It is a scene that I’ve seen replayed several times over. Someone comes across a few lines from the famous sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” and they are mesmerized. They ask, “Who talks like this?” When they find out that it was Jonathan Edwards they begin researching and then read the rest of the sermon and begin other writings. Then, like a drill running low on battery, they lose steam. Edwards’ writing is something of a thick piece of wood. Some would even say he is a stud. Because his writing is so theologically dense he is tough to work through. People get discouraged and decide to stay away from the guy with the fantastic quotes and outstanding hair.
What they need is some help. They need Edwards’ writing to be a bit more accessible. John Piper has done this for an entire generation, not the least with God’s Passion for His Glory. But even this, for some, is tough sledding.
Owen Strachan and Doug Sweeney have worked hard to serve the church by putting together an accessible introduction to the life and thought of Edwards. It is both theological and biographical. The authors compiled a series of 5 books entitled The Essential Edwards Collection: Jonathan Edwards Lover of God, Jonathan Edwards On Beauty, Jonathan Edwards On Heaven and Hell, Jonathan Edwards On the Good Life, and Jonathan Edwards on True Christianity.
The endorsements are helpful and spot-on:
“Why hasn’t this been done before? The Essential Edwards Collection is now essential reading for the serious-minded Christian. Doug Sweeney and …
It was good for me to hear this today.
What does it mean to say that someone is totally depraved? In short it means that humanity is dead in sin. We are neither willing nor able to merit God’s favor by acts of righteousness for we are all unrighteous (Rom. 3:10-19, 23; Eph. 2:1-3; Col. 1:21; Tit. 3:3). This does not mean that people cannot do any good things–there is relative good (i.e. helping the old lady across the street)—however, we cannot and do not do good things before God apart from Christ. As the Heidelberg Catechism says, we by nature are prone to hate God and neighbor, and daily increase our debt.
I have noticed that many people speak of depravity in terms of what we do. In explaining depravity of man they talk of homosexuality, murder, slander, etc. I don’t think this is helpful. Instead of speaking first of what we do we should instead speak of who we are. We are depraved, therefore we do sinful things.
I recently visited with a friend who is in his mid 60’s and has pastored Reformed Baptist churches for decades. He talked to me about how encouraged he is about the resurgence of Calvinism in the church today, particularly among the young people. He cited the preaching, the books being published, the websites, and the conferences. With glistening eyes he said, “Back in the 80’s when we’d go to Banner (of Truth) conferences we would never have imagined a day like this in our lifetime.”
We are living in something of an ecclesiological bizzaro world where Calvinism is wildly popular. But I want to make a distinction: Calvinism is popular but it is not sexy. Just because something is enjoying appeal among an admittedly increasing amount of people does not mean it is universally appealing.
This is so good. It captures so much of what my and so many other hearts longs for. Thank you John Piper for stirring us once again to supremely treasure God in all of life.
Yesterday I enjoyed the privilege of getting an MRI. It is not my first experience with the acronym. Each time it becomes a bit of a sanctifying experience.
Prior to the procedure I answered extensive questions to ensure that I was not embedded with anything that might be magnetic. They wanted to validate that I was safely alone in the room. As the procedure began I learned what it would feel like to be trapped inside of a jack-hammer. In time the incessent pinging became almost melodic and strangely soothing.
Recently I was able to sit on a panel for a discussion among some local church planters. One of the questions was, “What are you most concerned about with the gospel-centered movement?”
Before expressing any concern I want to be clear: I am very encouraged by the recovery of the center, the gospel, among many, particularly younger evangelicals. This is essential for us at this hour.
At the same time I have a cause for concern. My chief concern is not primarily a matter of theology but hermeneutics (the art and science of interpretation).
I recently came across this quote from John Piper. He is talking about loving covenant faithfulness between God and his people.
This pledge God has made to his people is unbreakable. No famine or death can break it. I saw it in a parable. I was visiting some of our elderly people in a nursing home. I got on the elevator with a woman in a wheelchair who was old, misshapen, and confused. Her head wobbled meaninglessly and she uttered senseless sounds. Her mouth hung open. Then I noticed that a well-dressed man, perhaps in his mid-sixties, was pushing her chair. I wondered who he was. Then as we all got off the elevator, I heard him say, “Watch your feet, Sweetie-pie.”
Sweetie-pie. As I walked to the car, I thought . . .if a marriage covenant between a man and a woman produces that kind of fidelity and commitment and affection under those circumstances, then surely under the great and merciful terms of the New Covenant, sealed with the blood of his Son (Luke 22:20), God has no difficulty calling you and me (sinful and sick as we are) sweet names. And if he does, there is no truth more unshakable in all the world than this: For them and for us, the best is yet to come. God is at work in the darkest times—for our good and Christ’s glory. He will see to it that the glory of his Son fills the earth and that in him we find everlasting joy. –John Piper, A Sweet and Bitter Providence, pp. 122-123
Have you wondered why the Bible repeatedly emphasizes faith as the means by which we receive justification? John Piper begins to walk down this road and think it through in this helpful quote:
“To get at the nature of that faith, it is helpful to ponder why faith alone justifies. Why not love, or some other virtuous disposition? Here’s the way J. Gresham Machen answers this question in his 1925 book What Is Faith? ’The true reason why faith is given such an exclusive place by the New Testament, so far as the attainment of salvation is concerned, over against love and over against everything else in man . . . is that faith means receiving something, not doing something or even being something. To say, therefore, that our faith saves us means that we do not save ourselves even in slightest measure, but that God saves us.’
In other words, we are justified by faith alone, and not by love, because God intends to make it crystal clear that he does the decisive saving outside of us, and that the person and work of Christ are the sole ground of our acceptance with God.” –John Piper, Think! The Life of the Mind and the Love of God
Imagine this scene: you are enjoying an evening dinner party at your home. All of a sudden a mouse scurries accross the floor parting the room like the Red Sea. The men jump up on their chairs and begin screaming for someone to get the intruder. One of the ladies puts down her appetizer plate and calmly grabs the broom and corals the little varmint. The disaster has been averted.
Is there anything wrong with this scene?
There is everything wrong with it. We all know that the guys in this story need some remedial classes at The Art of Manliness. They have some dereliction of gender issues.