God’s Great Love

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience — among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ — by grace you have been saved — and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

—Ephesians 2:1-10, ESV

Related: Inspired by this post from Pastor John Piper at Desiring God.

God’s Zeal for His Own Glory

There has been quite a bit of discussion in the Christian blogosphere lately about “God’s essential moral character.” Dr. Ben Witherington, professor of New Testament Theology at Asbury Theological Seminary, is apparently dismayed that biblical scholars like Dr. Tom Schreiner and Dr. John Piper support and advance what he considers a narcissistic theory that God is zealous for His own glory.

In Dr. Piper’s response to Dr. Witherington he makes a most profound statement: “God’s exaltation of his own glory is not narcissistic but loving, because it directs our attention away from ourselves to the one glorious reality that can satisfy our souls forever.”

Dr. Piper closes by suggesting some additional resources, one of which is an excellent article he has written and posted at Desiring God in which he details the biblical texts that clearly demonstrate God’s zeal for His own glory. The following is a short excerpt from that document:

Probably no text in the Bible reveals the passion of God for his own glory more clearly and bluntly as Isaiah 48:9-11 where God says,

“For my name’s sake I defer my anger, for the sake of my praise I restrain it for you, that I may not cut you off. Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction. For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another.”

I have found that for many people these words come like six hammer blows to a man-centered way of looking at the world:

For my name’s sake!
For the sake of my praise!
For my own sake!
For my own sake!
How should my name be profaned!
My glory I will not give to another!

What this text hammers home to us is the centrality of God in his own affections. The most passionate heart for the glorification of God is God’s heart. God’s ultimate goal is to uphold and display the glory of his name.

Awesome Quote Alert: “these words come like six hammer blows to a man-centered way of looking at the world.” I love Dr. Piper’s passionate and biblical defense of the Gospel.

Update: Timmy Brister has posted an excellent review of this discussion at his site.

Mortification and Universal Holiness

Following up on yesterday’s post about heroes, this is a message on the life of John Owen delivered by John Piper at the 1994 Bethlehem Conference for Pastors.

So many men that I admire (John Piper, Sinclair Ferguson, R.C. Sproul, J.I. Packer, Jerry Bridges etc.) have listed John Owen as an influence on their lives that I can’t help but want to learn more about the man. Sadly, I’ve read more books about John Owen than I have books by John Owen. His writing style is difficult to be sure, but what a reward for those who engage the man and his words and persevere.

Related: You can read or download the message at Desiring God.

Spreading a Passion

I am truly blessed. My home is full of family and loved ones and I’m in a reflective mood this Thanksgiving weekend. One of the things I’m most thankful for is Desiring God, the ministry of John Piper. His books and sermons have been instrumental in shaping my doctrinal mindset and for that I am eternally grateful. I absolutely love Desiring God’s mission statement and have adopted it as my own. I keep these words posted on my desk and in my bible to remind me of my true purpose in life. I exist to…

Spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things, for the joy of all peoples, through Jesus Christ.

I’ve heard Dr. Piper mention Hebrews 13:7 in several messages and how this verse declares that it is good to have heroes and to imitate their way of life and their faith. He usually mentions that it is better to have dead heroes like John Owen or Jonathan Edwards since they have stood the test of time. There is of course a great deal of truth in that, but I can’t help but respect and admire Dr. Piper for his Bible-saturated, God-centered, Christ-exalting ministry. He is truly an inspiration to me and I thank God for his life and his teaching.

Related: You can read or listen to John Piper explaining the biblical foundation of the mission statement in these two messages.