Not Born Into but Reborn Into

Being “in Christ Jesus” is a stupendous reality. It is breathtaking what it means to be in Christ. United to Christ. Bound to Christ. If you are “in Christ” listen to what it means for you:

  1. In Christ Jesus you were given grace before the world was created. 2 Timothy 1:9, “He gave us grace in Christ Jesus before the ages began.”
  2. In Christ Jesus you were chosen by God before creation. Ephesians 1:4, “God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world.”
  3. In Christ Jesus you are loved by God with an inseparable love. Romans 8:38–39, “I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
  4. In Christ Jesus you were redeemed and forgiven for all your sins. Ephesians 1:7, “In Christ we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses.”
  5. In Christ Jesus you are justified before God and the righteousness of God in Christ is imputed to you. 2 Corinthians 5:21, “For our sake God made Christ to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
  6. In Christ Jesus you have become a new creation and a son of God. 2 Corinthians 5:17, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” Galatians 3:26, “In Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.”
  7. In Christ Jesus you have been seated in the heavenly places even while he lived on earth. Ephesians 2:6, “God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”
  8. In Christ Jesus all the promises of God are Yes for you. 2 Corinthians 1:20, “All the promises of God find their Yes in Christ.”
  9. In Christ Jesus you are being sanctified and made holy. 1 Corinthians 1:2, “To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus.
  10. In Christ Jesus everything you really needed will be supplied. Philippians 4:19, “My God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”
  11. In Christ Jesus the peace of God will guard your heart and mind. Philippians 4:7, “The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
  12. In Christ Jesus you have eternal life. Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
  13. And in Christ Jesus you will be raised from the dead at the coming of the Lord. 1 Corinthians 15:22, “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” All those united to Adam in the first humanity die. All those united to Christ in the new humanity rise to live again

How do we get into Christ?

At the unconscious and decisive level it is God’s sovereign work: “From God are you in Christ Jesus” (1 Corinthians 1:30).

But at the conscious level of our own action, it is through faith. Christ dwells in our hearts “through faith” (Ephesians 3:17). The life we live in union with his death and life “we live by faith in the Son of God” (Galatians 2:20). We are united in his death and resurrection “through faith” (Colossians 2:12).

This is a wonderful truth. Union with Christ is the ground of everlasting joy, and it is free.

(From John Piper at Desiring God)

benetherington:

byfarthersteps:

“There are no postmodern airline pilots. Truth is at stake every minute. And the ground is unforgivably hard.”

—John Piper (via verydewarsontherocks)

Piper’s metaphor and my postmodern tendencies aside, this is a ridiculous statement. A classic strawman fallacy. Postmodernists do not believe that aerodynamics are unknowable. This is making up a ridiculous false belief and criticizing it instead of the genuine article.

John didn’t miss that, it was his point. The post-modern pilot doesn’t doubt that the engineers who designed the plane were able to accurately communicate to the builders. When the tower says to him, “Clear to land on runway 29 right” she doesn’t think “I wonder what they meant? How does their cultural and historical perspective affect what they understand to be ‘runway 29’?” Piper’s point is that the post-modern epistemology of doubt is inconstantly applied.

Similarly, Ravi Zacharias tells this story:

[M]y host was driving me past a new building called the Wexner Center for the Performing Arts. He said, “This is America’s first postmodern building.” I was startled for a moment and I said, “What is a postmodern building?” He said, “Well, the architect said that he designed this building with no design in mind. When the architect was asked, ‘Why?’ he said, ‘If life itself is capricious, why should our buildings have any design and any meaning?’ So he has pillars that have no purpose. He has stairways that go nowhere. He has a senseless building built and somebody has paid for it.” I said, “So his argument was that if life has no purpose and design, why should the building have any design?” He said, “That is correct.” I said, “Did he do the same with the foundation?” All of the sudden there was silence.

Post-moderism has some good corrections to modernity, but there are problems with it also. In some matters of truth, post-modernism says you can’t know. But in others, it is (still) absolutely certain. It is that old saw that post-modernism says there is no absolute truth except the absolute truth that there is no absolute truth. Or, real communication is impossible since so much is conditioned by our historical and cultural setting. Yet they fully expect you to understand what they mean by saying that.

This is why John said “Truth is at stake every minute.” Post-modernism picks and chooses what is true and what can be actually known. 

"There are no postmodern airline pilots. Truth is at stake every minute. And the ground is unforgivably hard."
John Piper (via verydewarsontherocks)
This is why God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.

This is why God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.

My Desires are Stupid

Lord, I want to be free. I want my desires so changed into accord with reality so that I can do what I want to do and never regret it. That’s what I want. And so I’m going hard after Jesus to change me, because many of my desires are stupid. - John Piper, prayer after preaching on John 8:30-36.

Many of my desires are stupid and I don’t even know it. I’m counting on the Lord to change them or make me aware of how stupid they are.

Old ≠ Correct

I’m just going to quote this entire Piper post without further comment:

Beware of imputing advantage to antiquity. Seventy years after the death of Jesus the churches had neither the collected New Testament nor a living apostle. It was a precarious and embattled time.

Neither the experiences nor the teachers of the first 300 years of the church are as reliable as the finished New Testament. The church did not rescue the New Testament from neglect and abuse. The New Testament rescued the early church from instability and error.

We are in a better position today to know Jesus Christ than anyone who lived from AD 100 to 300. They had only parts of the New Testament rather than the collected whole. That’s how valuable the fullness of revelation is in the finished Bible. Beware of idealizing the early church. She did not have your advantages!

Almost no comment.

Amen.

"The gospel is not a “Help Wanted” sign."
John Piper, How Not to Serve God in Going and Sending, Wheaton College, February 09, 1998

(Source: desiringgod.org)

Good theology matters, or at least it should. →

"One of my greatest complaints in seminary was that professors trained students in bad habits of superficial reading because they assigned too many books. . I agree with Spurgeon: “A student will find that his mental constitution is more affected by one book thoroughly mastered than by twenty books which he has merely skimmed, lapping at them.”"
John Piper, Brothers, We are Not Professionals.

(Source: desiringgod.org)

Job and Jonah: Studies in Grace

I’ve just finished, with tear streaked eyes, listening to John Piper read his poem “The Misery of Job and the Mercy of God”. All the time my mind kept going back to Jonah, a book I’m translating in Hebrew Exegesis. The two men couldn’t be more different but the message is similar in and to both.

Job did not share Jonah’s small view of God in the end. God sent to Job boils and loss and accusation and Job put his hand over his mouth and blessed God. God sent Jonah deliverance from drowning, and afflicted with a scorching socorro and the burning sunshine. And Jonah wouldn’t back down.

To explain, I need to reinterpret Jonah for you. I know many have grown up with flannelgraphs of Jonah, the reluctant prophet and the message that God is the God of second chances. That isn’t the case with Jonah. Jonah’s problem wasn’t with Nineveh, it was with Yahweh, his God. This kind of reading of the book is the best way to make chapter 4 make sense and fit in. The way many of us grew up reading Jonah, that he resisted and then eagerly obeyed, makes chapter 4 an anomaly. If you go back and read Jonah carefully, you’ll see that he resisted God constantly. Even in chapter 2, where Jonah cites Psalm after Psalm from the belly of the fish, (you have to read those Psalms and bring their context with you into Jonah), he isn’t praising God for sparing his life and showing himself to be a changed man. The context of each Psalm he quotes indicates that he really believes that he is on his way back to Jerusalem and that God will destroy Nineveh. Jonah interprets his miraculous deliverance from death as God agreeing with his desire not to preach to Nineveh. He believes God has come around to his way of thinking! When he finally does what God told him to do, “Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s journey” (Jonah 3:4, emphasis mine) though Nineveh was a great city, a three-day’s journey. Jonah is dragging his feet as he enters the city.

The sailor repent, Nineveh repents, the fish obeys God, the plant obeys God, the worm obeys God, the wind obeys God and in the end Jonah stands with his finger in God’s face. Even when he recites God’s attributes (Jonah 4:2) he does it in an accusing manner. “I knew you were like this!” Jonah seems to say. The book ends with God’s question to Jonah, “And should not I pity Nineveh?” and no answer. Jonah stands alone on center stage, scowl on his face, finger pointing into the white light of an overhead spot. A voice over asks the question while no music rises from the orchestra pit and, with Jonah unmoving, the curtain descends and the play is over.

Job on the other hand is different. Piper does a wonderful job of bringing out Job’s innocence and God’s work in his life. Piper uses the color of the sky over Uz to indicate what Job could not have known was going on in heaven. We see things only from Job’s perspective. We see a man suffering horrible affliction and facing the unfair accusations from his friends.

After Eliphaz accuses Job of sin:

Job didn’t move or speak. The winds
Of such incriminations crashed
Against his stagg’ring soul and smashed
The fingers barely grasping to
The goodness of his God.

This was after Job had already said:

O, God I cling
With feeble fingers to the ledge
Of your great grace, yet feel the wedge
Of this calamity struck hard
Between my chest and this deep-scarred
And granite precipice of love.

Job, struck head to toe with boils, deprived of wealth and children, sits on an ash heep with friendsIt is interesting that the sky that seems to depict Satanic activity in the story appears when Job’s three friends open their mouths to speak to him. Piper seems to think that their “advice” to Job is part of Satan’s attack against him. While it is not explicitly stated so in the text, I don’t think it is too far a stretch to assume it.who have know him for years telling him that he is a sinner clings to God’s goodness through it all. He will not accuse God of injustice and he will not falsely confess sin he is not guilty of. He does demand and answer from God and when the answer comes, he humbly accepts it.

Jonah on the other hand, is spared death, watches the king of Nineveh repent and sit in ashes, misuses God’s written word, most likely delivers only part of the message God has given himWe are never given the message that God gave Jonah to preach to Nineveh, but Jonah’s message, half-heartedly delivered, is a mere 5 Hebrew words. It lacks God’s characteristic prophetic call to repentance and pronounces only doom on Nineveh. Given Jonah’s attitude toward the pagans I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he omitted part of God’s message., jabs his finger in God’s face and in the end is left only with a question.

Job learned the message of God’s great grace in the midst of his suffering. Piper again:

"Do you think God made you sick?" She drew
Her breath, and swallowed hard. “I know
You’d like to think that there’s a foe
That hurts and God that heals. And that
Would not be wrong; but I have sat
And pondered months in pain to see
If that is true—if misery
Is Satan’s work and happiness
Is God’s. Jemimah we must bless
The Lord for all that’s good and bad…

I have some friends who thought they knew
The mind of God, and that their view
Of tenderness exhausted God’s,
And that severity and rods
Could only be explained with blame,
To vindicate his holy name.”

Job did not share Jonah’s small view of God in the end. God sent to Job boils and loss and accusation and Job put his hand over his mouth and blessed God. God sent Jonah deliverance from drowning, and afflicted with a scorching socorro and the burning sunshine. And Jonah wouldn’t back down.

Our God does not domesticate. He does not operate according to vision. Bertrand Russell can say that it is impossible that God be good and all powerful and that he allow evil to exist. And I think Jonah might say that God cannot be good if he allows good to exist outside of His covenant people. Job however, would have none of that. Job learned the lesson of the tender kiss of God’s painful rod. God loves his children too much to let them love and hope in anything other than Him. Logic or hope in nationality are not the ends for which God created man. He himself is.