Hello, APJ listeners. Thanks for spending so much time with Pastor John and me over the years. We’re honored to be along on this ride of what God has done — and continues to do — through the podcast. It’s bigger than us.
It’s just me today, with an update for you about a few new programming changes to be aware of. And the first change is an announcement — an exciting one for us here at desiringGod.org because we are now offering a brand-new John Piper sermon podcast. It launched in mid-April. Maybe you heard about it. It’s called Light + Truth. Be sure to subscribe to the new podcast feed to enjoy sermons from Pastor John’s pulpit ministry — classic sermons and new sermons, five days a week, all curated in a new podcast hosted by Dan Cruver. It’ll be a great addition to your podcast feed.
And with the addition of the new podcast come two changes to Ask Pastor John. The first is that we’re going to bring sermon-clip-curation Wednesdays to an end. That was a lot of fun, and you all sent me a ton of great clips over the years. Thank you for sharing those clips with us and sharing your memories too. Many of us have stories about unforgettable moments in life when a sermon from Pastor John met us in a moment of need. But sermon-clip Wednesdays will end in May. Instead of sermon clips, those of you who want to listen to curated John Piper sermons can subscribe to the new Light + Truth podcast.
And that brings me to change two. In removing the Wednesday slot, APJ is moving to two times per week. We will be publishing two episodes per week, now on Mondays and Thursdays. For a number of years now, we’ve been publishing on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Now we’re going to publish new APJs on Mondays and Thursdays. That change begins in June. Just wanted to give you a heads up.
Thank you for listening in, supporting us, and sending in your questions. Keep those coming, which you are — we have no shortage of questions ahead of us. In fact, we already have May and June and all of July, and much of August, now scheduled out with themes. It’s as busy as ever. And Pastor John continues to love investing his time in APJ. In fact, we were recently looking over his schedule for the next year ahead and his ministry commitments, and he said, “APJ remains a deeply satisfying investment of effort. And it’s probably the hardest thing I do.” Ha! Yes — not easy work, but deeply satisfying work. Amen. And I love working on this podcast, and we have much work ahead of us in this second decade of the podcast.
So those are the updates. Subscribe to Light + Truth today. And APJ moves to Mondays and Thursdays in June.
I’m your host, Tony Reinke. Thanks for listening to the Ask Pastor John podcast. We’ll see you soon.
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Every Christian Serving with the Whole Soul: Ephesians 6:5–9, Part 4By John Piper — 1 year ago
http://rss.desiringgod.org/link/10732/15189491/every-christian-serving-with-the-whole-soulPost Views: 266
Why Do They Get What I Want? Envy and the Eyes That MatterBy Tilly Dillehay — 1 year ago
When I was about five, my dad invited me and my older sister into his home studio for fun. Like most of the musicians and producers in Nashville, he had a basement room outfitted with everything you need to make a decent demo: a dark soundproofed booth with a mic and stool, another room with a soundboard, and a thick glass window in between — for giving the “thumbs up” sign between takes.
He let me try first. I stood in the tiny room and sang along to the track playing through an enormous pair of headphones. In about three minutes, I was losing interest. I began to complain that the headphones were squeezing my ears, and my dad let me go back to playing.
Then it was my sister Sophie’s turn. And apparently, this was the day my dad discovered Sophie’s voice.
What did they work on? I didn’t hear it until a few weeks later when my parents had friends over for supper. My dad mentioned the session they’d done, and our guests wanted to hear it. Everybody sat down in the living room, but for some reason, I didn’t go in.
I stood in the hallway outside as the track began and Sophie’s voice burst into the air.
Even at seven years old, her voice was clear, powerful, and controlled. My little stomach flipped. I cringed outside the door as the guests reacted. My dad modestly turned the volume down after the first minute. Why had I left the studio? Why did I quit so quickly? Why didn’t I see that it would lead to Sophie being shown off while I was left standing out in the hallway?
Wishing Against Others
The smell of foam insulation in a recording booth would become very familiar to me in years to come. My dad did a great job of including all his kids in the music of his life. He invited his daughters onstage with him regularly during church concerts.
Later, he used connections to get us all jobs working as session singers for children’s projects — allowing us to save for future cars or colleges. He produced and paid for me to record a CD of jazz cover tunes when I was fifteen, and was always uniquely supportive of my voice — even if I knew it was more idiosyncratic and less powerful than Sophie’s. She was compared to Mariah Carey, I was compared to Billie Holiday, my younger sisters were later compared to The Wailin’ Jennys — and my dad managed to be a fan of all of it.
But when I look back, I’m shocked to recognize this moment as the earliest flowering of envy in my life. Peering back through the decades, I can see my five-year-old self standing in the hallway. The impulse of her heart is unmistakable.
I wished my dad would not play the CD. I wished the CD had been scratched or mislaid. I wished her voice didn’t sound like that. I wished the guests weren’t around to hear it.
In fact, I wished the glory of her voice was banished out of existence.
Inequality and the Eyes That Matter
The glory of a voice like Sophie’s is a deliberate gift from the God of glory. He stamps all of his creation with this glory — though mankind has a double portion.
Man, who is made in the image of God, has been “crowned with glory and honor” (Psalm 8:5). His glory is borrowed, reflective, derivative. But it’s real. And because it’s real, his fellow human beings — all of whom have “exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images” (Romans 1:23) — are moved to respond to it. Even in small amounts. Even in the temporary forms we find in our fellow creatures.
The glory of charisma, of competence, of intelligence, of beauty, of artistic talent, of wealth, of relational security — these all give us a sensation of brushing our fingers against the locked door of heaven itself. And we must respond, whether in admiration, in enjoyment, in worship, or (like the five-year-old Tilly) in horror and hatred.
There’s a name for that horror and hatred: envy.
Humblest of Pleasures
The strength of our horror over the glory of others corresponds to the strength of our appetite. We not only want to enjoy glory — we want to be enveloped in glory, to assume some part of it into ourselves.
This desire can be good and creaturely. In a discussion of heaven’s glories, C.S. Lewis shared that he’d always been uncomfortable with the idea of “an eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17) waiting for us in heaven. What kind of glory could this be? he wondered. Fame, like the vain kind you seek among your peers? He felt it was impossible to desire glory and also be properly humble, until something clicked for him:
Apparently what I had mistaken for humility had, all these years, prevented me from understanding what is in fact the humblest, the most childlike, the most creaturely of pleasures — nay, the specific pleasure of the inferior: the pleasure of a beast before men, a child before its father, a pupil before his teacher, a creature before its Creator. (The Weight of Glory, 37)
Mankind was made “to glorify God and enjoy him forever” (in the words of the Westminster Catechism). But this process could never leave man unchanged. He was also made to be glorified himself — crowned with the glory of his Father’s eternal pleasure in him.
Small Heart of Envy
One of our most basic needs is to be looked upon by the Eyes That Matter, and told, in the Voice That Matters, “Well done, good and faithful servant. . . . Enter into the joy of your master” (Matthew 25:21). It’s not enough to look on his glory; we want to be let inside. We want to be transformed, to be resplendent, to be strong enough to revel in his glory without shame. We were designed to see pleasure in the eyes of our heavenly Father.
Here’s the connection to my five-year-old self. Like a second Cain, I reacted in sinful displeasure when my sister got a “Well done” from my earthly father. I couldn’t handle hearing another praised by our father, because envy operates in a zero-sum world. Envy believes the lie that God’s universe is one of essential scarcity.
“Envy believes the lie that God’s universe is one of essential scarcity.”
The envious heart is too small. It can’t fathom a God who is limitless in his expressions of pleasure and overflowing love. Our fallen minds truly believe there’s not enough of his plenty to go around. This means that if someone else was given a portion of borrowed glory (a glorious talent, beauty, skill, job, or intimate relationship), then there must be less left for me.
What Can Quench Envy?
It’s not just little girls in headphones who hunger for glory. All of us seek beauty and light and fame in our free moments — watching our shows, listening to our songs, shopping for wedding photographers, hiking the lake trail, entwining our souls-in-bodies with other souls-in-bodies, posting our updates, kissing our children, and tucking ourselves into a booth at the local craft beer place for deep conversation. We are glory-seekers, sniffing the wind and watching the horizon. Let a thing whisper, however falsely, however faintly, of our God and Father, and we will run after it.
After all this seeking, how can we believe the good news when it comes? It’s too good to be true; it’s too much to bear:
The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:9–13)
“The envious heart can’t fathom a God who is limitless in his expressions of pleasure and overflowing love.”
We’re in the hallway outside, fuming that another child of God was given glories we weren’t. We’re wondering if the love of the Father will run out before we walk into the room, if he’ll look at us like Isaac looked at Esau and say, “He has taken away your blessing” (Genesis 27:35). We can’t imagine what kind of glory would make it okay.
What glory could take away the sting of being poor while another is rich, of being single while another is married with children, of giving our best to make mediocre paintings while someone else’s effortless eye creates a masterpiece?
Envy Will Drown in Glory
There is, however, a glory that will swallow up the sting of inequality (though it has not promised to take away inequality itself): this light has given us the right to become children of God. And this is the glory that can work such wonders:
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)
The pleasure of the Father will overtake us and swallow up all else — pleasure because of what Christ did on our behalf, pleasure because we’ve been reworked into his glorious image from the inside out. We now look like Christ — his glory will one day envelop us and transform us. It has begun even now:
We all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18).
Envy doesn’t stand a chance. In the final day, it will be swallowed up in glory. Even so, come Lord Jesus.
Why Did Jesus Need to Suffer and Die Publicly?By John Piper — 10 months ago
Good Monday morning, and welcome back to a new week, number 499 in our history. Amazing! And we start week 499 with a question from a listener named Elizabeth, who has an interesting question about the saving work of Christ. “Hi, Pastor John. I am studying 1 Peter, going through your LAB videos, and digging deeper to share with my fellow stay-at-home moms at church. My question pertains to tauta in 1 Peter 1:11, translated ‘subsequent.’ I’m trying to tie together ‘the sufferings of Christ’ and his ‘subsequent glories.’ It does not seem to simply refer to a chronological progression. Peter very often ties suffering and glory together (1 Peter 1:6–7, 10; 2:12; 3:9, 14; 4:12–15; 5:1, 10).
“So, here’s my question: Did Jesus have to suffer in public for God to give him those glories? Couldn’t Jesus have lived a perfect, law-abiding, substitutionary life for us in total isolation or at least in obscurity? I know he underwent his formal temptations alone. So, could he have died serenely, then risen, and defeated death and sin, but not by suffering in public? Or if he had done this, would he have not received the ‘subsequent’ glories? Was it required for him to suffer publicly and die early? So then, again, what’s the ‘subsequent’ relationship between his public sufferings and his eternal glory?”
I’m drawn to answer this question, even though in one sense it’s the kind of a “what if” question that the Bible doesn’t really address directly (“What if Jesus had lived a perfect, sinless life and died a natural death at age 85 — could that life and death save us?”). The Bible doesn’t spend a lot of time reflecting on that possibility. And so, you might think, “Well, why would you even go there?” Nevertheless, in trying to answer this particular question and questions like that, we are led to ponder the wonder that God did it, in fact, a certain way — he planned for his Son to suffer agonizingly, publicly, extremely — and why he did it that way. And that’s worth our serious meditation.
Christ’s Public Payment
So, as I have pondered the question of whether our redemption could have been accomplished by the perfection of Christ without the public suffering of a crucifixion, I see at least six reasons that the Bible gives for why this could not have happened — in other words, why Christ’s public, horrific suffering by crucifixion was absolutely necessary for our salvation.
1. Predestined Plan
The first and perhaps the most obvious reason is that these particular sufferings were predestined by God before the foundation of the world. It was God’s eternal plan that his Son suffer in this way. Acts 4:27: “Truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.”
So, everything that Herod, Pilate, those Gentile soldiers who drove the nails and the spear, and the crucifying mobs — everything they did to Jesus in those last hours was God’s plan. It had been predestined to take place. It was not up for grabs. The alternative of a leisurely life and an 85-year-old death was not in the plan. That’s the first reason. It couldn’t have happened.
2. Fulfilled Scriptures
Second, these sufferings were prophesied in God’s word — the Old Testament scriptures that cannot be broken. Over and over again in the Gospels, the details of the final sufferings of Christ are said to be “that the Scriptures might be fulfilled” (Matthew 26:56; Luke 22:37, 24:26; John 13:18; 19:36). For example, “He was pierced for our transgressions” (Isaiah 53:5). Pierced. Not cancer, not old age, not cardiac arrest. He was pierced for our transgressions.
“The horrific public shaming and sufferings of Christ were scripted down to the details.”
In other words, the horrific public shaming and sufferings of Christ were scripted down to the details of what would happen to his clothing in the Old Testament. If those writings cannot be broken, then the sufferings could not be avoided.
3. Fitting Sufferings
Third (and this gets closer to the heart of the matter), Hebrews 2:10: “It was fitting [underline that word; put a big red circle around that word; it’s an amazing word] that he for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.”
This is very profound, and it is worth much study and hours of meditation. God’s eternal decision to achieve our salvation through the sufferings of Christ is not arbitrary or whimsical or meaningless, but is owing to a profound fitness, appropriateness, suitableness as God considers all things. It is appropriate; it is suitable; it is ultimately, you might say, beautiful. That is, it’s in perfect harmony with all of God’s other acts and plans. We can spend a lifetime probing into why it is fitting, but let Hebrews 2:10 fly like a great banner over the sufferings of Christ. It was fitting — right, good, suitable, beautiful — in the mind of God for our salvation to be accomplished this way and not another way.
4. Sacrificial Lamb
Fourth, the death of Jesus was an intentional sacrifice given by God similar to the sacrificial offerings of a lamb in the Old Testament. Jesus, Paul says, is “our Passover lamb” (1 Corinthians 5:7). So, just as in the Old Testament, allowing a sheep to get old in the flock and die from mange was not a sacrifice. That’s not the way it worked. You took the sheep and you handed him over with your heart and with an intentionality.
So, Christ growing old in some remote village and dying would not have been a sacrifice of God slitting the throat of the precious Lamb of God. The word slaughter is used in Revelation for what happened to the Lamb and how he accomplished our salvation. There was an intentionality to the sacrifice. Jesus was offered up on the cross as a sacrifice. Hebrews 10:12: “When Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God.”
5. By His Blood
Fifth, over and over in the New Testament, Christ is said to accomplish his saving work by means of his blood. For example, Romans 5:9: “We have now been justified by his blood.” Hebrews 9:22: “Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins.” I think that’s another way to draw out the significance of Christ’s death as a sacrifice.
6. Even Death on a Cross
And then finally, number six, Philippians 2 describes the humiliation of Jesus from the highest point of equality with God, to the lowest point of death — and then he adds, “even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8), as the path from the highest to the lowest, as the path that God rewards with the exaltation of Jesus, not only to new life in resurrection, but to the acclamation of all the nations as Lord of lords.
Though he was in the form of God, [he] did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death . . .
And then these words are not throwaway words, because it had to be the lowest point to accomplish our redemption:
. . . even death on [the most despicable, shameful, painful instrument of execution] a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him a name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:6–11)
“There is, in God’s mind, a path to glory for his Son, and this path was a painful, humiliating death by crucifixion.”
There is, in God’s mind, a path to glory for his Son, and this path was a painful, humiliating death by crucifixion. It was the depth of the suffering, it was the ignominy of the cross that he endured that was the lowest point that he had to reach for God to reward him with the highest office of lordship as a Redeemer.
Worthy to Be Lord
Perhaps one last passage to point to the fact that the slaughter of the Lamb was what made Jesus a fitting ruler of all the peoples of the world — namely, Revelation 5:9–10:
Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals [in other words, “Worthy are you to be the Lord of the unfolding of history”], for you were slaughtered [esphagēs, not died in a remote village at age 85], and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.
So, for those six reasons at least, I would say, we can say that the glorification of Jesus Christ and the achievement of our salvation did indeed require the kind of sufferings he endured, and we will sing the song of the Lamb, the slaughtered Lamb, forever and ever as a tribute to those sufferings and our salvation.