Wednesday, June 03, 2015

How John Piper Made Me Pause

So thankful that my wife had me block out last Friday night on my calendar weeks ago to attend a "Look at the Book" conference on I Peter taught by Pastor John Piper.

The presentation was excellent and the place was packed- I really enjoyed what John is doing by presenting the written words on the big screen and telestrating the text as he teaches.

I did a blog series on Peter in December of 2011 ( and I am always so appreciably humbled when a pro pulls out of the text powerful truth that I just skipped over!

But that is the beauty of God's Word- it is living and dynamic. How many times have I read 1 Peter? Thousands? Yet the Holy Spirit continues to illumine and teach new stuff over and over- year after year.

I taught literature for 14 years- 5 classes a day- so you can imagine what it was like to read Romeo and Juliet, or Scarlet Letter, or The Great Gatsby 5 times a day, one time through each year, for 14 years.

I memorized long sections without even trying- I often quote the Raven or other passages/lines all the time.

But man's word is nothing like God's Word. I enjoyed each trip through literature, it is fun to teach old things to new people- but I never discovered new stuff- unlike God's Word. Sometimes I read a passage in the Bible and it is like I had never read it before! Endless treasure!

And Piper is a master miner of that gold.

Here are just a few personal points I took away from session 1.

I am an exile... this world is not my home. This seen quite frequently in 1 Peter.

One thing I spent time meditating on is how we mess up this whole sojourner thing....

One extreme is to be too much at home here. Our hearts are tuned like Lot's wife..longing for the world, sad that we cannot have it. And we are swept up in idolatry and destruction.

But there is an opposite extreme as well. We are exiles.... but we should be exiles based on the world rejecting us. We don't self exile... that is detachment. Yes, you can be in the world and love the world.... but it is equally fruitless to be totally absent from the world.

Jesus had the the world, but not of the world.

The key is to understand the perspective- when we are cast out because of our alliance with Jesus, we have no need to grieve- we are awaiting the good stuff to come where we will be welcomed with open arms by the King of All.

Prepared to Die, Willing to Suffer, but Strangely Joyful in the Fire.

Am I willing to stand so firmly in the gospel and the truth of God's Word that I would die for it?
Oh I'd like to think so!
Bu how many times do I shrink back from sharing the gospel for fear of rejection?

Ransomed from futile ways...

This section made me wipe away tears.

Piper said it like this- my gospel inheritance is kept for me by God's power and grace AND my faith is guarded for that reward by the same power and grace. It is kept for me and I am kept for it!

And the price? The precious blood of Jesus... more valuable than silver and gold!

That kind of valuable and precious ransom bought me so I could be brought AWAY from all my futile ways!

Mind Impacting Emotions

How do we obey Biblical commands to feel?

Piper makes a strong case that a transformed MIND impacts the heart. The mind is given for the sake of the heart.

Yes, there are some days where my cold dead heart just says stuff out of ritual and routine... but there are amazing truths in Scripture that ignite passions as well. If I feel dead and cold, I just need to keep prayerfully engaged in God's Word. It will come.. in God's good timing.

I am in a life long war and I need to fight as a hope filled believer.

Sanctification is just this: a life long battle with a hope filled heart.

Finally, Piper doubles down on a regenerative salvation that is by God alone. Election is too evident in these verses to ignore.

But I love his tempering verse: God works through human activity. Yes, it is He alone Who is the Sovereign He alone engenders the faith to repent and believe in the atoning death of Jesus and the validation of that sacrifice in His resurrection. BUT- we hear this good news through human ministry.

He will accomplish His plan.. if He has to, the stones themselves will cry out.

But a God secured election should motivate us to willingly be used as a means of gospel proclamation.

In a strong theology of election, evangelism should be MORE robust.. not less.

All we have to do is initiate the conversations and the Holy Spirit will do the work.

It is a pressure free privilege. One that we cannot fail.

All of this .... the glorious inheritance, the costly ransom, the adoption as sons, the suffering under God's purifying fire leaves a Holy result.

Pick up 1 Peter and see if you find these truths laying in storehouses of treasure.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:3-7 ESV)

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