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The center of Christianity…is the dishonorable, foolish, gruesome, and utterly glorious reality of the tortured God-Man, Jesus Christ. More and more, He must become the issue. Not a vague, comfortable, pleasant Jesus that everybody likes but the one who is a “stumbling block” to Jews and “foolishness” to Gentiles. The closer you get to what makes Christianity ghastly, the closer you get to what makes it glorious.
-John Piper, Brothers, We Are Not Professionals, xi.
Do I hate sin because of its offense to God, or the offense it does to me? The answer to that question is massive. In contemplating over that answer I was reminded of this quote,
We are transformed into Christ’s image—that’s what sanctification is—by steadfast seeing and savoring of the glory of Christ…The work of the Holy Spirit in changing us is not to work directly on our bad habits but to make us admire Jesus Christ so much that sinful habits feel foreign and distasteful.
-John Piper, God is the Gospel, p 91-92.
The needed focus of my eyes and heart is clear—Jesus Christ. Not my sins. Focusing on my sins puts me in the center where the central thing I worry about is sin consequences to me. Instead, my central focus should be the glory of Christ so that He is center. And with that focus comes the killing of sin.
Sunday is the anniversary of the infamous Roe vs. Wade case which legalized abortions in this nation. We should not let the years gone by numb us to the reality that has happened and is presently happening because of this. We should always stand firm and openly state the facts about the atrocity known as abortion.
Suppose you are in a car race and your enemy, who doesn’t want you to finish the race, throws mud on your windshield. The fact that you temporarily lose sight of your goal and start to swerve, does not mean that you are going to quit the race. And it certainly doesn’t mean that you are on the wrong race track. Otherwise the enemy wouldn’t bother you at all. What it means is that you should turn on your windshield wipers and use your windshield washer.
When anxiety strikes and blurs our vision of God’s glory and the greatness of the future that he plans for us, this does not mean that we are faithless, or that we will not make it to heaven. It means our faith is being attacked. At first blow, our belief in God’s promises may sputter and swerve. But whether we stay on track and make it to the finish line depends on whether, by grace, we set in motion a process of resistance—whether we fight back against the unbelief of anxiety. Will we turn on the windshield
wipers and will we use our windshield washer?
. . . The windshield wipers are the promises of God that clear away the mud of unbelief, and the windshield washer fluid is the help of the Holy Spirit. The battle to be freed from sin, as we have seen, is “by the Spirit and by faith in the truth” (2 Thess 2:13). The work of the Spirit and the Word of the truth. These are the great faith builders.
Without the softening work of the Holy Spirit, the wipers of the Word just scrape over the blinding clumps of unbelief. Both are necessary—the Spirit and the Word. We read the promises of God and we pray for the help of his Spirit. And as the windshield clears so that we can see the welfare that God plans for us (Jer 29:11), our faith grows stronger and the swerving anxiety smooths out.
-John Piper, Future Grace (Sisters, OR: Multnomah, 1995), pp. 55, 56
HT: Justin Taylor
This video of Piper speaking at Southern’s Chapel back in 2007 came to my mind recently. Such a good reminder about the target we are shooting for in all our ministries. Whether it be pastoring, meeting someone for lunch, or hanging out with siblings; we have an aim with our work.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
Every heartache has its divine target in the consolation of the saints, even when we feel least useful.
~John Piper, Brothers We Are Not Professionals, p. 140
Some very good words from John Piper on dangers within the gospel centered movement we see happening in the church.
HT: Justin Taylor
There is an impulse in the fallen human heart—all our hearts—to forget that gratitude is a spontaneous response of joy to receiving something over and above what we paid for. When we forget this, what happens is that gratitude starts to be misused and distorted as an impulse to pay for the very thing that came to us “gratis.” This terrible moment is the birthplace of the “debtor’s ethic.” The debtor’s ethic says, “Because you have done something good for me, I feel indebted to do something good for you.” This impulse is not what gratitude was designed to produce. God meant gratitude to be a spontaneous expression of pleasure in the gift and the good will of another. He did not mean it to be an impulse to return favors. If gratitude is twisted into a sense of debt, it gives birth to the debtor’s ethic—and the effect is to nullify grace.
~John Piper, Future Grace, p. 32
Here is the legalistic twist which can happen to gratitude. When grace if offered to us we slyly try to pay it back by doing works of “gratitude.” We see the grace offered to us through the work of Christ, receive it, but then immediately move pay it back. The legalistic habit starts living again. But the habit hides itself under a cloak of “holy gratitude.” We begin telling ourselves that we have to work so much harder in doing good works because Christ gave us so much. Christ’s death becomes a legalistic law which we place ourselves under. The very reversal to what Christ’s death was meant to be!
“but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:14)
They will object: Does not the Old Testament promise that God will prosper his people? Indeed! God increases our yield so that by giving we can prove our yield is not our god. God does not prosper a man’s business so he can move from a Ford to a Cadillac. God prospers a business so that 17,000 unreached peoples can be reached with the gospel. He prospers a business so that twelve percent of the world’s population can move a step back from the precipice of starvation.
~John Piper, Desiring God, p. 198