeance resulted.
“A generation of people can come too late to Christ,” MacArthur said, adding that it was too late for the Old Testament Israelites, who were taken into captivity in Babylon, and also too late for first-century Jews, who endured the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in 70 AD and had to scatter. “It can be too late for every nation,” MacArthur said, pointing to Acts 14:16, which says God allows all nations to “go their own way.”
Both Isaiah’s generation and Jesus’ generation “had their opportunities,” MacArthur noted, but for both it became too late. “The temple was never rebuilt, the priesthood was never recovered. No sacrifices, no ceremonies, no Sadducees, no Pharisees, no priests, no chief priests to this day. The whole system ended.” Meanwhile, the rejected “stone”—Jesus Christ—became the cornerstone, which is “marvelous in our eyes” (Mark 12:10-11).
John MacArthur: This Also Applies Today
Next, MacArthur turned to Romans 1:18, which refers to wicked people suppressing the truth in unrighteousness. “How do you know when a nation passes the point where salvation is possible for a people?” asked the pastor. “When any society suppresses the truth continually, it can go past the point where God will hear. It can be too late.”
Citing other verses in Romans 1, MacArthur said, “God gave them over to a reprobate mind, a non-functioning mind. When you see a nation deep in sexual sin, pervasively affirming of homosexuality, and the insanity of a reprobate mind, where they make laws to criminalize righteousness and to legalize gross evil, you know that nation’s under judgment.”
For Christians, said MacArthur, our message to America is this: “It’s too late” because “we’re under judgment” already. “Judgment has been unleashed. You can hear, but not understand. You can see, but not perceive.” But, the pastor added, “It’s not too late for the elect.” Though most Americans’ hearts have been hardened by God, a remnant remains. “God has his people,” MacArthur said. “So we warn, because we don’t know who those people are, and we also offer the grace of the Gospel. That’s our calling.”