Entries tagged with “John Piper”.


For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.

Isa. 57:15 KJV

Spirit-empowered renewal is the manifested presence of the kingdom of God in and among his people actively bringing the lost to salvation and the lukewarm to renewed passionate devotion to Christ. Revival is personal heart change: confession, repentance, joy, Spirit-baptism, and gospel-driven evangelism. Revival begins with individuals freshly consecrating their lives to Christ: their renewed passion leads to a corporate restoration of the local church. In short, revival is the restoration of God’s glory to his church.

Revival is about Jesus receiving the glory that he deserves for his sacrifice and rising again. As the old Moravian slogan declares, “May the Lamb that was slain receive the reward of his suffering.” Renewal is the Spirit moving among all peoples: healing, restoring, and delivering. Revival is both a God working sovereignly and the church praying passionately for a fresh wind of the Spirit.

Revival is the sovereign work of God to awaken his people with fresh intensity to the truth and glory of God, the ugliness of sin, the horror of hell, the preciousness of Christ’s atoning work, the wonder of salvation by grace through faith, the urgency of holiness and witness, and the sweetness of worship with God’s people.

John Piper, A Godward Life: Savoring the Supremacy of God in All of Life (Sisters, OR: Multnomah Books, 1997), 111.

Revival, above everything else, is a glorification of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God. It is the restoration of him to the center of the life of the Church. You find this warm devotion, personal devotion, to him.

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Revival(Crossway Books, 1987), 47.

Revival is a renewed conviction of sin and repentance, followed by an intense desire to live in obedience to God. It is giving up one’s will to God in deep humility.

Charles G. Finney

Heart Change Wrought by the Holy Spirit

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

Ezekiel 36:26

He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, [6] whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,

Titus 3:5-6

Regeneration is a change wrought by the Holy Spirit in the heart of a person transforming their motivation from a heart of self-centeredness to a will that is Christ-loving and people-serving. This work of regeneration is released by faith and changes us from hearts of stone, that can only sin, and nothing else, to hearts that serve, love, and sacrifice.

This means that our regeneration is owing to the historical work of Christ. . . . New birth is not a vague spiritual change disconnected from history. It is an objective historical act of the Spirit of God connecting us by faith to the historical, incarnate—the appearing—Lord Jesus, so that the life he now has as the crucified and risen Savior has become our life because we are united to him. New birth happens because Jesus came into the world as the kindness and love of God and died for sins and rose again.

John Piper, Finally Alive: What Happens When We Are Born Again (Christian Focus, 2009), 94.

 

Do All to the Glory of God 

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

1 Cor. 10: 31 ESV

“Glorify,” means to clothe God in splendor by those who recognize their victory in the Cross, their triumph in the resurrection, and their restoration in the ascension. To glorify is to give the reverence, awe and honor in worship to God for his excellencies and praiseworthiness. We glorify God when we find the Lord beautiful for what he is in himself.

In the difficulties of life, the righteous choices we make and the Christ-like attitude that we maintain gives praise to the holy God we serve. This manifested presence is the person and work of the Holy Spirit magnifying Jesus. To glorify God is to recognize God’s presence in our lives while yielding to his Lordship in utter dependence on his grace.

The chief end of man is to glorify God. And it is truer in suffering than anywhere else that God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.

John Piper, Desiring God: Meditations of Christian Hedonist (Sisters, OR: Multnomah, 2003), 288.

 

 

Forgive If He (or She) Repents

So watch yourselves. “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.”

Luke 17:3-4 NIV

Forgiveness is a controversial subject in today’s psychologized world. You would not think it would be, but it is. Two views of forgiveness are predominant: therapeutic or biblical.

The modern therapeutic approach states that we are obligated to forgive even if the person who wounded us shows no remorse over their actions. It is said that as Christians, we must automatically forgive every offense. Modern psychology says that forgiveness is about releasing the anger caused by the unjust action, letting go of the resentment caused by the emotional pain, and eliminating the desire for tit-for-tat retribution. Forgiveness is privatized and personalized. Forgiveness is about resolving our internal conflicts and dealing with our negative feelings over others’ hurtful actions.

The biblical view of forgiveness is different. Yes, we should maintain an attitude of forgiveness no matter who it is or what they have done and we should give to God our pain and disappointment. But primarily, forgiveness is about two parties. Forgiveness is about releasing the debt caused by others’ sinful actions. The Bible speaks of sin creating a debt and a forgiveness which releases that individual from that specific debt (Matt 6:12). Forgiveness given is dependent on repentance offered. Forgiveness is not just about me and my feelings, but it is also about the offending party’s relationship with God and their acceptance of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Forgiving in this privatized, automatic kind of way has become far less than what the Gospel requires . . . . Automatic forgiveness packs unforgiveness. It redefines forgiveness as far less than what it means biblically. It hardens hearts with bitterness, isolation, and pessimism. In contrast, conditional forgiveness centers on the Cross. It offers the Gospel to all, recognizes that because of Christ any offender can be forgiven, believes that all relationships can be redeemed, and rests knowing that justice will be served.

Chris Brauns, “Packing Forgiveness” reformation21 website (August 2009).

Biblical forgiveness is a conditional: forgiveness is released dependent on true repentance (Luke 17:3-4). Christians are called to forgive others as God has forgiven us (Matt 6:12; Eph. 4:32). By example, God forgives those who confess their sins and repent of their actions (1 John 1:9). The forgiveness of God is not unconditional: God requires faith and repentance. Like God, we should be ready to offer forgiveness to all, yet also require genuine remorse and a change in behavior. Therefore, we should only forgive those who truly repent and look to the Cross for grace and help in their time of moral failure (cf. Psalm 51:4).

One last observation remains: forgiveness of an unrepentant person doesn’t look the same as forgiveness of a repentant person.

In fact I am not sure that in the Bible the term forgiveness is ever applied to an unrepentant person. Jesus said in Luke 17:3-4, “Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.” So there’s a sense in which full forgiveness is only possible in response to repentance.

But even when a person does not repent (cf. Matthew 18:17), we are commanded to love our enemy and pray for those who persecute us and do good to those who hate us (Luke 6:27).

The difference is that when a person who wronged us does not repent with contrition and confession and conversion (turning from sin to righteousness), he cuts off the full work of forgiveness. We can still lay down our ill will; we can hand over our anger to God; we can seek to do him good; but we cannot carry through reconciliation or intimacy.

John Piper, “As We Forgive Our Debtors” Desiring God website.

Modern psychology defines forgiveness narrowly as the personal release of anger and resentment. However, Biblical teaching combines both a heart of forgiveness with the release of the debt of sin. Biblical forgiveness is public between two or more persons and is released under the shadow of the Cross.

Grudge-bearing and a clenched-fist refusal to grant forgiveness to the repentant knows nothing of the mercy and grace of God in the gospel and has no acceptable place in the household of God. Likewise, profligate forgiveness without repentance knows little of the gravity of sin’s offense to God and the eternal anguish Christ suffered on account of sin and must be purged from Christ’s people.

We debase the cross of Christ by petty refusal to forgive the sins of those who repent, but we also debase and cheapen the death of of Christ by unprincipled granting of forgiveness to individuals who remain unrepentant for sins they have committed against us. We prize the cross and live out the gospel when we bestow forgiveness of sins only to those who confess and repent and when we do not diminish the grace of forgiveness by granting it to the unrepentant but instead beckon them to repent lest they perish.

A. B. Caneday, “A Biblical Primer and Grammar on the Forgiveness of Sin”

Conclusion: As Christians, we should always have an attitude of forgiveness, but having this attitude this does not mean that we automatically forgive (i.e., release the debt of sin). The release of forgiveness is dependent on true repentance.

Word and Spirit

Teach me, LORD, the way of your decrees, that I may follow it to the end.

Psalm 119:33

Bible meditation is the diligent and careful consideration of God’s Word for the purpose of growing in the knowledge of God and for the obtaining of practical holiness. The believer uses his or her own rational abilities combined with Spirit-led illumination and heart-felt participation to engage God’s Spirit-inspired Word. We study the Bible to learn God’s ways, grow into God’s character, and learn God’s commands.

God has ordained that the eye-opening work of his Spirit always be combined with the mind-informing work of his Word.

John Piper, A Godward Life, Book Two (Sisters, OR: Multnomah Press, 1999), 184.

I seek the will of the Spirit of God through, or in connection with, the Word of God. The Spirit and the Word must be combined. If I look to the Spirit alone without the Word, I lay myself open to great delusions. If the Holy Spirit guides us, He will do it according to the Scriptures and never contrary to them.

George Muller, http://www.mullers.org/ .

Motive For Mission

For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

1 Tim. 2:3-4 NKJV

Christian mission is the divine call to share the good news of Jesus Christ, the story of his life, miracles, death, and resurrection, to the world by establishing churches in different cultures, locations, and language groups. Missions should be a joy not a burden to the believer. Missions means lives knowing and experiencing the love, joy, and peace of Christ: they are no longer miserable. Missions means pleasing God’s heart by sharing the truth of his Son to those whose need is greater than they know.

Missions is calling the world to do what they were created to do, namely, to enjoy making much of God forever. If missions does not reach a people with the gospel of the glory of God in the face of Christ, God will be dishonored and the people will be miserable—forever. Therefore we are driven by two motives (which turn out to be one): the glory of God, and the good of man. They are one because praise to God is the consummation of pleasure in God.

John Piper, “Everlasting Truth for the Joy of All Peoples

The Destructiveness of Self-Pity

[Elijah] said, “I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.

1 Kings 19:10

Self-pity is feeling sorry for oneself: a pathetic state of self-absorption. Self-pity is an individual’s own belief that they are a victim of pernicious circumstances and hostile people: “no one’s life is as hard as mine.” Christians walking in self-pity long for attention, condolences, and admiration for their “unbearable suffering.” Christians experiencing self-pity want their wounded ego to be massaged by others: see my sacrifice, see my suffering, see my heroic efforts, etc. Self-pity is smashed when we see our Savior’s sufferings and recognize that in a fallen world no one is immune from pain and disappointment.

The nature and depth of human pride are illuminated by comparing boasting with self-pity. Both are manifestations of pride. Boasting is the response of pride to success. Self-pity is the response of pride to suffering. Boasting says, “I deserve admiration because I have achieved so much.” Self-pity says, “I deserve admiration because I have sacrificed so much.” Boasting is the voice of pride in the heart of the strong. Self-pity is the voice of pride in the heart of the weak. Boasting sounds self-sufficient. Self-pity sounds self-sacrificing.

The reason self-pity does not look like pride is that it appears to be needy. But the need arises from a wounded ego, and the desire of the self-pitying is not really for others to see them as helpless, but as heroes. The need self-pity feels does not come from a sense of unworthiness, but from a sense of unrecognized worthiness. It is the response of unapplauded pride.

John Piper, Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist (Sisters, OR: Multnomah, 1996), 250.

. . . by Trusting Christ’s Enabling Grace.

He it is who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds.

Titus 2:14 NRSV

Good works cannot produce or achieve right standing before God. However, a faith-filled salvation will produce many good works. Good works are the fruit of salvation, not its cause or basis. Good works flow from Christ’s grace enabling us to say, “yes,” to God and, “no,” to ungodliness.

Justification is by faith alone, but not by a faith that is alone. Good works can be described as the fruit of faith. A biblical expectation of redemption is living in a godly manner. There is no place in the Christian life for claiming a “born from above” experience while giving no evidence of a changed life. A changed life is a life that allows Christ to live in and through us (1 John 4:9).

Good works are not produced by the Christian, but good works are borne in the life of the Christian by the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). We are fruit-bearers not fruit-producers: enabling grace works out the life of Christ in us.

Good works, or deeds, display to the world the changed heart that Christ has created (Matt. 7:15-20). Faith in the finished work of Christ expresses itself in deeds done for God and others. Therefore, good works are the fruit of faith, they follow after justification, they are evidence of a changed heart, and therefore flow from a life changed by the Cross.

The biblical call to endure in faith and obedience is a call to trust the Christ-purchased, empowering grace of God. God’s grace is first the gift of pardon and imputed righteousness; then it is the gift of power to fight the good fight and to overflow in good deeds. Christ died to purchase both redeeming pardon and transforming power: “[Christ] gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works” (Titus 2:14).

Therefore, all our ability to endure to the end in good works is a gift of grace. This is what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 9:8: “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” Grace abounds to us so that we may abound in good works. It is our work, yes, but enabled by his grace.

John Piper, The Roots of Endurance (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2002), 27.

The Covenant of Joy

This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant.

Hebrews 7:22

Next week will be my fifteenth anniversary as an ordained presbyter in the Charismatic Episcopal Church (C.E.C.). I have been blessed by God to preach most Sundays during those same years. I love preaching and one of my favorite topics is the blessings of the new covenant (Heb. 7:22). The New Covenant gives me a unsurpassed security in my relationship with the Lord: I do not have to fear being rejected, discarded, or ignored by God. The new covenant gives me and you a security that no other person, document, or event can provide.

What makes the New Covenant better than the Old? The New Covenant secures the promise of an indwelling Holy Spirit who by his mighty power will produce an obedient and holy people of God. In the New Covenant, God promises that he will keep us by his divine power, therefore we need never to fear losing our salvation (Eph. 1:13-14).

The new covenant is an eternal binding promise that God in Christ will love each believer and never let them go (John 10:25-30, Isa. 49:15-16). The new covenant is God’s promise that he will pursue us and woo us and guide us and change us so that we as believers will follow him all the days of our lives (Jer. 32:38-41). Not only does God commit himself to keep us, but he places his Holy Spirit in us as a seal to the deal. The Holy Spirit becomes a deposit guaranteeing our final salvation upon the Second Coming of Jesus (2 Cor. 1: 18-22). Therefore, we need no longer to be sin-conscious, self-conscious, or performance-conscious, we are now free to be fully conscious of Christ and all the benefits he has provided for us in the Cross (Eph. 1:3).

Here we have arrived at the central mystery of living the Christian life. Christ has died for our sins and risen from the dead. Because of his blood and righteousness we are forgiven and counted righteous by God in Christ (2 Cor. 5:21; Phil. 3:9; Rom. 5:19). Therefore, Christ has become the Yes to all God’s promises (2 Cor. 1:20). Everything promised by the prophets for the new covenant has been purchased for us infallibly by Christ. These new-covenant promises include, “The LORD your God will circumcise your heart . . . so that you will love the LORD your God with all your heart” (Deut. 30:6); and, “I will put my law within them . . . on their hearts” (Jer. 31:33); and, “I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh” (Ezek.11:19); and, “I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes” (Ezek. 36:27).

All of these new-covenant promises have been secured for us by Christ who said at the Last Supper, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood” (Luke 22:20). The blood of Christ obtained for us all the promises of the new covenant. But look again at these promises. What distinguishes them from the old covenant is that they are promises for enablement. They are promises that God will do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. We need a new heart to delight in God. We need the Spirit of God whose fruit is joy in God. We need to have the law written on our heart, not just written on stone, so that when it says, “Love the Lord with all your heart,” the Word itself produces the reality within us. In other words, we need the gift of joy in God. Left to ourselves, we will not produce it. That’s what Christ bought for us when he died and shed the blood of the new covenant. He bought for us the gift of joy in God.

John Piper, When I Don’t Desire God: How to Fight for Joy (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2004), 52.

Study the Word of God

Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen

Collect for Proper 28, 1979 Book of Common Prayer

During this season of Advent, we renew our commitment to read God’s word faithfully and diligent in the coming Christian year. We recognize that our growth in Christ is contingent on faithfully reading, consistently meditating, and diligently practicing God’s revealed will in Holy Scripture (Psalm 119: 97-104).

Bible study and meditation is the diligent and careful consideration of God’s Word for the purpose of growing in the knowledge of salvation and in personal, practical holiness. We use own rational abilities combined with Spirit-led illumination and heart-felt participation to engage God’s Spirit-inspired Word. We study the Bible to learn God’s ways, grow into God’s character, and obey God’s commands (2 Tim. 3:16). “God has ordained that the eye-opening work of his Spirit always be combined with the mind-informing work of his Word.” [John Piper, A Godward Life, Book Two (Sisters, OR: Multnomah Press, 1999), 184].

Let us arm ourselves with a thorough knowledge of the Word of God. Let us read our Bibles more diligently than ever, and become familiar with every part of them. Let the Word dwell in us richly. Let us beware of anything which would make us give less time and less heart to the perusal of its sacred pages. The Bible is the sword of the Spirit – let it never be laid aside. The Bible is the true lantern for a dark and cloudy time – let us beware of traveling without its light.”

J.C. Ryle, Warnings to the Churches, “Idolatry”, 167.

HT: J.C. Ryle Quotes