Interview with

Founder & Teacher,

Audio Transcript

Welcome back to a new week on the Ask Pastor John podcast. Pastor John, what do you want to be as your final words on Twitter, in 140 characters? Brittany writes in to ask it: “Dear Pastor John, if you could say one last thing to this world, what would your message to us be? In other words, what is the one-sentence message, the one last tweet, that is the most important thing we need to hear from you, and why?”

I took Brittany seriously when she suggested it be one last tweet, so here’s my exactly 140-character (exactly), final tweet — the most important thing I think the world needs to hear, tweet-sized. It goes like this, and I had to drop a comma, frankly, but you can’t see that, so it doesn’t really matter. This is 140 characters including one comma and one period:

“There is so much that needs to be known about God that cannot be put into one sentence.”

Jesus, God’s Son died in the place of sinners and rose so that all who love him supremely might be forgiven all and have eternal joy in God.

Now, I thought about saying, instead, “Read your Bibles and pray for insight,” because there is so much that needs to be known about God that cannot be put into one sentence.

The only reliable source for all that needs to be known is the Bible, so maybe the most important thing to do is not to try to sum up the Bible in 140 characters, but to cry out to the world, Go read! Pray as you read so that you see everything that’s there! Maybe that’s the most important thing to say.

But then on second thought, there are millions and millions of people who don’t have access to the Bible, so that the last thing I should say to them is probably more specific than, “Go read your Bible,” and I think the Bible itself would want me to talk not mainly about the Bible, but about what the Bible talks about.

So, that’s why I wrote what I wrote. And the reason I chose to focus the way I did was because the apostle Paul already wrote that tweet in 1 Corinthians 15:3–4. I didn’t count his characters. It’s close. He said, “I delivered to you as of first importance” — and I presume that would mean last importance also — “what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.” So, Paul says that of first importance is that Christ died for our sins and rose again. Now, if that’s of first importance for Paul, then I’m standing on firm ground in making it my last tweet, my most important thing that I say finally.

“Negatively, Christ died to cancel your sins. Positively, he died to give you joy in our all-satisfying God.”

Here it is again. I’ll read it again and then just say a couple of comments about why I structured it the way I did.

Jesus, God’s Son died in the place of sinners and rose so that all who love him supremely might be forgiven all and have eternal joy in God.

It seemed good and needful in our day to identify who Jesus is, so I said Jesus, the Son of God, or God’s Son and, instead of saying, “died for sinners,” I said, “died in the place of sinners” to make explicit what I think Paul means; namely, that this is an act of substitution — not just an exemplary act or an act of advocacy, but that he really took the place of sinners when he died. I included “and rose,” not just “died,” but “and rose” because Paul did in his summary and because if Christ is not raised from the dead, we’re still in our sins (1 Corinthians 15:17). There’s no victory over death or wrath or the devil. There’s no gospel without the resurrection.

The most controversial thing in my sentence, I think, is that I said the beneficiaries of this death are “all who love him supremely” rather than saying, “all who trust him” or, “all who believe in him.” And I certainly don’t mean to set this up as a way everybody should always present the gospel. I might be wrong in choosing to emphasize loving Christ supremely instead of believing Christ.

I certainly don’t want to diminish the importance of trusting him and all he promises to be for us, but in view of two-thousand years of church history and millions and millions of nominal Christians who would say they believe in him and have not experienced the slightest heart change, or the slightest change in their lives and are lost, I wanted to stress the necessity of the kind of faith that really transforms people at the level of our deepest affection so that Christ is our supreme treasure, not just a belief ticked out of hell, which he is for so many people who think they’re believing.

“Read your Bibles and pray for insight.”

Paul says everything works together for the good of those who love God — love God, not just believe things about God (Romans 8:28). He says at the end of 1 Corinthians, the very last verse of 1 Corinthians, “If anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed” (1 Corinthians 16:22). And James says “the crown of life” will be given “to those who love him” (James 1:12). Jesus himself said, “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:37). So, I wanted to capture that.

And then I summed up the benefits of Jesus in saying, “forgiven all.” I didn’t say, “forgiven all sins” just because I couldn’t fit it in the 140 characters. “ . . . forgiven all, and have eternal joy in God.” I wanted to say the negative side: all your problems, all your sins, all your failures are going to be cancelled because Jesus died for them. And then I wanted to capture the positive side; namely, that once our sins are forgiven, we’re not left in limbo. We’re given eternal joy. That’s not merely an extension of worldly happiness, but something far, far greater; namely, joy in the all-satisfying God.

So, Tony, I give you hereby formal permission that if I die before we get too many more of these recordings made, you may say John Piper said this should be his last tweet.