Well, last Wednesday we looked at what makes Pastor John tick. There he gave us a glimpse into his ministry and his aims. That was APJ 1769. In today’s clip, I return to that same sermon, because he goes from that point to talking about how God makes much of us, his children, and why he makes much of us.
First, the point: God makes much of us. He does. And he does so beyond our wildest imagination! In fact, we will see that point next week in greater detail — how God makes much of us. So hold that thought for now, because here, in this Wednesday sermon clip, I want you to see that, yes, God makes much of us, but his plan aims at something far greater than merely making us feel loved for the sake of us feeling loved. You’ll see why here in just a moment.
Again, as we dive into this sermon clip, for context, this comes from a sermon preached two weeks out from John Piper’s eight-month leave of absence from his church in 2010. These are part of his parting words, so to speak, to his church. And in them, here’s Pastor John to explain how God makes much of us — and why he does it that way. Here’s Pastor John.
My shorthand way of trying to help the nominal Christian wake up to their real condition and then plead for regeneration, plead for an awakening, so that at the bottom of their souls is Jesus and not self, is to say, Do you feel more loved by God when he makes much of you, or do you feel more loved by God when, at great cost to his Son, he frees you from that horrible bondage to self in order to enjoy making much of him forever, so that the peak of your joy is to see him, savor him, show him?
He Loves Us for His Sake
Now, all that’s introduction. Today, I am really jealous that this concern of mine that I just described does not undermine the immeasurable way that God loves you, including his making much of you. He makes more of you, Christian — true, born-again, struggling Christian — than you ever dreamed he could or would.
“God makes more of you when he makes much of you for his sake than if he were to make much of you only for your sake.”
I want you to see and feel that you are more loved by God when he loves you that way than any other way. He makes more of you when he makes much of you for his sake than if he were to make much of you only for your sake. If I didn’t believe that, I wouldn’t preach this sermon. God is making more of you when he makes much of you for his sake than if he only made much of you for your sake. More is being made of you, and I hope to show you that.
I said that God reveals himself relentlessly in the Bible as loving you for his name’s sake. I’m going to give you just a few examples so that those of you who may not be as familiar with this as others will get on board with me. You’ll know, “What are you saying? What do you mean by that?” I’m going to give you four or five examples.
1. God adopted us for his glory.
God shows his love for us by predestining us for adoption into his family. Every one of these feels like the greatest act of love to me. I want to say this is the greatest. Well, I want to reserve that for the cross, I think, but man, this is big. That God, in eternity, looked upon me — foreseeing my fallenness, my pride, my sin — and said, “I want that man in my family. I’ll do anything to get him in my family. I will pay for him to be in my family with my Son’s life.” That’s love, folks. That is mega, off-the-charts love.
And the verse is Ephesians 1:5–6. “He predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ.” Get that: he predestined us for adoption into the divine, universe-ruling family “according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace.” Does that ruin it? Does that ruin it? No. He did it. He said, “I’m going to have John Piper. I’m going to have you in my family. I’ve decided this before the world is created. I’m having you to the praise of the glory of my grace.” I hope that doesn’t ruin it for you. I want it to make it more — more, not less — that he did it for his glory.
2. God created us for his glory.
God shows his love for us by creating us. If we didn’t have existence, we couldn’t enjoy him or anything else. So, he loved us into being. Why? Isaiah 43:6–7: “Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory.” Don’t let that diminish the love of God for you in your creation that you came into being for his glory.
3. God sent Christ for his glory.
God shows his love for us by sending us a savior. The angels say,
“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find the baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest.” (Luke 2:11–14)
“We get the Savior, he gets the glory. We get the great joy, he gets the honor.”
A Savior has come. Does that bother you that they would sing that way instead of saying, “Glory to the men for whom he’s dying; glory to the women for whom he’s dying”? Instead, they sing, “Glory to God. A Savior came to rescue sinners. God, God, God — what a God!” I just want you to get inside this so bad. We get the Savior, he gets the glory. We get the great joy, he gets the honor. Is that okay? Goodnight, it’s okay. It can’t be any other way if there’s a God and a sinner like me. It can’t be any other way. This is the greatest news in all the world. A Savior has come for me, and the angels are praising God.
4. Christ died for us for his glory.
God shows his love for us when Christ died. This is probably the biggest — isn’t it? — in the Bible. The death of Christ is the biggest display of the love of God. Let me give you just one verse. This is 2 Corinthians 5:14–15:
The love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all [here comes the purpose clause] that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.
Christ died for me. He put himself between me and the bullet, me and the sword, me and the flames, and he took it, though I deserved it and he didn’t. He took it, and he did that so that I might no longer live for my “magnificent” self and would now die and enjoy living for him forever. That’s why he did it. That’s love. It’s a bigger love than if he hadn’t done it that way.
5. God saves us for his glory.
This is Psalm 79:9: “Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of your name; deliver us, and atone for our sins, for your name’s sake.” Born-again people pray like that. “Save me for your name’s sake. Deliver me, atone for my sin, for your name’s sake.”
That’s the way born-again people think. “It’s all going back; every grace that comes to me is being reflected back. And I love it — I love it. That’s why I’m alive.” This is the greatest thing in all the world: that I would be rescued from immersion in Piper — yuck! — to be freed a little bit, a little bit, to just know him and love him and give it all back and let him be God for me.