In 1986 The Master’s Seminary in southern California began out of response to a growing need for men who were well-trained and thoroughly committed to the authority of God’s Word to pastor churches. Over 1,000 men have since graduated, under the leadership of the seminary president, Dr. John MacArthur. In time though, it became evident that there was also a growing need for men who were specially trained for a distinct purpose. In addition to the normal course of seminary, this specialized training would serve to prepare graduates to shepherd uniquely challenging church situations – and the demand for such training was quickly increasing:
In forty plus years of ministry, this kind of activity stands unparalleled. As we survey the ecclesiastical landscape, the only conclusion that we can draw is that the sudden surge is due to the deteriorating condition of many churches. Every week, the offices of Grace Community Church receive stories of struggling congregations and groups eager to establish new churches.
Despite an increased access to biblical truth, the church of the twenty-first century continues to succumb to the wasting cancers of cultural accommodation, historical isolationism, entrepreneurialism, and imprecise doctrine. The very institution commissioned by Christ to bring the remedy of the gospel is surrendering itself to the infirmity of worldliness. This spiritual infection spreads with such deceptive influence as to be lauded as “progress.” Yet, in the face of danger, the church is left with leadership which remains fixated upon seeking new and experimental methods of treatment.
Many churches of our day suffer from brazen negligence, incompetence, or ignorance. The result is that the flock of God is scattered. There are pastors who fling their congregations from whim to whim in an attempt to enlarge the walls of their sheepfold. They are not consumed with the commission of Christ to feed and tend His sheep (Jn 21:16). They abuse the flock of God in an effort to reach a larger slice of a previously identified “key demographic,” and thereby fill their pews and coffers.
– John MacArthur
I can attest to that. Having worked at Grace Community while attending The Master’s Seminary, I would frequently receive calls from people all around the States, grieved because of the lack of faithful churches in their area – hoping that just maybe, maybe someone at Grace would know of a good church, a biblical church, where they lived that they perhaps missed by some oversight. Of course, far more often than not, we couldn’t help them but to give a word of encouragement to remain faithful and to continue serving the church in the best way they could. They did not to be one who “forsook the assembly” (Heb. 10:25), but rather like those in the church in Sardis – those few who are faithful and whose garments are not soiled, regardless that their church was unfaithful (Rev. 3:1-6). That’s why, in 2011, The Grace Advance Academy was born in response to need for new churches that would be committed and faithful to God’s Word. Please take a brief moment to watch the video below.
That’s who we are. It’s very simple, and pastors have a very simple mandate – as Pastor John said, “To give people the Word of God” (2 Tim. 4:1-2). We are to “speak confidently” our convictions (Tit. 3:8), and “give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching” (1 Tim. 4:13). If every church made that their commitment, then there wouldn’t be a need for The Grace Advance Academy. Of course we know, sadly, that’s not the case. Most churches are quick to give lip-service to the authority of God’s Word, but they don’t practice it.
That’s why it’s a tremendous joy to be the new pastor-teacher at High Point Baptist Church, and it’s a great responsibility that I cannot and do not take lightly. The book of Hebrews tells us that it will be the leaders who will give an account for the way in which they watched over the souls allotted to their charge (Heb. 13:17). James also warns us, “Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment” (James 3:1). That’s a sound warning to any teacher of God’s Word for how seriously he should take his call to preach every time he steps behind the pulpit.
As a church, we must be foremost committed to the sound explanation of God’s Word and its faithful proclamation every week. It’s the only way to have a strong foundation. This is God’s means of building His church, and the ONLY way He has promised to build it. To build a church with a strong foundation we must be doctrinally acute. We must be committed to the Scriptures so as to grow in our knowledge of the Scriptures so that we are adequately equipped to remain faithful in all we do week by week – all for the glory of God and the proclamation of His Word to the advancement of His kingdom.