There was a moment when doctors told John Piper they detected cancer in his body. Thankfully it was treatable. But in that moment, in the hospital, when a doctor first voiced concern, Pastor John was left alone in a room. And there, in that moment, without a Bible at hand, here were the first truths that flooded his mind, as Piper explained in a 2006 sermon.
Purpose in Pain
Second Corinthians 1:8–9 was one of the first ones: “We do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. . . . We felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.”
In the darkness of serious sickness, there are a thousand good purposes in what God is doing in your life right now. You may not know 999 of them, but here is one: he is helping you not to rely on yourself, but on God who raises the dead. That is enough. I don’t need the other 999 purposes. He is good. He is wise. The therapy is tailor-made for our needs right now by God.
Sweet Biblical Truth
How sweet is 1 Thessalonians 5:9–10. It comes to me in a dark moment. “God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him.” Don’t you love biblical clarity? I mean, it is just golden clarity. You tap that one and it rings clear. There are no ambiguities in that verse.
“John Piper,” God says, “you are not destined for wrath. This is not wrath. But for salvation through Jesus Christ. Not you, not you. You are nobody. You are a sinner. But through Jesus Christ who died for you, so that whether you are taken out or live to be 60 or 80, you are going to live with him.” That is why I want you to read your Bible.
I was with six guys down in Louisville, Kentucky praying and strategizing about big things the last few days, and I shared this with them. And we were talking about postmodern post-propositionalism and how bad it is. And I got real animated in Al Mohler’s basement and almost broke a vase. And I said, “When I stand up at this Together for the Gospel conference and talk about this, I am going to say, ‘God has not destined me for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ who died for me, so that whether I die or live, I live with him.’ Don’t take my propositions.”
These people, these postmodern emergent types, think they are just moving beyond this enlightenment propositionalism. I said, “Well, I don’t know where you are going, but I know a few propositions that I will live by and die by, and this is one of them.” And there are about 18,000 others in the Bible. Don’t get uppity about post-propositionalism. I will have propositions like, “You are not destined for wrath.” That is a statement with a verb and a subject and a few other grammatical pieces that matter infinitely to me.
I get really exercised about this stuff — this philosophical mumbo-jumbo about how new everything is because we are going beyond the doctrines and beyond the propositions. Thank you, I don’t know where you are going, but I am staying right here with 1 Thessalonians 5:9–10.