Apr 21 2009

How to Read the Prophets

A friend of mine discovered John Piper and devoured just about every online sermon in under 12 months. It changed him profoundly. (I highly recommend Piper’s biographical series. I should listen to them again.)

Anyhow, my friend shared that Piper had made a comment about not ‘getting’ the prophets. As there are so many views on what the prophets are talking about, this is understandable. Based on what I’ve heard from James Jordan and my resulting studies, I would like to offer some helpful hints. They seem to play out, from what I can see.

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Apr 10 2009

4 Mistakes I Hope You Don’t Make

Mistake 1: Big is better than small.

God uses little David-like people to accomplish huge Goliath-like things because he is jealous to get the credit.

Don’t worry about big. Worry about faithful.

Mistake 2: New is better than old.

Read old books. You need the wisdom of the ages to combat the folly of the present.

When you read books from today, don’t read first and mainly books by emergent writers. Read books first and mainly by old men—J.I. Packer, R.C. Sproul—men with long battled years who have learned not only from the Bible and from books, but from life.

In school, it doesn’t matter what you major in. Just find the wisest teachers and take everything from them.

When great changes happen, it’s not from new ideas. The Reformation was a great leap forward precisely by going backward.

Mistake 3: Having is better than being.

There’s no correlation between the fullness of life and the muchness of having.

Don’t reduce your education to acquiring marketable skills. Study to become and behold, not to be rich.

Mistake 4: Visible is better than invisible.

The most important things are not visible. God is invisible and he is the greatest reality of all. If you structure your life around sight, it will be out of touch with reality.

Do not be much interested in outward appearance. Be interested in inner realities.

–John Piper

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Apr 10 2009

Church Membership: A Blood-Bought Gift of God’s Grace

The New Testament knows of no Christians who are not accountable members of local churches in the sense that we have just seen. “Lone-Ranger Christians” are a contradiction because becoming a Christian means being united to Christ, and union with Christ expresses itself in union with a local body of believers. It seems to us that in the New Testament, to be excluded from the local church was to be excluded from Christ. This is why the issue of membership is so important.

Are you an accountable member of a local church? Not just: Is your name somewhere? But, are you committed to discipline and being disciplined according to biblical standards? Have you publicly declared your willingness to be shepherded and to be led by the leaders of a local church? Do you see yourself and your gifts as part of an organic ministering body? Do you show by your firm attachment to Christ’s body that you are attached to Christ?

Church membership is a blood-bought gift of God’s grace. More than most of us realize, it is a life-sustaining, faith-strengthening, joy-preserving means of God’s mercy to us. I urge you not to cut yourself off from this blessing.

John Piper, How Important Is Church Membership?
Sermon July 13, 2008
Read or listen at www.desiringgod.org

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Apr 10 2009

Deliberately offensive

“I am a Christian. Every sermon I preach should be a Christian sermon. If a Jewish person, a Muslim person or a Hindu person likes my sermon, I did something wrong. Christ is to be exalted in this church, all the time, and not ambiguously.”

- John Piper, Songs That Shape the Heart and Mind, podcast sermon 25/5/08. www.desiringgod.org

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Apr 10 2009

The End of Judaism

So the destruction of AD 70 was not an act of anti-Semitism. Rather it was an act of divine judgment. 

…That was the end of Judaism as it had been known for hundreds of years. The priesthood was at an end. The animal sacrifices were at an end. The worship life that centered on Jerusalem and the Temple was at an end. And it has never been restored to our own day. Judaism as we know it today in Minneapolis and New York and Tel Aviv is not the same way of life practiced before AD 70.

What is the meaning of this cataclysmic event for Judaism?

It was a witness to the truth of Christianity. Jesus predicted it. And it came to pass. Christians did not fight against Israel in this revolt. In fact, Christians suffered in Jerusalem with Israel because of the revolt. As far as Rome was concerned Judaism was the tree and Christianity was the branch. If they could destroy the tree of Judaism, they could wipe out Christianity as well. Jews and Christians suffered together in AD 70.

So the destruction of AD 70 was not an act of anti-Semitism. Rather it was an act of divine judgment. That is what Jesus says in Luke 19:43-44: these things happened“ because you did not recognize the time of your visitation,” — that is, you did not recognize the coming of the Messiah. It was God’s testimony that the coming of Jesus was in fact what the book of Hebrews says it was — the replacement of shadows with Reality — Christ himself.

One of the early church fathers, Athanasius (born A. D. 373), put it like this,

It is a sign, and an important proof, of the coming of the Word of God, that Jerusalem no longer stands. . . . For . . . when the truth was there, what need any more of the shadow? And this was why Jerusalem stood till then — namely, that [the Jews] might be exercised in the types as a preparation for the reality.

In other words, one might say, the destruction of the Temple and of Jerusalem was God’s way of saying: “Wake up to the meaning of the book of Hebrews in the New Testament.”

from Jesus: Mediator of a Better Covenant by John Piper, Deember 22, 1996

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Apr 8 2009

Yield to the Book

“(Adoniram) Judson was a lover of the Word of God. The main legacy of his 38 years in Burma was a complete translation of the Bible into Burmese and a dictionary that all the later missionaries could use. Once when a Buddhist teacher said that he could not believe that Christ suffered the death of the cross because no king allows his son such indignity, “Judson responded, ‘Therefore you are not a disciple of Christ. A true disciple inquires not whether a fact is agreeable to his own reason, but whether it is in the book. His pride has yielded to the divine testimony. Teacher, your pride is still unbroken. Break down your pride, and yield to the word of God.’”

John Piper | How Few There Are Who Die So Hard! Suffering and Success in the Life of Adoniram Judson: The Cost of Bringing Christ to Burma

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