Principle for Bible Reading
God exalts himself by serving us, not by having us serve him, and that sets him apart from all the gods. In this lab, John Piper shows why we should never think we have served God as though he needed anything. He ends by asking if we can serve God at all.
God Needs Nothing (Acts 17:24–25) (01:00–03:47)
- God is never served by us in a way that suggests he needed us. (Acts 17:25)
- God exalts himself by being above having needs.
- God is fundamentally giver, not need-er. Everything we need comes from him, and nothing he needs comes from us. He is infinitely resourceful. (Acts 17:24–25)
He Came Not to Be Served (Mark 10:43–45) (03:47–05:47)
- The Son of Man came from heaven not to be served. (Mark 10:45)
- No, the Son of Man came to serve us, specifically to give his life to pay our debt. (Mark 10:45)
- Therefore, beware that you never serve Jesus as though he needed anything. He didn’t come to fulfill his need with you, but to meet all your need with his death.
My God Will Supply (Philippians 4:19–20) (05:47–07:21)
- God promises to supply our every need — not our every whim (Philippians 4:19).
- Everything we have is a gift from God. We do not receive anything we need apart from the sovereign grace of God. (1 Corinthians 4:7)
- Philippians 4:20 ends with worship to the God who provides for us. God serves us to exalt himself and his mercy.
Can We Serve God? (1 Peter 4:11) (07:21–10:42)
- We know it is right to serve God, because it’s commanded throughout Scripture We have learned, though, that we need to have our idea of what it means to serve God utterly transformed.
- Every time you put forward effort to serve God — whatever you do in the name of Christ — your effort is being supplied by God.
- That transaction should be a conscious one. We pray for the strength of God (God serving us) in order to live for his glory (us serving God).
- Waiting for God to work for us involves activity. This kind of waiting requires all kinds of serving, but all of it in the strength and grace that God supplies, so that he receives all of the glory.
- What do we learn about God in Acts 17:24–25? What implications does that have for our relationship with him?
- Read Mark 10:43–45. Why did Jesus come to earth? How might our serving him undermine that great purpose?
- If it’s wrong to serve God as though he needed us, how should we serve God? Read 1 Peter 4:11, and explain how we serve God in a way that honors him.
Piper: “God reigns over history and provides for your needs in order to show that he is rich in glory.”