John Piper, Plenary Session Three

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John Piper, Plenary Session Three

Discovering a more adequate view of God.

It happens to all those who seek him. Job’s suffering was mercy from God, who allowed Job to wrestle through his understanding of God to gain a greater understanding of Him.
“Therefore I have uttered what I do not understand.’ Job knew Him better and repented in dust and ashes.

It happened to Isaiah, too.

To Chuck Colson, to John Piper… A new understanding of God, a taste of the majesty of God that never, ever goes away.

Isaiah 6:1-7

There is a glib and shallow silliness in much of the church, of which we should repent.  There is a sense of awe and wonder that is the happiest seriousness in the world.

  1. God is Alive. 
    1. “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord.” The king is dead, the Lord is not. “From everlasting to everlasting.” He is alive throughout history. He was alive and will be alive in ten trillion ages of years. Those who have claimed him to dead will be obliterated in the years of time like a bb pellet dropped in the vast ocean, and He will still be alive.
  2. God is Authoritative.
    1. God is never at wit’s end with His heavenly realm. There is no indication of him plowing fields, loading trucks, cleaning and yet, there is complete order. He is sitting. On a throne. And is in complete control.
    2. We do not give authority over our lives to God. He is in authority already.
    3. “God can do whatever He damn well pleases, including damn well.” We do not question Him. We may weep and be perplexed, but we do not rebel against our King. He is the Supreme Court, the Legislature, and the Executive of the Universe.
  3. God is Omnipotent. 
    1. “High and Lifted up.” Not just authority, but authority with supremacy over all things.
      1. Is. 46:10
      2. Dan 4:35
    2. He is a refuge for women who hope in God and experience tsunamis of pain. Few things give a pastor more pleasure than to watch his people be steadfast in suffering, because they have an unshakable place to stand– on the Authoritative, Sovergeign, Omnipotent God.
  4. God is Resplendent. 
    1. “His Train filled the Temple…” Imagine the train of a bride’s dress, going down the stage and stairs. Now imagine it going up the aisle, over the pews, into the balcony…
    2. There are about a thousand self-illuminating fish in the bottom of the ocean… How can light be produced at the bottom of the ocean without any batteries? Why did the Lord make 1,000s of those? Because He is LAVISH in His creativity, beauty and splendor.
  5. God is Revered. 
    1. “Above Him stood the seraphim.” These beings are not described anywhere else in Scripture. Reubens has not helped our picture of the angels. They are not fat little babies, fluttering around the ears of God. When one of them spoke, the foundations of the earth shook.
    2. But as magnificent as they are, sinless, beautiful… They cannot look at God in His glory.
    3. Though we may look at this world and weep for those who give Him no reverence of all, God is always revered.
  6. God is Holy. 
    1. “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts.”
    2. Language is pushing its limits with the word holy. When you have finished defining holy, you have simply said “God is God.”
    3. “To cut” or “to separate” so a holy thing is cut off or separated from one thing and (usually) devoted to something else. It’s not part of the common. It’s devoted unto God.
    4. Almost anything can be holy before God.
    5. But what happens when this is applied to God?
      1. There is an infinite, qualitative difference between God and everything else that is.
      2. His essential being is “I AM” and not dependent upon anything outside of myself. All else is dependent upon Him. He is absolutely unique.
      3. His holiness is His Godness.
      4. What is God devoted to?
        1. There is nothing above Him to which He can conform.
        2. He’s not holy because He keeps the rules. He made the rules.
        3. He’s not holy because He keeps the Law. The Law is holy because it reflects the nature of God.
      5. Holiness is His essence, which makes it more rare and more valuable. His value determines the value and worth of everything else. The ultimate value is not you or your family or any of the other 7 billion people on the planet. Our greatest failure is in missing this truth. Everything else has value in proportion to His worth and value.

We have no rights before our Creator. He is right above all else. And you know you have tasted the Lord when that truth is sweet to you. Holiness is not far away and distant. Our God can be experienced and He is sweet.

7. God is Glorious. 

    1. “the whole earth is full of His glory.” Why glory? Why not holiness? Or power?
      1. Glory is the manifestation of the holiness of God. Holiness is intrinsic, infinite worth. When that goes on display, it’s called the glory of God. God’s holiness gone public.
        1. Lev. 10:3– “I will show my holiness… and before all people I will be glorified.”
        2. It is the radiance of His holiness. When God shows himself holy, we see glory.

What does all of that have to do with Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Son of Man, co-eternal with the Father, the Word with THIS God.
John 12. Quotes Isaiah 6 and Isaiah 53 in this context.
Isaiah 6:10– Isaiah will preach this vision with little effect. God tells him, “It’s not going to go well. This vision will make the people hard.” But at the end of verse 13, there is a stump of holiness remaining. “The holy seed is its stump.” There is a remnant that can flower and return! When we get to chapter 53, we see the seed again, the Suffering Servant. “Who will hear our report?” The people won’t listen.
John 12 ends Jesus’ public ministry and John explains why Jesus is rejected.
John12:37 Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him, 38 so that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: “Lord, who has believed what he heard from us, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” 39 Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said, 40 “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they see with their eyes, and understand with their heart, and turn, and I would heal them.” 41 Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him. 42 Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.

Jesus fulfills chapter 6 AND chapter 53 in Isaiah. Both the resplendent King and the Suffering Servant are rejected. 
Why? John 12:43 “The people loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.”
Faith in this Jesus is impossible for those who crave the approval of other men more than the approval of God. If you desire the glory of mankind, you will reject both God’s majesty and suffering because BOTH take your glory. When we seek our own glory, we don’t want either and Jesus was BOTH. 

Was Jesus rejected because of the sin of man, or because of the plan of God?
There are no detours between God’s plan and God’s accomplishment. No wasted centuries. No suffering and no rebellion is without meaning.

Will Israel be thrown away because they rejected their Messiah?
Romans 11:25– No. “A partial hardening has come upon them…” The nation will one day turn to her Messiah. Israel has been disobedient in order that mercy may be shown to the Gentiles. Now, through that mercy, they too will be shown mercy.

As Paul closes the tracing of God’s work through history, Paul can only close this section of Romans with praise:
Romans 11:32 For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all. 33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! 34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” 35 “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” 36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

  1. Karen

    I was at this conference. Loved all the sessions. Thank you SO much for posting these outlines.