God himself is the great good of our redemption

  Jonathan Edwards: The redeemed have all their objective good in God. God himself is the great good which they are brought to the possession and enjoyment of by redemption. He is the highest good, and the sum of all that good which Christ has purchased. God is the inheritance of the saints; he is the portion of their souls. God is their wealth and treasure, their food, their life, their dwelling place, their ornament and diadem, and their everlasting honor and glory. They have none in heaven but God; he is the great good which the redeemed are received to at death, and which they are to rise to at the end of the world. The Lord God, he is the light of the heavenly Jerusalem; and is the ‘the river of the water of life’ that runs, and the tree of life that grows, ‘in the midst of the paradise of God.’ The glorious excellencies and beauty of

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The Book of Job

Ray Ortlund: The book of Job is not answering a theoretical question about why good people suffer.  It is answering a practical question: When good people suffer, what does God want from them?  The answer is, he wants our trust. The book is driven by tensions.  One, Job really was a good man (1:1, 8; 2:3).  He didn’t deserve what he got.  Two, neither Job nor his friends ever saw the conflict going on between God and Satan, but his friends made the mistake of thinking they were competent to judge.  Three, his friends interpreted his sufferings in moralistic, overly-tidy, accusing categories (4:7-8).  Thus, they did not serve Job but only intensified his sufferings further.  Four, Job refused to give in either to his own despair or to their cruel insinuations.  He kept looking to God, he held on, and God eventually showed up (38:1-42:17). Two observations. One, even personal suffering has a social dimension, as others look on and

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God himself is the great good of our redemption

The redeemed have all their objective good in God. God himself is the great good which they are brought to the possession and enjoyment of by redemption. He is the highest good, and the sum of all that good which Christ has purchased. God is the inheritance of the saints; he is the portion of their souls. God is their wealth and treasure, their food, their life, their dwelling place, their ornament and diadem, and their everlasting honour and glory. They have none in heaven but God; he is the great good which the redeemed are received to at death, and which they are to rise to at the end of the world. The Lord God, he is the light of the heavenly Jerusalem; and is the ‘the river of the water of life’ that runs, and the tree of life that grows, ‘in the midst of the paradise of God.’ The glorious excellencies and beauty of God will be what

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Valuable for His Own Sake

Machen: We are subject to many pressing needs, and we are too much inclined to value God, not for His own sake, but only because He can satisfy those needs. . . . [Food, clothing, companionship, and inspiring work] are lofty desires. But there is one desire that is loftier still. It is the desire for God Himself. That desire, too often, we forget. We value God solely for the things He can do; we make of Him a mere means to an ulterior end. And God refuses to be treated so; such a religion always fails in the hour of need. If we have regarded religion merely as a means of getting things–even lofty and unselfish things–then when the things that have been gotten are destroyed, our faith will fail. When loved ones are taken away, when disappointment comes and failure, when noble ambitions are set at naught, then we turn away from God. We have tried religion, we

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The Inner Essence of Worship

John Piper from 2008: The essential, vital, indispensable, defining heart of worship is the experience of being satisfied with God. This satisfaction in God magnifies God in the heart. This explains why the apostle Paul makes so little distinction between worship as a congregational service and worship as a pattern of daily life. They have the same root – a passion for treasuring God as infinitely valuable. The impulse for singing a hymn and the impulse for visiting a prisoner is the same: a thirst for God – a desire to experience as much satisfaction in God as we can. Excerpted from Gravity and Gladness on Sunday Morning, Part 1.

Preaching as Expository Exultation

John Piper: Our hearts will not be drawn out to worship if someone just dissects and analyzes the worth and glory of God but does not exult in it before us. Our hearts long for true preaching. Some of us don’t even know that is what we are missing. Like children who grew up in homes where mom and dad never exulted in anything. They never rejoiced or praised or verbally admired and treasured anything. They were always flat and unenthused (except when they got angry). You couldn’t tell if anything really moved them deeply and positively. So the kids grow up not knowing what they are missing. That is what many people in the church are like who have never tasted true preaching. God exists to be worshiped—to be admired and treasured and desired and praised. Therefore, the Word of God is written primarily to produce worship. This means that if that Word is handled like a hot-dish recipe

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Higher Up and Further Back

From Tullian Tchividjian: In one of the most powerful and poetic paragraphs I’ve ever read on human yearning and the hope of the gospel, Cornelius Plantinga (President of Calvin Theological Seminary) writes: The truth is that nothing in this earth can finally satisfy us. Much can make us content for a time but nothing can fill us to the brim. The reason is that our final joy lies “beyond the walls of this world,” as J.R.R Tolkien put it. Ultimate beauty comes not from a lover or a landscape or a home, but only through them. These earthly things are solid goods, and we naturally relish them. But they are not our final good. They point to what is higher up and further back…Even if we fall deeply in love and marry another human being, we discover that our spiritual and sexual oneness isn’t final. It’s wonderful, but not final. It might even be as good as human oneness can be, but something in us

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“I Never Made a Sacrifice”

From John Piper: David Livingstone… was born March 19, 1813. He gave his life to serve Christ in the exploration of Africa for the sake of the access of the gospel. On December 4, 1857, he spoke the sentence that has made the greatest impact on me. It is one of the clearest applications I have seen of Jesus’ words in Mark 10:29-30. Jesus said, Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. Here is what Livingstone said to the Cambridge students about his “leaving” the benefits of England: For my own part, I have never ceased to rejoice that God has appointed me to such

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Delight yourself in the Lord!

Richard Baxter, in A Christian Directory (Ligonier, 1990), page 140, lists seven benefits of delighting ourselves in God.  Updating the language a little: 1.  Delight in God will prove that you know him and love him and that you are prepared for his kingdom, for all who truly delight in him shall enjoy him. 2.  Prosperity, which is merely the small addition of earthly things, will not easily corrupt you or transport you. 3.  Adversity, that is, the withholding of earthly delights, will not much grieve you or easily deject you. 4.  You will receive more profit from a sermon or good book or conversation you delight in, than other people, who don’t delight in them, will receive from many such opportunities. 5.  All your service will be sweet to yourself and acceptable to God; if you delight in him, he certainly delights in you (Psalm 149:4; 147:11; 1 Chronicles 29:17). 6.  You will have a continual feast with you, to sweeten all

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God’s self-exaltation

“Here is the end of the matter: God is the one being in the universe for whom self-exaltation is not the act of a needy ego, but an act of infinite giving. The reason God seeks our praise is not because he won’t be fully God until he gets it, but that we won’t be happy until we give it. This is not arrogance. This is grace. This is not egomania. This is love.” – John Piper, Is Jesus an Egomaniac? (HT: Of First Importance)

Piper: Why I Don’t Have a Television and Rarely Go to Movies

I find John Piper’s rationale compelling. I also appreciate his humility: Now that the video of the Q&A at Advance 09 is available, I can look at it and feel bad all over again. Here’s what I regret, indeed what I have apologized for to the person who asked the question. The first question to me and Mark Driscoll was, “Piper says get rid of my TV, and Driscoll says buy extra DVRs. How do you reconcile this difference?” I responded, “Get your sources right. . . . I never said that in my life.” Almost as soon as it was out of my mouth, I felt: “What a jerk, Piper!” A jerk is a person who nitpicks about the way a question is worded rather than taking the opportunity to address the issue in a serious way. I blew it at multiple levels. So I was very glad when the person who asked the question wrote to me. I wrote

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The Pleasures of God Seminar

Another great resource from John Piper at Desiring God is the audio and video from the seminar, “The Pleasures of God.” The Pleasures of God, Part 1 The Pleasures of God, Part 2 The Pleasures of God, Part 3 The Pleasures of God, Part 4 The Pleasures of God, Part 5

The one essential condition

“The one essential condition of human existence is that man should always be able to bow down before something infinitely great. If men are deprived of the infinitely great, they will not go on living and will die of despair. The Infinite and the Eternal are as essential for man as the little planet on which he dwells.” Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Possessed, chapter 7, section 3. (HT: Ray Ortlund)

The Most Important Prayer Request in the World

From John Piper: The most important prayer is that the most important person in the universe do the most important act in the universe. That’s why Jesus put this request at the beginning of the Lord’s prayer: “Hallowed be your name.” God is the most important person in the universe. More important than all others put together. All the nations are as nothing before him, they are accounted by him as less than nothing and emptiness” (Isaiah 40:17). The whole-souled act of hallowing God’s name is the most important act in the universe. To “hallow” means to “sanctify” which in God’s case means to set apart in your mind and heart as supremely great and beautiful and valuable. “Hallowed be your name” means, “See to it that your name is hallowed. Use your infinite power and wisdom and love to stir up billions of hearts and minds to admire you and prize you above all things.” We ask him to

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Sunday morning…

“If God is not supreme in our preaching, where in this world will the people hear about the supremacy of God? If we do not spread a banquet of God’s beauty on Sunday morning, will not our people seek in vain to satisfy their inconsolable longing with the cotton candy pleasures of pastimes and religious hype? If the fountain of living water does not flow from the mountain of God’s sovereign grace on Sunday morning, will not the people hew for themselves cisterns on Monday, broken cisterns that can hold no water?” – John Piper (HT: Todd Pruitt)