Thursday, January 12, 2012

Passion 2012: Session 7 - Seeing and Savoring the Sumpremacy of Christ Above All Things

Wow...going into this session, I already felt like my brain had exploded...and then John Piper stepped onto the stage. Mind. Blown. I've always looked up to Piper and enjoyed reading him and hearing quotes...but to actually sit under him and listen as he opens the Word of God is an unforgettable experience. I thin the thing that strikes me most about Piper is that he is an incredibly intelligent man...but his intelligence comes from the heart. There are many scholarly men like Piper...but their knowledge is only head knowledge. When Piper teaches, you can tell that he is preaching to himself and that what he is preaching is piercing him through the heart. There seems to be a despair to his teaching because it impacts his own life. Even as impacting as it was to sit under John Piper, it was all the more impacting to hear the word of God speak through him.

When Paul looked his own funeral in the face - he made the statement that even in that...as much as ever, he wanted Christ to be magnified in his body...in life and in death. I want my Lord Jesus to be magnified in my body at my funeral.
1 Corinthians 10:31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
I want God to look great and glorious even in the way I eat and drink.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
We were bought with a price...therefore we must glorify God in our bodies...which belong to God. We want to use all of our bodies...all 45,000 of the bodies at Passion, and all of the ones at home...to make Christ look glorious and magnificent.
Matthew 5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
He wanted us to lead and leave lives that will make God look glorious.
Isaiah 43:6b-7 Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.
Everyone was created for his glory.
Colossians 1:16-18 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities - all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 
It's clear God intends for your life to bring him glory. He means for you to do everything you do...no matter what it is, all that you feel, think and even act...to make him look great. I think it's fair to say that all human beings are created to put God's infinite value on display...that's why you and I exist. I want that to happen in your life, for all the decades that God may give you.

In that, there is only one point to understand...and there are three ways you can say it:

  1. Seeing and savoring the supremacy of Jesus Christ frees you from the slavery of sin for sacrifices of love.
  2. Being satisfied with all that God is for you in Jesus frees you from the bondage of sin for the suffering of love.
  3. Faith in Jesus Christ frees you from the slavery of sin for the sacrifices of love.
Now, pointing out that you can say it three ways, assumes that seeing and savoring Jesus, being satisfied with all that God is for us in Jesus, and trusting Jesus are equivalent realities. Seeing and savoring, being satisfied, and believing are the same thing in the Bible. When you understand, you will see how the main point fulfills the purpose of you living for the glory of God. When you see and savor the supremacy of Jesus, when you are satisfied in all that God is for you in Jesus, and when you trust Jesus - you clearly in your soul are making much of Jesus and treasuring him. But, that is invisible...no one can see your soul except for God. God sees and loves when you are seeing, savoring, being satisfied, believing and trusting in him...but no one else can see it.

God did not come into the world through Jesus or create the world in order to be glorified invisibly. Therefore the main point doesn't say see, savor, be satisfied and believe in Jesus...it says that when those things happen, you will be outwardly set free from the slavery of sin...which people CAN see. Not only that, but you are set free FOR the sacrifices of love, which people can also see. So the root of your salvation glorifies God privately, and the fruit of your salvation glorifies God publicly. If that main point is true, you then fulfill your reason for existing.

Step 1 to unpack the point:
So why are seeing and savoring, being satisfied, and trusting equivalent realities? Piper quoted two startling things from Louie Giglio's session one message.

  1. "Before you trust in Christ, you weren't unchurched, you were dead. You didn't need to be churched, you needed to be raised from the dead."
  2. "Some of you, made a decision for Jesus when you were little...signed a card, went to the altar...and the enemy is still on track with you to kill and destroy and your funeral is still in motion."
Many of those decisions...are not a conversation...many of those people are not born again, they aren't saved, they aren't Christians, they don't have saving faith. So the question then becomes, what is saving faith? There's no doubt that there are still people who are faithful to attend churches and conferences where truth is preached...but they are still resisting. They have yet to wave the white flag of surrender to Jesus. Hear...what is this saving faith that you are supposed to have in order to be saved? What is it? The meaning of it is just what we've been talking about...saving faith is: seeing and savoring the supremacy of Jesus, being satisfied in Jesus, and trusting in Jesus. That's what it is. There are three verses that support this meaning of saving faith.
John 6:35 Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst."
Notice the parallel, believing: you never thirst, coming: you never hunger...those parallel statements are meant to interpret each other. Coming is a geographical metaphor...my soul comes. There's a fountain, there's the bread, there is my satisfaction, there is my treasure, my all...I'm coming to you for that! The bread and water are both images of Jesus and a good definition of faith (based on John 6:35) is believing in Jesus is a soul coming to Jesus to be satisfied in all he is. This is not a decision...when you are satisfied, having drunk water...that satisfaction is a gift.
John 1:11-12 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.
Notice the commas..."Yet to all who did receive him [comma] to those who believed in his name [comma] he gave the right to become children of God." What is the second phrase doing in relation to the first phrase? It's mutually interpreting, receiving him and believing him are the same. That tells me a lot about what believing means...it means to see what it is, want it and you take it! Receive him for all he is...your treasure, your Savior, your friend, your God...it means taking and embracing all that he is and seeing that he is your need. Seeing and savoring and being satisfied are what faith is...these two verses point us to that conclusion.
Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
Check out the word believe in this verse. It seems the only way to please God is by faith. Come toward God...and come with your heart saying, "He is. He exists." and saying, "You are my reward...my treasure and my life." You don't come to God to give...it's blasphemy to come to God to give...he doesn't need us at all! He's the giver...the giver gets the glory...don't rob him of his glory. Stay needy. Faith is a childlike, needy, dependent, hungry, thirsty, desperate, bankrupt response to glory.

Coming to faith in Jesus requires a resurrection from the dead. You don't by nature see and savor him. You don't by nature have a profound satisfaction in him. You don't by nature trust him. You're dead. You have to believe you need to be raised from the dead. Seeing and savoring him, being satisfied in him...it's a gift. Blind people don't decide to see...Jesus says 'SEE'...and they see! Sick people don't decide to savor what is sickening them. Bored people don't decide to be satisfied with what is boring them. Which is why some of you aren't saved yet...you can't make yourself saved.

This is threatening to people (even Christians) because of what it seems to say about freedom. What is freedom? What about free will? I thought I could decide to be a sinner or a saint. Did Piper just ruin that for me? Yes. Conversion...faith...being birthed...being saved...it's a gift of seeing. You don't see him as beautiful...that's why you go watch TV/Netflix/Hulu or get on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, or Pinterest. You don't have the gift of being satisfied. So then what becomes of freedom?

Saint Augustine, born 354 AD was the most influential Christian after the apostle Paul. His arch opponent was Paladius. They were opposed to each other on the issue of freedom and human bondage to sin. Paladius denied the doctrine of original sin...that is, he said: We are not so dead and blind and in bondage to corruption that we can't on our own decide to be good and to believe. Augustine said: No, we ever since Adam and Eve, are dead. That is, we are so corrupt in our hearts...so bent towards sin...so in love with ourselves and our worldly pleasures, we cannot believe. It is morally impossible for someone who is in love with the darkness to walk into the light.

What we need is a resurrection and an awakening. What is freedom for Paladius and Augustine? For Paladius, freedom is like the pendulum on a metronome...one side is sin, the devil and unbelief...the other side is good, God, and faith. For Paladius, freedom is being poised right in the middle, between good and evil. Obtaining within yourself the ability to choose which way you go. That is not what the Bible says freedom is. Well, what is freedom if it isn't being balanced in between good and evil, able of yourself to make the decision?

Since we are all dead, we are locked down in darkness...since birth, hating good, loving ourselves, exalting our pride. We need to be set free. We need the Holy Spirit to awaken us, opening our eyes to see the other side of the pendulum as supremely valuable. When you see the other side as valuable, you don't stick in the middle...God doesn't raise people from the dead to be poised (in the middle, neutral, deciding whether to be godly or satanic)...no...he raises us to be his! New birth swings us all the way to the other side, saying now...you are believing...you are God's...your eyes are now open and you see him as valuable and are now enslaved to Him and not sin.
Romans 6:17-18 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. 
Notice that we don't thank ourselves...we thank God. We were once slaves to sin...that's where we started. We don't start on the good side. We were set free. There are only 2 kinds of people...slaves of sin and slaves of righteousness. So what is freedom? Freedom is being so in love with Christ, that you do exactly what you want to do and it accords with his will. Freedom is seeing and savoring the supremacy of Christ so intensely that you are his totally. The more satisfied you are in Jesus, the more free you are. The more you trust him, savor him, and see him, the more free you are. Freedom is NOT being suspended between good and evil.

There is a struggle. The struggle of choice: good or evil...is a necessary, temporary evil, until the day dawns when discernment and delight become one. There will be no struggle in Heaven to obey! No one in heaven will be in limbo...we will be all the way slaves of righteousness and the most free people in all of creation. We will be doing what we love to do and it will happen to be God's will.

Step 2:
The supremacy of Jesus Christ - all that God is for us. Even though seeing, savoring, being satisfied, it's all a gift in my soul...nevertheless, when my eyes open...I see something more about him. So we're going to try to cover several areas of his supremacy.

  • Supremacy of his Deity: equal with God the Father, exact imprint of his nature, infinite, boundless in all ways.
  • Supremacy of his eternality: makes the mind of man explode with unsearchable thought, Jesus never had a beginning...he simply always was, sheer absolute reality. 
  • Supremacy of his knowledge: it makes all libraries look like matchboxes, and makes all the Internet information look like a Farmer's almanac, it makes quantum physics look like a first grade reader. 
  • Supremacy of his wisdom: never been perplexed by any complication, never been counseled
  • Supremacy of his authority: over heaven and hell...without his permission, no demon can move one inch...he changes time and season, he does all according to his will...no one can challenge him.
  • Supremacy of his providence: without him, nothing happens without being part of his design.
  • Supremacy of his word: it upholds the universe, holds together every being, atom and molecule and everything we haven't even yet dreamed of discovering.
  • Supremacy of his power: to walk on water, cleanse lepers, heal the lame, open the eyes of the blind, cause the deaf to hear, cause the dead to rise with a single word or a single thought. 
  • Supremacy of his purity: he has never sinned and will never sin...not even a bad attitude or thought.
  • Supremacy of his trustworthiness: he never breaks his word...not one promise falls to the ground.
  • Supremacy of his justice: he will render in due time, all of our accounts settled, either on the cross or in hell.
  • Supremacy of his patience: to endure our dullness and hold back his final judgement on this land.
  • Supremacy of his sovereign, servant obedience: he kept the Father's commandments perfectly and then embraced the excruciating pain of the cross willingly. 
  • Supremacy of his meekness: his tenderness, he won't break or bruise
  • Supremacy of his wrath: one day, his wrath will explode on this planet with such fierceness that people will cry out for rocks and mountains to fall on them and crush them lest they have to see the wrath of the Lamb.
  • Supremacy of his grace: gives life to the spiritually dead, awakens faith in hell-bound haters of God, justifies the ungodly with his own righteousness.
  • Supremacy of his love: he willingly dies for you and me...sinners, while we were against him.
  • Supremacy of his inexhaustible gladness: in the fellowship with the trinity...infinite power and gladness that has always existed. At the heart of the universe, is the gladness of the trinity...a joy so great that it had to be shared and so it explodes into existence a universe so that everything could bear witness to its creator.
If God would grant you eyes to see the surpremacies of Jesus, you would have only seen just the outskirts of his supremacy. He is supreme in every admirable way over every thing. There is not a square inch on planet earth where Jesus Christ does not say, "MINE!" Oh, that God would just grant us eyes to see and the ability to simply trust him.

Step 3:
Seeing and savoring the supremacy of God frees us from slavery and sin.
2 Corinthians 3:18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
Beholding the glory of the Lord - seeing that you are changed. All my life is devoted to just seeing...if I could just see...if I could only see with the eyes of my heart, I'll be changed. Little hearts, little souls..give little lusts big power. Big hearts give little lusts little power because they look little when you see the magnitude of your treasure.  Your soul swells to get around it and you mock temptation and sin as a powerless thrill. That's the way it works...you don't just 'say no'...it doesn't work...you have to see. Your heart has to get bigger to see that temptation as the tiny, stupid, suicidal monster that it is. If you see and savor the supremacy of Jesus Christ, you will be progressively free from the bondage of sin.

Step 4:
...and you will be free for the sacrifices of love.

The Church had been persecuted and some had been thrown into prison. The question was: will we now risk our lives to visit our brothers and sisters in jail? This is relevant for freeing others, by being free yourself. That's the connection. What is it that frees you to take risks with your lives...embrace sacrifice...for the sake of others?
Hebrews 10:34 For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one.
I want to be the kind of person who isn't afraid to be implicated as a Christian...one who says, I'm going to the prison and I'm singing his praises all the way. How did you get to be that way? - You looked to your treasure, you looked to heaven and said that's enough for me, I have it up there, so I'll go here, now. That's how sacrifices are free by being satisfied in Jesus. You aren't concerned with what you lose on earth because you have all that you need and more in Him.
Isaiah 26:8 Yes, LORD, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts.
Your name, your supreme name, Your renown, your supreme renown, is my desire...not a decision. It takes a miracle for a desire to be born for a supernatural thing that you can't see. Make the supremacy of God what you set your sights on, what you savor, be your satisfaction, desire and your trust.

See what I mean? Mind. Blown. There is so much truth in Piper's message that it is going to take me a long time to absorb and understand the reality of it. I truly want my desire to be the supremacy of God. To God be all the glory...in everything.

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