Wednesday, February 08, 2006

A Summary of the Gospel Part 2-Teaching for the Glory of God by John Piper

This is part two of:

Before the service, someone asked Dr. Piper if he would elaborate a bit more on the glory of Christ and God. How would he define “glory?”

Glory is like beauty. Those who have eyes to see it do so. Formally, he would say glory is “the radiance of the beauty of the manifold perfections of God.” Put another way, “Holiness gone public.”
The gospel—that Christ died for our sins, was buried, and was raised from the dead is intended to lead us to the glory of God—His public holiness. God publicly displayed Christ as a propitiation for sin for the demonstration of His righteousness, so that He might be both just and the Justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. The gospel is that which enables us to see this manifold glory and wisdom of God.

What is the role of teaching in evangelism?

2 Timothy 2:24 – 26

24The Lord's bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged,

25with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth,

26and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.

Knowing does not save in and of itself. Saving faith is an affectional condition. Knowledge results from repentance. Repentance is granted by God. It is not given to every man. The resulting knowledge is the spiritual apprehension of the glory of God, so that the Pharisee sees one thing and the publican says other, and the Pharisee says “Thank you God I am not like that man,” and the publican says, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.” God has opened the eyes of one but not the other.

The deliverance of Satan follows this event. Satan enslaves with lies. Corporate happiness, material wealth, pornography, homosexuality, adultery, drug addictions, illicit sex, gluttony, pride...these are just a few of the means by which Satan works to enslave men. The grace of God grants repentance to the truth, and this exorcises the soul. Moreover, in community, it exorcises the world in which we live. If we wish to change our culture, this is where we must wage most of the culture war. If we fail here, we will fail the rest.

How important is teaching in evangelism?

Teaching is massively important! Relational evangelism in our day has largely played itself out. People today do not have the categories already in place by which they can easily understand what we mean. When we speak of “conversion” many think “self-help.” When we speak of “repentance,” they think of a 12-step program. We are now in a position in which we can no longer count on the average person to understand the way we use the terms we use. Does this mean we stop using them? No. Does it mean we redefine them? Absolutely not! It does mean that we need to teach them what they mean.
What should we teach?
That’s a good question. There is no infallible answer. Every theologian, every pastor, every Sunday School teacher, every bishop, every presbytery, every association will give a slightly different answer. However, we can find the parameters of our content in Scripture.

Acts 20:24

24"But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God.

Teach this singular devotion to share the gospel of God.

What is grace? What is gospel? What is God? Men no longer understand these terms easily. Come to think of it, they didn’t understand them well in the first century either. Why do you think Paul taught as he did?

Acts 20:26 - 27

26"Therefore, I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men.

27"For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God.

Paul taught the whole counsel of God. What is this?

Romans 6:17

17But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed,

2 Tim. 1:13 - 14

13Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.

14Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you. (some translations..."the strong deposit")

What is the content of this body of doctrine?

Once again, this is not a fallible list. However, this is what, in general, we should teach deeply and faithfully to make the gospel intelligible to our people. Folks, we can't do this evangelistic, revivalistic preaching every Sunday morning anymore and expect folks to understand us. For one thing, not everybody understands the language. Moreover, there is more to the Bible than "Jesus loves me."

1. God exists. He has rights over us, deserves our honor and devotion. He is infinite, unchangeable, and eternal in His being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.

2. Who is man? He is created in God’s image. He has a moral will, a capacity for reason, affections, and obligations to God.

3. What is sin? Sin is not merely hurting others. Sin is offending the glory of God. It is depravity, deadness, helplessness, inability, blindness. It is an outward act and an inward condition.

4. Who is Christ? He is a real, historical person. He is fully God and fully man. He lived a sinless life. He was crucified, dead and buried, and rose again. He is ruling as a king now and will return again.

5. What does the cross mean? It is a picture of all the New Covenant promises. It is a propitiatory sacrifice. It is substitutionary in nature. All the New Covenant promises and blessings flow from here.

6. What of the resurrection? Christ rose physically and bodily. It was not “spiritual.” It was not a “parable.” He is coming again. He reigns now. He makes intercession for His people. He will be a Judge when He returns.

7. What is the Holy Spirit? He is personal, not a force of nature or a metaphor. He calls us. He regenerates us. He convicts us. He empowers us. He leads us.

8. What is repentance and faith? Faith is the sole instrument of justification. Justification is not by works. Faith is not Sandemanian. It is the gift of God. It is the duty of man. It involves savoring Christ. Repentance and faith go hand in hand. One without the other is not saving faith.

Why is this crucial?

Teaching and relational evangelism are not mutually exclusive practices. However, teaching needs to take precedence today, because we live in a culture that is more like the pluralistic culture of the first century than the Christianized culture of the Reformation and Enlightenment.

People come to the gospel through propositions. Words have meaning. Concepts are derived from sentences and grammatical structures. “Post-propositionalism” is irrational. The very statement, “We are post-propositional” is a propositional statement! This kind of epistemology is deadly to a church.

There are damnable propositions. “There was a time when the Son was not” if believed by the one who utters it, will certainly condemn you to hell. The attitude that doesn’t recognize this is the attitude that may as well slit the throats of all those within the sound of his voice.

Today’s people do not have the categories for understanding our witness they once had. We must be able to teach them anew.

Acts 19: 8 -9

8And he entered the synagogue and continued speaking out boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God.

9But when some were becoming hardened and disobedient, speaking evil of the Way before the people, he withdrew from them and took away the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus.

Paul spoke boldly. He reasoned with them. He persuaded them. He did this for two years. He was in his work for the long haul.

Finally, the more you know of your treasure coming into the faith or growing into your faith, the more passion you have for Christ Himself. You teach yourself when you teach others. Moreover, teaching is for everybody. Notice that the whole province of Asia heard the gospel on account of this ministry of Paul. One church, one blog, one writer, one professor, one Sunday School teacher can have a profound influence. God’s word, when taught, will not return to Him void.

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