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John Piper – The God Who Strengthens His People

8 Apr

john-piperNow there is something here so wonderful I don’t want to pass over it too quickly lest you miss it. So let me say the obvious again and then draw out the less obvious. The obvious fact is that of all the things he could have said about what God does or has done that draws attention to his glory, of all the dozens of great acts of God and all the great abilities of God, he chooses to highlight one thing: “Now to him who is able to strengthen you … be glory forevermore.…” He does say that God is wise, and that God hid something for ages, and that he revealed something for the sake of the nations, and that he did all this by his eternal command. Yes. But the way Paul has set up this doxology, all of that is serving to support and explain this one main thing: God is able to strengthen you. “Now unto him who is able to strengthen you … be glory for evermore.…”

Now that is the obvious fact. Here’s what is less obvious but crystal clear once someone draws it to our attention. Many kings in history and many dictators today intend to get glory. They want to be known as strong and rich and wise. And how have they done it? By keeping their citizens weak and poor and uneducated. An educated people is a threat to a dictator. A prosperous middle class is a threat to a dictator. A strong people is a threat to the strength of a dictator. So what do they do? They secure their own power by keeping their people weak. They get their glory by standing on the backs of a broken people. Just look at the regime of Islom Karimov in Uzbekistan. And we could mention many others—little kings who keep their people weak so that they can be strong and rich.

But now contrast the way Paul draws attention to the glory of God. If any king ever had the right to display all his glory by stepping on the backs of a rebellious people, it is God. But what does he do? He displays his glory by making his people strong. “Now unto him who is able to strengthen you … be glory forevermore.…” God magnifies his glory by making you strong with his gospel. God feels no threat from your strength at all. In fact, the stronger you are in faith and hope and love through the gospel of Jesus Christ, the greater he appears. God does not secure his strength by keeping his people weak. He magnifies the glory of his strength by making his people strong. “Now unto him who is able to strengthen you … be glory.”

Therefore, when Paul makes the glory of God the ultimate goal of the gospel—when he closes his greatest of all letters by drawing attention to the supreme worth of the glory of God—this is not bad news for us. Unless we want to have that glory for ourselves. Why is this not bad news for us? Because our God draws attention to his glory by making his undeserving people strong. The greater the glory of God, the more resources for our strength. The more manifold and wonderful the glory of God, the more manifold and wonderful the source of our strength. “Now to him who is able to strengthen you … be glory for evermore.”

~John Piper~

Sermons from John Piper (2000–2009): Romans 16:25-27 – God Strengthens Us By The Gospel (Minneapolis, MN: Desiring God, 2009).

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The Works of John Piper on Logos Bible Software

Other Piper Quotes at The Cross Quoter

John Piper – You Have An Amazing Conversion Story

16 Nov

I don’t remember being converted at age six at my mother’s side in Fort Lauderdale, Florida (as my father reminds me). All I remember is believing. I’ve always believed as far as I can remember. I’m sure that’s not true because we come into the world bent out of shape by sin, but whatever God did in my life to make me a believer He did so early that I don’t remember it happening. A lot of you are in that position and you sort of regret it because you don’t have any stunning testimonies to tell about how you were saved. However, I learned what happened to me from Romans. I’ll tell you what happened to me. I don’t need to remember, I know from the Bible what happened to me. And as I say what happened to me, would those of you who wonder if it’s happened to you listen carefully? There are four things: 1) “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (3:23); 2) “the wages of sin is death” (6:23); 3) “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (5:8); therefore, 4) “if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (10:9). Even though I don’t remember what happened to me, I know what happened to me, from the book of Romans. The book of Romans interprets life, life that you don’t even know about, you read about in the book of Romans. Which of us, who has tasted the goodness and glory of God in this great gospel, does not count the book of Romans precious beyond reckoning?

~John Piper~

The Author of the Greatest Book Ever Written (Minneapolis, MN: Desiring God, 1998), A Sermon on Romans 1:1.

Books by John Piper

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John Piper Books on Logos Bible Software

Other Piper Quotes at The Cross Quoter

Paul Tripp – Embracing Our Desperate Need

12 Jul

It’s no surprise to me that there are many bitter pastors out there, many who are socially uncomfortable, many who have messy or dysfunctional relationships at home, many who have tense relationships with staff members or lay leaders, and many who struggle with secret, unconfessed sin. Could it be that all of these struggles are potentiated by the fact that we have become comfortable with looking at and defining ourselves in a way that is less than biblical? So we come to relationship with God and others being less than needy. And because we are less than needy, we are less than open to the ministry of others and to the conviction of the Spirit. This sucks the life out of the private devotional aspect of our walk with God. Tender, heartfelt worship is hard for a person who thinks of himself as having arrived. No one celebrates the presence and grace of the Lord Jesus Christ more than the person who has embraced his desperate and daily need of it.

~Paul Tripp~

Dangerous Calling (Wheaton, IL; Crossway Books; 2012) p.22-23.

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More Quotes by Paul Tripp at The Cross Quoter

John Piper – Past Grace as the Foundation of Future Grace

10 Apr

The uniqueness of the past grace of the gospel events.. have a unique role in showing us the love of God in our present experience. All past grace reminds us of the love of God (Psalm 107:8, 15, 21, 31). But the death of Christ is in a class by itself in showing the love of God to our souls. We see this in Romans 5:8, “God shows [present tense] his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died [past tense] for us.” God goes on showing his love for us now in the ever-present instant of experience by directing our minds to the past fact that “Christ died for us.” In this way, God’s loving willingness to fulfill all his promises for us is made present and powerful, so that our faith in future grace is continually founded on the unique work of past grace in the gospel events.

~John Piper~

Future Grace (Colorado Springs, CO; Multnomah Books; 2011) p. 13.

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Other Piper Quotes at the Cross Quoter

Jerry Bridges – The Battle of “Rights”

31 Dec

There is a very high sense of entitlement within modern society. Older people feel entitled to certain benefits from the government. Middle-aged people feel entitled to generous health and retirement benefits from their employers. Younger adults feel entitled to immediately enjoy the same standard of living their parents took years to achieve. And young people feel entitled to whatever material luxuries they desire.

Many observers of our culture are quite concerned about this pervasive sense of “rights” and expectations within our society as a whole. But for Christians, such a high sense of entitlement is especially detrimental to our spiritual lives. For one thing, God is the ultimate supplier of all our needs and desires. Every good gift is from Him, regardless of the intermediate means through which that gift is supplied. As James said, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17). However, God, through His providential workings, almost always uses some person or institution or other human instrumentality to meet our needs. Ultimately, though, He is the One who provides or withholds what we desire or think we need.

Therefore, a high sense of entitlement and expectations, though seemingly directed toward some person or institution, is actually directed toward God and His providential dealings in our lives. If we do not receive what we think we have a right to expect, it is ultimately God who has withheld.

More importantly, our sense of entitlement, which may be originally directed toward other people or institutions, is almost invariably transferred directly to God. We begin to be as demanding of our “rights” before God as we are toward people. It is bad enough, and certainly not very Christian, to have the attitude “The world owes me something just because I am,” but to have the attitude that God owes me something is exceedingly dangerous to spiritual health. It will ruin our relationship with God, nullify our effectiveness in ministry, and perhaps turn us bitter or resentful. Unlike our government, or school, or family, or employer, God will not “give in” to our sense of rights or respond to pressure tactics. We never win the battle of “rights” with God. He cares too much about our spiritual growth to let that happen.

~Jerry Bridges~

Transforming Grace (Colorado Springs, CO; Navpress; 2008) p. 76-77

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Jerry Bridges – In No One’s Debt

28 Nov

As the Sovereign Ruler of the universe, God has the right to require perfect obedience and faithful service from all of us without in the least obligating Himself. We owe Him that obedience and service. If we were to perfectly obey every command God has given and faithfully perform every duty- which, of course, we never do – we still could only say, “I have merely done my duty.”

Through the inspired pen of the apostle Paul, the Holy Spirit again asserts God’s freedom from obligation to anyone: “Who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” (Romans 11:35). This assertion wasn’t made in a vacuum. Paul had been dealing with the difficult question of the Jews’ future in the face of God’s apparent spurning of them in favor of the Gentiles. Regardless of how we understand that future, the principle stated by the Holy Spirit through Paul is crystal clear: God doesn’t owe anyone anything.

~Jerry Bridges~

Holiness: Day by Day (Colorado Springs, CO; Navpress; 2008) p. 82

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D.A. Carson – The Center of the Whole Bible

10 Oct

21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God ‘s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. – Rom. 3:21-26

There are some parts of the Bible that are “loose” in the sense that they are not too tight, not too condensed. They flow easily; you can readily follow the line of thought. Often they are narratives. There are other parts that are tightly reasoned; they are hard to understand and may cause your eyes to glaze over when you read right through them. You encounter so many theological words that unless you know the passage extremely well, you are reading the words, but you are not following it. It is just too much too fast. You must unpack such passages phrase by phrase if you are to gain more than vague impressions. Romans 3:21–26 is one of those passages.

After reading a text like this, what you have to do is slow down and unpack it. After you have carefully unpacked it, then you read it again— and immediately you see how it all hangs together. So if you have just read Romans 3:21–26 again and still feel that you have not grasped its flow, hang in there. By the end of this chapter, you will be able to see how what God here says through the apostle Paul hangs together. Perhaps you will also see why Martin Luther called this passage “the chief point and the very central place of the epistle to the Romans and of the whole Bible.”

~D. A. Carson~

Scandalous: The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus (Wheaton, IL; Crossway Books; 2010) p. 39

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