Thrive Christians Blog Showcases Desiring God Website and Pastor Piper for Generosity and Powerful Resources for Christians
From the moment you land on Desiring God's website you are challenged to embrace the great life God has secured for you as you read: Every Day "The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning." Lamentations 3:22-23
Many years ago a Methodist bishop gave me a gauge to evaluate Christian messengers with this, "Always check the Christology of anyone speaking into your life. If Jesus Christ is not at the center of all they say and do, be cautious." I have lived with that wisdom for over 20 years and John Piper keeps Jesus Christ lifted high in all he speaks and writes.
"Here is an excellent example:
What's the Gospel? I’ll put it in a sentence.
The Gospel is the news that Jesus Christ, the Righteous One, died for our sins and rose again, eternally triumphant over all his enemies, so that there is now no condemnation for those who believe, but only everlasting joy."
For years I have read Piper's books and seen him quoted in many great authors. Recently I helped create a Christian business networking lunch and learn group in my company. Naively I suggested that we clearly define "Christian." We are a multi-denominational diverse racially and inclusive group and everyone had a slightly different answer. When I began researching this profound question I discovered the greatest religious minds have been batting this question around for centuries.
In that pursuit I landed on John Piper's series: You Must Be Born Again John 3:1-18 November 18, 2007
For several weeks Pastor Piper preached this series: What Happens in the New Birth, Why Do We Need To Be Born Again? The Reason the Son of God Appeared Was to Destroy the Works of the Devil and this continued through April 12, 2008. I am deliberately listing all this because I found in this series the purest simplest salvation sermons and helps I have read outside of the Bible. With these sermons I have been able to have meaningful dialogue with the most resistant skeptics. God has worked through me to bring souls to Him as I have soaked in these messages of Piper.
As I read and listened to these sermons I concluded that this wonderful diverse group of business people had to see Jesus Christ above all. Webster defines Christians as followers of Jesus Christ. We ended up including this concept in our mission and vision statements and God is blessing us in our work to encourage one another in excellence in our businesses within the ethical standards of "followers of Christ."
Wednesday Showcase selections are based on excellence of website offerings and the generosity of the website author/host. I'm not sure anyone can live long enough to listen and read all that "Desiring God" offers on their website. Everything I have downloaded on my IPod and printed has given me Life Words that encourage me to Thrive!
Here is a sample:
Hebrews Chapter 3:6 suggests that they were losing a grip on their confidence about the future. "We are his house if we hold fast our confidence and pride in our hope." "If we hold fast!" So evidently there was danger they were not holding fast to their confidence and hope.
Drifting. Neglecting. Letting slip.
Let's look at one more image the writer gives us of what's wrong with this church. Chapter 12:12–13, "Lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed."
The race has run on a long time and the Christian runners are tired. So their hands hang down and their knees are wobbly. They are on the brink of being totally incapacitated, if a leg goes completely out of joint.
Summary of the Problem in Hebrews
So now we have a sense of what's wrong with this church.
· They are drifting instead of rowing against the current of sin, and that means drifting backward toward destruction.
· They are neglecting the great salvation they claim to have.
· Their grip on joyful, zealous hope is slipping.
· Their hearts are hardening to the truth of God's Word.
· Their conversation is losing its spiritual urgency.
· Their ears are getting dull.
· They are losing their desire to press on to maturity.
· They are becoming weak and sluggish.
· And the result of all this is that they are in danger of shrinking back from the beginning they had made, becoming hardened to spiritual things, falling away from the living God, and losing their souls.
The opposite of all this is Perseverance—hanging in there as a zealous, growing Christian.
There are two alternatives for those of us who claim to trust Christ as Savior and Lord.
- One is to press on toward maturity in knowledge and faith and hope and holiness.
- The other is to drift slowly into indifference and dullness and, eventually, destruction.
And one of the great errors of this church was that they thought there was a halfway point where they could stay as professing Christians, not pressing forward and not drifting backward. But there is no such place. That's the point of this book.
Either we press on toward the inheritance or we drift back toward destruction.
Exhortations to Have Assurance and Confidence
So let me close this morning by showing you some of these exhortations to have assurance and confidence.
· 6:11 - "And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness in realizing the full assurance of hope unto the end."
· 6:18b - " . . . we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to seize the hope set before us."
· 10:22–23 - "Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith . . . Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering for he who promised is faithful."
· 10:35 - "Do not throw away your confidence, which has great reward."
What I want to leave you with this morning is three things:
- A strong, urgent sense that there is no standing still in the Christian life.
- Either we are persevering toward greater faith and holiness or we are drifting backward toward hardness and destruction.
- An equally strong and urgent sense that this perseverance is to be pursued with the joyful and full assurance of hope that we will inherit the promises because of the faithfulness of God.
Some serious questions lingering in your minds about how these things hang together so that you will study this week and come backnext Sunday full of expectancy that God will speak to us and make all things new.
May the Lord take away all dullness from our hearing and give us a sharp and living hunger for the truth of his Word
If you are a regular reader here at Thrive Christians Blog you have to know I agree with Piper totally on what it takes to follow Jesus Christ: wide open full commitment to the call of God. If I begin adding all my favorite quotes of John Piper I will detain you from going to his website. I salute John Piper and his ministry staff for their gracious decision to give away his messages in print, audio and video. I can only imagine the revenue they have bypassed to make this wisdom available to us. Materially minded people can misconstrue value by the asking price. My word to that is PRICELESS TREASURE. All I have gathered at Desiring God is greatness beyond compare.
Even the following closure of his messages flows with the gracious generosity of our Lord,
"May the Lord take away all dullness from our hearing and give us a sharp and living hunger for the truth of his Word.
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