June 5, 2009
Living a life of obedience to God is directly related to living a life of fearing God (Deut 6:2, Eccles 12:13, Neh.5:9, Prov 23:17). Piper further comments on this in his book, Future Grace, on pg. 35:
And even these expressions about fearing the Lord are probably the flip side of trusting the Lord’s future grace. In other words, “fear the Lord” means “fear the terrible insult it would be to God if you do not trust his gracious promises of power and wisdom on your behalf.” That’s probably why Psalm 115:11 says, “You who fear the Lord, trust in the Lord; He is their help and their shield.” In other words, if fear is not mingled with trust it will not be pleasing to the Lord. “Without faith it is impossible to please [God]” (Hebrews 11:6). The obedience that comes from fearing God without faith in his future grace will not be free, but servile.
After highlighting the examples of trust and fear resulting from David’s song (Ps 40:3) and the belief and fear that resulted from the Israelites witnessing God’s power against the Egyptians (Exod 14:31), Piper closes with these thoughts:
Fear and faith happen together in response to God’s mighty power and his promise of future grace. To fear the Lord is to tremble at the awareness of what a terrible insult it is to a holy God if we do not have faith in his future grace after all the signs and wonders he has performed to win our obedient trust. It’s this faith in future grace that channels the power of God into obedience (pg. 36).
Suppose God promised you these following things:
Mercy (Lk 1:50)
Favor (Ps 147:11)
Blessing (Ps 115:13)
Compassion (Ps 103:13)
Salvation (Ps 85:9)
Lovingkindness (Ps 103:11)
Inheritance (Ps 61:5)
Angelic protection (Ps 34:7)
Goodness (Ps 31:19)
Watch-care (Ps 33:18)
Fulfillment of your desires (Ps 145:19)
Do you want them? All of these are promised for the one who fears God. The point is simple and straightforward. If you refuse to fear God, then you are refusing the multitude of promises that God has made to you, promises that are meant to drive you closer and closer to Him, rather than the opposite.
June 4, 2009
Flipping through the pages of my first paperback friend, I found this section of writing from John Piper’s Future Grace boxed:
Henry Boardman wrote [about Charles Hodge], “Christ was not only the ground of his hope, but the acknowledged sovereign of his intellect, the soul of his theology, the unfailing spring of his joy, the one all-pervading, all-glorifying theme and end of his life.” (pg. 199)
What glorious words! Next to this I wrote: “What I want to be [true] about me!” Yes, my soul still echoes the same wish that I did two years ago when my eyes first fell upon such wondrous words.
June 4, 2009
I asked myself a question just now. Am I holier today than I was last year because someone told me “Love God more” or because someone told me “You’re sinning by ____. You ought to ____”? Without thinking for longer than a second, I instantly knew that the answer was the latter. There are concrete areas and sins that I encountered this year. There are definite methods and disciplines that I reacted with in order to pursue holiness.
Abstract realities like “loving God more” fail when you don’t take the next step. Even Christ told us that those who love Him, obey Him. Very simple question: How do you obey Christ? How might someone tell you to obey Christ? It is with concrete verses, actions, thoughts, and words. It is “Do ___. Don’t do ___.” It is listening to and applying the “Four ways to ___.” It is not simply thinking to yourself, “I ought to love God more.” Why? Because you are not loving God more by not taking pains to discipline yourself for the point of godliness.
It is like building a house. Who lays down a foundation for his house and then stops construction? Who simply looks at the foundation and says, “What a great foundation this is. I bet my house will be very nice.” Do you think that your house will be amazing? No. If you do not build your house on top of your foundation, then you will have no house. No matter how great your foundation is. No matter whether your foundation is a solid rock or sand.
An interesting note: remember the builders at the end of Matthew 7? One thing that both of them did is that they built their house. No, that’s not the focus of the passage at all, but the point remains. They built! They did not look at the solid rock or the sand and say, “What a lovely foundation. I love it. I will love it more.”
I end this note with a warning. Have I said that the foundation is not important? By no means. In fact, the foundation is the most important thing. The foundation is the difference between the two builders of Matthew 7. However, having a foundation without a building is useless.
So, check your foundation. Are you building based on your foundation? Are you building at all? Or are you restricting yourself from taking any action towards holiness because you deceive yourself? Do not think: “I’m in a relationship with Christ. There shouldn’t be rules. I just have to love God more.” Brother, loving God more is following rules! But it is not only rules. It is following rules because you are in a relationship with Christ. That is what you must remember.
Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness. (1 Timothy 4:7-8)