Podcast: Verses That Modified My Life (John Piper)

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


Belief and Christian Hedonism

On this episode, John Piper displays on key verses which have had a big impact on his life—passages that helped him belief God within the midst of a most cancers analysis, perceive Paul’s message within the e-book of Romans, and grasp the connection between our pleasure and God’s glory.

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Full Transcript

01:25 – Welcome

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

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

01:30 – A Prognosis

Matt Tully
Just a few years again you had a routine checkup with the physician. And little do you know that appointment would begin you on a journey that in the end led you to receiving what you’ve known as, “An exquisite, perfectly timed, perfectly expressed gift.” Are you able to stroll us by means of what occurred and what that present was?

John Piper
Properly, what a privilege to speak about this. I had had prostate points for years, and had different minor surgical procedures, so I am going to go to my urologist yearly. This explicit time he does his examination and he says, “I think I want to do a biopsy.” I have a look at him and I say, “Why?” And he says, “Just a little irregularity.” I mentioned, “Okay. When would you like to do it?” He mentioned, “Now.” I assumed that was very unusual. I mentioned, “Okay.” He mentioned, “Well, just put on that gown over there and I’ll be back with the machine.” They’re gonna do a biopsy machine now with none preparation! So he walks out of the room and I’m left alone for possibly 5 or ten minutes.

That morning, if not one or two days earlier than, I had learn 1 Thessalonians 5:9, “God has not appointed you for wrath.” I imply, simply that adverse assertion got here to me with sweetness. God: “You are not appointed for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. So that whether you live or die you belong to the Lord.”

So I obtained no phrase from the Lord that that is going to be benign or not going to be a dying sentence. It was simply, “I’m here. And you’re not condemned.” And that’s actually central to my theology of struggling, my theology of life: what Christ purchased for me shouldn’t be escape from hassle, or illness, or dying. He simply took care of crucial issues.

03:59 – Consolation in Most cancers

Matt Tully
You write in Why I Love the Apostle Paul, “What I needed at that moment was a comfort far more solid, and lasting, and unshakable than a few more years of life after cancer. I needed just what I got. That’s not wrath. You’re destined for salvation.” Are there occasions since that analysis you’ve felt such as you wanted to return once more to that stable, lasting, unshakable consolation?

John Piper
Sure. Often. And what’s candy about it as a pastor—I used to be a pastor when that occurred, it’s been twelve years since that second—is that not solely do I circle again to 1 Thessalonians 5:9 as a memorable present nevertheless it has come to me for the sake of others. As pastors, I feel that’s why the Lord brings us into lots of our difficulties—together with different causes—particularly that with the consolation with which you’ve got been comforted by God chances are you’ll now consolation others.

In order that verse was given to me not only for me. It was given to me for anyone that he brings me into contact with. Actually, I can’t keep in mind the timing of it however I wrote just a little booklet with Crossway known as, Don’t Waste Your Most cancers. Properly, I simply obtained again from Argentina about 4 weeks in the past. Two girls requested, begged to see me. Each of those girls have been about of their forties. And somebody mentioned, “okay, you can have about five minutes. He’s going to speak in fifteen minutes, so don’t take long.” And so they are available in and with tears they mentioned, “We each have most cancers. We don’t know what the long run holds. And any individual gave us your little e-book Don’t Waste Your Most cancers”—that is all in Spanish by means of a translator to me—“and we were in a church—in a prosperity-type church—where we were perfectly miserable with our diagnosis and got little help. And when we read your book we felt exactly what we needed was here.” So I might say my little bout with most cancers—which needed to come out, I imply it was most cancers—that little bout was not only for me. It was for Argentinians twelve years later.

06:22 – Paul’s Struggling

Matt Tully
You emphasize that within the e-book associated to Paul. Paul’s personal struggling serves as this instance for us, this encouragement for us, to belief within the midst of that. And we see that in our personal lives, individuals who have walked by means of onerous seasons of life for every kind of causes. On the opposite facet they see how God then can use them in a novel option to consolation others.

John Piper
Completely. That passage in 1 Timothy the place he remembers why God had saved him—particularly so that the mercy that had been proven to him may trigger others who doubt the mercy of God to have encouragement as a result of God had saved him out of a Christian-killing life—is unimaginable, I might say like a paradigm for the way we must always take into consideration our personal struggling. And from my standpoint, and what I hope comes by means of on this e-book, is that Paul had been chosen, it says in Galatians, from his mom’s womb by Christ for this mission. Which signifies that Christ, who’s omniscient and is aware of every part that’s going to occur, that Christ let Paul change into a Christ-killer—as a selected apostolic spokesman—to change into a Christ-killer earlier than Damascus highway salvation. Why did he do this? And Paul tells us why: “So that others who are Christ-killers will take heart from the mercy shown to me.”

Matt Tully
Yeah, that’s superb. That view solely comes from this confidence in God’s sovereignty over this stuff.

John Piper
Proper. And Paul had little question that God was completely sovereign over all issues and particularly over the good work of salvation.

08:23 – Preaching by means of Romans

Matt Tully
I wish to return to that in just a little bit however earlier than we get there, you, type of famously, spent eight years preaching by means of the e-book of Romans, which suggests you spent a number of time with Paul. If you began do you know it was going to take that lengthy? Did you’ve got a way for the scope that that may entail?

John Piper
I didn’t have any plan to go eight years, however I had postpone Romans for about twenty years. I assumed, “You come to a church, you will need to preach Romans. It’s the Mount Everest of the mountains of the New Testomony and also you should climb up this mountain together with your folks.” And I saved saying, “I can’t do this because it’s too big, it’s too heavy, I’m not ready.” And at last I mentioned, “If I put it off much longer, I’m not going to be able to do it.”

Matt Tully
How lengthy did you wait earlier than you began?

John Piper
I did Hebrews, I feel, in 1998 or 1999, so I in all probability began Romans in 2001 or 2002. I can’t keep in mind precisely, however proper round then. And I got here to that church in 1980, so twenty-two years or so had passed by and I had not preached during. I hadn’t executed a collection on Romans. I’d executed 1 Peter, and I’d executed the Thessalonians, and I’d executed a part of Acts . . .

Matt Tully
However you’d say it’s since you have been intimidated by it?

John Piper
Yeah, I used to be intimidated by it. That will be precisely the appropriate phrase. I used to be intimidated each by the magnitude of the sorts of controversial but central questions. I imply, you higher get justification proper if it’s the doctrine on which the church hinges, like Luther mentioned. And it’s central to the e-book of Romans.

And in these days it was a really heated dialogue how you can perceive justification, with the New Perspective being very outstanding, greater than it’s now. And there was a number of discuss at our church concerning the exact option to perceive imputation. And I knew that at each textual content I’m going to need to take a stand, take a stand, take a stand, take a stand. And take a stand with authority and confidence. You may’t simply waffle on justification and say, “Well folks, I’m not sure what it means, but let’s try to do it anyway.” You higher have a agency, clear thought. So intimidated is the appropriate phrase. Doctrinally, size-wise—sixteen chapters—traditionally, it is thought-about to be crucial factor he ever wrote, or the letter that’s most vital of all of the letters within the historical past of the world. Romans has had a much bigger impression than every other letter on the planet. I imply, there are sufficient causes to suppose, “Who am I to tackle this?” And then you definitely notice,“You’re just wimping out. C’mon. Get serious.”

And so in case you had requested me I might need guessed it will take 4 or 5 years. Eight might sound just a little inflated as a result of I did do Christmas issues, Thanksgiving issues, Easter issues, different issues.

Matt Tully
So take a couple of Sundays out of there I assume.

John Piper
Yeah, I wasn’t like Martin Lloyd-Jones, “We’re plowing ahead no matter what the holiday is.” Mom’s Day in all probability obtained her shake.

11:52 – The Impression of Romans

Matt Tully
As you look again, in case you have been to summarize what you discovered from that have, how would you do this? I do know it’s in all probability unimaginable to do.

John Piper
Properly, right here’s the very first thing that involves my thoughts and it might not be probably the most useful factor, nevertheless it’s the entrance burner. In every single place I am going all over the world the place they’ve web entry—which is in all places—any individual says to me, “I listened to all 250 sermons on Romans.” They’ll both say one thing like, “It turned my theological world upside down” or they’ll say, “Nothing has solidified me like Romans.”

So what’s sudden to me is that there’s one thing about this collection. I’ve preached on half a dozen different books which might be full packages at Wanting God on the internet. No person says a phrase to me about these. I imply, my Hebrews sermons . . . no person feedback to me, “Oh, Hebrews is great! Blah, blah, blah.” It’s evidently not nice! No matter the reason being, it’s not!

However in all places I am going I hear about it. And that’s a number of sermons! And a man, a younger man in his thirties, mentioned, “I listen to two everyday going to work.” One other man mentioned, “I’m a painter. I listened to Romans for months!” and on and on. So the shocking factor was not a lot what I discovered from the e-book—not less than I’m not speaking about that but—however what I discovered about once you do an entire e-book, a collection of expositions, and pass over nothing, there’s curiosity. I imply, there’s a number of element there—if anyone desires to know one thing about what I take into consideration any phrase in the entire e-book, you could find it in that collection.

Matt Tully
You slowed down the place you’ll want to decelerate to essentially untangle each little bit.

John Piper
I feel I did round six sermons on verse 5 of chapter 5. There have been a number of. And that’s the place it says “God pours out his love by the Holy Spirit into our hearts.” As a result of I simply suppose the experiential nature of the target love of God, the juxtaposition in verses 5 and 6 there, he pours out the love of God by his Spirit into our hearts after which he says, “For”—and he refers back to the historic work of Christ dying for our sins! Just like the historic work turns into the bottom of the experiential work and that simply triggered me to settle in there and say, “Folks, we can’t just talk about the cross as the apex of the love of God and not stop and say, ‘Has it been poured by the Holy Spirit into your heart? Do you know what that means? Have you tasted that? Can you bear witness to the reality of that experience?’” That’s very threatening to folks. It’s simple to speak concerning the love of God. It’s simple to elevate your palms and sing concerning the love of God. However to bear witness to the truth that God Almighty, by his Spirit, has moved into my life and has poured an expertise of divine love into my coronary heart and I’ve tasted it. In order that’s why, in a few of the locations in my pilgrimage by means of Romans, I slowed down quite a bit.

15:30 – Speaking Realities

Matt Tully
And it wasn’t nearly speaking any of the data, you needed to be sure that your folks obtained it.

John Piper
Sure. And the “it” in “got it” is actuality. In my different e-book Expository Exultation, I clarify why on this planet I care that individuals “get it.” Right here’s what I found: I used to be instructing by means of Philippians a couple of years in the past to the seminary guys at our college and instructing them rigorously how you can decide aside the argument and hint it with all of the logical connectors, so that they may hint how each proposition pertains to one other proposition, and it hit me that the research questions I used to be asking them have been driving them by means of argument, and logic, and exposition to actuality. And so they didn’t know what I used to be saying. They mentioned, “What do you mean? What do you mean? Push through to reality?” And I needed to say to them, “Look, you can sort out an argument at the grammatical level and not know what you’re talking about.”

Take Romans 1:15, “I’m eager to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome. Because I’m not ashamed of the gospel. Because in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith.” There’s two as a result ofs, so that you’ve obtained three layers within the argument. 1) Paul was keen to evangelise the gospel. Why was he keen to evangelise the gospel? 2) As a result of it’s energy of God unto salvation. Why is it energy? 2) As a result of in it’s the righteousness of God.

Persons are wowed by that, however they don’t know what they’re speaking about. They haven’t paused to say, “What do you mean by ‘power’? How is it power? How is it power at your mother’s funeral? How is it power at the airport when you were talking? What do you mean power?” We so typically simply use phrases and sentences and logical relationships and that’s our solely exposition. However once you wish to be sure that your folks “get it,” you will need to push by means of phrases like love, and coronary heart, and spirit, and pour, and camp out on each a kind of. What’s it prefer to have one thing poured in to your coronary heart? The place’s your coronary heart? Can we level to it? What on this planet are we speaking about with the phrase coronary heart? What does pour imply? What? Like lemonade?

I image myself taking a textual content like a rag and twisting and simply twisting till each single juicy drop falls out of it.

18:41 – Too Conversant in Scripture?

Matt Tully
For individuals who have been Christians for a very long time, who’re extra acquainted with these phrases that we so typically use—Scriptural phrases, good phrases—is there a way during which you’ve seen, in your individual coronary heart maybe, a familiarity that breeds a surface-level understanding and never a heart-level understanding?

John Piper
Completely. And it’s inevitable. Except you are taking steps to sluggish your self down and ask questions, you’ll go rapidly over glories. You’ll rake as an alternative of dig. Think about there are diamonds to be discovered within the soil: in case you use a rake, you’re not going to search out them. And most of the people learn like raking. They don’t learn like digging.

I’ll offer you an instance. Yesterday I preached in chapel at Bethlehem Faculty and Seminary. My textual content was, “Worthy are you to take the scroll for you were slain and purchased people for God from every tribe, and tongue, and people, and language.” I spent half an hour on this text and when I got to the phrase “Worthy are you to take the scroll for you were slain and purchased people for God,” I paused and I mentioned, “For God. For God. What does that mean? Like, God got himself some slave labor. Is that what it means?” And naturally they are saying, “No, no, no.” I mentioned, “Why not?”

The rationale I do that’s as a result of I’ve in all probability learn that textual content 100 occasions and by no means paused to ask, “What does ‘for God’ mean?” We simply type of assume this or that, nevertheless it’s not apparent. It isn’t apparent what “for God” means. And I feel the textual content itself implies “for his treasure, for his family, for his kingdom, for his priests, for his magistrates.” However until you cease and ask what seems to be an apparent query like, “What does ‘for God’ mean?” you may suppose everyone is aware of what it means. No, they don’t. There are lots of people who suppose Christ wanted assist to get his work executed and so he purchased some helpers known as Christians and now we set to work our tails off to ensure God succeeds on this planet. It’s nothing like that.

21:03 – A Verse That Modified All the things

Matt Tully
If you have been comparatively younger, one verse that you just had learn in all probability a whole lot of occasions lastly clicked and it resolved one of many biggest unresolved tensions of your life; particularly, the way it was that we could possibly be known as to do all issues for God’s glory and but now we have this insatiable urge to pursue happiness. What was that verse that modified every part to you? That’s the language you employ, “It changed everything” for you. And the way did that verse assist you take care of that pressure that you just’d been feeling?

John Piper
The verse I circle again to most frequently to seize the approaching collectively of these issues is Philippians 1:20, the place Paul says, “My heart’s desire and hope is that I might not be at all ashamed, but that Christ may be magnified in my body whether by life or by death.”

Rising up in a house with Invoice Piper, my dad, who each evening that he was dwelling—he was an evangelist, he traveled quite a bit—prayed that God would get glory. He pronounced it glo-ry not glor-y. It will ring in my ears from the time I used to be little, “God is demanding that I live for his glo-ry. 1 Corinthians 10:31, ‘Whatever you do, whether you eat or drink, do all to the glo-ry of God.’” So I felt that rising up. However then I used to be headed off to varsity and I had a burning, simple want in my coronary heart, “I want to be happy.” And you could possibly put a number of different phrases on that. Happy, content material, full, free . . . I don’t wish to be depressing all my life. I wish to be glad. So—and that is simply my downside I’m not blaming anyone—they felt like they have been at odds. I’m presupposed to reside for God’s glory and my coronary heart is saying, “You got to find a way to be happy.” And I can keep in mind mendacity in my mattress Saint Corridor my senior yr, pondering motives . . .

Matt Tully
This was at Wheaton Faculty?

John Piper
Yeah, Wheaton Faculty. And I couldn’t determine the motives—glory of God, happiness of my soul. And Philippians 1:20 comes alongside (plus Jonathan Edwards, plus Dan Fuller, plus a number of experiences) and it says, “Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Now, that’s an argument. There’s a for. Christ goes to be magnified in my physique by my dying, however you may’t simply take the dying half and never the life half. And I assumed, Okay, he’s magnified in my physique as a result of my expertise of dying is skilled as achieve . . . how does that work? I used to be wringing it. C’mon! I gotta determine how this works! Why is my expertise of dying as achieve make him superb? And as you retain studying it says that to die is to go and be with him which is much, much better. Higher for whom? Me! So “gain” there means once you die you get all of Christ. And he calls it “gain” and “better” and that “gain” and “better” is the bottom for why Christ is getting glory. He’s being proven magnificent. After which it simply clicked. Oh! He’s most magnified in me after I’m most glad in him! Particularly in occasions of struggling and dying.

That modified every part. That’s been my entire life. My entire life is dedicated to Christian Hedonism and attempting to unpack that. As a result of I do know past a shadow of a doubt—my dad taught me, the Bible taught me, Paul (bless his coronary heart) taught me—that I exist and the universe exists for the glory of God. Which implies to mirror that he’s the supreme worth, magnificence, and greatness within the universe. Present that. Make him look nice. That’s what “magnify” means. Make him seem like he actually is: nice. How? By being glad in him above intercourse, above cash, above fame, above every part.

26:37 – Obligation and Delight

Matt Tully
What would you say to the one who hears that and it nearly appears unimaginable for them, when they give thought to their very own life? It possibly even appears like an undoable burden to them.

John Piper
How can the enjoyment of a Butterfinger Blizzard be a burden? I imply, to even discuss concerning the obligation of pleasure—which I do, I wrote a e-book known as that—and name it a burden misses what delight is. If God involves me and says, “Now, I do have a commandment for you. I do have a yoke. It’s a light yoke and an easy burden—you need to enjoy me.” What could possibly be simpler . . .or extra unimaginable? Matthew 11 says, “My yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” However in chapter 7 it says, “The gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”

That’s one other a kind of tensions that I’ve spent a very long time enthusiastic about. How can the way in which be onerous and the yoke be simple? And I feel the reply is that this: what could possibly be simpler than having fun with the infinitely pleasing until you hate it? It’s unimaginable. That’s why when the wealthy younger ruler walked away Jesus mentioned, “It is impossible with man. How hard it is for the rich to get into the kingdom of heaven. It’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than the people who love money to get into heaven.” The disciples throw up their palms and say, “Then who can be saved?” And Jesus didn’t say, “Oh, you misunderstand me.” He mentioned, “Right. It’s impossible. But with God all things are possible.” And so after I discover myself possibly experiencing the obligation of pleasure as a burden, I do know I’m in huge hassle, as a result of meaning I’ve obtained all of it unsuitable. I’ve obtained to get on my face earlier than God and say, “Have mercy! I’m turning this thing upside down. Take away the heart of stone. Take away all the creeping love of money and things and comfort and restore yourself as the central value and beauty of my life.”

28:47- Christian Hedonism

Matt Tully
How did you land on the time period Christian Hedonism? I do know some folks have been considerably crucial of that time period. They don’t prefer it. They don’t just like the connotations or possibly the ways in which it may be misunderstood or abused. How did you land on that and do you continue to suppose that’s one of the simplest ways to explain what you’re speaking about?

John Piper
I don’t know if it’s greatest, however I nonetheless use it. I’m utilizing it extra now than I ever have, in all probability. I’ve by no means mentioned that anyone must embrace it as a way to embrace the fact that it stands for. I’ve at all times tried to make use of an escape hatch for folks. I need them to imagine the reality, I don’t care concerning the moniker.

I selected it in all probability as a result of I learn the phrase hedonism in a couple of locations. C. S. Lewis in Letters to Malcolm: Mainly on Prayer says one thing like, “This is what God requires of us. And if it be hedonism, then so much the better.” I learn it in Vernard Eller, a e-book I used to be studying on possessions and ease and he known as the Christian life “hedonism.” After which I mentioned, “Well, I better look this up in the dictionary of philosophy. Is this even fair? Is this legitimate? I’m just twisting this word all out of reality.” The primary definition in my tenth-grade Webster’s dictionary was, “A life devoted to pleasure.” “Well,” I mentioned, “Okay, if that’s the first definition, I’m not twisting anything. That’s exactly what I mean.” Hebrews says about Jesus, “For the joy that was set before him he endured the cross.” Now that’s a life dedicated to maximizing everlasting pleasure by enduring the worst struggling possible.

The primary crucial assessment I obtained from this again in 1986 got here from a missions government in California who mentioned, “Ah, just another American prosperity book.” And I wrote to him and I mentioned, “Did you read it? This book is designed to blow up prosperity preaching from the inside out. You didn’t get it if that’s what you think.” The primary version of Wanting God didn’t have a chapter on struggling. When folks hear the phrase “hedonism” and so they hear the phrase “happy” and so they simply blow the e-book off. “Oh, another how-to-be-happy book. Blah, blah, blah.” They don’t have any thought what they’re doing. And so I added a chapter on struggling. And ever since then I’ve mentioned, “God is most glorified in you when you are most satisfied in him, especially through times of suffering.” In different phrases, God is made to look superb not simply when Christians are glad in the most effective occasions, however glad within the worst occasions. That’s what’s inexplicable and makes God appears to be like magnificent. So I selected it as a result of it’s true and I selected it as a result of it’s provocative.

32:18 – Closing

Matt Tully
Yeah, it does have that impact as a result of it appears like an oxymoron, nevertheless it does seize that so nicely. Properly, thanks, Dr. Piper, for spending a while with us right now to debate the historical past of Christian Hedonism. We admire it.

John Piper
Thanks.


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