A Preacher’s Great Ambition

“As I look back at my life and all the years of study and tens of thousands of hours of going through the Scripture, whether I’m writing books or preparing sermons, or writing notes in a study Bible, or whatever, all of my efforts to understand the Scripture do not end with the understanding of the Scripture.

My goal has never been to know the facts of the Bible. It isn’t that I want to know Bible history, or that I want to know what’s in books and verses. That’s not the end, that’s only the means to an end. I want to know Him. Paul said, “That I may know Him.” It is the…the joy of my life to find God in the living Christ on the pages of Scripture. The more I study the Bible, the more glorious Christ is to me. The more I understand the Scripture, the more majestic and magnificent and awesome Jesus Christ is and my worship and my service to Him is a direct reflection of that awe. A limited view of Jesus Christ produces a limited capacity to worship and limited motivation to serve.

The great objective of Scripture is to know Christ so that you can love Him more, so that you can be swept away as the hymn writer put it, in wonder, love and praise. It’s not about knowing the Bible, it never should be. Knowledge puffs up. It’s about knowing Christ. Not some mystical knowledge, not some knowledge induced. Your lack of understanding about Christ cripples your worship and no amount of music and no amount of sort of spiritual mood-inducing is going to produce true worship, which rises out of an overwhelming wonder concerning Christ.

So whenever we gather together, it is Christ who is the goal and the end of everything we learn. Everything I know about the sinfulness of man makes me love Christ more because He brought an end to all my sin. Everything I know about the glory of God makes me love Christ more because I see God fully revealed in human terms that I can comprehend in Christ. It all resolves in Him. He’s the theme of all of Scripture. And so that is why it is such a privilege for me when I look back over my life, all the things I might have done with my life, and all the various and sundry careers one may have, there was within me, and it started developing when I was very young, this insatiable desire to understand in a very meager way what Paul meant when he said, “That I may know Him.” And there would have been no way that I ever could have pursued the knowledge of Christ the way I have in the ministry had I been doing something else. So I confess to you here that it’s really not about preaching sermons to you that attracts me to the ministry, it’s about having you pay me to pursue Christ. How’s that for a career? The highest possible calling imaginable is to pursue the knowledge of Jesus Christ and you pay me to do that. And all I have to do is to show up here on Sunday and say a few things and I can get away with it. Thank you, thank you. Thank you.”

John MacArthur

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