What Jesus Demands from the World is probably one of the most over looked books John Piper has written. Yes he has written quite a few books over the years, but this book deserves a wider reading than it has received.
In hopes of wetting your appetite for further reading, here are twenty excerpts from What Jesus Demands from the World I’ve gathered after a recent reading:
- The gospel – good news – is that the rule of God has arrived in Jesus to save sinners before the kingdom arrives at his second coming in judgment. So the demand to repent is based on the gracious offer that is present to forgive and on the gracious warning that someday those who refuse the offer will perish in God’s judgment (43).
- The demand that we come to him [Jesus] is… like the demand of a father to his child in a burning window, ‘Jump to me!’ (46).
- [I]t is possible to trust a fireman that you do not admire. He may be an adulterer and drunk in his time off. He doesn’t ask you to believe in him for all that he is, or to receive him, or to savor his life. But Jesus does. He is so much more than a rescuer. Therefore, believing in him is more than trusting in his rescue skills” (51).
- Our love for Jesus is awakened when our hearts are broken because our sin… and when we taste the sweetness of Jesus’ forgiving love preceding and awakening our love for him (55).
- [L]oving God is not a mere decision. You cannot merely decide to love classical music or country western music, much less God. The music must become compelling. If you don’t love it, something must change inside you. That change makes it possible for the mind to experience the music with a compelling sense of its attractiveness. So it is with God. You do not merely decide to love him. Something changes inside you, and as a result he becomes compellingly attractive. His glory – his beauty – compels your admiration and delight (77-78).
- Loving God is most essentially treasuring God. And loving him with all the heart and all the soul and all the mind and all the strength means that every faculty and every capacity treasures God above all things and in such a way that our treasuring of any other thing is also a treasuring of God (81).
- Every joy that does not have God as the central gladness of joy is a hollow joy and in the end will burst like a bubble (82).
- Prayer is designed as a way of relating to God, so that it is clear we get the help and he gets the glory (106).
- [O]ur persistence in prayer shows both confidence that God is our only hope and that he will act in the best way and the best time in response to our persistent pleas (108).
- Prayer has nothing to do with deserving. It’s all mercy (110).
- [W]e do not begrudge the absence of recognition if the world does not value what Jesus calls us to do. We must not fret over being thought lowly and even foolish by worldly standards. Instead we must ‘believe’ in Jesus the way a child believes. We must find our security and meaning and joy in Jesus and all that our heavenly Father is for us in him (132).
- Is not the most effective way of bridling my delight in being made much of, to focus on making much of God? (136).
- The demands of Jesus are only as hard to obey as his promises are hard to cherish and his presence is hard to treasure (185).
- There are people, especially in our day, whose worldview is so relativistic and whose personality so morally flaccid that they do not even have a category for evil, lest they find themselves offending the demand for tolerance of all views. Jesus would say: Tolerance of all views is the opposite of love. It condones what destroys. We cannot read the words of Jesus with an honest heart and conclude that he denies the existence of evil that destroys and good that leads to everlasting joy. Therefore, to minimize the existence of evil, rather than hating it, makes on partner to the destruction of human persons. This is not the love that Jesus demands (224-225).
- The second commandment seems to me to be an overwhelming commandment. It seems to demand that I tear the skin off my body and wrap it around another person so that I feel that I am that other person; and all the longings that I have for my own safety and health and success and happiness I now feel for that other person as though he were me. It is an absolutely staggering commandment. If this is what it means, then something unbelievably powerful and earth-shaking and reconstructing and overturning and upending will have to happen in our souls. Something supernatural. Something well beyond what self-preserving, self-enhancing, self-exalting, self-esteeming, self-advancing, fallen human beings like me can do on their own. (250).
- Pride is the pursuit of happiness anywhere but in the glory of God and the good of other people for God’s sake (257).
- Jesus’ death is both guilt-bearing and guidance-giving. It is a death that forgives sin and a death that models love. It is the purchase of our life from perishing and the pattern for a life of love. (266).
- Money enslaves either by greed or fear. We are greedy for more of it and fearful of losing what we have. Jesus wants us to be free. Sacrificial giving is one evidence that we have been liberated from the idols that money provides. It is also evidence that we have begun to love other people the way we should – that is, we are focusing outwardly on the joy of making others glad, not just the private pleasures that putrefy in the small world of selfishness (283).
- We are people of the cross. Our Lord submitted to crucifixion willingly to save his enemies. We owe our eternal life to him. We are forgiven sinners. This takes the swagger our of our protest. It takes the arrogance out of our resistance (335).
- Jesus does not call us to an easy life or an easy mission. ‘They will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my sake. This will be your opportunity to bear witness´(Luke 21:12-13). There will be no wasted suffering. In the short run, it will always be an occasion to speak and show the reality of Jesus. In the long run, it will lead to eternal life. ‘For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s sake will save it’ (Mark 8:35). Therefore, in all your suffering for the advance of Jesus’ mission you are increasingly rewarded… That reward is the enjoyment of the inexhaustibly glorious Jesus forever and ever” (374-375).
A free PDF copy of the book is available here.
The resurrection of Jesus is foundational to the Christian faith, and yet, oftentimes, we only give it real thought around the Easter season.
But the resurrection of Jesus is so important that Paul writes, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:17). And later he says, “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied” (verse 19).
In the hopes of gaining a deeper understanding of this glorious reality, here are five truths about the resurrection.
1) Jesus had a bodily resurrection.
When Jesus was raised from the dead, he didn’t leave his body behind. In fact, after his resurrection his scars remained (John 20:27), he ate fish (John 20:12), he bodily ascended to heaven (Acts 1:9), and will bodily come again (1 Thessalonians 4:16). The Son of God will always have a bodily existence.
The fact that Jesus still has a body testifies to the dignity of the human body — both the ones that we have and the ones we will have after our resurrection. Matthew Lee Anderson writes, “The resurrection of the body means that to be human with God is to be with him not as disembodied souls, but as people with noses, faces, arms, and legs that are similar to those we currently have” (Earthen Vessels, 60–61).
2) Jesus had a justifying resurrection.
Perhaps the clearest instance of Paul connecting Jesus’s resurrection with his justification is obscured in most English translations. Paul writes in 1 Timothy 3:16, “Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.” The word that is translated “vindicated” is typically translated “declared righteous” or “justified” elsewhere in the New Testament.
But if Jesus was perfect, how could he be justified, since justification implies guilt (see Romans 4:5)? The answer lies in Jesus’s death and resurrection. Richard Gaffin explains, “As long as [Jesus] remained in a state of death, the righteous character of his work, the efficacy of his obedience unto death remained in question, in fact, was implicitly denied. Consequently, the eradication of death in his resurrection is nothing less than the removal of the verdict of condemnation and the effective affirmation of his righteousness” (Resurrection and Redemption, 121–122).
Christmas is about the incarnation of Jesus. Strip away the season’s hustle and bustle, the trees, the cookies, the extra pounds, and what remains is a humble birth story and a simultaneously stunning reality — the incarnation of the eternal Son of God.
This incarnation, God himself becoming human, is a glorious fact that is too often neglected, or forgotten, amidst all the gifts, get-togethers, pageants, and presents. Therefore, we would do well to think deeply about the incarnation, especially on this day.
Here are five biblical truths of the incarnation.
1. The Incarnation Was Not the Divine Son’s Beginning
The virgin conception and birth in Bethlehem does not mark the beginning of the Son of God. Rather, it marks the eternal Son entering physically into our world and becoming one of us. John Murray writes, “The doctrine of the incarnation is vitiated if it is conceived of as the beginning to be of the person of Christ. The incarnation means that he who never began to be in his specific identity as Son of God, began to be what he eternally was not” (quoted in John Frame, Systematic Theology, 883).
2. The Incarnation Shows Jesus’s Humility
Jesus is no typical king. Jesus didn’t come to be served. Instead, Jesus came to serve (Mark 10:45). His humility was on full display from the beginning to the end, from Bethlehem to Golgotha. Paul glories in the humility of Christ when he writes that, “though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking on the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:6–8).
Thanksgiving is more than a day off. It is more than eating mashed potatoes and gravy, watching football, and taking a wonderful turkey-induced nap.
Thanksgiving is a pervasive and essential concept in Scripture. And although it is good to set aside a Thursday each November to cultivate a heart of thanksgiving, the Scriptures have more to say about giving thanks than one day a year can handle.
Here are five biblical truths about thanksgiving.
1. Thanksgiving Is Trinitarian
The typical pattern of thanksgiving in the New Testament is that God the Father is the object of thanksgiving, God the Son is the person through whom thanksgiving flows, and God the Holy Spirit is the source of thanksgiving. Paul models this in Romans 1:8: “First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world.” And Colossians 3:16–17:
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
The very presence of thanksgiving points to the Holy Spirit as the source of thanksgiving because without the work of the Spirit it is impossible to please God (Romans 8:5–8).
Christianity does not call for vague thanksgiving to a vague deity. Our God is triune and, as a result, thanksgiving has a Trinitarian flavor. Thanksgiving flows to God the Father, through God the Son, from God the Spirit.
All Christians suffer. Either you have, you are, or you will — “through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).
This reality is a stark reminder that we have not reached the new heavens and new earth. The new Jerusalem of no tears and no pain, of no mourning and no death, hasn’t arrived yet (Revelation 21:1, 4).
But just because we experience suffering as we await the redemption of our bodies, it doesn’t mean that our suffering is random or without purpose. And neither does it mean that Scripture doesn’t tell us how to think about our suffering now.
Here are five important biblical truths about suffering every Christian should have ready:
1. Suffering is multifaceted.
Suffering has many faces. The Bible doesn’t whitewash our experience of suffering by saying that it’s all of one stripe. Rather, it recognizes the multifaceted ways that suffering can come upon us. The apostle Paul wrote, “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8–9).
In these two verses, Paul lists several types of suffering — mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual. Each of these are different ways that we can suffer, and when suffering comes, often several of these types of suffering are involved.
2. Suffering happens in community.
The church is not meant to be a loosely bound association of functional Lone Rangers. Paul confronts that type of thinking when he writes, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).
The church is meant to be a refuge for those suffering. When a member is hurting, the church applies the bandages; when a member is down, the church encourages; when a member is in need, the church comes alongside to help.
Is there a right way to study theology? Or put differently, is there a way to study theology in the way that it is meant to be studied?
Helmut Thielicke encourages theologians to study theology in the second person: “The man who studies theology, and especially he who studies dogmatics, might watch carefully whether he increasingly does not think [about God] in the third person rather than in the second person” A Little Exercise for Young Theologians (33).
Thielicke explains why this is essential: “This transition from one to the other level of thought, from a personal relationship with God to a merely technical reference, usually is exactly synchronized with the moment that I no longer can read the word of Holy Scripture as a word to me but only as the object of exegetical endeavors” (33).
Studying theology in the second person does not ensure that you’ll always come to the right theological conclusions, but it is the first step in studying Scripture rightly.
Have you ever wondered how the discipline of science is related to government and the church? Is it a tool of the government or of the church? Abraham Kuyper argues it is a tool of neither:
Without sin there would be no state, and apart from sin there would have been no Christian church, but there would have been science. To that extent, science is on the same level as marriage and family, both of which similarly have undergone significant alterations as a result of sin.
Rather than the church or government, Kuyper argues that science belongs to creation:
From this we can already observe that science belongs to the creation. Just think: if our human life had developed in its paradise situation, apart from sin, then science would have existed there just as it exists now, even though its development would obviously have been entirely different. Even though its character underwent a remarkable alteration as a consequence of sin, it may never be said that like the state and the church, science arose because of sin and thus from an intervening grace.
For Kuyper, the fact that creation existed independently of the cross and government means science belongs to the arena of creation and not the church or state.
Kuyper argues the foundation of science rests on these three realities:
First, the full and rich clarity of God’s thoughts existed in God from eternity. Second, in the creation God has revealed, embedded, and embodied a rich fullness of his thoughts. And third, God created in human beings, as his image-bearers, the capacity to understand, to grasp, to reflect, and to arrange within a totality these thoughts expressed in the creation.
The problem with the Kuyper’s argument is that he makes too great a distinction between Adam in his sinless state and Christians. Adam believed in Yahweh just as Christians believe in Yahweh.
So if Adam ought to be seen in the same trajectory as the church, does this affect his argument that science belongs to the area of creation and not the church?
Therefore, Kuyper’s conclusion should be modified. Science is best done by Christians because they know the first principle of science: God. But Kuyper is right that insofar science is done by all humans because of the imago Dei, it belongs to creation.