Category Archives: John Piper

The Security of Our Resurrection from the Dead

In his book, Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came To Die, John Piper asks us to reflects of the following 3 passages of Scripture:

For if we have been united with him in a death like his,
we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.
Romans 6:5

If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. Romans 8:11

If we have died with him, we will also live with him. 2 Timothy 2:11

The way he ties it all together is a wonderful Easter reflection:

“The keys of death were hung on the inside of Christ’s tomb. From the outside, Christ could do many wonderful works, including raising a twelve-year-old girl and two men from the dead—only to die again (Mark 5:41-42; Luke 7:14-15; John 11:43-44). If any were to be raised from the dead, never to die again, Christ would have to die for them, enter the tomb, take the keys, and unlock the door of death from the inside.

The resurrection of Jesus is God’s gift and proof that his death was completely successful in blotting out the sins of his people and removing the wrath of God. You can see this in the word “therefore.” Christ was “obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him” (Philippians 2:8 -9). From the cross the Son of God cried, “It is finished” (John 19:30). And by means of the resurrection, God the Father cries, “It was finished indeed!” The great work of paying for our sin and providing our righteousness and satisfying God’s justice was finished in the death of Jesus.

Then, in the grave, he had the right and the power to take the keys of death and open the door for all who come to him by faith. If sin is paid for, and righteousness is provided, and justice is satisfied, nothing can keep Christ or his people in the grave. That’s why Jesus shouts, “I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades” (Revelation 1:18).

The Bible rings with the truth that belonging to Jesus means we will be raised from the dead with him. “If we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his” (Romans 6:5). “Since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep” (1 Thessalonians 4:14). “God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power” (1 Corinthians 6:14).

Here’s the connection between Christ’s death and our resurrection: “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law” (1 Corinthians 15:56). Which means, we have all sinned, and the law sentences sinners to everlasting death. But the text continues, “Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (verse 57). In other words, the demand of the law is met by Jesus’ life and death. Therefore, sins are forgiven. Therefore, the sting of sin is removed. Therefore, those who believe in Christ will not be sentenced to everlasting death, but will “be raised imperishable . . . then shall come to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory’” (1 Corinthians 15:52, 54). Be astonished, and come to Christ. He invites you: “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live” (John 11:25). ”

-John Piper, Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came To Die, 100-101

Advertisements

What John Piper has to say to Michael Bloomberg

Michael Bloomberg, the three-time New York City mayor, is starting a gun advocacy group with a jump-start of $50 million dollars of his own money.  His hope is that his investment will make the US a safer place, getting guns out of the hands of the ‘wrong’ people. What’s most telling is this well-reported comment he made about the merits of his contribution:

I am telling you, if there is a God, when I get to heaven I’m not stopping to be interviewed. I am heading straight in. I have earned my place in heaven. It’s not even close.

Seems like full-on Pelagianism is still alive and well. What would John Piper say to the former New York City mayor? I think this extended quote tells us exactly the approach he would take:

“What a folly it is to think that our good deeds may one day outweigh our bad deeds. It is folly for two reasons.

First, it is not true. Even our good deeds are defective, because we don’t honor God in the way we do them. Do we do our good deeds in joyful dependence on God with a view to making known his supreme worth? Do we fulfill the overarching command to serve people “by the strength that God supplies— in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 4:11)?

What then shall we say in response to God’s word, “Whatever does not proceed from faith is sin” (Romans 14:23)? I think we shall say nothing. “Whatever the law says it speaks . . . so that every mouth may be stopped” (Romans 3:19). We will say nothing. It is folly to think that our good deeds will outweigh our bad deeds before God.

Without Christ-exalting faith, our deeds will signify nothing but rebellion.

The second reason it is folly to hope in good deeds is that this is not the way God saves. If we are saved from the consequences of our bad deeds, it will not be because they weighed less than our good deeds. It will be because the “record of [our] debt” in heaven has been nailed to the cross of Christ. God has a totally different way of saving sinners than by weighing their deeds. There is no hope in our deeds. There is only hope in the suffering and death of Christ.

There is no salvation by balancing the records. There is only salvation by canceling records. The record of our bad deeds (including our defective good deeds), along with the just penalties that each deserves, must be blotted out—not balanced. This is what Christ suffered and died to accomplish.

The cancellation happened when the record of our deeds was “nailed to the cross” (Colossians 2:13). How was this damning record nailed to the cross? Parchment was not nailed to the cross. Christ was. So Christ became my damning record of bad (and good) deeds. He endured my damnation. He put my salvation on a totally different footing. He is my only hope. And faith in him is my only way to God.”

-John Piper, Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die, 52-53

Edwards and Piper on God’s Glory and Man’s Joy

Jonathan Edwards wrote:

God in seeking his glory seeks the good of his creatures, because the emanation of his glory . . . implies the . . . happiness of his creatures. And in communicating his fullness for them, he does it for himself, because their good, which he seeks, is so much in union and communion with himself. God is their good. Their excellency and happiness is nothing but the emanation and expression of God’s glory. God, in seeking their glory and happiness, seeks himself, and in seeking himself, i.e. himself diffused . . . he seeks their glory and happiness.

Thus it is easy to conceive how God should seek the good of the creature . . . even his happiness, from a supreme regard to himself; as his happiness arises from . . . the creature’s exercising a supreme regard to God . . . in beholding God’s glory, in esteeming and loving it, and rejoicing in it.

God’s respect to the creature’s good, and his respect to himself, is not a divided respect; but both are united in one, as the happiness of the creature aimed at is happiness in union with himself.

In his book, God’s Passion for His Glory: Living the Vision of Jonathan Edwards (which includes the complete text of Edwards’ The End for Which God Created the World), John Piper offers fifteen implications from Edwards’ words above

  1. God’s passion for his own glory and his passion for my joy in him are not at odds.
  2. Therefore, God is as committed to my eternal and ever-increasing joy in him as he is to his own glory.
  3. The love of God for sinners is not his making much of them, but his graciously freeing and empowering them to enjoy making much of him.
  4. All true virtue among human beings must aim at bringing people to rejoice in the glory of God.
  5. It also follows that sin is the suicidal exchange of the glory of God for the broken cisterns of created things.
  6. Heaven will be a never-ending, ever-increasing discovery of more and more of God’s glory with greater and ever-greater joy in him.
  7. Hell is unspeakably real, conscious, horrible and eternal – the experience in which God vindicates the worth of his glory in holy wrath on those who would not delight in what is infinitely glorious.
  8. Evangelism means depicting the beauty of Christ and his saving work with a heartfelt urgency of love that labors to help people find their satisfaction in him.
  9. Similarly Christian preaching, as part of the corporate worship of Christ’s church, is an expository exultation over the glories of God in his word, designed to lure God’s people from the fleeting pleasures of sin into the sacrificial path of obedient satisfaction in him.
  10. The essence of authentic, corporate worship is the collective experience of heartfelt satisfaction in the glory of God, or a trembling that we do not have it and a great longing for it.
  11. World missions is a declaration of the glories of God among all the unreached peoples, with a view to gathering worshippers who magnify God through the gladness of radically obedient lives.
  12. Prayer is calling on God for help so it is plain that he is gloriously resourceful and we are humbly and happily in need of grace.
  13. The task of Christian scholarship is to study reality as a manifestation of God’s glory, to speak about it with accuracy, and to savor the beauty of God in it.
  14. The way to magnify God in death is by meeting death as gain.
  15. “It is a Christian duty, as you know, for everyone to be as happy as he can.” (C. S. Lewis)

The Person of Christ: The Coalescence of Contrarieties

Jonathan Edwards taught:

In Jesus Christ…meet infinite highness and infinite condescension; infinite justice and infinite grace; infinite glory and lowest humility; infinite majesty and transcendent meekness; deepest reverence toward God and equality with God; worthiness of good and the greatest patience under the suffering of evil; a great spirit of obedience and supreme dominion over heaven and earth; absolute sovereignty and perfect resignation; self-sufficiency and an entire trust and reliance on God.

John Piper, The Pleasures of God

Salvation in the Gospel of John

John Piper summarizing the theme of redemption in the Gospel of John:

We can sum up this great salvation from John’s Gospel with the following steps: all that the Father has chosen to be his, he has given to the Son (17:6); and all whom he has given to the Son, the Son knows (10:4) and calls (10:3); and all whom he calls, know him (10:14) and recognize his voice (10:4-5) and come to him (6:37) and follow him (10:27); and the sun lays down his life for the sheep (10:11, 15); and to all for whom he dies he gives eternal life (10:28) and keeps them in the Father’s word (17:6), so that none is lost (6:39) or snatched out of his hand (10:28), but is raised up at the last day (6:39) to glorify the Son forever (17:10). This is why the Father has pleasure in election. It is indestructible foundation for an infallible salvation that redounds in the end to the glory of the Father and the Son.”

– John Piper, The Pleasures of God: Meditations on God’s Delight in Being God, 140

Heartfelt Satisfaction in the Glory of God

John Piper in God’s Passion for His Glory captures the awe of being in, and longing for, God’s presence in genuine worship. Note that what Piper focuses on is not mere external forms but our heart’s orientation toward our Creator and Savior:

The essence of authentic, corporate worship is the collective experience of heartfelt satisfaction in the glory of God, or a trembling that we do not have it and a great longing for it. Worship is for the sake of magnifying God, not ourselves, and God is magnified in us when we are satisfied in him. Therefore, the unchanging essence of worship (not the outward forms which do change) is heartfelt satisfaction in the glory of God, the trembling when we do not have it and the longing for it.

The basic movement of worship on Sunday morning is not to come with our hands full to give to God, as though he needed anything (Acts 7:25), but to come with our hands empty, to receive from God. And what we receive in worship is the fullness of God, not the feelings of entertainment. We ought to come hungry for God. We should come saying, “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God” (Ps. 42:1-2). God is mightily honored when a people know that they will die of hunger and thirst unless they have God. (God’s Passion for His Glory, pp. 40-41)

For more, see:

John Piper on Thinking Christianly

From Desiring God:

Right thinking about God exists for the sake of right feeling for God. This was the main point of John Piper’s Friday night message, “Think Christ,” at the Hirten Konferenz in Bonn, Germany.

Expanding upon Thursday night’s message, “Feel Christ,” Piper said that being satisfied in God will not glorify God if our satisfaction in God is not based on right thinking.

Piper gave 10 arguments for the indispensible role of right thinking and right knowing in the life of the Christian:

  1. It is possible to have strong feelings and be lost if the feelings are not based on knowledge (Romans 10:1-2).
  2. God has planned that thinking about the Bible is the means he uses to give understanding (2 Timothy 2:7).
  3. Paul is given as an example of reasoning with the Bible (Acts 17:2-3).
  4. Jesus assumes and requires that we will use logic in understanding both what is natural and what is spiritual (Luke 12:54-57).
  5. Jesus refuses to deal with people who use their reason to conceal truth (Matthew 21:23-27).
  6. Thirteen times in Paul’s letters, he asks the question, “Do you not know?” Paul assumes that if his readers knew something, they would see things differently, feel differently, and act differently.
  7. The Bible tells us that Christ has given pastors and teachers to the church and tells us that they should be apt to teach—because God intends that the Bible be explained to ordinary folks who don’t have the time or ability to go as deep as God wants them to go. Christ would not have given teachers to the church if he thought they were not needed.
  8. The Bible declares that we should proclaim the whole council of God (Acts 20:27). That implies that there is a coherent unified whole, a body of doctrine, that should be given to the church. It is not easy to find this whole council in a book with 1,500 pages! It’s mainly mental labor. Finding the unified biblical theology that the people need to know takes hard thinking.
  9. The Bible is a book, which means that it must be read.
  10. An example of how thinking and valuing and acting relate to each other is Matthew 7:7-12.

On the final point, John Piper said that thinking is necessary to get meaning from a text and to then present it to others. In particular he pointed to the first word in verse 12.

I read Matthew 7:12 for 25 years before I asked how it relates to the previous verse. Why does verse 12 begin with “so”? Because confidence that God will meet our needs is what frees us to take radical risks in loving other people. “Do unto others . . .” because you know God is going to answer your prayers and take care of you.

God is most glorified in you when you are most satisfied in him. But that satisfaction in God does not glorify him unless it is based on right thinking and right knowing. God is all-satisfying because he’s a Father who gives us everything we truly need. And that kind of deep unshakeable satisfaction in our Father causes us to value things differently than the world. Therefore, we will love our neighbors. Right thinking with right feeling changes our behavior.

For more by Piper on godly thinking, see his Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God.

Why God is not an Idolater

This is my favorite John Piper quote in print. In one fell swoop he both defines God’s righteousness and explains why God is not an idolater:

Is not the essence of righteousness to place supreme value on what is supremely valuable, with all the just actions that follow? And isn’t the opposite of righteousness to set our highest affections on things of little or no worth, with all the unjust actions that follow? Thus the righteousness of God is the infinite zeal and joy and pleasure that he has in what is supremely valuable, namely, his own perfection and worth. And if he were ever to act contrary to this eternal passion for his own perfections he would be unrighteous, he would be an idolater.

-John Piper: The Pleasures of God