oh, for a preacher who proclaims the gospel!
this is by far the best thing I’ve read all year. really really well worth a read. in fact, i’m probably going to read it again…
To get at the nature of that faith, it is helpful to ponder why faith alone justifies. Why not love, or some other virtuous disposition? Here’s the way J. Gresham Machen answers this question in his 1925 book, What Is Faith?
The true reason why faith is given such an exclusive place by the New Testament, so far as the attainment of salvation is concerned, over against love and over against everything else in man… is that faith means receiving something, not doing something or even being something. To say, therefore, that our faith saves us means that we do not save ourselves even in slightest measure, but that God saves us.
In other words, we are justified by faith alone, and not by love, because God intends to make it crystal clear that he does the decisive saving outside of us, and that the person and work of Christ are the sole ground of our acceptance with God.
A hundred years earlier Andrew Fuller (the main rope holder in England for missionary William Carey in India) gave the same explanation:
Thus it is justification is ascribed to faith, because it is by faith that we receive Christ; and thus it is by faith only, and not by any other grace. Faith is peculiarly a receiving grace which none other is. Were we said to be justified by repentance, by love, or by any other grace, it would convey to us the idea of something good in us being the consideration on which the blessing was bestowed; but justification by faith conveys no such idea.
– John Piper, Think at 70
Isn’t the gospel just astoundingly beautiful?
The apex of glorifying God is enjoying him with the heart. But this is an empty emotionalism where that joy is not awakened and sustained by true views of God for who he really is. That is mainly what the mind is for.
John Piper, Think at 37
be encouraged by Noel Piper’s (John Piper’s wife) testimony on how she discovered the joy of friendship, at 60.
“Good things can happen in solitude. Quietness can be a sweet place to meet God. But there’s a dark side to solitude when I crave it above all. The I comes to mean not “introvert” but literally only “I”: I don’t want you around, because I am the one who makes me happy. I can solve my own problems. I am all I need.”
“We often pit thinking and feeling against each other, especially when it comes to the Christian experience. Glorifying God with our minds and hearts, however, is not either-or, but both-and. Focusing on the life of the mind will help you to know God better, love him more, and care for the world. This book will help you think about thinking, and about how the heart and mind glorify God together.”
– from the back of Think, by John Piper. Can’t wait to start reading this one!
Sustaining the Covenant of Marital Love – Piper, Keller, Clarkson
Dietrich Bonhoeffer to a young couple he was marrying: “It is not your love that sustains the marriage, but from now on, the marriage that sustains your love.”
This is my confession:
I was born into a believing family through no merit of my own at all.
I was given a mind to think and a heart to feel through no merit of my own at all.
I was brought into the hearing of the gospel through no merit of my own at all.
My rebellion was subdued, my hardness removed, my blindness overcome, and my deadness awakened through no merit of my own at all.
Thus I became a believer in Christ through no merit of my own at all.
And so I am an heir of God with Christ through no merit of my own at all.
Now when I put forward effort to please the Lord who bought me, this is to me no merit at all, because
…it is not I, but the grace of God that is with me. (1 Corinthians 15:10)
…God is working in me that which is pleasing in his sight. (Hebrews 13:21)
…he fulfills every resolve for good by his power. (2 Thessalonians 1:11)
And therefore there is no ground for boasting in myself, but only in God’s mighty grace.
Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord. (1 Corinthians 1:31)