It was good for me to hear this today.
Archives For John Piper
What does it mean to say that someone is totally depraved? In short it means that humanity is dead in sin. We are neither willing nor able to merit God’s favor by acts of righteousness for we are all unrighteous (Rom. 3:10-19, 23; Eph. 2:1-3; Col. 1:21; Tit. 3:3). This does not mean that people cannot do any good things–there is relative good (i.e. helping the old lady across the street)—however, we cannot and do not do good things before God apart from Christ. As the Heidelberg Catechism says, we by nature are prone to hate God and neighbor, and daily increase our debt.
I have noticed that many people speak of depravity in terms of what we do. In explaining depravity of man they talk of homosexuality, murder, slander, etc. I don’t think this is helpful. Instead of speaking first of what we do we should instead speak of who we are. We are depraved, therefore we do sinful things.
I recently visited with a friend who is in his mid 60’s and has pastored Reformed Baptist churches for decades. He talked to me about how encouraged he is about the resurgence of Calvinism in the church today, particularly among the young people. He cited the preaching, the books being published, the websites, and the conferences. With glistening eyes he said, “Back in the 80’s when we’d go to Banner (of Truth) conferences we would never have imagined a day like this in our lifetime.”
We are living in something of an ecclesiological bizzaro world where Calvinism is wildly popular. But I want to make a distinction: Calvinism is popular but it is not sexy. Just because something is enjoying appeal among an admittedly increasing amount of people does not mean it is universally appealing.
This is so good. It captures so much of what my and so many other hearts longs for. Thank you John Piper for stirring us once again to supremely treasure God in all of life.
Yesterday I enjoyed the privilege of getting an MRI. It is not my first experience with the acronym. Each time it becomes a bit of a sanctifying experience.
Prior to the procedure I answered extensive questions to ensure that I was not embedded with anything that might be magnetic. They wanted to validate that I was safely alone in the room. As the procedure began I learned what it would feel like to be trapped inside of a jack-hammer. In time the incessent pinging became almost melodic and strangely soothing.
Recently I was able to sit on a panel for a discussion among some local church planters. One of the questions was, “What are you most concerned about with the gospel-centered movement?”
Before expressing any concern I want to be clear: I am very encouraged by the recovery of the center, the gospel, among many, particularly younger evangelicals. This is essential for us at this hour.
At the same time I have a cause for concern. My chief concern is not primarily a matter of theology but hermeneutics (the art and science of interpretation).
I recently came across this quote from John Piper. He is talking about loving covenant faithfulness between God and his people.
This pledge God has made to his people is unbreakable. No famine or death can break it. I saw it in a parable. I was visiting some of our elderly people in a nursing home. I got on the elevator with a woman in a wheelchair who was old, misshapen, and confused. Her head wobbled meaninglessly and she uttered senseless sounds. Her mouth hung open. Then I noticed that a well-dressed man, perhaps in his mid-sixties, was pushing her chair. I wondered who he was. Then as we all got off the elevator, I heard him say, “Watch your feet, Sweetie-pie.”
Sweetie-pie. As I walked to the car, I thought . . .if a marriage covenant between a man and a woman produces that kind of fidelity and commitment and affection under those circumstances, then surely under the great and merciful terms of the New Covenant, sealed with the blood of his Son (Luke 22:20), God has no difficulty calling you and me (sinful and sick as we are) sweet names. And if he does, there is no truth more unshakable in all the world than this: For them and for us, the best is yet to come. God is at work in the darkest times—for our good and Christ’s glory. He will see to it that the glory of his Son fills the earth and that in him we find everlasting joy. –John Piper, A Sweet and Bitter Providence, pp. 122-123
Have you wondered why the Bible repeatedly emphasizes faith as the means by which we receive justification? John Piper begins to walk down this road and think it through in this helpful quote:
“To get at the nature of that faith, it is helpful to ponder why faith alone justifies. Why not love, or some other virtuous disposition? Here’s the way J. Gresham Machen answers this question in his 1925 book What Is Faith? ‘The true reason why faith is given such an exclusive place by the New Testament, so far as the attainment of salvation is concerned, over against love and over against everything else in man . . . is that faith means receiving something, not doing something or even being something. To say, therefore, that our faith saves us means that we do not save ourselves even in slightest measure, but that God saves us.’
In other words, we are justified by faith alone, and not by love, because God intends to make it crystal clear that he does the decisive saving outside of us, and that the person and work of Christ are the sole ground of our acceptance with God.” –John Piper, Think! The Life of the Mind and the Love of God
Imagine this scene: you are enjoying an evening dinner party at your home. All of a sudden a mouse scurries accross the floor parting the room like the Red Sea. The men jump up on their chairs and begin screaming for someone to get the intruder. One of the ladies puts down her appetizer plate and calmly grabs the broom and corals the little varmint. The disaster has been averted.
Is there anything wrong with this scene?
There is everything wrong with it. We all know that the guys in this story need some remedial classes at The Art of Manliness. They have some dereliction of gender issues.
One valuable tool that we as Christians have is the testimony of the saints who have gone before us. Their lives encourage and refresh us (and many times convict us too). This is why believers should make a priority of familiarizing themselves with faithful saints throughout church history.
At the same time, this is a bit of a daunting task. There are a lot of books written about a lot of people. Where do you start?
In this post I want to highlight some ‘entry-level’ biographies. There are definitely some more in-depth books written that are worth their weight in gold, but that is for another post. This post is for those of us wading into the pool of Christian biographies.
When I think about contemporary evangelical leaders and their impact on the church I can scarcely think of two more prominent figures than D.A. Carson and John Piper. Both have a multi-generational, expanding swath of reach. They seem to be getting better and stronger with age.
For me personally, I can sometimes hear these men over my shoulder banging the drum of the beauty and supremacy of Jesus and his gospel. I love that about them.
This is why it is always interesting to hear them talk. In this occassion they are talking about the roles of pastor and scholar. In particular the way the pastor should be a scholar and the scholar a pastor. The book here puts in print an evening with Carson and Piper following the 2009 Gospel Coalition Conference in Chicago. I was in attendence that night and listened carefully as Drs Piper and Carson talked about their respective paths in ministry. It was encouraging, refreshing and interesting.
I am grateful to have had the opportunity to have quite a few jobs in my relatively young life. The experiences are truly life-shaping. However, there really is nothing like pastoral ministry. One aspect of its uniqueness is the amount of talk from within the camp of what we as pastors are to be doing. This is interesting because the job description is pretty simple: lead, feed, and protect the sheep. Pastors are to give themselves to the word and to prayer.
This is simple. This is hard.
Therefore, as a pastor, I really appreciate when quality books come my way and add to the discussion of the subject of preaching. They are oftentimes my favorite books to read. In particular, I love reading of how other preachers do what they do. I love reading how they expound the priority and practice of preaching. It is refreshing and instructive.
I have been both refreshed and instructed by Feed My Sheep: A Passionate Plea for Preaching. The book has contributions from Mohler, Sproul, Piper, and MacArthur (among others). As you might expect, it is a very helpful reminder and instruction into the priority of preaching.
A helpful, big picture reminder for preachers:
What does a pastoral heart of wisdom do when it discovers that death is sure, that life is short, and that suffering is inevitable and necessary?
The answer is given two verses later in Psalm 90. It is a prayer: “Have pity on your servants! Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days” (vv. 13b-14, ESV).
In the face of toil, trouble, suffering, and death, the wise preacher cries out with the psalmist, “Satisfy us in the morning with Your steadfast love.” He prays this both for himself and for his people: “0 God, grant that we would be satisfied with Your steadfast love always, and need nothing else”-and then he preaches to that end.
At the risk of distracting you from what you are doing, I think this is a worthwhile video to watch.
It is vintage Piper. It’s what I love about him. He starts off so, “aw shucksy” with “This is an iPhone. I mean you can do anything with this.” And then ends so “Ehud-y” with, “I have a message from God for you! Piper being Piper. He then transitions to a story about a dying friend who did not care a lick about an iPhone. “The fog had blown away.”
This is a helpful 2 minutes to spend today if it means that it prevents you from a distracted day, or life. (rss readers may have to click through)
(ht: Sojourning Pastor)
I found this stream of thought convicting and instructive today:
Byron Yawn writes, in Well-Driven Nails,
I’m not often accused of misrepresenting the truth. This is not to suggest that I am right one hundred percent of the time. No one is. There’s always room for clarification and adjustment. More often than not, however, I land somewhere near the center in my interpretation and explanation. But I have inadvertently ‘lied about the value of the gospel’ by my demeanor behind the pulpit. I can just as easily distort the truth by how I say it. (p. 112)
To make this point Yawn quotes John Piper:
Oh brothers, do not lie about the value of he gospel by the dullness of your demeanor. Exposition of the most glorious reality is a glorious reality. If it is not expository exultation–authentic, from the heart–something false is being said about the value of the Gospel. Don’t say by your face, or by your voice, or by your life that the Gospel is not the Gospel of the all-satisfying glory of Christ. It is. –John Piper (from Preaching the Cross)
Without being phony pastors should investigate not only what they are saying but how they are saying to ensure that we are being real.
This inspection is always a gospel inspection that gets us back to not only what we believe but what we treasure.
This audio clip is kindly provided by pastor and author Byron Yawn. You may recall that I recently reviewed Byron’s bookWell-Driven Nails: The Power of Finding Your Own Voice. Byron interviewed John MacArthur, R.C. Sproul, & John Piper about preaching.
This audio clip is from John Piper. It is some bonus material that is not in the book. Byron is talking with John Piper about a freedom from self-consciousness while preaching. In other words, getting out of the way and being the conduit we are supposed to be. In the interview we have this nugget from Piper:
“Preaching has reached its ideal moment when I have seen and perceived that I am experiencing what I see about the greatness of God in this text and loving it.”
Byron’s book has a lot more to say about this including his own personal wrestling with preaching. It’s a very helpful read.
Here’s the audio (click the audio + sign):
I have enjoyed John Piper’s newest book Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God. He hits on the relationship of the mind to the heart in this quote below and the danger of coming to Jesus for the wrong reasons.
Piper is saying (correctly I believe) that a weak and dim subjective experience may well indicate a lackluster (perhaps even false) reception of the objective truth. People may be coming to Jesus for the wrong reasons and therefore they have the wrong affections, or responses to him. The Christian experience is interpreted and driven by the objective revelation. We treasure Christ because we know Christ. If we don’t know him, we cannot treasure him.
This is a great word to younger, seemingly hungry God-centered guys. Piper stands prophetically on the street corner and is asking questions. He sees the ‘loose wires’ and is basically asking, “What is up with that?” (in his folksy Piper-ish way). I like it because I see and hate the disconnect in my own life. I think we do well to listen to the wise, loving observation of this brother.
(ht: Justin Taylor)
Sometimes you are reading along a quote trips you up a bit like an unsuspecting rock on a trail. The trail, like the subjects here, are well familiar; but it is the way it is laid out and reasoned that causes me to pause, think, and examine myself.
Author Stephen Nichols quotes John Piper here. At issue is a potential mis-step in the radical ‘God-centeredness’ that seems to be so popular. In short: are we God-centered because we love God or ourselves.
“I believe that if we are God-centered simply because we consciously or unconsciously believe God is man-centered, then our God-centeredness is in reality man-centeredness. Teaching God’s God-centeredness forces the issue of whether we treasure God because of his excellence or mainly because he endorses us.”
And Stephen Nichols adds: “It could be easy to be driven by God-centered means to accomplish human-centered ends. Piper, drawing heavily as he does on Edwards, reminds us that God-centered means lead to God-centered ends.”
–Stephen Nichols, chapter 1 in The Glory of God, p. 41
I could go on here, but think the quote is better shared than obscured. No doubt it will reappear at a later time as it is fruitful blog-fodder.