When you are listening to a sermon, sometimes you should write copious notes. Other times you should just capture a few key thoughts. Other times you should just listen as the Spirit of God drives the Word home to you. Last night here at DGNatCon was one such night for me.
In fact I believe it was Lloyd-Jones who once said that he was disappointed if people weren’t writing notes at the beginning of his sermon, but that he believed he had failed in his task if by the end they had not all put their pens down. (I can’t find the quotation, I am afraid, so if anyone has it let me know in the comments section!)
Actually the Spirit began to tug at my heart before the sermon even began last night. I came to this conference already determined that as we “Look at the Book.” I was going to use it as a “reset” for my personal approach to the Bible. I wanted to draw something of a line in the sand, and begin to study the Bible in a new way.
The tools we choose matter profoundly. For years I have used the ESV Journaling Bible and written notes in it. This worked really well for me at the beginning. But recently it has become less helpful for several reasons. Firstly I have come to hate my own writing as it is too messy as a result of too many years scribbling down notes frantically in medical lectures, and working as a doctor. Secondly, with some pages in my Bible full of notes it was becoming increasingly hard to approach the Bible afresh. Thirdly, as I get older my eyesight is changing and the font size was becoming uncomfortable. Finally, the Bible itself was deteriorating. I know the saying that a well used Bible is a good sign, but when your binding is falling apart it no longer becomes a pleasurable experience to handle it and read it.
It was therefore time to buy a new Bible. The ESV remains my translation of choice, and they now have a wealth of editions. I didn’t want one that was too large and heavy to carry around on trips. I wanted no study notes as I use my Logos Bible Software on laptop and phone for that, and want to be able to approach the text “raw” first in any case. I decided that I would no longer write anything except cross references and underlining, and would begin to use the Logos Bible Software note function instead. I also needed a larger font – 9 points is fine I discovered. I liked the idea of at least some changes to the page layout to make the text easier to read as a “flow”, but decided I didn’t want to lose the verse numbers as the Readers Edition does.
It seemed somehow fitting that aside from reading a few verses to test it out, the first use of this new Bible would be listening to Piper preach. I came expectant. I came eager to “reboot” my approach to the Bible.
But I was not expecting to feel so challenged just by an opening promotional video which you can watch here.
It struck me I didn’t love the Bible like Piper loves the Bible.
It struck me that I want to love the Bible that way.
I am not going to share notes from the remarkable sermon that follows as aside from a couple of tweetable sentences I made no notes.
Suffice it to say that the heart of his message was unsurprisingly that we are to honor God by taking pleasure in him as shown in the highlights I did write down:
- “Your God is whatever you find most joy in”
- “If I could have a pleasure that was more intense and longer than the pleasure that I can have in God I would take it.”
- “We deserve to go to hell for not preferring God above all things”
In the second half Piper masterfully argued that the Bible, this precious book, is the most important and wonderful tool in the universe. For in lovingly studying it, we learn to love God.
Its not a complex message but it is profound.
And the proof that God was at work in me last night began even when I got back to my hotel room, and this morning as I read a few verses. I was approaching this book with a renewed affection, like an old friend that I had suddenly realized I had been taking for granted just a bit. I almost caressed the new Bible. The fact that it is a physical tangible item matters immensely. God didn’t give us a video, or even an app, as helpful as those things are.
God wrote a book.
I suggest you read it.
Piper’s life-changing sermon can be viewed here. I dare you to watch it.