Romans 9 – Look at the Book

Look at the Book is John Piper’s latest effort to help teach you to read the Bible for yourself. It’s an ongoing series of 8–12 minute videos in which the camera is on the text, not the teacher. As part of this new initiative, Desiring God is catalyzing regional events focused on certain passages of Scripture. Below, you can find all four sessions from our Look at the Book weekend on Romans 9.

Session 1: Has the Word of God Failed? (Romans 9:1–5)

The Word of God Has Not Failed // Session 1 from Desiring God on Vimeo.

Session 2: God’s Good Purpose in Election (Romans 9:6–13)

The Word of God Has Not Failed // Session 2 from Desiring God on Vimeo.

Session 3: God Has Mercy on Whomever He Wills (Romans 9:14–18)

The Word of God Has Not Failed // Session 3 from Desiring God on Vimeo.

Session 4: My Heart’s Prayer to God for You (Romans 9:19–10:4)

The Word of God Has Not Failed // Session 4 from Desiring God on Vimeo.

Luke 12:32-34

Part 1

Many people are afraid to give because they’re afraid they won’t have enough themselves or that they’ll miss out on something in the future. In this lab, Dr. John Piper highlights the liberating promise that God is a providing shepherd, father, and king. Therefore, we can give freely and generously.

Outline

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–01:01)

God Knows Your Needs (01:01–03:59)
What should you not be afraid of (Luke 12:32)? You are not to fear the consequences of giving.
You are not to fear being without our basic necessities. God knows everything you need. (Luke 12:29–31)
Jesus overcomes this fear by reminding us that we have a good Shepherd, a good Father, and a good King.
Therefore, give. Be generous.

Sell Your Possessions (03:59–07:35)
If you don’t have cash to give, sell your possessions to get some. (Luke 12:33)
Jesus is not against possessions. We know this because Jesus is simply putting your possessions into someone else’s hands. He’s not prohibiting possessions. (Luke 12:33)
We should hold our possessions so loosely that we are willing to let them go if others are in need.
Being a generous and compassionate person is what shows you are a member of this flock, this family, and this kingdom. And that is because this Shepherd, this Father, and this King delights to give. (Luke 12:32)
If you have a God like this, you can afford to live simply and generously. (Luke 12:32–33)

Closing Prayer and Commission (07:35–08:02)
God, make us the kind of people that prove by our giving that we are sheep of such a shepherd, children of such a father, subjects of such a king. I pray this through Christ, Amen.

Luke 12-32–34, Part 1 from Desiring God on Vimeo.

Part 2

“Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” What we treasure has massive implications for the health and security of our hearts. In this lab, John Piper explains why treasure in heaven will satisfy us more than any other, and shows us the pathway to more of the joy found in Jesus.

Outline

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–01:58)

We are sheep of a great shepherd, children of a great father, and subjects of a great king. This shepherd/father/king delights to give, so we also should be generous toward those in need.

The Treasure in Heaven (Luke 12:33) (01:58–04:03)
This treasure will not be lost (“grow old”).
This treasure will not fail.
This treasure will not be stolen (“no thief”).
This treasure will not be ruined (“no moth destroys”).
The Treasure in Your Heart (04:03–06:09)

The heart is the emotional barometer of the value and security of the treasure (Luke 12:34). If your treasure is vulnerable, your joy is vulnerable. If your treasure is secure, your joy is secure. If your treasure is great, your joy is great.

Your heart follows your treasure, wherever and however it leads. Your heart rises and falls with the quality and security of what you treasure.
The full, trustworthy, satisfying treasure in heaven is God — himself, his Son, his kingdom.

Generosity and Joy (06:09–10:19)
Giving to the needy is providing yourself with a never-failing treasure. Generosity is the way you have this treasure. (Luke 12:33)
You do not earn the kingdom (the treasure). You confirm that you are a person with this treasure by your generosity.
You confirm that God is your treasure, and you increase your treasure, and therefore your joy (Luke 6:38). In God’s economy, there is a correlation between our generosity and our joy.
Therefore, do not be afraid. Let’s sell what we need to in order to give all we can.

Luke 12:32–34, Part 2 // Seek the Treasure That Will Not Fail from Desiring God on Vimeo.

A God of Strategies

On today’s DL broadcast, once again guest hosting in Dr. James White’s absence, I taught from Acts 16:1-15. I discussed the Apostle Paul’s mission strategy as it relates to the circumcision of Timothy, the closing and the opening of doors for the gospel, and God’s activity in opening the heart of man.

Work out your salvation with fear and trembling

Pastor Jim McClarty addresses another popular out-of-context Bible phrase that is often used as a counter-argument to Reformed Theology.

Phil 2:12 So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. (NASB)

Acts 10 – The Gentile Pentecost

Today I once again had the privilege of guest hosting Dr. James White’s “Dividing Line” broadcast. After informing people as to Dr. White’s ministry schedule in South Africa we had a couple of surprising and dramatic Royal announcements, some sort of sanity was regained as we took a trek through Acts chapter 10, showing why it is one of the most significant chapters in the entire New Testament, revealing why Gentiles have full citizenship in the kingdom of God. Here’s the show:

A Word Based Response to God

By but also because in our time there is great fascination with tracing out the storyline of the Bible. And I simply want to wave a flag in all this fascination with story and narrative to say: There is a point to the story; there is a point to the narrative. And the point is a person.

Biblical stories are no more ends in themselves than history is an end in itself, or the universe is an end in itself. The universe is telling the glory of God (Psalm 19:1). And the history of the world is what it is, to show that God is who he is. God writes the story of history to reveal who he is—what he is like, his character, his name.

Consider Nehemiah 9:10. The Levites are praying:

You performed signs and wonders against Pharaoh and all his servants and all the people of his land, for you knew that they acted arrogantly against our fathers. And you made a name for yourself, as it is to this day.

What was God doing as he brought ten plagues on Egypt, and split the Red Sea, and delivered the people of Israel from bondage? What was he doing as he acted the story that would be told ten thousand times?

The answer is at the end of verse 10: You were making a name for yourself. Then notice these key words at the end of the verse: “*As it is to this day.” What day? The day of Nehemiah — about 400 BC. When were you making this name for yourself? At the exodus, about 1400 BC. One thousand years!

What is the point of history? God is making a name for himself — a name that will last a thousand years. God is making a name for himself that his people can know, and bank on, and exult in, for thousands of years. A name — a character, a revelation of who he is and what he is like — so that we can know him and trust him and enjoy him. That’s why there are stories in the Bible. Continue reading

Complete Sovereignty in one verse

SoverI have met more than one professing Christian who railed against the concept of God’s Sovereignty by saying that the word “Sovereign” is not even found in the Bible. Have you ever heard such a thing? In reality, the whole argument is quite laughable for the simple reason that while the word ‘Sovereign’ is not found in the King James Version of the Bible (you will not find the word “Trinity” in there either), others translations of the Bible do indeed use the word “Sovereign” quite frequently. It should also be said that one of the Hebrew names of God is ‘El Elyon’ which means “the Most High God” or “the Sovereign One.”

The whole Bible is a revelation of God in His supreme sovereignty. By Sovereignty we mean that God does what He wants, when He wants, the way He wants, without having to ask anyone’s permission.

God “works all things according to the counsel of His will” – Ephesians 1:11.

Psalm 115:3 states it this way, “Our God is in heaven; He does whatever pleases Him.”

Psalm 135:6 says, “The LORD does whatever pleases Him, in the heavens and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths.” God is sovereign. He is in control.

If I was asked to show God’s Sovereignty by quoting only one verse of the Bible, I would probably turn to Romans 11:36. In Romans 8:28 through to the end of chapter 11, Paul has outlined the supremacy, majesty and sovereignty of God in unmistakable terms. And yet Paul is not merely a theologian of the mind, but one of the heart also and therefore under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, his high theology becomes worshipful doxology, as he thunders out the heartfelt cry of “oh…” – and what a massive “oh” it is!

Romans 11:33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord,
or who has been his counselor?”
35 “Or who has given a gift to him
that he might be repaid?”
36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

Everything is from Him.

Behind all the schemes and actions of mice and men stands Yahweh, sovereign and majestic in regal splendor. All things are from Him. He is the Source of all things. All things come from Him.

As the Westminster Confession of Faith states, “God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass; yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.”

Much could be written to explain the words of the Confession here but there is absolutely no doubt as to what the text says and as to what it means by what it says. All things are from Him.

Everything is Through Him

Next, we read that all things are “Through Him.” All things exist by His activity and through His sustaining power. Jesus revealed that not even a single sparrow falls to the ground “apart from your Father.” (Matthew 10:29) Even when it comes to seemingly insignificant or trivial events (like a sparrow falling); these events only occur because of the Father’s will.

Everything is to Him

All things are “to Him.” He is the purpose for everything. All things exist for Him. All things are “to Him.” There is no purpose found outside of Him.

All things are FROM HIM. All things are THROUGH HIM. All things are TO HIM.

To Him be the glory!

If even ONE of these statements is NOT altogether true, then we would not be able to say “To him be glory forever. Amen.” If all things are not from Him, then not all the glory is due Him. If all things are not through Him, God is not to be glorified for sustaining everything. And if all things are not to Him, then He is not to be glorified as the purpose for everything. But precisely because all these things are true – from Him and through Him and to Him are all things, then it follows that to Him belongs all the glory forever.

When Paul had written these words of supreme Sovereignty, he closed by adding the word “Amen” which means “this is true” or “so be it.”

May I ask, when you encounter these words, what is the response of your heart and mind? The one who embraces the Bible as God’s word has no other alternative than to bow before this Sovereign Lord and humbly affirm with the Apostle, “Amen – this is true, so be it.”

Romans 11:36: “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.”

A Church Without Masks

he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

2 Cor 1: 8 For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. 9 Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. 10 He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. 11 You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.

2 Cor 4:7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 11 For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So death is at work in us, but life in you.

I think it might be safe to say that these three passages would rarely have been put together in a sermon, but I hope you will see there is some sort of method in my madness today. I want to talk about three things. Three facts.. Three things we know:

1. JESUS IS BUILDING HIS CHURCH
2. IT IS A CHURCH BUILT ON GRACE
3. THIS GRACE IS FOR SINNERS

These facts are so well known that we think we know them. I am suggesting that the Church at large has rarely known them, except in a superficial way, or if these things have been known, they have been rarely applied in the life of the Church.

Often when a person encounters Christ and begins his trek through this world as a follower of Him.. as he enters the Church, he is handed a mask, which he is expected to wear to each service.

If he forgets to wear it for the first few services, allowances are made. “He’s new, its ok” someone might say.. Quickly though he learns the rhetoric, the jargon, the lingo… when asked how he is doing, he learns to say “I’m blessed” “it is well with my soul…” “God is good, all the time…” and over time, he understands that talking like this is what will allow him to be accepted by the group…

How this must grieve the Lord.. Jesus is building His Church with real people who are often hurting and in pain… and His Church is supposed to be the one place where sinners can own their sin and still be loved, a place where we can be imperfect and flawed, while at the same time exalting in the perfect Savior.

The Apostle Paul wanted his readers to know that he had experienced such a hard time that he despaired he would even come out of the experience alive. He was

1. Afflicted
2. Perplexed
3. Persecuted
4. Struck down
5. Carrying in the body the death of Jesus
6. Given over to death
7. His outward self (body) wasting away

Can one of God’s children say this kind of thing? Not only a child of God, but an Apostle! Continue reading