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Savoring Christ: the Gospel defined
April 09, 2007
By Jeff Robinson

John Piper challenged students to center their lives on savoring Jesus Christ to the glory of God, and to teach others to do the same during chapel services March 27 and 29 at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Photo by John Gill

A minister who preaches only the facts of the  Gospel and fails to preach the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ is not fully proclaiming the Gospel, noted pastor and author John Piper said March 29 during a chapel service at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Preaching from 2 Corinthians 4:1-7, Piper said proclaiming justification, forgiveness of sins, redemption, reconciliation and other cardinal Gospel doctrines is not a complete expression of the good news unless such preaching seeks to stir up in people a profound desire to seek and savor Christ as their ultimate treasure.

"There is not a more important phrase in all the Bible than 'the Gospel of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ,'" he said. "There is nothing bigger, better, higher beyond Christ, gloriously seen, savored and satisfying forever. There is nothing beyond it. Everything else in the Gospel is a means to this, but this truth is not the means to anything."

Piper serves as the pastor for preaching and vision at Bethlehem Baptist Church. A popular conference speaker, Piper is the author of more than 20 books including "God is the Gospel," "Desiring God," "Future Grace" and "Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ." He preached at Southern on March 27 and 29.

The goal of the Gospel is the glory of Christ who is Himself the image of God, Piper said. The goal of the Gospel is not only forgiveness of sins, reconciliation with God, taking away God's wrath and escaping hell he said; the goal of the Gospel above all else is to create a hunger in the human heart that is satisfied by Christ alone.

"When you preach the Gospel, people should see the face of Jesus," he said. "That is what satisfies the soul forever. When the Gospel is preached, there is a light radiating through the preaching of the event (of the cross), the accomplishment of redemption and the offer (of salvation). There is a light shining when it is preached.

"Getting out of hell is not the Gospel; it is a means to it. Getting your sins forgiven is not the Gospel ultimately; it is a means for the good news that makes a person say, 'I see Him, I will have Him, I will enjoy Him forever.' So when you preach, get there every time."

Piper discussed the idea of "lostness," which he described as blindness to God's glory. A person is lost when he does not view Christ as his greatest treasure, his pearl of great price, Piper said.

"This is why we (Gospel ministers) exist," he said. "We exist to try and change that through the preaching of the Gospel. We know people like this, people who are blind to the glory of God in Christ; some of you in this room are this."

Conversion happens when the Holy Spirit applies the truth of the Gospel to a sinful human heart and causes it to see the infinite beauty, majesty and value of Christ and to treasure the glory of God above all else, Piper said. The preacher proclaims the Gospel, Piper said, while reminding students that it is God who sovereignly saves.

"When you were converted, light happened," he said. "You once thought Jesus was boring until God said, 'see!' Then you no longer thought Jesus was boring. You were awakened from the dead by God ... because salvation is totally God's work."

While ministers do not save anyone, they are indispensable agents in the spread of the Gospel, Piper said. He admonished students to preach the Gospel with the aim of seeing the Holy Spirit light hearts aflame with a passion for the glory of God.

"The human commission is to liberate them (lost people) from darkness and the devil," Piper said.

"Isn't it amazing? You are called to do what only God can do. You will be God's decisive, indispensable agents of God in this work."

God's minister must not only preach the light of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, but he must also demonstrate to others through humble service that Christ is his ultimate, all-satisfying treasure, he said.

Piper argued that both humble service and Gospel proclamation by God's ministers reconcile the twin teachings of Matthew 11:30 where Jesus tells believers that His yoke is easy and His burden light with Matthew 16:24, where Jesus commands believers to take up their cross and follow Him.

The congregations of pastors who exhibit both traits will follow such a leader, he said.

"You get down low and serve people because they need to see that He has satisfied you in His glory," he said. "When they see a big Christ and they see us down low, they will listen, but they must see both.

"Be faithful to biblical texts. Let these little old ladies know that you will be there at their funerals and at their kids' funerals and at their bedsides and you will serve them at great cost to yourself and lift up a big, glorious, all-sufficient, all-satisfying Christ and they will follow you.

"How can the cross bearing be a light load? The only answer I have right now is the cross is the pathway to and the revelation of the all-satisfying glory of Christ."

The audio to both of Piper's sermons is available online at www.sbts.edu, under the resources tab.

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