Scripture is clear in teaching that we are not all journeying toward God–some having found Him, others still seeking. Instead, Scripture presents us as needing to have our hearts replaced, our minds transformed, our spirits given life. We can do none of this for ourselves. The change each human needs, regardless of how we may outwardly appear, is so radical, so near our roots, that only God can bring it about. We need God to convert us…I fear that one of the results of misunderstanding the Bible’s teaching on conversion may well be that evangelical churches are full of people who have made sincere commitments at some point in their lives but who have not experienced the radical change that the Bible calls conversion.”
– Mark Dever, Nine Marks of a Healthy Church, (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2004), p. 113.
Justin Taylor has written a heartfelt tribute to Sproul and Piper. He compares their similarities and the blessed ways they have both ministered to the Church over the last several decades.
Here’s a snippet from the post:
It’s not merely the God-centered, biblically saturated content. It’s that this deep theology is creatively presented and passionately believed.
These men do not merely teach; they herald, they summon, they exhort, they plead, they yearn.
In a way that’s difficult to describe in a non-clichéd way, the timber of their voices contains both sorrow and joy. And in that sense, I think they echo the tone of their sorrowful-yet-always-rejoicing Savior.
For me personally, I am thankful to God for both these men. It was Piper’s book Don’t Waste Your Life that God first used to give me a passion to live for God’s glory in all things. It was Sproul’s book Chosen By God which first led me to discover the beauty of the doctrines of grace that permeate the Scriptures.
More than any other person, living or dead, Piper has influenced my theology and and my desire to have a longing passion for God. Every sermon or chapter I read from him leave my soul stirring for more of Christ.
Though his impact has been smaller, Sproul has still challenged me to think carefully, yet deeply about God. He has also inspired me to communicate simply the truths of Scripture. His Reformation Study Bible has helped me in these endeavors.
As Taylor said at the end of his post, to God alone be the glory!
I have been looking for a way to express this for some time now. Thanks, again, to John Piper, for his articulate, weighty, passionate, biblical explanation. The quote below comes from a sermon in 2004 called “Discerning the Will of God Concerning Homosexuality and Marriage.”
Piper’s words are targeted at the conservative Evangelical movement. He is calling Christians to be radical and stand out and apart from that movement. As a Christian, with Christ-centered, biblical values, I find myself in tension here in America. As I grow older and more mature (in my faith and in life in general) I notice that I distance myself from both the mainstream conservatives and liberals. Neither of them hold to radical, Christ-centered values. I can’t be a cocky, conservative, political cynic and then try to identify with Jesus. There’s no room for both.
This paragraph helps me. I hope, if you are a Christian, it helps you too.
We do not smirk at the misery or the merrymaking of immoral culture. We weep. Know any good conservative talk show hosts that weep? Name one. Being pilgrims does not mean being cynical. That’s the name of the game. The salt of the earth does not mock rotting meat. It tries to preserve, savor, and when it can’t it weeps. Being Christian pilgrims in American culture does not end our influence, it takes the swagger out of it. There’s so many strutting conservatives! Including our President [Bush]. And strutting democrats. “Can say no wrong, can make no mistake, I’ve got all the answers.” STRUT, STRUT, STRUT! That is not the demeanor of an evangelical pilgrim who knows he’s fallen, knows he’s broken…We don’t get cranky when evil triumphs, we don’t whine when things don’t go the way we want them to in our culture. It isn’t our culture, heaven is our culture. We’re not hardened with anger. We understand what’s happening now. Why? Because we saw it happen 2,000 years ago. We hear, just like they heard…the imperial words of the Lord Jesus, “If they hated me, they will hate you. Love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you…if you love only those who love you, what do you do more than others? Even the tax collectors do that. If you greet only your brothers, what do you do more than others? Even the Gentiles do that. You must be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect.” His way was so different than the seeming pervasive Evangelical, conservative, strutting, swaggering, cocky, cynical way.
Read or watch the whole thing.
I might be setting myself up for failure with this one, but I’d like to review a few books on the blog in the coming weeks. In the past months I’ve finished reading Crazy Love, Finally Alive, Knowing God, and will soon finish The Masculine Mandate. Here’s a quick note about the books:
- Crazy Love by Francis Chan
If you want to be challenged to be all-in in your relationship with Jesus, this book will do it. It’s nearly a newer version of Piper’s Don’t Waste Your Life. Chan brings to light biblical Christianity and asks the reader to put away cultural Christianity as well as the Christian version of the American Dream.
- Finally Alive by John Piper
Being born again is the only way to see the Kingdom, Jesus said. In this book, John Piper takes a series of sermons from a few years ago and examines from Scripture why the new birth is important, what it is, what it accomplishes, how we can experience it, and what it means for every-day Christian life.
- Knowing God by J.I. Packer
This classic book is a systematic theology of God. Packer uses nearly every corner of Scripture to talk about who the God of the Bible is and how we can know him. He includes chapters on God’s most controversial attributes, Wrathful and Judge, as well as the most helpful treatment on Adoption that I have ever read.
- The Masculine Mandate by Richard Phillips
This is not your normal “man book” for Christians. Phillips contends that man’s identity and purpose can be found way back in the Garden, with God’s original command to Adam to be a builder and a keeper. Whether in relationships, work, play or spiritual discipline a man should always be building and keeping.