I have continued reading John Piper’s book Spectacular Sins: And Their Global Purpose in the Glory of Christ, but a highlight I made in Piper’s introduction caught my attention. In our Western world we have been blessed by not suffering the persecution we see Christians suffering around the world. This has created weak Christians in the West. We argue over theology, politics, and morals but, are we ready for persecution? Are we ready for suffering? Jesus talks plainly about this when expounding on his parable about the soils found in Matthew 13:20-21:
As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. -ESV
Jesus points out that for some people they are quick to cling to the Gospel message, but when troubles come their way they are quick to abandon their new faith. These people are ones who flee from God when times get hard. They will turn on God when natural disasters hit. They will escape the persecution of those who hate God by denying God. Ultimately, they are not Christians at all. They have no faith because faith endures to the end and John Piper directs us to this truth in Spectacular Sins:
The coddled Western world will sooner or later give way to great affliction. And when it does, whose vision of God will hold? Where are Christians being prepared for great global sorrows? Where is the Christian mind and soul being prepared for the horrors to come? Christians in the West are weakened by wimpy worldviews. And wimpy worldviews make wimpy Christians. God is weightless in our lives. He is not terrifyingly magnificent. His sovereignty is secondary (at best) to his sensitivity.-Piper, John (2008-09-12). Spectacular Sins: And Their Global Purpose in the Glory of Christ (Kindle Locations 157-161). Crossway Books. Kindle Edition.
I fear that the lack of persecution has made the church in the West weak. I wonder how many people are the ones depicted in Jesus’ parable of the soils and have no clue because throughout their entire life they have never been challenged? They have never been faced with death because of their faith. They have never had to pay an extra tax for going to church. They have not had to meet in underground churches to escape persecution. I wonder how many people sitting in our churches on Sunday have considered themselves Christians for years, but would renounce God at the first sign of trouble? Piper’s main point is that our culture has emphasized God’s love and kindness at the cost of God’s justice and sovereignty. That is a recipe for weakness when disaster comes, and what is weakness’s result? Piper tells us a few paragraphs earlier:
It seems to me that Christians in the West are being coddled. We suffer little in the name of Christ. Therefore, we read the Bible not with a desperate hunger for evidences of God’s triumph in pain, but with a view to improving our private pleasures.-(Kindle Locations 144-146).
Many people in the West are not desperate for the Bible. People don’t know about God’s amazing mercy and grace through suffering because we don’t suffer much. People hear more sermons like “You Have Come Back Power”, thank you Joel Osteen, than we do about God’s holiness. There are thousands of “preachers” who preach about increasing our pleasure instead of God’s glory. When it is all said and done Jesus says:
And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.-Matthew 10:22
Jesus makes it clear that we will be hated for our faith, but true faith will endure to the end. I thank God that he is gracious and has his elect among the masses. But I fear that the church in the West is destroying itself with a weak Gospel message, and a weak Gospel message creates weak Christians. Don’t be weak.
Thanks for reading.
Our world is filled with evil. There are people who deny that evil is real, but we see evil all around us. We see unborn babies murdered, people mistreated, young girls sold into sex trafficking, and dictators slaying their own people. We see injustice all around us, but about 2,000 years ago, humans committed the greatest sin of all…and God decreed it.
I have just started reading Spectacular Sins: And Their Global Purpose in the Glory of Christ by John Piper, and I have been eating it up. There are few books that I get wrapped up in, but this is one of them. Piper begins his book with an introduction, and he has some very interesting things to say. What stood out to me the most, so far, is his brief introduction to the greatest evil that humanity has committed…the crucifixion of the holy Son of God. This is what Piper says:
The apex of the glory of Christ is the glory of his grace—treating people infinitely better than they deserve—giving himself for the everlasting joy of the worst of sinners who will have him as their highest Treasure. And the apex of this grace is the murder of the God-man outside Jerusalem around A.D. 33. The death of Jesus Christ was murder. It was the most spectacular sin ever committed. Piper, John (2008-09-12). Spectacular Sins: And Their Global Purpose in the Glory of Christ (Kindle Locations 132-135). Crossway Books. Kindle Edition.
I find it amazing that God would use murder to bring himself glory. Murder is one of the most evil sins anyone can commit. It robs a human-being of their humanity. It denies them the right to live. Murder is also a denial of God’s image on every person. But God decreed this act to bring himself the greatest amount of glory. Here are some passages that highlight that the death of Jesus’ was decreed before time began:
He [Jesus] was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you. -1 Peter 1:20
‘For the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed!’ -Luke 22:22
This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. -Acts 2:23
Clearly this act of evil was predestined by God. From the foundation of the world Jesus was going to come. The Son of Man had a path determined for him. Jesus was delivered to the cross by the hands of lawless men because God made a definite plan. God decreed evil. Not only that, God decreed evil to destroy evil. Here is another quote from Spectacular Sins:
God did not just overcome evil at the cross. He made evil serve the overcoming of evil. He made evil commit suicide in doing its worst evil. -(Kindle Locations 136-137).
God had an amazing, holy, and perfect plan to destroy evil, and he used evil to do it. At the cross evil committed suicide. And we can all thank God for that awesome and grace-filled sin.
Thanks for reading.
I ran across this video by Desiring God and really enjoyed it. John Piper speaks on justification by faith alone as the root that brings forth the fruit of justification. I am planning on looking at different aspects of justification in upcoming posts but I wanted to wet your appetite by showing you this brief discussion on the subject. Hope you enjoy it: