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John MacArthur and John Piper Discuss During Q&A Session How American Christians Can Prepare for Persecution

“We’ve had a couple of hundred years in America when it’s been different than most of history and most of the world—but we’re there,” MacArthur said. “This is a pagan country, and they don’t want to be confronted with biblical truth. And there’s going to be some price to pay. I’m confident of that. We have to be ready for that, and we have to be faithful, and then we have the joy of watching the hand of God and providence do what it’s going to do.”

“I think cultural protections have been pulled away. We’re now where the early church was,” MacArthur said. “We have to expect to have the level of hostility that paganism gives when it dominates a culture and Christianity is the most severe threat that it faces.”

“Jesus said it this way: he said the world hates me, because I tell them their deeds are evil. And if they hated me, they’ll hate you. If you stop telling them how wonderful they are, if you stop the sentimental slop that you hear from Joel Osteen and the prosperity preachers, and you tell them their deeds are evil and their need of Jesus Christ and he alone who can save them from eternal hell, they’ll hate you,” MacArthur continued. “And that hate is going to show up in the same kinds of hostility that has been characteristic of other periods of time and other places.”

It is time for faithful Christians to stand up for biblical truth, MacArthur said, nevertheless adding, “I read the end of the book and we win.”

Piper said that Christians should have been getting ready for this type of persecution a long time ago, telling pastors that they should be teaching their people “that you are not first Americans; you’re first Christians, and you’re aliens and you’re exiles on planet Earth. And this world owes you nothing, and you may expect suffering. That should be preached when things are going as well as they can possibly go.”

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In what seemed to be pushing back on MacArthur’s response, Piper shared, “I’m a little uncomfortable with painting the narrative of the present moment as so extraordinary that that’s the reason we need to be ready.”

“My answer to how you preach is that you preach the sovereignty of God. You preach the fact that suffering is to be expected. You preach the flip side of prosperity theology,” Piper said, encouraging pastors to build the capacity to suffer into their congregations.

“You help people see, life is hard. You’re gonna suffer,” Piper said. “This is just plain biblical teaching. It’s not peculiar to America. All over the world, people are suffering. And that would be true if America were heaven on earth. So I want to prepare martyrs. I want people to go to the hardest places of the world.”

Piper Says MacArthur’s Persecution Response May Lead Christians to Anger

Piper further pointed out that MacArthur’s response could lead Christians to anger rather than seeing suffering as a blessing from God and reacting to it with a joyful spirit.

“I know that you believe this,” Piper expressed to MacArthur, “but what you just did for the last 10 minutes there, I think can have an effect of making people angry, and sowing seeds of…[Piper clenched his fist and made a sound of anger].”

“How do you turn that back to Christian hedonism,” he asked MacArthur. Piper said that the last thing he wants is to see Christians walking out of church on Sunday mornings “seething with anger at their culture.”