Posts Tagged ‘John Piper’

For the joy set before Him…

Absolute footnote gold dust from John Piper as he defends the idea that love goes far beyond our actions. Love has something to do with our feelings, they are not simply a happy by-product. We love what we find our joy in.

‘One popular book says, “Love isn’t something you necessarily feel; it’s something you do. Good feelings may accompany loving deeds, but we are commanded to love whether we feel like it or not. Jesus didn’t feel like giving His life to redeem humankind (Matthew 26:38-39).” Josh McDowell and Norman Geisler, Love is Always Right: A Defense of the One Moral Absolute (Dallas: Word, 1996), 73. It is an oversimplification to say that Jesus did not feel like giving His life to redeem mankind. Yes, He knew it would be excruciating, and yes, He shrank back from the pain. But Hebrews 12:2 says it was “for the joy set before” Him that He endured the cross. The joy of the future flowed back into the present in Gethsemane, and the taste of it sustained Him. Yes, there are acts of love that are more pleasant than others. But that does not mean that there is no painful joy in the hard ones.’ (Desiring God, p117)

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Think

Today I bring you a quote from John Piper’s latest book ‘Think’. I’ve only read one chapter and already I’m enticed by Piper’s claim that today’s western church has a dangerous culture of anti-intellectualism as well as a tendency of over-intellectualism which is equally poisonous. He seeks in this book to restore a balance, he says, to show how rigorous thinking leads to more seeing and savouring of Jesus Christ. And he assures readers that thinking is ‘soaked in the scriptures’, and so he starts to take the reader to the Bible, citing two key verses that will underpin the arguments of the book.

‘Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything’ (2 Timothy 2:7)

(The other is Proverbs 2:1-6)

And Piper talks about B.B. Warfield on the connection between knowing God better and time at work thinking hard about the Bible; ‘He reacted with dismay toward those who saw an opposition between prayer for divine illumination and rigorous thinking about God’s written Word. In 1911 he gave an address to students with this exhortation: “Sometimes we hear it said that ten minutes on your knees will give you a truer, deeper, more operative knowledge of God than ten hours over your books. ‘What!’ is the appropriate response, ‘than ten hours over your books, on your knees?’”

Both-and. Not either-or. That’s the vision I am trying to encourage in this book.’

I’m looking forward to getting more stuck in over the duration of the holidays as I seek to think correctly. I don’t think I’m a deep thinker by nature so I’m thankful that when I do start thinking hard, the promise is ‘the Lord will give me understanding in everything.’

Racial Harmony and the Gospel

On Sunday, as I was working in London, I had the pleasure of going to Jubilee Church in Enfield and got to hear John Piper preaching on ‘Racial Harmony and the gospel’. It is the first preach I have heard on the subject. Jubilee is a very multi-cultural church and I was greatly encouraged by my time there. Piper was spot on, relating the ‘5 doctrines of grace’ to the subject matter and showing the impact it has on shaping our views on the subject. You can watch the sermon below, and underneath that are my notes;

Massive changes in the global church compared to a 100 years ago. Just 58% of London is what is called British White, with over 300 languages spoken in the city alone. And that’s probably an understatement. Tope, Pastor @ Jubilee, is burdened to keep Jubilee ethnically diverse, showing the importance of the gospel to all men. There are now more Presbyterians in Ghana than in Scotland. More Anglicans in Kenya, Brazil and the like than in Britain, Canada, the USA etc. Times are changing.

The ‘5 doctrines of grace’ will help us think more about this issue.

(1) We are all sinners and fallen people, totally depraved. (Romans 8:7-8)

The mind that is set on the flesh cannot please God. We were spiritually dead in our trespasses and sins (Eph 2). But now as children of the kingdom, we have been raised from the dead à God made us alive with Christ. We didn’t do it, God did it. London is filled with millions of people who are dead (spiritually).

‘No one is righteous’. All human beings are equally dead (before salvation). Hell will be totally diverse, and that’s a phrase lifted straight from the Bible (see Rom 2:9). This has tremendous implications: it should humble us of our own sin, seeing ourselves as God does. We should take our lives off the sin of other people because we were dead. Dead as dead.

(2) God Almighty chose to save you before the foundations of the earth (Acts 13:48)

Faith comes without basis on any spiritual or ethnic quality. God chose before the foundations of the World. This is surely inspiring in our evangelism. This is doctrine is awesome – people are only saved by God based on absolutely nothing of their own accord. We are His – this smashes racial authority.

(3) Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her (Eph 5:25)

Jesus laid down His life for His sheep. John 3:16 The FREE gift of salvation is on offer for everyone because of His sacrificial death. By dying, he bought his Bride, the church.

Rev 5:9 – every tribe and every nation is represented in the body of Christ.

God intends to have a people from every tribe, tongue, nation and people. In the Bible, there is no obvious distinction between these four terms, they are interwoven to emphasise that no type of people will be discounted from the kingdom. Rev 5:10 we (the church) are a kingdom and a priesthood. You cannot have a priesthood who hates each other… therefore racism, even at its most subtle manifestation, cannot be part of the kingdom.

“It is better to marry a Pakistani Christian than a rich white American banker who is nominal”. Better to stay in the family (spiritually speaking, this is not a call to incest!).

It was infinitely costly for God to purchase this people. The blood of Christ is of infinite worth. V9 promoting the gospel to other nations can often be confused with doing ‘social gospel’. It cost Christ everything to pull diversity in the kingdom so we should work hard at reflection his kingdom on earth. God deserves glory à he is more glorified by a multi-diverse worldwide church.

(4) He comes to us and overcomes all our rebellion and saves us (Eph 2:8)

The great things about salvation by faith alone by grace alone is that not only can people of all races be saved, but so can racists! The blood of Christ is not limited to certain sins. Faith is a gift, God grants repentance. Triumphant grace.

(5) God will keep you strong to the end

Rom 8:30 – The doctrine of perseverance/preservation. John 10:28 No-one can snatch them from my hand. There is no slip up between justification and glorification. If you have been justified, you’re as good as glorified. So let us persevere in promoting racial harmony, even amongst criticism, which inevitably comes when trying to find the ‘perfect balance’.

Make War – John Piper