You Might also like
By John Piper — 2 years ago
http://rss.desiringgod.org/link/10732/15345601/invincible-joy-confirms-our-electionPost Views: 285
By John Piper — 4 months ago
Today we look again at life when it’s at its darkest. Christians often go through dark seasons, sometimes long dark seasons. Maybe that’s you right now. Maybe this episode is providentially put into your life right now.
This is the context for today’s email from a young man named Joshua. Joshua lives with his dad in California. “Dear Pastor John, thank you for this podcast. Is there anything I can do to help God help my dad? We’re not in the best living situation, and though we’ve prayed, we haven’t found a new place to live. I am actively pursuing the Lord in my mornings, and I am trying to lead my dad here, yet he still struggles with his faith. Just last night he said he doesn’t feel God’s love for him as his son. Life is hard for him right now, and God feels distant. What can I say and how can I pray for a dad who does not feel God’s love?
Joshua, here’s what I would want my son to do for me if I were in a dark place like your dad is right now. And I could be there; I have been there. There’s no Christian who doesn’t experience seasons when God feels distant or when we don’t feel his love as sweetly as we would like to.
Meditate on the Cross
First, I would want you, my son, to speak the truth to me about the objective reality of the love of God in the historical act of the death of his Son. Even though your dad does not now feel the preciousness of the love of God in giving his only Son, he needs to hear it. “Faith comes [by] hearing” (Romans 10:17) — over and over, not just at the beginning.
Make the connection for him between the love of God and the death of Jesus, because that’s the rock-solid, objective foundation of our feelings of being loved. For example:
“While we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person — though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die — but God shows his love for us [he shows, he demonstrates his love for us] in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6–8).
“The life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).
“In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10).
“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).
And that precious, present-tense word loves in Revelation 1:5: “[He] loves us.” Not loved, as in most places. “[He] loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood.”
That’s what we need to hear. That’s what I would need to hear and what your dad needs to hear. When our feelings don’t correspond to reality, we need rock-solid, objective, historical truth about the death of Jesus.
Treasure Signs of Life
If I were your dad, I would want to be reminded that the love of God for me was shown to me not only when Christ died, but also when he made me alive and gave me the mustard seed of faith that I’m struggling to hold on to. “God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us . . . made us alive together with Christ” (Ephesians 2:4–5). If I have any life in me at all, small as it feels right now, it is owing to the great love of God for me in making me alive.
Remind your father that when God made us his own by his great love, nothing can now separate us from him:
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. (Romans 8:38–39)
Learn Gutsy Guilt
Surprise him with a passage he may never have thought about. I love this passage. I’ve called it gutsy guilt:
Rejoice not over me, O my enemy; when I fall, I shall rise;when I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light to me.I will bear the indignation of the Lord because I have sinned against him,until he pleads my cause and executes judgment for me.He will bring me out to the light; I shall look upon his vindication. (Micah 7:8–9)
Even when we sin our way into darkness, the child of God can speak with boldness to the darkness and say, “Darkness, you will not have the last word. Even the God who put me here in discipline, who made darkness cover me, he will bring me out. He will execute judgment for me, not against me.” That’s what I call gutsy guilt for the justified children of God.
Wait for the Morning
Remind him that even when darkness covers us, and wherever we go in our weariness and lack of feeling, God is there, and he is our light.
Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.
And this is so relevant for his dad:
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,”even the darkness is not dark to you [O God]; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you. (Psalm 139:7–12)
And then add this promise for a sweet application of that psalm:
Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning. (Psalm 30:5)
Pray for Spiritual Strength
And finally, remind him that the apostle Paul knew that the struggle to feel the love of Christ would be part of the Christian warfare, so he taught us how to pray about it:
[I pray that you] may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:18–19)
The amazing thing about that prayer is that Paul shows us that it takes strength to comprehend the love of Christ. There is a kind of soul strength that God gives in answer to prayer that enables us to grasp and feel and enjoy the love of God in Christ for us personally.
So, I pray, Joshua, that you will be filled with peace and joy and hope as you share these things with your father. And you can tell him that our little APJ band here is praying for him.
By John Piper — 1 year ago
It’s Monday on the podcast, but it’s Tuesday in real time for us because we’re in Nashville right now at the Sing! Global 2022 Getty Music Worship Conference, recording this before a live studio audience.
We have been recently on the podcast talking a lot about spiritual gifts. And speaking of spiritual gifts, if anyone here has any inclination whatsoever toward missions, you’ve probably heard about or even read John Piper’s book Let the Nations Be Glad!. That book turns thirty years old this summer, with over 300,000 copies sold. To celebrate, we just released a thirtieth-anniversary edition, an expanded hardcover of that book. For those of you who want to read it again, or maybe you haven’t read it before, this is a good time to do it. Let the Nations be Glad!
Pastor John, looking back now on thirty years of what God has done with that book, what thoughts do you have on that book and missions going forward?
It’s the most surprising book that I’ve written — surprising in its effect, because it has been used to strengthen the hands of veteran missionaries and awaken a desire for missions among aspiring missionaries. And it has been used to clarify what we’re doing among younger missionaries. And so I’ve been amazed. And what’s surprising is that I’ve never been a missionary. I’ve never crossed a culture, learned a new language, embedded myself in a people and given my life to growing Christ’s church there. I’ve never done that. I was a pastor of a local church all those years when that book was coming into being. And so it has stunned me that a person with no missionary experience could write a book that God would use in missions.
So the first thing that strikes me is, Why would that be? I think the answer is that it’s Bible saturated, and Bible has its own power. You don’t have to be anybody if you speak the word of God faithfully. So that’s the first thought.
Gladness and Glory
The second thought is that I was just trying in those early years in the 80s — the book I think came out in ’91 or ’92, since this is thirty years — I was just trying to bring my big-God theology (Calvinism, Reformed theology) to bear on the local church and to be consistent with it in all that we did. And one of the things we wanted to be was a platform for the sending of missionaries. And I had to come to terms with the relationship between being radically God-centered, believing in the absolute sovereignty of God and the saving of sinners, and that missionary launching pad.
“Christian Hedonism simply means that God is most glorified among the nations when the nations are most satisfied in God.”
And it emerged as perfect. The book’s subtitle is The Supremacy of God In Missions. And the title is Let The Nations Be Glad!. So my Reformed theology comes out in the subtitle and my Christian Hedonism comes out in the title. And Christian Hedonism simply means that God is most glorified among the nations when the nations are most satisfied in God. And that’s what Psalm 67 says. “Let the nations be glad. . . . Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you!” (Psalm 67:4–5). So the gladness of the nations and the glory of God came together perfectly in my theology. And so I thought, “There’s nothing more obvious than that we should be a missionary-sending church and that I should do everything I can to mobilize people for the cause of missions.”
Beginnings of a Book
And during those years of trying to mobilize people, thought after thought after thought came that moved toward a book. Some of those thoughts included, Are people really lost? So many people today are all into other issues besides rescuing lost people from perishing. Are people going to hell? I had to answer that. I had to give good, solid, exegetical foundations for that heartbreaking reality.
Another thought was, Do you have to hear about Jesus in order to be saved? Lots of evangelicals are inclusivist and say, “No, you don’t have to hear about him. He did it, yes, and purchased salvation, but you don’t have to hear about it in order to benefit from it.” So I had to write about that.
“There are thousands of peoples, and the Bible talks about them. And missions is reaching all those peoples.”
And then the last one was about peoples versus people. At the time, that was a red-hot issue that nobody thought about when I was growing up. I never used the word people with an s on the end when I was growing up, ever. I remember using it one time, and a little girl said to me, “People is already plural. You don’t say peoples, you say people.” She corrected me. I said, “That’s very sharp.” But now she needs to be taught missiology because there are thousands of peoples, and the Bible talks about them. And missions is reaching all those peoples, not saving every soul.
Jesus is going to come back when people are not yet saved. But I don’t think he’s coming back until the mission is finished. And the mission includes reaching the peoples. So we had to deal with the whole issue of peoples versus people. So those are the pieces that came together.
Reason for Missions
And the last thing I would say is that this is the only book I have written, I think, from which people remember one sentence: “Missions exists because worship doesn’t.” I was just talking to a guy in the restroom twenty minutes ago, and he was asking me a question about my talk yesterday, and he said, “You gave the impression that eternity is going to be an endless worship service.” I said, “Wrong impression. And you’re right. I probably did leave that impression.” I didn’t mean to because I think worship from the heart corporately is more than worship services. It’s all that you do, according to Romans 12:1–2. You lay down your whole life in your vocation and your hobbies and everything when it comes from the heart.
And I said, “Most people, when they read that sentence (“missions exists because worship doesn’t”), misunderstand it by thinking that I mean missions exists because worship services don’t exist.” That’s not what I mean. And so I clarified that in later editions. People are not living out of a supreme valuing of God above all things.