Julian Freeman

Freed to live through the death of another.

Tag: John Piper (page 1 of 2)

Seven Discoveries to Define and Ignite Passion for Missions

As we prepare for a new missions course at GFC, I wanted to learn how John Piper and the elders of Bethlehem Baptist Church laboured to create a vision and passion for missions in their local church. Here are seven discoveries and truths they have learned and taught.

  1. We discovered that God is passionately committed to His fame. God’s ultimate goal is that His name be known and praised and enjoyed by all the peoples of the earth. (Matt 24.14; Isaiah 52.7; Rom 9.17; Isaiah 12.4; Rom 15.9)
  2. We discovered that God’s purpose to be known and praised and enjoyed among all the nations cannot fail. It is an absolutely certain promise. (Matt 16.18; 28.18; Isaiah 46.10; Hab 2.14)
  3. We discovered that the missionary task is focused on teaching unreached peoples, not just people — people groups, not just individuals — and is therefore finishable. (Matt 24.14; Rev 5.9)
  4. We discovered that the scarcity of Paul-type missionaries has been obscured by the quantity of Timothy-type missionaries [by this he means that the number of workers who go overseas obscures the true number of those who go to the unreached, which is actually quite small]. (Timothy ministered in the young church in Ephesus, 1 Tim 1.3; Paul went to the unreached, Rom 15.20)
  5. We discovered that domestic ministries are the goal of frontier missions, and frontier missions is the establishment of domestic ministries.
  6. We have come to see that God ordains suffering as the price and the means of finishing the Great Commission. (Matt 24.9, 14; Col 1.24; Matt 10.16; Luke 21.16-18)
  7. Finally, we have discovered that God is most glorified in us when we are so satisfied in Him that we accept suffering and death for His sake in order to extend our joy to the unreached peoples of the earth. (2 Cor 4.17; Phil 3.8; Heb 13.12-14)

Full explanations of each of these can be found in his book, Brothers, We Are Not Professionals, in the chapter called, ‘Brothers, Give Them God’s Passion for Missions.’

Why Does Grace Amaze Christians?

One amazing thing about Christians is that we don’t sing because we like to sing, but because the grace that we have received from God makes us sing. It’s not that we’re commanded to sing, but that we’re compelled to sing.

Grace, rightly beheld, always moves the heart to thankfulness and worship that must be shared. And so we sing.

But what is it that is so amazing to us about grace? Why does it make us sing? Consider these lines from some of the songs we sing:

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me!

Alas! And did my Saviour bleed, and did my Sovereign die?
Would he devote that sacred head for such a worm as I?
Was it for sins that I had done he groaned upon the tree?
Amazing pity, grace unknown, and love beyond degree!

He left His Father’s throne above—So free, so infinite His grace—
Emptied Himself of all but love, and bled for Adam’s helpless race:
’Tis mercy all, immense and free, for O my God, it found out me!

Wayne Grudem, in his Systematic Theology defines grace as God’s ‘goodness toward those who deserve only punishment.’ That’s why it’s amazing to us. Before a holy God, with our sinful hearts and deeds exposed we are wretched and helpless — as lowly as a worm. And yet, God has been infinitely good to us.

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Job, the Film

It was shortly after Stacey and I were first married that I was introduced to John Piper’s book The Misery of Job and the Mercy of God (which you can get here as a pdf). In print form it was a stunning and gripping combination of heart-wrenching poetry and pictures which make your soul cry out for the Eternal God.

I remember the first time I sat and read through the book in a single sitting. It owned me.

Needless to say, this trailer looks fantastic, and I’m glad they’re finding new ways to get this material out to people in order to help them engage the brutal realities of life in a fallen world awaiting its redemption. I can’t wait to see the full film.

Jōb the Film from Chris Koelle on Vimeo. HT: Louis Tullo

Bible Reading Plan for 2011

Pretty much any Christian who has lived for a little while as a Christian can look back at their lives and recognize that the seasons of life when they’ve known the most blessing are those seasons when they’ve been most faithful to read through the Bible. That’s certainly been the case for me!  You look at life through an altogether different set of eyes when your mind is being renewed and transformed by the word of God.

What better New Years resolution could there be than to spend more time hearing from God in his word?

As you may or may not remember, last year I posted a Bible reading plan that I had put together. I was thrilled to have a few brothers and sisters eager to use it. I even got the big thumbs-up from uber-blogger extraordinaire, Tim Challies.

This year I made a few revisions to that plan (largely to the order of the reading for the NT books). As I’ve had a couple people ask, I thought I’d post the new plan here for this year for any more people who are still looking for a Bible reading plan for 2011.

You can download the 2011 Bible Reading Plan here.

While there are certainly myriads of Bible reading plans out there, I’ve found this one pretty helpful. Here are some of the features of it.

  • You will find that you are reading through the OT and the NT simultaneously. That helps keep you from getting too bogged down at certain points.
  • OT prophets are placed in (roughly) where they would have ministered chronologically. This helps break up the monotony of reading through huge chunks of narrative and prophets, by intermixing the two. It also helps you understand the historical and redemptive context for the prophets.
  • The NT is organized into bodies of literature. You begin with the the Petrine body of literature (Mark, which was sourced from Peter’s eye-witness account, and Peter’s epistles). Then you read Matthew and the other books written particularly for Jews. Next, with Luke-Acts and Paul’s epistles, you read through material written for Gentile audiences. You will conclude the year with the Johannine body of literature (all the books written by John).

Overall, the variety and structure hopefully helps to ‘change things up’ enough that it doesn’t feel like every other time you’ve tried to read through the Bible.

Let me know if you’ve got any questions / comments / suggestions for improving the plan for next year!

And just as a PS, here’s Piper talking about the Bible. I offer it as a little ‘kick in the pants’ to get reading! 🙂

The ‘New’ Calvinism: Stupid, Salvation, or Save-able?

It is interesting to me that there in the last couple of weeks I have happened across several different takes on what is commonly being called ‘the New Calvinism’. The range in perspectives has been interesting to observe.

In one article, David Fitch suggests that the New Calvinism is perhaps nothing more than a new fundamentalism. It’s a place where people who think alike (and who alike think they alone know truth) can gather to feel safe as they exclude others in their arrogance. If this is true, the New Calvinism is stupid. Fitch doesn’t say that, but if that is what the movement amounts to, then it’s the obvious conclusion.

Another writer, Craig Carter, suggests that the New Calvinism is the best kind of theology, most ‘capable of sustaining a vigorous Evangelicalism’ over the long haul, preventing an evangelical slide back into liberalism. At the January Theology Pub here in Toronto, Dr Carter will lead a discussion with the heading, ‘Why the Young, Restless and Reformed will Save Evangelicalism in the Next Few Decades. From that view, the New Calvinism sounds like salvation (at least for evangelicalism).

Somewhere in the middle of those two positions, I think, lies two particularly helpful cautions. One is the video I recently posted, where John Piper warns the New Calvinists about ‘dangling, unconnected wires’ in their lives which hang between doctrine and practice, between the sovereignty being preached and the sanctification of those preaching (see the video here). Piper reminds the young Calvinists that while their ‘movement’ has the potential to do great things, if their practice doesn’t match their preaching, the whole movement will fall apart.

Just this morning I read a brilliant little article on a similar vein from Tony Reinke, called Young, Restless, Reformed, and Humbled. There we are reminded of the absolute necessity of humility (especially!) in those who claim to be Calvinists of any sort. To believe in the doctrines of grace, but not be humbled by them and your ability to live them is profoundly inconsistent. Reinke writes, ‘First, look at the depth of your theological convictions. Thank God for that–it’s a gift. Second, compare those convictions with the shallow daily decisions that are made totally uninfluenced by them.’

What I appreciate in what both Piper and Reinke are saying is this: The movement in and of itself is nothing; but it may be something, if we let the gospel do its full-orbed work of changing us from the inside out. If we are changed by what we preach and live like what we preach is really true, then maybe this movement is save-able. Maybe God really will use it to do great things for his great name in our day, in our part of this world.

That’s my hope, anyway.

John Piper on What Could Make the ‘Gospel-Centred’ Movement Fail

Here is an interesting and important word from John Piper on the things which could potentially become an ‘Achilles Heel’ to the gospel-centred movement that we love.

I would add a hearty ‘Amen’ to his words. May God keep us back from sins of presumption. I pray for more of the Spirit’s work connecting the ‘loose wires’ in my life.

HT: Justin Taylor

Enjoying the Bible So Far in 2010?

If we’re not enjoying the Bible, reading it, meditating on it, memorizing it, praying it, etc., it’s because we’ve forgotten what it really is.

If we’re spending money to be entertained but we’re too lazy to read our Bible for free, it’s because we’re convinced there’s more joy to be had in being entertained by the world than having communion with God. John Piper rightly corrects us.

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