Friday, January 4, 2013

Exceeding joyful in all our tribulation

In his final sermon as a minister at Bethlehem Baptist in Minneapolis John Piper taught from II Corinthians 6 contrasting Paul's description of his experience with what happens in a lot of American churches:
"If you entice people with wealth, ... ease, health, chipper, bouncy, light-hearted, playful, superficial banter in your worship service posing as joy in Christ, you will attract people, oh yeah, you can grow a huge church that way. But Christ will not be seen in his glory and the Christian life will not be seen as the Calvary road that it is," said Piper on Sunday. ....

"I turn with dismay from church services that are treated like radio talk shows where everything sounds chipper and frisky and high-spirited and chattering and designed evidently to make people feel light-hearted and playful and bouncy," he said. "I say, don't you know there are people dying of cancer in this room? Don't you know some are barely making it financially? ... And you're going to create an atmosphere that's bouncy ...? I just don't get it. It's not who we are." ....

"You shouldn't ever attract anybody to Jesus like that because if they get attracted they're not coming to Jesus. They're coming to the stuff and the one who can provide it. Thank you very much Jesus for giving me what my fallen, selfish heart always lived for anyway," he said.

The Apostle Paul made it clear that the Christian life is not without suffering such as beatings, hunger, imprisonment and sleepless nights. But in the midst of those hardships, Paul's spirit was never broken and all he could do was rejoice because he had Jesus. ....

What Paul does is show that knowing Christ and having eternal life with Christ "is better than all the worldly wealth and prosperity and health that there is." .... [more]