Treasury Secretary Lew’s Advice for College Graduates

Taken from an interview at Queen’s College on September 13, 2016. Link here


Question: Good afternoon Secretary Lew. Thank you for coming to speak with us. Name’s Nigel Barker, finance major here at Queen’s College, and a sort of consensus that I’ve been hearing is concerns of employment after we graduate. How can we keep the economy growing, to sort of shift the onus to us, what are some things you recommend us to do as we go out into the world and sort of face this uncertainty of employment? Any advice on that end of how we can continue to be marketable?

Lew:

So let me start with the first and most important things: finish your degrees.

A partial degree is far, far, far less valuable than a completed degree, and if you look at the performance in initial jobs, and kind of beyond that, finishing a degree is the most significant thing you can do to give yourself a leg up.

I will also say just as a general matter of advice: take some risks.

You know, where you’re young is when you can take jobs if they are interesting, if it’s working with people who are interesting. Don’t set your mind on the one thing that you want to do. Because your interests are going to change as you experience things outside. I think the most important thing when you pick a job is actually asking, “who am I going to work with, and is what I’m going to be doing interesting?” If the answer to those two questions is ‘yes,’ I don’t think, especially when you are young, you can make a mistake.

And I say this to people when they come into my office and ask for advice: be willing to roll up your sleeves and do whatever has to be done.

I found that when I was starting out, and today, people who are willing to just do the work to get things done get given more work and more interesting work, and end up with broader horizons. People who say “no I don’t do x,” whether it’s copying, (people don’t copy anymore but in my day it was copying), but doing things that you don’t really want to be doing. Showing that you are focused on executing the task of wherever you are and getting it done right and sticking with it until it’s finished and successful- people who do that get reputations that earn them more responsibility and more opportunity.

On Jesus’s Baptism, Salvation, Anointing and Calling

Pastor John Grey:

He does things that nobody else had ever done, just settin it off, just doing miracles, signs and wonders. 30 years old is when he was baptized. He came up out of that water and this is what we heard, a voice from heaven saying “this is my son, in whom I am well pleased.” That’s deep to me. He had done no miracles. He had raised nobody from the dead. He had multiplied no fish and no loaves, but was announced as the son of God.

But wasn’t he the son of God at 2 years old? Mhmm. Wasn’t he the son of god at 7 when he was running outside with his friends? Yes! Wasn’t he the son of God at 12? Yes- confounding the top religious minds of his day at the temple. He was anointed then! But you can be anointed and not announced. You can be chosen and still hidden. Jesus was God and was the son of God walking around, but nobody knew who he was. Why? Because there was a process. Help me Holy Ghost. The distance between your anointing and your announcement is process. I know you’re anointed, you’re waiting to get announced, stay in the process. Let God keep developing you.

The problem is we’ve had too many microwave Christians. Our son he loves microwave pizza, he loves it. Put that in there, 3 and half minutes, touch the edge of the crust – OWWAH! Burning! Burnin hot! Touch that middle – still cold. The whole pizza was in the oven. Same heat- different outcomes.

This gets tricky because Jesus’s anointing refers to two separate things, and it seems that Pastor John Grey mixed the two uses when constructing his metaphor. The two uses are Jesus’s designation as the Anointed One and Jesus’s anointing of the Holy Spirit at his baptism.

Before I get into this- I’m not saying Grey is heretical, I’m not saying he is lying, or even that he is mishandling scripture in any significant way. I’m only writing this because I made a quick observation on Twitter and got called out for being unclear. This post is me being clear.

Definition

Merriam-Webster   anoint
: to put oil on (someone) as part of a religious ceremony
: to officially or formally choose (someone) to do or to be something

Gotquestions.org : The New Testament Greek words for “anoint” are chrio, which means “to smear or rub with oil” and, by implication, “to consecrate for office or religious service” (more here)

Cambridge Dictionary: to put water or oil on someone in a religious ceremony: Anoint also means to choose someone or something for a particular job or purpose; designate.

Based on these, I conclude that: anointed: marked as chosen by God to be used for God’s purposes.

Jesus is the Anointed One

The NT authors clearly describe Jesus as the Messiah. See John 4:24-25 as the most notable exchange; compare Numbers 21:6-9 to John 3:14-18; Matthew 16:13-16 with Jesus’s use of the term “Son of Man,” and of course Peter’s answer; Matthew 2:13-15 which intentionally misquotes OT prophet Hosea to make this point; Jesus’s last name “Christ,” which is not actually a last name, is the koine translation of the word Messiah, and the NT authors use this term very frequently.

Hurt, 2015, points out that

Jesus is the Anointed One, the fulfillment of the three OT offices which God anointed (selected and set apart for special service): Prophet (Ps 105:15note, Dt 18:18, fulfilled = Jn 7:40), Priest (Ex 29:7, Lev 4:3note, Ps 110:4note fulfilled =Heb 6:19-20note) and King (1Sa 2:10, Ps 2:2,6note shadows of Messiah fulfilled = Mk 15:26,Rev 19:16note).

(See Berding and Williams, 2nd ed., “What the New Testament Authors Really Cared About,” Kregel Publications, 2015, pages 33-34, 41-42, 66, 88, 124-126 for each gospel author’s perspective on the Messianic status of Jesus.)

This is a designation that always applied to Jesus at all times. At no point did he become the Anointed One. It is a part of his nature.

This is the first use of the term anointed for Jesus. Jesus is the anointed one.

Jesus is anointed at his baptism

The second use of the term anointed for Jesus was mentioned by Pastor Grey, at Jesus’s baptism when the Holy Spirit descends on him in the form of a dove. This happened in one moment, immediately after his baptism and before being led into the desert for 40 days. (See Matthew 3:16; Mark 1:10; Luke 3:22; John 1:32, and note that all four gospel writers recorded this.) This was the official moment when Jesus’s ministry was anointed, or marked as chosen by God to be used for God’s purposes. (I am assuming that Grey is not discussing the other anointing of Jesus by the woman with the alabaster jar.)

In this moment Jesus is marked as chosen. The Father did not choose him at that moment. The Father marked Jesus as chosen. The Holy Spirit does not actually enter Jesus any more than it already had (an implication of his divinity being that he is one with God and by extension one with the Holy Spirit… though separate…). This is purely the marking of what was already true.

So Jesus was (1) chosen by God to be used for God’s purposes from before he was born, a status that is always true of him, and (2) Jesus also in one moment was marked as chosen.

Enter Grey

Pastor Grey’s argument seems to flow like this: Sometimes God anoints people much ahead of his actually using them (“announcing” them); this is a period of waiting and growth.

And truthfully, Jesus did have an extended period of waiting and growth. Luke 2:52 is the obvious text here. “Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man,” which occurred up until he was 30 years old. I would also mention that Paul went through an extended waiting period of fourteen years, Moses spent around 40 in sheep herding, and other some other examples can be drawn from church history.

There is nothing wrong with the application Grey draws. Christians face waiting and uncertainty that require faith in God’s timing and his good plan. That can be uncomfortable- extremely uncomfortable. Remember Paul’s hardships in 2 Corinthians 11? He faced labor, imprisonment, countless beatings, the 39 lashes on five separate occasions, being beaten with rods three times, stoned, shipwrecked, facing danger from rivers robbers Gentiles the wilderness, sleepless nights, malnutrition, and being under job stress. These are not to mention the suffering of the Church throughout the time since Paul, or the modern persecution faced by Christians across the Middle East, Northern Africa and parts of Asia.

Yet in all these things, God works for their good (Romans 8:28; Genesis 50:20; Acts 4:27-28). Part of this purpose certainly involves purification and growth (James 1:3). So ultimately Pastor John is correct that the Christian life involves enduring seasons of growth that are not also seasons of ministry output.

Enter Ross

Here is the original tweet that caused some stir:

Now in retrospect, I could have worded this more clearly. I meant something along the lines of “God does not describe us as anointed as a distinct category from our salvation. To use the term anointed as something that predates or postdates regeneration is to create another category that doesn’t have scriptural grounds.” I’ll stand by my revised wording, and agree that my original wording was unclear.

Pastor John seems to be assuming that we can use Jesus’s life as an example for our own. With this I take issue. Jesus never “got saved” – he never had to –  and this makes the comparison nearly impossible. Was I anointed with the Holy Spirit? Yes, six years and two months ago. Was I always anointed with the Holy Spirit? No, and neither was anybody else but Jesus alone.

Grey says:

He had done no miracles. He had raised nobody from the dead. He had multiplied no fish and no loaves, but was announced as the son of God.

Grey then says:

But wasn’t he the son of God at 2 years old? Mhmm. Wasn’t he the son of god at 7 when he was running outside with his friends? Yes! Wasn’t he the son of God at 12? Yes- confounding the top religious minds of his day at the temple. He was anointed then!

The first of these is talking about Jesus’s anointing at his baptism. The second is his status as the Anointed one.

Grey reaches his point:

But you can be anointed and not announced. You can be chosen and still hidden. Jesus was God and was the son of God walking around, but nobody knew who he was. Why? Because there was a process.

This logic does not follow. His metaphor is not internally consistent. Grey is correct in Jesus’s case, but only Jesus’s case. His attempt to extend this to all believers is flawed.

Jesus was always saved, and he always had the Holy Spirit. According to John 3:34, the Father had given Jesus the Spirit without measure. We were not always saved and did not always have the Holy Spirit. Jesus symbolically received the Holy Spirit at his baptism, but we actually received the Holy Spirit at salvation, and it remains within us. When you use the term anointing and are not talking about Jesus, you are talking about salvation.

Grey says that “You can be chosen and still hidden.” But can you? He has now introduced another term, chosen, and when you consider the parallel structure of the sentence, I’d assume he thinks chosen is a synonym of anointed. In the context of salvation, these terms are not the same. You are chosen (predestined) from before time began – similar to how Christ was the Anointed One from before time began – but you are anointed in one moment. Anointing IS the moment when your chosenness is announced. There is no difference.

So Jesus was anointed in one moment and also was the Anointed One his whole life. We are anointed in one moment but do not have any status or designation in the Holy Spirit until the moment we are regenerated, and do not receive some additional one after we are regenerated.

Grey says that “the distance between your anointing and your announcement is process.” But there is no distance between anointing and announcement, unless each of these terms do not refer to what they mean (the marking/receiving of the Holy Spirit, and God declaring that you are saved).

Other Terms

Unless, of course, you aren’t talking about salvation, in which case I’d highly recommend knowing a term’s Biblical denotation and connotation before using it.

I would take no issue if he used the term “calling” and was speaking about pastoral ministry or some specific vocation, instead of “anointing” and referencing an event where the Holy Spirit descended on someone. Throwing in the term anointing implies that God’s purposes for our salvation are somehow achieved at a time distinct from our salvation.

Jesus was anointed for his whole life, and then in one moment around his 30th birthday he was marked for that anointing. This is not true of believers. There is no amount of time between a believer’s anointing and the marking of their anointing (receiving Holy Spirit).

There’s a process in the Christian life that does fit what Grey is talking about. In the case of a calling to any one particular task or vocation, there is a gap between the person being called and the actualization of that calling. For example, I discerned several years ago a call into pastoral ministry, but I will not actually be a pastor for at least 5 more years, and in the meantime I will wait and grow. But this is not true on salvation itself. If this were true on salvation, there would be a gap between regeneration and the Spirit’s arrival. This is the doctrine of the Baptism in the Spirit, and that is an entirely separate blog post. In short, I disagree with Pentecostals on this issue (among other issues).

(For a complete treating of the Baptism in the Spirit, I’d copy and paste the entire 39th chapter of Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology onto this post, but that would infringe copyright laws and I’m not about to get taken down on copyright laws by a political ally of Donald Trump.)

This whole issue should be a lesson in precision of language. I’ve grown accustomed to Pentecostal-esque non-denominational mega church preachers using terms like “anointing” to describe some general phenomena of growth in the Christian life. But that isn’t specific enough, and it builds up a layer of rhetoric that is divorced from the true meaning of the concepts being discussed. Maybe they don’t think their audience can follow with complex theological categories, maybe they don’t have a rock-solid understanding themselves, or maybe they just parrot terminology that people in their social circles use, without considering the implications of those terms.

Maybe I’m a hypocrite for calling out his unclear language on Twitter, where I, confined to 140 characters, also used some unclear language. But we all know that half the argument in James 3 is built upon the premise that “we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.” I’m some irrelevant teenager posting on the internet. Grey is talking to an audience from the platform of the local church and thereby claiming the authority of the Word of God in his preaching. The standards are not equal and they shouldn’t be.

Again I’d like to restate that Grey isn’t evil; he isn’t misleading his congregation. Really, if you get caught up in the rhetoric of his speech-giving, and it seems that that is at least one of his goals, then you wouldn’t have caught this. I listened once and had a little yellow flag go off, and I listened several more times and then still took several days to (unsuccessfully?) write out the difference. Something seemed to not fit with my existing categories and that was nearly impossible to articulate because Grey’s categories are so, so loose. He even comes to exactly the same conclusion I’d support. But I disagree with the logic and the distinctions it builds upon.

 

Politics, and how to get them.

A usual conversation about politics, when you boil it down, sounds something like this:

Person A: So what do you think about politics?
Person B: Well, I’m a Republican.
A: Oh. Well, I’m a Democrat.

B: I think being a Democrat is wrong because abortion should be illegal.
A: I think abortion should be legal because women should get to chose if they want an abortion or not.

B: But what do you think about gun control?
A: Good point. I think being a Republican is wrong because guns should be illegal.
B: I think guns should be legal because we should get to choose if we want guns or not.

[repeat with more topics]

A: I think we can agree to disagree here.
B: Goodbye.

[The alternate ending involves screaming, frustration and some passive-aggressive comments the next few times they see each other in person.]

These conversations volley back and forth, but never end. Both sides give their position and then paraphrase it once the opponent replies. Notice, though, that they do not elaborate or offer supporting evidence.

You are a reasonable person. You want to be able to elaborate and offer supporting evidence, as reasonable people do. You want information — but not just any ol’ information. You want good information, the truest, most relevant, most helpful information out there. You don’t want to be like Persons A and B, who lack the facts and arguments necessary to support their opinions.

This is no easy task. How do we find high quality arguments and facts? How do we find truth in politics? More generally than that:

How do we find high quality anything? Especially in politics, where people lie to us?

If we can find a foothold in politics, where people get paid to lie, then the same strategies will also work on other topics, where people are generally honest. This article gives general principles that apply to most topics, and gives pointers relevant to politics. These will help us find an answer — not the full answer, but at least the beginning of it — to the above, bolded question.

General Principles

Diversity between viewpoints – Try to listen to both sides of an argument. Everyone knows they should, but few actually do. People live in bubbles, surrounded only by people who think like they do, and never leave. If this seems false, see any of these four links: 1. 23. 4. We should ask the question, “what percent of our information comes from the right? What percent comes from the left?” These answers should be close to balanced. If they are not, consider reading into the other side.

Diversity within a viewpoint  People disagree not only between social circles, but also within them. Do all people of a certain ideological group think alike? Yes: they share a common ideology… but no: because they hold various interpretations and positions within that ideology. So, dig in to the nuances of the other side; it is better to know both halves than only one.

Quality Imbibe only trustworthy sources. How do I know which sources are trustworthy? It is hard to know, but always try. Sometimes is is obvious whether a source is good or bad, and we take the information accordingly. Some sources are of more… intermediate quality. Make sure to take them with intermediate confidence.

Quantity – Consult several dozen sources rather than one. My new fun trick for school essays, even though it becomes a pain, is to double-cite information. Everything that needs one proof has two. (Another fun rule of thumb: use 25 sources for every five pages). Likewise, do not settle for one article. Read and read, because knowledge builds on itself over time like compound interest.

Specifics – Intricate details are important, so use them. The “fact-checking” approach really does work. We can argue with a vague narrative all day long, but can we argue about a specific fact? Maybe, but it is much more difficult. In a primary debate, Rand Paul undercut Donald Trump’s argument against the TPP in this way.

Big Picture In contrast with the previous principle, the ability to zoom out and see the bigger picture can also help. When a journalist presents specific facts, he or she could be employing selective facts to support only their stance. Take a step back to see everything and work from there. Experts call this a cohort study, a meta-study, a study-of-studies, and other terms like that. Here is a good example.

Specific Techniques

journalism photo

Original Voice  Listen to politicians in their voice. Don’t listen to someone else’s review of the President’s speech. Go watch it yourself. It is refreshing to hear them speak, and you can know that you are receiving exactly the message they are sending. Sometimes media middlemen don’t have that politician’s best interests at heart. Can you trust them to be accurate? By listening to politicians themselves, you cut out the middlemen.

Individual Journalists Find a news organization you like, and go follow the individual journalists on Twitter. Don’t follow the website itself. This way, you see their unfiltered content. (And, not to mention, skip the clickbate that clogs most sites). I follow Glenn Greenwald from The Intercept, German Lopez from Vox, Nick Gillespie from Reason, and others.

Political Books – A boring suggestion, but worth it. The last one I read was about George W. Bush’s first term in office. It was so specific! It had the highest quality information I could have found. (It wasn’t helpful, because it was so out of date, but if it were still 2003? Checkmate.). Careful, probing journalism is more likely in a book — sold for money — than online — published for clicks. Buying and reading books takes time and money, so head to the new arrivals section at the local library, and skim.

Think Tanks and NGOs Think Tanks receive funding from private donors. That makes them more biased on average than other sources, yes, certainly. But the content will be higher quality, because the funding model alleviates the click-traffic problem. The Cato Institute, for example, makes no claim to neutrality, but publishes very good studies (like these six: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6). Examples of good Think Tanks include the Heritage Foundation (Conservative), the Center for American Progress (Liberal), and Cato (Libertarian). NGOs, or Non-Government Organizations, handle topics that the American media often ignores. (As in, anything outside of the US). Some are specific — like the Small Arms Survey — and some are general — like Human Rights Watch. They provide minimally-biased reports, it seems. Use these for bedrock facts when questioning other sources.

Philosophers and Public Intellectuals  I love the series published by Daily Nous called “Philosophers On.” The editor gathers philosophers to write their opinion on a political issue. Why is this any different from regular people writing their opinion? Philosophy is a discipline based on making good arguments. This is their job. They should be good at it. A “public intellectual” comes close to the same thing, but without working as a professor. They also spend their days constructing arguments. Search Google for “_____ public intellectuals” to find people making very good arguments for their position. Fill in that blank with any given political ideology.

Bookmark Folder – Use Google Chrome’s bookmark feature to accumulate links. If you need information, the search function will find something support the point at hand… or provide a contrasting perspective. Mine now sits at well over 2000 links.

Critical and Scholarly Writing Professors and scholars will take their arguments and compress them into a 15 page or so essay. These are great! They are much shorter than books, and usually the local library has subscriptions to all the publishing journals. Mine does. They include peer reviewed writing by academics and scholars in the field. Sometimes journals publish articles online without paywall, like my personal favorite for theology  Themelios, or MDPI’s Social Science journal. Quality scholarship is published here first, and quoted elsewhere later. This is where “breaking news” in political science ends up.

Political Science Textbooks – After enough time, we tend to develop a vague idea of how things work, generally. What if we could have clear-cut, certain knowledge about how that thing works? Textbooks give the latter. They provide the categories, the framework, to understand everything else. Now, never go out of your way to buy these… but when a professor assigns it for a class, or you spot one in the clearance section at a used bookstore, indulge.

Rehashing Rehash an old debate to learn something new. How else can our opinions on political issues change, or grow? Over the years I have supported drug legalization, rejected it, supported it, rejected it, supported it, and finally settled on agnosticism. These changes happened in a only a few years, all because of rehashing. The rehashing stage says “Well, now that I’ve said that, I could be more specific by saying…” and then we nuance our positions. Most of the time, this makes them more accurate.

Avoid the Sensational–  Public policy should be boring. Would you rather go watch a movie in a theatre, or argue at a board meeting whether a 2.4% or 2.6% tax increase on cigarettes is better for the public balance of economy and health? Nobody cares!… which is exactly the problem. Anybody saying exactly what you want to hear is probably lying to you. Crazy headlines like “Sarah Sanders implodes while denying Comey was fired over Russia: He committed ‘atrocities’ against Clinton” is probably more spin than truth. In that example, she did not implode. She used the word atrocity, and said it so confidently that nobody questioned it until afterwords. Did that headline really capture the moment? Sensational reporting exaggerates and spins the truth at the same time.

Conclusion: Journalistic Quality

Right after the election, this chart popped up in everyone’s newsfeeds:

chart

What a great chart! I disagree on some of the specifics, like that Fox should be further right, NPR higher, BBC higher, and New York Times just a tad further left.

Here’s another chart:

chart2.png

We could tinker with the chart by moving the outlets around in each direction, but the main point is the still same. There are two axes: the usual left/right axis, and then a vertical axis for Journalistic Quality.

This essay provides a practical guide to moving vertically on the chart, to higher Journalistic Quality. Notice that this axis is independent of the left/right one; there are high quality sources on both sides of the aisle. Are you an extreme conservative? Aim for higher quality sources. Are you an extreme progressive? Do the same. Are you a radical centrist without a home in either party? This essay has given advice even to you, my independent friend, since anybody of any political persuasion can move vertically on the chart.

So, dip into the other side. Explore higher quality sources on your own side. Spend time gathering a large amount of information, and double-if-not-triple-check that it is true. Look at the technical specifics, the ground-level facts, but don’t forget to zoom out every now and again to see the big picture. In it all, do not try to be right; try to find the truth.

[revised May 15, 2017]

John MacArthur on Providence

An excerpt from an interview with John MacArthur entitled “Practical Concerns in the Local Church”

Here is the link.


Interviewer: What is your perspective on the belief that the Holy Spirit leads us by nudging us, or whispering to us or giving us dreams, things like that?

MacArthur: Uhhhhhmmm, well, I think the Holy Spirit does lead us but there is no way to perceive that that’s happening. Right?

Interviewer: Yeah

MacArthur: I don’t have a red light that goes on in my head and goes round and round and round when the Holy Spirit is leading. I don’t know when the Holy Spirit is leading. I don’t know when I’m following my impulses or desires or whatever. I have no mechanism to know that.

But in retrospect I see that, and I categorize that in the Providences of God.

My life is just one amazing act of divine providence after another, after another, after another, after another, after another … every single day of my life unfolds in ways that are so well planned by the Divine Mind that I’m in a sort of exhilaration day after day, after day over what happens in my life.

So I don’t know when the Spirit is leading at the time the Spirit is leading. I can say you know, I think I should go preach over there. I do that every day. Friday they brought me a big list of people who want me to come and speak, and what did I do? Did I begin to go into some kind of mantra and say ooooooohhhhhmmmmm and see if I could induce the Holy Spirit to know what to do? No, I just look at it and say “I can’t do that” “I don’t think I can do that” “that wouldn’t be a priority,” “maybe I should do that.”

And you know what happens if I’m open and want to do God’s will? It’s amazing how in retrospect I could say, “wow, it was absolutely critical that I be there because look what happened when I got there, because this happened and that led to this and this led to that,” and that’s how my whole life has unfolded.

There is no mechanism that we posses that tells us at the moment when the Holy Spirit is leading us in some supernatural way. But that in retrospect we will be able to discern by the Providences of God that unfold.

Interviewer: Yeah that’s a great distinction to make. I think the first time I ever heard you preach, the message you did was your message on how to know the will of God. And you basically said, “look: line up with scripture” (I’m giving you the really short version) “and do what you want to do, and as long as you are being obedient to what God has clearly commanded, He will lead you by providence.”

I think the mistake a lot of charismatics make is looking for special revelation, when God doesn’t lead us by giving us new special revelation. He leads us by providence, but He is just as active in leading us.

John MacArthur: How different would my life be if you weren’t in it? It would be dramatically different, it would be profoundly different. Grace To You wouldn’t be what it is, the books I write that you edit wouldn’t be what they are.

Interviewer: And my life would be profoundly different

John MacArthur: The clarity of theology that we hammer out together…

And yet how, from a human standpoint, serendipitous the fact that we met?

Interview: Exactly, and the fact-

MacArthur: in a motel in the dead winter of Chicago, a motel with no heat- and I had to take the carpet off the floor to put on the bed to stay warm all night.

Interviewer: yeah

MacArthur: yeah

Interviewer: And then I also booked you into a lousy accommodation in India once too.

MacArthur: Thank you very much, on my anniversary.

Interviewer: that’s right…

MacArthur: with my wife.

Interviewer: It’s your 30th anniversary no less, wasn’t it?

You talk about how serendipitous, I almost didn’t come to hear you the first time-

MacArthur: No, no, I know that story.

I was speaking at Moody, he was on the Moody Press, and he made the crack to somebody “I’m not going to hear some lame brain talk about the will of God. Everybody that comes to Moody talks about the will of God.”

Then he had his eye on this girl, Darlene, and she comes up to him and says “Oh Phillip, would you like to come to chapel and listen to John MacArthur” “OH YES! YES.”

Interviewer: That is exactly what happened.

I had never head of him, and it’s John MacArthur Jr., he’s a 5th generation preacher, and I said “somebody should tell Jr. that everybody who speaks at Moody talks about God’s will for your life.”

MacArthur: And then we hit it off, and then you worked on the book on the family, and then we drove to Minneapolis, remember that 8 hour drive, and we became friends, and then we invited you here.

Man, my whole life is like that and God has surrounded me with people like that constantly.

I’m not really interested in mystical stuff, I’m not interested, I don’t expect the Holy Spirit to give me special impulses or special revelation.

Interviewer: Yeah I have a similar question, from someone who is asking about Bible Study and this applies there as well: what is the balance between the Holy Spirit’s illumination and our need to study a passage with commentaries and teachers and things like that?

MacArthur: Well the Holy Spirit never illuminates anything to me that I don’t understand. I have to understand it before the illumination kicks in. There is a certain illumination that is salvific- in other words being regenerated is, in itself, the source of illumination. When I pick up the Bible and read God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, sin, man, redemption, blah blah blah I get it. So there is a generic kind of illumination and revelation and you could leave it at that level. You could get the milk of the word and say okay, I’ve been illuminated on the milk of the Word, I get it. I understand the simple the things of scripture. As many as received him became the sons of God, so far I can read that and understand it I can read other things and understand them.

But for me to dig down and to enjoy the full illuminating possibilities of the work of the Holy Spirit in my life, I have to dig deep into the scripture. It’s what I grasp that he illuminates, it’s what I understand that he illuminates. So yes, there is a sense in which I”m illuminated enough to understand scripture at its basic level, the milk level as Paul would call it, but to get to the meat level I’ve gotta dig down in it

And you just experienced this this week, right? Going through a passage, I’m saying things you haven’t thought about with regard to that passage, but now all of a sudden when I say it the way I say it, you say, “wow i understand that. I get it.” The lights go on, I get it.
That’s because you’re being illuminated, which means the life giving Spirit is awakening you to the reality of that truth that you now understand in a fresh way.

Interviewer: and sometimes a teacher like you is one of the instruments the Spirit uses to illuminate.

MacArthur: it can be a book, it can be listen to someone’s speech. I mean the Lord has given teachers to his church for that.