Ministry and theology… like a ninja.

Oxygen Part III – Piper

Monday night session up now.  This is Piper getting into the ‘affections’.  Starting to realize that a lot of people really push up against his whole ‘are ultimate goal is God’s glory’ thing.  Last night someone asked the question about whether or not the cross or God’s glory is the centre of the New Testament (and the whole Bible).  I was surprised, since it seems quite obvious that the cross is the centre of history, but that God’s glory is most evident in the cross.  And Piper even explained that quite clearly in the first session.  Perhaps, as I’ve heard before, us evangelicals really do sometimes start worshipping the cross instead of the one that hangs on it?


Thesis: My delight is not just a response to his glory but is an essential way that his glory is magnified, that he is glorified.

God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.

Feel Christ

4 clarifying statements.

  1. 1.    Definition of feeling, emotion, affections

Spiritual affections are not bodily humours/reactions.  By spiritual we mean they are Holy Spirit awakened, Holy Spirit sustained and non-physical.

  1. 2.    Why say that affections are more important than right doctrine?

Right doctrine serves right feelings.

Truth serves heart change.

  1. 3.    Why emphasize affections over behaviour?

Yes and no.

Jesus says make the tree good and the fruit will be good.

Good deeds are public evidence of salvation.  God needs to be a public God so that people can see Him.  So that when he presents a Christian before angels and devils they can see the fruits of their life as evidence.

So we have to be wary of making behaviour the goal.

Behaviour is not the goal:

Texts – 1 Cor 13, 2 Cor 9:7

  1. 4.    How do the affections relate to the glory of God?

God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.  (yes I know, get used to it – PG)

Phil 1:20-21

‘I want Christ to be magnified in my body, in life and in death’ 

So how does that happen?

‘God I want to die in a way that makes you look magnificent.’ ‘Here’s how: because for me to die is gain’  because to be with Christ is far better (vs. 23)

‘My passion is for Christ to be shown to be magnificent in my death and the way it will happen is that I will count it gain.’

When this happens who looks good?  Jesus!

In that moment Christ is magnified, when you lose everything you’ve known except him.


Four Implications

Implications for our people

The pursuit of maximum joy, and the pursuit of the glory of God are never at odds. 

Reasons: Ps 16:11

Your people should pursue max joy all the time without fail.  This will cost you your life.  It is a costly lifestyle.

Some biblical proofs:

The Bible commands you to be happy.

Ps 37:4

Ps 32:11

Ps 100 ‘shout joyfully…’

The nature of faith teaches that we should pursue our satisfaction always.

Jn 6:35 ‘I am the bread of life…’

How would you define faith?  A: a coming to Jesus to be satisfied.  The affectional embrace of Jesus as our supreme treasure.

If you have faith you come to God for reward.

Jer 2:12-13

Evil is tasting the fountain of delights and turning to the desert, sucking on the sand until we go to hell and calling it pleasure.

Evil is forsaking your joy.

So: happiness is to be found in the glory of God.

So we should be leading our people into finding happiness.

Implications for us

Heb 13:17 ‘Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls and will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with sighing—for that would be harmful to you.’

How do our people get no advantage?  By our groaning.  And how do they get advantage?  By our joy.  So we can’t love our people unless we pursue our joy.

Joy is the key to your people’s health.

This is liberating because I get permission to get as much happiness as I can seek!

Its devastating because I fail so regularly.

Implications for our preaching

2 Cor 1:24 ‘I do not mean to imply that we lord it over your faith; rather, we are workers with you for your joy, because you stand firm in the faith.’

The apostolic goal was to be a worker with them for their joy.

The only way to help people be happy is with rock-solid theology.

Implications for the wider challenges of the evangelical church

Are their stresses in the church that would be made less bad by embracing the truth that the pursuit of God’s glory is an essential part of life?

Two sets of errors.

  1. If right thinking is drifting away from this truth, what can happen is that it moves towards dead orthodoxy.  Dried up right theology, which looks lifeless.
  2. The reaction to that is to go ‘yuck!’ – anti-intellect.

These comes from the neglect of the truth ‘GIMGIUWWAMSIH’  (like that? – PG)

Excesses of intellectualism and excesses of emotionalism.


2 responses

  1. “Perhaps, as I’ve heard before, us evangelicals really do sometimes start worshipping the cross instead of the one that hangs on it?”

    Or worshipping a book instead of the great God which the book points us to!

    August 30, 2011 at 1:29 pm

  2. A sad reality Chris! Something to always be guarding against.
    You would’ve really enjoyed Piper’s talk on the link between the mind and the affections this morning. Will write it up by the end of today hopefully!

    August 30, 2011 at 3:26 pm

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