Blog Posts by Michael Johnson

"Abba, Father" Versus a Wrathful Roar

Michael Johnson

Luther writes about “Abba, Father” in Galatians 4:6:

The lips say nothing, but the heart says something like this: ‘Although I am oppressed with anguish and fear on every side and seem to be forsaken and utterly cast away from your presence, I am still your child, and you are my Father, and for Christ’s sake. I am loved because of the Beloved.’

In serious temptations, when the conscience is…

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Thou Art Coming to a King

Michael Johnson

Here’s a hymn from John Newton that is worth reading and praying aloud several times (and returning to often):

Come, my soul, thy suit prepare:
Jesus loves to answer prayer;
He Himself has bid thee pray,
Therefore will not say thee nay;
Therefore will not say thee nay.

Thou art coming to a King,
Large petitions with thee bring;
For His grace and power are such,
None can ever ask
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Knowing God Versus Being Known by God

Michael Johnson

John Piper on knowing God versus being known by God:

But in [1 Corinthians 8:3] Paul does not simply relate loving God to knowing as we ought to know. He says,  ‘But if anyone loves God, he is known by God.’ What is the point of saying, ‘He is known by God’? This is parallel to Galatians 4:9: ‘But now that you have come to know God, or rather to

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Lowering Standards for Leadership Roles in the Church

Michael Johnson

Piper on lowering standards to fill church leadership roles:

The acceptability of a church lowering its standards in order to fill leadership roles is this: "low" is partly relative, isn't it?

If you have a church that's made up mainly of long-term, seasoned, wise, mature, Bible-knowing Christians, your standards of who should lead in that group are going to be high, because in order to lead you have to be…

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Biblical Theology and Church Picnics

Michael Johnson

Early on in Piper’s pastorate, he articulated some theological reasons for having church picnics:

If picnics don’t have to do with God we may as well close up shop. Either all we do has to do with God or he is not God. “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do (like picnics), do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).

Here are his main points:

Meeting
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The Origin of C. S. Lewis's Mere Christianity

Michael Johnson

C. S. Lewis on “mere Christianity”:

I hope no reader will suppose that “mere” Christianity is here put forward as an alternative to the creeds of the existing communions—as if a man could adopt it in preference to Congregationalism or Greek Orthodoxy or anything else.

It is more like a hall out of which doors open into several rooms. If I can bring anyone into that hall I shall have…

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Is God Fair?

Michael Johnson

Romans 9:14-18—

What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! For he says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you
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The Marvel of Our Adoption

Michael Johnson

Scottish theologian John Murray reflects on the Christian’s spiritual adoption:

The great truth of God’s fatherhood and of the sonship which bestows upon men is one that belongs to the application of redemption. It is true in respect of all men no more than are effectual calling, regeneration, and justification.

God becomes the Father of his own people by the act of adoption. It is the marvel of such grace…

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Alcohol and Church Membership

Michael Johnson

Piper explains his position on alcohol and church membership:

When I came to Bethlehem Baptist Church over [three] decades ago, this was one of the first controversies I had to deal with. We survived it and are he better for it. I think what I learned may be helpful.

 

Among Baptist and other congregationally governed churches, the local church constitution generally contains an affirmation of faith and church covenant.…

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C.S. Lewis on the Problem of Forgiveness

Michael Johnson

C. S. Lewis writes about the problem of forgiveness:

. . . you must make every effort to kill every taste of resentment in your own heart—every wish to humiliate or hurt him or to pay him out. The difference between this situation and the one in such you are asking God’s forgiveness is this. In our own case we accept excuses too easily; in other people’s we do not…

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Are Evangelicals Doctrinally Weak?

Michael Johnson

In the book God’s Passion for His Glory: Living the Vision of Jonathan Edwards, Piper writes about the present state of evangelicalism:

I resonate with the lament of Os Guinness and David Wells that evangelicalism today is basking briefly in the sunlight of hollow success. Evangelical industries of television and radio and publishing and music recordings, as well as hundreds of growing mega-churches and some highly visible public figures…

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How to Repent as a Christian

Michael Johnson

In a previous post, Tim Chester asserts that we can only change through ongoing daily faith and daily repentance. In other words, repentance is not exclusively for the non-Christian. Rather, together with ongoing faith, repentance should be normative for the Christian.

But this call to daily repentance is not a burden for God’s children! Rather, it is good news. It’s just not easy.

Jack Miller:

Be encouraged then, fellow
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Loving Enemies of the Cross

Michael Johnson

Piper writes on what it means to love enemies of the cross of Christ:

My greatest longing in response to this enmity is that Christians walk in the way of the cross. Yes, militant Islam is big and threatening. It may even be the true Quranic Islam. There are alarmists whose whole tone seems to awaken political and even militant responses from Christians.
My concern is that as the church
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"So, How Was Your Easter?"

Michael Johnson

You’ve likely already been asked (or asked someone else) this question today: “So, how was your Easter?” Around the water cooler or over coffee, we recount our big day: where we went to church, what was on the menu, was familial catastrophe averted, etc. And by the time Wednesday rolls around, people’s attention will have shifted to the royal nuptials. The common assumption is clear: Easter? That was so last…

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"My God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me?"

Michael Johnson

A sonnet by Don Carson on Matthew 27:45-46—

The darkness fought, compelled the sun to flee,
And like a conquering army swiftly trod
Across the land, blind fear this despot’s rod.
The noon-day dark illumined tyranny.
Still worse, abandonment by Deity
Brought black despair more deadly than the blood
That ran off with his life. “My God, my God,”
Cried Jesus, “why have you forsaken me?”
      The silence thundered.…

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Augustine on God's Love, Wrath, and the Cross

Michael Johnson

How (and when) does God’s love for us relate to Christ’s death on the cross?

Augustine:

God’s love is incomprehensible and unchangeable. For it was not after we were reconciled to him through the blood of his Son that he began to love us. Rather, he has loved us before the world was created, that we also might be his sons along with his only-begotten Son—before we became anything at…

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Packer on the Cross and Christ’s Love

Michael Johnson

Luther gazed at Christ’s cross with steady joy and gloried in the fact that whoever trusts Christ can be assured of his love. He once wrote to a troubled friend, “Learn to know Christ and him crucified. Learn to sing to him, and say, ‘Lord Jesus, you are my righteousness, I am your sin. You have taken upon yourself what is mine and given me what is yours. You have…

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Stott on The Self-Substitution of God

Michael Johnson

We strongly reject, therefore, every explanation of the death of Christ which does not have at its centre the principle of ‘satisfaction through substitution’, indeed divine self-satisfaction through divine self-substitution.

The cross was not:

a commercial bargain with the devil, let alone one which tricked and trapped him;

nor an exact equivalent, a quid pro quo to satisfy a code of honour or technical point of law;

nor a compulsory…

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Luther on True Contemplation of the Cross

Michael Johnson

Let us meditate a moment on the passion of Christ....true contemplation is that in which the heart is crushed and the conscience smitten....You must be overwhelmed by the frightful wrath of God who so hated sin that he spared not his only begotten Son. What can the sinner expect if the beloved Son was so afflicted? It must be an inexpressible and unendurable yearning that causes God’s Son himself so…

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Japan, Sovereignty, and Mercy

Michael Johnson

Japan’s 8.9 magnitude earthquake—the biggest one to ever strike Japan—echoes the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004.

In response, John Piper wrote an article titled “Tsunami, Sovereignty, and Mercy.” The essence of his main points are the same, slightly modified for Japan’s context:

  1. Satan is not ultimate, God is.
  2. Even if Satan caused the earthquake in Japan, he is not the decisive cause of the deaths, God is.
  3. Destructive calamities in…
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Tim Keller's King's Cross: A Review

Michael Johnson

My oldest daughter compares Tim Keller to Pixar: when they both release new material, you just know it’s going to be great. Since The Reason for God (2008), Keller and the Redeemer City to City team have produced four eagerly anticipated books. Now they’re launching the Redeemer imprint with King’s Cross: The Story of the World in the Life of Jesus.

A narrative of the Gospel according to…

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An Open Letter to Clarence the Angel (from the Film It’s a Wonderful Life)

Michael Johnson

Dear Clarence,

At the outset, please forgive me if this letter seems a bit disjointed. I’ve never written an angel before, so I’m a bit nervous!

What’s the occasion of this, my very first “Angel” letter? I realize it’s a tad tardy, but it’s regarding the movie that made you famous: Frank Capra’s iconic film It’s a Wonderful Life.

I’ve watched it for nearly every year I’ve been alive,…

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Faithful Presence Amid "Continuous Partial Attention," Part 2

Michael Johnson

In last week's post, we briefly discussed James Davison Hunter's observation (from his book To Change the World) that our increasingly omnipresent "fragmentation of consciousness" poses significant challenges to foster a distinctly Christian faithful presence in our modern world, as it "cultivates a kind of absence in the experience of 'being elsewhere'".

If Hunter's assessment is correct, what (if anything) should we do? How will we resist the…

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