This past Sunday it was a joy to have John Piper with us at Jubilee Church in London. He seemed to be very much at home with us, and was clearly enjoying preaching one of the very few sermons he will preach this year. We benefitted greatly from this talk as Jubilee continues to aim to break the rule some church growth experts lay down, which argues that a church will always tend towards being largely monocultural. I thank God for the racial harmony and multicolored growth that we have experienced. But I do not take it for granted, which is why it was so helpful to hear from our friend, John Piper, on the subject. My brief notes will follow the video:embedded by Embedded Video
Piper began with a great introductory illustration based on why, as an American Christian, he had divided loyalties watching the recent USA World Cup game. He then took five biblical teachings that are loved by churches like Jubilee, the so-called “doctrines of grace,” and showed how they each have a profound impact on how we should view ethnic diversity.
- We are all sinners. We are all fallen. No one is righteous. It is so bad no one can save themselves. Romans 8:7-8. We are morally unable to please God. Ephesians 2:1-10. You were dead. If you are a Christian, you have been raised from the dead. You didn’t do that. London is filled with millions of people who are dead. When it comes to racial harmony, a major implication of this doctrine is that no matter what your race, you are equally dead without Christ. Hell will be racially diverse. Romans 2:9. Evey color will be there. We are all depraved. We are all lost. We are all dying of the same disease. This should humble us for our own sin. If I am as dead as the most evil person, I should be less proud and more gracious to others. You cannot be more dead than dead. No ethnic group has any edge at all.
- God almighty before the foundation of the world chose to save you. Acts 13:48. “Those who were ordained to eternal life believed.” God’s decision was why they believed. It’s totally unconditional. Faith comes about because of this choice of God. Huge implications. He doesn’t choose anybody because of skin color, education, or any other reason. Watch out then for pride or despair. Nothing in you caused him to choose you. Nothing could have stopped him from choosing you. This is stunningly powerful in evangelism. Nothing you have done has anything to do with whether he has chosen you. The only way you know if you are chosen is right now whether you will you accept Jesus. If you will, then you are chosen. Therefore no black person, or white person can have any idea that their ethnic identity has anything to do with God setting his favor on them.
- Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her Ephesians 5:25. Jesus laid down his life for the sheep. There is a wide door for the world. If anyone wants he can come. But Jesus is also taking for himself a bride. He knew whom he was after Revelation 5:9: slain so that a body of people could be purchased from every nation. Not every tribe, but people FROM every tribe. He will lay claim to those people he has bought. God intends to have this multicolored people. People, tribe, nation, language: God is interested in all these groupings. His intent is for them to be in harmony with each other. We are a kingdom. We are more related to Christians from other nations than to others of our own nation. Interracial marriage reflects God’s glory. Free to marry in the Lord. Don’t be unequally yoked with unbelievers. It is infinitely costly for God to purchase this people. The racial issue is not a social issue, it’s a blood issue. It cost Jesus everything in order to pull off diversity in his kingdom. If it was costly for Jesus, it will be for you.
- Not only are we helpless and dead, he chose us, he paid for us, he also comes to us and overcomes all our rebellion and saves us. Ephesians 2:8. Faith is a gift. God grants repentance. Triumphant grace. Your ethnic distinctives contributed nothing to the rise of faith in your heart. Even racist scoundrels cannot stop God from saving them, if he chooses to. God can kill racism.
- We are comrades in the fall, in God’s choice, in the infinite cost, in God’s triumphant grace, and in God keeping his own. Romans 8. If you are justified you are glorified. It’s as good as done that you will be in heaven. He preserves his saints. No one can pluck you out of Gods hand. He will finish the job. He will go on helping us with the racial issue. Keep trying. Don’t retreat and say “these people are impossible to please.” Be committed to keep working at this issue, expecting to fail, but persevering and hoping to see some success. One day we will all gather round the throne together.