ATLANTA — It was our first time at Catalyst, and we were prepared for some highly produced craziness.
They have fired a man from a cannon, belly-flopped another guy 30 feet into a kiddie pool, offered camel rides onsite, and set ridiculous world record after ridiculous world record — including bubbles, Frisbees, and whoopee cushions. Not exactly where you expect to find our 67-year-old Pastor John.
But the biggest spectacle at Catalyst, or any other place in the world, is Jesus Christ, the sinless Son of God crucified for sinners. And John Piper had the amazing opportunity on Thursday to speak of this Jesus to more than 12,000 young, gifted leaders gathered at the Gwinnett Arena in Atlanta…
The Christian life can be so complex — and oh so very simple.
That we would use such a fancy word as sanctification betrays the complexity. But that defining such a big word could be so easy hints at the simplicity.
Big Word, Modest Meaning
The word sanctification is built on the Latin sanctus, meaning “holy.” Sanctification is the theological term we Christians often use for the process of being made holy. For the Christian, whose standard of perfect human holiness is Jesus, the God-man, sanctification is essentially becoming more like Jesus — being “conformed to the image of his Son,” as Romans 8:29 puts it.
Christian growth, or maturation, is another way to define sanctification. It’s…
In the outskirts of the city, on a road that’s walked as much as driven, a typical car brakes at a red light.
It is the kind of car so typical that the actual model stays blurry in memory. It is the kind of braking so natural that the driver must know this block. Everything in the scene fits: the worn road, the red light, the common car, but not the bumper sticker. That is a different story, with its weathered corners and sunbaked background accenting a phrase in all-caps Comic Sans: “Success Starts on Sunday.”
There is also a church name, one as typical as the car, listed below the slogan in smaller letters. And now we get it. Said straight, the shiny message on this tattered sticker goes…
It’s everywhere you turn, yet so easily keeps itself hidden.
It’s pervasive in advertising and steers the course of political debates. It lives in all our hearts, but seems so petty that we’re unwilling to admit its presence.
But in God’s economy, envy is sinful and dangerous. It makes frequent cameos in the New Testament lists of nastiness (Mark 7:22; Romans 1:29; 1 Timothy 6:4; Titus 3:3). We hear that “love does not envy” (1 Corinthians 13:4), that sadly some “preach Christ from envy” (Philippians 1:15), and, worst of all, that “it was out of envy” that they delivered up Jesus to be crucified (Matthew 27:18; Mark 15:10). And so we’re directed to fight it (Galatians 5:26; 1 Peter 2:1).…
All the hot-button topics were on the table Sunday night in downtown Minneapolis. Bethlehem College and Seminary hosted a dialogue on Christ and culture with John Piper and Douglas Wilson, moderated by Joe Rigney. The video is now available.
Early on, the conversation turned to slavery, racism, and Wilson’s controversial stance which sparked a lengthy online debate with Thabiti Anyabwile just months ago. Piper, who closely followed the entire debate, offered his seasoned reflections on the interchange.
Wilson shared about growing up in segregated Annapolis and how his father trained him to hate the discrimination. He also gave the backstory to his provocative book Black and Tan, and Piper …
This is the will of God, your sanctification. (1 Thessalonians 4:3)
“God Moves in a Mysterious Way”
God tells us everything we need to know to live godly lives (2 Peter 1:3). But sometimes we wonder.
The unexpected, unexplained twists and turns our lives take create all kinds of apparent uncertainties for us. And the profound pain we endure can be so perplexing. There is so much God doesn’t tell us — so much we think we would really like to know.
But as Deuteronomy 29:29 says, “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever.”
This means that as creatures we must learn to live contentedly with what God intends to be…
Love is at the heart of the Bible.
God loved us so much he sent his only be-loved Son to love us by blood, so that we would likewise love and treasure this be-loved Son (John 3:16, Revelation 1:5).
But that doesn’t tell the full story. On the cross, Christ initiated a love to break our love-less sin, to gift us with new hearts, and to make us love-givers (1 John 4:19). The Holy Spirit pours God’s love into us (Romans 5:5; Galatians 5:22).
Such love has a full-bodied Trinitarian flavor, with ancient roots dug deep in the Old Testament. And one scholar building on this theme is Jason DeRouchie, Associate Professor of Old Testament at Bethlehem College and Seminary in Minneapolis.
“He heard music and dancing.”
This line introduces the first main action of the “older brother” in Jesus’s parable of the Prodigal Son. The rest of the story culminates with what he doesn’t do.
Once There Was a Party
On his way home from the field, the older brother heard the commotion. “Music and dancing,” we’re told. And we’d expect, if there’s music and dancing, there’s laughter and cheers. This is a party. The father had ordered a celebration: “Let us eat and celebrate” (Luke 15:23). Which is what happened: “And they began to celebrate” (Luke 15:24).
It doesn’t take us readers long to see that this is a big deal. The word for “celebration” is used four times in this parable, and it m…
Undistracting attractiveness is John Piper’s term for it.
It’s a vision for the Christian to steer a middle course between idolizing our bodies and neglecting them. It includes giving our bodies enough attention — with sleep, diet, exercise, and upkeep — to avoid being distractingly unattractive, and reining in our impulses to pursue a self-focused attractiveness that distracts.
Deeper Than Dieting, Botox, and Plastic Surgery
Your body is a precious gift from God. And the Bible is clear about its highest purpose: To make God look good.
Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. …
On the extent of who will be saved, the Bible makes two clear points:
- God desires that all sinners be saved (1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9; Ezekiel 18:23; Matthew 23:37).
- God chose some people from eternity past (the elect), to be saved unconditionally, and only those elect will genuinely respond to the gospel and be saved (Matthew 22:14; John 6:37, 44, 65; 8:47; 10:26–29; Romans 8:29–30; 9:6–23; 11:5–10; 1 Corinthians 1:26–30; Ephesians 1:4–5; 1 Thessalonians 1:4; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; James 2:5).
But how these two biblical truths (that seem to contradict) actually relate, has perplexed theologians and inquiring Christian minds for many centuries, sparking vigorous debates and (more recent…