November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

I just wanted to make a quick post to say Happy Thanksgiving, from my wife and I, to the subscribers and passersby of this blog.

Today, we can remember and be thankful for God's abundant provision in our lives as we sit at the table, to eat a hearty meal. When put into perspective, His abundance has been, His continuous provision of food, clothing, shelter and in this economy, a job. Quantifying such abundance should not be too difficult either, though not necessary.

Even more though, is the thanksgiving of praise for the mercy and love God has shown toward us because, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).
Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. Psalm 100:4.

"So long as we are receivers of mercy we must be givers of thanks. Mercy permits us to enter his gates; let us praise that mercy." Charles Spurgeon, The Treasury of David.


Let all that is within us, bless the Holy Name of the Lord, for the great things He has done for us.



Reference

Meyers, R. (2006). e-Sword. The sword of the Lord with an electronic edge (Verson 7.8) [Computer software].

November 19, 2009

People are starving for the greatness of God

I recently started reading The Supremacy of God in Preaching and found this portion from the preface of the book, to be a great reminder not to preach superficially, but to proclaim the text of Scripture, from Genesis to Revelation, in a manner that is in accord with the truths of God found in the Scripture.

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Preface to the First Edition

People are starving for the greatness of God. But most of them would not give this diagnosis of their troubled lives. The majesty of God is an unknown cure. There are far more popular prescriptions on the market, but the benefit of any other remedy is brief and shallow. Preaching that does not have the aroma of God’s greatness may entertain for a season, but it will not touch the hidden cry of the soul: “Show me thy glory!”

Years ago during the January prayer week at our church, I decided to preach on the holiness of God from Isaiah 6. I resolved on the first Sunday of the year to unfold the vision of God’s holiness founding the first four verses of that chapter:

In they year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said:

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”

And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke.
So I preached on the holiness of God and did my best to display the majesty and glory of such a great and holy God. I gave not a word of application to the lives of our people. Application is essential in the normal course of preaching, but I felt led that day to make a test: Would the passionate portrayal of the greatness of God in and of itself meet the needs of the people?

I didn’t realize that not long before this Sunday one of the young families of our church discovered that their child was being sexually abused by a close relative. It was incredibly traumatic. They were there that Sunday morning and sat under that message. I wonder how many advisers to us pastors today would have said, “Pastor Piper, can’t you see your people are hurting? Can’t you come down out of the heavens and get practical? Don’t you realize what kind of people sit in front of you on Sunday?” Some weeks later I learned the story. The husband took me aside one Sunday after a service. “John, these have been the hardest months of our lives. Do you know what has gotten me through? The vision of the greatness of God’s holiness that you gave me the first week of January. It has been the rock we could stand on.”

The greatness and the glory of God are relevant. It does not matter if surveys turn up a list of perceived needs that does not include the supreme greatness of the sovereign God of grace. That is the deepest need. Our people are starving for God.


John Piper, The Supremacy of God in Preaching (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2007), 13-14.

November 8, 2009

Will Your Good Works Get You to Heaven?—Are You Sure?

Yesterday as I was coming home from seminary I met a young man who was mocking me as I was reading my Bible next to him on the bus. You never really know who you’ll meet or what they have to say on the LA metro. But anyway, I could tell he was mocking me and laughing at me as I was reading my Bible next to him. So finally he leaned over to me and said: “Are you a Mormon?” I answered: “No, I’m a Christian who believes the Bible to be true.” He laughed to himself again in a jeering sort of way. Then I said: “What about you? Are you a Christian?” He said: Well, I’m Catholic…so I’m both—Christian and Catholic.” I nodded.

To continue reading, click here.


For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake. 2 Corinthians 4:5, KJV.



John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible - 2 Corinthians 4:5

2 Corinthians 4:5 For we preach not ourselves,.... These words contain a reason why the apostles behaved themselves in the manner described, 2 Corinthians 4:2 and serve to explain in what sense this inspired writer is to be understood, when he calls the Gospel our Gospel, 2 Corinthians 4:3 and most clearly proves the Gospel to be a glorious one, which he had asserted, 2 Corinthians 4:4 since Christ, and not themselves, is the subject of it, "for we preach not ourselves". They did not preach any doctrine of their own devising; they did not set up themselves as lords over the faith and consciences of men; nor was their view in preaching to set forth their learning, parts, and eloquence, or to amass wealth and riches to themselves; nor did they assert the purity of human nature, or the power of man to do anything of himself that is spiritually good; or that justification and salvation are by works of righteousness done by men. To do any, or each, or all of these, as did the false apostles, is to preach a man's self: but so did not these faithful dispensers of the word, but they


preached Christ Jesus the Lord; that is, the doctrines respecting the person, office, and grace of Christ; as that he is truly and properly God, the eternal and only begotten Son of God, God and man in one person, the only Mediator between God and man, and the Saviour and Redeemer of lost sinners; that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ, the true Messiah; and that this Christ is Jesus, a Saviour, the only able and willing one; and that this Jesus Christ is "Lord" of all, especially of the saints; not only as Creator, but as their head, husband, and Redeemer; that peace and reconciliation, pardon and righteousness, life and salvation, are only by him: and they also declared themselves the servants of the churches,

and ourselves your servants. The apostle does not say they were the servants of Christ, though they were, and esteemed it their greatest honour to be so; for he had no need to observe this, since this is included in their preaching him as "Lord": nor does he say they were the servants of men, or menpleasers, for then they would not be the servants of Christ; but he asserts them to be the servants of the churches: and which must be understood, not with respect to things temporal, with which they had no concern; but with regard to things spiritual, particularly to the ministration of the word, and administration of ordinances: and this they professed to be,

for Jesus' sake; either for the sake of preaching Christ unto them; or because they were chosen and called by him to this service, and in which they were willing to continue, for the sake of his honour and interest.

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