Thursday, March 15, 2007

Contending for The Truth - Pt 6 - John Piper

Now that my brain is fried, we are 5 minutes away from Piper. And I have been waiting all afternoon for this. Even though I have heard him before, every time I hear him he proposes the Word as a challenge for me. May it also be true tonight.
The title of this conference was in part taken from Piper's book Contending for Our All. One of the best he's written - Owen, Athanasius, and Machen. Someone up in NC has this book of mine as I only have the dust jacket. Maybe I'll just have to buy it again. It is in his The Swans are not Silent Series - everyone needs to get and read those 4 books of biographical work of heroes of the faith.
John Piper is one of the most unassuming men I have ever met.

Topic: Faith and Reason

Coming from the aspect of the Word
Matthew 16.1-4

Hellenistic thinking and Hebraic thinking while JP was in seminary
The Bible is pervasively Hebraic, and we are heirs of the Greeks (western, logical thinking). If we attempt to use Greek thinking to understand the Bible - we are philosophically out of touch.
This text is one of the reasons that logic doesn't work. Jesus says a sign? you want a sign from me? They are Hebraic people using Greek logic - he can not interpret the signs of the time. They were logical when it came to weather, but they can't use them to discern the signs - they point to Christ. Because they were an evil and adulterous generation. How does being adulterous cause your brain to malfunction in regards to the generation? They prefer other spouses (pharisees are called lovers of money or the praise of men). If they didn't want Him as their Bridegroom - they just asked for another sign. Jesus knew this about their hearts. "There isn't enough evidence" - so I'll cling to my own idols b/c I'm an adulterous generation. What are my bridegrooms? It isn't lack of evidence or rational powers - it is because I'm adulterous. An adulterous heart disorders the mind in which it cannot function in spiritual quests. It wants another spouse.
Eph 4.18 - "due to the hardness of their hearts". Where does darkness and ignorance come from - the hardness of their hearts.
2 Cor 3.14 - hardened
1 Tim 6.5 -depraved
Rom 1.21 - thinking and futile, suppressive
We are guilty when we don't use our brains to draw right inferences about God. Why do we use our brain for so many things but turn them off when it comes to the Gospel and Right Theology?
Acts is full of "reason". 5 words to instruct then 10k words in a tongue you can't understand.
2 Tim 2.7 - "Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything." Understanding is a free gift from God. Thinking just messes people up. These are the two polar opposites. The Word is simple and straightforward in this verse. Ponder Scripture - the Spirit will enable understanding. Even though our natural mind is depraved (see above) - we are told to use our mind in the use of spreading the gospel and edification.

Saving, believing faith in the person of Christ
"Why is it that the Bible teaches that we are justified by faith alone?" Why not by anything else?
J Henry Machen (the last century)- The true reason faith is given sole order over everything else (love, giving, etc)is that faith mean receiving something instead of doing, giving, or being something. Our faith saves us - we do not save ourselves - it is something God does. Faith is outside of ourselves - it is received.
Andrew Fuller - (before Machen) Justification is ascribed to faith because it is by faith that we receive Christ, faith is peculiarly a receiving grace, which none other is. Not repentance or love or any other grace, b/c it would convey that something good in us upon that reason the Lord bestows something. It sets Faith apart. Eph 2.8. Grace is God's readiness of free giving - correlative to Faith which receives it.
What does Faith receive to be a "Saving grace"?
John 1.12
The Philippian Jailer (Acts 16)
Why not - they don't seem to have spiritual life?
1. They are not receiving Christ for who He really is - as supremely valuable. Sin-forgiver, healer, hell-rescuer, prosperity giver, creator, lord of history and purpose. He is more glorious, beautiful, wonderful, satisfying than anything else in the universe. Receive Him as that. "The chair must be an all-satisfying chair!"
2. They receive Christ so there is no change in personal behavior. Embracing Jesus as our Supreme Treasure requires a "new creation".
Therefore: it is a receiving of Christ for WHO HE IS - INFINITELY GLORIOUS and VALUABLE. I count everything as rubbish - that I may gain Christ. Saving faith receives this Christ. We will not in this life experience that to the fullest. Receive a taste (ps 34.8)

Relationship between F/R
Apologetics can't bring about that kind of faith - so what is the ground on which that faith stands? The nature of saving faith demands more than fact (not less). B/c the nature is not the receiving of raw facts, but the receiving of Christ as all-glorious (see Col 1). What is the basis of that reception so that it may be called sufficient and reasonable? It is a sight of the glory of Christ in the gospel - a spiritual apprehension, illumination in the gospel. Human reason does not alone provide that sight, but must be used to proclaim, illustrate, and argue the gospel.

2 Cor 4.4-6
1. The gospel is the gospel of the glory of Christ. What must be seen is the glory of Christ. The supreme excellency in the gospel. If you pastors believe that - every sermon you preach would have something of that glory in it.
2. You don't need to take away blindness if there isn't anything there to see. It is really there - an objective there.
3. The sight of the excellency doesn't happen in a vision or dream, whispered word by the Spirit - it happens in the proclamation of Christ!
4. Has verse 6 happened to you? The blindness is only taken away by the Spirit. Do I get my idol - is that new birth? No, Christ is the idol that He will give us - He will give us Himself
5. This ground of faith is reasonable, conviction that flows from it, this sight of the glory, is a reasonable conviction - it should be grounded on seeing Him as infinitely valuable, ineffable, excellency of Christ - ground of our reasonable faith - grounded on this alone.
6. Why is it so important to stress? JP's dad really believed in Hell, loved Jesus, and loved people. Edwards (Jon) said the reason I am approaching the grounds of faith this way is b/c if we have to depend on the actions of historical evidences - we will all be subject to falsities. We base our knowledge in CHRIST. Are we only 80% sure that Jesus is HIM?

Again - the Word and the Supremacy of Christ. Two things that JP is passionate about.
And to end the evening - Duke lost, now UNC plays (thank you for toggles between the screens of blogger and ESPN).

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