Martin Luther:Although it hurts us when he takes his own from us, his good will should be a greater comfort to us than all his gifts, for God is immeasurably better than all his gifts.Luther: Letters of Spiritual Counsel, trans. and ed., Theodore G. Tappert, 1960, (Vancouver, BC: Regent College Publishing, 2003), 54.
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Jonathan Parnell post: Luther on God and His Gifts
Posted by Jim Grayson at 6:50 AM
Excerpt from John Piper: If a Grain of Wheat Dies, It Bears Much Fruit
[John 12: 12-26]
[John 12: 12-26]
What They Didn’t Expect
But here is a truth that they may not expect. Verse 24:Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.My pathway to glory is through death. Do you want to see that? I will indeed bear much fruit—including Greeks. But I will not and I cannot bear this fruit any way but through dying.
If I leave the road I'm on now, and try to be seen by people who want a glimpse of a king, I will remain alone like a seed in a bag not in the ground. And you will not be saved. Not the Jews or the Greeks.
But if I go and die on my way to glory, then I will bear much fruit—you will be saved and the Greeks will be saved, and all who believe in me will be saved. Do they want to see me? This is what I want them to see. See me dying. See me bearing fruit.
Jesus’ Design for Our ImitationThat is the truth about Jesus that he reveals to the Greeks—and to us. But now it also becomes a truth about them—and about us. He says in verses 25 and 26: my dying for your salvation is also my design for your imitation.
If you want to see me, be prepared to become like me. Prepare to follow me on the road I am going.
So he says, verse John 12:25,He who loves his life loses it; and he who hates his life in this world shall keep it to life eternal. If anyone serves me, let him follow me [Where? To Gethsemane and to Calvary and to the grave]; and where I am, there shall my servant also be [in the presence of my Father in glory]; if anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.So Jesus begins with truth about himself—the hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified, and this will happen by the grain of wheat falling into the ground and dying. Then he makes the truth about himself a truth about us. Will we hate our lives in this world? Will we follow him on the path to Calvary? Will we serve the Son in this way? Will we let the truth about the Son of Man become truth about us? Will we identify with the one we are so eager to see?
The Hard and Glorious CallSo we see Jesus the same way the Greeks did—by his word and his action. He says, I am going to glory. I am going to bear much fruit. And the way I am going is by hating my life in this world, by suffering and dying for you.
And then he says, Follow me. Die with me. Hate your life in this world with me. Serve me.
Two things become unmistakably clear. One is that this is hard. And the other is that this is glorious. And I wonder if this is why God put this text in my mind for the South launch five years ago, and arranged for it to be on the schedule today one week before the effort to raise a million dollars for the South Campus. Of course it has a hundred applications to our lives—and the one you may feel right now is painfully personal. But God is always doing more than one thing.
So, as a church stretching to bless the South site, and as individual Christians with many hard things in front of you, let’s not miss either of these—the hard and the glorious. If we only see the hard part, we will miss the power and the freedom. If we only see the glorious part, we will minimize the sacrifice.
So let me show you four hard things and four glorious things that Jesus says.
Four Hard Things
That’s what it means to be a Christian, a disciple of Jesus. Jesus knew it would be hard. That's why he said in Matthew 7:14, "The gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few." It’s hard to die. It’s hard to hate your life in this world. It’s hard to follow Jesus on the road that leads to the cross. It’s hard to take the role of a servant in a world of power.
- Verse 24: the grain of wheat must die. "Unless the grain of wheat fall into the ground and die . . . " This is hard.
- Verse 25: Jesus calls us to hate our lives in this world. "He who loves his life loses it; and he who hates his life in this world . . . " This is hard.
- Verse 26a: Jesus calls us to follow him—on his Calvary road, leading to death. "If anyone serves me let him follow me . . . " This is hard.
- Finally, verse 26b: he calls us to serve him. “If anyone serves me.” To take the role of a waiter at his table to do his bidding, no matter what the demand or how lowly the status. This is hard.
But it is also glorious. So don’t miss this. If you are at the South site and you feel that five years is a long time to wait . . . and if you feel that a million dollars next week is not easy to imagine, remember this: the glory Jesus’ promises compensates for the hardness of it all. In fact, the glory turns the hardness into the most significant life imaginable.
Four Glorious Things
- Verse 24: Yes the seed must die, but "if it dies it bears much fruit." The death is not in vain. It is significant. It bears fruit.
- Verse 25: Yes, if we love our life, we will lose it; and yes, we must hate our life in this world. But why? What will be the outcome? That we may keep it to eternal life. "He who hates his life in this world shall keep it to life eternal." What we lay down for Christ he will put in our hands again with glory. You cannot out-sacrifice his resurrection generosity.
- Verse 26a: Yes, we must follow him to Calvary. But with what outcome? "And where I am, there shall my servant be." Jesus used those very words one other time (John 14:3), and he meant heaven: "I go to prepare a place for you that where I am there you may be also." If we follow him to Calvary, we will be with him in glory.
- Verse 26b: Yes, we must become his servants. But what does the Father do to his servants? "If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him."
Don’t Miss ThisSo don't miss the glory and the overflowing joy in this hard life of being a Christian.
And when we do, what we find is that
- We die;
- we hate our lives in this world;
- we follow Jesus on the Calvary road;
- we become servants.
- We bear much fruit;
- we keep our lives for eternal life;
- we join Jesus where he is in glory;
- the Father honors us.
Not Easy, But Glorious
That’s the way I want to live the few remaining years I have left in this world. And that’s the way I want to spend eternity. Jesus shows us who he is, and what he is going to do, and what it will mean. And he invites us to join him. My dying for your salvation is my design for your imitation. I pay the price for the one (John 10:16). I give the strength for the other (John 15:5)
It won’t be easy, but it will be significant. It will be eternal. That’s true for your life. And that’s true for Treasuring Christ Together. Multiplying campuses, planting churches, caring about the poorest of the poor won’t be easy. But it will be glorious.
Posted by Jim Grayson at 6:43 AM
Steven Furtick post: 2 Lies the Devil Loves to Tell God’s Children
The devil is a liar. That’s all he is, and he’s good at what he does.
He’ll tell you whatever he needs to tell you in order to trip you up, or keep you down.
And he’ll change up the delivery of his message depending on what you’re going through.
So when you’re suffering a trial, the devil will whisper a message of hopelessness to you.
He’ll say something like:
This will never end.
On the other hand, when you’re in a season of blessing, the devil will try to shake your confidence by telling you the exact opposite:
This will never last.
But trials do end. Joy comes in the morning. There is a mountain of victory on the other side of your valley.
And blessings do last. Even though seasons change, God’s favor is forever. He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it.
Don’t let the devil twist the truth.
Catch him in his lies, and stand on what God says.
Posted by Jim Grayson at 6:26 AM
Excerpt from What's Best Next post: Cuts from the Book, 1: Sorrow _And Sighing_ Will Flee Away
In fact, there is a remarkable statement in Isaiah 35:10:And the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.Here’s what’s remarkable. The redemption of creation will be so comprehensive that not only sorrow will be gone, but so will sighing.
Sorrow here refers, obviously, to the big things: sadness and grief which we feel over great losses, especially the loss of a loved one.
Sighing, on the other hand, refers to small frustrations. When you walk down the hall to get another bar of soap from the closet, for example, and the handle on the closet door breaks as you open it. That’s a small frustration which has just created more work for you. When these sorts of small things happen, we often sigh. It’s not sorrowful and is incomparable to the major suffering going on in the world. But it is frustrating and is one more illustration of the fact that we are living in a comprehensively fallen world. And, when enough of these things add up, it’s demoralizing.
Isaiah is saying: there won’t even be the slightest hint of sighing in the new heavens and new earth. Everything will be so completely perfect that not only will sorrow be banished, but even the slightest degree of sighing as well. Everything will always go just as it should.
Posted by Jim Grayson at 6:19 AM