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John Piper – The God Who Strengthens His People

8 Apr

john-piperNow there is something here so wonderful I don’t want to pass over it too quickly lest you miss it. So let me say the obvious again and then draw out the less obvious. The obvious fact is that of all the things he could have said about what God does or has done that draws attention to his glory, of all the dozens of great acts of God and all the great abilities of God, he chooses to highlight one thing: “Now to him who is able to strengthen you … be glory forevermore.…” He does say that God is wise, and that God hid something for ages, and that he revealed something for the sake of the nations, and that he did all this by his eternal command. Yes. But the way Paul has set up this doxology, all of that is serving to support and explain this one main thing: God is able to strengthen you. “Now unto him who is able to strengthen you … be glory for evermore.…”

Now that is the obvious fact. Here’s what is less obvious but crystal clear once someone draws it to our attention. Many kings in history and many dictators today intend to get glory. They want to be known as strong and rich and wise. And how have they done it? By keeping their citizens weak and poor and uneducated. An educated people is a threat to a dictator. A prosperous middle class is a threat to a dictator. A strong people is a threat to the strength of a dictator. So what do they do? They secure their own power by keeping their people weak. They get their glory by standing on the backs of a broken people. Just look at the regime of Islom Karimov in Uzbekistan. And we could mention many others—little kings who keep their people weak so that they can be strong and rich.

But now contrast the way Paul draws attention to the glory of God. If any king ever had the right to display all his glory by stepping on the backs of a rebellious people, it is God. But what does he do? He displays his glory by making his people strong. “Now unto him who is able to strengthen you … be glory forevermore.…” God magnifies his glory by making you strong with his gospel. God feels no threat from your strength at all. In fact, the stronger you are in faith and hope and love through the gospel of Jesus Christ, the greater he appears. God does not secure his strength by keeping his people weak. He magnifies the glory of his strength by making his people strong. “Now unto him who is able to strengthen you … be glory.”

Therefore, when Paul makes the glory of God the ultimate goal of the gospel—when he closes his greatest of all letters by drawing attention to the supreme worth of the glory of God—this is not bad news for us. Unless we want to have that glory for ourselves. Why is this not bad news for us? Because our God draws attention to his glory by making his undeserving people strong. The greater the glory of God, the more resources for our strength. The more manifold and wonderful the glory of God, the more manifold and wonderful the source of our strength. “Now to him who is able to strengthen you … be glory for evermore.”

~John Piper~

Sermons from John Piper (2000–2009): Romans 16:25-27 – God Strengthens Us By The Gospel (Minneapolis, MN: Desiring God, 2009).

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R.C. Sproul – Talking About Predestination

4 Mar

The very word predestination has an ominous ring to it. It is linked to the despairing notion of fatalism and somehow suggests that within its pale we are reduced to meaningless puppets. The word conjures up visions of a diabolical deity who plays capricious games with our lives. We seem to be subjected to the whims of horrible decrees that were fixed in concrete long before we were born. Better that our lives were fixed by the stars, for then at least we could find clues to our destiny in the daily horoscopes.

Add to the horror of the word predestination the public image of its most famous teacher, John Calvin, and we shudder all the more. We see Calvin portrayed as a stern and grim-faced tyrant, a sixteenth-century Ichabod Crane who found fiendish delight in the burning of recalcitrant heretics. It is enough to cause us to retreat from the discussion altogether and reaffirm our commitment never to discuss religion and politics.

With a topic people find so unpleasant, it is a wonder that we ever discuss it at all. Why do we speak of it? Because we enjoy unpleasantness? Not at all. We discuss it because we cannot avoid it. It is a doctrine plainly set forth in the Bible. We talk about predestination because the Bible talks about predestination. If we desire to build our theology on the Bible, we run head on into this concept. We soon discover that John Calvin did not invent it.

Virtually all Christian churches have some formal doctrine of predestination. To be sure, the doctrine of predestination found in the Roman Catholic Church is different from that in the Presbyterian Church. The Lutherans have a different view of the matter from the Episcopalians.

The fact that such variant views of predestination abound only underscores the fact that if we are biblical in our thinking we must have some doctrine of predestination. We cannot ignore such well-known passages as:

Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will… (Ephesians 1:4, 5).

In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will… (Ephesians 1:11).

For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren (Romans 8:29).

If we are to be biblical, then, the issue is not whether we should have a doctrine of predestination or not, but what kind we should embrace. If the Bible is the Word of God, not mere human speculation, and if God himself declares that there is such a thing as predestination, then it follows irresistibly that we must embrace some doctrine of predestination.

~R.C. Sproul~

Chosen By God (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1986), 9-11.

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John Piper – The Calvinist

4 Dec

See him on his knees,
Hear his constant pleas:
Heart of ev’ry aim:
“Hallowed be Your name.”

See him in the Word,
Helpless, cool, unstirred,
Heaping on the pyre
Heed until the fire.

See him with his books:
Tree beside the brooks,
Drinking at the root
Till the branch bear fruit.

See him with his pen:
Written line, and then,
Better thought preferred,
Deep from in the Word.

See him in the square,
Kept from subtle snare:
Unrelenting sleuth
On the scent of truth.

See him on the street,
Seeking to entreat,
Meek and treasuring:
“Do you know my King?”

See him in dispute,
Firm and resolute,
Driven by the fame
Of his Father’s name.

See him at his trade.
Done. The plan is made.
Men will have his skills,
If the Father wills.

See him at his meal,
Praying now to feel
Thanks and, be it graced,
God in ev’ry taste.

See him with his child:
Has he ever smiled
Such a smile before,
Playing on the floor?

See him with his wife,
Parable for life:
In this sacred scene
She is heaven’s queen.

See him stray. He groans.
“One is true,” he owns.
“What is left to me?

See him in lament
“Should I now repent?”
“Yes. And then proclaim:
All is for my fame.”

See him worshipping.
Watch the sinner sing,
Spared the burning flood
Only by the blood.

See him on the shore:
“Whence this ocean store?”
“From your God above,
Thimbleful of love.”

See him now asleep.
Watch the helpless reap,
But no credit take,
Just as when awake.

See him nearing death.
Listen to his breath,
Through the ebbing pain:
Final whisper: “Gain!”

~John Piper~

The Calvinist (Minneapolis, MN: Desiring God, 2013),

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David Wells – Consider Your End And Your Companion

25 Nov


The goal of Christ’s redemption was that we might know God, love him, serve him, enjoy him, and glorify him forever. This is, indeed, our chief end. It was for this end that Christ came, was incarnate, died in our place, and was raised for our justification. It was that we might know God. Once, we were part of that world which “did not know God” (1 Cor. 1:21). But now we “have come to know God” (Gal. 4:9). We “know him who is from the beginning” (1 John 2:13) because we know “the love of Christ,” and the aim of redemption is that we “may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Eph. 3:19). And this knowledge of God, this experience of his goodness, is what our experience in life has sometimes diminished. That is why it must constantly be renewed.

This is our goal in life, that we might be God-centered in our thoughts and God-fearing in our hearts, as J. I. Packer put it. We are to be God-honoring in all that we do. And how is that going to happen if we never consider, or consider only fleetingly, or irregularly, the end toward which we travel, and the one who also walks with us through life on the way to this end?

~David Wells~

God In The Whirlwind: How the Holy-love Of God Reorients Our World (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2014), 16

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John Piper – The Gospel Of The Glory Of The Happy God

14 Nov

There is a beautiful phrase in 1 Timothy 1:11 buried beneath the too-familiar surface of Bible buzzwords. Before we dig it up, it sounds like this: “The gospel of the glory of the blessed God.” But after you dig it up, it sounds like this: “The good news of the glory of the happy God.”

A great part of God’s glory is his happiness. It was inconceivable to the apostle Paul that God could be denied infinite joy and still be all-glorious. To be infinitely glorious was to be infinitely happy. He used the phrase, “the glory of the happy God,” because it is a glorious thing for God to be as happy as he is. God’s glory consists much in the fact that he is happy beyond our wildest imagination.

As the great eighteenth-century preacher, Jonathan Edwards, said, “Part of God’s fullness which he communicates, is his happiness. This happiness consists in enjoying and rejoicing in himself; so does also the creature’s happiness.”

And this is the gospel: “The gospel of the glory of the happy God.” It is good news that God is gloriously happy. No one would want to spend eternity with an unhappy God. If God is unhappy then the goal of the gospel is not a happy goal, and that means it would be no gospel at all. But, in fact, Jesus invites us to spend eternity with a happy God when he says, “Enter into the joy of your master” (Matthew 25:23). Jesus lived and died that his joy—God’s joy—might be in us and our joy might be full (John 15:11; 17:13). Therefore the gospel is “the gospel of the glory of the happy God.”

~John Piper~

The Pleasures of God: Meditations on God’s Delight in Being God (Sisters, OR: Multnomah Publishers, 2000), 24-26

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John Frame – Self-Esteem and True Meaning

16 Sep

Scripture is therefore not nearly as concerned as we are to promote our self-esteem. We would like to believe that the meaning and significance of our lives depends on what we do for ourselves, without any outside influences or constraints. In Scripture, however, the goal of human life is to glorify God. Our dignity is to be found not in what we do, but in what God has done for us and in us. Our meaning and significance are to be found in the fact that God has created us in his image and redeemed us by the blood of his Son. The Biblical writers, therefore, are not horrified, as modern writers tend to be, by the thought that we may be under the control of another. If the other is God, and he has made us for his glory, then we could not possibly ask for a more meaningful existence.

~John Frame~

The Doctrine of God (Phillipsburg, New Jersey; P&R Publishing; 2002) p. 125

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Tim Keller – God Has All the Power

15 Aug


Ordinarily the way in which we would measure or try to describe power is we try to describe it by comparing it to something else you know. So you can say, “A hurricane has one thousandth of the power of a nuclear warhead. A nuclear warhead has one millionth of the power of an explosion on the surface of the sun. The sun has one billionth of the power of an exploding supernova.”

How do we describe the power of God? Do we say, “His power is the power of 100 supernovas, a million supernovas, or a billion billion?” Paul is saying here, “No, no, no. God is not at the top of a scale. God has never been on the scale, so he is not even off the scale. He utterly transcends scales.” The reason for that we’re told again and again in the Psalms. The Psalms tell us, “… power belongs to God.” Now look at that. Look and wonder. “… power belongs to God” means not that God has more power than anything or anyone else, but that anyone or anything that has even an atom of power has it because God has delegated it to him. God has all the power.

~Tim Keller~

The Timothy Keller Sermon Archive (New York City: Redeemer Presbyterian Church, 2013) A sermon preached July 9, 1989 titled: CHRIST OUR HEAD as part of “The King and the Kingdom” series from Ephesians 1:15-23.

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