After the congregation sang “My Worth Is Not in What I Own,” John Piper presented this gospel message at the Sing! Belfast conference.
Let’s put God’s absolute authority underneath that song like a rock foundation, so that you don’t feel that song just as poetic sentiment or musical pleasure alone, but as unshakable reality. And I have in mind not just the thousands of believers in this room, but the hundreds of you who have come, by providence, that you might believe.
We are unworthy of Christ, and we have great worth because of Christ, at the cross.
With all your worth, you are not your own treasure; Christ is, at the cross.
Trust that looks away from self to Christ becomes the ultimate satisfaction of the self, at the cross.
Let’s take those one at a time and put God’s authority underneath them, and I invite you to hear for your own soul.
1. Encounter True Worth
We are unworthy of Christ, and we have great worth because of Christ. The final verse of “My Worth Is Not in What I Own” went like this:
Two wonders here that I confess:
My worth and my unworthiness,
My value fixed — my ransom paid
At the cross.
One of the most beautiful sentences in the Bible is that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15). What is sin? Sin is a mindset that prefers other things more than God, and therefore sin exchanges God for created things. And therefore sin belittles God, demeans God, is rebellious against God.
That’s who we are — every one of you. We are that way. “None is righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10). Christ died for us, not because we are worthy, but because we are unworthy, and there was no other way for us to be made worthy.
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person — though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die — but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6–8)
We are saved by grace. The death of Jesus is not divine compliance with fair trade laws. It wasn’t a fair trade. The Son of God died; rebels live. That’s not fair. That’s grace, and that’s how I stand here.
What happens as a result? Jesus put it like this:
Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. . . . Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. (Matthew 10:29, 31)
All because of the cross. That’s paradox number 1: We’re unworthy of the cross — and, because of the cross, we are worthy.
2. Discover Real Treasure
With all your worth, you are not your own treasure; Christ is, because of the cross. The refrain of the song goes like this:
I rejoice in my Redeemer,
Wellspring of my soul.
Why didn’t the verse come to a climax like this?
I rejoice in my new worth,
I am my new treasure,
I am the new wellspring of my soul,
I am at last somebody.
“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.”
Why didn’t the cross result in that kind of song? It didn’t. Why not? Why won’t we sing for ages long that “I am my treasure”? You won’t sing that way in heaven. Heaven is not a hall of mirrors where the greatest joy is that we get to like what we see. You were made for something infinitely better than yourself. Your soul, your worth could never satisfy you — ever. You weren’t made to find deepest satisfaction in having worth.
Listen to the way the saints sing in celebration of being redeemed into priests to God — into the kingdom of God.
Worthy are you to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation,
and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
and they shall reign on the earth. (Revelation 5:9–10)
The song that breaks out in heaven forever is not “Look, traitors got in. Blasphemers are now priests.” That’s not the song. The song is “Worthy are you.” You were made to be made priests, to be made a kingdom, so that you could enjoy making much of Jesus as Lord. You will never be worthy enough to be your own treasure. You were made to treasure him above all. You can’t be the wellspring of your own soul — because of the cross.
3. Find Full Satisfaction
Trust that looks away from self to Christ becomes the ultimate satisfaction of the self, because of the cross. Here’s the way the refrain ends:
. . . Greatest Treasure,
Wellspring of my soul.
I will trust in him, no other.
My soul is satisfied in him alone.
And I ask you now as I draw to a close, Do you want that? Do you want to be a Christian? Do you want to be able to say, “My worth is in the costly wounds”? Do you want to be able to say, “My worth is in the blood that flowed”? Do you want to be able to say, “My value fixed — my ransom paid at the cross”?
How do you become a Christian? How do you become a true Christian? And you know the answer. Almost everybody in this country would probably say something like, “Trust Jesus.” What’s that mean? What does that mean? How do you trust a treasure? What does it mean to trust a wellspring?
“You were made for something infinitely better than yourself.”
The song tells us, the Bible tells us, “My soul is satisfied in him alone.” What does alone mean in that song? Really? That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a meal tonight. It doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy friends. It means that all those gifts — all those gifts of Christ — are now means by which you taste Christ, more of Christ. And it means that if Christ takes them away — all the friends, all the food, and even your life — he’s enough.
He is all-satisfying as your treasure and your wellspring. That’s what alone means. He’s there in everything, he’s there after everything, and he’s enough. To trust a treasure is to embrace and rest in him as your satisfaction like that. It’s a gift of grace.
A Prayer for Northern Ireland
I offer him to you. Jesus offers himself to you, and I would like to pray for you. If I could have come to Northern Ireland just to pray what I’m about to pray, it would be enough.
Father, it is grace that anyone would listen to me now. It will be grace if anyone is longing and leaning into this song, this truth, this word from you. And I ask for the grace of treasure in Christ that is saving faith.
I ask, Lord, if there are people right now who are saying, “I can’t do that,” I pray that they would at least pray for the strength to do it. And I ask, Lord, for every believer in this room that they would so treasure Christ, that Christ would be such a wellspring of joy for their souls through all their troubles, that they would have courage to commend Christ to every person in this nation, indeed in this island.
And lastly, Lord, I ask that if any is saying, as we all do, “I don’t know if I can last, I don’t know if tonight’s sense of calling on my life will last — I’m young or I’m old, and I don’t know if I can persevere that far in this new thing you’re calling me to do,” I pray, Lord, that as we sing now, you would answer that question: You will hold us fast. That’s the only way we’ll make it.
Lord, draw people now into this song and into yourself forever.