One day during the summer of 1999 (I had just graduated from high school), I went with my mother to her downtown office in DC. When the time came for lunch, she gave me some money and let me walk around town to find something to eat. I saw all kinds of different places to eat from so many different ethnicities. It was quite the experience to feel like I was in the meeting place of the world.

As I was walking around, I noticed a Waldenbooks store (now out of business). I went inside and perused the “Christian/Religion” section. I had just started to grow in the faith, and I was nervous about picking up a book that was going to lead me astray. But I noticed two books that interested me, from a man with an unfamiliar name. The books were In the Footsteps of Faith and The Pillars of Christian Character. The man was John MacArthur. I bought the books later that afternoon and read them immediately. I was struck at first with his clarity. There were no frills. There was no pizzazz. It was just straightforward Bible teaching. It was just what I needed.

It was only later that I found out who John MacArthur was. I found out that he had a radio program that aired around the world. I found out that he was the president of Master’s College and Seminary. I found out that he was a frequent on Larry King Live and other programs where he is usually the one defending evangelical Christianity. I found out that he wrote more notable books like The Gospel According to Jesus and The Gospel According to the Apostles, not to mention his study Bible and commentaries. I didn’t know who John MacArthur was when I walked into that Waldenbooks store, but I am very grateful to God that I found out. He was my introduction to biblical exposition.

I say all this because Grace Community Church is celebrating his 40th anniversary as their senior pastor. I’ve never been to Grace Church or the college/seminary. I’ve never met Dr. MacArthur, and the closest I’ve ever been to him was at the Together for the Gospel conference last year. But I am very grateful for the investment that he had on my life, simply because he said what the Bible said. I pray that he continues, and that God will bless many more like me through his example.

[Update: Rick Holland did an interview with Dr. MacArthur on his 40 years of ministry. Here is the transcript, and here is the audio.]