John MacArthur confronted by intruder mounting the stage during Sunday Service

On Sunday, August 16, an intruder wearing a backpack mounted the pulpit at John MacArthur's Grace Community Church while Dr MacArthur was preaching the Sunday morning service, put his fingers in his lips and emitted a piercing whistle, pointed his finger at the pastor and began shouting that he had a message from the Lord to deliver to him.

The man, a Scottish "evangelist," was angry that Dr MacArthur had preached in the past that the charismatic gifts have ceased, an interpretation termed "cessationism." This biblical teaching was most recently delivered at the Strange Fire conference at Grace Community Church two years ago. That conference was a much-needed response and rebuke to the Charismatic movement which claims that Jesus delivers personal revelation to individuals today in the form of the temporary sign gifts of prophecy, tongues, interpretation of tongues, and also that people can and do perform miracles like raising people from the dead and healings, as the first century apostles performed.

Charismatics believe these temporary gifts intended as a temporary sign were not temporary at all and have never ceased. They believe the gifts continue. They are continuationists. Continuationism and its heresies and false notions of Christianity are rapidly overtaking the faith all around the world. If you have ever seen a "church service" where people are shouting, jerking, fainting or otherwise gyrating, this is a Charismatic church. If you have ever seen people lined up for healing by "an anointed preacher" at a healing crusade, this is charismania. If you ever have seen claims from 'pastors' who shout for the Holy Spirit "to show up" and He supposedly does by showering the congregation with gold dust from the ceiling, you've seen a charismatic congregation.

Not all Charismatic churches are so wild, but the ones that seem quieter are just as dangerous. They speak in tongues which are gibberish. They claim that the canon of scripture is not closed and have a word delivered by the Lord to share. Beth Moore makes claims all the time that Jesus speaks to her and commands her to teach what He tells her. Disgraced pastor Mark Driscoll claimed to have had many visions and audible revelations from God. So you see it is not just the Benny Hinns and Kenneth Copelands of the world engaged in dangerous twisting of God's word in regard to the temporary sign gifts, but even conservative segments of the faith have now accepted personal revelation and mystical practices associated with Charismania.

The Strange Fire conference of 2013 sparked angry outbursts and heated reactions from certain segments, mainly from the people who claim to possess these gifts and are going around performing them. Apparently this intruder was one who feels he is a prophet from God, as he said while on the podium at GCC last Sunday. The reaction to the Strange Fire conference is continuing and satan is still inspiring people to anger over the biblical rebuke the preachers and teachers at that conference delivered. The warfare is real and ongoing. (Ephesians 6:12)

Here is video of the intruder at Grace Community Church. You can see he mounted the pulpit rapidly and got within 20 feet of MacArthur before anyone noticed or stopped him. Even though two men in the front row immediately rose and approached the intruder, I was shocked at how fast it happened. When the intruder points his finger at the esteemed pastor, it could as easily have been a gun. GCC fellow pastor Phil Johnson said the intruder got "way too close" to MacArthur.

Here is a video of Dr MacArthur's gracious reaction afterward. It is a 3-minute video from SO4J, but it's "exclusive" to so I can't embed.


This brings to mind safety concerns, of course. The congregants at Charleston's Emmanuel African Methodist Church last June certainly didn't expect to be shot while praying and singing inside the church, but that shooting shocked America and the world. Nine people were killed.

Even though Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church is not a church and Osteen is not a pastor, many people think it's a church, and some had no compunction about mounting an orchestrated rebellion while services were going on this past June. These hecklers were outraged at Osteen's brazen falsity and began calling him a liar as Osteen prepared to 'preach'. There were six individuals ushered out from the Lakewood arena by security that day.

Unfortunately we are seeing these scenes of bouncers or security men ushering away some intruders more and more often. Here is GCC Pastor Phil Johnson with comments on the incident:


Here are some comments about church security and the performance of the GCC security team in particular. These are compiled mainly from my own replies in a couple of recent comment threads. The one comment below that I have put in quotation marks was made by one of my FaceBook friends. All the other comments from which I compiled this are mine:

I agree that it's both irritating and scary to see someone with mischief on his mind get that close to John MacArthur, but we are not going to erect a barrier between the pastor and the people in our church. I imagine the security team will henceforth put their most young and spry guys on the front row. But it's a simple fact of life that if someone bent on doing harm is determined enough, it's not possible to guarantee that every possible threat can be thwarted. On the other hand, all of us who preach Christ at GCC are willing to die for Him--but not willing to permit miscreants to force a barrier between the people and the elders. John MacArthur isn't going to move around among his own congregation in a plexiglas bubble like the Popemobile.

I know for a fact that the security team is carefully examining Sunday morning's incident with an eye to improving or beefing up the measures they take. But they DID handle this situation without injury to anyone involved, and the entire interruption lasted less than sixty seconds.

Bear in mind that over the years, the vast majority of criticisms aimed at our security team have come from people who seem to think ANYTHING they do is too hasty, too heavy-handed, or otherwise unChristlike. In fact, Martha Mac's front-row video of Sunday's incident (posted on her FB page) drew dozens of comments from charismatic critics and postmodern bleeding hearts who complained that the treatment our Scottish "prophet" friend received was overly harsh. So people should appreciate and have some empathy for the difficult position the security staff are in.

Finally, here's a comment someone else posted elsewhere regarding security's handling of this incident:

"As a former LEO and member of my church's security team, who knows a few of the GCC security team members, well done fellas. I agree with Phil that it was a measured and gentle approach, and they took care of business without incident. Praise the Lord! It will be good for them to do a review this incident to see how a response could be improved or tweaked next time, but there will always be lag time in any response, and there is always the risk that someone can get to your pastor first. Also, there is a delicate balance between what is the desired level of response by security, both from the pastor's perspective and the congregation's perspective. Go too hard, and there is criticism; go too soft, and likewise. John and his security team have an understanding on what is expected of them in their response, of this I am sure, and this appears to have played out. If you notice, John points at the disorderly subject, and the men react immediately and start to approach the stage. The subject stops away from John, and is merely pointing and yelling, with no visible weapon, which calls for a less dynamic response from the security team. Professional job, gentlemen. In under a minute, the situation is resolved, and it's back to business as usual. Thank you for posting this, Phil, as a good reminder to those who protect our faithful pastors each and every week."

In short, I think people who don't actually have hands-on responsibility for church security at this level should probably keep their Monday-morning quarterbacking to themselves.


We are not guaranteed safety in this world. Though we believe church should be a safe place, and we strive to make it so, it is actually ground zero in the warfare in which we engage. Sometimes that warfare shows up in the form of an angry person...sometimes the angry person has a gun. We are not guaranteed safe passage from this world to the next, what we are guaranteed is trouble.

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. "We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God," they said. (Acts 14:22)

Ultimately the take-away is... PRAY FOR PASTORS. The pastors who unflinchingly preach the truth of God are most at risk. Pray for them for God to keep them spiritually safe, and physically safe. And He will. Until it is the day ordained from the foundation of the world for them to be called home.


  1. Wow, that is not good. Glad it was nothing more than a pointed finger. Very well handled by the elders at GCC.


  2. I agree that those who have never done security should not criticize, this was handled very well. It should also be a heads up for those churches who do not have a security team in place as we are likely to see more and more of this type of thing in days to come.

  3. For some reason, whenever I see Phil Johnson's name, I think of Doug Wilson's face. I guess I don't have a familiar image of what PJ's face looks like. I know him mostly through what he's written online. :]

    1. his photo is at his twitter stream, the GCC website, and his Facebook page if you care to look.

    2. I'm sometimes amused/surprised by the things I haven't yet gotten around to doing :D

  4. Grandma Carol,

    I am not publishing your comment which contains an alleged prophecy the Holy Spirit allegedly gave to you, because the Lord does not give personal revelation anymore. The canon is closed. (Revelation 22:18-19). 

    Your experience doesn't validate experience. The bible validates things. (2 Peter 1:20). I never publish the dreams and revelations people send to me because I do not want to feed a person's error nor expose my readers to error.

    As for the actual revelation you claim the Spirit gave you, it is an error. "Benjamin Netanyahu will be important in the end time" is so general of a statement as to be rendered meaningless.

    Grandma Carol, the end times began when Jesus ascended and will end at the rapture. So in effect, any person born between 33 AD and any future date after 8/18/2015 is important to the end times. Therefore the Holy Spirit would not have made that statement because it is an error, and the Spirit does not make mistakes.

    As to the cessationism comment you made, yours is a classic misconception. Dr MacArthur (and the Bible) do NOT say ALL gifts have expired. The Bible shows that the SIGN gifts have expired today. The SIGN gifts are not for today. The sign gifts that have expired are--tongues--interpretation of tongues--prophecy--healing/miracles (1 Corinthians 12:10)

    Again, Cessationists do not say that ALL gifts aren't for today. That is incorrect understanding of cessationism. Dr MacArthur never said "the gifts aren't for today", not once. No cessationist says that, because the Bible doesn't say that.

    Now that you know the proper stance cessationists take, you can see it is not unbalanced. As a matter of fact, believing that any believer would think that ALL gifts have stopped is kind of extreme to begin with. If people believed ALL gifts had stopped long ago, then how would the body be edified? How would anybody preach, teach, discern, exhort, lead, give, or display mercy?

    I encourage you to listen to some of the Strange Fire sermons, they are wonderful.

    Especially "Is There a Baby in the Charismatic Bathwater?" (Phil Johnson)

    1. Great concise response, Elizabeth. Sometimes I link to your posts because of something in the comments; this is one example of why. Thanks for the clear, direct rebuttal for everyone to see.

    2. "As a matter of fact, believing that any believer would think that ALL gifts have stopped is kind of extreme to begin with. If people believed ALL gifts had stopped long ago, then how would the body be edified? How would anybody preach, teach, discern, exhort, lead, give, or display mercy?"

      The funny thing about this is that John MacArthur can be said to have the gift of prophecy. What else would you call expounding every single word of Scripture over the course of one's life, from the pulpit? In the first Youtube crossposting of a sermon John preached on cessationism, that I ever saw, he explained that "pro+phemi" meant to "speak before," followed by "that's what I do every Sunday." Predictive prophecy is gone from the gifts but the gift of preaching is alive and well....among cessationists.

  5. I always marvel at the gift you have been given of firm, but gentle correction to sisters and brothers in Christ. It becomes a lesson to all of us of how to correct false beliefs and actions: stay immersed in God's Word and stay well-versed in writings and sermons by Bible-based, well-respected pastors. You, too, stay strong Elizabeth.

  6. Something is troubling me about this incident, outside of the obvious that is. This man chose the topic of Charismatic gifts to criticize and approach MacArthur??? We have very pressing issues like “same-sex marriage”, transgender rights, Planned Parenthood shocking videos of a horrific organization, a President whose behavior is that of a dictator, etc, etc, etc. And this guy with a pronounced and distinctive Scottish accent chooses to rant about a conference Grace to You had 2 years ago??? Seems odd.

    I hope they look into whether this guy is not a ringer who did some sort of “test run” on how easy it is to get that close to a pastor right in front of the congregation. I know the Master’s Seminary was approached with a lawsuit if they didn’t bow down to the gay militia and MacArthur’s “We Will Not Bow” sermon was powerful. Wouldn’t be the first time MacArthur needed security detail when approaching the homosexual lobby group.

    I hope someone checks this out closely.

    I took a self-defense course run by a police officer many years ago and he showed why police have to think very quickly and react quickly when approached by an attacker. It takes only seconds. Made me appreciate the job they have and this also applies to security guards.

    1. Hi Anonymous,

      You can be sure they are checking it out closely, as Pastor Phil Johnson said above.

  7. I was involved with the Charismaniacs for years. I got away from them finally. Is there a specific scripture for the cessation of these gifts. This is not to criticize. But to try to learn. I should take time to listen to strange fire.

    1. Hi Bob,

      Thanks for wanting to learn more. No there is not one specific verse to prove the sign gifts have ceased. Just like there is not one verse to prove God is trinity, three-in-one. It is something you deduce by reading widely.

      For example we read in Acts 1:22 that to be an apostle one must have seen the Lord. Paul also saw the Lord (1 Cor 9:1). That is why the gift/office of apostleship has ceased, no one has seen the risen Lord.

      We know the gift of tongues ( real languages) was a sign to unbelievers and a fulfillment of a judgment upon Israel. The gift of tongues and interpretation of them does not need to continue because it was a sign to that generation of Jews who would have known and understood the significance of Pentecost.

      The gift of healing and miracles was temporary because they were supposed to validate and affirm the healer was a designated man from God and they were to listen to him, since the NT wasn't written yet. We don't need that gift any more because we now have the bible.

      And so on. Those specific gifts were for a sign and now that the canon is complete we no longer need the signs. Even as Paul wrote much of the NT, the gifts were dying out. He advised Timothy to take a little wine for his sour stomach, he didn't assign a miracle healer to go to him. I recommend the teachings at for the Strange Fire conference,

      My personal favorites were Phil Johnson's "Is there a baby in the (Charismatic) bathwater?" and Tom Pennington's "Case for Cessationism".

    2. Thank you

    3. Great example "take wine for your stomach", of the fact that no small detsil in the bible is arbitrary! Seems obvious now that you point it out, but I had never thought of that passage in that light before.

      Like I have already mentioned to you, the irony of this self proclaimed prophet, other than being wrong about the sign gifts, is that he contradicts scripture in the way he handles himself, al la 1 Corinthians 14:26-40. You can't be a messanger of God and go against His instruction. Duh.


  8. You deleted my post and your response!!! Why?

    1. It didn't seem like you were interested in seeking truth or reasoning over scriptures, but more of an agenda-driven, gotcha conversation. Though I gave the benefit of the doubt initially, your last reply sealed it. Those type of conversations are unedifying and also wearying to the brethren, and I choose not to engage in them or expose my readers to them.

  9. The flip side to good security, good planning, good judgment, and common sense, is the absolute sovereign control of the Lord God! I once heard MacArthur say in one of his archived messages on worry - in regards to our physical needs - that we should plan the best that we can. He then went on to say that even if we gave away all our resource that God would still provide for us His own (in context to his message of course). Concerning our physical well being, YES, let each of us use good judgment, etc. That said, and wise it is - circumstances may strike due to a whole spectrum of unknown variables. I also heard MacArthur say in another message something to the effect “that we are essentially invincible in regards to harm UNTIL God’ plan for us as individual saints are brought to HIS completion during our time in our current physical state”. The Bible is replete with all areas of the Lord God’ concern and providence for His redeemed, see for example Psalm 91:11 which is a passage concerning safety.

    I believe that safety is of the Lord, but I still stay of off the freight train tracks, lock my doors and windows, and steering clear of contemptible situations.

    Sometime during the late nineties I was up in a big tree in the process of cutting it down. I had on climbing spurs and a climber’s safety belt along with a thick leather strap that wrapped completely around the tree and then hooking onto a large hook that was attached to my climbing belt. While near the top of the tree I began cutting into the back of the tree first (can be called a brake as to keep the tree trunk from peeling below to where I was strapped to the tree). I then moved to cut the opposite side of the tree trunk. As I continued to cut the large tree, the top began to fall as planed EXCEPT that the tree trunk, actually the INNER MEAT of the trunk, split below and beyond my safety belt and strap and then fell to the ground. The tree had a very strong lean to begin with, so when I looked back (behind me) after the top fell, it was laying approximately 15 feet or so at the base of the tree.

    Brothers and sisters in truth I tell you all - I did not feel one bit of pressure on my belt, strap, nor person during this catastrophic disaster unfolding! I submit to you that ONE would have had to left upward the cut section of the tree top, thus defying the law of gravity and clearing my belt, strap and person, and then laying the section safely on the ground. This is exactly what transpired, and the law of gravity was likewise defied! Guess what I had been doing in my daily life style at this time (NOW TOO) (?) Getting out the gospel message of the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ! To the Lord God alone be the praise, glory, and eternal thanksgiving!

    Thank God for proper planning, security, good judgment, and common sense, but thank HIM most of all for HIS sovereign control! Amen!

    Brother Rick Buffington :--)
    Metro Atlanta

    PS, I thank God for MacArthur’ safety, Elizabeth Prata’ safety, and the safety of all His redeemed in concert with His set plans for each of us. He will preserve us UNTIL His set plans and purposes are complete, and then call us home by way of death or the rapture of the Church!


Post a Comment