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By John Piper — 1 month ago
http://rss.desiringgod.org/link/10732/15722726/did-paul-expect-to-see-the-second-comingPost Views: 43
By Greg Morse — 11 months ago
I can remember my first time hearing Luther’s famous first thesis: “When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, ‘Repent,’ he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.” While others around me offered solemn nods, the less-sacred thought flashed across my mind, Well, that sure sounds like fun.
I knew the repentant life to be good for me, as I knew going to the dentist to be good for me. I did not look forward to a life of feeling bad about myself. Wasn’t it punishment to bring the dog’s nose back to its mess? My childlike faith heard, “The Christian life is one of sitting in the corner, muttering apologies.” Necessary? Perhaps. Exciting? Far from.
My life of repentance so far had been the same somber note on repeat. Whenever I felt an elevated sense of my own sin, I threw myself into the deep pit of penance. Like Jonah, I marked myself guilty and consented to being cast into the sea. Or like the prodigal, I made my long return home, rehearsing how unworthy I was to be his son, and how I ought to be treated as a hired hand.
I deserved despair. I wouldn’t, couldn’t pursue happiness. I had sinned. I needed to serve my time before I could freely smile again. I did not know — indeed, I am still learning — about the joyful life of repentance.
Have Mercy on Me
King David confronted how I think in his beloved psalm of penitence.
The desperate and fallen king wrote Psalm 51 in the bleakest of days, detailed at the very beginning: “To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet went to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.”
In the time when kings go to war, David saw the naked woman from his rooftop. He called for her and took her for himself; she conceived. To cover his sin, David arranged her husband’s death. After Uriah lay dead, God sent the prophet Nathan to confront David about his adultery and murder. Under sin’s thick clouds, David sits to pen this psalm, beginning the only way sinners can: beseeching God for mercy.
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love;according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. (Psalm 51:1)
Sinner’s Broken Bones
I understood David’s sorrow for sin. I knew how sin upbraids my spirit, sends my conscience to berate me, and lays a crushing weight of God’s displeasure upon my soul.
David describes this experience by saying God broke his bones (Psalm 51:8). The weight of sin pressed upon the very core of him, down to the bones, fracturing his inner man. Sin eroded him, as he describes in another psalm: “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long” (Psalm 32:3). I’ve known how sin deteriorates a man.
And while some today might seek to rescue us from feeling the brokenness our iniquity produces, David knows such a severe response to sin as fitting.
You will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. (Psalm 51:16–17)
“The truly repentant heart, the one God will in no way despise, is broken and contrite toward God.”
The truly repentant heart, the one God will in no way despise, is broken and contrite toward God, not unconcerned and insensible. Brokenness I knew; the bitter cup of contriteness I tasted. Thus, when I pictured a life of repentance, I imagined living only in this dark and stormy night, sitting under its pouring rain, rubbing mud on my head remorsefully, waiting for God’s favor to return.
Make Me Smile Again
But David says more. He requests something that changed how I view repentance:
Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice. (Psalm 51:8)
Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. (Psalm 51:12)
Joy and gladness? Let the broken bones rejoice?
David, you committed adultery with Bathsheba, and orchestrated the death of her husband — and you ask God to restore your joy? Are you taking your sin seriously? Do you care about the pain you caused? How can you so quickly ask for restoration of joy, while Uriah’s body still lies fresh in the tomb? Or so I am tempted to ask.
Behold the beautiful collage of true repentance: it bows low in brokenness and contrition, leads us to confess gross sin to the God we have offended, and yet it also bids us to request more happiness in this God. With broken bones, David boldly asks for the inheritance of the righteous: joy. He hears accusations and groans and torturing silence, but he asks to hear former music and festive song; he is caught in caves of guilt but wants to again feel the sunshine of salvation.
His repentance before God is a plea for mercy and a return to God for more joy in God. He wants forgiveness, cleansing, a renewed spirit — to walk again with God, as it were, naked and unashamed. This prodigal knows the scandalous love of the Father, and asks to be received as a son, as loved. Though unworthy in himself, he pants to return to his Father’s table, asks for close communion again, for his broken bones to laugh again, according to his Father’s steadfast love.
Restore Me, Then Others
In David’s prayer, I learned that Luther’s vision of lifelong repentance means turning from broken cisterns to the fountain of living water (Jeremiah 2:13). A life of restoration, renewal, happiness, closeness to God. I learned that the life of unrepentance leads us to take steps farther and farther away from God and hides us from happiness. And this joy, rather than being whipped cream atop salvation, is essential to continue in it, the fuel to persevere in faith and obedience.
And lest we assume this is selfish, note how he plans his joy extend beyond himself.
Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you. (Psalm 51:13)
Though repentance is inescapably personal, it is not only personal.
Unlike a stagnant swamp, true repentance flows onward and outward. Here, David resolves that the cleansing, the joy, the renewed spirit, will send him forth to teach others caught in sin. He determines that if God grants him his pardon and presence, he will go forth and encourage the repentance of others, leading to their return.
New Year, New Repentance
Is your Christian life one of repentance?
Perhaps some of us need to resolve differently this year. Often, we look away from the past year and its failures toward what we hope to be a brighter future. The whole sense of New Year’s resolutions usually gives exclusive attention to what’s ahead — we resolve to do better, be better, live better, starting now.
“Sin needs to be acknowledged, confessed, repented of, not buried beneath a few good intentions.”
But as Christians, we remember that we can’t just leave everything behind us. We have said things and done things this past year — things maybe no person alive knows — that will not die quietly before promises of never again. Some of our sharpest disappointments this past year resulted from sin — and sin needs to be acknowledged, confessed, repented of, not buried beneath a few good intentions.
So let January mark a fresh beginning of repentance. Repentance is, in itself, a kind of January, a newness through which God renews a right spirit within us and restores our first joy in salvation. Take one or two sins to your gracious Father, ask for forgiveness through the blood of Christ, ask for freshness of happiness in your salvation, and go forth, telling others of the joyful repentance you’ve found in your Lord.
By John Piper — 8 months ago
Well, last Wednesday we looked at what makes Pastor John tick. There he gave us a glimpse into his ministry and his aims. That was APJ 1769. In today’s clip, I return to that same sermon, because he goes from that point to talking about how God makes much of us, his children, and why he makes much of us.
First, the point: God makes much of us. He does. And he does so beyond our wildest imagination! In fact, we will see that point next week in greater detail — how God makes much of us. So hold that thought for now, because here, in this Wednesday sermon clip, I want you to see that, yes, God makes much of us, but his plan aims at something far greater than merely making us feel loved for the sake of us feeling loved. You’ll see why here in just a moment.
Again, as we dive into this sermon clip, for context, this comes from a sermon preached two weeks out from John Piper’s eight-month leave of absence from his church in 2010. These are part of his parting words, so to speak, to his church. And in them, here’s Pastor John to explain how God makes much of us — and why he does it that way. Here’s Pastor John.
My shorthand way of trying to help the nominal Christian wake up to their real condition and then plead for regeneration, plead for an awakening, so that at the bottom of their souls is Jesus and not self, is to say, Do you feel more loved by God when he makes much of you, or do you feel more loved by God when, at great cost to his Son, he frees you from that horrible bondage to self in order to enjoy making much of him forever, so that the peak of your joy is to see him, savor him, show him?
He Loves Us for His Sake
Now, all that’s introduction. Today, I am really jealous that this concern of mine that I just described does not undermine the immeasurable way that God loves you, including his making much of you. He makes more of you, Christian — true, born-again, struggling Christian — than you ever dreamed he could or would.
“God makes more of you when he makes much of you for his sake than if he were to make much of you only for your sake.”
I want you to see and feel that you are more loved by God when he loves you that way than any other way. He makes more of you when he makes much of you for his sake than if he were to make much of you only for your sake. If I didn’t believe that, I wouldn’t preach this sermon. God is making more of you when he makes much of you for his sake than if he only made much of you for your sake. More is being made of you, and I hope to show you that.
I said that God reveals himself relentlessly in the Bible as loving you for his name’s sake. I’m going to give you just a few examples so that those of you who may not be as familiar with this as others will get on board with me. You’ll know, “What are you saying? What do you mean by that?” I’m going to give you four or five examples.
1. God adopted us for his glory.
God shows his love for us by predestining us for adoption into his family. Every one of these feels like the greatest act of love to me. I want to say this is the greatest. Well, I want to reserve that for the cross, I think, but man, this is big. That God, in eternity, looked upon me — foreseeing my fallenness, my pride, my sin — and said, “I want that man in my family. I’ll do anything to get him in my family. I will pay for him to be in my family with my Son’s life.” That’s love, folks. That is mega, off-the-charts love.
And the verse is Ephesians 1:5–6. “He predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ.” Get that: he predestined us for adoption into the divine, universe-ruling family “according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace.” Does that ruin it? Does that ruin it? No. He did it. He said, “I’m going to have John Piper. I’m going to have you in my family. I’ve decided this before the world is created. I’m having you to the praise of the glory of my grace.” I hope that doesn’t ruin it for you. I want it to make it more — more, not less — that he did it for his glory.
2. God created us for his glory.
God shows his love for us by creating us. If we didn’t have existence, we couldn’t enjoy him or anything else. So, he loved us into being. Why? Isaiah 43:6–7: “Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory.” Don’t let that diminish the love of God for you in your creation that you came into being for his glory.
3. God sent Christ for his glory.
God shows his love for us by sending us a savior. The angels say,
“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find the baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest.” (Luke 2:11–14)
“We get the Savior, he gets the glory. We get the great joy, he gets the honor.”
A Savior has come. Does that bother you that they would sing that way instead of saying, “Glory to the men for whom he’s dying; glory to the women for whom he’s dying”? Instead, they sing, “Glory to God. A Savior came to rescue sinners. God, God, God — what a God!” I just want you to get inside this so bad. We get the Savior, he gets the glory. We get the great joy, he gets the honor. Is that okay? Goodnight, it’s okay. It can’t be any other way if there’s a God and a sinner like me. It can’t be any other way. This is the greatest news in all the world. A Savior has come for me, and the angels are praising God.
4. Christ died for us for his glory.
God shows his love for us when Christ died. This is probably the biggest — isn’t it? — in the Bible. The death of Christ is the biggest display of the love of God. Let me give you just one verse. This is 2 Corinthians 5:14–15:
The love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all [here comes the purpose clause] that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.
Christ died for me. He put himself between me and the bullet, me and the sword, me and the flames, and he took it, though I deserved it and he didn’t. He took it, and he did that so that I might no longer live for my “magnificent” self and would now die and enjoy living for him forever. That’s why he did it. That’s love. It’s a bigger love than if he hadn’t done it that way.
5. God saves us for his glory.
This is Psalm 79:9: “Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of your name; deliver us, and atone for our sins, for your name’s sake.” Born-again people pray like that. “Save me for your name’s sake. Deliver me, atone for my sin, for your name’s sake.”
That’s the way born-again people think. “It’s all going back; every grace that comes to me is being reflected back. And I love it — I love it. That’s why I’m alive.” This is the greatest thing in all the world: that I would be rescued from immersion in Piper — yuck! — to be freed a little bit, a little bit, to just know him and love him and give it all back and let him be God for me.