Ministry and theology… like a ninja.

Oxygen Part IV – Piper ‘Think Christ’

Here’s my notes for Tuesday morning’s Piper session on ‘Think Christ.  Really good stuff I think.

The conference is now over, and I’ve still got a 4 sessions to put up, but hopefully I’ll be able to do that by tomorrow.  Also I’ll do a separate post on my own personal reflections/critiques of the Conference.  For now I’ll just say its been a wonderful few days of refreshment and encouragement!


Think Christ

Matt 22:34-40

Thesis: Right thinking about God happens for the sake of right affections for God.

Both thinking and feeling are essential to glorifying God, but knowing is not ultimate, affections for God is.  Heart affections are the goal of thinking.

Affections for God that aren’t based on right thinking about God don’t glorify God.

Satisfaction is based on right views about God.


Scene 1

A man walks up to you with 10000 dollars.  He says ‘would you please deposit this for me.’  And you say, ‘I don’t even know you! Why are you trusting me with this money?’  He says, ‘No reason, I just feel like you are trustworthy.’

How do you feel?  Honoured?  No you feel like he’s crazy.  His affections are groundless.  They’re not based on any knowledge.  He’s stupid.

Scene 2

Another man walks up to you.  Give you his account number, name, and pin to deposit the money.  You say ‘I don’t even know you.’  He replies, ‘No you don’t know me, but we work in the same place.  I’ve been studying you.  I’ve seen how you act, and I know you to be trustworthy.’

He has based his decision on truth and knowledge.

This is how we should think about God.

God is not honoured by emotions that aren’t rooted in right thinking and right doctrine.

You say ‘I know you are all-satisfying because I’ve watched you, I’ve studied you, I know you.’

Thesis again: Right thinking about God is essential to right affections for God and God is not honoured by any other affections.

This lifts thinking very high, not higher than worship/affections, but high.

10 statements about thinking

1.  You can have a passion for God’s supremacy and still be lost

Romans 10:1-2
Paul’s writing about people who have a zeal for God, but they’re going to hell.
What’s wrong with their zeal?  It doesn’t accord with knowledge.  In this case about the truth of justification.

2. God gives understanding as we do the thinking

2 Tim 2:7
You can’t say ‘just think’ nor can you say ‘God will just give it’.
In and through your thinking God’s illuminating work gives you understanding.  He doesn’t’ circumvent your brain and just plant ideas.

3. God uses intellectual means to achieve his purposes

Acts 17:2-3
Paul reasons, explains, and proves to the Athenians.
Paul, of all the writers in the Bible, knows that these folks are spiritually dead.  They have no life.  He’s reasoning with them.  Isn’t that pointless?  You can’t reason with a dead man.  He knows that the mind of the flesh does not receive the things of the spirit.  They are blind. And yet he reasons.
Because God acts through intellectual means.
You never know when your verbal thought-through statement will be used by God to open the eyes of the blind.

4. God expects us to use ordinary logic in order to know him.

Luke 12:54-57
Luke assumes that we will use logic in nature and spiritual matters.
Jesus expects people to use this logic.
In this passage we see logic.  Premise à Conclusion = logic
Jesus says ‘Why don’t you use that to recognize me?’

5.  When it comes to thinking and talking Jesus admires clarity and forthrightness, not using brilliance to evade and not tell the truth.

Matt 21:23ff
Jesus refuses to deal with people who use their reason to conceal truth.
Jesus hates evasion and using thinking to spin and evade.
2 Cor 4:2
Illustration: A prominent Christian leader who responds in the media to events and avoids saying ‘God reigns, he’s in control’

6. Our people need to know things because right thinking alters the way they act.

13 times Paul asks the question ‘do you not know?’
‘Cause knowing things changes how we live.

7. Teachers and Pastors should think about the Bible.

God has given pastors/teachers to the church
One qualification is ‘adept at teaching’
They must be gifted at explaining things.
God wants teachers to take the Bible and explain it to them.  Therefore teachers should think about the Bible.

8. Our job is to explain the ‘whole purpose of God’

Acts 20:26-7
‘Whole council of God’ implies some measure of unity and coherence.  Our job is to find and discern and explain the whole purpose of God.  This is our job, it is hard, it is work.

9. The Bible is a book

God came in the flesh, Jesus was not a book.
But when he had done his work, he left behind apostles and prophets who are the foundation of the church because of the Book.  He could have done it other ways, but he ordained that we learn how to read.
Learning how to read well is a really intellectual exercise.
Eph 3:4 ‘when you read this you are able to perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ’
Has reading ever been elevated to such height?

10. Jesus reasons with us in Scripture

Matt 7:8ff
This is an argument for the probability that God will answer prayer.  Jesus is reasoning with us.
Matt 7:12 has an ουν!  ‘Therefore you are free to sacrificially treat others the way you would like to be treated.’


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