This text is a part of the The Crossway Podcast collection.

Addressing Three Urgent Points

On this episode, John Piper displays on how it’s that God will be completely sovereign and but people be morally accountable, explains how he sought to guard himself from ethical failure and burnout as a pastor, and recounts his personal battle with racism and prejudice as a younger man.

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Full Transcript

01:24 – Welcome

Matt Tully
John Piper, thanks a lot for becoming a member of us immediately on The Crossway Podcast.

John Piper
Thanks a lot. I’m glad to be right here.

01:29 – Speaking God’s Sovereignty with the Apostle Paul

Matt Tully
Along with Christian Hedonism there are at the least two different doctrinal emphases that I feel have characterised your ministry over time. And these are doctrines that at occasions have been controversial amongst evangelicals and people are complementarianism and the conviction that God is totally Sovereign over all issues. And I’m struck although that among the most essential passages on each of these points are passages written by Paul. If you happen to might sit down with Paul face-to-face, are there any questions you’ll wish to ask him in regards to the subject of how God’s sovereignty matches with human accountability? You talked about that it’s not important on this life that we all know clarify the way in which God’s sovereignty and our accountability match collectively. It’s sufficient to know that they do. However for those who might sit down with Paul and ask him a query or two, what would you ask him?

John Piper
Yeah. The 2 questions that I’m content material for now to plead thriller and lack of awareness on are one: How did the primary sin within the universe occur? And two: what’s one of the best ways to present an account for the compatibility between absolute sovereignty over the human will and ethical accountability of the human will? That’s what I’d ask. I’d go to the the primary one first as a result of I don’t assume Paul addressed it and I feel I do know what he’d say.

Matt Tully
Effectively, what’s that?

John Piper
However then let me pose the query first simply to ensure folks see the issue. Adam and Eve didn’t commit the primary sin. Devil did. So at someday within the distant pre-creation actuality–even speaking about time is a bit little bit of a catch–there was a revolt. Angels have been solid down. Jude talks about it. They usually rebelled. So there needed to be a second . . . since God didn’t create that. Every little thing he created was good, lovely. God didn’t create sin. He created ethical brokers. Now, a kind of ethical brokers–or multiple–on a transparent, lovely day in eternity the thought entered his thoughts, “I’d think I’d like to be God. I don’t like being ruled.” And my query is, The place’d that come from?

Matt Tully
Since you wouldn’t say God wasn’t Sovereign over that?

John Piper
No, I’d say completely he was Sovereign over that. There’s nothing he doesn’t know and nothing he doesn’t management finally, by permission or by lively company. However even permission is one thing he might have stopped. So for those who can cease one thing you don’t cease it, you understand it’s going to return, then you definitely’re planning it.

Matt Tully
We intuitively would know that if I have been to permit my youngster to run into the road and get hit by a automobile, I’m accountable for that in some sense.

John Piper
That’s proper. Particularly for those who can see all the outcomes that may come from it, which is why God is so totally different than us as a result of he can see all the pieces. Like a billion results of a tragedy. He is aware of all of them and subsequently he’s making sensible judgments on a regular basis in view of all the pieces that occurs about because of all the pieces. So I’d say to Paul, “How did that happen?” As a result of I do know calling it “free will” isn’t any clarification in any respect. It’s simply placing a reputation on a thriller. Even for those who imagine within the final self-determination of the human being–which is a free will means, final self-determination–that’s no clarification. Why would he do it? He’s good. And there’s no exterior incentive to do in any other case as a result of the universe is sweet. I’ve no reply for the way that occurred. And so I’d ask Paul, “Do you do you want to help me?”

05:42 – Wrestling with Exhausting Questions

Matt Tully
Do you assume he–that is very speculative–do you assume Paul knew?

John Piper
I feel what he would say to me is, “You’ve made the right judgment not to push into that.” Now that didn’t reply my query. And I’d say–if I had the nerve–I’d say, “Right, but got any ideas?” I’ve concepts. I’ve concepts. And there’s . . . I’m not going to go there as a result of it’s sophisticated and my reminiscence is just not all that nice, however in Isaiah, there’s a few passages about God handing them over to their sin. And, in the identical context, permitting a cloud to return between folks to allow them to’t see God. And so possibly there’s a strategy to conceive of some type of obscuring of God in order that the Angels couldn’t see him as clearly. And as an alternative of ready patiently for the Lord, the mirror was extra enticing. However at the same time as Isaiah is just not insufficient, it’s simply–it’s barking up a tree that doesn’t have a number of fruit on the high. So that may be one query, and I don’t assume I’d get very far in asking that query. And the opposite one is way more related. Given God’s rule over my will, why am I accountable for the sins I commit this afternoon?

And so I’d simply ask him to unfold his understanding of that if he would. And I feel Paul, whereas he doesn’t ever in a scientific means lay these two issues beside one another and provides a transparent clarification, I feel he factors towards the truth that each of these are completely true and, nonetheless God is simply and proper, and we’re accountable. We’re accountable for whether or not we wish evil or whether or not we wish good. Even when we will’t give an account for the basis of that wish to, we really feel intuitively after I need fallacious, I’m unhealthy. I’m unhealthy. And we don’t have to determine, “How did I want this? Why did I want this?” And so all I say to folks is: there’s a means, and we don’t have to know the way it works intimately, that God can govern all of that wish to with out the truth is sinning or taking away your capability for accountability.

Matt Tully
You’re often known as somebody who takes a really robust stance on this subject, God’s sovereignty. You don’t pull your punches in the way you discuss this. And but in some methods, it’s encouraging to listen to that the 2 questions you’ll ask are questions that do get to the center of the 2 hardest questions that we regularly–all of us–battle with and it’s encouraging in that there’s a way wherein we’re all wrestling with this. That is past all of us.

John Piper
Proper. I feel one of many causes that I, and I feel all of us can, embrace each a really strong and full view of God’s governance of all issues and human accountability is as a result of it actually does serve us properly in occasions of struggling. Now lots of people assume it creates issues in time of struggling as a result of they need to personal that the struggling might have been stopped by God, and he didn’t do it. So he’s a foul God, however for those who belief him, belief him as an alternative of blame him, then his sovereignty within the midst of your struggling turns into hope as a result of he’s received functions in it, and he’ll provide you with energy in it.

If you happen to say {that a} airplane is flying towards the Twin Towers and is about to trigger the deaths of 5,000 folks, and God doesn’t see it coming or can not produce a wind to blow this airplane off beam by 60 ft, you don’t have a God. At the least not one who might consolation all people who’s going to be harm and who’d rebuild their lives in methods they by no means imagined, and create out of ashes gold. You’ve thrown that God away by saying “Well, he couldn’t do it,” or “He’s so bad, he wouldn’t do it.” So I don’t have that God. I’ve a God who did see it coming, might have blown the planes off beam, left the tower standing, and had causes to not do it.

11:18 – Why God’s Sovereignty Is Compassionate

Matt Tully
And you’ll say that’s not a harsh uncaring perspective to have. You’d argue that’s the most compassionate factor that you may inform anyone.

John Piper
Effectively, it’s fascinating you’ll use the phrase compassion as a result of Noel and I, my spouse, are studying the Bible collectively at night time, and we’re studying by means of James. And simply final night time, we learn the passage in chapter 5 the place it says, “Consider the prophets, how they were steadfast.” After which it offers us an instance: “Consider Job and the purpose of the Lord, how he was compassionate and merciful.” He killed his youngsters. Job stated that. “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away.” Not all wind has taken away. Not some destiny has taken away. Not the satan has taken away. The Lord gave me my ten youngsters. The Lord took my ten youngsters. Then he took my well being. Then he took a very good relationship with my spouse. After which he took my relationship with buddies who’re making my life completely depressing with unhealthy theology. After which God turned it round. And he’s going to show it round for all of us. A few of us on this life get a turnaround, a reprieve from most cancers. Others don’t. However he’s going to show it round. And the phrase he selected was compassion.

Effectively, I do know lots of people who learn that passage in Job, and so they simply shake their heads and so they say, “I can’t say that. If God’s going to take my baby, I’m not going to bow down and worship. And Job did. He fell down, and he worshiped. The Lord gave and the Lord–blessed be the name of the Lord. And so compassion. When you asked me if I can use the word compassion for a God who rules all the horrors of the world, my answers is yes. He’s not only compassion. He’s just. He has all kinds of reasons for doing what he does, and we better be careful we don’t try to sort them out in this life. Like I can’t look at any particular act of providence, say a tsunami that takes out 230,000 people in one night in 2005. I can’t look at that and say, “Effectively, I do know what God was doing there.” No, you don’t.

Matt Tully
And that’s what some folks do. That’s a hazard that possibly leaves a foul style in folks’s mouths on these subjects when folks try this.

John Piper
Yeah. Windfall is just not supposed to be learn with certainty intimately. There are some huge issues you’ll be able to decide about providences. However generally we higher stick with the Bible relating to infallibility and never put our interpretation on providences as infallible. We have no idea. I prefer to say in each single factor that occurs in your life, God is doing 10,000 issues, and you don’t have any concept what they’re. You in all probability know three of them. If anyone says, “What was God up to in bringing you to Bethlehem, you know, to be a pastor?” I’d say, “Well, this, this, I think about five or ten–no, billion.”

Matt Tully
And we glance again on our lives, and we begin to get a glimpse of that.

John Piper
Yeah, that’s proper. Yeah.

14:45 – Longevity in Pastoral Ministry

Matt Tully
One of many issues about Paul that you just love was his single-minded devotion to his calling, even within the midst of struggling. And also you draw on Acts 20:24 the place Paul writes about ending the course of his life and ministry with faithfulness and you understand, “Is this not a beautiful thing when a man has a great worthy single passion in life and burns for it all the way to the end?” And but it looks as if we glance round every single day, each different day, and we hear of one other Christian, oftentimes Christian leaders, pastors, who’ve fallen, who haven’t completed the race faithfully. As you have a look at your personal life in ministry, do you assume again to the way you’ve approached issues? How have you ever sought to make sure that you burn all the way in which to the tip?

John Piper
Earlier than I reply the how query, let me state the fundamental underlying actuality. I don’t maintain myself. the newer–they don’t name it new anymore–it’s a more recent music: He Will Maintain Me Quick. “He will hold me fast. He will hold me fast. For my savior loves me so, he will hold me fast.” I really like that music. I cry most occasions after I sing that music. Trigger it’s been true. And if it isn’t true, I’m a goner. So Jude ends with a doxology that’s in all probability the largest, most lovely within the New Testomony. However I don’t assume all people realizes what it’s saying. “Now unto him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before the presence of his glory with rejoicing, to the only wise God, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time now and forevermore.” What are all these huge phrases–glory, majesty, dominion, authority–designed to have a good time? The truth that you awoke a Christian this morning and never an unbeliever. Any Christian that isn’t amazed that he wakes up believing doesn’t perceive theology, doesn’t perceive his sin, doesn’t perceive remaining corruption, and doesn’t perceive the completely important conserving energy of the Holy Spirit.

So earlier than I say something about what steps have I taken, little teeny weeny peashooter steps in opposition to this Sherman tank of sin, I’m simply going to say, “God, thank you.” As a result of after I see these fallen folks, I’d say, “Could Have Been Me, but for one thing. He kept me.” I don’t have any extra purpose why God would maintain me than why he selected me within the first place, which he did from all eternity. The primary election consists of perseverance. And so it’s as mysterious and gracious as the primary act of religion. Okay, having stated that, it’s clear that the New Testomony is designed to protect the saints. And lots of people have a loopy unbiblical view of everlasting safety that claims you must by no means warn or threaten the saints that they is likely to be misplaced. Effectively, Hebrews 3:13 says, “Exhort one another every day while it is called today lest there be in you an evil heart of unbelief leading you to fall away from the Living God.”

Now, I’m a Calvinist. I imagine in everlasting safety, higher, the perseverance of the saints. God’s not going to let that occur to his elect. However how does he maintain them? How does he trigger us to persevere with warnings like that? So if I get within the face of anyone, and I see them slipping into sin, and I say, “You need to be in a group where people are exhorting you every day so that you don’t have an evil heart of unbelief leading you to fall away from the living God and they say, “Oh, that may’t occur to me. So I don’t want that.” I’d say, “That sentence is the sentence of a damned man. You’re in your strategy to hell.” Now, I’m not saying they’re going to go to hell. I’m saying, “You keep in that perspective, you retain blowing off the wonderful provisions of God within the Bible to warn you and name you again from the cliff of apostasy, you retain blowing these off such as you’ve received this impossibility, you’re going to overlook the very technique of grace that God designed to get you to heaven. So the fundamental reply is: every single day immerse your self in God’s Phrase, pleading with him to open your eyes to glory. 2 Corinthians 3:18 says, “Beholding the glory of the Lord, we are being changed from one degree of glory to the next, and this comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” That’s the trail that results in heaven. Progressive glorification in accordance with 2 Corinthians 3:18 is the trail that will get you residence. How does it get you residence? Seeking to Jesus. The place do you see Jesus? You see him in his Phrase. Go to the Phrase, however you don’t see him in his Phrase until you ask God to open your eyes.

Psalm 119:36: “Open”–or is it 18?–”Open my eyes that I’ll behold great issues.” So I’ve got my little techniques I-O-U-S. I used it this morning on the airplane coming down here. Open my iPad to read my Bible and I said, “God, incline my coronary heart to your testimonies and to not achieve.” That’s the I. O: open my eyes that I may see you here. Unite my heart to fear your name. S: satisfy me in the morning with your steadfast love. I pray that almost every day as I open my Bible because it’s both Bible, and prayer, and the Holy Spirit that has kept me. And I’ll try to keep doing that till till I’m gone. And I don’t take anything for granted. I do not take anything for granted. If God let turn loose of me and I apostatize, left my wife, left the ministry, left the faith, I’d go to Hell. John Piper would be in Hell. And you say, “Effectively, how can that be? How will you lose your salvation? I’d say, “I didn’t lose my salvation. It says plain as day in Hebrews 3:14 right after that text I quoted that “You’ll endure to the tip when you’ve got turn out to be a part of Christ.” And for those who haven’t turn out to be a part of Christ, you don’t persevere. You permit.

22:08 – The Apostle Paul and Breaking Down the Bonds of Racism

Matt Tully
So one of many issues that you just say that Paul did for you was he helped to interrupt down prejudices and racism of your youthful years that you just imbibed from the broader Southern tradition the place you grew up within the 50s and 60s. And also you write, “No follower of Jesus has said more important or more explosive things about race and ethnicity than the Apostle Paul.” As you replicate on the Evangelical Church broadly immediately, do you assume that we have to hear afresh what Paul says about race and ethnicity and our unity in Christ? And in that case, what may that entail?

John Piper
Ephesians 2 is as explosive as you will get–verse 13 to the tip of the chapter–about reconciliation with God, with one another, in a single new man. Cataclysmically radical. Or Colossians 3:11, or Galatians 3:28, or all of the discuss Gentiles and Jews being a massively essential subject like Galatians 2 the place Peter withdraws from consuming with the Gentiles. So that you’ve received these texts, and right here’s what I feel is required immediately. And it’s simply type of controversial. There’s a flip–I simply say within the final yr or two–towards extra concentrate on the nitty gritty applicatory dimensions of justice, variety, concord, reconciliation relatively than the cautious textual opening and radical prophetic heralding of what’s there within the textual content.

Now these usually are not alternate options, and I don’t imply to create that impression. Right here’s my concern. What I feel is required is for each pastor to only get actually severe in regards to the textual content. I imply actually severe in regards to the implications of the textual content. And right here’s what I’m pondering. After I was a child, and within the say 50 years earlier than that, so we’re speaking principally the primary half of the 20th century, each Klansman within the South belonged to a church in all probability. What I’m saying is: that was very faulty preaching. As a result of the type of preaching I keep in mind–they might not keep. They couldn’t. You’d be saying issues that may be so outlandish to Ku Klux Klan members, they’d storm out of your church, or they’d fireplace you fast. And that’s what should be occurring immediately, and also you don’t need to get into the nitty gritty of economics, say, or jail reform, or how police behave, and I feel we ought to speak about all these, don’t misunderstand. I’m simply saying that’s not the unconventional stuff. Are you kidding me? Learn your Bible! You wish to see one thing radical? Go and see what Paul says about you, black man, or me, white man, each beneath the blood of Jesus, united to him for our righteousness within the forgiveness of our sins and wedded in a single household dwelling collectively eternally in heaven and assume you may exit and speak unhealthy about me? You’re going to despise me? You’re going to deal with me with disrespect? I imply that isn’t doable. And it’s not being preached like that. As a result of we’re not good preachers. We’re not good textual content wringers to get each drop of radical implication out of those texts. So sure. Quick reply: sure. The Pauline image of the brand new man in Christ. Neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, neither Scythian, no barbarian, however all one in Christ is so radical that if it have been preached faithfully with text-wringing pointed prophetic software, folks would squirm of their seats and depart this church or fireplace this pastor or lay down their racist inclinations.

27:09 – Closing

Matt Tully
Effectively, thanks, Dr. Piper a lot for spending a while with me immediately sharing actually about not simply your love for Paul and your understanding of what he stated, however actually your personal life–how God has used Paul to form your pondering, your theology, and the way you really reside as a Christian. We recognize it.

John Piper
Thanks.


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