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.
4 clarifying statements.
- 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.
- 2. Why say that affections are more important than right doctrine?
Right doctrine serves right feelings.
Truth serves heart change.
- 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
- 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)
‘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.
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 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
Well first up, Technology Park is a cool place to have a conference. It’s an old factory converted into a top class conference centre, complete with the original machines and cranes hanging from the roof. Cool in an ‘oh what? Concrete floors and rusty machines are super cool? We never realized…’ sort of way.
Piper is up first.
God’s Passion for His Glory in Christ
Piper’s thesis will not surprise you: God is infinitely passionate for his glory.
Firs,t three illustrations of people: Eric Reese, CS Lewis, Michael Prouse, Oprah Winfrey.
All these people struggled with this: that God is a God who demands worship, who demands to be glorified.
Piper argues that God is God-exalting, and passionate for his glory above all things. That is right at the centre of our faith where the cross is. The cross is the intersection of God’s passion for his glory. My hatred of his centrality and his passion for his centrality is in the cross.
Piper’s dad said to him as a kid, ‘Son, do all to the glory of God.’
What he missed was that everything God does is for his glory.
What is required is your whole life centered on him, with him as the supreme value, not yourself.
Of course most of us would say ‘yes and amen’ to this. But here is the test.
If I am only God centered, because God is only centered on me, I am really me-centered.
So it is crucial to be confronted by God and his passion for his glory.
Then we were taken for a journey through redemptive history to see how each step points to God’s glory.
We are predestined for the ‘praise of the glory of his grace
We were created to magnify God.
Magnify – microscope (make something bigger than it is) or telescope (make something look like it really is)
We were created to make God look like he really is.
Created in God’s image so that we would recognize in ourselves whose image we are.
Jesus came to make God trustworthy. To show God as what he really is.
Then Paul says ‘and, for the gentiles, to glorify God’’
So two reasons for the incarnation:
1. Confirm promises for Israel
2. Glorify God for his mercy.
Paul says that God forgiving sins is so massively problematic that Christ had to die. This makes no sense unless sin is a falling short of the glory of God. When you exchange the glory of God for something else you say he’s not worth much, which is an insult to God, and yet he hasn’t thrown us all into hell.
So the cross is the loudest proclamation of God’s passion for his glory.
Paul is praying to God for the Philippians be sanctify so that through Jesus God could be glorified.
Something changed with CS Lewis when he became a Christian. The Psalms no longer sounded defected when God says ‘praise me’.
‘I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment. It is its appointed consummation.’- CS Lewis
It’s not egomania, its love!
God is summoning us to see him, know him, praise him – it’s not because he will not be God until his ego is stroked. God is the one being for whom self-exaltation is apt. He gives us the one thing that will make us happy forever, the ability to praise God for his glory. It is not that God is not fully God until he gets glory, but that we are not fully satisfied until we give it.
So unless you are:
A. Living under a rock
B. Not living in Melbourne or Sydney (under, or not under, a rock)
C. Not a Christian (in various spatial relationships to one or more rocks)
…you would probably know that John Piper is appearing at the Engage and Oxygen conferences in Sydney over the next 5 days. I’ll be representing the ‘quite enjoy John Piper, but more excited about spending a few days with heaps of cool people’ party at Oxygen.
But I should probably at some level engage (hah) with what Piper (and John Lennox of course) have to say, so for your reading pleasure I’ll be live-blogging through all the sessions!
I’m sure both of my readers are uber excited by this.