Kevin DeYoung: When John Piper preached at our church two weeks ago, he talked about the very high view Muslims have of the sovereignty of God. They believe in a God who ordains whatsoever comes to pass. They believe in a God who knows the hairs on our heads. They believe in a God who can do as he pleases. So is there any difference between a sovereign Allah and the sovereign God of the Bible? Piper argued that in Islam the sovereignty of God operates independently of his other attributes, such that Allah can be capricious and arbitrary in his exercise of divine power. This is, no doubt, how some Christians see the Reformed view of God and why they reject it so strenuously. But when Calvin and other early Reformed thinkers exulted in God’s design and decrees, they typically did so with a different word besides “sovereignty.” They much preferred to talk about providence. Obviously, the two are related. There
More from this great Puritan. Jonathan Parnell posts: John Flavel, in 1678, instructs readers to see God as the author of all circumstances in life, including suffering: Set before you the sovereignty of God. Eye Him as the Being infinitely superior to you, at whose pleasure you and all your have subsist (Psalm 115:3), which is the most conclusive reason and argument for submission (Psalm 46:10). For if we, all we have proceeded from His will, how right is it that we be resigned up to it! Set the grace and goodness of God before you in all afflictive providences. O see Him passing by you in the cloudy and dark day, proclaiming His name, ‘The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious’ (Exodus 34:6). Eye the wisdom of God in all your afflictions. Behold it in the choice of the kind of your affliction, this, and not another; the time, now and not at another season; the degree, in this measure only, and
From Kevin DeYoung, Just Do Something, pp. 50-51: Passivity is a plague among Christians. It’s not just that we don’t do anything; it’s that we feel spiritual for not doing anything. We imagine that our inactivity is patience and sensitivity to God’s leading. At times it may be; but it’s also quite possible we are just lazy. When we hyper-spiritualize our decisions, we can veer off into impulsive and foolish decisions. But more likely as Christians we fall into endless patterns of vacillation, indecision, and regret. No doubt, selfish ambition is a danger for Christians, but so is complacency, listless wandering, and passivity that pawns itself off as spirituality. Perhaps our inactivity is not so much waiting on God as it is an expression of the fear of man, the love of the praise of man, and disbelief in God’s providence. (HT: Justin Taylor)
My thanks to Ray Ortlund for posting this encouraging piece: “The Hopeless Dawn” by Frank Bramley shows a young widow, who has just found out that her husband was lost at sea, being comforted by her godly mother-in-law. Notice the altar-like table, suggesting the Lord’s Supper. Notice the big open Bible on the seat by the window. The two suffering women are not alone. Christ is there. Sooner or later every one of us is confronted with a hopeless dawn. Hopeless, as someone or something important to us is taken away forever. A dawn, because that very moment of overwhelming loss is the beginning of a new era. Christ is there. I have met many men, in their 50s like me, who have simply lived long enough to get body-slammed by life in some unforeseeable, major way. Divorce, cancer, their business stolen out from underneath them, sued, a wayward child breaking their heart, and so forth. Previous successes make no
From James Grant: I remember reading John Piper’s book The Pleasures of God and the list of 10 resolutions from Clyde Kilby on how to benefit your soul and mental health. Justin Buzzard posted them this week, and it was a helpful reminder. John Piper writes about Kilby, “He pled with us to stop seeking mental health in the mirror of self-analysis, but instead to drink in the remedies of God in nature.” Here are the resolutions: 1. At least once every day I shall look steadily up at the sky and remember that I, a consciousness with a conscience, am on a planet traveling in space with wonderfully mysterious things above and about me. 2. Instead of the accustomed idea of a mindless and endless evolutionary change to which we can neither add nor subtract, I shall suppose the universe guided by an Intelligence which, as Aristotle said of Greek drama, requires a beginning, a middle, and an end.
Adrian Warnock pointed me in the direction of this encouraging piece from John Piper: 1. We will not die apart from God’s gracious decree for his children. James 4:14-15 “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” Matthew 10:29-30 “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” Deuteronomy 32:39 “See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god beside me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand.” (See Job 1:21;1 Samuel 2:6; 2 Kings 5:7) 2. Curses and divination do not hold sway against God’s people. Numbers 23:23 “There is no enchantment against Jacob, no divination against Israel.” 3. The plans
John Piper writes: Recently I wrote that we seldom know the micro reasons for our sufferings, but the Bible does give us faith-sustaining macro reasons. It is good to have a way to remember some of these so that when we are suddenly afflicted, or have a chance to help others in their affliction, we can recall some of the truths God has given us to help us not lose hope. Here is one way to remember. Five R’s (or if it helps, just pick three and try to remember them). The macro purposes of God in our sufferings include: Repentance Suffering is a call for us and others to turn from treasuring anything on earth above God. Luke 13:4-5 – Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will
The Lesson of the Book of Ruth – John Piper Here’s what I would suggest as the main lesson: the life of the godly is not a straight line to glory, but they do get there. The life of the godly is not an Interstate through Nebraska, but a state road through the Blue Ridge Mountains of Tennessee. There are rock slides and precipices and dark mists and bears and slippery curves and hairpin turns that make you go backwards in order to go forwards. But all along this hazardous, twisted road that doesn’t let you see very far ahead there are frequent signs that say, “The best is yet to come.” And at the bottom right corner written with an unmistakable hand are the words, “As I live, says the Lord!” The book of Ruth is one of those signs for you to read. It was written and it has been preached to give you some midsummer encouragement and
“How does this worldview help us conceal the idolatry of our soul? It works like this. Open Theism denies that God is the final, purposive disposer of all things (Job 2:10; Amos 3:6; Rom. 8:28; Eph. 1:11). Therefore it asserts that God’s wisdom does not hold final sway (Rom. 11:33-36), and thus God is not fulfilling a plan for our good in all our miseries (Jeremiah 29:11; 32:40). Open Theism implies, therefore, that we should not think about the wisdom of God’s purpose in causing or permitting our calamities. In other words, Open Theism discourages us from asking what sanctifying purpose God may have in ordaining that our misery come about.” -John Piper (HT: Reformed Voices)
…That we might praise, for ever, the glory of God’s grace in Christ. Here’s John Piper at New Word Alive:
“Wimpy world-views produce wimpy Christians. And wimpy Christians will not survive the days that are coming.” John Piper, from this excellent video clip posted at ‘Allsufficientgrace‘.
From John Bloom at Desiring God: As a Christian, when you experience a painful providence like an illness or a rebellious child or a broken marriage or a financial hardship or persecution, do you ever wonder if God is punishing you for some sin you committed? If you do, there is some very good news from the letter to the Hebrews. The original readers of this letter had been experiencing persecution and affliction for some time. They were tired, discouraged, and confused—why was God allowing such hardships? And some were doubting. So after some doctrinal clarifications and some firm exhortations and a few sober warnings (so they could examine if their faith was real) the author of the letter brought home a very important point. He wanted his readers to remember that the difficulty and pain they were experiencing was not God’s punishment for their sins or weak faith. Chapters 7-10 beautifully explain that Jesus’ sacrifice for sin was once
I Love this from John Piper: One of the reasons God rarely gives micro reasons for his painful providences, but regularly gives magnificent macro reasons, is that there are too many micro reasons for us to manage, namely, millions and millions and millions and millions and millions. God says things like: These bad things happened to you because I intend to work it together for your good (Romans 8). These happened to that you would rely more on God who raises the dead (2 Corinthians 1). This happened so that the gold and silver of your faith would be refined (1 Peter 1). This thorn is so that the power of Christ would be magnified in your weakness (2 Corinthians 12). But we can always object that there are other easier ways for God to accomplish those things. We want to know more specifics: Why now? Why this much? Why this often? Why this way? Why these people? The problem
Here is a sampling of God’s complete providence in governing the world from John Piper. “I have commanded the ravens to feed you there” (1Kings 17:4) “The Lord God appointed a plant and made it come up over Jonah” (Jonah 4:6). “God appointed a worm that attacked the plant, so that it withered” (Jonah 4:7). “I will send swarms of flies on you and your servants” (Exodus 8:21). “He summoned a famine on the land and broke all supply of bread” (Psalms 105:16). “He gave them hail for rain” (Psalms 105:32). “He spoke, and the locusts came” (Psalms 105:34). “The Lord will whistle for . . . the bee that is in the land of Assyria” (Isaiah 7:18). “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord” (Proverbs 16:33). “Even the wind and the sea obey him” (Mark 4:41). “He removes kings and sets up kings” (Daniel 2:21). “Even the unclean spirits, and they