How Do I Love Reformed Theology?

I am a lover of the Reformed faith – the legacy of the protestant Reformation expressed broadly in the writings of John Calvin and John Owen and Charles Spurgeon and Jonathan Edwards, and contemporaries like R. C. Sproul and J. I. Packer and John Frame.

I speak of love for this legacy the way I speak of loving a cherished photo of my wife. I say, “I love that picture.” You won’t surprise me if you point out, “But that’s not your wife, that’s a picture.” Yes. Yes. I know it’s only a picture. I don’t love the picture instead of her, I love the picture because of her. She is precious in herself.

The picture is precious not in itself, but because it reveals her. That’s the way theology is precious. God is valuable in himself. The theology is not valuable in itself. It is valuable as a picture. That’s what I mean when I say, “I love reformed theology.” It’s the best composite, Bible-distilled picture of God that I have.

—John Piper

Via: Desiring God Blog

To Die is Gain

Christ is shown as great, when death is seen as gain. The reason for this is plain: the glory of Christ is magnified when our hearts are more satisfied in him than in all that death takes from us. If we count death gain, because it brings us closer to Christ (which is what Philippians 1:23 says it does), then we show that Christ is more to be desired than all this world can offer.

—John Piper
God’s Passion for His Glory

Via: Of First Importance

It’s Now or Never: Love Your Enemies

Jesus said, “Love your enemies” (Matthew 5:44). He clearly loved his enemies: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). And God loved his: “While we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son” (Romans 5:10).

But in the age to come there will be no enemies to love. They will have all become friends (Luke 16:9), or they will have been cast into outer darkness (Matthew 8:12). Neither we, nor Christ, nor God the Father, nor the Holy Spirit, nor the angels will love our enemies any more.

To the degree that we are aware of those in hell, the view will not be one of love, but of abhorrence (Isaiah 66:24).

Today is the day God has appointed to love our enemies. Either we will do it in this life, or we will never do it. But Jesus commands it to be done. It is a revelation of his glory in this world. Loving our enemies is one of the good deeds people see and give glory to God (Matthew 5:16). It is an echo of his cross (Ephesians 4:32). This is the only world where this demonstration of God’s glory can happen.

And it will be remembered forever. “Their deeds follow them” (Revelation 14:13). Jesus’ enemy love will be sung forever—the song of the Lamb (Revelation 15:3). And the echo of it, in our love, will resound through eternity in the stories of our sacrifices.

Don’t waste your life. It’s a gift from God. He gave it so that you could join him in displaying his glory. Some of those displays can only happen now. Now or never. Love your enemies.

—John Piper
It’s Now or Never: Love Your Enemies

Via: Desiring God Blog

The Mark and Empty Trace

There once was in man a true happiness of which now remain to him only the mark and empty trace, which he in vain tries to fill from all his surroundings, seeking from things absent the help he does not obtain in things present. But these are all inadequate, because the infinite abyss can only be filled by an infinite and immutable object, that is to say, only by God Himself.

—Blaise Pascal
Pascal’s Pensees
Quoted in the Introduction to Desiring God by John Piper

Monday Meals

Finally, a word to my father. The dedicatory words I wrote in 1986 are still true seventeen years later. I look back through forty-five years and see mother at the dinner table, laughing so hard that the tears run down her face. She was a very happy woman. But especially when you came home on Monday. You had been gone two weeks. Or sometimes three or four. She would glow on Monday mornings when you were coming home.

At the dinner table that night (these were the happiest of times in my memory) we would hear about the victories of the gospel. Surely it is more exciting to be the son of an evangelist than to sit with knights and warriors. As I grew older, I saw more of the wounds. But you spared me most of that until I was mature enough to “count it all joy.” Holy and happy were those Monday meals. Oh, how good it was to have you home!

—John Piper
Preface to Desiring God (2003 Edition)

The Ministry of Reminding Myself

I am so glad that Pastor John Piper is back from his leave of absence. This post is a wonderful reminder to remember God’s promises…

One of the great enemies of hope is forgetting God’s promises. Reminding is a great ministry. Peter and Paul wrote for this reason (2 Peter 1:13; Romans 15:15).

The main reminder is the Holy Spirit (John 14:26). But don’t be passive. You are responsible only for your own ministry of reminding. And the first one in need of reminding by you is you.

The mind has this great power: It can talk to itself by way of reminder. The mind can “call to mind.” For example, “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases” (Lamentations 3:21–22).

If we don’t “call to mind” what God has said about himself and about us, we languish. O how I know this from painful experience! Don’t wallow in the mire of godless messages. I mean the messages in your own head. “I can’t . . .” “She won’t . . .” “They never . . .” “It has never worked . . .”

The point is not that these are true or false. Your mind will always find a way to make them true, unless you “call to mind” something greater. God is the God of the impossible. Reasoning your way out of an impossible situation is not as effective as reminding your way out of it.

Without reminding ourselves of the greatness and grace and power and wisdom of God, we sink into brutish pessimism. “I was brutish and ignorant; I was like a beast toward you” (Psalms 73:22).

The great turn from despair to hope in Psalm 77 comes with these words: “I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old. I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds” (Psalms 77:11–12).

This is the great battle of my life. I assume yours too. The battle to remind! Myself. Then others.

—John Piper

Via: Desiring God Blog

Why We Should Believe in Jesus

The reason Jesus is essential to believe in is because there is a holy God who is infinitely just and infinitely loving. And in his justice he is angry at us because we have sinned against him. We have rejected him, we haven’t trusted him, we haven’t loved him as we ought, we have broken his commandments. All we have to do is list out, “Thou shall not steal, thou shall not lie, thou shall not lust or covet and shall love him only above all things,” and we’ve broken those and so wrath rests upon us. Jesus is the son of God sent into the world as the atonement, the sacrifice that bears our sins and that provides our righteousness. So that if there were no Christ we would only have guilt and judgment and condemnation and Hell from God.

But because Christ came and God sent him, in his love we can look away from ourselves. This is what faith means: we look away from ourselves, we cast ourselves on Christ for his mercy and we trust his death to be our punishment.

And we trust his righteousness to be imputed to us so that now in Christ, that is in relation to Christ, by faith, God looks upon us as having fulfilled his whole law, as having all of our sins forgiven, and being acceptable in the beloved Jesus Christ. So that now we have eternal joy, eternal glory.

So the practical answer, “Why believe in Jesus” is because it’s the only way to escape Hell, to know God, to have everlasting joy in the presence of God. And we believe it because it’s true.

—John Piper

Via: Desiring God Blog

On Being Brought from Africa to America

Pastor John Piper posted a fascinating article today on Phillis Wheatley, a young African woman living as a slave in Boston, who was the first black person in history to publish a book of poetry in English. This remarkable young woman was sold into slavery at eight years of age in 1761 and died at the age of 31 on December 5, 1784.

’Twas mercy brought me from my Pagan land,
Taught my benighted soul to understand
That there’s a God, that there’s a Saviour too:
Once I redemption neither sought nor knew.
Some view our sable race with scornful eye,
“Their colour is a diabolic die.”
Remember, Christians, Negros, black as Cain,
May be refin’d and join th’ angelic train.

—Phillis Wheatley
Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral

Via: Desiring God Blog