SERMON: What has sustained John Piper for thirty years?

These notes are from the morning session of the 300 conference we recently had with John Piper. I have set them to auto-publish today, as I have been reliably informed that by now the video and audio of both this talk and the excellent Q and A should be available from 300leaders.org pop over and watch it if like me you are getting Piper withdrawal syndrome! I hope you enjoy this talk which was vintage John Piper. He was clearly enjoying himself as he preached one of only a very few messages he will be preaching during his 8 months break.

These are the things that have driven me for the past thirty years. There are just a few things that have shaped everything I do.  You don’t need go know a lot of things, just need to know a few things profoundly deeply.

Piper aimed to show that one of your main jobs as a pastor is to help your people pursue their maximum joy in Christ Jesus 24/7. This brings glory to Jesus.

He told us that his message remains controversial. Their is a suspicion of those who pursue their joy.  However, he told us that people with a Charismatic bent tend not to stumble as much about what Piper thinks. This is because a sweet experience of the Spirit helps people realise enjoying God is a good thing!

He began by unpacking his personal and church mission statement:

To spread: our church exists to spread.

Passion or zeal: Not a theology. I am on a crusade to make people reformed. But, doctrine is like blood, it’s supposed to course through your veins not be carried in a bucket!

Supremacy of God: I.e. God centeredness.

In everything. No area of your life that god is not supreme over.

for the joy. It is the supremacy of God that brings joy. It doesn’t oppress life.

Piper says he is on a crusade to spread joy to the world.

2 Corinthians 1.24. Working for joy, because an essential component of saving faith is joy in Jesus.

Saving faith embraces Jesus as a savior and treasure.

This verse is a voccational definition for you as a pastor

Philippians 1:25. Joy of faith. Joy from faith, constituent of faith. Paul says he is staying on the planet to advance joy.

That my joy may be in you John 15:11

Philippians 1:19ff preached first sermon at Bethlehem.

Paul’s desire is that his bodily life should not cause shame to Christ but honor.

How does it happen if he died? To die is gain. When my death is to me a benefit. You loose everything on the planet. Far better to be with Christ. If you are so satisfied with Jesus that when the moment comes to die you think “yes” because you want him. Everyone wants to be happy. Since Kant, many argue that you can’t want your own happiness to be good. But we have no choice over wanting to be happy. Paul sees Christ with the eyes of his heart as supremely satisfying. Purusing joy in Jesus makes him look magnificent.

Everything on earth is like rubbish compared to Christ.

People wonder about you, because you have a another drive.

Pursuit of joy in Christ doesn’t make you self-centered.

2. The reason we care is that pursuing satisfaction in Jesus makes Christ look magnificent. This is the goal of the universe.

3. What are some of the biblical justifications to this and what are the objections to this.

  1. Commands us to do so. Psalm 100:2 Serve the lord with gladness. Psalm 37:4. Delight self in lord. Phil 4:4. People argue emotions can’t be commanded. The Bible commands emotions everywhere. Hope, joy, broken heartedness, Whether you can perform it or not is not the issue. God grants us the ability to do what we cant. It’s a sin not to be happy in Jesus. This is not icing on the cake it is the cake.
  2. Bible shows that the nature of faith includes joy in Jesus. John 6:35. Coming to Jesus is an act of the heart. Synomynous with believing. Faith is a coming to Jesus for the satisfaction he gives. It is talking about soul hunger and thirst being satisfied. We area at the end of our quest. That’s faith. It’d not about a quick decision. It’s a miracle. We can’t make anybody be satisfied in Jesus.
  3. The nature of evil shows we should pursue joy in God. Jeremiah 2:12-13. Be appalled at two great evils: people have forsaken the fountain of living waters and dug broken cisterns. Evil is standing at a fountain when you are desperate, and disdaining it and trying to dig your own source of Joy. The battle for most Christians is not with horrible evils, rather making neutral stuff becoming our God.
  4. The nature of conversion. Kingdom is like Matthew 13:44. Eveeything he has is precious. Trips over something in a field and discovers a treasure. Just tripped over King Jesus. I will have him at any cost. Sells everything. It was from his JOY that he did this. At any cost our cost pursue Jesus. So many churches have pastors who hammer their people with threats and coercion. Rather awaken people to joy in Jesus.
  5. The Bible threatens us with terrible things if we will not enjoy Jesus. Deut 28:47. Because did not serve with joy you will serve your enemy. Fear of God is a positive thing in the Bible. Can seem to contradict joy. But Psalm 2 says kiss the son less he is angry. If you hug God he is lovely, but if you run away from him he is scary! Fear can be negative, bit we like it of we are safe. In the storm of God’s holiness but safe as he goes by
  6. Bibles teaching about self denial teaches us in Mark to deny self take up cross and follow me. This is a common objection to Piper’s teaching. Read the next verse. We are not meant to ultimately loose our life, instead we are meant to loose it now. John 12:25. Adds he who loves life looses it, hate it IN THIS WORLD to save it. Stop trying to be safe. It looks like you hate your life. Not ultimate self denial. It’s denial in this world to maximize your joy for ever. Its OK to have stuff. But we have to count all the stuff as loss to know Jesuss. If any of the stuff has to go let it go. We must put a cap on lifestyle to show that we value Jesus more. We mustn’t value stuff the same way they do. Jesus is the treasure not the stuff. Deny yourself wealth, security, fame, etc to have eternal pleasures
    6. If you don’t pursue your joy in God you can’t love People. Loving people does not mean stopping pursuing your joy and instead pursuing theirs. 2 Cor 9:7. God loves a cheerful giver. Not a begrudging giver. Not a dutiful giver. People feel more loved when you give to them because you want to. Help me go love people. Help me to be happy to do this. Help me to want this. An essential component of love g people is being glad to do so. We feel more loved when we are served joyfully. Imagine saying to a lover, I have bought you these flowers because it was my duty to do so!

Hebrews 13:17. Addressed to people but implications for leaders. Leaders are to be helped to do their work with joy not groaning. For that is no advantage to you. When the joy starts to go, we get on our faces and pray restore to me the joy of my salvation and help me to love you more so that it spills over onto the people.

About Adrian Warnock

Adrian Warnock has been a blogger since April 2003, and a member of Jubilee Church, London since 1995, where he seves as part of the leadership team alongside Tope Koleoso.

Together they have written Hope Reborn - How to Become a Christian and Live for Jesus, published by Christian Focus.

Adrian is also the author of Raised With Christ - How The Resurrection Changes Everything, published by Crossway.

Read more about Adrian Warnock or connect with him on Twitter, Facebook or Google+.

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