Human trafficking. Racial prejudice. Health care. Immigration reform. Same-sex marriage. Environmentalism. Poverty. Abortion. What comes to mind when you think of social justice? In this new video, John Piper talks with Matt Chandler and David Platt about this trendy, vital, and often blurry topic. Piper has contended that Christians “should care about all suffering, especially eternal suffering,” Similar, Platt notes, is his own church’s informal motto: “As we work for justice in the world, we speak clearly about the Judge of the world.” Opportunities for social action will inevitably spring up as members are holistically discipled in the faith according to Matthew 28:19. “Church elders should so minister a robust gospel—a full-blooded, deep, sanctifying, transforming, humbling, radical-making gospel,” Piper says, “that these sorts of [social justice ventures] naturally happen.” As Platt adds, “A robust commitment to the gospel and the Great Commission will inevitably lead to encounters with the impoverished, the orphaned, and so forth.” “Be where you are” is the drum Chandler beats at The Village Church. “If you’re doing gospel ministry where the Lord has placed you,” he observes, “there will be plenty to do in terms of justice and gospel ministry.” It’s also important to tie social justice to personal holiness, Platt points out. Fighting sex trafficking while looking at porn, for instance, is an ironic—and tragic—double standard. Watch the full 10-minute video to see Piper, Platt, and Chandler discuss the relationship between social justice and the gospel, contemporary distortions of love, and more.
Grace-driven effort is violent. It is aggressive. The person who understands the gospel understands that, as a new creation, his spiritual nature is in opposition to sin now, and he seeks not just to weaken sin in his life but to outright destroy it. Out of love for Jesus, he wants sin starved to death, and he will hunt and pursue the death of every sin in his heart until he has achieved success.
This is a very different pursuit than simply wanting to be good. It is the result of having transferred one’s affections to Jesus. When God’s love takes hold of us, it powerfully pushes out our own love for other gods and frees our love to flow back to him in true worship. And when we love God, we obey him. The moralist doesn’t operate that way. While true obedience is a result of love, moralistic legalism assumes it works the other way around, that love results from obedience.
The Explicit Gospel, (Wheaton: Crossway, 2012), 217–218.
Check out the recent post, 20 Quotes from The Explicit Gospel.
(HT: David Mathis)
Justin Taylor: Matt Chandler’s first book, The Explicit Gospel, is being released next month.
Matt is convinced that even though there is a lot of talk these days about the “gospel,” the message still hasn’t reached the wider church and culture. And even those of us in the so-called gospel-centered resurgence tend to focus either on (what he calls) “the gospel in the air” and the “gospel on the ground.” Matt shows that the gospel has implications for both conversion and for the cosmos, both for our individual lives and for the full scope of redemptive history. And he does it all in a deadly serious way laced with humor. Mark Dever picks up on this in his blurb, saying that the gospel is unpacked in a way that is “balanced, hope-filled, and very, very serious, all the while presented with Matt’s trademark humor. Even more faithful than funny, Matt insults all of us (including himself) in a strangely edifying way.”