Ablaze for His Beauty

How Your Heart Treasures God

The Gospel Coalition New England 2012 Conference | Boston

So, to sum it up again, right thinking I’m arguing, is the servant of right feeling for God. And logic exists for love. Reasoning about Christ or the kingdom or the cross, exists for rejoicing in Christ and the cross. Doctrine exists for delight. Reflection about God is meant to serve affection for God. The head is meant to serve the heart. Knowing truth is meant to be the basis of admiring truth.

For that to happen — for the mind to function rightly in the service of the right explosion of the heart with white-hot affections for God — the gospel has to shape them both. So, we saw that the mind is shaped by the gospel, in that the gospel turns the mind into a servant of objective reality. It doesn’t create reality, it serves reality because the gospel describes objective reality.

Secondly, the gospel shapes the mind by making it the servant of all truth — even self-incriminating truth — that you don’t have to run from any more or use your mind to distort reality, to conceal it from yourself, because God has solved the self-incrimination a better way than deceit. Therefore, you’re free to say it all and see it all, even if it hurts because that hurt can’t kill you anymore.

Third, it shapes the mind by making the mind a servant of heart-awaking regeneration so that the dynamics of 1 Peter 1:23, through the living and abiding word the gospel, you are born anew, that is born unto a heart that sees him for who he is and savors him for who he is. Thus, the gospel articulated with the mind and the mouth becomes the instrument of awakening in the power of the Holy Spirit. It does that not just at the beginning, but all the way along, over and over again as just in the last hour.

What Is the Gospel? Six Points

Now, how does the gospel shape the heart? Each speaker so far, at the beginning said, “We need to say what the gospel is.” It’s interesting how each of them said it a little more fully. Tim said it’s news and then, unpacked the gospel-shaped life. And Don did a little more as far as the specifics of the cross and its dynamics go. Now, I’m going to take a try at it because for me to ask how the gospel shapes the heart, I need to say more about the specifics than has been said.

So, in my effort to define the gospel, which is not everything — I think that’s one of the most important sentences Don said, that the minute you begin to say everything is a gospel you begin to lose the gospel. I like that sentence. That’s an important sentence in our day. So, here’s my effort to describe the massive gospel that is not everything. It’s got six elements to it.

Number one, it is a plan. According to the Scriptures, Christ died for our sins. It’s been planned. It’s old. From before the foundation of the world, he chose us in Christ for holiness and predestined us for adoption. So, this is not a sudden development as a result of the fall. This is a plan. If you take the plan away, there is no gospel.

Number two, it is an event history. Christ died.

Number three, it’s an achievement through that event: propitiation by substitution. J.I. Packer’s summary of the gospel: Christ, death, in that moment did something between us, and God, namely, he propitiated the wrath of God for all the elect. He dealt with this decisively in history. That’s not done again — whether at Mass or in our conversion.

Fourth, it is a free for faith. I asked Don one time, “Should we, must we, say that salvation is by faith apart from works? It’s part of the gospel.” He said, “Yes, it must be, because if you offered the achievement of the cross for you to be worked for, there’d be no good news.” The gospel includes free, receiving, believing. That’s the fourth aspect of the gospel, Romans 3:28: “behold that man is justified faith apart from works of the law.”

Five, that achievement is then, by the power of the Holy Spirit in the act of conversion, applied to you, and the effect is forgiveness of sins in justification, eternal life. Acts 10:43: “Everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins.” You believe, you’re forgiven. The events, the achievement is applied through faith to you now, and you enjoy the effects of that achievement, which is called forgiveness. And you enjoy a declaration of your righteousness before God, and inheritance that is secured of eternal life.

God Is the Gospel

Now, in my experience, that’s where the description of the gospel usually ends for many preachers, and I wrote a whole book to say it shouldn’t end there called God Is the Gospel, because why would you want to be forgiven? You can answer that question in a very God belittling way and a very God exulting way. If I said, “Of course I want to be forgiven. I hate having a guilty conscious.” That’s a bad answer. It has nothing to do with God. When my wife is angry at me because I have sinned against her, some ugly word maybe when I get up in the morning and see something didn’t get done I wanted done and I speak harshly, which as a husband is not supposed to do, and she’s hurt and angry and I’m guilty, I need her forgiveness. Why? Why would I want that? Because as she stands at the sink, her back towards to me, I want her to turn around and I want her to face me. I want to be able to look into her eyes again and have it be really good.

“What Christ purchases for us most ultimately is God.”

That’s what forgiveness is for with God. If you don’t cherish your justification, your forgiveness, and your eternal life because they get you God, you need to deal with him more deeply. First Peter 3:18: “Christ suffered once for sinners. The righteous for the unrighteous that he might bring us to God.” That’s the end of the gospel. So, my sixth element in the gospel is this: what Christ purchases for us most ultimately is God. The gift of himself, all that God is for us in Christ.

The New Shape of the Christian Heart

Now, my point here is that when that sixth element of the gospel penetrates like a sword by the power of the Spirit into the fallen, sinful, and hard human heart, it recreates it and shapes it in distinct ways. I’ll just mention three. One, it frees the heart from the misery of guilt and all the affections that surround it and ruin life. Guilt is taken away. The heart is no longer shaped by this inner thing called guilt around which it is constantly fitting itself and miserably adapting. Now, that guilt is gone.

Two, it is fitted for a whole range of new affections. Not guilt anymore, but the fruit of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace and so on. So, the Holy Spirit has moved in and he now has a shape —a love shape, a peace shape, a joy shape — and the heart begins to be shaped, fitted, for these affections. Not the old angry, hateful, guilty affections. The Holy Spirit is breeding a whole new range of emotions and affections. Third, that heart is shaped by being fulfilled with what is ultimately valuable, namely, God himself. This heart is now satisfied with all that God is for us in Jesus, that is, it’s new, sweet, beautiful, shape. It is a heart satisfied by all that God is for us in Jesus. So, those three things —freed from guilt, fitted for joy, and fulfilled with God — is the new shape of the Christian heart.

To Bring Us to God

When 1 Peter 3:18 says, “he died once, the righteous for the unrighteous that he might bring us to God,” It doesn’t mean that he might bring our hearts to God to be bored, bring our hearts to God to be moderately interested, bring our hearts to God to be analyzed or simply known. This not what he means. He means bring your heart to God to be shaped by white-hot affection for God. Your heart hasn’t arrived fully at the blood-bought destiny of it until it is passionate for God, loving God, delighting in God, satisfied with God, treasuring God above all things. That’s the end of the gospel and the final shape of the gospel-shaped heart.

So, the gospel shapes the mind and the gospel shapes the heart, by giving the mind the capacity to know God and giving the heart the capacity to enjoy God. The mind is shaped to see God, the heart to shaped to savor God. That’s what the gospel reclaims. You were given a mind to know him truly and you were given a heart to love him duly, and when the gospel does its shaping work, the mind is free to do its right thinking about God, and the heart is freed to feel its white-hot affections for God. That’s what the gospel does for the mind and heart.

Clarifying Gospel-Shaped Reasoning

So, I return to my point. You have a mind and you have a heart. The heart, when rightly served by the mind, is full of white-hot affection for God. Redeemed thinking about God exists for redeemed feeling for God. Gospel-shaped reasoning is for the sake of gospel-shaped rejoicing. Now, there’s a cluster of clarifying questions that I ask myself. It might be helpful for you to hear me try to answer. Four clarifying questions about that and then, four closing pastoral implications of that.

1. Affections

First, what do you mean by the word affections? You keep using it. It’s not quite the way I have heard it used. It’s like eighteenth century use, yes, but you don’t know about that? So, what do I mean by affection? I mean things like joy, fear, gratitude, desire, hate, anger, tenderheartedness, peace, loneliness, sorrow, regret, shame, hope, etc. We call them emotions but, we need some clarity here because the connotation surrounding these words may be different from what I intend.

When I think of the Holy Spirit awakening affections, I think of spiritual affections. Spiritual affections are affections that have been awakened by the work of the Holy Spirit in accordance with truth, not just any old affections or emotions, but affections that are spiritual. Of the Spirit, born of the Spirit, conformed to the truth that the Spirit reveals to the mind. That’s the kind of affections I want to have and that’s the kind that the gospel-shaped heart is meant to be full of, which means that it’s different from bodily sensations. This is important. None, none, of the affections I care about ultimately are bodily.

Fluttering eyelashes, sweaty palms, shaky knees, pits of the stomach drops, fast pulse. None of that is what I’m talking about. The reason I know that what I am talking about exists distinct from that, even though in this body they are never separate from that and thus, easily confused with that, is that I will have these affections when I am dead and my body is decaying in the ground. I know that because of Philippians 1:23. To die is to be with Christ, which is far better, better. I will love him more. He will be my greater delight and my body will not be there to have a fast pulse.

I know it also to be distinct from the bodily motions because God has these affections. He has no body. Hosea 11:8: “My compassion grows warm and tender.” Jeremiah 4:8: “The fierce anger of the Lord”. Ephesians 4:30: “Don’t grieve the Holy Spirit.” Zephaniah 3:17: “God rejoices over you with loud shouts.” He has no body.

Therefore, these affections that I’m talking about that are the goal of the heart and the thing that the rightly exercised mind is serving are not bodily sensations, which is why we must be so careful with gifts of music and art because the world knows these things produce emotions and they are not spiritual in and of themselves because they’re not spiritual. The mind of the flesh and the mind of the Spirit are not the same.

The mind of the flesh can have very high emotions with very beautiful art. That is not what I’m interested in at all until the miracle happens when that very music, by the touch of the Holy Spirit, combines with God’s truth in a kind of C.S. Lewis would call “transposition or incarnation” can awaken in me spiritual affections for God. Very delicate. This would be worth a whole conference some day.

“Spiritual affections honor God because they’re born of his Spirit and serve his glory.”

So, that’s my answer to my first clarifying question. What do you mean by the affections? They are emotions, but they’re not bodily emotions. When they count, that is when they are coming from a gospel-shaped heart, and serving to honor God. They are spiritual affections both in their negative dimensions of proper anger and positive dimensions of joy and delight. They honor God because they’re born of his Spirit, rooted in his truth and serving his glory. That’s question number one.

2. The Goal

Second, why do you make the affections of the heart ultimate as the goal, and the right use of the mind a subordinate servant of that, instead of the other way around or side by side? Why do you do that? That was last night’s message but just two other observations that might shed a little more light on it. Jesus said in John 8:32, “you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” What does that mean? In the context, free from sinning. Who does sin, is the slave of sin, two verses later. So, he’s thinking freedom from sin. You know the truth and the truth rightly known by the gospel-shaped mind is a sin destroying, freedom giving power in the mind.

Question, what is sin? Sin is not an act of the body. Body has no moral standing. Body is just stuff. The acts of the body become sin by having motives, drives, orientations on God, or the world. Therefore, when he says you will know the truth and the truth will free you from the power of sin, he means something deep inside is getting changed by knowing this truth. You stop loving the world. Don’t love the world or the things that are in the world. Love God! That’s what starts to happen. So, I take him to mean right knowing is serving right affections. That’s what I take Jesus to mean.

Here’s another illustration. Psalm 100, let me do this with my hands, okay? This hand over here is the affection hand. This hand over here is the knowledge and the mind and the reflection hand, alright?

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
   Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!
   Know that the Lord, he is God!
It is he that made us and we are his;
   Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise,
   give thanks to him and bless his name
for the Lord is good.
   His faithfulness endures forever, to all generations.

You get that? Rejoice, know, be thankful, know. That’s the way it works. You see, these are ground clauses over here. These are high affections and gladness, and thanksgiving, and praise over here. That’s what life is ultimately for. This serves that. That’s the structure of the Psalms over and over again. So, my answer to this second question is that the reason for saying that we have a mind and we have a heart and the mind rightly exercises a servant of the heart’s affections is because I find that to the structure of biblical thought. It makes sense and that will come clear, perhaps, as we keep moving.

3. Behavior

You haven’t even made any attempt, Piper, to show why, maybe, action or behavior should be in that order as the goal. Maybe the mind is meant to serve the affections so that they will give birth to fruit in behavior and that’s the ultimate goal of life. Why don’t you go there? Because it says out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Speaking is an action and there are many other such texts about fruits of behavior coming out of the heart of affection for God. Haven’t we even heard you say that love for people in its practical expression is the overflow of joy in God that meets the needs of others. So, where’s behavior in this little duo of messages?

My answer to the reason I do not say that the ultimate goal is behavior is because what makes action of the body, this thing right here, that kind of thing, you know? What makes action of the body an honor to Christ is the affections that drive it. Without them, it is nothing. Matthew 15:8: “This people honors me with their lips but their heart is far from me in vain do they worship mean.” Vain means zero. So, if I walked into a room and saw people doing worshipping, singing, and saying all the right things and I knew their heart was far from it, I would not have the least interest in that. I would not call that the achievement of any of God’s goals in salvation.

So, the behaviors, the singing of the song, the praying of the prayer, the preaching of the sermon in and of its raw physical self is nothing, but when it is animated by, indwelled by, when it becomes the incarnation of an affection, then it has beauty and is part of this final goal because it’s one in the same with that white-hot expression of affection. Here’s another illustration. If I speak with the tongues of men of angels but have not love, I am nothing. I can speak in tongues and if I understand all mysterious and have all faiths so as to move a mountain and have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have and deliver my body to be burned and have not love — nothing.

So, I just don’t get excited about behaviors in and of themselves. If you see somebody laying his life down, that might be a good thing. It might not be a good thing. If you see somebody giving away all of his money to the poor, that might be a good thing. It might not be a good thing. God has to enter in here and how you feel about God. Why are you doing this? What does it have to do with God? It might be sheer idolatry of the poor. So, I’m just not into behaviors as the goal. I mean, God and how you are passionately engaged with him and if I see your behavior as expressing that, then I will see that whole and love it and worship him with you for it.

Here’s another one. These are just text showing you why I don’t go that direction. This is 2 Corinthians 9:7–8: “He who sows sparingly will reap sparingly.” Who sows bountifully will reap bountifully. Each one was due as he has made up his mind. Not reluctantly or under compulsion because the Lord loves a cheerful giver. So, I say to my people, I don’t want your money. I want your cheer in your money. But if I have to choose, keep your money because God says, “Look, this writing of checks business, it’s nothing. I want your heart. And if I have your heart you’ll write the check in appropriate ways.”

So, what is decisive in establishing a virtue that the body performs is what the heart is doing when the body is doing. That’s why I say with or without a body, we are hearts and minds and the mind will serve the heart to have white-hot affection and that’s what we see next.

4. The Glory of God and Your Satisfaction

Now, question number four, I’m about to give the answer. What does all that have to do with the glory of God? You have a mind, which when it’s shaped by the gospel, is thinking rightly and serving the gospel-shaped heart, which is now being filled with kindling of truth for the sake of the flame of white hot affection. As the fire of the Holy Spirit falls, glory of God? God? Well, I keep saying white-hot affection for God and if you just wonder, why does he keep using that phrase? Because it’s as far from lukewarm as I can get and you’re going to be spit out if you’re lukewarm. I don’t want you to be spit out. See? We’re not playing here. That’s one of the most scary statements in the Bible. You are lukewarm and I will spit you out of my mouth. That’s scary so, I’m pushing white-hot, okay?

Now, what does that language have to do with the glory of God? I have tried in everything I’ve preached and written to defend this sentence: God is most glorified in you when you are most satisfied in him. Now, if that’s a true statement — God is most glorified in you when you’re white-hot satisfied in him — then, for the sake of his glory, you will care about being satisfied in him because if you’re not satisfied in him you belittle him. You glorify what you’re satisfied by. That’s my answer to the question but, is it biblical?

Last Sunday I preached on this text, so I’m going to give you a three minute summary of a 55-minute sermon. Philippians 1:20, I preached on this sermon when I came to Bethlehem and when I was a candidate in February 1980. It’s a very precious text to me. It’s right at the heartbeat of my life. My eager expectation and hope, this is Philippians 1:20. “My eager expectation and hope is that now, as always, with full courage, Christ might be magnified [megalynō] in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live and to die is gain.”

“Christ will look great if my living is Christ and if my dying is gain.”

Now, the logic of that break between verse 20 and 21, “for to me to live as Christ and die is gain,” is the key to all my Christian Hedonism. I want Christ to be magnified Paul says. That’s my heartbeat. That’s my life. I want Christ in my bodily life, whether I’m living, whether I’m dying. I want him to look really great. That’s what he says. Then, he gives the explanatory unpacking for to me to live as Christ and to die is gain. So, Christ will look great if my living is Christ and Christ will look great in my dying if my dying is gain.

If we wanted to unpack the living pair, we’d go to Philippians 3:8: “I count everything as loss for the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” So, when he says, my life to live is Christ, he means I count everything less valuable than Christ and all my life is devoted to showing how supremely valuable Jesus is. That’s the way you make him look good. You choose him over anything. Over and over again. He’s cherished and loved and delighted in. He’s satisfying more than all the temptations of life. He looks really good in your life when he’s that valuable.

Or the death part of the verse. I want Jesus to be magnified in my dying. For to me to die is gain. Gain because of verse 23. More of Christ, go to be with Christ. So, if you’re dying and you see everything that life has offered you going away, won’t have my wife anymore, no kids anymore, no dream marriage, no dream retirement. All the physical bodily pleasures, they’re going. I’m lying there and in a few minutes I’ll be gone and all I get is Jesus? You smile to all those standing around your bed and you say, “Gain! Gain! Gain!” You make Jesus look really good. That’s the way it works from which I infer, if you want to magnify Christ in your life, which is what I want to do, you will treasure him more than all that life can give and all that death can take. I call that Christian Hedonism.

Christ is most magnified in you when you are supremely satisfied in him. So, my answer to my fourth question, what is this heart, mind, white-hot affection, white-hot affection, have to do with the glory of God? That’s the way you most glorify God. So, the mind is bent on glorifying God and it does it by serving the heart and the heart is bent on glorifying God. So, it does its thing, namely, its affectional thing by burning with white-hot affection for God so that everything else by comparison, Paul says, is refuse. Oh, if New England were filled with such Christians, they could smell it. They would smell the aroma of Christ that way.

Pastoral Implications

So, let’s close with four pastoral implications.

Point Them to Pursue God

Number one, since the gospel-shaped heart is shaped for the supreme joy of God, that’s what it’s shaped for, is to bring joy in God. Since God is most glorified in that heart and that mind when that joy in God is being experienced. Therefore, your people should unremittingly pursue their joy in God. Even if it cost them their lives. “Rejoice in the Lord and again I say, rejoice” (Philippians 4:4). “Delight yourself in the Lord” (Psalm 37:4). “Be glad in the Lord” (Psalm 32:11).

In my sermon last Sunday, I got to this point and I said, it changes everything. This vision of what we are as human beings and what God offers us in himself changes everything. I gave eleven illustrations, which is what I’d like to do right now but I’m not. You can go watch that at Desiring God or listen and hear those eleven ways that this changes everything. But, that’s my first pastoral implication. It’s going to have a massive effect on how you do church — massive effect on small groups and on preaching if you believe what I just said. Your people should devote themselves 24/7, if you can do it in your sleep, to pursuing total satisfaction in God.

In his presence is fullness of joy, at his right hand are pleasures forever more. That’s what your people want and they don’t know where it’s found. They want full and they want forever and they’re settling for half and 60 years. Then, perish. You’ve got in your hand full and forever and it’s called God. Don’t discourage them. Don’t turn Christian life into a duty for them. Stoke their engines.

Do Your Job with Joy in God

Implication number two, here’s Hebrews 13:17: “Obey your leaders.” Now, this sounds like it’s being addressed to the people without reference to any implications for the leaders but that’s exactly not what’s going on here. It is for the people but then, it is for the elders and the leaders. “Obey your leaders, submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy, not with groaning. For that would be of no advantage to you.”

Okay, now as a pastor, as I read that, I say, “I love my people. I want to be an advantage to them, not a disadvantage.” This text says if I watch over their souls with moaning and groaning instead of with joy, it is of no advantage to them. So, in order to love them, I must be happy in the ministry, which I understand to mean be happy in God, overflowing in the delights of ministry. Even the painful ones. So, pastors implication number two is, you don’t have any option here. You must pursue the fullest possible affections for God. Love for God, delight in God, treasure in God, satisfaction in God because your people depend on it. It will be of no advantage to them if you go about your ministry looking like you’d rather be doing something else because God hasn’t satisfied your soul.

There are so many sick churches in this country because of sick pastors. We’re all sick, which is really why all churches are sick. We just more or less sick and it’s good to move off the scene sooner or later so that new kinds of sicknesses can move in and avoid the kind you messed them up with for so long, which I really mean that with all my heart. I’ve not served my church well in significant ways. I’ve served them well in some ways. I’m okay with that.

The Lord will be my judge but good night, my replacement Jason is so much better than me in so many ways. He will overcome so many dysfunctions in my church that are owed to me. But, we try, right? This text says your people will get an advantage from your joy. If you just go moaning and groaning and dutifully trying to be a pastor, they’ll get sick or they’ll leave. That’s number two.

Work for Their Joy

Number three, implication for your preaching all of your ministry. Second Corinthians 1:24 has been right at the heart of myself understanding as a pastor. “Not that we lorded over your faith but we are workers with you for your joy.” What a beautiful self-understanding. I’m shifting from implication two, which is the pastor’s joy, to his mission to come along side his people and become a worker for their joy. What if you went to every committee meeting? My job tonight is to work for their joy. Every sermon prepared, my sermon is for their joy. Would that flavor everything?

“The key in preaching is that your job is to spread a banquet for the congregation.”

I think the key in preaching is that your job is to spread a banquet for them to eat from so that when they eat, they can say “ah” and that ah is worship. It’s joy in what you’ve just spread but, you have to have the mindset, “I’m going to give them what will make them glad.” Now, that may involve some very hard, bad, painful news. Right? We all know that. But they will hear that bad news in a pastor who’s got their joy on his heart because that’s what the apostolic mission was. Not that we lorded over your faith. We are workers with you for your joy.

Reason and Affection

Finally, last implication, we’ll be done. This is a little complicated. I think I can make it understandable. If you follow me, and I hope “me” means the Bible here, in that your heart and your mind when rightly functioning and thinking rightly about God is serving your heart and throwing kindling of truth on the Holy Spirit ignited fire of affections for God, when that’s happening in a church, that church will be protected from two pairs of errors.

One, the pair of errors that I have in mind first comes when right thinking is cut off from that process of right affection. The first result, the first error, when it’s cut off is dead orthodoxy. You could call it intellectualism, or you could call it in his pragmatic form, a kind of plastic pragmatism, most blatantly manifested in certain forms of the seeker movement. Now, here’s what happens. When that reaction to the absence of affections in thinking result in intellectualism and dead orthodoxy, another reaction happens called anti-intellectualism, charismatic excesses and that was really owing to the absence of affections and they’re trying to get it back.

So, these are two seemingly opposite errors, mainly intellectualism and anti-intellectualism, dead orthodoxy and charismatic excesses. And I’m using the word excesses because I’m not down on charismatic in its biblical form. Those two errors are owing to a failure to get the heart right, to get it prominent, to make it big and strong and joy, to be prominent in the church. When that’s succeeding, there’s rich, solid, doctrine, and theology feeding that that you’re not going to get as many people moving into dead orthodoxy or pragmatism, or reacting over here with charismatic excesses or anti intellectualism. Those two things are just not going to rise as easily. That’s number one.

Number two, a second pair of errors that would be spared us if we got this right. Separating the affectional riches from doing. First one was, we separated it from thinking and thinking became intellectualism and it’s reaction. The second one is, separate it from doing and what you get is legalism or moralism. Do, do, do in social justice and do, do, do in not going to the wrong movies. Either one is coming in large measure from a pulling of the affections out of doing so that God is no longer there. A passion for him and a love for him and a satisfaction in him has no longer reigned in the church.

Now, the church is doing and doing, and when you try to do without those affections, you become a legalist or, here’s the reaction, antinomianism, emergent. It’s almost gone now but it won’t ever be quite gone because it’s endemic in a reaction.

When you see legalistic, conservative strivings or legalistic liberal strivings, one of the effects over here is going to be this: we’re going to do it another way. We’re just not going to have anything like that and they create everything under the sun and say, “Doing doesn’t matter. Laws don’t matter. Rules don’t matter. Behavior doesn’t matter. What matters is relationships.” I’ve talked to these folks. They’re very hard to talk to because they don’t reason.

Burning with White-Hot Affection Until We See Him

Let me draw things to a summary. From all this I reaffirm my point that you were created with a mind and you were created with a heart so that when the mind is rightly serving the heart, the mind finds itself in its proper use of expressing a white-hot affection for God — treasuring of God above all things. That happens when the mind and the heart are shaped by the gospel. The heart is shaped, freed from guilt, freed from joy, or for being fully satisfied in all that God is for us in Jesus so that it has a white hot affection for him.

The gospel-shaped mind is about its business day after day, in your personal reading, in your conversing with other people, in your listening to preaching. The gospel-shaped mind is about its business of mainly loading the fuel of truth into the furnace of the gospel-shaped heart so that the flame of white-hot affection for God keeps burning until we see him. Let’s pray.

Father, I pray now for the miracle. These words are relatively easy to say and what I’m talking about is a miracle. A miracle of truth being ignited by the spirit so that there is awakened spiritual affections that are not humanly possible to produce or sustain in the face of suffering and death, which is where they shine most brightly. So, I ask for the miracle to happen in New England, in the churches represented here, in the hearts that are here. Lord come. Baptize this region in a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit so that the truth that is well known in this room would become incendiary in its heat and light. Pray in Jesus name. Amen.

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