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Category Archives: John Piper

Post Tenebras Lux

Post Tenebras Lux is the motto coined by John Calvin way back in the Church reformation heyday. The phrase simply means “After Darkness, Light”. I heard this term again today in Dr. Albert calvins pulpitMohler’sDaily Briefing“. The “Daily Briefing” is a daily worldview analysis about the leading news headlines and cultural conversations.

Anyway, the phrase “post tenebras lux” reminded me of a wonderful video I had seen a few years with John Piper, shot in Geneva as he walks around many of the reformation sites there. He gives the viewer a wonderful history lesson. I wanted to share that with my readers today.

 

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Why Christ Came To Die: To Bring Us To God

This past Lord’s day our pastor began leading us in a new sermon series called “Why Christ Came To Die”. The series is fifty-reasons-why-jesus-came-to-diebased on the book “Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came To Die” by John Piper. The following are my notes from the first sermon installment.

1 Peter 3:18
The Past Accomplishment of Christ’s Work
We have a deep need to commune with God.
We create a God in our own image.

1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,

I. The Need: Fellowship with God

Deut. 6:5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

Romans 3:23-24 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.

Romans 5:10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.

II. The Means: The Suffering of God’s Perfect Son

the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God,

III. The Result : Fellowship With God

Psalm 16:11 You make known to me the path of life; 
in your presence there is fullness of joy; 
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

God is most glorified in us, when he is most satisfied in Him. Desiring God mission agreement statement.

Psalm 23:1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

 

The Happy, Love, to God’s Glory Cycle

Our local church began doing Community Groups at the beginning of this year. Community Groups is our version of getting together in small groups for a mid-week bible study and fellowship. Through the summer we are using  the John Piper book “Don’t Waste Your Life” as a guide to lead us into a study of what the bible says a fulfilling life should look like. The first couple of chapters have been a little difficult because the content is based on Piper’s own journey of discovery into what a fulfilled life should be and what a wasted life might look like. But this week the spiritual afterburners seemed to have been kicked with chapter 3. The following is an abbreviated version of our past study.

Chapter 3 is titled “Breakthrough – the Beauty of Christ, My Joy.” The accompanying study guide begins with an examination of what people perceive as happiness or the pursuit of it. To that end Piper introduces a quote out of a section of work called “Pensées” written by the French philosopher, mathematician, and Christian apologist, Blaise Pascal. The quote is about happiness:

All men seek happiness. This is without exception. Whatever different means they employ, they all tend to this end. The cause of some going to war, and of others avoiding it, is the same desire in both, attended with different views. This is the motive of every action of every man, even of those who hang themselves.

The study guide then follows with the thought provoking question: Is it true that all men seek happiness (even those who commit suicide)? Is the pursuit of happiness inevitable? How do you think the Bible regards the pursuit of happiness?

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Decisions, Decisions.

I will definitely admit I am far from being in a position to be asked to participate in any forum where I would be speaking in front of hundreds of people. I am truly not trying to be critical of those who are and the choices they make. I am just trying to think through these things as I listen to some of my favorite speakers and some of the forums they are invited to. Today’s case in point, Michael Horton speaking in at forum in Saddleback Church on June 10th as part of the “12 Cities 12 Conversations” project hosted by the Lausanne Movement.

Earlier this week after watching the recorded web cast of the panel discussion I posed a question, via email, to many of my church leadership friends regarding Horton participating in this panel discussion at Saddleback Church. I received many responses, from simply “dumb” to a short rebuttal in the use of the phrase “reformed infatuation” from a popular blogger brother. But included in this blogger’s response was a point made to him by Mark Dever a few years ago. The point being that if anyone opened their platform or pulpit to him (Mark Dever) he would gladly take the opportunity to present the true gospel. In some cases it may be the only time they audience would hear it.

After watching the panel discussion, I now know why Horton was there. I have included the link below and in the body of this post. If you haven’t seen it please notice the term “gospel” thrown around quite a bit, Horton addresses this later. But the term is used in such a way as to infer that the gospel is the same as the second greatest commandment, to love your neighbor as yourself. This is the law, but it is NOT the gospel. This would fall in line with some points made by my senior pastor in a recent sermon found here.

If you watch the video of the panel discussion, the real discussion doesn’t really get cranked up until about 16 minutes in, so you may want to push the feed forward and bypass all the posturing and introductions. Around the 45 minute mark Horton brings up the term “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism”, this term is mentioned many times in his book “Christless Christianity“. (Catch Kay Warren chanting Burger King after Horton finishes speaking as if saying have it your way) But my favorite part of the discussion is when Michael Horton addresses the question “How do we make sure that the proclamation of Jesus doesn’t get lost among the feeding of the hungry and the care for the widows and orphans?”. This comes right at the tail end of the first video (there are two parts), which is around the 60 minute mark.  Horton zooms right in on what the gospel is. Very cool. Glory to God.

The web cast panel discussion at Saddleback Church (again the real discussion doesn’t get going until about 16 to 20 minutes in)

Patrick Abendroth on “The Dechristianization of Christianity

The gospel in about a minute by John Piper.

I would encourage any and all comments on this discussion in particular on the subject of decisions to participate in these venues. Did Horton get his point across or was he marginalized? If you are a preacher given the opportunity to speak at a venue, like say the Crystal Cathedral, would you use it to preach the gospel?

 

Book Review – Finally Alive

I called it perfect timing as I finished the last few sentences of “Finally Alive” by John Piper and at the same time pulled piper-aliveinto our driveway after another day of work and commuting to Omaha. In the forty-five minite trip each way, God has afforded me the opportunity to read  (listen to) some excellent books. I have read seven or eight books since I made the decision to stop listening to so much talk radio. None of those books filled me with as much such joy as “Finally Alive“. I have read several books by John Piper. Some I’ve had difficulty with because of the way they’ve been structured. I’ve had to stop and re-read a chapter in order to fully grasp the concept he presents before I continue through the book. This was not the case with this book. Only once did I stop the audio and re-listen to the few sentences. I did it because the text had brought such a smile to my face that I wanted to experience that emotion again.

The book is wrtten about regeneration, and what it means to be born again. The term born again has been used in such diverse ways it is hard for anyone who does not know scripture to nail it down. It is used by the world to label fundamentalists or evangelicals. I was once asked during a religious discussion if I was “one of those born again Christians”. I replied with a question of my own, “What do you mean by the term “born again”? The word is indeed thrown around and used outside of it’s biblical context. It is used so much it is hard to distinguish those who claim to be born again and live like the world from those who do not. Piper helps the reader to examine this term and it’s meaning as it relates to scripture. He also shows us how to be certain our faith is genuine and our conversion real. Are you truly “born again”?

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The struggle is as easy as dropping the nut

For a couple of months I have been a participant, along with about six other men, in aFist in the jar bible study joined by a book written by John Piper called “Future Grace“. I have written about this book in a previous posting and I would imagine I will be posting something else about the book before we are finished with the study. It is such a great book. The study is usually led by one of our church elders but this week he will be absent, so he asked me to put together some questions and lead the study. I am excited that he asked me to do this. I am praying for God to graciously provide His wisdom as I prepare. Like most folks who have prepared to teach something, I certainly learn the most from a subject by teaching or leading it.

As has been our task in previous weeks, we are covering a couple of chapters in the book. This week it is chapters 24 and 25. Chapter 24 is titled “Faith in Future Grace vs. Despondency”. There is a particular sub-section in this chapter called “The Struggle is As Easy As Dropping a Nut”. In this section Piper writes about the narrow gate that Jesus refers to in Matthew 7:14 as a description of the struggle or difficulty in following Christ. This same depiction is used by Luke in 13:24:

Strive to enter by the narrow door.

This word strive in the Greek text means to struggle or contend for victory like an athlete. The New Testament teaches the believer that keeping the faith is a rigorous undertaking and yet Jesus also teaches us in Matthew 11:28-30 that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. Piper asks the reader if these two teachings are contradictions? He asserts that they are not, and he does this by using a simple but awesome illustration. Piper states:

It is like the monkey with his hand caught in the jar. It would be easy for him to slip his hand out of the opening except that he has his fist clenched around a nut. If he loves the nut more than he loves freedom from the jar, then getting his hand out will be hard, even impossible (as Jesus said to the young man who had his fist clenched around his wealth). But what could be easier than dropping a nut? The battle we have is the struggle to love the freedom of faith more than the nut of sin.

Jesus teaches us in scripture that His yoke or burden is easy if we will trust in Him for future grace. If we do not, we will surely continue to struggle against our old self and sin. Are we holding onto something or trusting in something or someone to fulfill our needs? Has this something shackled us much like the monkey fist in the jar illustration? Do we continue to struggle with hanging on to it. When we let go of it, does the burden lighten and the struggle fall away? Trust in Christ for He alone is worthy of that trust.

Sola Gratia.

 
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Posted by on August 17, 2007 in Christian struggles, future grace, John Piper

 

A day of reflection on dependency

Today I took the day off from work to repair my car. You see my wife used it to take ourAudi repair daughter and her friend to the pool yesterday and when she returned home noticed that motor oil was liberally running out from under the car. She suspected that she may have done something to the car when she encountered a pot hole in the pool parking lot and the car bottomed out. Yep, the pot hole had punched a hole in the oil pan. It took no time for the oil to completely drain onto our driveway. I spread some dry-all compound on the spill in the driveway and then proceeded to search for an oil pan on the Internet.

The Lord has graciously provided two cars for us so I was able to drive down to the local U-Pull-It junk yards today to see if I could get my hands on an oil pan. I quickly found out that an oil pan for my Audi is a commodity in Omaha. After much searching I finally determined that I would not find one to install today and I would have to resort to ordering one over the Internet and wait the few days for it to arrive. As I was trying to figure out some way of working our schedules around one vehicle for the next few days it began to dawn on me how dependent we had become on the two cars we have. We would actually be considered very wealthy having two cars in any third world country and even in our own country depending on where you live. I also began to question how dependent I was on God. One of my favorite passages in the Old Testament came to mind. Isaiah 53:6 is such a wonderful reminder of God as our Good Shepherd:

All of us like sheep have gone astray. Each of us has turned to his own way: But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.

You see we are like sheep and we are dependent on God our shepherd to provide our hope. As our shepherd He gathered us to Himself with the redeeming blood of His Son Jesus Christ. Most of us as believers in His Son’s work on the cross will acknowledge our dependence on Him for salvation. But do we also depend on Him for this grace in all things? Grace is what it is. Or like the puncture of my oil pan and the realization of my dependence on having both of our cars running, do we also only realize our dependence on God’s grace when we encounter a puncture or trial in our life?

This is what I was thinking as I drove to Lincoln to pick up the oil pan that God had provided from a junkyard there. Yes, God does provide grace and I am so dependent on His grace even if I do not consider it as I go to and fro in life. My hope is that my attitude will turn from taking Him for granted, to trusting in Him completely. Trusting in Him for future grace.

ht: John Piper