On September 12, 2001, John MacArthur sat down with Phil Johnson at Grace to You to discuss the tragic and startling events that had occurred the previous day. Here are a few excerpts from that interview from 14 years ago:
PHIL: There are probably people listening to us right now who are trying to go about their normal routine and maybe finding themselves in the grip of fear—fear for their lives, fear for their safety, fear for their families and their loved ones. What can people do with the fear?
JOHN: If you don’t know the Lord, if you do not have the hope of eternal life, if you don’t believe in a sovereign God who controls everything, if you don’t believe your life from its beginning to its end is in His care—if you don’t believe that, you should fear because there are no guarantees.
PHIL: So what would your appeal be to those who are without Christ who might be listening to us?
JOHN: All I can say to you dear, dear friend is if you want to eliminate fear, then you have to know your future is secure. You have to know that God is caring for you and that you’re not going to die until it’s His time. And when you do, you are going immediately into His eternal presence where there is blessing forever more.
All I can say is you better run to Christ who will forgive your sin and who will embrace you if you will embrace Him by faith as Lord and Savior and He will grant to you eternal life. And then death for you is not an ending, it’s a beginning. It is not a disaster, it’s the greatest benediction that life can offer because it takes you into the glories of eternal life.
PHIL: John, without a doubt there were people directly impacted by this that are members of the Grace to You family, people listening to us today, would you have any special words of counsel or comfort for them?
JOHN: What we need to do is come together in prayer. If you’re able, let me ask you to set aside what you’re doing for a moment, and join me as we bring these many needs before the throne of God. Let’s pray.
Father, as we watch what has been going on, as we contemplate these horrible events, the death of perhaps thousands and thousands of people, we’re all experiencing all kinds of emotions—anger and fear and anxiety and shock and disbelief and pain. There are many who are afraid they’re losing the future and wondering if this is some kind of portent of a horrible world to come.
Father, we pray that we might know the comfort with which only You can comfort our hearts, the comfort that comes from the affirmation that You are our great God, You are our sovereign God and You are still sitting on the throne, You’re still ruling and Your purpose is yet being fulfilled.
We also need to pray for people who have been affected by this, those who have been killed certainly have loved ones—family and friends that are going to be devastated by the loss of life. Some of those people, no doubt, who have died were listeners of this radio program, some of them have entered into Your presence, some have gone out of Your presence forever. We pray for the families of those people.
We pray, too, for those who were injured, some perhaps still languishing somewhere in the dark recesses of the rubble of these places, not even yet found. We pray for those who are in that condition that they might have the time and the opportunity to draw to mind the gospel and to embrace Christ.
We pray for those who risk their lives to help, those rescue workers, authorities, police, military, fire people, all of those who work at medical services who are so engaged now in caring for people, finding them and rescuing them and trying to meet their devastating physical needs.
And particularly, Lord, we come back to those who have lost their friends and their family members and their co-workers and their lives have been shattered by this. We pray a special benediction of grace upon them.
And then, Lord, we want to pray for our leaders. We pray especially for our President. We know his efforts have been directed at the typical political banter that goes on between the Republicans and the Democrats and all of a sudden that seems so unimportant and the bar has been raised so high. We pray that You’ll give him and those around him the strength and the wisdom and the insight and the fortitude to take the leadership and do what needs to be done for the security of our nation and the well-being of people around the world.
We pray also that the church will mobilize as a body of believers and engage itself in prayer and any other way that can help meet needs. And may the church do what it really does best, to love people and to show them Jesus Christ in practical ways as well as bringing the perspective of God’s Word to bear on what ultimately is a spiritual crisis.
Father, we thank You that You are the God of this world and You are in control of everything. Nothing happens outside Your purpose, everything is within the framework of Your plan. And we pray, Lord, that You will grant us the wisdom to see all of that as it unfolds before us. May we be used in ways that can bring You glory even in this terrible crisis.
May it turn the hearts of the people of this country to eternity and in taking a look at eternity may they be drawn to You and to Christ, the One who has conquered death for us through His own resurrection. We pray in His name. Amen.
To listen to the interview, or to read it in its entirety, click here.